Marius and Leopold occupied one side of the table, and my sisters sat on the other, so I naturally sat at the head of the table.
Sister Regina, who had fled to her room with a flushed face, reappeared ten minutes later with a wide-brimmed hat pressed tightly to her head even though she was indoors.
She had applied light makeup to her face and was dressed in a simple dress.
Sister Alice’s eyebrows shot up, but I just giggled.
Regina had a gorgeous and innocent appearance that was enchanting, even to other women.
Furthermore, she had a cheerful personality and a hearty laugh, making her the most popular among my sisters.
“Seeing me makes you smile, doesn’t it?”
“No, not at all. It’s because I’m happy to see Uncle Leo.”
“Really? But I’m much better looking than Leo, aren’t I?”
“No. Uncle Leo is the best.”
I gave a thumbs up to Leopold, who gave me a faint smile.
Alice patted me on the head with an awkward look on her face.
“I brought the child along because I was worried about her being alone. I didn’t have any other intentions, so please don’t misunderstand,” Uncle Leo explained, and Marius followed.
“That’s right, I was worried because the kid and I are close. She also happened to be your sister.”
“You knew my sister?”
At sister Regina’s question, Marius inquired as if she didn’t know.
“You didn’t know? Lady Alice here is working hard for us.”
“…Mr. Marius’ last name is Chemelhofen. Mr. Leopold’s last name is Waltrachen.”
Sister Regina swallowed hard at sister Alice’s explanation. Leopold fidgeted as Older Sister’s face darkened.
“I didn’t deliberately keep it a secret. It’s just that when we met you, our immigration status hadn’t been officially disclosed yet, so we had to keep it hidden,” Uncle Leo explained.
“No, it’s my fault for not realizing even after hearing your names.”
“It’s not your fault. If you felt hurt by my unintentional deception, please forgive me.”
Hmm? There seemed to be a strange atmosphere between the two of them.
They haven’t been able to meet each other’s gaze properly since earlier.
Uncle Leopold kept looking at me, and sister Regina kept lowering her head as if nothing had happened.
Come to think of it, sister Regina, who is at home, shouldn’t have chosen to wear a dress. Is it my cue to step in?
“Mister, are you hungry? You mentioned earlier that you don’t have any money and haven’t eaten,” I asked.
Leopold’s eyes twitched uncontrollably at my question. Sister Regina asked in a puzzled tone.
“You haven’t eaten?”
“It just happened that way. Oh, you don’t have to cook because of us. Just…”
Uncle Marius glanced at Uncle Leopold and sister Regina before finishing his sentence.
“Just take us to a good restaurant. I’ll buy the food.”
With that, everyone rose from their seats and prepared to leave.
I approached Uncle Leopold and gestured for him to bend down.
When Leopold lowered himself to meet my gaze, I whispered in his ear:
“Sister Regina likes lilacs!”
Now that I’d mentioned it, he should buy some lilacs as a gift and win her favor, right?
Sister Regina held my hand tightly throughout the trip to a nearby restaurant.
I deliberately took Leopold’s hand with my free hand to ensure that the two of them stayed close together.
Then, I asked in a loud voice so that everyone could hear.
“Sister, isn’t Uncle Leo really cool?”
My sister discreetly eyed Leopold.
I held both of their hands and playfully kicked my feet.
“Liliana really thinks Uncle Leo is amazing. Uncle Leo is tall, has black hair just like Liliana, and also…”
As I raised my head as if looking at the sky, I caught a glimpse of Leopold’s shaded face. The shadows accentuated his features even more than a sculpture.
“He’s handsome!” I declared.
Uncle Leopold cleared his throat.
Sister Regina laughed as if she were embarrassed, but I sensed a subtle tension between them.
Uncle Leopold was rigid because of sister, and while sister Regina appeared relaxed as usual, she was subtly conscious of Uncle Leopold.
I knew this because sister Regina often took me out on dates with other men.
As the most popular sister, she didn’t get nervous in front of men. She didn’t even care about impressing them.
She either casually flirted or rejected them outright. However, right now, there was a faint hint of sweat in sister Regina’s hand that held mine.
‘This is a green light!’ I thought, imagining Uncle Leopold becoming my future brother-in-law.
The risk of war would be much lower, and sister Alice wouldn’t have to die.
Uncle Leopold and Regina were such a well-suited couple, and Leopold was the epitome of a pure-hearted man in the original story, so he wouldn’t make Older Sister cry.
