༺ The Executive Manager is Satisfied with You (3) ༻
I caught Louise before she fell, but because she was wobbling while wearing high heels, I couldn’t help but worry about her ankle. Who in their right mind would run around while wearing high heels?
She seemed to be fine now, but the pain might hit her later. If the other club members were nearby, they would have taken care of Louise. Unfortunately, they were nowhere to be found, exactly when they were needed. What a useless bunch.
Although I wanted to stick with Louise, I came here with Marghetta as a partner. It would be impolite to be with someone else when I already have a partner. It would be more rude compared to rejecting her offer to be her partner.
“I apologize for not doing a proper job as a partner.”
“It’s fine. I wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving my junior alone in such a state.”
Her response moved me. Seeing how Marghetta had come before to advise Louise and what she did now, it seemed she genuinely cared for Louise. Or maybe she’s simply looking out for her junior. Either way, it was a warm heart considering she’s a noble lady.
“Lady Louise, please be more careful in the future. You’re lucky that Carl caught you, because you could’ve gotten hurt badly.”
“Yes, Senior. Thank you so much!”
Louise also seemed moved by Marghetta. Her eyes were shining while bowing her head. It felt like it was just yesterday that she was scolded by Marghetta and stumbled into the club room. Now, it seems like she has overcome the fearful first impression. Though they may not meet often, it’s a relief that they managed to make a good impression.
I entered the banquet hall with Marghetta on my left and Louise on my right. As my company increased from two to three, numerous curious gazes fell on us. But soon, everyone turned their gaze away. It was better not to meddle in matters that won’t bring any benefits, as the etiquette for the noble class suggests.
As soon as we entered the banquet hall, we were blinded by its splendor. It was absurd that such a big building was used as a banquet hall, and the interior was adorned with gold and jewels.
The only one who wasn’t impressed was Marghetta, since she’d already seen it last year.
“Oppa, look at that.”
“Yes, I’m also looking at that.”
As Louise whispered while pointing at the ceiling, I looked upward.
‘Are these people crazy?’
There were huge chandeliers everywhere. I didn’t even want to imagine how much all of these costs. They were mostly made of gold with all sorts of jewels.
“We could put out the fire by selling off all the chandeliers in the Academy.”
“Are you drunk? I’ve told you we needed money. What nonsense are you talking about?”
“A person whose final education was private tutoring probably won’t believe me.”
“Why are you suddenly attacking me?”
These were the words the minister mumbled two years ago when the financial reserves were almost depleted. At that time, I thought they were just insane ramblings from crazy politicians. Even if it were to put out the fire, an astronomical amount of money would be required to do such a thing.
But he could do that by selling the Academy chandeliers? I obviously thought he was joking. After all, I hadn’t come here before. I thought he was teasing me, just like how one tells someone from the countryside to take off their shoes before riding the subway.
‘So it was true.’
The Minister’s words were true. These crazy bastards of Apels. The more I dug, the more I discovered that it was a crazy country. Wasting so much money in a banquet hall? I could understand why the other nations turned their backs on Apels during the invasion. They probably concluded that the Kefellofen wouldn’t be as bad as the rulers of Apels.
As I realized the reason why Kefellofen prevailed over Apels, the club members, whom Louise had sent first, found us.
“Go and have fun.”
I said while patting Louise’s back. It wasn’t great to have a 21-year-old among 17-year-olds. Moreover, I felt more comfortable after my eyes met with Villar, who was subtly standing in a corner. If he were here, I wouldn’t need to worry about anything.
“Oppa, have a good time. And you too, Senior.”
“Thanks, Louise. I hope you have a good time too.”
Louise was about to say something when her gaze turned to Marghetta and let me go. She probably didn’t dare to hold me back, since I’d come here as her partner. Until now, there weren’t any members to care for Louise. But right now, all five were here. So it was fine.
I took Marghetta’s hands and stepped back. Now we just needed to take a spot and spend some time until it was time to dance.
“So brother is here, too. Would you like to have a drink to celebrate the victory? Of course, your partner is also invited.”
I wasn’t expecting Tannian to come and talk to me.
“You’re the ones who worked hard. So you should celebrate it. You don’t need to worry about me.”
“Shouldn’t the Advisor also share the joy of the club’s achievement?”
Why does he act like a normal person only at times like this? It would be easier if he consistently acted like a fool. It felt strange every time he acted normal.
“He’s right. Let’s do that, Sir Carl.”
Before I could think of a way to refuse, Marghetta took a step forward and accepted Tannian’s proposal.
“Isn’t it troublesome if the Advisor leaves the club members behind? A dance is enough for me, so don’t worry.”
