24: A Date, Encounter, and The Great Miscalculation (Part Two)
A tall man with reddish-brown hair held out his hand as if anxious about the petite-built young girl with honey-brown hair. The young girl bashfully and gently placed her hand in his large hand.
A two-dimensional image of the same scene appeared in my mind.
The royal botanical garden was a popular date spot in the royal capital, and there was no way a dating simulator game would miss such a place. This was where the date between the heroine and each captured character unfolded, but the date with three nobility characters was a secret date in disguise.
Just like the two in front of me.
I immediately stepped forward and then remembered I was not alone. I apologized to the girl looking up at me strangely, and I asked her for a favor.
“I’m sorry, but can you wait on that bench over there for just a short while? When the man from earlier returns, please convey to him I will be right back.”
I felt guilty about going against Luca’s order and awfully afraid of what would happen later. However, this was a situation I couldn’t miss.
As the same reincarnation, I was curious about Marika’s future… And even more than that, how could I miss the chance to see Laurenz, whose character was even more disgusting than the game to be conquered by Marika, who had proclaimed that she would lose her virginity to him.
I admit I didn’t have much to say about people’s personalities.
“Certainly. I’ll be here.”
“Thank you. I’ll be back soon.”
I smiled at the meek young girl and followed the two of them nonchalantly. I kept my eyes on Marika’s leg. This was the information from a detective novel I had read in my previous life that if you stared at someone’s head or back intently, they would notice you.
The two purchased a dessert resembling crepe from the stall and moved away from the bustling crowd, heading towards the quiet pathway near the small imperial villa. As the number of people kept dwindling, I had to hide among the trees instead.
What was even better was I was wearing an autumn-yellow colored coat and hat. The atmosphere turned awfully intimate as I strained my ears to eavesdrop on them.
“Marika, can I have a bite of yours?”
“Um, OK, sure.”
“Thank you. Would you like to try mine?”
“Yes…Ah, this is delicious!”
“There’s some cream on your face.”
“It’s sticky. It’s too sticky.”
Certainly, there was a scene like this in the said dating simulator game where they eat each other’s cream, but now that I look at it in real life, its destructive power was too strong.
Just watching it, I was so embarrassed that I wanted to cover my face and roll on the ground. I wondered if Marika was fine. If so, then her mental power must be quite amazing.
If I looked back at myself, I felt like I’d done the same with Luca in public a while ago. I’d like to think it was not as much as Marika but comparing them wasn’t my conduct for the most part like the lovestruck couple.
Unlike me, who was hiding behind the tree and in a panic, Laurenz and Marika finished eating and were flirting even more.
Laurenz hugged Marika and smiled sweetly at her, and Marika twisted her body to resist, but her rapt eyes were intently staring at him.
I doubted my eyes when I saw their faces inch closer.
In the Knight route, the womanizing knight would aggressively approach the heroine with sweet words, but it would not go further even if the intimacy level rose. Laurenz might’ve been frivolous, but his character was set up as someone cautious when it came to real things, making the womanizer knight route unexpectedly irritating.
However, in reality, Laurenz seemed even more forward for one of their first dates and in the botanical garden. They even made out… But seeing that much, I quickly looked away and turned around.
I followed them out of curiosity, even if spying on them wouldn’t be a good idea.
I didn’t know if Laurenz laying his hand on her was because Marika maxed out her heroine’s specs, becoming predatory. Still, I understood that the capturing was progressing even quicker than the game.
Especially with how she said that she had conquered the assassin and the hidden characters by the start of the game. At this rate, she might make the crown prince fall for her and form a reverse harem that wasn’t originally in the game.
Just as I thought that, aside from Laurenz, it would be awful to have the crown prince as a harem member…
“Young lady, are you playing hide and seek over there?”
The seductive voice gave me goosebumps.
I wanted to run away reflexively, but I endured and turned around.
“Nice to see you, Lord Cesari. What a coincidence to run into you here, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, it is. Normally we don’t see each other in a grove of trees, let alone this promenade.”
I just smiled back at the sarcastic remarks coming from the person with the lovely smile and didn’t say anything in return. I didn’t feel like I could win no matter what I said when I was at a disadvantage. The rest was strategic retreat.
“I’m really pleased to have run into you, even if it’s an unexpected place like this…Well then, I think I will take my leave. Have a nice day.”
