Wade laughed out loud as if he was astonished as he stared at Claude, “What do you mean Do you think I will eat Canillian up”
“We do not know that.”
Wade laughed like he would bring the house down and wiped a tear from his eye.
It was strange how he managed to be dignified despite the churlish acts.
“Have you not labeled him as a fake Is this sudden change of heart not too abrupt”
“No, I still think Canillian Vale is a fake.
Its just…” Claude looked out the window as he let his words trail, and his brow furrowed, “I think he is amusing.
Maybe even interesting.”
Wade was even more surprised at those words.
The crown prince sounded a bit irritated, and Claude rubbed his smooth chin as he answered.
“He refused to become my familys steward a few days back.”
“Oh, did that hurt your pride Are you going to tease him until he gives in”
Wade raised both hands in exaggeration, but Claudes answer was composed, “No, I want him more now.
The Marchioness worked hard to make him an acceptable substitute for Kieran, and he is a rare specimen.
He is fundamentally different from the idiots who dont work, and instead stick to their family names.
I do want him for that.”
Wades smile disappeared as he looked at Claude, as the idiots were the second and third sons of noblemen, who stayed near him, and often gave him poisonous glances.
Their words dripped with honey but their actions were disingenuous.
“You are sharp,” Wade sighed and murmured loudly so that Claude could hear him.
“I know that you have your fathers blood, and you make me think of your father.
That is very uncomfortable.”
“That is an honor for me since I respect my father.” Claude smiled as he crossed his legs, his shiny black hair fluttering from the breeze as Wade opened a window.
Cosoar was not far from the Shelby Estate, but it did take three hours to get there.
That was enough time to organize his thoughts.
Ian Sergio was a Geore prince, aggressive, and liked fights.
No matter how highly Kieran spoke of him, a brute was a brute.
Claude narrowed his eyes as he looked out the window.
It was natural for Claude to feel instinctively competitive when it came to other men and he wondered why Canillian Vale wasnt.
He felt oddly annoyed that Canillian was a man, no matter how small and frail he was.
His pretty face and voice would change one day and that thought was driving Claude crazy.
He bit down on words and opened his fisted hands as he looked at Wade, whose eyes were closed.
Maybe he was thinking like this because the crown prince reminded Claude that gender was irrelevant when it came to beauty.
Of course, Claude didnt see Canillian in that manner, this was just curiosity.
Was this why first impressions were so important, he wondered The child who had pressed snow on his hand was a girl wearing boys clothes, awkwardly to say the least.
He was used to it now, but… damn. Claude swallowed a curse and began to think of other things.
Canillian was not important.
Ian Sergio, who may bring bloodshed to the Empire, was what he needed to be concerned about.
Claude took out his pocket watch as the car shook on an unpaved road.
His blue eyes were tense as he drank in the green scenery.
“Stop following me around!” Lia shouted before running to Kierans outhouse.
Her breath was short from having run all the way there, and Ian smirked as he languidly followed her.
“I am the guest of this house, Canillia.
Dont run away from me.”
Lia wiped the sweat from her brow as she glared at him, “I am Canillian, and I guided you to the hall where guests reside!”
But I came to see you, not the manor.”
“Prince Sergio, why are you doing this to me”
“Call me Ian.” Ian smiled with his eyes, and Lias head turned away when she saw his happy face.
But I am busy, and you following me around does not help things.”
“Oh, shall I help”
Lia looked around for someone to help her, but no one was around, not even Kieran. What should I do Ian had seen her crying, and shed almost fallen backward when she saw him for the first time in the manor.
She wouldve landed on the ground if he hadnt grabbed her.
Ian had called her name like it was the most natural thing in the world, as hed supported her back, preventing her from falling; like he was calling her now.
Lia raised her head without thinking as she pondered how to get this guy off her back.
She realized her mistake the moment he smiled.
“See You do know your name is Canillia.”
“Youre incorrigible.” She tried to stay calm and be as polite as she could be, before turning around.
“Lia,” Kieran called her, walking towards her with some servants in tow, and he looked back and forth between Ian and Lia in surprise.
He sighed as he sent the servants elsewhere.
“Ian, I told you that you should wait for me in the outhouse.”
“Kieran!” Lia felt Kieran was her savior and went to him without looking back.
She hid behind him and glared at Ian, who just smiled with his eyes.
“I was bored and thought I smelled a lovely scent.
Then I saw her.”
“Ian, are you a beast to sniff things out like that”
“Dont you remember my nickname However, I had a nice tour of the mansion.
Please go in, as guests will arrive now.”
“So soon” Ian looked irritated now, and Canillia gently slid in between their conversation.
“Kieran, were you going to talk about Prince Sergio to me” She queried.
Kieran looked around and patted Lias head as he spoke, “I heard he had come in secret before, to meet you.
Did he make you uncomfortable”
“No, he only had some ice cream with me.” Lia glanced at Ian, whose brow was raised.
“Is that so While I find that hard to believe, if you say so, it must be true.”
“You said that guests were arriving” Her heart skipped a beat, as Kierans guests meant she would also know them.
Claude had carried her to her room, and she still didnt know why he had done so.
Kieran had been about to open his mouth when all three of them heard the bell ring from the main gate.
As their heads turned, Kieran spoke with a faint smile, “The crown prince is here with the young Duke.”
“I am Wade pon Wales.”
The men introduced themselves and Lia couldnt believe her eyes as the two men looked deadly serious when they shook hands.
The outhouse walls were covered with sunset and heavy silence.
“I am Claude del Ihar of the North.”
“Oh, the owner of Del Casa” Ian surmised.
“Not yet, as my father is alive and well.”
“However, you will be one day.” Ian looked more interested in Claude than Wade, and the young Dukes eyes flashed at that.
Lia stepped backward while holding her breath.
While she found herself here, she didnt want the Marchioness to see her with them.
Also, the three of them meeting would be top secret, and she didnt belong here.
“Welcome to the Empire.
I should thank you for taking care of Kieran Vale, whom I value.
Lets talk more in a nicer place.” Wade walked to the building, and Kieran followed with the other servants.
Things had returned to normal in an instant.
“Come in,” Claude spoke to Ian, who remained still.
However, Ian refused Claudes offer with a raised hand, as he stared at Lia.
“Go in first, as I need to speak with Canillian.”
Lia stopped mid-track and felt Claudes quiet and cool gaze pass over her, and then he looked at Ian.
She found herself between the two and somehow managed a smile, “Please, we will talk later if you wish.”
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“Later” Ian asked.
“Yes, as the crown prince is your priority, Prince Sergio.” Lia was as polite as she could be and worried that Ian may call her real name in front of Claude.
She wanted to get away as quickly as possible, but Ians answer made it impossible.
I need to hear why you were crying.”
Lia felt cold sweat trickle down her back, and she looked at Claude.
His eyes deepened, and his smile was bitter.
He looked at Lia for a moment before turning his head, “I will excuse myself first, Prince Sergio.” Claude bowed slightly before going into the outhouse.
Things ended there.
Lia stared at Claudes back, and Ian let out a laugh as he looked back and forth between the two.