“How did you get here? I’m pretty sure there was a no trespassing sign in the middle.”
Now she realized she had a pink flower pinned to her chest, just like Bianca.
She must be one of the party organizers.
Arista hesitated because she couldn’t say, ‘I followed your friend Bianca.’
“I got lost trying to find the restroom.
I’m surprisingly bad at directions.”
“Hmm, no matter how bad you are at directions, I can’t believe you came all the way here to find the bathroom…”
Arista swallowed hard at the questioning look.
“You must be pretty bad with directions.”
With that out of the way, Arista sighed inwardly.
“You shouldn’t have come in here anyway, so please be careful next time.”
“Yeah, I will.”
Arista obediently followed her to the restroom, glancing behind her as she went.
Sure enough, the few people in the dark grass in the distance had disappeared.
Arista narrowed her eyes as if they’d fled as if they were afraid of revealing a secret.
“What were your friends doing out there, and what was that?”
The woman ahead of her stopped walking.
“We’re going to be celebrating a birthday in a little while, and we’re going to be shooting off fireworks, so they’re probably getting ready for that.”
“Are all your questions answered?”
When Arista didn’t answer, the woman resumed walking.
‘……did I overinterpret it?’
Still, something uncomfortable tickled her neck, but Arista followed her anyway.
* * *
After her dreamy first dance with Herwin, Lucia went on to dance with Lucas, Ethan, and Brian.
After four dances, she was starting to get a little tired.
Lucia politely declined the dance invitations and slipped away to a corner of the party.
Her friends were off dancing with new partners or chatting merrily with others.
And off in the distance, Herwin was dancing with Christine.
Lucia smiled to herself as she remembered her words about never dancing more than three times.
She heard her name in her ear, accompanied by a small click of a tongue.
“Lucia, over here.”
She could see Bianca waving from the entrance of the hall.
Lucia hurried over to her.
“Why, what’s wrong?”
“Are you going to confess today?”
Lucia’s mouth dropped open at the question that came out of nowhere.
“Tell me quickly.
So I can decide what to do.”
Bianca rolled her feet nervously and checked her watch.
Ever since she’d briefly checked out the mansion a week ago, Lucia hadn’t given her a definitive answer.
She hadn’t planned to tell her until she came here.
Even though she had promised herself that….…
‘For some reason, I have a good feeling about today.’
She’d been asked to dance with Herwin for the first time, she’d been told she was pretty, and she could see his gentle smile.
Today everything seems to be going her way.
She wondered if Herwin would accept her proposal.
“Lucia, are you going to do it or not? Decide quickly.”
At her urging, Lucia opened her tightly closed mouth.
“I’ll do it.
Bianca’s face lit up.
She tapped her foot and glanced around to see if anyone else was listening.
“Good thing I knew you’d do this, and I’ve arranged a place for you.”
Lucia followed Bianca’s lead and arrived at the garden she had seen earlier.
“So, what do you think?”
Bianca pointed to a white gazebo.
It had been bland the last time they’d seen it, but now it was decorated with flowers and lights.
“……It’s so pretty.”
“Right? I’ve worked hard on this, so you have to succeed.
Do you understand?”
“Why are you doing this for me……?”
Lucia’s question stopped Bianca in her tracks, and when she turned around, she saw Lucia looking touched, the tip of her nose red.
“I haven’t done much for you… I guess it’s too much for me.”
Bianca was speechless for a moment, then smiled sheepishly.
“There’s no reason, I just want you to be happy with Herwin.”
Bianca hugged the sobbing Lucia tightly and patted her small back.
“I hope you have the best day ever.”
The corners of Bianca’s mouth twitched upward.
* * *
Herwin sighed heavily.
Christine was the last one to decide not to dance anymore, but people around them couldn’t leave him alone.
So he ran away.
But the smell of the perfumes and cosmetics lingered in the air, a messy mix of scents.
His brow furrowed as his head began to swim, and he retreated to a less crowded area.
“When the hell is this going to end?”
Bianca had said it would be at least three hours….…
He checked the time and it was 9:00.
Seeing that they still had about an hour to go, Herwin freaked out.
“Should I ……just run away?”
The rest of the day was going to be fine without him, so why should he stay?
As he was seriously contemplating his escape, his dark surroundings suddenly became much brighter.
Thinking he’d been spotted, Herwin turned his head and saw a familiar face.
“What the… was that you?”
“I was wondering where you were, and here you are?”
It was Bianca.
Herwin looked around, relieved.
“If you don’t have anything to do, could you please leave, I’m going to be seen by someone.”
“You’re hiding from people?”
Herwin gave a small nod, and Bianca burst out laughing.
“Hahaha, sorry, sorry.
