21. By the Lakeside (3)
Some distance away from the shore, on a floating boat—
“Look, William-sama! The fish are swimming!”
Carla leaned and innocently pointed at the water. William stared at her with a troubled face.
Today was indeed strange. After leaving William’s mansion, Carla kept talking to him, but soon after Amelia entered the carriage, she became silent. During the entire trip, Carla didn’t speak to Amelia—it didn’t change after they got off the carriage, either.
Her line of sight was entirely occupied by William.
William was aware of Carla’s feeling towards him. Carla was only a child when she confessed to him, yet ever since then, her feelings only grew stronger. It could be seen through her behavior. William never thought of it as unpleasant, so he didn’t refuse nor avoid her.
However, to be honest, he didn’t find it particularly pleasant, either. William thought of Carla as his little sister. He adored her the way a brother would his cute sister, instead of as a lover.
Even if he said that, he also didn’t hold a shred of romantic feelings for Amelia.
Either way—William was in trouble. The usual Carla would keep her composure and opted to stay silent because she didn’t want to appear childish in front of William.
However, such wasn’t the case today.
She became coquettish and showered William with affection—even in front of Amelia. As he had been her friend since childhood, William knew that this was Carla’s true self.
William regretted his laidback attitude towards Carla—he was overconfident. He was so sure Carla wouldn’t think of doing anything incredulous. His attitude only encouraged her feelings further—that was why she tried to be honest, modest, and gentle. All that so she could be suitable for William.
—why did this happen?
“Carla, what was with your behavior towards Lady Amelia just a while back? That was too rude.”
William finally spoke to Carla about the way she behaved.
—even if Carla had feelings for him and Amelia didn’t mind it, that could never be a reason for her to behave like that. William hoped Carla would understand at least that much.
Yet, Carla’s smile disappeared completely, as a rebuttal towards William’s words.
“Me? Rude? But that woman is even ruder than me! I heard about her from my brothers—and I know it’s the truth.” Carla glared at William.
William glared back at Carla with a serious expression.
“…What did you hear?”
“William-sama, did you know? That woman, along with Edward and Bryan, frequent the city’s pub! Moreover, they are sneaking around at night!”
William never heard about that before. In the first place, William knew little about Amelia. It had been less than a month since they got engaged. In reality, this was the third time they had ever met in person.
Of course, Carla didn’t know that.
“As I thought, William-sama didn’t know! During the ball, Amelia tricked both my brothers and brought them to a pub! Can you imagine that?! Even more so when she didn’t actually know my brothers in the first place! After that, she started chatting up random strangers—how shameless can one be!?” Carla’s voice vibrated with anger and contempt.
Then, she continued. “I, I have pride too…!! Why…!! Why does it have to be that woman…!? That kind of woman isn’t suitable for William-sama…!!” Carla stared at William determinedly.
Yet, William stayed calm.
“The two told you that?”
“But you didn’t see it with your very eyes?”
“—!! Wi-William-sama, you’re saying that my brothers are lying!?”
Carla stood up on the boat—the sudden movement caused the boat to shake. However, Carla managed to balance herself—this is one thing I won’t ever back down from!!
“Calm down. That’s not what I’m saying.”
“What else could you be saying—!?”
“I understand, I understand why you would think like that… but, did the two say they hated Amelia? Did they mention anything about her being annoying? Was she rude to them?”
William didn’t know how much interaction those two shared with Amelia. He also wasn’t sure of their exact impression about her. However, from what he saw today, the two didn’t look like they despised Amelia, or found her bothersome.
“Sure, there are lots of bad rumors swirling about her—I won’t deny that. There’s no smoke without fire—“
“—if you already knew since the start, then why—!”
“Because I don’t think that’s all there is to her.”
William’s serious look made Carla bite her lips with regret—and asked.
“William-sama, are you sure that you aren’t being fooled by her…?” Carla resumed. “I… about William-sama—…”
Her eyes swayed—sadly, painfully, lovingly…
Yet her feelings never reached William.
William slowly opened his mouth, and stated the most unbearable fact that she too, knew;
“…Even if that’s true, it’s none of your business.”
The severity in William’s tone made Carla speechless.
—but William didn’t stop.
“I’ll be honest with you, Carla—I can’t accept your feelings. I too am fond of you, but it’s just the fondness one feels towards their family. It’s different.”
Drop after drop of large tears spilled from Carla’s eyes.
“It’s my fault… I should’ve told you sooner, I apologize, Carla.”
“T, this can’t be… no way… because… because—…” Carla finally started sobbing. She stood there, dazed, with tears endlessly flowing down her cheeks. Nevertheless, William said nothing. He kept staring at Carla, emotionlessly.
***T/N: I pity Carla, it’s every girls’ dream for their first love to come true, right? But at the same time, I feel like she’ll do something even more childish after this…