Outside the mansion, Joheim was waiting before the wagon with one knee on the ground, just like last time.
When Lobelia hesitantly stepped on his lap and tried to climb up, Jade grabbed her by the waist and lifted her with ease.
Lobelia panicked as she momentarily lost control of her body and flung her arm on Jade’s shoulder as he casually seated her into the carriage.

“Duke…!” she exclaimed.

“How happy I am to be able to leave Evelentia with you,” Jade said with a charming smile.

Lobelia belatedly remembered Joheim’s presence, who was unaware of their contractual relationship.
Jade seemed intent on continuing his performance in front of everyone (even in front of his entourage!), so she needed to play her part, too.

Looking up at him, Jade’s smile deepened.
Lobelia gathered her thoughts and raised the corners of her lips.
The pleasure of having just deceived Marlon was sweeping through her body, so she did not find it entirely difficult to muster a sincere smile.

“Me too,” she responded, “I’m glad, Duke.”

Suddenly, Jade and Joheim flinched at the same time.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.


Jade shook his head, while Joheim bowed his head, whose ears seemed to have turned red.
Lobelia was about to take a closer look at Joheim when Jade climbed into the wagon and closed the door.

“Let’s go,” Jade ordered, and the carriage disembarked.

Having been there twice, the road to the Duke of Ferrado’s residence was familiar to Lobelia, but everything seemed new today somehow.
His mansion was as imposing as ever, though.
Lobelia took Jade’s hand and got out of the carriage.

“I told everyone that you are my lover and that you will stay here in the future,” Jade whispered into Lobelia’s ear.

Lobelia shuddered slightly at the tickle of his breath.
She did not particularly dislike such intimacy, but she did not like it either.
It was only bearable because she knew it was something she’d grow accustomed to in the future.

“Let’s go in,” Jade said as he held out his hand once more.
Lobelia accepted his outstretched hand much more easily this time.

The servants had astonishment written all over their faces as the duke escorted Lobelia off the wagon, but no whispers nor condescending glances plagued Lobelia.
However, everyone seemed embarrassed that their master had brought a commoner—an illegitimate daughter of a gypsy at that—as his lover.

All of Jade Ferrado’s lovers have been aristocrats.
In the first place, a woman who wasn’t a noble wouldn’t even have the slightest chance to meet the duke.
Moreover, they didn’t like Lobelia from the first time she visited Ferrado.
Lobelia could still recall their whispers, “The daughter of the infamous gypsy.” She realized once again how alien her existence was in aristocratic society.

Passing through the grand entrance and entering the hall of the Duke of Ferrado, Jade summoned an old man and three handmaidens.

“They will be responsible for your life in the future,” he said to Lobelia.

The old man took a step forward and introduced himself, “My name is Herold, the butler of this mansion.
If you have any inconveniences in the future, you can tell me.”

As is in the dukedom of Ferrado, the butler of a high-ranking aristocratic family is often a noble himself; as such, it wouldn’t be easy to honor Lobelia, who hadn’t a drop of noble blood.
Although Herold did acknowledge her, his gesture was simply obedience to the duke.
There was a faint hostility in his eyes as he looked at Lobelia, just like the others.

“Let’s go upstairs for now,” he said to Lobelia, “I’ve decorated the room.”

“I’ll be waiting here.
Let’s have dinner together.” Jade leaned over to say a brief goodbye to Lobelia and spoke in a low voice lest others hear him.
“I’m sorry about the servants.
If they show irreverence, tell me right away.
Or you can take care of it on your own.” As Lobelia nodded, Jade smiled and let go of her hand.

“Come along,” said Herold.
The room he led her wasn’t the most fancy, but it was spacious and luxurious enough.
“The rest of them will help,” he said, “I’ll be taking my leave now.”

Alone with her three handmaidens, Lobelia scanned the room curiously.
She had never lived in such a place in her entire life.
A faint laughter emanated from among the maids.
Lobelia turned her head; she could see the handmaidens covering their mouths with their hands as they faced each other.
When Lobelia simply stared at them, the maids opened their mouths and revealed their colors.
It seemed they could no longer stifle their aggression.

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