If I had known that I would meet all three of them at the same time, I wouldn’t have nagged Older Sister to go out in the morning.
Even though our neighborhood is in a bustling area, this is not the place where these guys usually show up.
“I came early because I had some business. Why are you two already here in Trovanza?”
“We came a few days early to do some sightseeing.”
“Well, let’s have a meal.”
As he was about to pass me, François noticed me while my mouth was wide open.
“Hello, little miss.”
I’m genuinely terrified of François Cassel.
In the original story, not only did he lock the heroine in the tower, but he also pushed me, who was brought to the Empire as a captive, into the tower as the heroine’s maid.
Then, when the heroine didn’t eat properly, he forced me to consume a poison that would cause me to wither away painfully if I didn’t consume the antidote regularly.
Only when she ate did he give me enough antidote to last me half a day.
The heroine was forced to eat even though she felt sick to her stomach to save me.
I involuntarily hunched my shoulders.
When I put down my fork and grabbed the hem of my older sister’s dress, she raised an eyebrow.
“Hello. Nice to meet you.”
My older sister gave a gentle greeting to François Cassel.
“Do you know my little sister?”
“Little sister? Is she your sister? Then are you Emilia Verchio’s sister?”
“Emilia is my twin sister. We don’t look alike, right? I get that a lot. Hahaha. But, how do you know Liliana?”
“She’s your twin sister…”
I shook my older sister’s hem lightly as if to say that’s enough.
My sister was already a little nervous yet hid her guard behind a thick smile.
François Cassel naturally sat at our table.
Marius watched us with interest, and Leopold stared at me.
“Didn’t Emilia tell you? I made a contract with her because of your little sister’s health.”
“A contract? What kind of contract is it?”
“Well, I’m afraid I can’t tell you what it is. It’s not something I should talk about carelessly.”
“Really? Then I’ll have to ask Emilia.”
Cassel didn’t get up from his seat even though the conversation was over.
Since he came alone, it seemed like he’s subtly trying to join us.
He wasn’t the kind of person who cared about other people in the first place. Is it because the other male leads are here?
“But how do you three know each other?”
“We know each other a little through this work.”
“I see. Then let’s eat first, little one.”
My sister quickly handed me a fork and told me to eat.
I reluctantly started eating, glancing at François Cassel.
Even though it was a Children’s Lunch Special that I usually like so much, I felt my mouth getting dry, probably because I was nervous.
So my appetite dropped, and François Cassel stared at me with curiosity.
Older sister noticed his gaze and started a conversation.
“Our little one is cute, right?”
“Yes, she is. When she grows up, she’ll make all the boys in the neighborhood cry.”
“That’s right… yes! When I grow up, I’ll become the best fighter in the neighborhood and make everyone cry!”
Hearing my words, Marius, who had been eating in silence, burst into laughter.
He covered his mouth with his hand to avoid splattering any food, but it was a mess, so I glared at him.
“Mister, that’s messy of you.”
“Uh-huh-huh. First-class fist. Your fist is nothing but a twig, kid.”
“It’s not a twig.”
“It’s a twig.”
“No! I’m going to have a hammer fist!”
Why does this emperor guy keep making fun of me?
I glared at him with pursed lips, but Leopold interrupted.
“If you eat all your food without leaving any, you’ll have a hammer fist.”
I quickly shoveled the food into my mouth. François Cassel looked at me and grinned.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Ugh. I’m a kid. At six, I’m practically grown up.
“I want to be like Older Sister.”
“You want to be like me, little one?”
Older sister’s eyes twinkled. Sure, Eldest Sister is nice, pretty, cool, and confident, but Older Sister has always been my first choice.
“Uh… Uncle, what do you want to be when you grow up?”
“I’m not an ‘uncle.’ They may be uncles, but I’m a big brother.”
François Cassel drew a line in the sand with Marius and Leopold, twirled his fork around the fresh pasta, and asked Older Sister.
“What’s your name, lady?”
“Regina. Regina Verchio.”
“Lady Regina. Go home and listen carefully to what Emilia has to say. I think you’re this little one’s guardian, and I’m afraid Emilia will get into a lot of trouble if she continues with this on her own.”
“I see. Alright, Mr. François.”
For some reason, Older Sister’s smile seemed off.
Her face was as bright as ever, but as a family member, I could tell she was upset.
‘Emilia is done for…’
I didn’t even know if the food was going into my mouth or my nose because I was too busy checking my sister’s mood to pay attention to François Cassel.
* * *
When I opened my eyes, I was on Leopold’s back.
As I tried to piece together what had happened, memories from a few hours earlier came flooding back.
After finishing our meal, François Cassel left for work, and we went to a nearby beach.
