“Your Grace, this is regarding the investigation into Aelle Karena.”
Kyle relaxed his gaze at the aide’s voice. Kyle glanced at the goldish-brown envelope on the other side of the desk.
The aide, astutely aware of Kyle’s intention, left the office after bowing. At that moment, Kyle’s grey eyes stared at the papers.
Kyle picked up the envelope and cast a nonchalant look. He looked as if he was wondering if he’d open it. He cut the envelope with a letter opener and took out the items inside, several sheets of paper coming out. It was a sketch of Aelle’s back along the path she was moving.
The now quite a familiar name came out of his mouth effortlessly.
Aelle Karena, born as the second daughter of the Viscount Karena family, supports her gambling and drunken father. The only places she visits are her home, the boutique, a flower shop, and she has a close relationship with Lady Zeveron.
Her mother died trying to save her brother from drowning in a lake, but her brother, Heinbel Karena, abandoned the then 13-year-old Aelle Karena and ran away.
As the grey eyes reached the end of the document, they fell without regret. Kyle put the papers down and leaned his back against his chair. He tapped the end of the paper intermittently with his index finger.
Kyle’s reaction to Aelle’s conversation was a simple whim. It was because of Hari, who praised the flowers sent to the Harden family some time ago.
He wondered about the one who sorted and packed those flowers. He didn’t expect her to make such an unreal suggestion
‘Did someone order her to do it?’
No, that’s not it. Kyle interlocked his fingers and placed them on his lap.
Unlike her aloof and calm face, he remembered her nervous-looking eyes and her small trembling hands. It was such a simple task but, She didn’t look like a person who could act on someone’s orders.
Above all, the family members and vassals who had turned their backs on him saying they could not accept Kyle as a member of the noble family were busy falling down under the feet of the Herace family.
Not long ago, gold was found in an abandoned mine, so even the business community kept quiet and kept a low profile. So there was no purpose in suspecting Aelle’s behaviour as someone’s order.
“I lost touch with my brother, and my father is addicted to gambling. There’s nothing left in the family. Soon, As long as someone gives him money, he would even sell me.”
“The purpose is clear.”
Kyle dropped the papers back on the desk and tilted his head. When he thought of the woman with a gloomy atmosphere and sad eyes, the gap between his eyes narrowed automatically.
‘Because you love the Countess Hari Harden, the wife of the deceased Count Louis Harden?’
Kyle moved his grey eyes slowly through Aelle’s investigation results. But he couldn’t be relieved. She was a woman who had a clear grasp of her hands and how to use them. That’s why she found him herself and made that suggestion.
Kyle stared at the papers. If she opens her mouth to Hari,
Kyle’s awfully low voice leaked bleakly. Kyle nervously furrowed his eyebrow and stared at the sketch of Aelle’s back.
* * *
When I opened the back door of the boutique, I was welcomed by the sound of the bell, bustling employees, the rubble and pin cushions.
As I looked up searching for the lively call for me, Madame, who was looking at the costumes in the second-floor studio, leaned on the railing with a smile. Her eyes turned to the basket I held in my arms.
“Aelle, how’s this new look?”
“Don’t you look great? As expected of Madame.”
I replied while handing over the completed work to the approaching employee. As he took the basket, I greeted him with a slight nod.
He waved and wobbled up the stairs. The Madame raised her feathered fan and pursed her lips in dismay.
“Really, Aelle has no soul, just soulless.”
“You’re so pretty. It looks great.”
Madame frowned and wrinkled her nose, expressing her disappointment, and then folded the fan with a sound.
“By the way, are you really going to refuse my offer?”
Madame narrowed her eyes and tapped her fan on her palm until it started making a sound. I had a swollen head, I had already forgotten about it.
“About working formally in our boutique.”
“Did you forget?”
I smiled as if I were sorry, but Madame’s hard face did not relax. I gave a dry laugh evasively.
“I’ll think about it a little more.”
However, being tied to Madame’s boutique, it would be difficult to get work in another boutique. When I thought about my father, I knew I couldn’t stay in place for long.
