They continued to exchange looks as if asking if anyone knew what was going on. Each silent inquiry returned with a nimble shake of head.
“Let Anika Flora come inside.”
“As you will, my lady.”
Eugene’s heart pounced with anticipation as she waited for the butler to welcome Anika Flora.
‘It’s Flora! The main character!’
Now that she realized that this world wasn’t only an imaginary world she created in the novel she wrote, she felt the need to investigate further. But no matter what, nothing changes the fact that this world had indeed been where she had always taken refuge, in times of trouble. Eugene remembered how overwhelmed she was with her own imagination when she wrote about Flora bravely confronting the swarming army of Larks with her great power.
‘How powerful Flora’s Ramita would be? I’m sure it would be more powerful than mine.’
Momentarily, Eugene couldn’t help but to gape as a woman of long jet-black hair, carrying an armful of flowers, appeared through the door behind the butler.
‘Wow. She’s so beautiful.’
Flora and Jin were indeed two beauties of different charms. Likened to an animal, Jin was a haughty feline while Flora was a docile puppy. Doubtless Flora would leave a favorable image to everyone she comes across.
However, Eugene was totally bewildered when a certain memory of Jin flashed across her mind.
[Flora. I think you really are brilliant. Despite being brought up by such parents, along with the brothers of yours, you turned out just fine.]
[No one could have turned out as fine as you, Jin]
Veiled hostility in their compliments….
[Ah, this room really is small. Can someone live in this kind of place?]
[Looks like I could.]
As well as the sense of superiority masked as sympathy. However, the most interesting fact was that Flora had given back as good as she got. According to their conversation, Jin and Flora wouldn’t have been on good terms as enmity runs deep on both sides.
Eugene couldn’t feel more devastated at this point. Before today, all she did was to click her tongue whenever Jin’s vile acts were revealed from her memories. But now, she was utterly outraged by Jin’s past behavior.
How outrageous of Jin to screw up all her relationships with people as if stealing her life weren’t enough! Eugene had no idea as to where she should begin to restore her life back.
“Welcome, Anika Flora.” Dana greeted Flora. Instantaneously, Flora masked her bewilderment and lowered her head.
“Lady Arse and Lord Arse. I hope you have been well.” Flora was taken by surprise as she had never expected to see the whole Arse family gathered around the table. Flora was even more surprised to see Jin being here as well. She had always thought that she would ask her to come along before she went back to her house.
Jin had always asked Flora to come along whenever she wanted to see her mother.
“My apologies for making an unannounced visit… but I just wanted to give these flowers to Lady Arse.”
“I’ll gratefully receive that.”
The butler then took the flowers from Flora and left the room. Flora looked away after watching wistfully as the flowers got carried away by the butler, instead of being handed over to Dana. She forced herself into a smile after she met eyes with Jin.
“Jin. It’s so nice to see you back.”
Jin smiled back in reply. Now was the time for all her efforts of practice to finally come to shine. As it seems like Jin’s relationship with Flora had been less than favorable, she needed to make Flora truly believe her as ‘Jin’, as there were high chances of everything Flora sees and hears to reach Sang-je’s ears.
“It’s so nice to see you too. I believe you have filled my part as a daughter by visiting my parents while I was away.” Eugene paused before she emphasized the following words. “Thankfully.”
Flora’s eyes quivered at Eugene’s remark. But without saying anything, she dropped her eyes to the ground in silence.
Eugene got flustered when the latter’s response differed entirely from what she had expected from Jin’s memory, where Flora had given a sharp retort at Jin in a somewhat unyielding manner.
‘I knew she wouldn’t be easy to deal with.’
Eugene was put in an awkward position as it now appears as if she had rebuked her old friend upon meeting after a long time. It wouldn’t have been better if only Flora had said anything, but instead, Flora hushed up plaintively, looking crestfallen like a sinner.
“It isn’t polite to keep the guest standing. Please take a seat, Anika Flora.” Enoch quickly interrupted. Eugene glimpsed at her brother. She couldn’t erase the feeling that he had cut in on their conversation on purpose, right before things could take a turn for the worse. This indicated that it was frequent for people to intervene whenever Jin was mean to Flora.
‘How foolish is Jin to behave with such unbelievable impertinence and irresponsibility? What would do good to her to have a bad reputation?’
However, Eugene couldn’t quite feel sympathy for Flora either. She was rather suspicious of Flora’s motives for feigning friendship at Jin’s side despite all the indignity she suffered.
‘Flora… The heroine of my novel…’
The Flora she met was nothing like the heroine she had described in the novel she wrote.
Despite her disappointment, Eugene flashed a smile on her proud face at Flora.
“I finally got the proper chance to tell you that I’ve got married. Flora, allow me to introduce you to the King of Hashi Kingdom, who’s also my lord husband whom I married three years ago.”
With that said, Eugene turned to Kasser and flashed him a smile while curving her eyes into a crescent. It was Jin’s signature smile.
“Your Majesty. This is Anika Flora, an old friend of mine.”
Eugene saw him body flinch, just for a second. Stealthily, he averted his gaze and stared rigidly ahead. His face then took on a set uneasy expression. Eugene thought to herself that he was acting all weird again—his response reminded her of the night where he had taken a step back away from her.
Kasser and Flora then exchanged silent bows with each other out of courtesy. After that, Flora took the liberty of interpreting that brief moment of awkwardness in her own way. ‘I can tell right away that you’re only feigning happiness in my presence. Small wonder with such a disposition of yours.’
“By the way, what’s with all those flowers? Did you just come back from a celebration?” Eugene asked her.
“Ah… I’ve just attended a tea party.” Flora replied demurely.
“That’s it!” All eyes were turned to Dana when she let out an exclamation all suddenly.