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In search of Luke, the first place Reina went to was the kitchen of the annex.
Eli’s uniquely warm, yet refreshing, scent of grass-like soap approached Reina.
“Hm? Why is my rice cake here?”
Eli naturally walked up to her, as if he had already gotten used to his nickname of ‘rice cake’.
“To look for him with Noona.”
Now that she thought about it, Eli probably didn’t even know what a rice cake was, but he wasn’t questioning it nor rejecting it.
But there’s going to be only one winner.
As if he could hear her thoughts, he smiled and said,
“If I find him, we can just say that Noona found him.”
What a nice kid, this guy.
Really though, why was he chucked to the corner of the original novel, without even a significant role? He didn’t even enter Lehman’s radar.
“I don’t have anything to wish for anyway, so Noona should be the winner.”
A rush of emotions passed through Reina. Unable to endure it, she opened her arms and hugged Eli.
“My Eli, you’re not a rice cake, you’re an angel.”
Hearing his voice, which was full of embarrassment, Reina released him from her embrace and saw just how red his face was. It looked like it was about to burst.
‘He looks exactly like a rice cake. What do I do?’
It’s impossible to resist his cuteness.
“Honestly, your cuteness is so criminal that it would make even Gandhi cry.”
“Ah, never mind.”
Dazed as she was, Reina made silly comments to herself for a moment, but she belatedly came back to her senses. She turned to face him.
“Then, shall we look for him together?”
She held out one hand to him, nodding as she looked at his red-hot cheeks. Seeing him like this, Reina inevitably burst out laughing.
An escort for a game of hide and seek. This is so cute, seriously.
“…Why are you laughing?”
“We’re just playing hide and seek, but don’t you think that having an escort for it is something special, Eli?”
“You think so?”
When he unexpectedly answered back seriously, Reina felt a bit flustered. She thought that he’d say yes.
“Then you don’t want to?”
“You don’t want to hold my hand?”
No, but… Wasn’t it kind of weird for them to hold hands in this kind of situation…?
She couldn’t guess what he was thinking from his facial expression, but his eyes suddenly sank coldly.
“You seem to be good at holding the others’ hands.”
All she did was hold Paul’s hand when he helped her out of the carriage, then hold Fran’s hand because his reactions were hilarious, then hold Letis’ hand to meet the guy’s expectations, then hold Ethan’s hand as they entered the banquet hall back then…
Ah, so she held all those hands.
Reina could say nothing to refute this, and so she quietly nodded. Eli’s expression worsened even further, perhaps because he misunderstood her response.
“You don’t want to?”
The corners of Reina’s lips tugged up into a smile once more, and she quickly grabbed Eli’s hand.
“That’s not it? You don’t hate it. You actually like it, right?”
Only then did Eli’s expression return to his original innocent look.
This momentary gap kind of frightened Reina again.
‘I think I just missed something very important…’
“Let’s go, Noona.”
“Huh? Ah, yeah. Let’s go.”
Reina had a feeling that her child was getting colder day by day… Was it just her imagination?
* * *
Eli offered to escort her for a reason.
Not knowing that she was openly gawking, Reina stared dazedly at the guy standing next to her.
‘…Is he, like, a search dog or something?’
Eli was from a swordsman family. So, to some extent, she already expected that his five senses would be superior.
But she didn’t know that it was this much.
“Not here either.”
“Uh-huh. Wait a sec.”
Eli then gently closed his eyes, listening to the sounds around him. Then, as though he was completely certain, he shook his head.
‘Whoa… It’s like he’s a superhuman weapon!’
Advanced tech with all sorts of radars wouldn’t be as high level as him.
‘I think he’ll also be useful whenever I want to avoid Jeremy and Leh—’
As she thought about how great it would be if he could serve as something of a search dog,
‘Ah, no way. No matter how great he is at it, I shouldn’t think of someone like that.’
“Yes. He’s over there.”
Eli pointed one finger towards the right direction. Reina smacked her lips as she gently placed a hand over his pointing hand.
‘…No matter how much I think about it, it’s a talent that I want for myself.’
* * *
Inevitably, the winner of today’s game of hide and seek was Reina.
“That was kinda cheap.”
Paul grumbled like that, but was that important?
He’s a nemesis-like childhood friend, but he’s nothing against a wish coupon!
“While we’re at it, why don’t you go and get Jeremy or Douglas, too?”
Intoxicated with her victory, the winner stuck out her tongue at the young man in front of her.
“So, is that your wish?”
Despite being the one who suggested the game, Letis looked like he wasn’t particularly upset about his loss.
“I’m not going to use it yet though?”
If she would have to run away later, she’d use it then.
“There should be a time limit to that.”
Fran, who was quietly holding his breath in the corner, piped up as he thought about what kind of wish she might make. Of course, this feeble act of rebellion was soon thwarted by Letis.
“Mmh, nope. No time limit.”
And again, since he wasn’t the heir to his household, the lowest on the ladder here was Fran Carter.
“But will the others who aren’t here still grant my wish?”
“Did you all agree to it?”
Instead of Letis, the guy who started this all, Paul was the one who answered back, taking a bite out of his apple.
“It was agreed upon by a majority vote.”
What a dictatorial proclamation. Still, Reina appreciated it. Dictator or whatever, in the face of death, Reina’s sense for human rights had all but collapsed.
“Nice. Alrighty, then I’ll use those wishes one by one when I need to later.”
As a result, she successfully built her Plan C—a safety plan.
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