Claude spoke from the shadows, “You showered me with candy, and this was the best hiding space you could find” His footsteps were silent on the thick carpet, and Lia could only see his face when he came close to her.
She stood up quickly holding the trousers in her hand.
“It was a mistake.
I apologize.” She was lucky it was dark, and she stepped back to put the trousers on and button her shirt up.
However, she didnt have time to put on the underwear she had placed on the back of the sofa.
“I heard you were unwell.” Claude stared at her with narrowed eyes, then sat on the teal sofa, and loosened his tie before unbuttoning the top button on his cotton shirt.
He leaned back wearily and closed his eyes.
Lia carefully walked to face him.
“I was resting because of indigestion.”
“But you can eat candy” He said as he raised an eyebrow.
Lias lips pouted at Claudes sarcastic tone, and the moonlight fell on his unfortunately handsome face.
“The medicine was bitter, so I just grabbed a few.”
“You needed medicine” Claude sat up and saw Lia grab something from the sofa and now she looked like she was searching for a place to escape to.
Lia gulped at Claude calling her name.
He tapped the space next to him as he continued staring at her face.
Lia managed to refuse his offer when she saw where he was pointing, “Ill listen from here.”
“I need to confirm something.
So come here,” Claude almost demanded.
He motioned to her to sit by him, but Lia didnt want to hear what Claude had to say.
He then placed his legs on the table when she didnt budge and asked, “You see me as a villain”
“Be careful of the crown prince,” he interrupted.
“Why” Lia saw Claudes frown as she looked up at him.
“He likes pretty things regardless of gender and class.
So, just stay a good distance away from him.” Lias eyes fluttered in confusion, and Claude folded his arms and leaned back on the sofa.
He took off his jacket and laid down as if he was going to take a nap.
“Your voice still hasnt gone through puberty.”
She cleared her throat as she rubbed it.
Claude smirked, and when he laid down, Lia noticed for the first time how tall he was.
He was at least two heads bigger than her.
She remembered him saying that students had to get at least three uniforms a year because they got too small for them too quickly.
Did boys grow up so fast Unlike Claude, Wade had been pleasant without needing to do so, while Claude had been the one to annoy her.
“If the crown prince likes beautiful things, wont you have to be careful too” Lia asked.
“Why do you say that”
“I have never seen a more beautiful person than you,” she said as she walked to the bathroom.
Claudes eyes opened at those quiet words and stared at her as she walked away, but she turned around when she realized that she had forgotten the candles and had to come back.
Claude could see by her movements that she felt embarrassed about forgetting what shed wanted to take with her to the bathroom and he couldnt contain his laughter.
Lia frowned as Claude covered his mouth as he laughed, and she saw that his face had mellowed out.
“You know how to play me.
Do you want me to follow you You seem scared.” Claude looked her in the eyes and teased her.
Lia grabbed the candlestick and glared at him before going into the bathroom and locking the door.
He had come just to tease her.
She removed her shirt in front of a gold-edged mirror, and she saw how her skin had turned red from being tense and feeling embarrassed.
Her eyes trembled as she thought her body was embarrassing, for reasons she couldnt understand.
It was pitch dark now and Claude looked out of the window after turning his head from the bathroom door.
The room smelled of candy and herbs.
Once his eyes properly adjusted to the dark, he stood up and walked over to where Canillians jacket lay.
Marilyn Shelby would barely fit in it, and it smelled of lavender, which hed discovered was Canillians usual scent.
The boys voice, face, and the scent made him feel uncomfortable, like seeing a puzzle put together with the wrong pieces.
He let go of the jacket and left the room when he heard the water flowing in the bathroom.
“Fix the lamp in Sir Vales room and be careful,” Claude instructed the servant.
“Yes, Your Highness.” The servant bowed and went in to light all the lamps in the room, and Claude stood in the corridor to watch over the progress.
Canillian walked out of the bathroom with a surprised look on her face when she saw the brightly lit room, and Claude could see water drops fall from his honey-blond hair.
Canillian wiped a drop on his nose and spoke to Claude expectantly, “Are you leaving then, Your Highness”
“Yes,” he replied bluntly, but he couldnt hide a smirk as Canillian looked happy with his answer.
“Then, I hope you enjoy your evening.”
“Eat less candy.”
Claude walked casually away from her room to the gallery which was adorned with historical artifacts.
He shook his head at Canillians last words.
The boy did know how to play him.
Young ladies tilted their parasols and smiled broadly as they rode by in an open-top carriage.
They wore ribboned hats and inflated dresses, and their gazes lingered on the Vale carriage as they chattered away.
Canillia felt their eyes penetrate through the door of their carriage.
The academy was a mile north of Etear Street in Lona Park.
When the horseman pulled up to the entrance of the academy, Lia felt overwhelmed for a moment as she looked up at the massive high walls.
“Looks can be deceiving, Lian.
Sir Theodore is the best teacher there and has taught you only for the last four years and youre already at the top, so dont look up like that.”
The Marquis sounded happy, but Lia breathed in deeply with a bitter smile.
She didnt care what happened there, as shed only come to the academy so that she could stay in the capital.
Shed already drawn Louvres map and had made the carriage take a long way around so that she could see where Etear Street was and look for entrances that she didnt know of.
“We passed where you will live a bit earlier.
Do you want to go there now”
The carriage moved at the Marquiss wave, and the horses trotted down the well-paved road which was about ten minutes to the mansion that Lia would live in.
It was close to the Marquiss townhouse and could be managed by a small group of servants.
The three-story cream building made Lias eyes light up brightly in delight.
“You seem to like it,” the Marquis smiled, and she looked at the hydrangeas the previous owner had planted, picking a petal off one of the beautiful flowers before going into the house.
“Is it all right for me to live in this house”
“What do you mean I wanted you to live in my townhouse, but compromised due to your school route.”
“Thank you, father.”
The reception room was very welcoming and the central staircase was a pleasant coral color.
The old dull carpet had to be replaced though, but all in all, it was an elegant place.
Lia put her hand on the banister at the bottom of the staircase, realizing that after four years, she was finally in the capital.
“You will have to ride a horse since the academy doesnt allow carriages, and you have to learn to protect yourself in the academy.”
Lia stopped walking up the stairs, and she looked down at the Marquis as he took off his hat, “I have a question.”
“If my brother recovers, do I go back to Louvre”
The Marquis shook his head at the bleak question and took out a cigar from an engraved gold cigar box.
“I will not tell you to leave.
You can make your own decision.
However, stay somewhere near.” His answer implied many things, and she smiled as she watched the cigar smoke rise.
Lia thought back to the day when a maid had thrown Master Kieran in the lake in the middle of the winter.
He had been like a corpse, and while hed survived, he had been weak since then.
She recalled the conversation shed had with the maid thereafter.
‘Pepe, do you know who she is
‘She was gone when I came, but I heard that she had been close to Betty.
‘Is that so.
‘Yes, do you want me to ask
‘No, I dont have a reason to ask.
Lia had cried under the blankets that night when shed thought of Kieran coughing up blood in front of her.
She had felt so sorry and afraid for him.
Now, she just wanted to see her mother.
Even if she had been a villain to others, Laura had been her only family.
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Lia opened all the doors to the many rooms in the mansion and eventually chose the corner room that looked out over the urban district.
The Marquis came in and looked dissatisfied at the small room.
“Isnt this room too small”
“No, its perfect, and the view is lovely.”
“If you say so.”
Lia smiled, and her eyes sparkled as she looked out of the window.
She could finally do this.