Madame, unaware of this thought, nodded her head, symbolizing that she understood.
“Madame! A madam (noble’s wife) is here!”
Suddenly, an employee pulled back the dressing room’s curtain and showed her face in the room. Madame made a discontented face as she narrowed her eyebrows.
“Did we have a wife or two coming to the boutique?”
As the staff looked back and glanced at the dressing room nervously, Madame’s eyes widened as she noticed it promptly.
“What? You should have told me earlier!”
Madame threw down her fan, straightened her clothes, and then came down the stairs with a bustling sound. While pulling back the dressing room’s curtain, Madame turned to me.
“Well, then, Aelle! Think about it!”
As I watched Madame disappearing into the curtain, I blinked in confusion. Madame always works hard pleasing the guests, but it was surprising to see her so excited. Who the hell was that guest?
“I’m sorry, but could you step aside, please?”
At that moment, an employee was in a hurry with a dress in her arms. She was trying to go to the dressing room but couldn’t go because I was standing in her way.
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
I apologized to the employee and tried to turn around, but I tripped over my shoe and fell down taking the employee down with me.
I sprang up and looked at the staff.
“I’m sorry, are you okay?”
The employee grabbed her ankle, groaning in pain. She sighed helplessly as she saw the dress lying on the ground.
“I had to bring it right now…”
Judging by her teary face, it looked like the dress was of an important person. I looked back and forth between the dress and her ankle. I picked up the dress and arranged it neatly in my arms.
“Should I take it to the dressing room?”
“I should be taking it to the fitting room…”
The employee looked up at me with worried eyes. I nodded my head and smiled to reassure her.
“Don’t worry. I’ll leave it where one can clearly see it.”
I grabbed the employee’s arm to help her get up, and once again smiled turning around.
All I had to do was quietly leave the clothes in the fitting room avoiding Madame and the guests’ eyes.
It was the first time I was going to the costume room or any other room besides the studio, it was not a serious task so I pulled open the curtain without much concern.
Frowning at the spectacular lights coming down on my face, I passed Madame and the guest sitting on the sofa chatting. At first glance, the images of a woman and a man brushed past me like a canvas.
(She didn’t give it much thought, their image came to her mind and then disappeared.)
Ho-ho, Madame laughed lightly covering her mouth. I pulled back the dark red curtain of the fitting room behind Madame.
“I didn’t expect you two to come together. How sweet.”
“Madame, you seem to have misunderstood. His Grace and I have been close friends for a long time.”
“Oh, my God, I’m sorry.”
His Grace? At the two syllables, my heart dropped to my feet and my hands started trembling. My eyes involuntarily turned to the man.
I stared at them blankly. No to be exact, at Kyle, who was smiling affectionately at the woman who sat by his side. The grey eyes that were facing the woman slowly shifted and turned to me.
For a moment, his eyes grew bigger, but in the next, the indifferent gaze returned to the woman.
I hurried into the fitting room, taking my gaze away from them.
I didn’t think it was Duke Herace and Countess Harden who made Madame run out.
I’m glad I placed the dress in my arm, otherwise, the cloth would have been crumpled by my clenched fists.
“I didn’t expect I would be given the honour of supplying dresses to the Countess of Harden, so shall we go see them?”
Madame’s excited voice reached my ears. Since I couldn’t see them, No matter how much I asked myself to ignore it, I became more focused on the sound.
“All right, Madame.”
Soon, I sighed in relief hearing the sound of distant footsteps walking away. I quickly hung the dress on a hanger in the room. I had to hurry out of here before they came back. I hung the hanger on the grommet above the oval full-length mirror and turned to face the curtain.
(In the early 17th-century grommet meant ‘a circle of rope used as a fastening’:)
As I put my hand in the gap between the curtains, a beautiful hand appeared and pulled the curtains back.
“Hiding and eavesdropping like a rat.”
When I slowly looked up, Kyle was staring at me with a cold face. I took a step back because of the tense atmosphere.