I was lost in my thoughts, when I suddenly realised Alex had been staring at me. “What is it?” I raised my eyebrows in question.
“It’s just…” Alex shook his head, stopped mid-sentence.
“You only realized that I’m not that naive child I used to be?” I smiled at him bitterly. What I really wanted to say was that he only realised I have killed people, but I couldn’t say that out in the open. I actually don’t want to ask my brother something like that.
Alex was at loss for words. The Teresa District was large, but not so much that we couldn’t walk around it. Still, we decided to return home by foot. As we walked about, faces were filled with worry around us. Rumors about the murder must have spread throughout the whole district
When our house appeared in front of us, Alex spoke quietly. “I know you’ve changed. Aaron has changed too, hasn’t he? And I’m not the same as well. Everyone changes over time – for whatever reason. That doesn’t mean that we’re not blood anymore. You and Aaron are still my siblings. I’ll always worry about you two.”
I didn’t answer. I couldn’t even think of a proper answer. The rational part of me reminded that some people even sent assassins after their blood relatives too. Just like with the Grand Duke. But this was Alex; it was different.
“You’ll have to be very careful when you meet a girl,” I said, as we neared our house.
“I know how to deal with girls, why are you like this?” Alex frowned.
“Of course,” I nodded, “But you should choose a good girl. Because I’ll take care of any woman who doesn’t treat you right.”
“Take care of… What do you-”
Before Alex could ask anything more, I quickly slipped through the gates Sam had opened and walked towards our house at a brisk pace.
“You should always take the carriage when you go out from now on.”
Father declared with a grave look at dinner. I let out a sound of protest without realising it. His gaze turned to me like an arrow, so I shut my mouth, but it didn’t wipe off the sour expression from my face.
Of course, there’s a reason. I’m not being petulant. The carriages are so slow. It may be convenient to use for travelling outside the city, but not inside. Moreover, they aren’t that safe either; a person with enough strength and motive could easily break the look on the door if you kick or pull it hard enough.
“I’ve also called over bodyguards for every one of you, so always carry them along,” Father continued, a frown on his face. “I’ve increased the security at the house, so it would be better if you didn’t return home late. Even if you haven’t ever come in late before.”
That’s true. We were well-behaved children, who never stayed out late. But now being able to walk around was cumbersome.
“Wasn’t the victim killed at night when someone broke into their house?”
I asked, as if I was ignorant about it. The body was found early in the morning by a maid, and since the lady had been just fine the evening before, it was deduced that she was killed at night. No one knew how someone had managed to sneak into a nobleman’s house without anyone knowing, kill his wife, impair the body and even exhibit it out in front of everyone. It was announced that the Royal Knights would be responsible for the investigation, but it didn’t put the nobles’ mind at ease. If someone as rational as father already insisted on letting us use the carriage, one can only imagine what the paranoid aristocrats have been up to.
“That’s true. That’s why I increased the security numbers at home,” Father said. “I am going to nail shutters on some windows, so that no one can open them for a while. There will be a guard at every entrance to the house.”
“Then we don’t have to ride the carriage during the day. It’s not like the killer will come at us in broad daylight. Wouldn’t it be too hard to move around?” I said.
I pointed out an extremely logical thing, but dad didn’t seem to be willing to listen.
He sighed. “You don’t know when and where you could become the killer’s target. The best way would be to stay out of sight. Alice, with your looks you stand out anywhere you go, so I’m even more worried. Please, don’t go out unless necessary, and only receive visitors if you’re sure of their identity.”
I nodded, obediently remaining silent for my father’s sake.