The Awkward Secret Meeting (1).
Huge thanks to evangelineruiqi for the kofi! (1/2)
“Was it okay to do that?”
Leonhart, who was looking out the window with his legs crossed from the opposite side of Dooha, slowly turned his head at the question.
The two were on their way back to the mansion in a carriage.
“He’s your uncle…”
“Because he is my uncle, I acted and left like that.”
Leonhart lifted one eyebrow, not understanding her calm attitude.
“You looked quite fine even after being treated so rudely.”
“I’m the most well-mannered person this place has ever seen.”
Dooha stared at her husband’s confused expression and opened her mouth.
“I heard that Sir Nate was a very influential person in the Duchy.”
“That’s why he’s a headache.”
“I think it would be better to not behave with someone like that in such a way.”
Her words had a strong impression on Leonhart, who turned his head to face out the window again.
“I’d like to refrain from hearing any preaching.”
“But simply because you don’t like a person, ignoring the things that person has-”
The Duke cut her words firmly.
His blue eyes were staring at her as if threatening her.
“Forcing one’s beliefs without knowing it well-”
It occurred before Leonhart had even finished speaking.
The loud sound of the stomach growl rang throughout the carriage.
The eyes of the two met.
The two of them spoke at the same time.
“It’s not me.”
“…Is that you?”
“It’s not me, it’s you.”
Leonhart sighed lightly as he looked at her as though he was dumbfounded.
He knocked lightly on the wagon window.
“Turn the wagon.”
Leonhart instructed in an indifferent voice.
“We are going down to the village.”
A shabby tavern was present in the middle of the village.
The bar owner saw the carriage that had appeared with the sound of its door opening and ran out.
“It’s been a while since you’ve been here.
What should I prepare for you?”
The owner recognized Leonhart, who was wearing a cloak, at a glance, but he seemed to pretend he didn’t know.
On the other hand, Leonhart simply responded to his question without saying hello.
“Food enough for two people, only one drink…”
“Two drinks, please.”
At that moment, the woman standing next to him intervened.
Like the Duke, the owner could not see the woman’s face because she was also wearing a hood.
He stared for a moment at the two, who both very much looked younger than him.
“Alright, two drinks.
Sit where you are comfortable and I will bring it to you.”
When the bar owner disappeared toward the kitchen, the man, Leonhart, quickly retorted with a low voice.
“I never imagined that my wife would be a drinker.
The empire’s noble wives can only put alcohol in their mouths when they are allowed.
You must have learned this from the head maid?”
“I am allowed to.
Because this is the Duchy.”
Dooha left Leonhard, who was speechless, and went to an empty seat and sat down.
“What are you doing, not sitting down?”
“…You shouldn’t have said that.”
Leonhart shook his head and sat across from her.
As soon as he sat down, Dooha pulled him close to the table.
Thanks to this, Leonhart had Dooha’s face right in front of his nose as she pulled on his chin, looking to see whether or not he was nervous.
However, Dooha did not care about his reaction and lowered her voice as her eyes twinkled.
“Is this a place like that?”
“A place like what?”
“Layla said that there are many places like this in the empire.
I’ve heard that as long as you give money, people are willing to kill others.”
Leonhart wrinkled his expression as he recalled the woman who had been running around next to his wife.
“I’m afraid this is a normal bar.”
He tilted his head, dumbfounded, and had one arm over the table.
“If this was such a place in the first place, I wouldn’t have come with you.”
Dooha’s face seemed disappointed by the Duke’s answer.
She expected him to take her to a fun place, so why did he bring her to an ordinary bar?
She looked around, still covered by her hood.
As soon as the excitement calmed down, she realized that this place was much shabbier than she thought.
Old spider webs were hanging from the corner of the ceiling, along with mossy stone walls and old-looking tables and chairs.
At first glance, it did not seem like a place where the Grand Duke of an empire would come.
However, seeing as the Duke was leaning against the stone wall and sitting comfortably, the place seemed to be very familiar to him.
“I guess it’s a place you come to often?”
“Not often, but sometimes.”
“Why? It must not be because the cuisine of the castle does not suit your taste.”
“Because there are fewer eyes and ears around here than the castle.”
Just because someone was looking at you, doesn’t mean that you couldn’t eat.
When Dooha looked at him strangely, Leonhart added.
“What if a rumor spreads when the couple, who were invited to a dinner, eats as soon as they return?”
The Duke and Nate were already infamous for their bad relationship.
However, what was important was that Nate was the only uncle of the Duke, rather than the state of the two’s relationship, and that he was the head of the family’s senior council.
