Chapter 4: Is this cohabitation really okay?

Part 1

Lila followed Vincent down the stairs.
The apricot-colored marble staircase circled around and around.

They crossed the manor’s first-floor concourse and came to a large door that opened on either side.
The servants standing by the door saw Vincent and opened it.

Their eyes swept quickly over Lila.
Lila wore the purple velvet dress she had brought with her, the excessive ruffles making her mound of flesh look even more bloated.

Stepping in, Lila was the first to notice the sunlight streaming in from the full-length window on one wall.
The large windows, rounded at the top, were old-fashioned and elegant.

A large marble dining table took up the center of the room, large enough to seat roughly twenty people, making me feel overwhelmed.

Lucas sat at the head of the table, waiting for her.
Her eyes met his for a moment, and his expression was impassive.
Lila approached slowly, tugging at the hem of her skirt and lifting it up in greeting.

“Good morning, Duke.”

Lucas returned her greeting with a forced smile.

“Good morning, prospective duchess.”

Prospective Duchess meant she was accepted as a duchess, but it felt oddly off.

“You can call me Lila.”

I suggested.
But instead of answering, Lucas turned his head and spoke to someone.

With the large flower vase placed in the center of the table, Lila widened her eyes and locked her gaze.

A head of shaggy chocolate-colored curly hair caught her eye first.
The fact that it was the same color as Lucas’s made it even more striking.

Lila bit her lip hard as she saw the small face slowly lift toward her.
A boy who looked exactly like Lucas was staring at her with an uncomfortable expression.

‘Oh my god, he’s so cute!’

The two boys in front of her were more alike than not.
Down to the freckles and the fact that they only had one double eyelid.
Except for one thing.

‘I’ve never seen pink eyes before.’

‘I’ve seen many nobles in the capital, but I’ve never seen pink eyes.
They were a beautiful color, and Lila didn’t see any displeasure in them.

It was then that Lucas spoke in a firm voice.

This is your aunt.
You should say hello.”

The child’s narrowing eyes gave away his feelings, but Lucas didn’t care and reminded him again.

“Michael, greetings.”

Michael returned the greeting poorly as if he had no choice in the matter.


“Uh, hi?”

Lila returned the greeting, looking a little flustered at being called an aunt.
Vincent then approached and offered her a seat.

“Duchess, you may sit here.”

With polite words and hand gestures, Vincent pulled out a chair and Lila awkwardly sat down.

There were no butlers pulling out chairs for her at the baron’s manor.
They were too busy avoiding her as if she were a germ.

It was a strange feeling.

With a slightly withered look, she looked at the child sitting across from her.

As soon as Lila sat down, the maids and servants bustled about, filling the table with a variety of tantalizing foods.

The savory, fresh aromas reached her nostrils, and she felt an unexpected rush of hunger.
She had arrived yesterday, washed up, and gone straight to sleep, so when Lucas picked up his fork and knife, she followed suit.

She took a bite of the plump sausage and sliced it open.
She popped a small piece into her mouth and chewed, and the juices exploded.
The flavor and texture of the popping sausage were amazing.

Lila’s eyes were wide open and she was concentrating on her meal when she heard a snapping sound.

She looked up, startled, and saw the reddened face of a child.

He was breathing heavily as if he didn’t like something, but Vincent, Lucas, and the others around her seemed to recognize the familiarity and gestured to the servant.

The servant brought in new knives and forks and set them down in front of the children.

That’s when Lila realized something.
She looked down at the child and realized how Michael had missed the knife.

When the servant left, Lucas resumed cutting, and Lila watched him eat.


The sound of a knife falling again, followed by the click of a tongue.
Lila looked away from the strangely familiar duke’s aura to examine the child.

His face was red with embarrassment, and the servant’s face was even more crumpled than before as she brought him another knife and fork.

Looking closely at the child, she could see that the servant had moved away from her as she set the fork and knife down, trying not to touch her.

Lila rolled her eyes cautiously and scanned her surroundings.
The expressions on the faces of the other servants, with the exception of Vincent’s, were not pleasant.

It was like the way socialites looked at Lila, subtle yet blatant…

Once Lila had gauged the mood, she turned to Vincent, who immediately caught her gaze and quietly walked over to her and inclined his head toward her.

In a low voice, Lila asked him a favor, and after a moment of confusion, Vincent gestured to a nearby maid.

The maid heard her words from Vincent and disappeared into the kitchen.
Lucas looked at Vincent and Lila for a moment but then went back to eating without a comment.

The maid quickly returned to the dining room.
Breakfast was on a new plate.

Sausage, bacon, omelets, sweet fruit salad, and soft milk bread.

The maid set the plates down in front of Lila and she quickly began cutting up the sausage and bacon.

She cut the sausage and bacon into small pieces, just the right size for her mouth, and tore open the bread, spreading it generously with butter and blueberry jam.

Then she looked at Vincent again.
When he lowered his head, Lila said.

“The knife and fork you’re using seem too heavy.
If you have a lighter one, please replace it next time, and I would appreciate it if you would place this plate in front of the young lord.”

Vincent’s eyes widened at her words, and he examined the plate she held out.
The sausages and bacon were the first things he noticed.

Vincent blurted out.

“Of course, Duchess.”

He picked up his plate and walked over to Michael.

Michael’s eyes narrowed at the sight of Vincent’s new plate, then widened in surprise.

He turned his head toward Lila, recognizing the food as nothing like the one he had struggled to cut.

So did Lucas, who watched wordlessly from the sidelines.
Lila rolled her eyes at the two men’s gaze.

Michael’s lips curled as if he were about to say something, but after watching Lila for a moment, he quietly picked up his fork.

Lucas, noticing the child, gave Lila an odd look, but said nothing and resumed eating.

Worried that he might be offended, Lila took a quiet breath and sipped her refreshing orange juice.

The dining room, where not even the sound of cutting knives could be heard, was very calm like a gently flowing river, but like an invisible whirlpool in the depths of the river, the first day at the Duke’s House was being held.

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