Please be Patient, Grand Duke - Chapter 96.2
Lia gently opened her eyes, feeling the warmth of her own body radiating against her skin. As she lifted her eyelids, she realized that no one was lying beside her, and the empty space next to her felt strangely cold and empty.
Had it all been just a dream, she wondered, as she reached out and felt the space next to her. There was no trace of warmth, or lingering scent that would have given away another person’s presence.
As if on cue, Pepe walked in with breakfast, his cheerful chatter breaking the silence. Lia couldn’t help but notice the dark circles under her own eyes, a testament to her sleepless night.
Pepe set down the tray, and Lia took a bite of the bread, savoring the warm, buttery flavor. She then went to the window, where she could see the men gathering for the morning hunt. Among them was Claude, with his red jacket standing out in the crowd.
“Please mind your table manners, miss,” Pepe admonished, reminding Lia of her surroundings. “You may be alone, but it’s always best to behave appropriately in front of others.”
Lia rolled her eyes, not wanting to be bothered by such trivial things. She cracked open the egg and smirked, leaning against the window as she ate.
She caught a glimpse of Claude, who had turned around, and for a moment, their eyes met. Lia quickly looked away, not wanting to reveal any hint of emotion.
“I plan to study all day since it’s a free day,” Lia announced. “And tomorrow, I must go to the convent, so please inform Edith about it.”
Pepe nodded, then added, “You’ll need to change your clothes if you’re going out.”
Lia nodded absentmindedly, lost in her own thoughts as she watched the men disappear into the forest.
Lia was flipping through the book, lost in deep thought as she bit down on a spoon. Suddenly, in the distant forest, a loud flapping sound echoed through the air as the birds took flight. She turned to Pepe, who was nearby, and asked about Eli.
“Is Eli doing well?” she inquired, watching the forest with interest.
“This is his hometown. He must be doing well,” Pepe reassured her.
Feeling the urge to see Eli after a long time, Lia stood up, lifting the hem of her pajamas. “I should go see him,” she declared. “But not now, after we finish eating.”
Last night, they indulged in a comfortable dinner in their room, savoring every bite of the delicious food prepared by the mansion’s chef. Lia, who had decided to visit Eli, changed into her riding clothes for the first time in a long while. She put on a red hunting jacket similar to the one he had worn and tied up her hair.
As she walked towards the stable, Lia tried to ignore the black box sitting on the coffee table in front of the fireplace. It was probably brought by Claude that morning, but she had fallen asleep and was put to bed. Though she had forgiven him, the pain in her heart was still present, causing a tightness and discomfort.
Most of the guests were still asleep, so she left the quiet mansion and headed straight to the stable. The stableman recognized her and followed her to Eli’s whereabouts.
Eli was in a spacious room with a high wooden ceiling, rotating ventilators, and piles of hay. As she called out his name, Eli approached her, pushing aside what he was doing, and offered his face.
“Have we not seen each other for too long? Sorry, I couldn’t make time,” Lia said apologetically, offering him sugar cubes as she rubbed his face with her hand. Eli licked the sugar cubes with his rough tongue and pressed his forehead against her cheek.
Feeling a sense of guilt for not visiting him more often, Lia hugged Eli’s neck tightly, as if to make up for lost time.
“Should I prepare a saddle?” the stablekeeper asked.
“Yes. I will go out for a while,” replied Lia.
She lowered the short whip hanging from the wall, placed the saddle she had received from her stablekeeper on Eli’s back, and opened the bolt. She then pulled the leash outside and climbed onto Eli’s back, gazing at the misty forest.
“I’ll be right back,” Lia said.
“Others have gone hunting in the eastern woods, so don’t go there,” the stablekeeper cautioned.
“Yes, I will,” Lia replied, straightening her upright waist. As she rode off on her white horse, the noble ladies out for a walk finally took notice and gazed at her with curiosity. Her horse moved with ease, as if gliding over the ground, while Lia herself sat tall in her saddle with a posture that exuded confidence and grace.
Without paying attention to the curious stares of the other women, Lia unceremoniously twisted the reins and urged her horse to go faster. The cool wind brushed past her face, and the sound of leaves rustling in the breeze filled her ears.
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