Please Be Patient, Grand Duke - Chapter 15.1
It had been a long time since Pepe had come to town. She went out of the carriage with excitement reflected in her eyes. Canillia followed, the pedestrian looked at her with curiosity. The main street of Cosoar was full of shoppers. Lia heard people bickering over prices, newspaper boy shouting, and all the hullabaloo.
“Just follow me, I know the place,” said Pepe. This was the first time Lia had been out with just Pepe. The maid looked terribly excited as she led Lia past a popular pancake house or high-quality ribbon shop. Whenever they stopped at a shop people crowded around them to look at Canillian, who was called the Angel of the Vales. Lia stood close to Pepe; her ears flushed with the eyes on her from every side. The crowd kept gazing at them even after Canillia followed Pepe to stop in front of a boutique.
“Is this the place?” asked Lia.
“Yes, the dresses here are not too fancy but also not so plain. Extravagant dresses are not the trend anymore,” said Pepe.
“I trust your judgment. Get me five. Three are yours, Pepe,” said Lia.
“Yes. I only care about being able to move easily in the dresses. I also would rather not be noticed.”
Canillian could have bought the dresses and put the tabs on the name of the Vales, but there was no time. Lia gave her allowance that she had saved to Pepe. But Pepe refused to take them.
“I got money from Betty and will use that,” said Pepe, “She told me not to take money from you. I have enough, so don’t worry.”
Lia recalled Betty who had seen her off as she departed from the place with a pang in the heart. As Pepe entered the boutique, Lia walked along the street with the horseman. The warmth of the sun made her drowsy. Lia came across a general store that looked very quaint. She bought a fountain pen, a leather pencil case, and several beautiful notebooks. When she left the store, she thought of betty. She wanted to buy her a gift. Lia wondered what Betty would have liked as she walked past a hat shop crowded with people.
The ladies holding the hats in boxes smiled and bowed to Canillia. The hats seemed to sell out very fast. The place seemed quite popular. Lia, however, had no intention of wearing a hat. She walked past to a street selling many colourful wares. She saw an ice cream shop. She decided to get herself and Pepe some ice cream when they were done with the shopping.
“Hello, Canillia,” a voice called. Nobody called her ‘Canillia’ except perhaps her mother. She had heard about many creeps in the streets, so she kept walking, ignoring whoever it was who called to her.
“Lady Canillia,” said the voice again. Lia halted in her tracks. The hair on the back of her neck rose straight up with dread.
“I was correct!”
She had never heard the voice before. Lia debated whether to run away or to turn and confront whoever it was that was playing with her. While curiosity bade her to turn around and investigate the matter, it would also give away the fact that she had acknowledged her identity as a lady. She desperately wanted to know who it was, and if he knew her mother…
“You are mistaken, sir,” said Canillia, turning around to face a man with grey hair and strange eyes up on a horse.
“No, Canillia. Aren’t you Kieran Vale’s sister? You’re too alike,” said the man. Lia stepped back in surprise.
“Who are you?” she asked.
“Me?” The man leaned down to meet her eyes and smiled. “I am a friend. Perhaps we can have some fruit sherbet and converse?”
The man wore a curious uniform, maybe from some country afar. He carried a dagger strapped to his waist belt and a gun in its holster. He was very noticeable in his white uniform. Usually, white uniform denoted a person from royalty. Since Lia could not take a foreigner to the terrace seating as it would raise far too many questions, she took him to a corner beside the ice cream shop.
“It’s very hot indeed,” said the man.
“Bear it,” said Lia, “Your uniform is Geore’s, isn’t it? You are too conspicuous.”
“Your disguise as a boy is more eye-catching.”
“I am a boy, and my brother was only making a joke.”
Lia much preferred if he could shut up but her face turned pale when she heard his name. Ian Sergio. She decided to not ask about his reasons for coming here. Ian looked at Lia as he pushed at his ice cream and sherbet.
“Kieran’s waiting for a reply, as he had not received any correspondence from you,” said Ian.
“I… is he well?” asked Lia.
“I have never received a letter from him till now.”
“Hm,” he said, “Perhaps because nobody delivered them directly to you.”
Ian took a letter out from his jacket pocket and presented it to her. “Kieran has sent a letter to his dear sister every month,” said Ian, “Since he never received a reply, he sent me to give it to you.”
Lia took the letter from him. He pointed to her ice cream goblet. “Eat your ice cream fast so I can go back, Canillia.”
“Can you please address me properly?” said Lia, “My name is Canillian.”
“Canillia,” he said with a smirk.
Lia ignored him. Her heart felt heavy. Kieran had written her a letter every month. She teary-eyed at this. She also saw Pepe outside searching for her. Lia placed the letter carefully on the inside pocket of her jacket and gulped down a spoonful of ice cream cringing as the cold invaded her tongue.
“Can I request you to carry a reply from me?” asked Lia, “When will you be heading back?”
“You can give it to him directly. Kieran will be coming back.”
“Yes,” smiled Ian.
The sweet ice cream suddenly tasted bitter in her mouth. The Marchioness had told her that the time limit for her to act like the son of the Vale family would be till Kieran became healthy again. Lia’s duty had been to protect the honour of the Vale family, letting them know that there was another son that lived in the Vale family. Her duty was to make sure that the nobles didn’t look down on her and the family. Ian was far more interested noticing Lia’s expression at this news.
“Canillia…,” he called.
Lia glared at him. “Lian,” she hissed.
“Oh alright, Sir Lian. I will invite you to Geore the moment I return. Please visit.” Lia nodded and Ian smiled. “I duly hope you come as a lady.”
Lia stood to leave. Ian stood up as well and took her hand and placed a kiss on the back of her hand. “Goodbye, My Lady.”