But if it was found out that the Duke had come back without even having a proper meal at the first dinner with his wife…
“Although our marriage is in the name of His Majesty, most of the vassals are not happy with this marriage.”
“In such a situation, you can’t show any weaknesses.”
“But what if Sir Nate spreads rumors about what happened today?”
Leonhart laughed at her question.
“I just wanted to make the old man feel bad, but I don’t like being noisy about family problems.
You don’t have to worry about that.”
“That’s a relief.”
At that time, two hands holding plates popped in between the two.
“The food is here.”
The owner’s dishes were a few pieces of black bread, a salad sprinkled with vinegar, a sauce, and a thick boiled meat stew.
The liquor that came out together with the meal was wine with honey.
“Of course, I don’t know if it’ll suit your taste.”
At the Duke’s words, Dooha’s eyes glowed as she picked up the spoon.
Watching the steaming stew made her mouth water.
She couldn’t eat dinner properly and had skipped lunch due to preparing for the dinner.
She hurriedly pushed the simple meal in front of her into her mouth as if it were a feast.
Dooha, who was blowing on the hot stew for a long time, slowly lifted her eyes as she noticed a gaze on her.
Leonhart was staring at her.
She looked surprised to see his eyes looking at her blankly.
According to imperial etiquette, women should not eat so much food so quickly at a time.
Dooha began speaking with an awkward face.
“You don’t have to look at me like that.
If a person is hungry, they can eat a little fast.”
“I didn’t say anything.
I just looked at you.
I didn’t look at you for that reason.”
“Then why did you look at me?”
“I thought, ‘it’s a relief.’”
“Because you always chewed, I thought imperial food didn’t suit your taste.”
Even when eating together at the castle, the Duke always looked at the plate in front of him.
‘But how do you know what foods I eat and how much I eat?
Do you get a report from the servants after the meal?’
Leonhart took note of Dooha’s questionable gaze and smiled.
“It’s a relief to know even now—the fact that my wife eats very well.”
It was that unique mischievous smile that came out often these days.
“From now on, I’ll have to order all my servants when you eat.
To make sure you eat as much as you want like today, how have you endured it so far?”
Dooha was mesmerized and looked at his face.
She quickly came to her senses.
“…You shouldn’t say nonsense when you eat.”
For no reason, Dooha responded bluntly and drank the alcohol.
Perhaps because of the honey, the alcohol was sweet.
But it was too much.
Dooha looked away from the hot gaze felt on her face.
“Come to think of it, I mean your cousin.
When his cousin’s name came out of her mouth, the Duke’s forehead narrowed.
“Is he always that unpredictable?”
Dooha still didn’t understand Daniel’s behavior.
He had the strange attitude of appearing politely like a gentleman while expressing his disappointment with a smiling face.
“Or was it that he didn’t like me?”
“Is there a reason why he should like you?”
“No, it’s not like that, but since it’s your family…”
“I’m afraid I do not think of them as family.”
‘What do you mean ‘not’?’
Even if she wanted to ask him why he had said that, she thought that it was better if she didn’t ask him about his family.
Nate said something about having dirty blood to the Duke, and there were more than one or two things that caught her attention.
At that time, Leonhart lifted his glass and continued.
“And if you run into Daniel, make sure you avoid him.”
Leonhart looked at Dooha silently and drank his alcohol.
“I’m sure you know why because you’ve seen it.
Does he look like a reliable person?”
Definitely, Daniel was a person who did not know what he was thinking.
Was there anything he was reluctant to stay close to?
Dooha sighed inwardly.
When she got married in a foreign country for the well-being of her own country, she didn’t expect her husband’s family to be this strange.
This time, instead of sighing out of frustration, Dooha gulped down a drink.
Leonhart quickly grabbed her wrist.
“You’re going to get drunk after drinking so quickly.”
“I’m afraid I’ve never been drunk in my life.”
Leonhart looked at her with distrust.
“Would you like to play a game?”
“Are you going to have a drink with me now?”
“I am confident.
I’ve never lost a bet back in Bashal.”
The Duke pondered for a moment at the confident answer and then shook his head.
I have to ride a carriage…”
“You don’t even drive the carriage, so why does that matter?”
The unexpected appearance of the Duke trying to avoid her bet stimulated a sense of victory.
She rolled up the corners of her lips and pushed him another glass of wine.
“You’re not trying to be a man and avoid the game, are you?”
Leonhart sighed at her provocation and picked up the glass.
The Duke’s eyes gleamed fiercely.
“You will regret it.”
“We will see who will regret.
Dooha smiled big, revealing her teeth to Leonhart.
It was a smile full of confidence from the one who was guaranteed victory.
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