“That is you, Miss Lilia…right?”
—Sakura! What should I do?! He’s trying to confirm my identity, so I should run away, right?!
—Alright. When you start panicking, the first thing you need to do is calm down, right? So, umm, Lilia. If you make a run for it, he’s only going to think that he’s right.
—So what should I do then?!
Lilia was completely overtaken by panic. If it came out that a Duke’s Daughter was shopping around here, she could only imagine how much trouble it would cause her family. She wasn’t concerned about what total strangers would think of her shopping exploits, but she was a little worried about how her family might react.
—Lilia, calm down. Okay, now take a deep breath.
Just as Sakura said, Lilia took a deep breath. Ray was looking on with some confusion, but Lilia put that out of her mind.
—Calm down, Lilia. Ray still thinks that you’re just “Miss Lilia”, not the Duke’s Daughter, Lilianne Aldis. So, don’t start panicking just yet.
Oh right, Lilia thought to herself when Sakura reminded her of that fact. She had her doubts as to whether that really was the case, but right now, it seemed all Ray really knew was that Lilia was a part of the upper nobility. Lilia felt palpable relief when she realised the situation was still salvageable, and having calmed down somewhat, asked Sakura what she should do next.
—Instead of awkwardly trying to trick him, how about trying to win him over? Ray is sharp, so I think he knew it was you just by seeing how you were dressed.
—Alright… Got it.
Lilia turned to face Ray, and cleared her throat to try to calm herself down. As if in response, Ray straightened his back. Lilia wondered why he was reacting like that, but decided not to dwell on it and responded to his question.
“You have sharp eyes, Ray.”
“Ah-ha! Just as I thought, it was you, Miss Lilia! I didn’t expect to see you around here, so you caught me off-guard!”
A giant smile began to take shape on Ray’s face. It seemed he was happy to see Lilia, and those genuine feelings were clearly showing on his face. To think that up until a moment ago, she was considering whether she should deceive Ray… Lilia felt a small sense of guilt for thinking such thoughts.
“Still, I really was surprised to see you here. You’re an upper noble, right, Miss Lilia? So I assumed I wouldn’t see you visiting these sorts of places.”
Likely overhearing the words ‘upper noble’, the people in her immediate vicinity bristled in surprise and turned toward Ray. And of course, they also looked to the person he was talking to, Lilia. As her expression stiffened, Sakura’s next instruction arrived.
Get both of yourselves out of here right now, she said.
Lilia nodded immediately, walked over to where Ray was, and took his hand. She ignored his surprised expression, and walked out at a brisk pace.
And like that, they had left the store, and walked into a dark, narrow alley. And then, Lilia sighed.
Ray’s voice brought her back to her senses. Come to think of it, she had just grabbed his hand without saying a word and dragged him over here… When she turned around to apologise, Ray was the one hanging his head apologetically.
“I’m sorry…you were trying to hide your status, weren’t you…”
His words surprised her. He seemed to have completely grasped the reason for Lilia’s actions. It seemed he really was quite perceptive. At the very least, if Ray had done to Lilia what she had just done to him, she probably wouldn’t be able to remain calm or hold back her displeasure.
—Actually, I think it’s rude to Ray to compare yourself to him.
—Though I think what you just said was blatantly rude to me.
—You’re imagining things.
Sakura laughed cheerfully, while Lilia could only sigh. She brought her attention back to Ray. He stared nervously back at Lilia.
“You’d do well to be more careful from now on.”
Lilia’s words came out somewhat harsher than she intended, but she caught Ray muttering that was close in relief, and he smiled again.
“What did you come here to do, Mistress Lilia?”
Ray’s question left Lilia unable to respond. Ray was tilting his head in curiosity, and while he didn’t seem to have any ill intentions in asking her that, Lilia was still hesitant as to whether she should give him an honest answer.
—It should be okay to answer truthfully. This boy is someone you should be able to trust, probably.
Heeding Sakura’s advice, Lilia began to answer Ray’s question.
“A little while ago, I received some sweets from an acquaintance. They were called ‘Doriyaki’…have you heard of them?”
“I have! They’re delicious, aren’t they? I like them too.”
For some reason, Ray’s smile was practically gleaming. So gleaming, in fact, Lilia couldn’t look him in the eyes, and ended up turning away.
—Such a pure and honest smile, with not a shred of malice… it’s simply too much for our tainted hearts to bear to look at, isn’t it?
–I don’t want to call my heart ’tainted’…
Although having said that, Lilia couldn’t deny it, either.
“Ah, now it makes sense! You came here to buy some more yourself. Because you wanted to eat more of them. I wouldn’t have thought you would have such a big appetite, Mistress…”
Something suddenly welled up inside of Lilia, and she grabbed hold of Ray’s head tightly with her right hand. Ray was completely frozen. With a frightening smile on her face, Lilia spoke to Ray.
“Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. What was it you were trying to say?”
“Um, I mean… i-it’s something you’d want to taste again, right! I understand that feeling well!”
Ahaha, Ray laughed with a stiff expression. Ohoho, Lilia laughed with a hollow smile.
—You’re scary, you know that?
—Quiet, you. Who’s fault do you think this is? If I’m not mistaken, you’re the one with the ‘big appetite’, are you not?
—Uguu… I can’t deny that…
Lilia was satisfied with Sakura’s silence, and then she released Ray’s head from her grip. Now free to move, Ray took two, then three steps back, and stared fixedly at Lilia cautiously. He even looked like he was tearing up a little.
Maybe I went a bit too far…
“I’m sorry about that. But Ray, you would do well to remember that there are things you should and should not say to a woman.”
—That might be true, but I think you’re the only one who would get this angry, Lilia…
—You don’t seem to be reflecting on your actions at all…
—Hii! I’m sorry!
Lilia furrowed her brows without thinking, and Ray quickly lowered his head, likely thinking it was directed at him. And while Lilia was still surprised, he said this.
“I’m sorry! It’s just as you said, those weren’t words I should have said to a woman. I’ll be more careful next time!”
“Y-Yes… As long as you understand. Mm…”
—I feel sorry for Ray. This is going to become a traumatic memory for him, you know.
W-wow, the page views have really shot up.
And the number of bookmarks, too.
What is this why is this how did all of this happen!
This makes me really happy, but to be honest, I’m also scared. *trembling in fear*
I’ll work harder so I don’t betray all of your expectations.