“Jasmine, there are plenty of men in the world. Don’t get too upset.”
An unexpected sense of irritation arose. Who cared about Jasmine? That Duke was quite the amusing fellow, wasn’t he? It wasn’t just because he was my sister, but Jasmine, a beauty like that, had a pleasant personality, was kind, considerate, and—
However, despite living like a monk, he couldn’t read women at all. Well, he wouldn’t know since he’d never met one. He swung a sword and dealt with official documents all day; what did he know about anything? Caras clicked his tongue.
“Fine, since it’s turned out this way, let’s make the best of it. From what I can tell, you need more experience. What are you doing at such a young age? You should date around and see what men are like. You won’t regret it when you get married later.”
“Are you telling me to shamelessly date men?”
“…I was worried you might get entangled with some stern guy. Now you’re capable of choosing and assessing men, right?”
Caras nodded solemnly. He had been quite grave about it. He had even teased her about which guy might try to steal his sister when he joined the Order of the Knights. To think that he would give her advice like this meant that he probably didn’t look that great. Although he was a bit awkward, Jasmine felt better after his sincere attempt at comfort.
In truth, Richard’s clear rejection hadn’t been all that bad. In fact, it was easier to calm her heart now than before. Her heart still ached, but over time… As she recalled the love lives of her friends, she comforted herself.
Yes, her first love hadn’t been realized. It would be neater to cry alone and get over it than to date, break up, date again like a yo-yo, and eventually gossip about it. Yes… But why did it make her more annoyed?
As Caras started tearing apart the teddy bear that Jasmine was hugging, it seemed as if he was tearing at her head.
He was bulky, but he was still the big brother who had jumped at her like a young tiger when she was a child. Despite the few years that had passed, he still remembered when her hair had been a mess after their wrestling. She might have turned into a beautiful lady over these years, but her core personality hadn’t changed.
“Richard Aion, you bastard!”
In reality, the solid rejection seemed to have half succeeded in bringing back the Jasmine of the past.
“I want to meet a man.”
His eyes flashed with a mixture of anger and annoyance.
And thus, Jasmine, accompanied by her brother Caras, attended the masquerade ball!
Anonymous parties like this were common in social circles, so while Jasmine had attended them when she had first debuted in society, she hadn’t been to one in a while and felt quite unfamiliar.
As she fidgeted with the butterfly mask covering her face, Jasmine tried to shrug off the sound of people laughing and chatting. Well, who cared! She was here to have fun too! She was a pure butterfly in the social scene now, after all. So, why not just let loose and enjoy herself?”
“Do you really plan on meeting a man?”
If she had intended to meet men from the beginning, she shouldn’t have brought her elder brother along. But Jasmine, who had only ever felt emotions toward men that could be described as hero worship, failed to realize that fact.
Caras looked at her with mixed eyes and let out a sigh.
He should let her have some fun and then take her home. Sometimes, it’s alright to take a breath of fresh air when you’re feeling down.
Not knowing what her big brother was thinking, Jasmine absentmindedly looked around the vibrant surroundings. Glittering chandeliers, the fans and handkerchiefs of ladies as colorful as flowers, the tuxedos of gentlemen, and a variety of masks that concealed them.
It was the only night when the nobles, who were always burdened by etiquette and social status, shed their shells and became honest.
Given Jasmine’s considerable popularity in society, she had attended numerous parties and balls, even events like this grand masquerade with her friends.
The hostess of tonight’s party, Countess Lyon, was carefree but had a sense of propriety, so there probably wouldn’t be any major incidents. It was quite common for men and women to have chance encounters at masquerade balls.
With a proper amount of alcohol and the romantic ambiance of the night, the playful masks were suitable for meeting someone new.
Of course, some of Jasmine’s friends had done the same. One of them had met her partner at a masquerade ball and was now happily married, raising a child and living a content life. (Let’s lightly ignore Marian, who had previously been mentioned as the gossip queen, and her cycle of breakups and reconciliations.)
Even without deep relationships, it was relatively easy to enjoy a night of play or find a long-lasting lover.
However, why hadn’t Jasmine tried it yet?
No matter how you looked at it, Jasmine felt like she was missing out. Even if she was still young, considering the enjoyable lives her peers were leading, it was all so pointless. There was nothing lacking in me.
It was all that guy’s fault. Just because he was ridiculously handsome, he got her all flustered!
After grinding her teeth, she grabbed a wine glass from a passing waiter and took big gulps. Just then, Caras, who had been talking to a familiar knight and keeping an eye on his sister, snatched the empty wine glass away from her, startled.
“Jasmine! What are you doing?”
“Why? So what?”
‘I’m an adult too, it’s not like I drank poison,’ Jasmine snorted sourly as she lifted another wine glass again. However, Caras promptly took it away with his remaining hand.
The tall man, sporting a white Arctic wolf mask and holding wine glasses in both hands, presented a comical spectacle. Nevertheless, Caras was preoccupied with his scolding.