That’s so different from your usual image.”
Bianca took a moment to wipe the tears from her eyes before a smile tugged at the corners of her mouth.
“If you want to avoid the people, do you want me to take you somewhere else?”
I’ll take you somewhere no one can come.
There’s only one place I’ve ever kept people out of.”
Herwin rolled his eyes and considered for a moment, then nodded hastily at the sound of people getting closer and closer.
“Where is that?”
* * *
Lucia couldn’t calm down.
With each passing minute, each passing second, her nervousness slowly increased along with her heartbeat.
Her lips were trembling unnecessarily and her hands were clammy.
Why was she so nervous, even though this wasn’t her first confession?
“……It’s okay, it’s going to be okay.”
Lucia’s closed eyes snapped open at the sound behind her.
She spun around quickly, and there stood the person she’d been waiting for.
“What, did you come here to avoid people too?”
Herwin looked around and came straight to Lucia.
Lucia paused for a moment at her exhaustion, but she couldn’t let such a beautiful day go to waste.
As he unbuttoned his neatly pressed shirt and ruffled his hair, Lucia approached him cautiously.
His hair was disheveled, and a small gift box appeared in front of him.
Herwin stared at it in surprise for a moment, then turned to look at Lucia, who held it out to him.
Lucia’s beautifully dressed face was flushed red.
“I saw it on the street the other day and thought it looked good on you, so I bought it.
I haven’t given you a present yet.”
Lucia, who bowed her head, suddenly showed her face.
“I like you.”
Surprised, Herwin stiffened.
“Even when you’re like this…….”
“You’re not saying that for sure!”
Seeing him trying to brush it off as usual, Lucia hastened to add an afterthought.
“I’ve confessed before that I’ve been overcome by my feelings, but not today.”
Despite her trembling, her face was serious, as if she had made up her mind.
“From the age of eight until now, there has never been a moment when I have not been true to you.
I love you, Herwin.”
Lucia bowed her head again, holding out her gift.
“Please go out with me.”
Herwin was unconsciously mesmerized.
The girl had confessed again today.
However, this one was much different from the previous ones.
It wasn’t a joke that could be laughed off, and it wasn’t something Lucia said with confidence.
This was a serious confession.
His heart was pounding a little.
The darkness of the night sky made it difficult to see Lucia’s face, but the scattered lights made it clear.
Her lashes were fluttering, her lips were pursed, and the hand holding out the gift was trembling.
Herwin clapped his mouth and carefully took his hand at the gift she gave him.
Just as Herwin’s mouth was about to open, a bright light suddenly flooded in.
Herwin frowned involuntarily.
So did Lucia, whose eyes were closed.
Turning his head to the source of the light, Herwin felt his heart sink.
“Oh, what? Were you two like that?”
“Oh, my God, you pretended you didn’t.
You did that behind the scenes?”
“And not just once or twice.
She’s had a crush on him since she was eight.”
The light shone brightly on Herwin and Lucia.
It was coming from the hall, where many people were gathered.
The hall was connected to the place by a huge glass door.
However, all the windows in the hall were curtained, so they couldn’t see out.
But now, as if by some sort of tugging and pulling, all the curtains had been pulled back, giving a clear view of the garden and the gazebo where Herwin and Lucia were standing.
And somehow, everyone in the hall was looking at the side of the garden.
“Kuhh! Even if you’re a childhood friend, you should know where you are.
Don’t you think it’s a bit out of place for you to confess your love to Phoenaeus?”
The laughter that erupted from one person soon spread in all directions.
Everyone laughed at Lucia’s confession to Herwin as if it were some sort of farce.
Herwin knew in his gut.
That someone had staged this.
“What the hell…….”
Lucia looked at the people standing in the hall in awe and horror.
“I’ve recognized you from the moment you didn’t introduce me to Phoenaeus!”
“I thought she was a nice, innocent girl, but she’s a sly person.”
“I feel sorry for Phoenaeus.
No matter how much I like him, I couldn’t have easily hit him because he’s a childhood friend.”
“You never know, she might have been targeting the Phoenaeus family for a long time before she confessed…….”
Even though there was quite a distance away from them, they could hear their slanderous speculations and sarcasm.
Lucia shuddered and shrank backward, her blue walls losing their light, her despair growing in real-time.
Without realizing it, Herwin reached out to her.
Herwin called Lucia, and his voice echoed again.
Lucia’s head whipped around, shaking with fascination.
Her eyes locked with Herwin’s, and her face contorted.
Then she whispered, her voice barely audible over the echoing jeers and laughter.
Tears fell down her cheeks within the blue walls, and the gift in her hand fell to the floor.
Someone called Lucia’s name as loudly as they could.
But Lucia had already left the room.
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