In the meanwhile, news quickly reached Dimitri that the maid brought by Cayetana had been grabbed by the hair and dragged away by Rosanne’s maid.
“…So, during the investigation, I instructed to detain Madam Elbas…”
Although Hyle continued speaking rapidly, Dimitri couldn’t hear anything. As he interrupted his aide’s words, he urgently asked.
“Where is Rowaine.”
“Madam Rowaine is currently in Grand Madam Rosanne’s room.”
Before Hyle had finished speaking, Dimitri had already stormed out of the office.
His tightly clenched fist trembled violently. Rather than anger, anxiety gripped his chest.
If he had gone to Rosanne instead of calling a doctor, it must have meant that things were fine. Therefore, it was right for him to find Cayetana immediately and interrogate her about this matter. Still, contrary to his rational judgment, his body was leaning toward Rowaine. It seemed like only by looking at her with his own eyes could he be assured of her safety.
Why didn’t he know?
‘Even though I warned her to be careful of Cayetana, why?’
As he hurriedly descended to the first floor, Rowaine, who had been talking to Rosanne, was walking out into the hallway.
He approached her anxiously.
Rowaine, who had been happily calling out to Dimitri, widened her eyes at his actions as he rushed over to her and suddenly cupped her cheek gently and lifted her head.
He asked worriedly while examining her complexion.
“Are you okay, Rowaine?”
“Oh, I’m fine.”
“Please check once again. We don’t know what Cayetana might have put in the food before.”
“Don’t worry, Dimitri. If there were something wrong with my health, I would’ve known immediately with my abilities. Madam Elbas didn’t use poison.”
Dimitri gritted his teeth.
“I was too indecisive. I should’ve kicked her out right away.”
“D*mn it. I can’t believe I almost fell for the same trick again, like a fool. It seems I haven’t learned my lesson.”
“I was too arrogant, Rowaine. I’ll immediately hold the estate employees accountable, throw them all into prison, and replace them. As for Cayetana…”
Seeing his emerald eyes flash menacingly, Rowaine shouted at Dimitri, who was pouring out his rage without pause.
“Dimitri, come to your senses!”
It was only then that he gazed at her as he grasped what was going on. Despite the fact that his eyes had been fixed on her all along, finally, the focus was adjusted onto her.
“Please let go of my face first.”
Only then did he realize that he had been holding onto her cheeks too tightly in his agitation, and he lowered his hands. Meanwhile, Rowaine rubbed her tingling cheek and glanced at him resentfully.
Dimitri cleared his throat and apologized.
She let out a small sigh.
“Why are you so emotional, which is so unlike you?”
Was he behaving emotionally?
Upon hearing those words, he reflected on his own actions. As he realized that he had been holding onto and rambling at Rowaine, the anger that had surged through him from head to toe began to subside as if cold water had been poured over him, and his sense of rationality returned.
Rowaine, noting Dimitri’s quickened breath from the anger had finally slowed down, opened her mouth again.
“First of all, this isn’t Dimitri’s fault, so don’t be too hard on yourself. If someone had a purpose and cleverly tried to harm others by using poison, even an emperor would’ve had a hard time avoiding it. Moreover, what I consumed this time wasn’t poison, and it was a type of tea that I drank along with others.”
She conveyed the story he heard from Rosanne.
What she drank was a type of tea that is also used medicinally for those who didn’t want to get pregnant. Since she had been drinking it with many other guests, including Cayetana and Elaine, no one noticed.
If she had actually been pregnant, Agwen would have been especially careful, though she knew that she wasn’t pregnant. Therefore, Rowaine defended the maid for not meticulously inspecting foods or herbs that might not be suitable for pregnant women.
“My maid was negligent, and she has already faced consequences for it. You’re only venting your anger by punishing other innocent employees.”
Dimitri watched in silence as Rowaine spoke with a determined expression on her face.
He could feel the determination in the clear eyes gazing up at him as her lips moved tirelessly in a frenzied pattern. Even as he nodded in response to her words, his mind was once again filled with a rush of relief as soon as the anger that had been on the verge of exploding subsided a little.
If anger had driven him on a rampage, relief overwhelmed him.
He let out a long, languid sigh and stared down at the chattering Rowaine before dropping his head on her shoulder. The sweet fragrance emanating from her permeated his nostrils, soothing his mind as if it were melting into his thoughts. As he took a deep breath, the calming effect of her unmistakable scent quickly pacified his heart.
