Lia felt dizzy as if she were on the brink of passing out, and she hurriedly pulled her hood over her head in the hopes that he wouldn’t recognize her.
Claude, who was just as shocked at nearly knocking her over, unwrapped his arm from around her tiny waist, but he couldn’t take his eyes off of her face.
If he recognized her, she would need to say something and make up an excuse, no matter how ridiculous it may sound.
But she couldn’t say anything, and her mouth just opened and closed, which made her look like she was a fish out of the water, gasping soundlessly for air.
Clenching her hood still, her hand trembled uncontrollably, and it felt as if the ground below her feet was going to give way at any moment.
Then, from above her head, she heard Claude speak as he sighed, “It seems I made a mistake.
I thought you were someone else, miss.”
Mistake Someone else Coming back to her senses, she remembered that she looked like a perfectly dressed lady.
Instead of underwear that pressed into her skin, she wore a corset, and she was wearing a voluminous blonde wig.
The darkness of Louvre saved her, as Claude wouldn’t be able to get a good look at her face.
With a fearful expression, she stepped backward until she could secure a good view of the path and looked for a way to escape without seeming too hasty, which would give him cause to be suspicious.
She didn’t know what Claude was doing here, but she knew her way around this area, which gave her an advantage.
However, as Lia stepped away from him, Claude came even closer.
“Can I ask for your name”
No! Lia shook her head from side to side, feeling sweat dripping down her back as her fear heightened.
She knew that she shouldn’t meet his eyes, so Lia hunched her body as if she was scared and kept her head down.
“Do you live here” He asked, eyeing her skeptically.
Lia, once again, shook her head.
Looking down at her, he grabbed her arm, but she refused to look at him after detecting suspicion in his voice.
“You’re not mute, are you” Thinking on her feet quickly, she nodded her head vigorously at his question, realizing that this was her ticket out of this situation.
“I suppose you can understand me at least.”
Lia half-nodded as she whined and pulled her arm out of his grasp.
If she walked a bit further from here, there would be a wall with an oil lamp, and if she broke in through there, she would be able to see the narrow passage connected to the north entrance.
As Lia moved away, she glimpsed the red ribbon over Claude’s shoulder and clenched her fist in frustration as she was eager to get going.
“I do not know why you are here, but if you are lost, let’s move together, miss,” Claude said in a kind voice that not even he hadn’t heard before, but in Lia’s mind, all she was thinking about was bolting!
The only reason that he couldn’t recognize her was because of the darkness.
But she knew that when the darkness lifted, she would no longer be able to hide her identity, and so she became impatient.
But why is the Duke here, alone She became the suspicious one now and shifted her gaze to him.
Lia noticed that his hand brushed against the wall as he walked and also that he was holding a crayon made from a fluorescent substance, which use was, to leave markings for allies to find a specific place.
Immediately the penny dropped, and she realized that Claude was the one who had become lost.
I’m going to go crazy! I need to get away from him! Lia, who had planned to escape through the narrow passageway up ahead, glanced at the people hiding in the shadows.
She was not intimidated by the darkness, but she found the man in front of her scary and intimidating.
From the time she’d met him, four years ago, whenever their eyes met, something inside of her felt like it was twisting and breaking into pieces, which made her feel extremely uncomfortable.
Regardless of this, she didn’t have the heart to leave him on his own.
Lia chewed on her lip, and she pulled her hood down even more before turning around.
Then, at a pace that was neither slow nor fast, she walked away, and Claude followed, still looking at her suspiciously.
She’d noticed earlier that tied to Claude’s waist was a gun, as well as a thin but a long sword, and seeing him wear a uniform as opposed to his usual suit or tailcoat, was strange because he looked handsome.
They walked in silence through the narrow, dark passageway, the sounds of their footsteps echoing in the cave-like alley, and the rats that had been digging through the rubbish bins hurriedly scattered away.
Beggars that laid on the cold ground covered themselves with straw mats up to their eyes, and other people wandered about semi-conscious from drug use, which was normal to see in Louvre.
Canillia tried to see things from their perspective and recalled her mother telling her how she’d given birth to her, covered with a similar straw mat, next to a rat-infested rubbish dump.
She had cut Lia’s umbilical cord with dirty hands and had wrapped her in a stained cloth as she’d breastfed her.
Although her surroundings hadn’t been anything to write home about, she had still been a happy child and had only had a few bad experiences growing up.
As she walked down the nostalgic path, her vision became blurred by tears.
Finally, after walking for fifteen minutes down the alley that zigzagged, they reached the north entrance where the coachman awaited her.
As Claude saw the entrance, he burst into laughter, cutting Lia loose from her tightly wound nerves.
“You know the way well.
Are you from here” His voice had a subtle hint of threat, prompting Lia to head in the direction of the coach as quickly as she could, but he shouted after her, “Hey you!”
The sound of Claude’s footsteps behind her rang in her ears as he tried to catch up with her, and unable to bear the pressure any longer, she abandoned all face and sprinted to the coach.
Claude’s voice roared behind her, “Stay where you are!”
At the sound of Lia crashing into the carriage, the coachman dropped a cigarette from his mouth as he stuttered, “W-w-what”
“Hurry, we have to go,” Lia whispered so that only the coachman could hear her voice, and then she turned around to see that Claude was close behind them.
However, the dumbfounded coachman quickly got the carriage moving, putting some distance between Claude and them.
She looked back as the carriage sped on and saw the frustration on Claude’s face as he brushed his hand through his hair and cursed.
Then, unexpectedly, a strong wind blew her hood off and exposed her golden hair.
“Miss, what is going on Why was someone like that chasing you Did he catch you doing something bad Are you a criminal”
If I ever get a wanted order for my carriage, I’m going to come and find you.
Do you understand”
Hearing those words, Lia was shocked, as if she had received a blow to the head, and she hastily pulled out two more gold coins.
She shoved them in his face, and in surprise, the coachman pulled on the reins.
“W-w-what is this” He stuttered.
“They are yours as long as you promise to keep this a secret.
If somebody asks where you picked me up, say it was the Leon Bridge, in front of the statue of St.
“What You are one dangerous lady.” Although he was astonished by her request, he grabbed the coins regardless and shoved them in his pocket.
She may have been a suspicious night passenger, but she had just given him a month’s worth of money, so he decided not to press her further with questions.
Lia pulled her hood up and covered her hair again as she looked at the road ahead, feeling relieved.
The wind blowing from the direction of the river smelled fishy as it dried the tears that had welled in her eyes.
Her quest this evening may not have gone as planned, but she finally realized that she was home.