The Gap Between You and Me - Chapter 26
Even though Herietta had made her intentions clear regarding marriage, Lilian still showed no signs of giving up.
“You are still young. When you are a little older, I’m sure you’ll appreciate me.”
Lilian shrugged her shoulders and muttered to herself. She completely ignored Herietta’s words, pretending that she never heard them.
“I heard that there will be a banquet hosted by Count Shanks in a few days. Do you remember him? He hosted the big ball you attended with me last year. He likes fancy things, so he always throws grand parties, so in terms of size alone, it ranks among the top five in Lavant.”
Lilian already knew the list of people who were invited to the ball. She was delighted that this year, many single men from decent families had been invited.
This is it! This is it! She was very excited, confident that this time she would catch a big fish.
“Throw away all your dresses that are out of fashion. I’ve already requested a seamstress who is known for her skill in town to make a dress for you in a trendy style. You just have to go in and get your measurements taken.”
It’s a custom dress.
Herietta shook her head. The dress was sure to be beautiful, but the price tag that came with it wouldn’t. Herietta said Lilian didn’t have to do that, but Lilian, who had already made up her mind, refused and insisted on having clothes made for her niece. She reasoned that it could not be canceled because she had already paid the down payment anyway, so she almost kicked Herietta out.
It was a game that Herietta had little chance of winning from the start. Realizing that it was impossible to convince her aunt, Herietta gave up fighting. She trudged outside and got onto the carriage waiting by the front door. She didn’t even ask if they had been instructed by Lilian in advance and didn’t ask where the coachman was going.
As the coachman was about to close the door, a large hand appeared out of nowhere and stopped it. The bewildered coachman tried to protest, but when he saw something, his mouth twitched as if he had become mute.
‘What’s going on?’
As if answering Herietta’s question, Edwin appeared from behind the carriage door.
“Where are you going?”
He asked, narrowing his eyes as he frowned. Herietta didn’t go out very often, so he found it strange that she tried to go out without saying anything to him. He completely blocked the entrance to the carriage door with his body to prevent the coachman from closing the door.
Herietta rolled her eyes. She hadn’t noticed he was nearby so she was a little startled, but she shrugged in response.
“Downtown. I’m going to the dress shop at the request of my aunt.”
“The dress shop?”
“I’m going to have my measurements taken. Do you think it would be fun?”
Herietta murmured with a look of joy. Edwin then looked down at her without saying a word. His expression seemed to be immersed in thought. Next to him, the coachman tried to push him out of the way, but he didn’t budge.
“Can I come with you?”
Herietta’s eyes widened at the unexpected request.
“Why do you want to go? It would be a boring outing for you.”
“I thought it would be reassuring to see that Miss Herietta is safe.”
Edwin answered, bowing his head slightly. Safe? Herietta, who heard his answer, laughed lightly.
“Edwin, what are you going on about now? I’m just going to the dress shop, not a war. Is there any reason why I can’t be safe?”
Herietta tried to discourage him with a joke, but Edwin seemed unwilling to step back. He kept his silence and looked at her. And she waited. In his clear gaze, what he wanted was evident.
‘This man is very stubborn.’
Herietta clicked her tongue. She had never imagined that he would have this side to him.
“Fine. But you can’t complain later because you’re bored.”
In the end, Herietta gave him the seat next to her and permitted him to get inside the carriage. Then, Edwin, as if waiting for that very moment, scrambled to board the carriage. She smiled unconsciously upon seeing him like that. He looked arrogant and feisty, but his behavior was like a dog that listened to everything his master said without fail.
This, too, would never have been imagined by her former self. At the same time, it was also her little secret that should never be revealed to Edwin.
* * *
While Herietta was getting her measurements taken at the dress shop, Edwin offered to wait outside. He blushed at Herietta’s mischievous comment that he was trying to follow her inside the store and watch her. Seeing him like that, she thought it would be good to teach him a lesson, but then she found out that he was sulking and teased him.
Contrary to expectations, the shopkeeper was a woman who looked quite young for a seamstress. Just as Lilian claimed, the seamstress was very skilled and it didn’t take long for her to take Herietta’s full measurements. She was stunned that the work was finished much sooner than expected, and she left the shop in a light mood afterward. The store door closed behind her back with a cheerful sound.
‘Where is he?’