I gave a light bow and swiftly tried to make my escape, but of course, there was no way Laurenz would allow that to happen easily. He wrapped his arms around me and pulled me in as gracefully as if we were dancing.
“I never knew that you were so interested in me, even to go as far as to spy on me.”
I was almost driven by my urge to click my tongue at Laurenz, who looked like he knew I was there all along. It seemed like knights couldn’t be deceived so easily by impromptu spying using what I learned from a detective novel.
“I think you’re a bit too self-conscious. Why didn’t you think I was spying on Lady Marika?”
“You… spied on Marika? I wonder what kind of business you have with the young lady who has drawn closer to both Al and me.”
Oh, Miss Heroine, your plot was exposed. It was obvious from the way Laurenz put it.
Perhaps it was understandable. If it were a game, the other target obviously wouldn’t know that the heroine was increasing intimacy level with another target (for some reason, even if they were aware of their rivals, they didn’t blame the heroine.) But in reality, if you tried to get closer to Laurenz and the crown prince simultaneously, who were so close with each other, obviously, they would think it was suspicious.
As my eyes unconsciously turned away, the arm embracing my waist hugged it even more tightly.
I quickly put my hand on Laurenz’s hard chest to prevent him from hugging me, but the distance was so small I could feel his breathing.
“Are you concerned about the girl drawing closer to Al and me?”
I couldn’t help but twist my body as his sickeningly seductive voice that was even lower than Luca poured into my ear directly. The hand clasping my waist moved slowly and began to feel around the curves near my hips lewdly.
“Ugh…That’s how far you’ll go with your prank. You shouldn’t leave the girl accompanying you alone, Lord Cesari.”
“Marika already left a while ago. I’m not impolite enough to flirt with other girls when I’m with one already.”
“If you want to be polite, you should take your hands off me.”
“Since you’ve come to me, it’s my duty as a man to respond to you.”
Laurenz, whose whispers barely touched my ears, nibbled lightly on my earlobe. His hands that were feeling around my hips flocked to just right below the bulges of my chest and then pushed them up to see their shape. His fingers, which were surprisingly strong, very accurately brushed the tip of my breasts despite them being covered by my clothes and pinched them to tease me further.
“Ah, they are really soft without the corset.”
I could no longer act like a young lady with a soft wet something on my ear. I lifted my foot, which seemed to be losing strength, and slammed my heel down on the tip of Laurenz’s shoe.
“Ugh!” Other than a groan, the man didn’t show much more of a reaction. Next, I raised my knees.
“Oops… that’s dangerous.”
As expected, just as I raised my knees, he backed away to protect his vital parts, and in this timing, I somehow put distance between us.
“Where did you learn these things, Phily? Don’t tell me Luca taught you that.”
Laurenz grumbled in a complaint, but I didn’t have an obligation to teach a molester about my previous life knowledge of self-defense.
“Lord Cesari, you don’t think you would be able to get away safely after behaving like that, do you? Luca will probably kill you.”
“Ah. If Luca found out about this, he would seriously come and strangle me this time. Though I have confidence in myself that I wouldn’t hold back if it turned out like that but…you will not talk about this, right?”
The outer corner of his grayish-purple eyes narrowed, and he smiled meaningfully at me.
“I’m sure even if I forced myself on you right here and now, you would definitely try to hide it. After all, you know best what he will do if he finds out you were touched by another man.”
“You think I would protect the person who humiliated me?”
“Not the preparator but to protect d’la Love who might end up killing me. You should be calm and sensible enough to hope that he doesn’t get blood on his hands just because you’ve been forced upon.”
But I couldn’t spit it out. I was fortunate that I’d never been humiliated by someone I really didn’t like. So I wouldn’t know until the time came, but I was sure I would certainly keep quiet even if Laurenz did more to me than he did.
There was no way I would be able to speak about this to Luca, who was insecure and dangerous when it came to me.
Laurenz was a detestable man, but he definitely was an excellent judge of character. It was my hindsight to put myself in a situation where I was now alone with Laurenz and at a disadvantage by not listening to Luca.
Though saying that, I didn’t intend to accept this submissively.
“You sure seem to think highly of yourself, but I’m also a bit egoistic. You can never be sure if I speak about today’s matter to my father or Luca. And they crush the Cesari family.”
