“Why don’t you attend the cabinet meeting in two days instead of me?”
She felt like this was what it would feel like if she got baptized out of nowhere while sleeping.
Carinne couldn’t close her mouth and stared at the Duke.
Meanwhile, the Duke of Tricia moved his fingers and tried to avoid his daughter’s gaze.
“It’s for your sake.
As someone who will lead the Second Duchy in the future, shouldn’t you experience many things?”
“It’s not because I don’t want to go, but it’s for your sake, okay? I know you’ll do just fine because you’re just like your mom.”
…No, it was because he didn’t want to go.
Carinne could even swear at this moment.
“What kind of meeting is it?”
“Even though it’s called a meeting, in fact, there’s nothing much to do.
It’s nothing difficult.
All you have to do is sit down and think of it as filling an empty spot.
Please do it for just one day, okay?”
The Duke tried hard to persuade her.
Regardless, Carinne’s gaze was fixed elsewhere.
There had been something that kept bothering her since earlier.
As she noticed a piece of paper sticking out through the files her father had, her gut said that the crazy situation happened due to that paper.
Carinne quickly ran forward, opened the file, took out the paper, and unfolded it.
‘A new dice gambling place! There’s a special offer on the day of opening.
The Duke of Tricia, who was startled, snatched the paper from her hand.
Of course, the day the gambling place opened and the day of the meeting was exactly the same… So, he was going to send his daughter to the meeting while he was planning to go out to play?
“I don’t know why this is here.
You know your dad would never go to places like this.”
That must be the case.
It was, in fact, something she had found out while staying in the mansion.
The Duke of Tricia was serious about entertainment.
There was no other corrupt aristocrat who looked like a naive villager like him.
Not only did he often leave the mansion for a few days to play, but he also spent a lot of money in the process.
So, who would do the work?
Well, the Duke was the Duke, after all, so he did some work.
Still, he handled only a few documents essential for the management of the territory, such as documents on mines and taxes, which were coincidentally also ways to get money.
She didn’t know what else he did.
This was the reason why there were no aides who would work for him for the rest of their lives… Duke Tricia did almost nothing, so everyone quit and left.
The meeting hurt her brain, and even more so thinking about how she could meet Archen…
At that moment, a good idea flashed by like a light bulb.
“Do other nobles participate in the meeting?”
You can see all the aristocrats in Esmeril.”
Carinne smiled in satisfaction.
“Then, what about the Duke of Lucas?”
“Of course, he’ll be there…!”
This was an opportunity.
It was natural for his aide to follow the Duke of Lucas, so if she attended the meeting, she’d be able to meet Archen.
It was a perfect excuse, even a valid justification, for being asked by her father.
Needless to say, she wasn’t interested in what the meeting was about at all.
Like what Duke Tricia said, she just had to sit still and come back.
She was just going to go and see his face, so she wouldn’t make a mistake while talking gibberish like last time.
“How about it, do you feel like going?”
The Duke mumbled and glanced into Carinne’s eyes before he added his words.
“If you don’t like it, you don’t have to go.
I put your opinion first and foremost.”
‘Oh, I got it.’
She thought she wouldn’t be able to see Archen for a while, but she was given an unexpected chance, so Carinne benefited from the Duke of Tricia.
As expected, fate worked wonders.
“In fact, I was only…”
“As expected of my daughter!”
The Duke, who looked down at the floor with a sullen face, smiled at those words.
He hurriedly stretched out his arms toward Carinne, he meant for her to hug him.
As Carinne approached the Duke of Tricia and gently hugged him, there was an insidious smile around her mouth.
I’ll go and make sure I got my eyes on him.’
But to begin with, it was a futile effort.
* * *
After the meeting, Carinne returned to the mansion depressed, as neither Duke Lucas nor Archen came to the meeting.
Today was the day when the Dukes patrolled the territory.
I had a hard time for nothing.’
Heavy rain poured down on the way as if to represent Carinne’s heart.
She even heard the maids mentioning that it was the first record-breaking rain in years.
It really seemed so.
Even though it didn’t take long to get out of the carriage and move to the mansion, her clothes were soaking wet, so it was best to stay at home on days like this.
Carinne sat in a cozy room, sipping the tea Marie had brought her as she glanced out the window.
It was raining so hard that she thought it could be the sea.
‘Wouldn’t he be sick if he patrolled the territory today?’
On the other hand, she was worried… what if he was weak and caught a cold?
Not Duke Lucas, of course, but Archen.
Although Duke Lucas was the Duke, she didn’t care if he was sick or not.
“Lady Carinne, your friend came to see you.”
Suddenly, Marie came inside.
She put down an empty teacup and looked at her.
“Huh? Who’s my friend?”
“Lady Iris of Count Shunen.”
They had only met once… wasn’t it too much to be friends? Was it because Iris didn’t have many friends?
Even though they only had a short conversation on a general topic, Iris must have thought that was enough to be friends.
Yet, it wasn’t unpleasant because the feelings she had for Iris since the last meeting were close to good feelings.