We would become a happy family!
‘So, am I going to be an aunt now?’
Maybe. I was already thrilled at the thought of seeing a tiny, harmless baby.
I got so excited that I let out a half-scream as we entered the restaurant.
When Uncle Leopold tried to sit opposite sister Regina, I pulled his hand and seated him right beside me. I left him in surprise and went to sit next to sister Alice.
As Eldest Sister observed my actions, she made a subtle expression and playfully patted my forehead.
“Are you going to tease your sister Regina all the time?”
“It’s not teasing.”
Anyway, sister Regina, Uncle Leopold, sister Alice, and I sat together, with my Older Sister on the opposite side of Eldest Sister and me. Marius took a seat as well.
Marius leaned his chin on his hand and stared at me intently before asking.
“Liliana, don’t you want to play cupid for your eldest sister?”
I instinctively glanced at sister Alice, who stiffened and glared at Marius.
What’s going on? Was there something between them I didn’t know about?
Marius smiled mischievously and handed me the menu.
“What would you like to eat? Uncle will pay for everything.”
“Uncle, I thought you didn’t have any money. I eat a lot, is that okay?”
He chuckled at my question and called over a passing waiter to place the order.
“I’ll have everything on the menu.”
I was so surprised that my mouth opened in shock. Marius looked at me triumphantly.
“See? Uncle is the best, right?”
I could only nod my head.
Uncle Marius’ ‘everything’ included twelve desserts that my sisters wouldn’t let me eat.
* * *
Marius’ order of all 54 dishes was canceled because of sister Alice’s objections.
However, thanks to Marius’ insistence on ‘packaging the 12 desserts to go,’ Liliana’s sulky expression turned happy once again.
As soon as the meat arrived, Leopold skillfully sliced it with the precision of a swordsman and swapped plates with Regina.
While men showing such kindness to her was familiar to Regina, she couldn’t help but display a satisfied smile.
It was the first time, even for her, that a huge, muscular man who looked like he could punch a lion had served her with hands trembling from nervousness.
Then Leopold also neatly cut Liliana’s kids’ menu portion of meat, but the quantity was so small that Leopold couldn’t help but sigh.
“Eat a lot,” he said.
Leopold also had a six-year-old cousin with a huge age gap.
The cousin ate twice as much and was much taller. In comparison, Liliana, of the same age, was too small and thin, causing concern even among her family members.
“I’ll eat well!”
Liliana exclaimed with excitement as she pierced the meat with her fork and quickly brought it to her mouth.
Her small feet dangled beneath the chair.
As Regina sipped her water and put down the empty glass, Leopold promptly refilled it.
“Liliana, you should eat some vegetables, too.”
“Arghhh. I’ll eat vegetables, too.”
Liliana chewed on asparagus with bated breath.
Marius had been sneakily watching her and couldn’t hold back his laughter and quietly shook with amusement.
Then, when Alice momentarily had her attention elsewhere, Marius took a carrot from Liliana’s plate and ate it instead. Liliana’s eyes began to sparkle.
“How is it? Am I the best?”
Marius asked with a wink, causing Liliana to nod her head and sigh heavily.
“Ehehehe. Eldest Sister, I’ll go to the bathroom.”
“Can you go by yourself?”
“Am I a baby? I’m all grown up now.”
When Liliana got up from her seat, Regina also stood up, leaving her cutlery behind.
“I’ll go with her.”
“Oh no. I’m not a baby.”
As Liliana and Regina temporarily vacated their seats, the warmth that had previously radiated from Alice’s face, making her appear like a loving big sister, vanished completely.
Alice put down her fork and knife, leaned on the table, and turned her head to Marius, who was on her right.
“You shouldn’t be approaching our youngest like this.”
“Don’t misunderstand. I greeted her purely because I was happy to see such a cute kid.”
“Happy? Marius von Chemelhofen?”
There was a chill in Marius’ piercing eyes that rivaled the chill in the air.
“Last time, I asked what you could offer. Did you bring an answer?”
“Oh, of course. You’re Alice Verchio. I won’t engage in any petty competitions with you, and this proposal is the first and last.”
“Well, your sister, Liliana’s health?”
Alice’s face stiffened instantly. Not many knew about Liliana’s health, so how did this man find out?
Marius spoke with a voice that had a hint of playfulness but was not entirely light-hearted.
“If things continue like this, it won’t be easy for her to make it past fifteen.”