Chapter 96 – Puzzled
“Yes. It seems like you know everyone.” Lila stated.
Edith internally tensed at Lila’s words, thinking that Lila might have thought of her as someone intrusive, prompting her to respond defensively. “I can provide more help to you this way.”
Lila didn’t miss the slight apprehension on Edith’s voice and assuaged her. “It’s a compliment, actually.”
Edith toyed with her fingers with her head low. Lila didn’t see the faint smile tugged on Edith’s lips as she relished the compliment. However, she did not understand the reason for Lugar’s presence. “What is Sir Ecarte doing here?”
“I called him here.” Lila forced herself to sound unbothered and lax.
“Well, the person who sent me the cards was pretty anonymous. I thought maybe he or she might be dangerous, so I took the necessary precautions of not coming here unescorted.” Lila explained.
“You’re right.” Edith smiled and took small sips from her teacup. She wasn’t fazed in the slightest at Lila’s need for security measures. In fact, it really was a smart thing to do.
The bell chimed and the sound of door opening and closing sounded in their ears, signaling Lugar’s entry. “Lady, I’m here.” Lugar called as he made his way towards them.
“Sit next to me.” Lila instructed.
Lugar nodded and sat quietly next to Lila. Days before this meeting, when Lacias paid her a visit she had asked him to lend her a knight. It didn’t take her much persuasion. Lacias agreed instantly and assigned Lugar as her escort, and he also explained why he could not have Hizette go with her.
“Lady, why am I here? Are we going to do something exciting?” Lugar asked in anticipation.
If Lila had a say in it, she would’ve preferred Hizette’s company than Lugar’s. The former would undoubtedly guard her without having the need to ask her questions. Lila paid him no attention, and Lugar fell quiet beside her.
Edith smiled and extended her hand in a polite greeting. “Sir Lugar Ecarte? I am Edith Nepeli.”
“Hello.” Lugar reached for her hand and gave her a courteous shake.
“I actually envy you, Sir Ecarte.” Edith was still smiling.
Lugar tilted his head in confusion. “Me? For what reason exactly?”
Edith’s eyes went from Lugar to Lila. “You can be all friendly with her, and here you are sitting next to her just as she requested.”
Lugar didn’t know how to respond. He turned to look at Lila, but the latter had her eyes fixed at Edith.
Edith shrugged. “I should have just become a knight…” She said dreamily. Her eyes had a twinkle in them, like she really was considering the idea. “Is it too late for me? Would you be able to give me advice, Sir Ecarte?”
“What are you talking about?” Lugar let out a dry chuckle. He did not understand where this was going. Edith murmured how being a knight would grant her the privilege of having to stay by Lila’s side, deeming it a fulfilling act of service.
“Lady, what is this all about? I’m not sure I understand…”
“It’s not dangerous like I anticipated, so I guess you can go back to your training.” Lila dismissed.
Lugar thought about the rigorous training currently taking place in the fields, and it was not something he was looking forward to. He shook his head at Lila’s suggestion and a sheepish smile was pulled on his lips. “No. I think I’ll just stay here with you.”
“Roxana told me that I should send you back as early as I could.” Lila said.
Lugar’s ears perked at that. “She did?!”
Roxana must have wanted to make sure Lugar wouldn’t escape from training. But he would stay right here, right by Lila’s side just like what he was ordered to do. “No. I will be escorting you back to your manor at all costs.” He decisively said.
Sensing she couldn’t make Lugar think otherwise, Lila nodded. “Alright. If that’s what you want.”
The server went to their table and placed a steaming cup of tea in front of Lugar.
“I got this for you. Drink up.” Edith urged.
Lugar threw her a glance and muttered. “Yes, thank you.”
Lila could vividly smell the floral scent of the tea. Lugar would most likely leave it untouched since he preferred much stronger drinks like liquor, only staring at the teacup blankly. Lila guessed it might have been intentional from the way Edith was smiling a little too brightly, confirming that she really was envious of Lugar’s closeness with Lila.
Lila smiled and resumed sipping her own drink. After a beat or two, she found herself almost emptying her cup. She tilted the cup in curiosity, and saw milk with grated strawberries lingering at the bottom.
Wait, how did Edith know what she liked? She placed the cup back on the table. It’s clear that Edith had ordered this specifically for her. She didn’t think Madame Marshmell had the same taste as hers, so how did Edith find out?
Lila glanced at Edith and saw she was still smiling at her. She couldn’t quell her suspicions towards Edith and sipped again to avoid the latter’s unwavering gaze. The sweet taste of strawberry was addicting and she made a mental note to make some for Hir. He would definitely enjoy this.
“Edith.” Lila called after downing her drink.
“Yes?” Edith leaned closer with her elbows propped on the table. Lugar didn’t miss the excitement in her voice at the mere calling of her name. He shot her a subtle look from where he was seated and studied her, in a way that neither of the two women would notice.
“Shall we discuss the contract?”
“Do we really need to write it down?” Edith paused and added, “I’m just lending you a hand.”
“Of course.” She needed to make sure what sort of information Edith would provide other people, and what would happen should she give Lila wrong information. Lila would also set the contract spanning to a year from today and proceeded with her instructions. “I will stipulate everything in the contract. I will come visit you in your home once it’s done and have you sign it.”
“You’d come to visit me?” Edith asked excitedly.
“It would be an honor!” Edith clasped her mouth, conscious of how excited she sounded, prompting Lugar to frown even more.