Chapter 21 - Discovered
“Your Highness? What do you mean?”
“My apologies. Please return.”
The dense woman’s voice changed. Her tone trembled as if she could not believe what was happening. “You’re…joking, right, Your Highness?”
“No. I mean it. This is not a joking matter.”
She wondered if he was drunk, but he seemed very calm. Stuttering, she said, “W-what? Where are you telling me to return to?”
“The banquet hall, home, anywhere.”
“Ha! May I ask what kind of stunt you are pulling, now?”
Agares’ straight, golden eyebrows dropped down. He smiled slightly. “Sorry, but what can I do if I don’t have any lust towards you?”
Isabel felt even more suffocated. Though his words had not been directed towards her, they were the greatest insult she could hear at this moment.
The angry woman bit her lip tightly in response. Her opponent was the Grand Duke. His position was far higher than hers, leaving her no grounds to protest his decision.
“Ah, what disgusting manners you have!”
“I said I was sorry.” Agares’ smile widened.
The woman’s cheeks turned red even though she had just been insulted. He was too good-looking for words. A beautiful man whose appearance simply could not be adequately described just from the word, ‘beautiful’. The woman walked away while trembling with anger, the sound of her footsteps echoing on the floor. Isabel huddled deeper into her corner and did her best to remain out of sight. Fortunately, she passed by without noticing her.
“Ah, this is killing me,” Agares sulked. “This is harder than expected.”
Isabel couldn’t understand his words and wondered what he was trying to do. After muttering to himself, Agares exhaled.
“Right, then. Who is it?”
Isabel realized he was not talking to himself. Her heart dropped with a thud. She held her breath.
‘Did he discover my presence?’
“Come out.” His voice was soft, but her heart pounded anxiously. “I said,” he lowered his voice, “come out.”
‘Should I go out?’
But before Isabel could have the chance to step forward, she heard footsteps approaching from afar. The slight click-clack of shoes echoed against the floor.
“Your Highness!” A coquettish and unimaginably sweet voice that would have melted any man called out to him.
“Black hair, huh.”
Isabel stealthily crawled back to her corner and watched him again. A woman with dark hair was now standing in front of Agares, smiling confidently. She was indeed an incredibly beautiful woman. Her dark hair paired with her pearly skin made for a uniquely charming combination.
“Do you like black hair?”
Agares touched the woman’s locks. The dark tresses flowing from his white-gloved hands were shiny and dreadfully black. He observed the hair color under the light as if he was judging its quality.
“It’s not my preference.”
The woman was temporarily caught off guard at Agares’ words. The rumors that he had been looking for dark-haired women these days were true, yet he said her hair color was not to his preference.
“Did you dye it?” he asked.
“What? Yes. I dyed it. Do you like it?”
“Hmm. Well, then you’re eliminated, my lady.”
“…What do you mean by that?”
“I don’t think I need to answer that. Then, I bid you farewell, my lady.”
“Your Highness! Your Highness! Wait!”
“What is it?”
“I even dyed it for you, Your Highness! I was originally a blonde!”
Thinking about it now, it really did seem like there were more women with dark hair than usual in the banquet hall these days. Blondes and brunettes were generally the majority hair color in the empire, whereas darker hair was a very rare occurrence. Agares glanced at the woman as she angrily yelled at him.
“Don’t worry. Black hair suits you well.”
Seeing as how she had failed to tempt him, the second woman also went back in annoyance. Agares was not usually the type to turn down the charms of a beautiful woman, so Isabel could not understand why he had sent those women away. Isabel could not fathom his change in behavior.
“Ah, I’m tired. Let’s get this over with. I know there’s one more. You come out.”
Again he looked as if he was talking to himself, but it was clear that his words were directed towards someone in particular. Isabel held her breath again and wondered whether there was another person hiding nearby about to make their presence known, but the hall was silent.
“I’m talking about you. You’re the only one hiding, now. Come out while I’m being nice.”
This time, his words seemed to address Isabel directly.
“Shall I come to you?” he continued.
Isabel, however, resolved to stay hidden. Agares sighed, raising his body from the window he had been leaning his chin against. He really seemed to be approaching her hiding spot now. She was trembling anxiously and hesitated before finally mustering the courage to present herself in front of him. This was the first time she had ever formally shown herself to him.
Isabel came out from her corner and stood in front of Agares, looking at the floor with her shoes still in hand.
At his command, Isabel slowly approached him. The fluffy carpet lining the hallway sank under her feet. She stopped in front of him, one step away. Under his scrutiny, her heart was about to burst at any minute.
They had had intercourse before, but she trembled as she stood in front of his sober eyes for the first time. Agares inspected Isabel from head to toe. She worried he would recognize her. At the same time, her heart fluttered as he ran his eyes over her. His gaze stopped at her hair. He looked slightly bored and fed up.
“Are you looking for me because you heard I was interested in black hair these days?”
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