Chapter 98 – Will Love You (2)
That evening, Simon’s letter for Louise arrived. She sat on a window sill covered with thin cloth and opened the white envelope. The paper was a little damp, and opened as quiet as Simon.
She was relieved to see his familiar handwriting. She was already confused by the talk of marriage that day.
‘First, let me convey an apology. You must have been very surprised.’
“It’s not something you should apologize for…”
‘I am writing this letter because I am worried that you cannot sleep. Although the rain has alleviated the heat, the season is still summer.’
Louise could see that something was removed in front of the word “summer.” She thought it might have been “terrible and hot,” but she couldn’t say for sure.
‘If you can’t fall asleep, the Sweeneys and Ian will worry about you.’
“I think Simon is the most worried.”
Louise chuckled at when she remembered that she once thought of him as a “worry doll.”
‘So, let me tell you the truth. These marriage talks are only a formality. There is no pressure or obligation on you in any way.’
But it was arranged by the royal court. Was it really okay?
‘Of course there’s work to do.’
She swallowed hard and concentrated on the following sentence.
‘We have to meet three times.’
That wasn’t unwelcome. She enjoyed talking to Simon.
‘We can use the royal court’s money to our content.’
Louise asked out loud without realizing it, but of course the letter did not reply.
‘It’s a long tradition for the host of the marriage talks to cover all the expenses.’
‘Of course, it’s almost gone these days, but the royal family thinks tradition is important. No matter what.’
“Are you talking about old relics from the past?”
Louise wasn’t wrong. Simon was clearly talking about that.
‘We can have a nice meal or go to a show with the tax money the Sweeneys have paid. Think of it as a tax refund for you.’
He must have thought over something for a while, as there was a blotch of ink at the beginning of the next sentence.
‘That’s all, so rest assured I’ll be the usual Simon Hillard.’
Louise could do the same as well.
‘I hope that our ordinary meeting, which is grandiose in name only, will not disturb you from resting.’
It was followed by Simon’s signature. He didn’t seem satisfied with the letter, and he wrote a couple more words of concern under his signature.
Louise folded the kind letter neatly and held it carefully for a while.
Simon was a liar. The date didn’t just sound grandiose, it was grandiose. Just looking at the schedule of their first date alone made it obvious. The former queen, who hosted the marriage talks for the first time in a long time, must have been extremely excited. The pair had a full schedule from morning until evening.
“Sorry, I didn’t know my grandmother would be interested.”
Simon apologized as he opened the door, and Louise shook her head.
“They’ll just be ashamed if I’m not treated well.”
Simon held out his arm, and Louise quickly took it and whispered to him.
“Actually, I can’t buy a dress here.”
They were in one of the elitist stores that put status first before money. Louise would have been turned away at the doorstep if the former queen hadn’t contacted them personally and ordered them to give Louise clothes.
When put that way then she could order more than ten. She felt indebted to him as she could not come here normally. Still, it was entertaining to talk while looking at the different designs, and Louise and Simon picked out the pictures they each thought were pretty while they talked about each other’s tastes.
“I didn’t know you were a man obsessed with a woman’s neckline.”
“I just think it’s beautiful to have a woman’s neckline highlighted.”
So that’s what it is.
“Does the president know your tastes?”
“I’ll tell him when he gets back.”
Simon smiled as Louise pumped her fists. Ian would probably laugh childishly at Simon for month after being told the news. In the end, Louise ordered a design recommended by Simon, and everyone in the store agreed with his choice.
After choosing the dress, they had a relatively ordinary schedule and dined at a fancy restaurant. Louise felt she was lucky to keep her promise to Ian and eat good meat. When the main course was over, a variety of sweet desserts were served. Simon did not enjoy sweets, and so Louise tucked into them all.
“I bet the manager was surprised.”
Louise chuckled as she scratched the bottom of the pudding bowl.
“That all the plates are so neatly emptied?”
Simon answered immediately, and Louise nodded.
“It can’t be helped. Louise is on the last stage of her growing phase.”
“How do you know?”
“You two talked about that?”
“Just like Louise tells Ian about my taste.”
Hmm, she couldn’t say anything when he pointed it out like that. If one of the three was absent for some time, they would all coordinate to keep each other up to date. That way they could talk with each other anytime.
“So what’s next on the next schedule?”
Simon seemed reluctant this time, but he quoted the schedule the former queen had given him.
“It’s raining, so the art museum.”
“If it wasn’t raining, where would we be going?”
Louise stared outside the large window for a moment as she lost herself in thought. Louise loved art museums, but on rainy days they had large crowds and Simon didn’t like that. In his letter Simon had said he would be his usual self, which meant Louise could be her usual self too and worry over Simon.
“Then let’s take a walk.”
Simon seemed pleased to accept Louise’s offer, and the two went outside and opened their umbrellas. The rain had eased a little since morning, and it was not a bad day for walk save for some slightly wet shoes. The streets were also quiet, perhaps because the newspapers forecasted that it would rain terribly that evening.
Though the pair were side-by-side, they did not talk because of the distance their umbrellas forced between them. Simon was content with this distance. It suited him. However, at one point, Louise increased her pace. It was only when she was about three steps ahead did Simon realized what she was in a rush about.
There was a little boy in the distance with an old umbrella and basket of flowers. Louise gave him a coin and he whispered, “Thank you,” and handed her a bouquet of patrinia flowers. Louise smiled softly and thanked him. The sight of the patrinias made her happy as it signaled that the summer heat was almost over.
Louise noticed the water dripping into the boy’s flower basket. His old umbrella seemed too ragged to safely shelter a small boy and goods. Louise held out her umbrella. The boy stared at her with wide, embarrassed eyes, and again she held out her umbrella again.
“You’ve worked very hard.”
Louise took the boy’s hand, which were rough from weaving flowers, then swapped his umbrella for hers. Louise admired the boy’s expression as he looked in wonder at his rain-free basket. As another passerby walked by the two, Louise glanced up at them quickly. The boy had to go now. He bowed his and ran.
Simon had followed Louise and held his umbrella over her head.
Louise’s hair was damp. As he took out a handkerchief, she turned to him.
“Look. They’re patrinias.”
She held out the small bouquet of the soft yellow blooms.
“Isn’t it pretty?”
Instead of answering, Simon carefully wiped the water in her hair.
“You didn’t have to run.”
“I’m sorry. I rushed without saying anything, but…”
Louise buried her in the yellow flowers for a moment.
“Did you know? My grandfather was also a boy who sold flowers on the street.”
Simon nodded, as he had heard this before.
“My father always told me to respect him.”
So unsurprisingly, she was very excited when she saw a boy doing the same thing.
“Plus, there were flowers that I liked.”
Louise held out the flowers to Simon again.
“So, will you take it?”
Simon received the flowers that were given to him.
He couldn’t finish the usual words of courtesy. It was because she was sharing the same shelter as he was. His black umbrella dulled the vitality of her golden hair and shaded her purple eyes. Just like Simon did to Louise…
He shook aside his thoughts and tried to fix the flowers she had given him. The rain droplets on the petals fell onto his gloves and soaked through the fabric. It was so feeble, but even Simon couldn’t even stop it. The drops of water touched his skin. Like the way something brushed against his heart.