Carinne was deeply grateful to Iris for treating her with kindness.
She was sick and tired of being looked at with contempt or fear by others.
‘…Iris must be the first friend I’ve made since I possessed this body.’
If she made a close friend at this time, she’d feel reassured.
Thinking so, Carinne inserted Iris’ name into the list of friends in her head.
Still, why did Iris come to see her…?
On this rainy day, Carinne stopped what she was doing when she heard Marie’s words and hurried to meet her, wondering if there was any urgent business.
“There’s also a company.
Duke Lucas and his aide.”
…What were Duke Lucas and Archen doing here?
‘Oh, and come to think of it…’
Heavy rain also poured on the first day of Iris and Lucas’s first meeting.
The Duke met her, who was lost in the forest on her way back from somewhere, and the two met each other while avoiding the rain in a cabin in the forest.
They must be in the fief somewhere.
And the first meeting between the Duke and Iris…
‘That was today.
Though why did they come to my house, not to the cabin?’
At first glance, it was good news.
Archen’s visit to the house meant she could see him.
However, unless it were a purposeful meeting, it would be useless.
It was not only just the two of them… there was also the Duke of Lucas.
The meeting with the Duke didn’t end well last time, likewise with the meeting with Archen as well.
While she couldn’t put each of them in a different room, it would be very awkward to get together.
There were three people who were awkward to meet each other, and one girl who was tactless… imagining the four sitting side by side gave goosebumps all over her body.
‘…What should I do?’
Carinne cried, tearing her hair out.
It was obvious how strange the combination of the four would be.
“Carinne! I’m here!”
As she turned her head to a powerful voice, she could see Iris running up the stairs with a big smile.
Because of that, Carinne forced herself to smile while tidying up her disheveled hair.
“Nice to meet you… what’s going on?”
“Ah… Carinne, I’m so glad you’re my friend.”
Iris seemed genuinely pleased.
She gasped for a moment as if she was out of breath before she started explaining with great excitement.
“I got lost in the forest while taking a walk, and Duke Lucas saved me.”
Mentioning ‘the Duke of Lucas,’ Iris’ purple eyes were happy.
Of course, she was happy to meet her crush and even got help from him though it was the complete contrary for Carinne.
“I was wandering around because I didn’t have a place to avoid the rain, and I just thought of something… Your house is right next to the forest! So I came running all at once.”
Iris would not have gotten lost on the edge of the forest, so it must have been quite a distance from where she met Duke Lucas to the house.
Nevertheless, why did she come to her mansion?
“How long did it take you to get here?”
“Well, it didn’t take much.
About ten minutes? By the way, it was my first time riding a horse, and it was really fast!”
Wasn’t ten minutes on a horse a long way? Wouldn’t it have been better to avoid the rain somewhere else than to come to her mansion?
For example, a cabin, a cabin, a cabin…
“Was there any other place nearby to avoid the rain? Like a little cabin.”
“Well, it seems like there was a cabin.”
As Iris pondered with her index finger on her chin, Carinne was about to be dumbfounded.
“But, why don’t you stay out of the rain there?”
“It was too small, and I missed you.
I begged the Duke to come here.
I did a good job, right?”
“Oh, yes… Yes.”
When Iris opened her eyes wide as if she wanted a compliment, she reluctantly answered yes.
Hearing that she said she came all the way through the rain to see her, Carinne couldn’t bear to scold her.
Still, what should she do?
Confused, Carinne clenched her lips.
“Anyway, I’m going to rest here for a while until the rain stops.
Is that okay?”
She wanted to say, ‘No, it’s not okay!’ as she had a hard time holding back from shouting it.
However, sadly, Iris was soaking wet.
Curiously, her hair and the top of her dress were dry, as if someone had grabbed Iris by the hair, dipped her legs down in the water and pulled her out.
If she kicked her out to get out of this situation, she would become an unscrupulous person who would go down in history.
That said, she couldn’t be sent anywhere else since the mansion where she was staying was far from downtown and other buildings in the capital.
It was the wish of the late Duchess Tricia, who liked nature-friendly environments.
…Thanks to that, Carinne was destined to face the three.
It was fate.
Then, she suddenly thought of a question.
Duke Lucas must’ve hated her… did he just go along with Iris because she was begging him? Was it because he fell in love at first sight with Iris and couldn’t refuse her request? Or did he think that a large mansion would be better to avoid the rain than a cabin in the forest?
It was a complete mystery.
Hmm, it seemed like it would be faster to ask directly to solve her curiosity.
As she thought so, Carinne asked a question towards Iris.
“Thank you so much for coming all the way to see me… but did Duke Lucas say he’s okay with coming over to my house?”
“The friend of the lady…”
Just then, Carinne felt the back of her head cold hearing the familiar yet unlucky voice.
Since her room was on the second floor, the place where Iris and Carinne were standing was right next to the stairs going down to the first floor.
From one floor down, Duke Lucas was looking up with his dark bloodshot eyes staring at Carinne.
“…Is the Princess?”
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