Chapter 28: No Matter How Hard I Struggle

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Translated by lacusky.

“So, did something happen?”

“What do you mean?”

“That you had to visit your estate?”

Does he want to know how our inspection went?

When he gave such a hefty amount of compensation, he told her to consider it as his investment, so perhaps he wanted an update on how they have been managing their estate.
As their investor, she was indeed obligated to give him a report.

Nora straightened her back and thought back to their inspection.

“Our grape juice has become popular and is selling well.
It seems that it was a good idea to change the label and packaging, which were well received by the nobilities in the royal capital.
It’s all thanks to you, Elias.”

“That’s great to hear.”

Because they were discussing a serious matter, she felt enthusiastic to talk further.

“The weather has also been great, enabling the grapes to grow well, so I think we’ll produce a good batch of high quality juice this year as well.
But…”

“What’s the matter?”

She wasn’t sure if she should tell him about the issue on the toll fee since they haven’t resolved it yet, but she reckoned it was better to be open about it to their investor.

“If there wasn’t that issue with the toll fee, we’d have even better revenue.” Nora somehow felt petered out.

He probably wouldn’t withdraw his investment just because there wasn’t much revenue now, but Nora felt a little dejected that she couldn’t live up to his expectations considering he had invested so much.

“The toll fee? Isn’t the shortest route from your estate to the royal capital through Duke Lindell? Did they raise the fee?”

Surprised that he understood the situation before she could explain further, Nora nodded.

Is it normal to remember the geographical locations of the estates you have no affiliations with?

“It appears that the fee was only raised for our estate; the others’ remained the same.
My father and Perre had talked to the Duke but to no avail.”

“How strange.”

“He has plenty of money and owns so much land so I think he shouldn’t have demanded so much.
Besides, for some unknown reason he only raised the fee for our estate.”

“Can you recall if perhaps you have offended him?”

“Never.
Or more precisely, we’ve never had any encounters with him whatsoever.
I suppose it would cost money to maintain the roads, but to only raise the toll fee for us is rather cruel and he did it without warning either.
Um, I mean…”

She was only supposed to report about it but she ended up grumbling halfway through.

“Apologies for that outburst.
Please don’t mind it.”

“What’s wrong? You can rely on me more.
We’re lovers, remember?”

“…Temporarily.”

Elias smiled bitterly seeing her answer with somewhat an air of either awkwardness or embarrassment.

“Well then, my temporary lover, did you take a leave from your part-time job just for the inspection?”

“No, it was the restaurant manager who advised me to.”

“That’s good.
It seems that someone has been giving Nora strange looks because of the rumors of the Pure-hearted Nightingale.”

Since you already know about it, you didn’t have to bother asking.

However, for some reason, Elias’ mood seemed unusual.
His expression was calm but he looked perturbed.

“Are you perhaps…angry?” As she inquired with caution, Elias shrugged his shoulders.

“It’s a situation where you may be in danger.
As your lover, I just think you can rely on me on this.”

“Well, you, Allan and Perre have already been taking turns in picking me up from my part-time job.
Plus, there are other staff and customers in the restaurant so isn’t that good enough?”

“Nora-”

Looks like it wasn’t good enough.
I don’t exactly know what’s the problem but I’m fairly certain it wasn’t good enough.

“Is there a problem?”

“That’s right.”

After affirming her doubts, Nora was urged to sit on the bench.

“When it comes to picking you up, it has to be Allan or me.”

“Perre’s not good enough?”

“It’s troubling if it was someone who despises Perre.
But no, it’s because I don’t think there’s any foolish person who would dare butt heads with anyone from the House of Marquis Callum.
Moreover, I can handle some rough encounters if need be.”

She thought he was just a spoiled young master so hearing that remark surprised Nora.

“Our family values both the literary and military arts.
At the very least, I can wield a sword.
The same goes for Allan too, of course.”

The memory of him hitting a man who had approached Nora before flashed through her mind.

It doesn’t happen often but perhaps he was used to that kind of thing.

“Additionally, you have to be careful about the foods and drinks you take.”

Following his line of reasoning, he must be worried that the poisoning incident that happened before would occur again.

“What’s the connection between the rumors of the Pure-hearted Nightingale and the poisoning incident?”

“You’re quite the upright type, Nora, so perhaps you may not understand, but a person’s mind can easily get distorted.”

Elias had explained it but she still couldn’t understand, after all.
She knew that everyone has their own beliefs and principles, but still couldn’t understand how that connects to the restrictive measures on her food and drink intake, and transportation arrangements.

“In any case, unless I have checked it personally, stay away from everything.”

“But, I can at least drink water inside the dressing room, right?”

“No.
Wasn’t it a staff member who brought that drink last time?”

“But-” It’s annoying not to be able to freely drink at least water.

“If you don’t listen, I’ll kiss you.”

“What?”

She thought she heard it wrong, but upon seeing the smile on Elias’ face, it seemed that she heard it right.

Is he threatening me?

Perhaps he was just emphasizing the gravity of the situation knowing how much Nora wanted to avoid the kisses.

If that’s the case, I wish he’d just stop.

“Fine.
I’ll have only those you’ve checked personally.”

When she relented without complaints, Elias gave her a dazzling smile as he kissed her on the cheek.

“This isn’t what we agreed on!” She hurriedly drew away from him, glaring as she held her burning cheeks.

“If you don’t listen, I’ll kiss you.
But since you listened, I kissed you out of gratitude.”

How can he say that so shamelessly?!

“I want the kisses to stop after all.”

“I don’t mind.
But that means you’re breaking your promise, so I’ll do what I want instead.”

And what exactly is that you want to do?

Just thinking about it scared her.

“T-Then let’s stick to three times a day, please.” Why she felt the need to say ‘please’, Nora had no idea.
But in light of that ominous feeling, she felt like she had to.

“All right.
Since you say so, it can’t be helped.” With a smile as though he had no choice, Elias dropped a kiss on Nora’s forehead.”

Am I going to be kissed no matter how hard I struggle? Should I be grateful and elated that it’s limited to only thrice a day?

Nora would soon be enlightened.

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