“I heard that you bought a lot of jewelry at an auction in the province of Consiera this time.” Aina continued, leaning over to Elyan.
He looked down at her with an incomprehensible smile.
“Yes,” he replied, “I did make a purchase this time.
I also got the ruby necklace that the Queen of Levan wore at her coronation.”

Aina beamed with contentment as he focused all of his attention on her.
At the same time, she made sure to give Lobelia a glance while simultaneously flashing a triumphant smile. I don’t know why you’re trying to get Elyan’s attention, but he’s courting me, she thought.
She had misunderstood Lobelia’s intention, but it didn’t matter to Lobelia.
As long as she gets her hands on the blue diamond, Lobelia didn’t care if Elyan wooed her or proposed a marriage.

But right now, she needed to talk to Elyan, privately.
Fortunately, Lobelia had a trump card to catch Elyan’s attention.
Elayn.” Lobelia called out to Elyan in a calm voice.
Elyan turned to Lobelia with intrigue, then he opened his mouth to speak while maintaining a pretentious smile on his face.

“I’m sorry, but Miss Lobelia,” he said, “I’m talking to Miss Aina.”

“Aren’t you looking for a way to get rid of the cursed blue?” Lobelia asked, straightforwardly.
In an instant, the friendly smile vanished from his face.
Elyan stared at her with a blank expression, as if he were concealing his face with a mask.

Elyan?” Aina called Elyan in panic, but he was no longer looking at her.
His golden eyes remained fixed solely on Lobelia.

“Can you explain what that means, Miss Lobelia?” asked Elyan.
His tone revealed an indescribable impatience.
He leaned hastily toward Lobelia.
Aina panicked and tugged at Ailan’s sleeve, acting uncivilly.
With a polite and firm gesture, Elyan removed Aina’s hand and focused fully on Lobelia.
“Miss Lobelia.” He urged, but Lobelia only smiled.

Outside, where their conversation could not be heard, the nobles glanced curiously at the love triangle between Lobelia, Elyan and Aina.

When Elyan reached a hand to Lobelia, unable to contain his agitation anymore, Jade intervened and grabbed his arm.
“Stop,” he said.
Although he was laughing, his tone was dangerous.
“You will frighten Miss Lobelia with your behavior.”

Elyan looked over his shoulders with uncertainty written all over his face to look at Lobelia.
She didn’t remotely appear scared.

“You can’t do this, duke.” He spoke aggressively.
“Didn’t you tell her about the cursed blue? If you approach me through Miss Lobelia, you ought to have a conversation with me.”

“I didn’t tell her,” replied Jade.
Elyan stiffened.
“I have nothing to do with this,” said Jade.
He let go of Elyan’s arm, and Elyan rubbed away the soreness, carefully examining Jade’s expression.

“Are you sure?” asked Elyan, skeptical.

“Yes,” nodded Jade.
“So if you want to learn more about the cursed blue, you’ll have to talk to Miss Lobelia, not me.
Just, don’t scare her,” he warned, “Be polite.”

Elyan burst out laughing.
“I’m truly sorry if I came out as a thug threatening a lady,” he said, “I swear to treat Miss Lobelia like a queen.
Are you done?” Elyan’s eyes glowed dangerously.
If Jade intervened any further, he would not stand still.

Jade looked at Lobelia.
She nodded, indicating that he had done enough.
As he withdrew, Elyan was right next to Lobelia.
He held out his hand toward her, leaned down, and whispered sweetly, “Would you like to take a stroll outside with me, Miss Lobelia?”

Aina trembled at the side, feeling completely alienated.
Lobelia, after locking eyes with her, bit her lip tightly and disappeared among the ladies. I can’t help it, she thought.
She didn’t want to look like she was competing with Aina, but somehow things turned out like such.
Lobelia sighed inwardly, shaking off her thoughts about Aina, and turned to Elyan in front of her.

“The intermission is nearing its end,” he said, “We’re going to miss the second part.”

“I’m certain it’ll be more entertaining than the second part,” replied Lobelia.
Elyan’s eyes sparkled mysteriously under the lights.

“Then, you will have to impress me.”

Lobelia accepted Elyan’s outstretched hand with a smile.
At the same time, the intermission concluded, and the nobles exited the lounge.
They couldn’t look away from Elyan and Lobelia until the moment the entrance to the room closed, curious about what was going on.
However, no one openly stared at the two, remaining cautious of their status.

“This way.” Elyan ushered Lobelia through another door.

“I’ll wait here.”

Jade sat in the armchair in the lounge and crossed his legs.

“Will you be alright?” asked Lobelia.
“You can go to your seat and watch the rest of the show.”

“I’ve seen it dozens of times already,” he said, “I will wait for you to come.”

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