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Chapter 71

After giving up on the shrimp dish and visiting the restaurant next door, Carinne found the situation was the same. And the one next to that, and the one next to that. She had visited five restaurants in a row with no luck.

“Is today some kind of holiday?”

She grumbled after being turned away from a sixth restaurant, only to be met with the server’s practiced smile.

“Oh, didn’t you know? Today is Family Day.”

The server explained that they were fully booked with both walk-ins and reservations and that the wait time would be extensive. He added that it would be the same anywhere they went tonight.

Family Day… so that was it.

Carinne glanced up at Archen, who was looking equally perplexed.

“Family Day… I’ve heard of it, but I didn’t realize it was today.”

It made sense. Archen had been working all day. He wouldn’t have had time to check the calendar, too busy with paperwork to look up from his desk.

Carinne wished she had checked the calendar before they left the house. If only she could rewind time to this morning, she would have made a restaurant reservation, she and Iris would’ve gone somewhere other than the palace gardens, and she would never have run into Ian. It would have been perfect.

Unfortunately, it was too late for regrets.

Every restaurant in the city was booked solid, and as much as she hated to, she was going to have to go home. However, tonight was special. It was the last night of Archen’s leave, so dinner had to be special.

“I really wanted to eat out tonight.”

“How about we go further out of the city?”

Archen suggested, seeing the disappointment on Carinne’s face. She agreed. They would scour the city until they found some place that was serving food. Even if they had to go to an inn or a tavern, they would find something.

They searched high and low, their eyes darting from side to side, looking for any sign of an empty restaurant, when in the distance, they saw a large group of people milling about.

“What’s going on over there?”

Carinne asked, taking Archen’s hand and pulling him down the street.

They came upon a seemingly endless row of food stalls, their bright lights illuminating the area around them. The delicious smell of food wafted through the air, and the sound of upbeat music filled the air. It was a scene she had seen many times before. It felt familiar, like home.

The closer they got, the stronger the feeling became until they reached the heart of the market, and Carinne realized what it was.

It was a night market, the kind you would find at any tourist attraction. There were stalls selling cotton candy, churros, and cube steak as if to defy the Western aesthetic, though such was the nature of Korean romance fantasy.

“They have a market. I’ve heard that sometimes they have night markets on special occasions.”

Archen explained.

Ah, so that was what the server had meant when he mentioned Family Day. They must have set up the market to celebrate. Who needed a fancy restaurant dinner anyway? Carinne decided to make the best of it and began to look around for something to eat.

“Oh, look!”

She spotted a sign with a picture of shrimp on it. It was a grilled shrimp dish with asparagus on the side. The price was reasonable, and the portion looked generous.

“Can we get that for dinner?”

“I don’t mind.”

“Let’s do it!”

Carinne exchanged a few coins for a paper plate full of shrimp. Now, all they needed was a place to eat it.

Archen seemed to be thinking the same thing, and he took Carinne’s hand and led her away from the market. The farther they got from the city center, the quieter it became. They walked for several minutes until they reached their destination, which was deserted.

“This is perfect.”

Archen had brought Carinne to the riverbank. The moonlight reflected off the water, giving it a silvery sheen and the rhythmic sound of the flowing water was incredibly soothing.

She sat down on the ground and stretched her legs out in front of her. Archen sat down next to her. Neither of them had eaten since lunch, and after all the walking they had done, they were both quite hungry.

For a while, they ate in silence.

The only sounds were the occasional slurping of shrimp and the crunch of asparagus between their teeth. The shrimp had a unique flavor, seasoned with some kind of spice. It was well-seasoned, and the meat was firm and juicy.

Once they had eaten their fill, Carinne cleared her throat and prepared to launch into her prepared speech.

“So, what happened today?”

Iris and her went to the palace garden, and they unexpectedly met Ian and Giles. They ended up touring the palace together, but of course, she didn’t tell him exactly what she was doing. She’d have had to reveal Ian’s identity to do that.

“Why did he come to the capital?”

Archen asked, having listened to Carinne’s story in silence. He was referring to Giles.

Carinne tilted her head as if she didn’t know.

“I wonder? I wish someone would kick him back to where he came from.”

“It must have been difficult to deal with him.”

“It’s fine now that it’s over. Now I’m here with Archen, eating shrimp.”

The quiet and secluded riverside was perfect for the two of them. The seats were comfortable, the food was delicious, and there was nothing more they could ask for.

“It’ll be hard to see you after tomorrow.”

The only downside was that Archen’s vacation ended today. Carinne wondered if there was any way to get Archen to come to the Second Duchy, so she decided to try to persuade him one last time.

“Why don’t you come to our duchy? I’ll treat you really well. I’ll double your salary, no, triple it. You’ll have flexible working hours, great benefits, the biggest room, free meals, new clothes, and more.”

