Chapter 20 - “It is not you.”
“That’s weird. The Grand Duke didn’t bring a partner again today.”
Isabel’s question was answered by ladies gossiping nearby.
“Indeed. He came alone last time as well, right?”
“Yes. How many times does this make?”
“This is the fourth time.”
“If he doesn’t have a partner today, how great would it be if he chose me, today?”
“Is there any lady in this banquet hall who wouldn’t have the same thought?”
They laughed, covering their mouths with their fans. It was a given that the Grand Duke, standing in the middle of the banquet hall, was the center of everyone’s attention. Countless women approached him. Having attended the banquet alone, he chose a woman with dark hair as his partner. From a distance, Isabel could see that her hair was a vague, violet color. The woman he chose laughed while the other noble ladies watching on sighed regretfully. Isabel observed him from her hiding place.
“The girl he chose last time also had dark hair.”
“Wow. Come to think of it, even though it’s a different person every time, her hair color is always dark.”
“He must be into dark-haired women these days. I wish I had black hair, too.”
A woman with blonde hair sighed sadly. She was very beautiful, and her blonde hair shimmered brighter than those around her, but now she seemed to resent her radiant hair.
“Nonsense. Your hair is beautiful, my lady.”
“Yes, I’ve always envied it.”
“Thank you for saying so.”
Although the shiny, well-maintained, blonde hair was indeed beautiful, she seemed to have received extra praise because she was likely the young miss of a fairly well-known noble. The other noble daughters would have never complimented someone lower in rank than they.
‘What use is having dark hair? Even if they had dark hair, he wouldn’t choose them, anyway.’
Isabel’s heart throbbed slightly. She had never felt this kind of pain before…
‘Why does it hurt?’
She found the pain in her heart peculiar. This feeling was likely her greed—something she had only ever seen but never personally experienced until now.
Agares was someone she could never truly reach, anyway. He had been completely unaware of her existence. Still, she had taken advantage of his confused state at the last banquet and had him. While she was happy that their clandestine encounter had even occurred, her heart stung at the fact that he did not know her. She felt that their encounter should never have happened in the first place, but she could not bring herself to regret that night. Isabel knew she was being greedy by looking at the sun, but she could not turn her gaze away even if it ultimately blinded her.
When the banquet dispersed, he and his partner left the banquet hall. Isabel camouflaged herself among the crowd and snuck behind him. She removed her shoes and walked on her tiptoes in order to ensure her footsteps would not be heard.
Hidden in a dark nook by a moonlit window, Agares and the woman kissed each other. The sound of wet lips interlocking and tongues entangling reached Isabel’s ears. Isabel, hiding in a nearby corner, dared not move for fear that even her swallowing would be too loud, making her unable to breathe properly. She heard the lewd sound of their lips parting.
The Grand Duke held the woman, who seemed to have lost her strength from the heavy kiss, in his arms. In the past, she had imagined what his kiss would be like, but now she knew. His kiss made her feel like she would be swallowed whole and revealed the desire of a man who was greedy for her.
“Your Highness, just like this.” the woman whispered, her voice trembling with anticipation. Her hands roamed the nape of the Grand Duke’s neck. One slender hand clad in lace gloves attempted to release his cravat.
“Hmm,” Agares pondered as he grabbed the wrist approaching his neck.
The woman stopped amid her seduction, looked puzzled. “Your Highness?”
‘It’s not this one…’
“No,” he said, pronouncing his words perfectly without a hitch in his breath. “It is not you.”
His voice was too cold for someone who had just shared a passionate kiss with her only moments ago.
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