p>“What time is it now?” Josephine roared as she descended the stairs and angrily approached Lobelia.
She had done nothing wrong, but Lobelia wisely kept her mouth shut.
Behind Josephine trailed Aina with her reddened eyes fiercely glued on her; she seemed to have been crying since she had left the mansion.
Her unrelenting gaze never left Lobelia for a second as if she believed she would see through her secrets if she glared at her long enough.

“You…” Josephine studied Lobelia from head to toe with scornful eyes.
Aina squeezed the hem of her mother’s skirt as though signaling something.
Josephine spoke again.
“Tell the truth about what happened with the Duke of Ferrado,” she said, “everything.”

“I had lunch with Duke Ferrado,” Lobelia replied in a deadpan tone.
Josephine narrowed her eyes.

“And?” she questioned.

Aina, who was hiding behind Josephine, suddenly stepped forward and burst out, unable to contain her curiosity.

“And? And? And what did you do?”

“I thanked the Duke for his kindness.
I didn’t say anything more,” Lobelia answered.

“I know that’s not all! Tell me!” Aina demanded.
Lobelia stared at Aina. She’s surprisingly sharp, she thought.
At Aina’s behavior earlier, Lobelia suspected that Aina might be a very different person from what she knew.

“Nothing else happened, young lady,” she said.

“It can’t be!” Aina screamed.
Madame Terrine, who was standing upstairs, leaned out and cautiously called out to Josephine.
“The Count is looking for Lobelia,” she announced.
Josephine sighed heavily.
She tapped Aina on the shoulder and said to Lobelia, “Go up to the study.” Lobelia had wondered why Aina and Josephine were out in the hall.
Apparently, they wanted to interrogate her before Marlon summoned her.

“Then I’ll go.” Lobelia bowed her head to Josephine and Aina and followed Madame Terrine upstairs.
As she entered the study, she saw Marlon looking out the window with his hands resting behind his back.

“Madame Terrine, you get out.”

Madame Terrine left without delay and closed the door.

Aina was tense, unlike when she dealt with Josephine and Aina.
Marlon wasn’t simply her sworn enemy, he was a sinister man.
He tried to control Lobelia by limiting her radius of action and regulating the amount of information going to her.
Her visit to the duke should have never happened

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