PDM Chapter 14
“Your Grace, let’s–”
“Your Grace, many people are curious about the elusive Duchess.”
At the sudden voice, I stopped. Kyle, with his face turned, looked straight again. Gray eyes gazed briefly at me.
“I, anyway, Your Grace,” the aide following Kyle closely stuttered. “I suggest you socialize with your wife–”
At that moment, Kyle stopped walking, effectively cutting off the aide. Then, he burst into laughter as if finding the aide’s comment absurd.
“Hmm.” Kyle tilted his head and said flatly, “What do you think?”
Kyle turned and took off his gloves as slowly as a reptile shed its skin and held it in one hand. His aide looked at me and gasped in surprise.
He quickly bowed his head and said, “Forgive me for the late greeting. I am Viscount Aden, vassal and aide of His Grace, Duke Harace.”
“It’s nice to meet you, Viscount Aden.”
I looked away. I was now being greeted according to my position.
“So, what’s your answer?”
Unintentionally, I turned to the sound of the voice and met Kyle’s cool stare. I had to look away again.
His overbearing gaze was enough of an answer. That’s a relief. I’ve been reluctant to go outside.
He would definitely question my intentions. After all, I was meeting the Countess soon, and he warned me to keep my mouth shut and be careful.
I put my hands together and raised my lips as if it was what I wanted. I had to make sure it didn’t appear artificial to the aide.
“I want to stay quiet.”
“I don’t think I’m suited for social gatherings.”
“It can’t be helped.”
Kyle raised his eyebrows as if very satisfied and looked at the assistant, who took a deep breath and bowed.
“I understand, Madam. Then, I shall take my leave.”
Once Viscount Aden reached the end of the hallway and was out of earshot, I said, “Don’t worry. I’ll keep quiet in the future.”
I looked down, afraid to see what kind of expression he had. But even if I didn’t see it, I knew. From the first meeting until now, his eyes looking at me were dull with neither color nor brilliance.
“I will never reveal your feelings to her.”
“You have my word,” I muttered. I could feel his stare at the top of my head.
Then, Kyle turned around. I waited for him to walk away, but he faltered after a few steps.
Curious, I raised my head. It’s been a long time since he’d asked me a question.
Kyle turned halfway around, his brows furrowed. Confusion shone in his gray eyes.
“Is it not enough?”
“What are you…”
“Why are there no records?”
What was he talking about? As I pondered about it, I suddenly remembered. Ah, you’re referring to my personal allowance.
“What the former Duchess left behind is enough.”
Kyle scoffed. I could understand his exasperation; my words and actions seemed to contradict what I told him when we first met.
He didn’t take his eyes off me as he rubbed his lips with his fingertips. His gray eyes gleamed like a beast observing its prey. I swallowed hard, nervous, but he turned back with a small smile.
“I’ll call for the Madame at the boutique to visit so you can choose an outfit.”
“You have to look like a believable duchess to Hari.”
Soon the sound of the footsteps faded away, and I smiled bitterly and focused on the distant sound.
“Oh my gosh…”
Madame covered her mouth with both hands, and her eyelashes trembled. The salon staff who came with Madame were also shocked and confused.
They saw me with Kyle at the salon, but they probably would never have thought I’d get married to him.
“Aelle…! No, no.” Madame came to her senses and bowed deeply. “Thank you for calling me, Madam.”
“Madame, it’s been a while.”
Madame straightened and waved her hand, eyes wide. The fan in her hand swayed from side to side at her movement.
“A-are you using honorifics? Don’t do that, Madam.”
Her forehead was sweating, and she clearly looked uncomfortable. That’s right, things have changed since then. It was still difficult to change how I treat the staff here at home, but I should at least be careful not to use honorifics to Madame, who’s an outsider.
Fortunately, Madame didn’t think much of me for suddenly rising in status. Instead, she seemed to be thinking only about the benefits of our previous association. Her eyes twinkled with determination to fill her pockets with this.
After knowing each other for a long time, Madame’s thoughts were as clear as a mirror. I feigned ignorance and sheepishly smiled.
“Yes, I look forward to your kind cooperation.”
“Yes, Madam,” she said, bowing once more.
When she straightened, the staff behind her hurriedly dragged the rack filled with hangers and displayed the clothes. Some employees also placed shoes under hangers.
Madame stayed by my side to describe and promote the products on display.
“That’s it,” she said, finished explaining all of the products.
Madame approached the hanger and picked up the dress on display at the front with a confident face. The red dress was the most eye-catching among them.
“Madam, this is–”
Madame, who was grinning at the dress, suddenly stiffened, looking embarrassed. She raised her eyebrows and glared fiercely at her staff before smiling once more.
“Haha, Madam, it’s new,” she tried to laugh, but the good-natured Madame’s smile looked forced.
“Give it to me.”
As Laura approached her, Madame chewed on her lips and handed her the dress with an uneasy look. However, her signature smile was still on her face.
I approached the oval full-length mirror and looked at the dress Laura brought.
Madame hesitated for a moment before running to my side and saying, “It looks good on you, Madam.”
Madame’s dresses were always divided into two categories – fancy or fancier. Apparently, the fabric used in the dress was also imported from a kingdom famous for its silk not long ago.
I narrowed my eyes as I looked at the dress reflected in the mirror.
“Laura.” I handed her the dress.
“Madam, what’s wrong?” Madame’s voice slightly trembled.
The dress had uneven stitching at the ends of the sleeves and the collar, and the threads were protruding from the finish. That wasn’t the only thing. I gently rubbed the silk with my hand and let out a shallow sigh. Even the fabric was an imitation. The other ladies were seemingly ignorant enough to be deceived, but I, who’s been sewing for a while, knew better.
At Madame’s salon, they usually make samples of the clothes they designed, examine the ladies’ reactions, then produce the final product. Perhaps this was one of them. Judging by the look on her face, Madame knew it yet still gave it to me.
When I handed the dress over to Laura, she quickly realized what it meant and took it to Madame.
“This dress is a sample.”
Madame took the dress in trepidation and pushed her face into it as if to bury her face. I knew she was wondering how we noticed it.
“I guess Madam doesn’t think I know.” I cut Madame off. I sighed and turned. “As you know, I was in charge of sewing in the salon. So I know the fabric, the buttons, and even the thread.”
A look of disappointment crossed Madame’s face. Then she trembled as she gripped her dress until her hands turned white.
Madame looked down before turning to the staff. One of her staff probably had a grudge against me. They probably remembered Aelle, who was once poor and helpless and acted impulsively.
As if confirming my theory, one of the employees who previously looked sullen now looked anxious.