“I am doing fine as always. And as you can see, this is how I pass the time. How have you been?”
“I am doing great as well. Perhaps I wasn’t considerate enough. I should’ve come by to pay my respects more often.”
“Well, it couldn’t be helped.”
Flora was left speechless by an unexpected response. Originally, she was intending to say that she’d come by more often when the lady courteously says things like ‘You really should have done so.’ and use this as an excuse to make frequent visits again. However, as the lady had given a rather ambiguous answer, she couldn’t take the lead of the conversation like she intended.
She was confused if the lady was intending to imply that she understood the reason for her sparse visit or was she basically saying that there was no reason for her to come by with Jin away in the Hashi Kingdom since her marriage.
“I will receive your gifts with thanks.”
“It’s nothing much. But I hope you like them.”
Flora felt her heart pounding in her chest when Dana smiled back at her. She literally hadn’t seen any other noble ladies who were as elegant and beautiful as Lady Arse, in countless parties she had attended along with Jin. Lady Arse seemed like she was of royal blood although there was no royalty in the Holy City.
On her first encounter with the lady, dumbfounded by her beauty, she gaped and told Jin,
[You do look a lot like your mother.]
Jin laughed delightedly after her remark. And since that day, Jin had occasionally taken Flora to see her lady mother. Despite knowing that it was Jin’s intention to be boastful, Flora did not mind as she enjoyed paying her visits to the lady. But all the while, she muttered to herself how Jin did not resemble her lady mother, the more as she saw them together.
However, Flora found Jin becoming exceptionally quiet whenever she was in her mother’s presence and awkwardly lingered for no good reason before taking her leave. To Flora’s eyes, Jin seemed like a child who was desperately in need of her mother’s attention. But Flora did not ruminate further and concluded that Jin must find her lady mother rather difficult.
Truthfully speaking, it wasn’t only Jin who found her mother difficult as her two brothers also seemed like they were intimidated by their lady mother. Although Lady Arse had never raised her voice before, everyone tended to be cautious around her presence.
From Dana’s beauty to her overpowering grace, every aspect of Dana was in fact an admiration to Flora. Dana was also deemed as a mystical being as she seldom showed herself at the social parties. Flora had not once met anyone who hadn’t admired Lady Arse.
“How are your parents? Is your family doing well?”
“Yes, they are all doing very fine. In fact, we had a new addition to the family, not very long ago.”
“That’s such wonderful news. What is the gender of the baby?”
“She’s a beautiful baby girl. However, my mother was a little disappointed when she learned my niece’s gender.”
“Was she expecting a baby boy?”
“No. She had rather expected a… special baby girl.”
Flora couldn’t help but to laugh at how her family’s jolly expectation subsided right after her niece was born. She was embarrassed at how her parents had shamelessly expected another Anika to be born to the family.
“I….” After a moment of silence, Dana spoke again, looking both joy and grief at the same time. “I had rather prayed for her to be ordinary when I knew I was pregnant with her. It was my selfish thought for wanting her to live as my wholly daughter. So I was disappointed at first but those feelings didn’t last long. She was the apple of my eye after all.”
Flora was shocked to find out how different Lady Arse was from her own mother, who rather thinks of her Anika daughter as a proud trophy. It never occurred to her mind before that there would be a mother, who would be wistful to have Anika as a daughter, instead of regarding it as a family honour. Flora felt envious of Jin and perplexed at the same time.
For all these years, Flora depicted Lady Arse as someone rather aloof and cold as she had never once seen Lady Arse giving warm words to Jin. Furthermore, she always called her own daughter, ‘Anika Jin’.
‘Is she not used to express her love towards her daughter?’
“You must feel lonely now that Jin has moved to such a faraway kingdom.”
Dana only smiled without replying.
Without realizing, the words which Flora was refraining herself from, easily escaped her mouth. “Please think of me as one of your own.”
“I gladly accept your heart.” said Dana with a smile.
Flora felt her face burning up with embarrassment, as if she just had been read like a book. While she struggled to keep on her straight face, Flora managed to let out a sigh of relief when the conversation was interrupted as a maid came in.
The maid went up to the lady and bowed her head. “My lady. The young master wishes to see you.”
Flora’s eyes flickered instantly at the maid’s word.
“Tell him I have a guest with me.”
“I don’t mind at all, Lady Arse.”
Flora promptly interfered as she wanted to take this chance to give her greetings to Enoch. As Enoch was too like his mother, never frequented himself to the social parties, Flora hardly had any chance to meet him since Jin left the Holy City.
“Send him in.”
“As you said, my lady.”
In a moment, Enoch showed himself and crossed into the glasshouse in a wide stride. Enoch had the handsome look which resembled his mother’s delicate beauty. But despite his pretty face, which might make him appear rather fragile, his sturdy build and tallness that he inherited from his father had made him appear more manly.
Flora, who stared blindly as Enoch drew nearer, hastily dropped her gaze when she sensed his eyes on her. She feared that her feelings might be discovered by him when they met eyes.