* * *
The cozy texture of the soft blanket enveloped her body as the gentle evening breeze flowed in through the window. After a strenuous training session, she felt refreshed as she finished washing up.
‘It’s not the time to sleep.’
Perhaps it was because she had showered with Robert. After having thoroughly washed even the hard-to-reach places with soap, she felt an indescribable sense of drowsiness.
“I nweed to eat…”
Her body felt heavy, preventing her from getting up. On this day, Izeline would taste the exquisite cuisine of the renowned chef at the mansion for the first time. However, when she opened her eyes again, it was pitch black night.
Startled awake by the thunderous sound of her growling stomach, she blinked her eyes and tossed and turned.
At that moment, she spotted Robert peacefully sleeping next to her.
What an adorable child.
He must have come and fallen asleep next to her. Earlier, he had urged her to hurry up and leave after taking a bath, making whining sounds. It was nice to have someone to wash her back, though perhaps it was impossible for her to keep showering together due to the wounds on his chest.
Swallowing her regret, she stopped her thoughts and got up again. Carefully descending from the bed, afraid that Robert might wake up, she turned the doorknob quietly.
She tried to slip out unnoticed.
Turning around at the voice calling her, Izeline found Robert rubbing his eyes with both hands as if he had just woken up.
“Did you wake up?”
“Where awe you going?”
“I’m hwungry. Let’s eat something.”
Upon hearing those words, he pondered for a moment but soon got out of bed and walked over with small steps.
“I jwut want to sleep mowe.”
When Robert objected, he shook his head as if he couldn’t bear to be separated from her even for a moment. He resembled a pitiful puppy.
“But I’m hwungry… Can’t we go?”
The kitchen was a place Robert avoided, as there were many maids there. In response to her question, Robert shook his head casually.
“No one is thewe at this hour.”
Her words were true.
Just then, their eyes met again as another rumble sounded. Izeline felt a little embarrassed and hurried her steps.
“Alright, lwet’s not skip dinner… they pwepawed roasted steak, truffle soup, fruit salad, and orange sherbet…”
The more she heard, the hungrier she became. She couldn’t bear the thought of missing out on those delicious dishes, and her stomach ached in a different sense, making it unbearable.
“Though Michael ate everything on your behalf.”
He ate all that delicious food!
“He’s such a pig.”
Frustrated, Izeline’s reaction intensified, which only made Robert more boastful.
“I was planning to go to your room to bring you some, but he fwinished everything before I could even get there.”
That Michael… She never thought he was that kind of person.
Being demure and all, was that all an act?
Izeline felt genuine anger welling up inside her as she quickened her pace. In the meanwhile, Robert, sensing the change in her demeanor, followed her with lighter steps. It felt like her dislike for Michael was piercing through the sky.
After a short while, the two arrived at the kitchen.
The bustling atmosphere of the day had vanished, and the kitchen was now quiet. Izeline scurried around like a squirrel while Robert rummaged through the ingredients stored at room temperature.
They needed to find something they could eat without cooking.
“What about the leftovers?”
“Oh? Did you find something?”
As she climbed onto a chair and rummaged through the fresh ingredients inside the refrigerator, Izeline hesitated for a moment before quickly turning around.
And at that moment…
Was it because of her hunger-induced haste?
With one foot caught on the corner of the chair, Izeline flailed her remaining leg and both arms like a windmill, desperately trying to maintain her balance.
Amidst the untimely scream, Robert, who had been burying his face deep inside a storage compartment, was taken aback and quickly stood up. His eyes widened with concern at the sight of his friend.
“Ow, ow, ow!”
In the midst of the bizarre scream, Izeline made a desperate effort to regain her balance…
“Bwe caweful!” (Be careful!)
Izeline, who had tightly closed her eyes out of fear, cautiously opened one eye when she realized that the expected pain didn’t come before she timidly opened the other eye.
And there he was, Michael was holding her in his arms. His face was creased like a crumpled piece of paper as he extended one arm from the opposite side of the kitchen counter. Then, he smiled gently at her and opened his mouth.
“I thought you would be here, so I was waiting.”
“I knew you would be hungry.”
So, did that mean he anticipated it and waited here? Still, he intentionally ate everything, including her portion, so Robert couldn’t bring it to her?
In response to her questioning gaze, he nodded with a smug smile. His emerald eyes glanced briefly at Robert.
“I didn’t expect you to come along.”
He added with a hint of regret, causing Robert to furrow his brow.
“What do you want to eat?”
“Nwothing in particular.”
“Also, just saying that you’re always stuck to him like gum.”
For Michael, finding an opportunity to be alone with Izeline was no easy task. Whenever he tried to strike up a conversation with her, Robert always intervened. Furthermore, the fact that they were assigned rooms side by side put him at a disadvantage.
In his heart, he wanted to ask if he could switch to the room next to Izeline’s. Nonetheless, Michael was not ignorant of the world of adults to the extent of requesting a change to the room that had been prepared under the direct orders of Duke Brioche.
Of course, if he were to switch rooms and find out that Izeline and Robert still slept in the same bed every day, it would be another bitter blow to his guts.
Unaware of that possibility, Michael could only swallow his disappointment.
Anyway, if he were supposed to learn alongside Izeline, it would have been nice to have some time alone to have a proper conversation.
“Izeline is mine, so back off! Hmph!”
But as always, it seemed that Robert’s jealousy would not easily be resolved. When Robert approached with a bag of snacks, Izeline, who had been starving, immediately sparkled with excitement and slipped out of Michael’s embrace.
An unexpected encounter took place as they exchanged the precious treats.
“Eat up, Izeline.”
Watching the two of them exchange snacks so harmoniously, Michael let out a hollow laugh. For Robert, it was understandable that he acted that way, but Izeline was supposed to show some courtesy…
Could it be that his father had misunderstood her? Perhaps she really was just a naive apprentice, just as his Master had said.
His emerald eyes turned towards Izeline, who was nibbling on the snacks.
Well, whatever the case may be, excluding the influence of his father, Michael found himself attracted to her. She had a brave and kind disposition in how she treated patients with Krug Disease and a bright aura that emanated from deep within.
She had a charm that drew people towards her.
“After we finish these, do you want to go stargazing with me?”
At the casual invitation for a date, Izeline’s eyes widened.
“I know a lot of interesting stories about constellations.”
“I want to go, too!”
But just as she cheerfully accepted, Robert intervened. He made his usual appearance as the meddler, causing Michael’s temples to throb, but he maintained a smile as he spoke to Izeline.
“I’ve found a nice spot. Unfortunately, it seems like there’s only a space for one.”
He subtly hinted to Robert.
“You won’t have a space even if you come along.”
In other words, he was telling him not to follow them.
However, Robert persisted stubbornly.
“Iwt’s okay. Me and Izeline are small, so we can lay down twogether.”
“No, that won’t work.”
“It’s a futile attempt. I’ve already seen it.”
“Twen, you just guide us. Let us look at the stars with Izeline.”
“Who do you think you are?”
“Just do it.”
“You really have no social skills, do you?”
“Why should I use my social skills on you?”
Observing the back-and-forth conversation like a ping-pong match, Izeline filled her stomach happily. She never said she was going, so why were they acting like this? If they wanted to see the stars that badly, they could go alone…
Munch, munch. Munch, munch.
With her lips moving busily like a chick, she watched the escalating fight between the two boys. Seeing their childish bickering to not give in to each other, she wondered if both of them were just kids in love.