I had been running around on the white sand, playing, and Marius was sitting next to me, sipping grape juice that looked delicious.
“Do you want some?”
“Mmm. I like grape juice, too, but I can get it at…”
“I’ll give you a sip if you admit that I’m more handsome than Uncle Leo.”
“That’s a lie, but… my sister doesn’t lie.”
I turned my head away from the grape juice, trying to resist its appeal. My mouth watered.
“Wahaha. Then I’ll just give you a sip.”
“Ugh. No. I’ll pass on the sympathy.”
I did my best impression of Youngest Sister’s attitude and lifted my head proudly.
But the grape juice kept waving above my head.
“Heh! That’s sympathy!”
I heard Marius cover his mouth as he laughed.
In the distance, my older sister strolled along the white sandy beach side by side with Leopold.
They got along so well. My older sister was constantly chatting with Leopold, using her characteristic friendliness.
The waves rolled in and out.
The sound of the waves was like a lullaby, and I suddenly had that thought.
‘Let’s rest until Sister comes back.’
I sprawled out on the white sand. Sister had told me not to lie down just anywhere, but the sand was so thick and fluffy that it felt good.
That was my last memory.
‘Oops! I drooled!’
When I woke up, I saw a circular spit mark on Leopold’s back.
I wanted to see what Leopold’s face looked like, but I couldn’t since I was on his back.
Feeling a sense of apology, I used my hand to rub away the spit marks, but all I could smell was the scent of saliva.
‘Maybe it’s okay. He’s not mad at me because he’s offended, right?’
I tried to press my sleeve to absorb the saliva, but it was futile.
‘Oops. What should I do? If it’s not François but Leopold, he won’t be mad, right?’
As I rolled my head, Leopold turned slightly and spoke to me.
“Are you bored?”
It seems he thought I woke up and was playing a prank by continuously pressing on his back.
“Our little one woke up. Leopold, you can put Liliana down now; it must be tiring.”
“She must be heavy.”
“Far from being heavy, she’s too light that I’m worried. The weight is completely different from my cousin who’s the same age.”
“I’m sorry, Mister.”
I couldn’t pretend not to know about the drool marks on his back, so I apologized voluntarily.
What’s wrong? Doesn’t he know that I drooled? Should I just pretend like I don’t know?
“Uh… It’s nothing. Nothing at all.”
As I tried to stop the laughter from escaping with my hand, I heard a soft chuckle from the side.
When I turned my head, there was Marius with a face that seemed to say he knew everything.
Ugh. This emperor guy never lets anything go.
Thinking that I was exposed, I buried my face in Leopold’s back, but I heard my older sister’s voice.
“We’re here now. We’ll walk on our own from here.”
“We’ll walk you to the front of your house.”
“Ah, thank you, but no. It’s a house where only women live, so it would be uncomfortable for my sister and me if you came near.”
“Oh, I see. I was too short-sighted.”
Leopold put me down.
It felt strange to come down to the ground after being high enough to see my older sister’s head.
The air above was nice…
“Uh… Lady Regina, can you guide us on another day?”
Leopold asked, surprisingly tense. Marius whistled from the side.
As a result, Leopold’s neck turned redder.
I knew that Marius was just teasing him, so I discreetly kicked him.
I tried to kick him with some weight, but it didn’t seem to hurt at all.
Instead of showing any sign of pain, he messed my hair with his big hand.
“Don’t do it!”
“Don’t do it.”
“Don’t copy me!”
“Don’t copy me.”
Annoyed that I couldn’t win against him, I grabbed Marius’ hand and tried to bite him, leaving Leopold and Older Sister.
But Marius picked me up without releasing my hand.
My feet dangled like I was hanging from a horizontal bar.
“Let me down!”
I twisted my body because my feet floating in the air scared me, but Marius didn’t let go.
Seriously… I’m being teased, aren’t I?
“Mister, it’s annoying!”
“Am I not the most handsome?”
“No! You’re a goat-pig!”
“There’s no such thing as a goat-pig.”
“You’re a lizard!”
“Do you know what a lizard is?”
“I know. You think I don’t even know that?”
“Wow, you’re a good kid.”
“I’m not a kid!”
“People who can’t admit that they’re kids are all kids.”
“I’m not a kid! I… waaaah!”
I couldn’t control my anger, so I burst into tears.
Oh my… I feel so wronged! This is so unfair!
“…Ah, the little one is crying, so we should go. Then let’s meet again at the café we went to today at 2 PM, three days from now.”
Older Sister quickly organized the situation and took me home while I was crying.
She kept comforting me.
But as the anger subsided, I couldn’t help but cry again out of frustration at being defeated by that childish Marius.
It was a really bad day.