His hands trembled at the rustling sound of the strings.

The hands that never trembled when they took the lives of ten people at once.

Laritte broke the silence, “where are our escorts such as Lady Redra and Sir Mason?”

“The knights are staying at another annex……,” answered Ian steadily, though his eyes were spinning.

When the strings were done, her dress loosened to reveal the white shiny garment she was wearing.

“I see.
Oh, please take off my necklace as well.”

With that, Laritte grabbed a hold of her hair and lifted it up.

The necklace was loosened and she placed it on the table.

Now she could take off the rest on her own.
She turned around to say that, but she met Ian’s eyes.

He was very close, his breath ghosting on her hair.

Laritte’s form was reflected back by those golden eyes of his.



Nothing came and went.

Ian opened his mouth to talk about something else, but his voice didn’t cooperate.

He closed his lips again.

Did I imagine her eyes shaking a little?

His face leaned closer and closer to hers.

His head tilted slightly.

There was no way for him to hold back anymore.


Laritte snapped her fingers.

She realized when she saw herself in his eyes.

“I didn’t remove my makeup.
You were going to tell me that, right?”

To remove her makeup, she needed to go downstairs and call a maid.


Until now, Ian’s patience and instincts had brought him to nothing.


He was going crazy.

Unaware, Laritte walked around the room.

“I’ll be right back.”

She took out a blanket and changed into slippers.

“It’s dangerous at night, so go with me.”

Ian tried to speak calmly but his voice boomed across the room.
Laritte’s hand paused at the doorknob.

“Then let’s go together.”

“Ah, yes, just a moment.”

Ian wanted to wipe away tears that weren’t even flowing.
He washed his face dry with big, rough hands.

He was always the only one who got excited.
He didn’t mean to force her, so maybe it was for the best.
He couldn’t have forgiven himself if she ran away in surprise.

He was the only one who was trying to calm down.
While Laritte—waiting at the door—looked perfectly fine.


He wasn’t thirsty, but his mouth felt dry.
His lips even more so.

What is wrong with my body?

He had no clue.




Finally, it was the first day of the exchange meeting.

Ian’s goal today was to talk to the fortune-teller.
He was going to ask about Laritte properly and give up if he still seemed to be all talk and no trousers.

Then, Oscar approached Ian and Laritte.

“Are you enjoying the party?”

“Yes, I’m very grateful to the Imperial Family.”

Laritte watched their interaction.
It was different from when the Prince visited their mansion.
She also thought she should act like that outside.

“It’s an honor to see Your Highness.” She said holding her skirt.

“I hope the Duchess is having a good time as well.”

Oscar laughed socially.

He had to inform Ian about what he found last morning.
The fact that the Empress was associated with the Emperor’s illness.

Oscar made eye contact with Ian, gesturing to him with his look.

‘I have something to tell you.’

Ian shook his head, although he understood that the Crown Prince had something to say.

From today on, the Empress would also participate in the event, so he could not leave his wife alone.

Oscar blinked.

Is he worried about Mrs.
Reinhardt? As far as I know, she pressed down Mother’s energy yesterday.

Oscar said flatly.

“The Empress and the Duchess, they looked quite close last evening.
I’m glad to see how the great people of the Empire interact with each other.”


Ian turned to Laritte.
It was the first time he heard it.

Her earrings shook as she turned to face him.

Why did the Empress see you?

“What did the Empress say to you?”

“She talked about how busy she gets in her daily life.”

“That can’t be true.”

Oscar smiled awkwardly.

Mother was humiliated by her thoughtless opponent……

“May I speak to the Duchess for a while?”

Oscar asked.
He also meant to go somewhere else.
So that he could discuss secrets with Ian.

Eventually, Ian walked out of the hall as Oscar pretended to be interested in Laritte’s dress.

“Your dress is blinding, Duchess.
Nicholas Boutique’s, perhaps?”

“That’s right.”

“Sir Nicholas is an amazing designer.
Let’s see.”

Oscar bowed a little, pretending to look closely at the dress.

Then he whispered to her, “Mrs.
Reinhardt, you didn’t forget what I said last time, did you?”

This time, his smile was real.

Laritte blinked as she recalled.

There must be something I can help you with at the exchange.
There has been no problem so far since the imperial family is no better than the Duchy, but Ian isn’t close to any of the daughters of the esteemed households.

Oscar’s eyes flitted to a group of ladies.
They were looking at Laritte from afar.

“With some company from the ladies there, the Empress will not be able to harass you easily.
They would value your attention.”

Plus, they were pure.

Those ladies were interested in hobbies, dresses, and desserts, so the environment was sincerely favorable to Laritte.

“Anyway, hope you have a meaningful time at the exchange.”

With that, Oscar disappeared where Ian left.

Soon after, the ladies approached and began to chat with Laritte.

“Hello, Madam!”

“I really wanted to talk to you! That dress, it’s by Sir Nicholas, am I right?”

“My father told me not to talk to the Duchess recklessly.
But His Highness, the Crown Prince, is very kind, so he asked me to talk to you!”

The fact that these girls attended the exchange was proof that they were from high-ranking aristocratic families.

But they were pure.

“What kind of dessert do you prefer?”

“Do you have any other dresses besides this?”

“What are your hobbies?”

Laritte only managed to derive a word clearly.



Four pairs of eyes sparkled at Laritte with extreme interest.

Laritte struggled to manage an answer.


Come to think of it, she didn’t have a chance to ride Bertrand yet.

Plus, women did not have hobbies such as horse riding.
Young ladies only knew knitting and some other womanly activities.

The faces of the girls turned cold.

Laritte thought she made a mistake.

The last time Ian asked who her friends were, she only named the people of the mansion.

Now she wanted to say someone else’s name.

She wanted to talk and build a good relationship.

Was it too much hope for Laritte?

The girls exchanged glances at each other.
Then, they looked up and down at Laritte.
Even if she was the Duke’s wife, she looked similar in age to any of them.

“Shall we?”

“Should I say it? Should I recommend it?”

They whispered among themselves.

Stella, the representative, held Laritte’s hand.

“Do you want to join our hobby club, Madam?”

Laritte’s eyes grew wide.
She was worried that the people Oscar introduced would leave her, but that wasn’t the case.

“Hobby club?”

“We all have different hobbies.
We should meet regularly and share our hobbies with each other.”


They sound like they want to spend time with me!

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