“If you’re unable to find a betrothed until the next New Year’s banquet of the nine households… This time, your engagement with Lehman Karr will really proceed.”
What kind of nightmarish prophecy exactly was she receiving right now?
“Why are they suddenly being so hasty about this? And there are other households!”
“Perhaps it’s because of your damn improper actions of late. That time you ran away from home was a bit extreme, too, so those petty old coots kept a grudge about that and are now taking it out on you. Do you understand, my dear daughter?”
“No, but… Regardless of how petty they are, why are they so adamant about House Karr? Why are they just overlooking the other better families…”
“In any case, they’ve set a deadline. You should wrap it up before the year ends.”
From the look on her face, Reina’s mother was not pulling her leg here.
“The elder council is making a lot of concessions here as well, my daughter.”
“So forget about Ethan and focus on those other boys.”
In the end, the time had come for her to really give up on Ethan.”
It was out of necessity, not of choice, that Reina had to do this now.
* * *
As Ethan’s eyes followed after each and every move Reina made, in the end, his frustration grew to a point that he was now sighing openly.
At the same time, Reina flinched. She’d been scuttling here and there inside the office because of the data he had asked her to retrieve, yet here he was, clearly annoyed by her.
‘Why… Again… What’s… What’s his problem though…’
She already couldn’t sleep well at night thanks to the recurring nightmares of the elder council shouting ‘LEHMAN KARR!’ at her.
Yet here and now, as Ethan’s apparent reactions were getting worse, she couldn’t bear to endure it anymore without losing her mind.
But even as his current, suffocating disposition towards her was driving her nuts, what could she do?
First and foremost, he was her superior here at the workplace. All she could do was lower her head in front of him, kneel down humbly, and cautiously crawl away…
Surreptitiously, Reina turned around and faced said superior.
“Um… By any chance, is there something I did wrong…?”
It definitely seemed like she did though. Just look at the awkward expression on his face right now.
Reina pressed down on the feeling of injustice that’s about to explode from within her. Feeling her pupils start to tremble, she closed her eyes.
“Uh… Then, I’ll be off—”
As Ethan called her attention, Reina’s clumsily creaking body halted at once.
“…Yes, Deputy Director Ethan, sir.”
His brows twitched once as he wrote down something on a piece of paper. It took a while for him to finish writing that memo before he handed it to Reina, who was just staring at him expectantly.
“Please go to the library and find what I’ve listed down here.”
Taking the list of books from him, her eyes nearly popped out of their sockets as she skimmed through the list incredulously.
‘Am I supposed to… find all of these by myself…?’
It was a list of books that had five long columns.
‘Is he saying that he doesn’t want to even look at me at all messing around in front of him, that’s why he’s exiling me to the library…?’
In an attempt to press down on the urge to let out a long, heavy sigh, Reina bit her lower lip tightly.
‘Ha… I seriously must have been completely delusional all this time…’
It seemed as if the mission she had been working on until now, while utterly oblivious to reality, was not Operation: Seduction, but Operation: Death’s Calling.
‘Haa… This migraine’s killing me.’
* * *
“It’s nicer to stay at the library though, I guess.”
She felt a little betrayed when she had gotten kicked out, but when she entered the library, she immediately felt that she was more comfortable here. The crisp yet soothing smell of paper and ink also relieved the tension in her shoulders.
“But seriously… Why doesn’t that guy have a middle ground, huhu?”
Reina glanced down at the list of book titles and skimmed through it once again. Just looking at the list itself was already tiring her out.
These days, it seemed like Ethan was being so impatient about wanting to grill her with work. And once she found all the books he told her to get, she’d have to go back to face him…
“Indeed… No middle ground at all.”
This time, she was talking about herself. Had she carried out her mission with more moderation, Ethan’s retaliation wouldn’t go this far either.
“What the hell.”
Her voice trembled as those three words popped out of her lips.
“In the end, I still keep finding myself back paired together with Lehman…”
Operation: Ethan Seduction was the mission that she so ambitiously prepared for to avoid her death flag, but it was completely ruined now.
“I tried to avoid it the best I could, but I only ran as far as this…”
She just couldn’t get anything done right.
Tired of her circumstances, Reina leaned back against a bookshelf and sank down to the floor.
“I still have Fran and the others as back-up plans, but…”
After her conversation with her mother, she seriously considered getting engaged with one of the others, but she was still feeling reluctant.
And the problem was…
“Hang on… If I also wasn’t actually successful in capturing them…?”
Reality came crashing down on her when she realized that Operation: Ethan Seduction was a total bust… Thanks to that, her self-confidence in her progress with the other guys had also plummeted.
“If I send a formal engagement proposal to someone who seemed as averse to the idea as Ethan, I bet I’ll only get rejected…”
Fran, Letis and Luke all had similar families to her, being part of the nine households that were the pillars of the empire. She couldn’t very well be a greedy octopus who’d try nabbing them all at the same time with simultaneous formal engagement proposals.
So, Reina had one single bullet to use. She had to be careful.
Perhaps it might have been better if she hadn’t done that stupid seduction mission.
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