“…I’m glad that you’re safe.”
He hesitated for a moment before lifting his arms and gently pulling her into an embrace.
He could feel Rowaine tensing up.
Even though it seemed like she could easily slip out of his grasp and retreat, surprisingly, she only trembled for a moment before nestling into his arms.
“Are you very surprised, Dimitri?”
Her breath tickled his ear.
Dimitri, with his forehead against her shoulder, simply nodded without a word.
The next moment, he felt Rowaine patting his back.
Unknowingly, he found himself smiling.
She doesn’t run away.
A vague sense of belief arose.
She’s not running away.
She’s not leaving.
…No, she can’t leave.
Dimitri tightened his arms around Rowaine.
He wanted to hold her. He was holding her, yet the feeling of inadequacy made his arms involuntarily tighten. At the same time, his heart raced as if fearing she might have been harmed, and a wave of relief made him burst into laughter once again.
Just standing like this for a moment, leaning against each other, made his heart swell, and he felt comforted.
It was happiness.
Dimitri realized slowly but surely as he was pulled into an embrace until she was crushed.
He loved this woman.
˚ ･: * ✧ * :･ ˚
Cayetana knew that things had gone wrong and clicked her tongue. She wanted to twist that woman’s neck right away.
But she couldn’t afford to do that right now.
“Did Rowaine go to Rosanne?”
“So, the old woman ended up taking her side.”
Cayetana laughed loudly.
“She’s stepped down, and Blois has a new owner now. She’s like an old dog in Blois.”
Mocking Rosanne to the fullest, she quickly picked up her pen, expecting that people would soon flock to catch her.
It was a letter addressed to Dieppe Leon. In case something went wrong, it was written to contact the son of Count Bilbao, who has been gnashing his teeth, and enclosed a few documents. It was documentation related to Blois’s budget that Cayetana had obtained through the administrative officials she had planted long ago.
The intention was to clearly show the spending of Blois’s finances to the vassals.
If it became known that their hard-earned money was being wasted on a sanctuary for Rowaine’s hobby, Dimitri would no longer be able to press on with his work. It was already rumored that he was doing crazy things under the influence of the woman.
Moreover, Dimitri, being a shapeshifter, was a shadowy presence that blurred the hierarchy of noble society. None of the nobles truly acknowledged him as a genuine noble. He only had a facade.
“Deliver this to Dieppe. You must not be captured.”
Her well-trained maid, who received the letter, nodded and swiftly exited the room through the window.
If it was Count Schdental, just having those documents should be enough to escalate the matter. If the elders and their numerous vassals had joined forces, there would have been no escape for Dimitri. And if everyone in Blois decides to oust him due to his failure, there would be no one among the empire’s nobles crazy enough to lend him support.
“Your position is in the gutters, Dimitri. Becoming a duke was a result of mistakes and coincidence. Now, you’ll finally return to where you belong.”
She laughed joyfully, adjusting her attire and standing tall and straightened her back.
Outside the door, the sounds of her knights clashing with Blois’s knights could be briefly heard. Knowing that Dimitri’s knights possessed formidable strength, she expected it wouldn’t take long. However, the disturbance ceased even faster than anticipated, and the door creaked open.
She thought Dimitri would arrive in a fit of rage, but surprisingly, only Hyle appeared.
“Fortunately, you didn’t run away and were waiting patiently.”
“Viscount Villefranc. It seems like your words have become quite unruly, haven’t they? When I first saw you, you seemed quite refined, but serving a rootless master for a long time must make even a sparrow lose its elegance.”
Hyle shrugged in response.
“I don’t possess the eloquent ability to criticize others like Madam Elbas, so please don’t set me up against you too much. His Excellency will deal with you directly.”
As his words concluded, heavy footsteps echoed in the corridor, and belatedly, Dimitri revealed himself, having come from somewhere and done something.
Cayetana looked up at him and furrowed her brow.
It was because his expression, which she expected to be full of anger, surprisingly didn’t look as bad as she thought. In fact, he even appeared to be in a good mood.
Standing slightly askew, Dimitri gazed down at her.
“It seems like you were planning something very nasty, Mother.”
He smirked as he deliberately used a title that Cayetana detested hearing.