Herietta looked around. The street was full of people who were busy walking past, but she couldn’t find the one she was looking for.
‘He was supposed to be around here.’
Did he go to see the city streets? Herietta thought of Edwin wandering in the area around the store. It was hard to imagine because the appearance didn’t suit him well, but that didn’t mean it was impossible.
‘I finished sooner than I expected anyway.’
Having some free time to herself wouldn’t be a bad thing either. Perhaps after he was demoted to slavery, he had never been free to wander the streets of the city alone. Herrietta thought she should first go back to the carriage and wait for him, so she was just about to walk away when…
Someone who was in a hurry to go somewhere bumped into Herietta’s shoulder. The impact wasn’t strong, so she wasn’t hit hard enough to push her body back. The delicate scent of flowers tickled the tip of her nose.
It was a soft voice that seemed as if a jade bead was rolling on a silver tray. Herietta naturally looked behind her, and she checked the face of the person who bumped into her and was surprised.
The person who bumped into her was a slim woman who had beautiful black hair tied into a single braid. She had shiny dark green eyes fringed with long eyelashes, smooth and fair skin like milk, pink cheeks and lips, and a long, thin neckline that led to a slender face.
Herietta had never seen such a beautiful woman in her life. She was pushed by Lilian to attend various social gatherings so she had seen many beautiful noblewomen, but the woman standing in front of her was different.
If the moon goddess manifested in human form, would it be like this?
Isn’t she a beautiful fairy who lives in the forest?
The woman looked like she was in a hurry as she slightly bowed to Herrietta. The woman then turned around and hurried back on her way. Herietta was so speechless that she could only stare at the woman’s back in disbelief.
She felt as if she were possessed by something.
“Miss. What are you doing here?”
When she tried to follow her, the Jenner’s coachman spoke to Herietta. Herietta, whose thoughts were elsewhere, was awakened by the sound of his hoarse voice.
“Ah, that… a while ago…”
Herietta, who was about to explain to the coachman, trailed off. She was such a beautiful woman, but she was still of the same sex. If she confessed that she was standing dumbfounded by the woman’s beauty, it would be something strange to admit. If she said something strange, strange rumors might spread in Lavant.
After she thought about what she had to do next, Herietta decided to change the subject.
“Hey, the man who came with me. Where is he now?”
“Oh, that guy? He was here a little while ago.”
The coachman frowned and answered. He really didn’t know where Edwin was.
‘Then it means he didn’t go that far… Shall I go look for him?’
Herietta told the coachman to wait for a while and started walking along the side of the road. She was looking for Edwin, but in her mind, she remembered the woman she had bumped into a while ago. As far as she knew, Edwin was the only one in her life who had shocked her with his appearance.
‘As a woman… For my heart to beat like this… Had I been a man, I would have fallen in love at first sight.’
She thought it might be a good thing that Edwin wasn’t nearby. What if he saw the woman and acted as crazy as she was? Just thinking about it made her angry.
‘No. But Edwin, where did this man go? You didn’t go this way, did you go the other way?’
She seemed to have walked quite a bit, but when Edwin was nowhere to be seen, Herrietta thought she might have taken the wrong direction. As she contemplated whether she should turn back and retrace her steps, something came into her sight.
It didn’t take long for her to realize that it was the woman whose looks she had admired so much earlier.
‘What is she doing over there?’
The woman was standing in the middle of the street. Like Herietta, she was wandering around the streets as if she were desperately searching for something.
‘That looks kind of dangerous.’
Herietta’s heart started beating a little faster. As if an ominous foreboding had hit her, she heard a harsh sound of hooves approaching from far away.
It was a messenger in armor. Riding on a huge horse, he drove quickly as if he had some news he needed to deliver urgently. When the people heard the sound of his galloping horse, they quickly opened the way one by one.
The crowd that filled the roadside split apart.
‘Of course she would avoid it.’
Herietta thought as she looked at the woman and the messenger.
‘At least one of them will definitely notice the other.’
But contrary to her thoughts, the woman was still standing in the middle of the road, and the messenger showed no sign of slowing down. Whether it was because they didn’t find each other or because of the arrogance of believing that the other would avoid the other, Herietta couldn’t tell.
She held her breath unknowingly at the tension caused by the scene.
‘No way… No way, really…?’