I Became the Tyrant's Helper - Chapter 25
“That servant was so pretty. I wasn’t even aware that I stared.” The servant girl was pretty enough that Ray should have noticed as well, and so the misdirection rolled easily off her tongue.
Ray uttered a “Hmmm” in response to her comment, but he did not look happy.
Why does he seem upset? She tilted her head forward, confused, but Ray chose then to speak.
“Our food will get cold. Let’s eat first.”
Ahel lifted her head at his suggestion and grabbed a fork.
Lunch with an emperor. She had thought it would be more awkward, but her expectations had been wrong.
He focused on the meal, permitting her to do the same, which was easy to do given the feast before her. Each bite was more delicious than the next, and she savored the flavors. It was easily the best food she had ever tasted.
After stuffing herself with bites from each dish, she was about to put her fork down.
“You’re done?” asked Ray, setting down the glass he had just sipped from.
“Yes, I ate enough,” she answered, still amazed by the food.
The cake heaped with cream and strawberries that she had devoured at the end was the best part of the whole meal. Though it was a shame there had only been one slice. Her eyes fixed on the slice of cake still in front of Ray, still untouched.
Is he not going to eat it?
Ahel couldn’t take her eyes off of the mouth-watering cake. She loved sweets, especially cake, but rarely got to enjoy such a delicacy.
Ray noticed her eyes on the cake that he hadn’t touched yet.
“Do you want more?”
“Yes!” she blurted. He’s letting me eat more? Her purple eyes glistened with moisture.
He studied her, seeing the reaction that she could not hide.
“If you want more, you only need ask. This is an easy wish to fulfill.” His hand went into his breast pocket, and he pulled out a tiny bell which he shook with authority.
The bright tinkle of the bell resonated throughout the alcove and carried across the garden on the wind. Within moments a servant hurried in their direction.
The woman who had come running was not the one Ahel had stared at earlier, but the second servant. Ahel resolved to show nothing on her face.
If she comes again, I will not look at her, not once…
Ray spoke to the servant while Ahel talked to herself without revealing her distress.
“Bring us another slice of cake,” he said, and looking toward Ahel, “Just one?”
Ahel replied immediately with a “Yes,” and the servant scurried away before quickly returning with more cake. The servant set a perfect slice down in front of Ahel before disappearing again.
Ahel lifted her eyes at the same time Ray was picking up his dessert fork, and she said, “I guess you’re the type who likes cake?”
When Ahel looked at the cake that he hadn’t touched, she thought about how she would have given it to him if she didn’t eat it. But Ray hadn’t done so, and instead had made the servant bring her a new one, indicating that he liked cake just as much as she did.
He stuck his fork into his slice, and said, “I sure am.”
They focused on their cake in amicable silence, but finishing her last bite she sat straighter in her chair. She had gone along with Ray’s wishes, eating a decadent meal in the privacy of his garden, but she couldn’t put off the inevitable any longer.
“I’d like to finish our discussion from earlier.”
“All right,” he said willingly.
“So, from what I understand, you brought me here, Your Majesty, to show me off as your girlfriend? And if I cooperate, you will give me information about my tattoo. Correct?”
“Precisely.” Ray didn’t deny it or try to sugarcoat his wishes.
It was mortifying to have to pretend to be in a relationship with him, but there was nothing she could do about it. Even if she had known this beforehand, the conclusion would have been the same.
All I have to do is cooperate for now, to get the information I need. She wasn’t worried that rumor of their ‘relationship’ might spread to Canute or the owner of Ophelia’s. Pelanders had never received any missions targeting the imperial family. Canute assigning such a mission would jeopardize the guild.
So even if someone put a request into the assassinations’ guild to kill him, Pelanders would not accept it, and so hopefully the rumors would not reach him.
The same goes for the owner of Ophelia’s.
She worked long hours, and had neither the time nor the inclination to listen to the fruitless gossip of a pretentious ruling class. So, other than their thoughts on the desserts at Ophelia’s, she didn’t bother with them.
Because she doesn’t come down from the fourth floor often, to begin with.
Furthermore, it wasn’t common knowledge among the public that workers in the imperial palace could actually see the source of the rumor.
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