“It’s embarrassing to always receive your consideration.”
“I won’t concede the dance, though. Keep that in mind.”
If you couldn’t fulfill a request of someone who kept being considerate to you, you shouldn’t even be called a person. On top of that, it wasn’t like dancing was something hard to do…
‘Now that I think about it carefully, I think it will be difficult.’
After all, when have I ever had the chance to dance? In the first place, I rarely attended social events, and when I did, I mostly mingled with older gentlemen, so I didn’t get many opportunities to dance.
I looked at Marghetta’s foot. She was wearing red high heels.
The thought I might step on those delicate-looking feet made my head spin.
‘I feel like it might break if I step on it by mistake.’
Marghetta tilted her head in confusion after looking at me, and I couldn’t help but feel anxious.
* * *
Oppa and the Duke’s daughter moved to the center. The other students stepped aside to make way for them, but their movements seemed so natural and expected.
“It seems like none of us will dance.”
“Why? Are you bored? If you’re okay with dancing with a man, I can join you.”
“Haha, I’ll pass.”
“I’m also relieved. I was worried you’d really want to do it.”
I watched the two while listening to Ainter and Rutis’ banter. Perhaps I should go and dance next to them. After all, oppa might get bored while being there alone.
However, dancing was something that had to be done in pairs, so I would have to pick someone. Choosing one among the five, who were all good friends, would be difficult. I hesitated because I didn’t want to upset the others who might feel disappointed if not chosen. Relationships could grow deeper or shatter over trivial matters, after all.
“Dance? There’s a chance that Louise has sprained her ankle, so she has to be careful. Although I won’t stop you guys from dancing with each other.”
My hesitation must have been noticed by oppa, who then offered his support. It was fine, and I could dance as long as I was careful.
However, seeing oppa come forward for my sake and the slight nod he gave me as if encouraging me, I couldn’t bring myself to refute. Even the club members showed concern rather than disappointment when they heard that I might’ve injured my ankle.
Out of guilt, my lips merely moved. I couldn’t get myself to apologize. If all five of us could dance together, I’d be happy to, but choosing only one among them seemed impossible.
I lowered my gaze and saw my legs and the high heels that had made me fall before oppa.
The memory of what just happened flashed before my eyes, and I closed my eyes tightly. It’s embarrassing. So embarrassing. If I could turn back time, I’d stop myself from running forward.
I didn’t expect the excitement of having won the trophy last for such a long time, and that was why I ran toward oppa the moment I saw him. I only noticed my shoes after I had already started running.
I wanted to cover my face and crouch as I remembered how I fell into his arms. However, it was obvious that the club members would worry if I did that, so the only thing I could do was bite my lips. You idiot. Why did you do that…?!
To make things worse, the Duke’s daughter was behind him. She must have come here as his partner, and yet I had shown such a scene before her. I was sure she’d get angry. After all, she’d told me before that the daughter of a noble family must maintain her dignity, and I had done something that was completely against it.
“Then, shall we go in all together?”
“Who knows if Lady Louise might have gotten hurt?”
But contrary to my expectations, she didn’t get angry with me; instead, she showed me warm consideration. She seemed worried for me after I almost fell to the floor.
I was so touched that I felt embarrassed about how I had been scared of her until now. Yes, oppa had said before that she didn’t have any ill intentions. He was right.
The Duke’s daughter overlooked my embarrassing actions.
Since oppa knew her well, it seems like they were close indeed.
‘He seems to be in a good mood.’
Oppa seems happier than yesterday. It seemed like being with the Duke’s daughter had a more positive effect on him than my attempt to comfort him through the club members.
‘I guess I’m not much of a help…’
While I was happy that oppa was feeling better, my heart throbbed at the fact that my role was insignificant. But what could I do? The Duke’s daughter’s relationship with oppa was probably deeper than mine.
‘But I’m glad.’
Still, I was grateful that oppa had someone close enough to confide in, especially since I couldn’t fulfill that role. That’s right. Even now, they are dancing so beautifully together─ huh?
I blinked several times as I watched oppa and the Duke’s daughter. Something seemed odd.
How many times are you going to step on her feet?
It looks like you’ve been stepped on the foot a bit harder just now. Are you okay?
I stared blankly at them. Before I knew it, they had finished dancing and were coming back to where we were.
Oppa’s expression had stiffened, and his gaze was fixed on the floor. In comparison, the Duke’s daughter wore a bright smile despite her slightly reddened face.
She was slightly tearing up. I could see it clearer than anyone else, but I decided not to say anything. After all, she looked happy.