Please be Patient, Grand Duke - Chapter 51.1
Lia held her shirt closed and avoided Claude’s gaze. It was she who was slapped by Marilyn. But, when he warned that she would pay, she suddenly felt sad.
Marilyn, touched by Claude’s defense of her, spoke kindly to him. “Sir, it was I who misunderstood Sir Canillian. He came at me aggressively as a response to my actions. So please don’t be so harsh on him.”
Marilyn’s expression looked pitiful. Claude shifted his gaze from her to Canillian.
“Yes,” Marilyn continued, embarrassed, “I wanted to check. I had to be sure he was really a man. I was the one who was rude, and, in the confusion, he laid me on the bed. So I—”
“Yes, I was a fool to behave that way in the company of a man. It was not fitting for a lady.”
Lia couldn’t hide her reaction to the absurd way Marilyn leaned one shoulder against Claude. It made Lia feel like she had just been hit over the head.
If he believes everything Marilyn says, that would make Lia the despicable one for assaulting a lady. I became excited by a lady as a lady? she wondered.
Lia’s face reddened at the unfairness of it all. But, it was true that she had pushed Marilyn onto the bed. No matter how unfair the whole event seemed, it might have been frightening from Marilyn’s perspective.
“I didn’t mean to scare you, Miss. I apologize. So… no more,” Lia said quietly with resignation in her voice.
Ian stood behind Claude. With calm eyes, he scoffed. “What a face! Excited?” He gave Marilyn a lethal glare and placed a hand on Claude’s shoulder. “In Geor, false accusation is a serious crime, punishable by cutting the tongue and hands, followed by three years’ house arrest. It’s a shame that the Empire doesn’t have such a rule.”
Marilyn flinched as her eyes met Ian’s. She knew that he was talking to her; she isn’t stupid.
Claude pulled Marilyn off of him. Between Ian’s sarcastic remark and Claude’s cold gesture, her face reddened.
“Sir, you don’t believe me?” Marilyn’s tone trembled.
Claude neither agreed nor disagreed. He simply stepped aside from the doorway. Marilyn found that her maid was standing there, looking worried. And the young Duke’s servant, with whom she had spoken, was there as well.
The two were frozen, unable to meet Marilyn’s eyes.
How long had they been standing there? Marilyn’s hands shook at the thought of them possibly having heard her scream.
“Let’s go find the doctor. You should get treated, Miss.”
Marilyn shut her eyes. Claude’s coolness made her feel the harshness of the situation. She needed time before moving.
After collecting herself, Marilyn straightened her shoulders confidently and turned to address Lia. “I’ll go back for now. I know it wasn’t intentional. Please forget my shameful behavior.”
Marilyn politely said her goodbyes, walking straight to her waiting maid. She fought to maintain her dignity and an elegance befitting a child of the Marquis.
But in the end, she didn’t apologize to Canillian.
Claude held onto the doorknob and waited until everyone left.
The last of the fireworks shot up in the sky, bathing the night in a fiery red. The partygoers’ exclamations, applause, and whistles quickly filled the quiet space.
Claude felt like he lacked oxygen. He turned and saw that Canillian’s eyes were red, bloodshot—in contrast to his usual calm.
He closed the door and went to Canillian, who was looking out the window. As he got closer, he could see Canillian’s stiffened shoulders.
“You lay Marilyn Shelby on the bed?”
Canillian, still holding on to his shirt, lowered his head even more.
“It was a mistake. I was trying to stop Miss Marilyn—”
“How did you lay her?”
“Pardon?” Canillian’s flustered voice trembled.
Claude looked down at his wet eyes and quietly asked, “Did you grab her waist? Or grab her hand? What did you do to get slapped?”
Lia bit her lips, frightened by his interrogation.
“Please stop. It was a mistake. No, I was rude. I didn’t want to touch your woman at all. Please believe me. I—”
“Ha!” Claude scoffed. He quickly grabbed both of Canillian’s hands, lifted them above his head and pushed his light body towards the bed.
Canillian landed on the bed, his hands still being held. He shouted, “Sir Claude!”
“Like this? And then?”
“No! No! I didn’t do this!”
Canillian kept shaking his head and denying it, much to Claude’s displeasure. To be precise, Claude became furious at the thought that Canillian’s body had touched Marilyn’s.
Furious with whom? Canllian? No. Marilyn. It was Marilyn who pushed Canillian. But, he was taking it out on Canillian instead.
“How funny. So, as a man, you wanted to hold a lady?”
“I told you no! It’s not like that,” protested Canillian.
“You can’t keep shouting. You have to hit me, Canillian.”
“How can I hit you when you’re holding me like this! Let me go! Please!”
In the end, tears flowed from Canillian’s eyes. Tears for the unfairness of it all, rather than sadness.
Claude lowered his face to Canillian’s. Who was he, trying to hold back his tears?
“It was you who was hit by Marilyn,” Claude said knowingly. Claude tilted his head. His hair—the color of the night sky— touched Canillian’s forehead. “You didn’t do anything that you should apologize for.”
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