Eugene looked at the building across from her. The two-story place was Anika Katie’s house.
There was a convenience store that she owned on the first floor. It was mostly run by an employee, but she was there on occasion.
Eugene had learned Anika Katie’s address and her situation from her mother. It was amazing. There wasn’t much that Dana couldn’t answer.
“It’s very rare for an Anika to run a shop by herself,” she had said. “People are always watching. The Anikas who aren’t fond of her don’t find her past as a weakness, but they see her ownership of the shop as one.”
“Is Anika Katie not well-off?”
“Well, she owns the whole thing, even the building,” Dana said. “But wealth is relative. If she has to work for her own money, the other Anikas would see her as poor.”
Although Eugene had arrived a while ago, she couldn’t seem to bring herself to get out of the carriage.
Should she have come here? Was this the right thing to do?
She also didn’t feel too good knowing that she hadn’t told Kasser about it.
She just stared at the convenience store as she considered her options. Then, there seemed to be a fuss at the store.
Some young man was dragging a middle-aged man out. The older man was struggling as the younger man tugged at him.
It was clear that he was just holding back, the younger man was in much better shape than the older man.
The middle-aged man looked angry as he shouted, pointing at the young man and screaming until his face was red.
Eugene frowned. She couldn’t hear what the man was saying from the carriage, but she could tell they probably weren’t nice things. It seemed like poor customers existed in any world.
The young man seemed like an employee. Eugene couldn’t help but think about what it was like when she was in his shoes. Experiences like that always seemed to ruin her day.
It’s not common for someone to go at it with someone much bigger.
Eugene assumed that the young man was new to all this. If he would just glare at the older man, the man would probably stop his tirade and leave.
Then, Eugene pushed her face against the window in surprise when she saw who stepped out of the store.
It was Anika Katie.
She handed the middle-aged man a pouch that he snatched before continuing with his anger.
Eugene glared at him with disgust. She wanted to intervene, but she held back.
The man began to walk towards Eugene’s carriage. The window was made with a special glass, so he couldn’t see inside even if she could see him. She was able to get a clear look at his face.
It was then that she realized that he wasn’t just a bad customer.
Katie was still an Anika regardless of what she had been through, which is why it made sense that no regular person would yell at her like that in the middle of the day on the street.
He was the man at the center of Anika Katie’s scandal. Her current husband.
Eugene wondered if she had arrived at the worst possible time. She had heard about the man from her mother, but he seemed much worse than she thought.
She pushed the hood of her robe over her face as she got out of the carriage.
If anyone saw her and Katie meeting, there would be rumors. That was why she made sure her carriage and clothes weren’t recognizable.
Eugene stepped into the store and found the young man organizing items on shelves. When he noticed her, he turned, a look of surprise on his face.
He was taller than she thought. Only a knight or a soldier would be taller than him.
It was clear that, although she was wearing a hood, the man could probably see the color of her eyes.
“I’m here to see Anika Katie,” she said.
“J-just wait a while,” he said in a panicked voice. “She-she’s just inside. Just w-wait a while.”
As Eugene expected, he was quite innocent and naive.
“I’ll wait,” she said. “Just let her know.”
The man nodded quickly. “Yes, just give me a moment.” He left at once.
Then, he came back with Katie right behind him.
“It’s been a while, Anika Katie,” she said.
The woman stared at her for a moment before she realized it was Eugene and her eyes widened.
She stared at her wordlessly and Eugene was worried that she might kick her out.
“Come in,” she said finally, leading Eugene to a small room beside the shop.
There was a sofa and a small table for them to sit at. There was another small table and chair by the wall as well as a bookshelf.
All the furniture was small, but they were by no means cheap.
“Sit,” Katie gestured at one of the seats at the table. As Eugene sat down, she went to prepare two cups of tea before giving one to Eugene and sitting down in her own chair.
“I’m sorry if I’ve come at a bad time,” Eugene said.
The older woman shook her head. “The store always has unexpected visitors,” she said. “Did you know I was going to be here today?”
“No, I just came by and saw you were here.”
“Why have you come?”
Eugene put the invitation on the table and slid it over to Katie. The older woman picked it up to study it and put it back down. Her expression was as cool as ever.
“I’m going to have a party—”
“I know,” Katie said. “I mean, who doesn’t know? Did you come here just to give this to me?”
“Are you sure you want me there?”
“I really would.”
At that, Katie scoffed. “How strange,” she said. “Aren’t you supposed to stop me even if I want to go?”
Eugene shook her head. “I don’t know what you think of me, Anika Katie, but I’ve always wanted to meet you,” she told her. “I’ve never had a good reason to come here, so I guess the invitation was just an excuse.”
She had hesitated to give her full reason, but there was no way to talk around it.
“That young man…” she said, thinking back to the young boy in the store. “Is he your son?’
Katie flinched as she sipped her tea.
“Is that your son? Is he Kasser’s younger brother?”
The teacup slipped from Katie’s hand and broke on the floor, the tea spilling everywhere.