“It’s better if you stop with the threats. It’s unsuitable for you. You won’t, and you can’t. You are a kind person fundamentally. Unlike Luca, who only has you in his eye. Right?”
It was annoying that this man saw right through me. I didn’t have the will to endure anyone getting hurt for my sake. It was not that I was kind. I was just a coward with the principle of let sleeping dogs lie.
“I guess there are many guys who don’t approach you because they are afraid of d’la Love. But what they don’t understand is you don’t have any choice but to keep quiet and endure whatever is done to you in silence. Since you don’t want him to know about it, he will become your, the future Duchess d’la Love’s greatest weakness… won’t he?”
Laurenz laughed with a mellow, lust-filled voice while spitting out harsh sarcasm.
I bit my lip as I tried to say something back but couldn’t say anything. This man really got on my nerves. I didn’t know what was wrong with him that he cared so much about Luca and me, but he sure was an irritating guy.
I’d really see blood if Luca handled it like this.
Laurenz gave me a polite bow as if making fun of me, who couldn’t do anything except glare at him and keep silent.
“I will end at this point today since I don’t want to be caught by Luca. However, now that we both have a secret, let’s have a proper meeting next time and do some nice things, OK?”
“I don’t remember sharing any secrets with you… It’s disgusting. So can you please stop your prank here and be gone from my sight?”
A part about me had to recognize that, but I didn’t want to play along with the man who mocked my cute lover as my weakness who loved me too much.
While cursing in my heart that I would definitely make this bastard cry one day, I also gave a flawless lady-like smile to Laurenz so I wouldn’t lose to him.
“I will definitely make you regret all the lewd things you have done to me.”
After that, when I returned to the bench where the young girl was waiting, Luca was still not there.
I felt relieved and guilty at the same time as it was one more thing that I couldn’t tell my partner. With that, the curtains lowered on my long-awaited first date that ended with complicated feelings.
Just as I thought, Luca was unusually excited since we had just cuddled and slept together the previous night.
It was almost midnight. I was lying on my bed, unable to move a single finger as Luca’s emerald green eyes were staring at me with his hand on my side.
“Are you hiding something from me?”
I didn’t know if I could hide that sudden jolting of my body in surprise that instant.
I looked up at Luca, pretending I didn’t understand what he was talking about.
“What’s wrong all of a sudden?”
“You’re acting a bit strange tonight. You have accepted anything, even things that you usually dislike…Thinking about it, you were acting strange when we returned from our outing. You didn’t want to be touched in the carriage like that, but you allowed it.”
Sharp… He’s unusually sharp.
I had indeed resisted Luca’s attempts to touch me in the carriage earlier and severely scolded him too. It was impossible for me to be intimate in a place hidden by a mere wooden wall that people regularly passed by.
But I felt too guilty to refuse Luca today and just accepted whatever he wanted to do. In the bedroom after that, too, I couldn’t resist his demands as I usually did when he wanted to do something strange. I thought he was just in a good mood, doing whatever he wanted. I didn’t realize he was watching me closely.
They say that a man who sleeps around would act kindly to his wife or lover out of guilt. Never would I have thought that I would experience that feeling firsthand. No, I wasn’t cheating, of course, but I had a secret that I couldn’t tell Luca, other than the memory of my previous life.
I didn’t want him to know what Laurenz did today, but I especially didn’t want him to know about my conversation with him.
“I have said it before, but I’m not saying that hiding something is bad. I’m not trying to uncover everything that’s going on in your head. I’m just content with your words of love for me.”
“L- Luca… Wait a min—”
“But… there are also some things you must not hide, you know?”
For some reason, I felt like he had seen through me even though I hadn’t said anything. It was too scary. I wondered if Luca had some kind of sensor attached to him that told him I was touched by another man.
His hands gently caressed my oversensitive skin like a feather was touching me, even though I was tired.
“Ah… I… no…”
“I will not do anything awful. However, I will keep stimulating you… until you’re ready to tell me yourself.”
For the first time in a long while, I wanted to run away at all cost from Luca, who was faintly smiling, but his eyes weren’t.
Afterward, staying true to his words, my fiance shamefully kept interrogating me, making me wonder if I would be able to keep the secret from him…
Several days later.
Laurenz enjoyed himself on a little date during his break from work like usual. There were excessive numbers of rooms that weren’t used in the royal castle. This made the perfect spot for stealthy meetings. Men like Laurenz were made good use of them.
