“That can’t be helped.”

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Serena said with a deep sigh.

“There’s only one way.”

She went to tell Olivia, ‘It must be Borotna,’ and ranted about the reasons why it should be Borotna instead of Rivien.

“It’s a bit of a weird solution, but… I’m sure Olivia likes you.”

“Likes me?”

“Yes.
Because Olivia knows she has a bad personality, so she usually has trouble getting along with people she likes.”

“Wow.”

I clapped, admiring, without realizing it.
A wicked woman who understands herself so well.
Duke Icard must have emulated her.

“Even if she likes Laria, she can’t take you with her to Rivien.
So, we have no choice but to try to come to an agreement.
But…”

Serena glanced at me.
“She’s a person who says harsh things… Well, it won’t be easy for you as long as Miss Laria is a human being.”

“…Arf, arf?”

When I blinked and barked slightly, Serena sighed, holding back her laughter.

I, who easily expressed my intention by abandoning my dignity as a human being by those two words, slowly became lost in thought.

It would take quite a while to fully please someone.

Olivia has vowed not to stay long at the Duchy of Icard.

‘Ah, Olivia must really like Duke Icard.’

That was why she even made a fuss with Princess Elani, saying that Icard’s name would be tarnished.

‘That’s the reason why she doesn’t stay in the Duchy for long.
What a consistently wicked woman she is.’

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Then, just trying to impress her with words would not be enough to draw favor towards Olivia in a short period.

If so…

I was forced to sneak one of Seymour’s sources of income once again.
With just one possession in this country, Seymour’s life was definitely getting more difficult.

“Serena, I’ll ask you a favor.
When you come to the Duke’s house next time…”

 

* * *

 

The Duchy of Icard had a room prepared for Olivia.
It was a spacious room on the first floor that she had used until she got married and moved away.

Around two o’clock after lunch…

“Auntie!”

After she came to the Duke’s mansion, there was a child who would knock on her door at the same time every single day.
Olivia had heard that she was fourteen years old, but she would have easily believed that the little child was Evan’s younger sister.
Though Evan, of course, had a face that was out of the ordinary.

Laria with pink hair peeked out from behind the door.

“Do you happen to have time?”

“Look if you have eyes,” Olivia spoke in a cold tone.

“Do you perhaps have free time right now?

“Do I look busy right now?”

“Then, would you like to have a cup of tea with me?”

“Why would I waste my time?”

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She snorted while staring at Laria’s round purple eyes.

“Well, Duke Icard came to waste my time first.”

Laria entered the room with a smile and sat across from Olivia.
Lisa, who was behind her, quietly came in and skillfully prepared the tea set.

“I asked Serena to get this for me.”

On the table was a shortcake from Olivia’s favorite store when she was young.

“I heard the son inherited the store thirteen years ago, yet, it’s still tasty.”

Glancing at it, Olivia took a bite of the shortcake with a prim look.
Like Duke Icard, she loved sweets very much.

So, Laria used to visit her with desserts from famous bakeries in the Capital where Olivia used to visit when she was young.
It was a childhood taste that she had forgotten since she lived in Rivien.

She couldn’t stop Laria from visiting.
On the contrary, she was even looking forward to what she would bring each day.

“You,” Olivia spoke coldly.

“How did you come up with the idea to bring these things?”

“Ah.”

Laria smiled cautiously with a docile look on her face.

“I often wanted to eat the food I used to eat when I was young, I mean the food in Rostry County.
My mother usually cooked meals for me since she liked cooking.

“Hmm.”

“So, I thought, ‘wouldn’t auntie miss the food from her childhood too?’”

To be honest, these were something she didn’t even realize she was missing.
Rivien was also a wealthy territory, so Olivia had everything she wanted to eat.
But certainly, even if she didn’t think much about it, there was a strange sensation in the food she enjoyed when she was younger.
In some way, she even felt that Laria, sitting in front of her, was a bit strange.

“I really want to get along well with Duke Icard.”

“How is it going?”

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“Father paid my father’s debts, and Evan is kind to me.
That’s why I want to be nice to Auntie, too.”

Laria dropped her head with a slight smile, but a strange pity rose inside Olivia’s heart when this already small girl made a lonely expression on her face.

“I… don’t have relatives who can support Evan, and I’m even this sick…”

In addition, Laria had the talent to deliver pitiful lines incredibly well.

“You’re doing a great job figuring out that very subject,” Olivia said as she began to eat another piece of the cake that Laria had brought.

“You’re saying that I have a good understanding, right? Thank you!”

She could see why her nephew was in favor of this child.
Laria was a sweet and cute kid to whom you couldn’t help but get attached after a short time.

However, Olivia wanted to laugh at the sinful joke.
It became an issue because she was so nice that every time she smiled sincerely as if to humor her, Olivia wanted to smack her just hearing her laugh.

Being that nice, if she ever sat in the position of future Duchess, she would be swayed and could potentially be someone’s prey in the future.

Although if she truly enjoyed it and laughed, it would still be a problem.
If her unusual sense of humor was conveyed to later generations, Duke Icard’s reputation would fall to the ground.

But if…

Laria was only pretending to be entertained and forced herself to laugh.
Then she must be a really insidious kid…

When she heard the news that Laria had won a lot of money at a horse race, Olvia thought she was just a needlessly lucky child.
She regretted, thinking that she should have visited earlier to see what kind of girl Laria was, rather than just passing her on like that.

“I’m just– Cough!”

It was then.

“Cough! Couuuugh” Laria suddenly began to cough.

“W-w-what is going on?”

“Cough!”

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Rather than stopping Laria’s coughs, Olivia jumped up in surprise as her back was bending.

“Wh- what should I do?! Maid! Maid! Come in!”

“Co-cough!”

Laria eventually fell off the chair and rolled over.

“Don’t die! Don’t die here! Don’t! Unlike how I look, I get scared easily!”

“C-c-cough! From what I see cough– you’re quite different!”

“If you die in front of me and come to haunt me in my dreams, I’ll punch you in the head!”

“P-pa-pardon? Cough! O-oh, my!”

At some point, Laria, who was coughing and rolling, stopped on the floor and began to hit the floor with her fist.

“Wh- what are you doing?!”

Olivia was even more stunned by Laria’s conditions, wondering if she suffered from some sort of delirium, but she suddenly jumped up.

“Auntie? Doesn’t this floor just sound a little weird?”

“…What?”

“I think there’s some space under this empty floor? Wasn’t this Auntie’s room before? Do you happen to know what it is?”

Olivia came up next to her and tapped the floor she pointed at.
The sound was definitely different from other sides of the floor.

“What…what is this?”

“You’d better have your servants open it.”

Laria spoke firmly and rang the bell to call the servants.
Olivia was so surprised that she started hiccuping.
She didn’t even realize that Laria’s coughs had abruptly stopped as well.

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