“Madam. Here is the data about the nobles you mentioned.”
“Thank you. Good job.”
As Tiana was resting after eating lunch, Warren brought a thick stack of papers containing data on nobles concerning business.
“This is more than I thought. There are this many nobles running businesses?” asked Tiana.
“There are a lot of nobles who have been running big and small family businesses. With the development of waterway distribution and the recent land trains operation, businesses are actively emerging,” informed Warren.
It was still a freight train, but the horse-power train service was also in operation within the empire. Since it could move things several times faster than a carriage, some degree of its usage was being recognized. Now, trains were mainly located on roads with rough terrains and a lot of supplies, but if they were more organized, they could be available to ordinary people.
The weight of the stack of documents was rather heavy. As discussed with Lucius, Tiana chose nobles whom she needed to do business with or invest in, but it was more than she’d expected. She will have to look at it and sort it out again.
Tiana let Inabelle, who was waiting, bring out the tea, sit down, and read the data slowly.
“Construction, food, clothing, other miscellaneous goods…”
From small cafés and restaurants to general stores, salons, bars, and architecture. Lots of nobles were doing various businesses. She gritted her teeth when she saw that there was no place beyond their reach.
“There are even some people who own several hundred stores… Do I really need to invest in those people?” she asked.
They would already be making a fortune right now. There’d be plenty of people who want to earn money for their business, but Tiana didn’t want to invest in those who had already made profits. If she’s going to do it, she should do it to those who need more help.
Half of the data was from aristocrats who ran fairly large-scale businesses, so she skipped over them, and small- and medium-sized ones started from the middle part, so she looked through them slowly.
Reading through the material, Tiana came across a familiar name.
[Grassel estate – Baron Evett June’s Café Business (planning branch expansion)]
Grassel was the name of a place in the city she and Lucius had traveled to a few days ago. Then was this the café they had visited? Though a small-sized estate, there were several cafés, so she didn’t know if it was that one or not, but somehow, she kept reading the name over and over.
“Should I put it as a candidate for now?” she wondered. Tiana left those documents aside and went over the material again. In the middle of her focusing for a long time, Warren came in and announced an unexpected visitor.
“Madam, Empress Alexandra is here.”
It was strange that she had not contacted Tiana about a visit beforehand. Alexandra’s behavior was so unpredictable, so Tiana was curious as to why she visited since they hadn’t talked since the wedding.
Leaving her office for the living room, she discovered her sitting on the sofa, waiting. Alexandra, greeting her with a smile as she was walking in, smiled back and said, “Tiana! Were you working?”
“Yes. What’s going on, Alexandra?”
“I’m just curious how you’ve been. I heard about what happened on your trip, and I wanted to check if you are enjoying your marriage life.”
“You could have sent a letter. If you had contacted me I would have visited you,” said Tiana.
“I wanted to see you in person. It’s convenient for me to come since I don’t have much to do, unlike everyone else who’s busy with this, that, and the third.”
Tiana fake smiled when she saw Alexandra speaking with a faint smile. When she saw this kind of easy-going image of Lucius’s sister, it was like meeting a good, close friend. Thanks to that, she sometimes forgot that she was an empress.
A maid soon brought out tea and snacks, and Alexandra, after taking a sip of the deep-scented tea, said, “This tea is delicious. The scent is especially good, too. Where did you get it?”
“During our trip, we went to a café that specializes in flower tea. We bought some from there. I’m glad we did. We brought some back as a gift for you. I’ll give it to you later.”
“Oh my. Really? Thanks. That place you went to, it was the Grassel estate, right? I know that café. ‘Laurent’ is such a famous place. I somehow thought that the scent was special.”
“You’ve been there, too, Alexandra?” Tiana asked.
“No, I have not, but I’ve heard so much about it. Word about it has spread. It’s a café in a small city and it’s not big, but it’s gaining popularity because of the taste and quality of the flower tea and desserts it sells.”
Café ‘Laurent’. So that’s what the name was. When they had visited there, Tiana couldn’t see the name in detail because she had been distracted by its appearance. When she nodded at the fitting name, Alexandra narrowed her eyes and said, “It’s a hot place in a famous destination, so it’s hard to get a reservation since visitors come at all hours of the day, but how did you get in?”
“Oh… we, uh, Lucius made the reservation. I heard about… a month in advance, I think.”
“My brother must really love you.”
“Yes. He made a reservation one month in advance. Well, I already knew how much he loved you, but since the marriage, I can really see it. I think the reins are finally loosened. Though I don’t care since he looks happy.”
So this is what Alexandra really looks like, Tiana thought. Tiana also liked that Lucius had become more active after getting married, but how much was it if his ‘reins are finally loosened’?
These days, she went to the palace often for work, so she didn’t know what Lucius did when he was out and about; she was now curious how he acted when she wasn’t around. Is he already changing like that since he is married now?
While she was thinking, Alexandra spoke again.
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