The psychological standoff between Rezette and Genovia didn’t conclude on that day. The following day, Genovia persistently returned, and Rezette forbade Elise from leaving the room. Bundled up in blankets, she spent the entire day there, receiving a steady stream of patient’s meals.
During this time, Rezette occupied himself with document review in the bedroom. He deftly skimmed through reports replete with words and numbers, searching for irregularities in the tributes sent to the capital during that period and identifying the stewards of that era. Nevertheless, each time Elise made even the slightest movement, he immediately glanced up.
“What do you need?” he inquired.
“Just a pen or paper,” Elise murmured.
Rezette arched an eyebrow. “Why do you need a pen?”
“It’s just… I think I left it somewhere on the desk,” Elise replied nonchalantly but swiftly bit her lip. She suspected the pen and paper were probably in the table drawer before Rezette. Had she concealed those documents? Elise inwardly gasped.
Due to Genovia Irrien’s ten-day stay, she had completely forgotten to study the magic circles etched onto her body for several days. Her last recollection was hurriedly stashing the stack of papers in the drawer to evade Lady Petisson’s scrutiny.
Surely, no one has seen it…
“Please finish your meal first.”
Elise snapped back to attention at the calm voice. Rezette, who had redirected his focus to the documents, remained as untroubled and composed as ever.
Well, if he had seen it, he wouldn’t be reacting so calmly.
Once Rezette vacated his seat, she would have to clear out the drawer. She also contemplated resuming her practice of the magic circles; Elise needed a means to safeguard herself. However, her designs didn’t come to fruition easily, as Rezette exhibited no signs of leaving his seat, regardless of how long she waited.
Just then, Lady Petisson entered, an irritated expression etched on her face as she conveyed the message. “She’s here again. The lady. She wishes to have tea with Her Highness after lunch.”
“Here? She’s out of her mind,” Rezette retorted sharply. “Tell her to wait in the reception room on the first floor. She’s still having her meal.”
Elise, who had just set down her fork after taking a nibble of apple pie, awkwardly sat back on the bed. She needed to keep the fact that Genovia had barged into the living room a secret. It appeared she wouldn’t be able to leave the room until this evening.
“He really is just like Andrei,” she muttered inadvertently to herself. Even her younger brother used to frequently lay down the law in a similar fashion, insisting that no one could leave until they finished their meal.
Unfortunately, Rezette happened to overhear her quiet mutter. He paused his quill on the parchment at the bottom of the paper. Slowly, he raised his gaze from the documents he had been immersed in.
“It seems even the Emperor of Argan did the same for you.”
Elise failed to detect the fleeting glimmer of vulnerability that passed through his eyes as she got off the bed and responded, draping a shawl over her shoulders. “That’s how it was my entire life.”
“Your entire life, huh?”
“The longest period I was restricted from going outside was one month. Surely, you wouldn’t do the same?”
Elise picked up the pen placed on the side table next to the bed. Since she couldn’t meet Genovia Irrien in person, she had considered writing a brief note at the very least. However, before she could bring the pen tip to the paper, it was snatched from her grasp. Suddenly, the man had come up behind her.
Rezette let the pen he had taken from Elise fall onto the side table, and it rolled awkwardly across the surface. Startled, Elise turned around and found his icy blue eyes fixed intently on her.
For a brief moment, she held her breath, sensing an unspoken warning.
“In my presence,” Rezette spoke in a hushed tone, pausing for emphasis, “please refrain from mentioning that person’s name.”
“It’s… unpleasant. To say the least.”
Elise promptly sealed her lips. It was only natural. What was as precious as life to Elise was probably no more or less than a foreign enemy leader to him. She kept forgetting that this was not the South but the North.
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