I Became the Tyrant's Helper - Chapter 24
Additionally, hadn’t he told her to go along with this ruse if she wanted the answers to her questions?
She knew there was no other choice. His tone had brooked no argument, and so when he wrapped his strong arm around her, tucking her tightly against his side, she obediently walked with him as he led her past the others. The intimacy of walking so tightly at his side felt strange, and she knew that to the onlookers they would appear to be a couple.
After a thankfully short distance, Ray turned left on to a path heading outside the palace.
Bewildered, Ahel asked, “Weren’t we going to the dining hall?”
Ray glanced down at her, his expression faintly amused, “I said we were going to share a meal. I never said where.”
Still tucked up against his side, Ray led Ahel out of the building, stepping on to an ornate stone path that cut through the verdant grounds.
As Ahel stepped on to the path and around the corner of the stone wall, a sweeping vista unfolded in front her. Soft grass stretched out before them like a velvet carpet, and blooms of every color lined the paths and garden beds, perfuming the air with their sweetness.
The palace garden, she thought to herself dumbfoundedly. The beauty of it stunned her.
Ushered along by him, Ahel followed as Ray turned them to the right, and into a garden within the imperial garden.
The path ended abruptly, and there sat a table and two chairs in the center of a private alcove. The edges were bordered by tall white flowers and thick vines, making the space feel private, and much more intimate than the formal dining hall.
Ray took the first step on to the lawn, and she followed behind, carefully placing her foot down on the cool carpet of grasses and clover. Each step they took released the dewy smell of the grass, and Ahel inhaled the intoxicating aroma as it mixed with the perfume of the flowers.
It was not until Ray arrived in front of the table that he finally released her waist.
“Please sit,” he said, as he pulled out her chair.
He sat down only after making sure that she was comfortably seated.
There was nothing on the table.
Is there no food?
Scanning the surrounding area, she spotted two imperial servants standing nearby, just past the entrance of the alcove.
After they were seated, one of the servants entered the alcove and approached the table.
“We have prepared your meal, Your Majesties.”
At her words, Ray nodded his approval, and without another word the servant left to fetch the food, reappearing momentarily with the other servant, both pushing a kitchen trolley.
The three-tier trolleys brimmed over with food, making Ahel salivate, while the two servants busily arranged the place settings, laying out flatware and silver.
Ahel studied their movements attentively, her interest especially drawn to the servant who had approached them first. There is something about her.
Soon the table was heaped with plates containing delicacies of every kind imaginable.
Speaking to the servants, Ray broke the hush that had fallen over the table.
“I shall call when we are done. Until then, no one enters this space.”
He likely wanted privacy to continue their negotiations, Ahel mused, although there was something in his voice that made her wonder whether he had other motivations. He was enjoying the privacy of this clandestine meeting a bit too much, she thought.
Looking up, Ahel saw the cheeks of the second servant redden, before both servants bowed deeply and pushed their empty trolleys back out of the alcove. Perhaps the servant was also suspicious of Ray’s motivations? Or was it something else?
Ahel watched the servants’ receding backs as they left, her eyes drawn to the first servant, and only after they disappeared past the other side of the foliage border did she turn back to Ray.
Ahel and Ray’s gazes collided across the table.
Ray raised his right arm onto the table and, with his strong jaw cupped in his hand, studied her with a long, slow gaze.
“It seems like you’re paying an inordinate amount of attention to other women, despite having such a handsome, and might I add charming, man in front of you.”
There was amusement in his voice, but his gaze on her was intense, and she could hear the unasked question. Why couldn’t she take her eyes off the first servant?
To others, the servant may appear physically beautiful, but unremarkable otherwise. There were many beautiful servants in the empire. However, Ahel couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something different about the girl. Something unusual simmered beneath the servant’s pleasant features, and something that only she could sense apparently.
Ray can’t sense it. Or am I mistaken?
Ray is the emperor. If he sensed nothing, then perhaps she was wrong. This was her first encounter with the girl, after all.
It’s too soon to be sure, after only seeing her once.
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