She couldn’t think of anything else to offer. She wondered if there was anything else she could add.

“You have to keep your word.”

His voice was laced with laughter. It was a welcome sound.

“Oh, that means… you’ll come? You’ll come, right?”

“I have a contract with Duke Lucas to fulfill first. It won’t be long now, so please wait a little longer.”


Her excitement fizzled out like a deflated balloon. After all, it was a promise to an unscrupulous employer. Did he really have to keep it? Was that contract more important than his girlfriend’s request?

Carinne muttered in a disapproving voice, “What if you don’t keep the contract?”

“I thought about that, but something’s on my mind.”

Archen understood and replied.

“Back then, they were the only ones who accepted me.”

This time, Archen began to tell his story.

After graduating from the academy and before applying to be an imperial mage, he looked for a job to gain experience. However, no one would hire him. He was rejected as soon as he submitted his application and never even got a chance to interview.

Just when he was about to give up, Duke Lucas called him. As a result, he passed the interview and became an aide to the First Duchy.

“So, it’s only right that I keep my promise.”

He explained it so earnestly that she couldn’t say anything. She couldn’t tell him not to repay a favor. This time, Duke Lucas had done nothing wrong, so she couldn’t even call him an unscrupulous employer.

Still, she wondered if there was any other way. It was too cruel to ask her lover to stay away for months after only a few days of confirming their feelings.

Carinne thought hard and came up with a good idea.

“You can sleep at my place. You can just commute to the Duke’s mansion. I’ll take you there and pick you up every morning and evening.”

It would be a hassle, but she wanted to spend as much time with him as possible.

“You only need to get in a carriage for commuting.”

“You don’t have to go that far.”

“I want to. I want to be with you as much as possible.”

Carinne leaned her head on his shoulder, speaking softly.

Archen chuckled.

“Do you like me that much?”


Carinne was momentarily flustered and forgot what she was going to say.

‘Do you like me that much?’

He had changed a lot. Before, he couldn’t even breathe when she put her arm around him. Maybe he was showing his true colors now that they were close.

When she glanced at him, she saw him laughing silently as if something was very amusing.

“Why are you asking something so obvious? Don’t you want to be with me as much as possible, Archen?”

“I’m happy with how things are now. Just being able to spend time with you like this makes me feel like I have everything in the world.”

“You’re so modest.”

“Is that so? I still can’t believe it.”

He turned his head and met Carinne’s eyes. Then, he brought his hand to Carinne’s cheek. The touch of his gloved hand on her cheek was so soft that she wanted to bite it. His dreamy eyes were fixed on her.

“The fact that you like me…”

“I have shrimp in my mouth,” Carinne said quickly, just before his lips could cover hers.

He pulled back, looking disappointed. His hand, which had been caressing her cheek, slowly fell away, radiating a sense of deep regret. Unbeknownst to him, this man had a quietly bold side.

How on earth had he endured before they started dating?

“Wake me up without fail tomorrow morning. I’ll take you all the way to the Duchy.”

Carinne requested as she chewed and swallowed a shrimp as though reminding him not to forget. Even after they had completely emptied the plate, the two of them sat by the riverside for a long time, watching the rippling waves. Whatever the future held, this moment was as peaceful as it could be.


* * *


The next morning, Archen left the mansion after covering Carinne, who was still asleep, up to her neck with the duvet.

Upon arriving at the First Duchy, he found several bundles lying in the courtyard of the mansion.

Several servants were moving busily, carrying the bundles outside. As he drew closer, he noticed the hem of his own blue coat peeking out from between the layers of cloth covering the bundles. Archen was startled and checked the contents of the other bundles.

A moment later, he realized that all the luggage in the courtyard belonged to him.

“What is the meaning of this?”

“Ah, Sir Aide.”

A servant who saw Archen bowed politely.

In the meantime, another servant came out carrying another bundle and placed it next to his own. It was absurd. He had returned from his vacation only to find his luggage dumped in the courtyard.

“Why is my luggage here?”

“Well, that’s…”

The servant smacked his lips, looking embarrassed.

“You’ve been dismissed.”


He was stunned.

He had only a short time left on his contract, but he had been dismissed. Had they perhaps hired a new aide in the meantime? Even so, it was not like Duke Lucas to behave in such a manner. He was not a petulant child, throwing his luggage outside without a word.

“What is the reason?”


The servant avoided Archen’s gaze, looking even more embarrassed than before. It was clear that there was a reason. Even if that were not the case, the current situation made no sense, and Archen was determined to get an answer.

“Please tell me what is going on. What did His Excellency say?”

The servant, who had been hesitating and watching Archen’s expression, suddenly seemed to make up his mind and spoke.

Archen could only gape in response to his words.

“He said, ‘I don’t want to see him cursing me in front of my house every morning and evening’…”


And so, Archen became the aide to the Second Duchy.