“I have to journey to the East tomorrow.
The Navy deployed and I have to join them.
So, Ill say my goodbyes now,” said Marquis Gliad to Kieran and Lia, making Lias heart heavy and her throat tighten.
She didnt know what to say or whether she felt sadness or frustration.
Gliad patted Lias wet head and smiled gently.
“You must be surprised.”
Obviously, I thought youd stay here.”
“I have a favour to ask,” said Gliad.
“What is it”
“It might be a cruel favour to ask you, but until I come back, dont go far.
I want to see you two again upon my return.”
He hugged Lia and stretched out his hand to Kieran standing diagonally from them.
Kieran approached them looking determined.
He embraced Gliad with her sandwiched in between.
“Please come back, Father.
Ill protect Lian,” promised Kieran.
Lia nodded vigorously at his words and swallowed her tears.
“Come back, Father” she choked.
Asked to stay in the Capital.
It was a promise that she may not be able to keep, so she didnt give a proper answer.
What if this is the last goodbye
What if he cant ever come back
Lia suddenly became even more frightened and hugged the giant Gliad more tightly.
The first day she met the Marquis, she was afraid of him.
She thought of him as the the man who had hurt her mother—the man who made her mom sad every day.
He must be a monster, she thought, and had the idea that all the nobles in the Empire were horned and evil.
Her face must have betrayed these odd feelings back then.
His uniquely bright hair color and emerald eyes, uncommon in Louvre, were awkward and scary at first.
But, now she wasnt afraid of the Marquis at all.
Sometimes careless, sometimes kind, he was her guardian in a certain way.
Gliad found Lias tight embrace touching, and as he kissed the top of her head, his eyes teared.
“You have to stay safe too.
Please,” said Gliad.
Lia sniffled as she exited Gliads tent.
She looked around.
The area that was so full of activity and conversation moments ago, was quiet and empty.
“Where did everyone go” she asked a soldier stationed nearby.
The soldier pointed in the direction of the lake and said, “Everyone went for a swim in the hot spring.
Everyone washes there every day.
However, because the Duke allowed people to enter only after midnight tonight, they all went at once to clean up.
Would you like me to guide you there”
“No, thank you.
I already went,” said Lia with an awkward smile.
She turned and smiled broadly while walking towards the carriage feeling sleepy.
The Duke had kept his promise.
He protected her and let her taste the heavenly hot spring of Valencia.
Such a chilly night!
Inside the carriage, Lia wrapped herself in the same blanket that had kept her warm on her journey here.
She fluffed a few cushions, curled up, and took out a book.
But there wasnt enough light.
She couldnt read with the scarcity of torches.
She gave up on reading and closed her eyes.
The window of the carriage rattled from the wind and there was the distant sound of wild animals.
Where would he be now Would he be with soldiers No.
He was wounded, so he might be resting in a tent.
As she dozed off, her mind was full of the brooch the Duke had left, sweet drinks, and the shouts of soldiers.
Lia was fast asleep, so she didnt hear the carriage door opening.
Claude frowned when he approached the carriage, seeing that the door was unlocked and there was Lia asleep.
He noisily sat himself down opposite the sleeping Lia and observed her.
He leaned his elbows against his knees, lowered his upper body toward her and inhaled the scent of her freshly washed body.
“May I kiss you, Canillia” he asked.
She hadnt heard the loud sound of his entrance into the carriage, so she certainly didnt hear his question.
Lia‘s pretty face flinched slightly, but she slept deeply.
After Claude had discovered her true sex, there was nothing holding him back.
Even though she was a bastard of the Marquis—an abandoned child of Louvre—it didnt matter to him.
Everything Marilyn dearly wanted, Claude gave to Canillia.
Anything he felt uncomfortable doing, he could do in front of Canillia.
This was the first time in his entire life that anyone felt so precious to him.
“Im going to kiss you, Lia.”
He placed his lips on hers.
Dont do it, Ian.”
What displeasing name just came out of her lips
Claudes eyes narrowed.
Ian Sergio must have known—known that youre a lady.
Anger surged through him as he recalled the way Ian Sergio had acted towards Canillia.
The worst part was that Ian stayed in the same house as Lia after knowing the truth.
“Damn it!” spat Claude.