The Grand Duke didn’t answer me. He just put the teapot down on the table after he poured a cup of tea for himself and leaned back on his chair comfortably. The aroma wafted up from the tea.
I had never found the time or the opportunity to talk to this man over tea like this even in our previous lives. Our meetings usually took place in police stations, dark alleyways, and a fleeting moment in parks to exchange information. That was all. It would have been trouble for us to meet for leisure. A detective and a killer.
I didn’t even know why I had given such importance to this relationship. It had been the only time in my life when I had felt something strongly for a person. But now, I didn’t want to be involved in something like that. I didn’t want to feel for another person. Not in this life. I had my family and I was happy with that. But he hadn’t even found a proper family. The Late King had passed away and it was unclear who his biological father actually was…
His older brother had practically thrown him out to live his life here in seclusion. I wonder how he must feel about his brother, the King. He could still have a good relationship with his brother no matter how his niece was. But nobody knew how he felt.
“The Great Duke of Glouster is just a name given to the royal family members who aren’t really needed or wanted within the royal family. I don’t really mind that though,” he said, “But there is a reason for this. Historically, Dukes of Glousters have always had something in common with the Royals. It’s no wonder since we share the same blood. I also have that in common with them.”
“And what is that?” I asked, “What common ground do you share?”
He frowned and studied his teacup. After a while, he lifted his grey eyes to look at me. “The ability to see the future,” he said. “The ability to see the future isn’t possessed by the Kings and their heirs. Generation and generation of Grand Dukes have possessed that gift.”
I blinked in confusion. He smiled faintly at me while fiddling with the delicate handle of the teacup. “I think I can see the future.”
I stared at him blankly. What were you even supposed to say to a confession like that? I blew on my tea and gulped it down. I didn’t spend two and a half days of carriage ride risking my behind for the endless pain only to hear this!
The past confuses me. And now the future? It was the only thing I felt I could change and make it mine. Now I have to worry if my future is already led out for me? Why? This was just not done!
I set down my teacup with more sound than I had intended to. I looked up at him. “That still doesn’t answer my question,” I said. “And frankly, I don’t see how that concerns me. I am not interested in it. I don’t care. What’s there to know about it anyway? Take your niece, for instance. Is that the gift or the delusion? It seems like the latter to me.”
“I haven’t even gotten to the part where it concerns you, Miss Alice,” he said with that d*mned smile. I rolled my eyes.
I poked at a snack sprinkled with powdered sugar with a fork and waved it in the air. “I don’t give a rat’s ass about it, anyway,” I said, “In our past life, you used to contact me when you needed information related to your work. Isn’t this the same? Is this why you have planned this elaborate gathering so that I could join you on your ‘investigation’? I saw what you put in that invitation. It’s obvious and I am not interested.”
Does he think I am an idiot? I am just going to eat all these delicious snacks and go back to my room and nap. I put the snack in my mouth. It melted. It was so sweet and soft. I poked at a second snack with my fork.
He shook his head. “I didn’t call you here for that reason,” he said. “That information was to only excite your curiosity, Miss Alice.”
“Really? You think murders and corpses excite a fifteen-year-old-girl?” I said. “Don’t be so obsessed with corpses. You will look weird.”
“Didn’t you love solving cases like these?”
I stopped poking at the snack and glared at him. He looked genuinely puzzled. I, for one, wanted to grab my past self by the collar and shake her. I really just loved a guy who didn’t even try to find out who I was beyond the killings and murders and cases.
I set the fork down and brushed the powder from my hands and clothes. I got up from my chair as gracefully as I could muster. I was done. Snacks or no snacks, I didn’t care anymore. I am really done with this man.
“It won’t make a difference,” I said. “They are already dead and it won’t matter whether we find the murderer or not. And even if it does, why do I need to try to solve it? I am not interested. I have my own life to live. Back then, I didn’t have many choices. I did what I had to. But here, I do. Don’t try to involve me in this.”
He thinks I helped him back then because I liked solving cases about murders? Did he truly think I liked to see dead people and corpses? Did he really think that was why I helped him? I helped him because I only got the chance to see him and spend time with him while on these cases. Why would I have cared to solve the murders when I was a murderer myself who killed for money? What is even in your head? Grow a brain!
I grabbed my skirt and turned towards the door. I had barely taken a step when I felt his grip on my hand. He turned me to him and stared at me.
“Please let me go,” I said and narrowed my eyes at him.
“If you are not interested in it, then I am not either. It doesn’t matter to me who dies and who kills,” he said. His smile was gone. There was no trace of it. “I don’t care about nobles or kings and princes and princesses. Hell, I don’t even care if the whole world burns down. I just wanted to see you.” His eyes were dark and his tone was sharp.