There was a man standing inside the greenhouse.
She could see him turning towards her in her sight.
At that, Irene’s eyes widened involuntarily.
He disappeared from the greenhouse side, so she thought he had disappeared around the corner.
Though it seemed that he had entered the greenhouse.
What was the reason Did he secretly make a promise to meet someone here…
Even though Irene did not know why, she had to check his identity first.
It seemed that she was really lucky to find him so quickly.
Inwardly, Irene was clapping with joy as she grabbed the man’s hand.
“What are you doing here”
“…It’s a greenhouse, right So, just looking around”
However, the voice she heard was familiar.
No, it would be natural to be familiar because he was an employee.
Though it feels more familiar than that…
Irene let out a startling cry without realizing it before raising her head.
“You didn’t know”
A soft voice quickly set Irene’s hunch.
It was only then that she glanced down at the hand she was holding.
…His hands were completely black.
Her heart pounded.
‘It was a failure.’
“Did you catch me without knowing it was me”
“Uh… I have dark eyes at night.
I thought you were a suspicious person.”
Irene hurriedly let go of his hand and tried to back away, but she was caught.
Although it was a day without a smattering of moonlight, she could feel that he was gazing intensely at her even though she could not see the other person’s face.
And, the fact that he had a very sharp atmosphere around him, unlike usual.
“It’s good to be vigilant, though how could a person with bad eyesight come here without a single lamp”
“I think I left something here during the day.”
“What did you leave behind to get in such a rush at night”
She was speechless at Otis’ interrogation.
It was a separate issue from the ability to move around.
As he said, the mansion’s occupant was not given any belongings that were important enough to come to retrieve them at night without lighting a lamp.
Was it just her who thought of the time when she was accused of eavesdropping on the conversations of the three male protagonists while lying on the hospital bed behind the curtains
If there was a difference now from then, there was only Otis here.
At that time, he was just as Irene knew—gentlemanly and a relaxed appearance in a different sense from his older brother, Ahibalt.
May I ask why you were as quiet as a mouse in a barn”
Looking back, the interrogation at that time was even softer.
It was also the Otis she knew.
But, why is he so unfamiliar now…
Irene took a step back without realizing it.
However, the distance quickly narrowed again because Otis pulled her after noticing that she was backing away.
I don’t know how to handle this situation.
I tried to give you an excuse for your suspicious behavior, so I shut my mouth.”
It seemed that he was not surprised that people would be here.
“I think I came there in a hurry…”
Her words continued, though it was cut off as his hands rested on her shoulder.
The shawl that had been draped over her shoulders as she had run in a hurry was now hanging over her arms and down to her back.
In other words, it meant that she was wearing a defenseless muslin dress.
The sleeves were barely hung at the end of her round shoulders, revealing her straight neckline and white shoulder line.
Her chest rose and fell steeply below the collarbone, revealing that she had run and could not catch her breath.
Otis’s palm gripped the exposed skin of her shoulder as if biting.
At that action, Irene reflexively withdrew a little.
Had it been any other time, she would have naturally removed his hand and put the shawl back on.
…He was in a bad mood now.
‘He must have stopped by the greenhouse for a while before entering the room.’
…Would he have imagined that he would witness Irene like this A thorn grew beneath the soft tenor tone of a voice that would suit a serenade.
“Did you plan on having a secret meeting with someone here”
The voice that usually came out like that was now spitting sarcastic and harsh words.
Hearing that voice, Irene’s expression was a little stunned.
Ironically, feeling a strange sense of satisfaction at that sight, Otis thought.
He must have been a greedy person…
* * *
Otis had just returned from the banquet Henrietta had him sent a while ago.
He agreed to match her tune on the condition that she would not approach Lavrenti anymore, so he had hardly been attached to the Lavrenti’s mansion for the past few days.
‘Go out to work or socialize…’
All he did was wash up, change clothes, or go to sleep.
Thanks to this, he neglected to put the origami in Irene’s pocket for a few days.
In fact, Irene was a Chambermaid, so if he wanted to meet her, he would have been able to meet her whenever he wanted to.
It was because he was deliberately avoiding her.
After the day he visited Irene’s room in the middle of the night, Otis realized that a strange feeling he had never felt before was sprouting in him.
It was the first time he felt jealous of his half-brother, whom he had always admired.
Every time he saw a maid with hair resembling the dark yellow of the sunset, he could feel this new, uncomfortable feeling.
And, the fact that the expressions on her face when she was with his brothers twist his mind.
It was definitely something strange.
Obviously, he liked Irene.
However, it was like an ordinary story for anyone.
She was the first girl to approach him, even after his mother had abandoned him.
She was, at the same time, the woman who stood by his side and was not shaken by any circumstances.
The person who could accept anything about him.
…As if she would be with him for the rest of his life in his own utter distrust of love.
The only person who was terribly indifferent and, therefore, terribly willing to be by his side.
That was Otis’s Irene.
That belief had never been broken.
However, looking at her with someone else — Ahibalt, the only opponent he could not beat — on the day he desperately needed her…
Otis could hear cracks inside him.
Although he tried to ignore it, the rift grew bigger and bigger, and by the time Irene announced her return, it was irreparably widened.
The moment he suddenly felt thirsty when he saw Irene’s smiling face…
‘…Something is wrong with me.’
He realized that he was breaking down.
Otis could no longer see her the same as before.
The indifference of Irene, whom he loved, now only frustrated him.
And, the other people around who cared for her were nothing but obstacles.
He was longing for Irene himself.
He denied it and ran away.
It did not make sense.
He thought that Irene’s resignation should be prevented, though that was because he hated tea time without her.
Without Irene, there was no one else to play with.
He did not have anyone he could talk to comfortably.
Without Irene, whom would he give the paper flowers he folded to
Who would he go to, to express joy with when he was in a good mood, and who would he go to borrow shoulders from when he was sad…
Otis ran away from Lavrenti.
He met people as Henrietta wished, and talked to the women she recommended.
All the noble girls of the families that could satisfy her desire for honor.
Those who heard the rumors and majesty of Lavrenti all stared at him with similar eyes—gazes mixed with longing, curiosity, contempt, and desire.
“I heard that the Young Master Lavrenti had been to the Lowens region.
So, have you seen Lake Diabel there”
Looking at the scene reminded me of Belkin’s poem.”
“Oh, blue bird ‘I fell asleep with my face buried in the sky coloured wings’.”
“‘I’ll surely meet you on the day the lake falls in the opposite direction.’ Yes.
“I love that line, too! Belkin’s poems aren’t very famous, how did you know that”
“You know someone who likes him.”
The person who liked Belkin’s poems, which people do not like very much, and knew how to fold napkins in more than ten ways…
‘I want to go to a lake or a beach someday.
When I go there, I think it will remind me of Belkin’s poetry.’
His maid, who had been with him every tea time since he got to know her.