Please Be Patient, Grand Duke - Chapter 16.1
The Shelby Estate was in an uproar. The Marchioness of Shelby could not stop her crying as she looked at Marilyn’s pale face and bandaged neck. Wade approached her from the back.
“His Majesty assures that he will send his own guards to catch the culprits.”
“Please punish the beast who did this!”
Wade stood next to Marilyn after passing the sobbing Marchioness. An unidentified man had ambushed Marilyn as she had been about to go into her carriage after watching an opera performance with the other ladies. The man had already overpowered her guard before slashing at Marilyn’s throat.
The serial killer was now narrowed down to one of the revolutionaries who was dissatisfied with the class system. Fortunately, the man had been shot before he could seriously harm Marilyn. However, the man disappeared to Louvre before the police could catch him.
“Only young upper-class ladies have been the target of this crime,” murmured the Crown Prince in a low voice.
“Vulnerable ladies are always the first to be attacked.”
Claude consoled the Marchioness before going out of the estate. Everyone was appalled at the notorious serial killer having come so close to them. He had attacked an aristocratic lady, at that.
“How dare he go after Marilyn?!” thundered the Crown Prince.
“Perhaps she will feel safer if she has you to protect her,” said Claude indifferently.
“Isn’t that your duty?” asked the Prince, “Don’t drag me in. I do not want a scandal.”
Claude answered him with a smirk and got into the waiting car. The automobile was faster and noisier but much safer than the carriage. The Royal family encouraged new technologies, but many aristocrats were wary of them. It was only a matter of time.
“Your Highness, I will see you at the academy,” bade Claude.
The cars drove in opposite directions to one another. Claude entered the Etear streets. He looked out the window of his car at a candy shop. People lingered around the shop holding the pink cotton-like candy on a stick.
Candy from heaven, was what it was called. It reminded Claude of someone who would have been happiest to receive such a candy. He smiled despite himself. His usually seamless and focused thoughts were disturbed today. He frowned with his brows furrowed and tried to convince himself that this was nothing.
Lia placed the letter deep inside her desk drawer. She treated the letter as a precious possession. She had never received a letter before, and it made her feel warm inside. It also aggravated her to think that for four years, she hadn’t received a single letter from Kieran while he had written every month to her.
Lia lifted her pen and thought about what she could write down as a reply. Too many things raced through her mind. She wanted to write about how tall she was now, the weather here, the opera. She wanted to write about how she was going to enter into the academy.
How did people start a letter? Dear Kieran? She had just pushed away the paper and set her pen down in frustration when Betty came in with snacks. But Betty wasn’t her usual warm self, she was angry. And Lia noticed it.
“Betty?” she asked, “What’s wrong?”
“I heard that you gave Pepe five dresses.”
“Everyone knows that and the fact you had ice cream with a foreigner with strange hair colour. If you were going to town without me, you should have been careful! Don’t you know what happened to Lady Marilyn Shelby?!”
Lia had never seen Betty so angry. It was so in contrast to her usual nice temperament that Lia felt guilty for worrying her this way. She took a chocolate-chip cookie and bit into it.
“It’s lovely, Betty. Did you bake this?” said Lia.
Betty clicked her tongue as she wiped Lia’s mouth with a clean handkerchief. “Don’t change the subject. You’re not a young child anymore, and if you go to town without me…!” Betty’s voice was tight, and Lia looked up. The maid took a deep breath to calm herself. “You have to be suspicious of strangers, and you know that well already.”
“I know, and I am sorry,” said Lia, “I gave the dresses to Pepe because I was grateful to her.”
Lia decided not to tell her that the strange foreigner’s name was Ian Sergio. Nor that he was of Geore’s royalty. Betty might faint with sheer worry. Lia smiled awkwardly as Betty lifted the teapot.
“Betty, I am curious about four years ago,” asked Lia.
“The capital is larger than I expected, and I wonder how you knew about me.”
Betty’s knuckles went white as she gripped the teapot, but she steadily poured the dried strawberry infused with herbs into a cup.
“It was a coincidence. A servant had met Laura, and the mistress had heard our conversation.”
“Who is this servant?”
“She’s not here anymore, as the mistress had her leave,” replied Betty.
Lia drank her tea, a luxury that she couldn’t even dream of four years ago. She had been beaten up stealing an orange and she remembered her mother’s sobs.
“I don’t know why it had to be me. I sometimes wonder,” murmured Lia. Betty’s eyes welled up at Lia’s bitter tone.
“Canillia…,” said Betty gently. The maid hadn’t called her that in a very long time. She put the teapot down. “The mistress had been in a difficult situation regarding Master Kieran’s health. People made it known that he wasn’t fit to be an heir and the relatives pressured the Marquis to adopt one of their sons to be the heir.”
Lia put the cup down and listened attentively.