The Gap Between You and Me - Chapter 22
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Lilian ran out of the mansion with arms wide open and greeted Herietta who had just arrived. Herietta, who got off the carriage with the help of the coachman, was held in her aunt’s arms. The hug was so intense that she couldn’t even breathe properly. Lilian did not let her go until Herietta struggled with the pain.
“The last time I saw you was two years ago… Time flies so fast. Right. How have you been?”
“I’ve been doing fine. What about you, Aunt Lilian?”
“I’m fine too. Nothing special happened.”
Lilian shrugged her shoulders and frowned.
“I’ve been inviting you to come and play, but you only came now. If you were doing it intentionally, then that’s really heartless.”
Lilian made a face look of disappointment and clicked her tongue. Herietta smiled softly at the exaggerated expression and took her hand.
“What are you saying? According to the original plan, you were supposed to come to Philioche to see me.”
“Haah. Oh you. Can’t I make empty promises? Why would I crawl to the valley where I have nothing to do? It’s really a matter of life and death.”
She had a very dignified attitude for admitting that she had lied. However, because the figure was so Lilian, Herietta just smiled.
“By the way, is that all your luggage?”
Lilian looked at the cart that had arrived in front of her mansion and asked. At a glance, Herietta didn’t have much luggage with her. She nodded, indicating that it was right.
“It’s useless if you don’t like it if I bring this and that. I only brought the things I would need.”
“Yes. Well thought. Rose has a good sense of fashion by the way, but she must have lost her senses by now since she’s been living in Philiore for the past two decades.”
Lilian waved her hand in annoyance.
“Your room is already prepared. It is a place with a very good view of the garden. You will like it.”
At Lilian’s beckoning, the butler, who was waiting behind them, approached. He looked quite old for his age and Herietta had already met him once when she had stayed here before. He bowed his head towards her and greeted her.
“Take the luggage from that carriage to the room where Herietta is staying. Then show her where the room is.”
“I will do as you have ordered, Lady Jenner.”
The butler, who responded politely, immediately moved to the cart. Then he started talking to the two men who were standing next to it. By pointing his fingers at the luggage, he seemed to be giving instructions on how and where to move them.
“But are they staying here too?”
Lilian, who was watching the butler’s actions, asked. Herietta noticed that the “they” she meant were the coachman and porters who came with her.
If the staff belonged to the family household, it would only be natural for them to stay together with Herietta even after the journey, but if they were only under a temporary contract, then it was correct to say that they would be leaving after they send Herietta to her destination. The coachman and the porter were hired by Baodor, so it was expected that they would now go on their way.
Except for one.
Herietta’s eyes found him involuntarily.
“Just one person. He’s a Mackenzie person.”
“… That blond-haired guy over there.”
Herietta pointed to Edwin with a reluctant expression on her face. She was nervous, wondering if Lilian would recognize him. Fortunately, however, he had half turned away from them. Lilian glanced at him with uninterested eyes and then looked back.
“Then I’ll have to tell the butler to provide a place for him to stay. There are a few vacant rooms in the employee’s residence, so he can use one of them.”
“Thank you auntie.”
“You’re thankful for everything.”
Drip. Drop drip. A fat drop of water fell on Lilian’s head. She lifted her head and looked at the sky. Although it was only noon, the weather was very gloomy. There were so many dark gray clouds that the blue sky could not be seen, and it looked like it was going to rain soon.
“Let’s go in, Herietta. I’ll have to ask them to bring us something to drink while we wait.”
Lilian took Herietta’s hand and led her into the mansion.
Before entering the mansion, Herietta turned her head to look behind her. She saw Edwin trying to lift the things in the cart. Did he feel her gaze? Even though he was looking down, he suddenly lifted his head and looked towards her.
It was such a short time that it could be called an instant. But Herietta, at that moment, believed that their eyes met.
* * *
The summer social gatherings in Lavant were quite popular. Some of the events were said to be of excellent quality even within the kingdom, so people came from the capital to attend the event. Of course, there were many other events, both large and small, that could not be counted one by one.