In the properly furnished and cleaned room, Laurenz was in a good mood with a voluptuous mature beauty, the type he liked, sitting on his lap. The wife of Viscount Bonella didn’t have a high social standing. That was something of low priority for Laurenz, who was collecting information for his own pleasure. He was looking at his stubborn prey, who had finally fallen to the subtleties of man and woman. She was approaching him while showing off her oversized and ample breasts. It lifted his spirits.
“Ah… Lau, don’t stop… “
“Cute, feel it deeper…”
The door to the room opened without any prior warning just as Viscount’s wife’s exaggerated panting echoed inside the room.
Even if this beauty’s husband were to come here, a man like Laurenz wouldn’t panic.
However, just as he gave a fleeting look toward the entrance, Laurenz startled and stood up Immediately.
A petite and elegant nobleman stood at the doorway and blinked speechlessly. Laurenz, who didn’t even notice his voice quavering, just like Alfonso or that his lover who was on his lap fell off when he stood up.
The hair of the petite-built nobleman, who looked awfully dainty when compared to the wife of Viscount Bonella, was a reddish-brown, just like Laurenz.
Perhaps it was because of his calm aura and wrinkle-free youthful face.
He was definitely Laurenz’s son, although his youthful, wrinkle-free face and calm demeanor made it hard to believe he had a grown child.
“Geez, Lau, you can’t just drop a woman on the floor. It’s even more unbecoming than having someone else’s wife on your lap.”
“Mother…Umm, this is…”
The man who was always composed and made other people dance in his palm as naturally as breathing was now faltering and sweating profusely.
Ignoring her son’s confused state, the mother put on a smile at her son and was flustered, organizing her dress on the floor.
“I apologize for my son’s rudeness, Viscountess Bonella. I will take my leave here, so please, you can continue.”
“By the way, Lau, do you know Viscount Bonella’s hobby is hunting? So take care of yourself. If the legitimate son of the Cesari family was killed as an adulterer, your father and your younger siblings would be too embarrassed to walk out the door. Understood?”
The father smiled calmly but with a warning that could only be described as terrifyingly sarcastic. He gave a graceful bow and turned around.
As the petite figure moved away, an even smaller figure appeared behind it, and Laurenz despaired, unable to speak.
The sweet young lady with reddish-brown hair that looked like the younger version of the mother was Carlotta, his little sister that he dotes on.
“Brother, you are disgusting.”
The bell-like chirping voice of his little sister was unprecedentedly low as she said her peace of mind and turned around, flipping her skirt.
Laurenz, who looked like his soul slipped out at the scornful gaze of the little sister, who said that she would become her brother’s wife in the future, seemed like he didn’t even notice what the Viscountess was saying in hysteria and went out.
“They got me.”
Although he was too shocked to think straight yet, this dirty way of doing things definitely rang a bell.
As Laurenz exited the room with feeble steps, he noticed the woman standing in the corridor quietly as if she wanted to blend into it. Normally, Laurenz would have given a frivolous smile reflexively whenever he came across a young girl. Still, unlike the lady-in-waiting in the royal castle, when he spotted a familiar crest on the chest of a well-dressed woman, he looked at her with resentment.
“Have you come here to assess the outcome of your retaliation? Dammit, d’la Love really has some nice hobbies.”
“I already know this trick’s outcome. I’m just here to convey the message of my Lord.”
“Heh? So, what does he want to say?”
“My master said, ‘I told you I will definitely make you regret this.'”
For a moment, Laurenz was unable to infer the meaning and asked for the message to be repeated.
The woman said it slowly, as If wanting to say he was not a perceptive person.
“My master isn’t Luca, Lord d’la Love. Make no mistake, the heir inheriting the name of d’la Love is a woman who is constantly protected.”
The woman gave a bow and left quickly as if to say there was no obligation for her to explain to him. The only one left, Laurenz, stood there in a daze for a while as he gazed at the retreating figure. He suddenly covered his face with one hand.
“You caught me, Duchess d’la Love.”
A low, charming voice with a feminine touch called out the name with a resonance never heard before.
“However, unlike d’la Love, you missed the main point, Phily.”
When he lowered the hand covering his face, his ashen purplish eyes filled with a lustrous, dangerous color were revealed.
“Provoking a man is like playing with fire…I will make you regret making me serious.”
The girl still didn’t know that she had made a new mistake.