Passing through the central hall, she noticed portraits of all the previous Marquis.
They were in frames and hanging on the high walls.
When she reached the entrance to the red porch, she saw Claude standing and glaring at the black car he had driven in last time.
Feeling her presence, he turned his head to meet her eyes, and Lia pondered what kind of an expression she should make.
As she continued thinking about her worries, Claude took an umbrella from her attendant, opened the back door of the car, and politely held out his hand as he said, “Come here.”
He treated her as if she’d become a real lady.
Lia felt uncomfortable by this gesture, so she ignored Claude’s outstretched hand, grabbed the hem of her dress, and quickly stepped into the car unaided.
The rustling and heavy jewels on the ends of the dress collided, making a mellow sound.
He looked at her indifferently as she got into the car, sighed a little, and then sat next to her.
Peering in the rearview mirror, the attendant noticed the strange atmosphere between the two before starting the car.
It felt like the tension in the backseat could almost be cut with a knife.
The driver returned his attention to the front and started the car, which moved forward with a rattling vibration.
And the two looked out of their respective windows without saying a word to each other.
As the raindrops rolled down the car window, Lia hoped that Claude wouldn’t ask anything until the very end of their journey.
Even though her hair color was different from the night she’d bumped into him in Louvre, Claude would have doubts as he had a keen eye.
Lia rubbed her sweaty palms against her dress and fanned her hands as the air inside the car got warm.
Then, out of the blue, Claude grabbed her hand that was fanning her face.
Taken by surprise at the feeling of her body getting pulled by him, she pushed back to her side of the seat and exclaimed, “Sir!”
“I don’t understand you.
For someone terrified and trembling just passing by the Louvre, to then cooperate in this kind of a tactic, is quite strange.”
Lia answered, avoiding his gaze for a moment, “They asked for help.
It’s something that only I can do, so I have no choice but to help.” Her hand that Claude held tightly was hot and tiny and therefore hidden in his palm.
Lia wondered if she’d done something stupid in the pursuit of her mother because that was all she thought about and hadn’t considered the rest.
General Bryton said that they could move according to the plan they had made.
But Lia was thinking of going into the Louvre by pretending that it was a coincidence.
If something happened there, she was sure her mother would hear the word of that, and she’d know that Lia was alive.
Lia’s heart raced when she realized the complexity of the situation.
That was why the appearance of Claude had not been pleasant nor welcomed.
She also thought that the escort of the bait was supposed to be a low-ranking soldier.
Therefore this man must be confused.
Then Lia thought that perhaps it would be better, to be honest, and say that the lady he’d met that night was her.
While she bit her bottom lip because of her troubled thoughts, a hard, cold stick touched her hand.
She shuddered and looked down to see that Claude had placed a small dagger in her palm.
“What is this for”
“Hold it tight,” Claude said as he closed her fingers around the weapon when he saw that she was reluctant to take hold of the cold steel.
He then leaned forward to meet her gaze, and Lia retreated closer to the door.
When she looked up again, Claude’s face was so close he could touch her, and his smile had vanished.
Lowering his gaze to her hands that he held, Claude said, “If your opponent threatens you, you’ll just stab him right here.”
Slowly, he pulled Lia’s hands to his thigh.
She couldn’t breathe as she was so close to the man’s neck.
Lia felt as if she was going to choke on the rich lavender scent.
The tip of her sword touched his hard thigh, which bulged through the well-tailored pants.
Lia tried her best not to put any force on the dagger.
His voice then reached her soft ear.
“And here,” he whispered as his warm hand wrapped around the nape of her neck.
His hands wandered over the choker wrapped around her smooth neck, and he noticed the neck was soft with no bulge in the front.
The choker was a decoration to cover one of the symbols of a man, which was Adam’s apple.
But of course, Lia didn’t need it at all.
She hadn’t even thought about wearing something to cover her throat.
Claude pulled the tip of her chin up as his other hand caressed her slender neck.
“Answer me, Canillian.”
His breath was so close that she couldn’t continue her thinking, and she quivered as she replied, “Yes.”
He smiled at the sight of Lia, who struggled to answer and rolled her eyes to avoid his gaze.
Observing her with a silent smile, he calmly looked away.
As if there had been no previous contact, he carelessly took out the holder of the dagger and wrapped it around her arm.
“I’m glad it rained.
Cover the holder with the raincoat.
The spy went in already.
They said they would target the nobles passing the bell tower late at night.
But this time, it won’t end with only taking lives.
They are going to take hostages, so run away if you feel anything is out of place.
Because I have no intention of using you as bait to catch the criminal.”
“Okay,” was all Lia could say.
He still looked angry, but Lia couldn’t figure out why.
And she was afraid of the changes taking place inside of her.
This unfamiliar feeling was uncomfortable and terrifying.
Each time her heartbeat, instead of feeling displeasure toward him, she now felt pleasure.
Lia knew what it meant to feel like that, and she was about to cry frustration.
She needed to get away from Claude as soon as possible. No, it can’t be.
There’s no way I feel that for the Duke.
Suddenly, a massive library appeared in the distance, and Lia leaned towards the car door so she could get out the moment it stopped.
“You must keep the dignity of a lady,” Claude reminded her.
One word from him straightened her back.
Contrary to her upright posture, Lia’s face looked distorted, “You mean like this”
Claude stared at her silently, then nodded his head reluctantly, “Okay, yes.”
The car came to a stop in a puddle of water.
Lia got out of it as soon as her attendant opened the door.
She then wrapped herself in a raincoat she had received and held up a brightly colored umbrella.
Sitting at an awkward angle in the car, Claude looked up at her and made eye contact.
Lia lifted the end of her dress and bowed.
“Thank you for the escort.
Please return safely.”
Claude’s brow wrinkled at Lia’s attitude as she slowly raised her head.
The attendant then closed the car door, and it made a dull sound when it latched in place.
A glimpse of the man’s face appeared through the hazy car window, but Lia wasn’t looking in his direction.
Claude seemed to have volunteered to escort her to teach her how to wield a dagger.
One side of her chest grew cold with her relief as if she had put ice on it.
But pain followed by surprise, and after the pain came numbness. Calm down, Canillia.