Lilian chose a countess’ birthday party for her first social gathering this season. It wasn’t a big event like a banquet, but Lilian knew this Countess quite well, and judged that those who were invited to her personal events like a birthday party, at least to some extent, would be verified.
Moreover, even if she did not meet directly with men, there were many ways to use close friends to form the first bond of a relationship. She was skilled enough to see through them, and she had good tools.
Lilian asked if Herietta would be okay with it. But to be honest, Herietta didn’t think much of it. Whether it was a gathering for any purpose or by whom it was hosted, they simply looked the same to her.
She turned her back on the people around her saying that she has to do so, but she has no choice but to follow and take this opportunity to find her future husband.
The next day, Edwin visited Herietta. She always visited him first, so she was pleasantly surprised by his visit. She has everyday conversations such as ‘Have you had a good night and a good sleep?’ and he secretly asked her about her plans for the future.
Before long, he seemed relieved to learn that she would be attending the Countess’s birthday party and not a banquet. When she asked him why it was so strange, he thought for a moment before answering.
“If it was the Countess’s birthday party, wouldn’t it have a lot more female guests than male guests?”
“At this point, it will be helpful to watch and learn what kind of tone they use and what kind of mannerisms they show.”
Herietta was startled by Edwin’s words. To learn the tone and mannerisms of other female guests? Is this man openly slandering her now? No matter how far she was from a young lady, she still felt crossed.
“Are you telling me that I’m a little less out of place now?”
“What does that mean?”
“Are you doing this out of fear that I might damage the family by acting against etiquette?”
She usually lives a free-spirited life. She was confident that she could act as a plausible lady if she made up her mind. Besides, if they didn’t like her, even if she just kept her mouth shut, she would go in the middle of the group.
Herietta sulked. She snapped and turned her head to the side.
“That’s enough. I will soon prove how wrong you are.”
She herself didn’t know what she was going to prove, and how she would prove it, but she didn’t want to take back what she said, which had caused some ill-will. Meanwhile, Edwin, who was looking at her softly, quietly said,
“No. You don’t have to.”
“Why? Do you think I can’t do it?”
Herietta, who was already hurt from his sarcasm, responded sharply without realizing it. She crossed her arms and raised her chin with an arrogant expression.
“Edwin, I think it’s because you don’t know much about me. I can be the perfect lady to make your eyes widen if I wanted to.”
“You are already perfect.”
“Yes. I’m already perfect… What?”
When the unexpected answer came back, Herietta was perplexed.
‘I am already perfect? What is he up to?’
Edwin, out of all people, praised her for being perfect. Does this make sense? She couldn’t believe it easily because he was the one who was nagging her every day, and picking on every single thing she did.
She wondered if he was being intelligently sarcastic, but she looked at his expression and it seemed that it wasn’t the case. He continued speaking while Herietta shook her head quickly to try to understand what he meant.
“Miss Herietta. You are perfect to me. So there is no reason to prove it.”
“… Are you teasing me now?”
Herietta asked, frowning.
“You just told me to learn by looking at the tone and mannerism of other noble women. Is that what you say to someone who you think is perfect?”
Herrietta thought it was just Edwin’s way to appease her for his blunt words.
Edwin paused for a moment. He lowered his gaze slightly. Then his long eyelashes cast a shadow over his blue eyes.
“Because I had to tell you the reason.”
“If I dare, I hope you don’t change, Miss Herietta. For a long time to come, I want you to be just like you are now.”
“But it’s impossible, isn’t it?”
He looked very serious and did not seem like he was joking. His appearance was somewhat tragic, and at the same time, it seemed unfair. It’s like someone who has to stand still and watch someone take their things right in front of their eyes.
Herietta stared blankly at Edwin. Outwardly, he looked as calm as the surface of a lake, as usual. But when she looked closely, something seemed unstable and precarious. If anything, did something happen?
Edwin let out a long breath when Herrietta, who was at a loss for words, said nothing. Then he asked softly,
“… Please pretend you didn’t hear the last thing I said.”
Edwin raised his gaze and met Herrietta’s eyes. There was a longing in his eyes that he couldn’t express. He was considered to have a very cold impression if he did not smile, but she felt a strange heat from him.
Without knowing why, her heart sank.