‘Wow, look at the visuals. Isn’t this the kind of stuff you see on Instagram?’
The elaborately crafted dishes, the well-arranged tablecloth, and the mouthwatering food all stole my attention.
As if that wasn’t enough, the delicious smell was even reigniting my lost appetite!
‘This looks Michelin-star worthy to me.’
As I was marveling at the amazing sight, I felt some stares. A flush of embarrassment spread across my face, and I quickly closed my mouth.
‘But seriously, this is insane!’
I knew the household was well-off, being in the Emperor’s favor and all, but this was something else. The aristocratic table was literally a feast of delicacies. Even though I couldn’t identify everything, one thing was certain.
The cost of the ingredients on this table could easily match my entire month’s salary.
My affection for Edmund deepened. A handsome face, a great body, and wealth—this man didn’t lack in any department, making my heart swell.
‘I’m the Duchess here, an elegant Duchess. I need to act gracefully, like nobility.’
“This meal is perfect for an anniversary dinner. It looks absolutely to die for… I mean, utterly splendid. Hoho.”
Was it the food, or was it my husband’s dazzling good looks? I swallowed the saliva that had pooled in my mouth as I spoke.
* * *
As Chloen smiled nicely, the maid Sasha looked visibly disturbed.
The lady usually scowled at just the smell of food, so seeing her drooling over the delicious-looking meal sent shivers down Sasha’s spine.
‘She won’t flip the table or anything, right?’
Sasha scratched her head with an awkward smile, briefly lost in thought.
Soon, a man wearing a chef’s hat began introducing the dishes one by one.
“Red currant salad with Pecorino cheese and tomato farce, grilled shrimp with red peppers, and veal cutlets grilled with mushrooms.”
The moment Chloen looked at the man, she knew exactly who he was.
Rettin Coco, the head chef of the Randolph Ducal House. In the original story, he was a man proud of the dishes he prepared and loved his cooking.
They say flattery will get you everywhere. That’s why she planned to use Coco’s radiant self-love to her advantage.
Gaining Edmund’s trust was going to take time. Therefore, getting close to the servants was a priority if she wanted to live comfortably here.
“Green bean tarragon omelets, grilled squid with hazelnut butter, and for dessert, raspberry soufflé and…!”
“Wow, there are so many dishes that I can’t even count them. You’ve outdone yourself, Rettin. I look forward to eating it.”
As she smiled sweetly at Rettin while he continued listing the menu, his eyes began to mist over.
For whatever reason, he was so touched that he stammered as he spoke.
“Your Grace, for you to say such kind words…I’m so moved. You usually criticize me for a foul smell in my dishes, but…”
‘Is it a trend here to say everything with a smile?’
Rettin wiped away his tears again and again, his broad shoulders quivering. Chloen felt a pang of guilt as if she had been a bad person. To break the awkward silence, she forced her lips into a broader smile.
She couldn’t even begin to imagine what kind of life the original owner of the body had led. To be so easily moved by nothing… It was embarrassing, but maybe it was for the best.
Thanks to the original Chloen’s evil deeds, her future steps would be easier.
“What are you saying, Rettin? To be able to eat this wonderful food that you’ve put so much care into every day is truly a blessing.”
Chef Rettin choked up and covered his mouth with his fist. His face was a mess of tears and snot, which almost made her burst into laughter, but she held it in.
“Aw, come on. Here, use this to wipe your face.”
She handed Rettin the handkerchief she had on her. Gratefully, Rettin took it and finally burst into tears.
“I had no idea that Milady was such a warm person.”
Watching Rettin diligently wipe his nose with the floral handkerchief, she smiled quietly.
‘One down for now.’
Just as she was about to pat Retin’s shoulder and conclude her offensive charm, Edmund, who had been quietly observing, spoke with a deadpan expression.
“You’re quite the actress.”
He then smirked.
‘Damn, did he catch me?’
She swallowed hard, and her palms started to sweat.
‘No, no way. He couldn’t know that I’m not the real Chloen. Keep it cool. Breathe. It’s fine.’
She tried to suppress her racing heart at Edmund’s piercing comment and nonchalantly replied, although her voice trembled.
“You’ve always been hard on the chef for serving food you didn’t like. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it.”
Her shaky gaze shifted toward Rettin, who lowered his eyes while clutching his toque blanche in one hand and the handkerchief in the other.
“It’s my fault for not catering to Milady’s taste. I apologize to both of you.”
“No, no, it actually looks really good. I must’ve been out of it before. Haha.”
Chloen felt anxious after seeing Rettin’s deflated demeanor, as if the tower she had built carefully was about to crumble. She quickly bit her lip, showing a troubled expression.
“Let me know if you need anything. If it pleases both of you, I’ll do my best to prepare it well.”
Edmund seemed annoyed by Rettin’s eagerness and gave him a dismissive nod.
“Let’s eat. It’s getting cold.”
His charming voice reverberated in her ears. Clearly, their earlier confrontation in the office was having an effect.
‘Phew, keep it cool. Now’s not the time.’
Ignoring the urge to flip the table in frustration, she responded with a bright smile.
Then, she looked again at the sumptuous feast spread before her.
‘Hmm, what’s all this? There’s quite a lot. So it’s not just the food that comes in all shapes and sizes, huh?’
At the same time, her brow furrowed terribly as her lavender eyes quivered.
As she faced an array of forks and knives aligned next to each plate, she swallowed nervously.
‘Ha, is this like a K-drama or what?’
Chloen muttered under her breath in an annoyed tone. Immediately, she felt Edmund’s chilly gaze on her.
“Is there a problem?”
His probing gaze finally dropped. On the long, clear glass, her tense face was reflected.
‘Keep it together, I’m fine, I’m ok.’
She chugged down the water in front of her to calm herself. She never expected such formal dining to involve so many utensils.
‘Is the one next to it for the main course? Or the one next to that? Or maybe that tiny fork?’
Her eyes darted around, looking for clues, but her mind was as blank as a white canvas.
‘Damn, I still don’t get it!’
The more time passed, the deeper she fell into a pit of confusion. She felt like the fox in Aesop’s fable, unable to enjoy the delicious food right in front of her.
Her lips trembled, feeling humiliated by her impending exposure.
‘No, I’m a strong Korean. This is no big deal.’
She couldn’t give up the delicious-smelling food.
So, spying was the answer.