Pavel’s letter, which Erna had been looking forward to for the past days, finally arrived on the third day of her long wait.
Thankfully, Viscount Hardy and his wife were currently not in the mansion.

Lisa had received the letter from the hand of the messenger boy instead of a postman and hurriedly ran upstairs when she saw who it was from.
However, she received no answer even after knocking at the door repeatedly, so she had no choice but to open the door slightly.
Erna, who was sitting in front of the desk obviously distracted, stood up in shock by the sudden noise of her door opening.
The artificial rose, which she had been holding on to since morning, was still left unfinished.
It wasn’t like her, who had already committed the procedure of making flowers by heart that she could do it with her eyes closed, to be unable to finish even a single flower.

“The letter you have been waiting for has finally arrived! It’s a letter from Mr.
Pavel Lore.”

Lisa put the letter directly into the hand of the young lady, who trudged like a child caught doing something bad while avoiding the other party’s gaze.
At the moment she heard her maid’s words, Erna immediately regained her bright smile.

“You have to reply now, Miss.”

At Lisa’s urging, her eyes widened.

“Right now?”

The messenger who brought this letter is waiting in the backyard.
He relayed that Mr.
Lore  wanted to get a reply from you right away.”

Troubled by her maid’s unexpected words, Erna looked at the letter in her hand once again; which contained an invitation from Pavel to take a walk along the riverside together this evening.

She quickly sat down at her desk and decided to write down her reply.
In a rush, a few drops of ink ended up dripping in the paper but there was no time for her to get a new clean paper and write her reply from the start again.

Soon, Lisa received a letter in which the wax had not yet hardened, but now was not the time to dilly-dally as she left the bedroom in a hurry.
After the sound of her footsteps drifted away across the hallway, Erna finally let out a breath she didn’t realize she had held back.

‘I will finally meet Pavel this evening.’

As soon as she thought of finally meeting up with her only friend, a feeling of unfairness and dismay came crashing down in her heart.

She couldn’t openly tell anyone what happened between her and the prince, even Pavel.
It was because what happened was so absurd, she was afraid that if just a small part of the whole situation came about might cause a misunderstanding right away.
Not only did he hold her wrist, her petite body even ended up getting trapped under the body of the man she detested.
What was even worse was that his lips touched the nape of her neck during the traumatic event.
Such an immoral thing would have made her Grandma faint in shock if she ever knew of what had happened.

Erna once again touched the nape of her neck, which now had red marks from her rubbing it habitually for the past days.
The more she tried to erase that cursed memory, the clearer she remembered the events that had transpired yesterday. 

His irregular breathing.. 

the feeling of his hot and moist breath against her skin…

and the weight of his large and firm body that made her feel intimidated. 

She could recall all of these as clearly as if she was experiencing them now.

“He’s a poisonous mushroom.”

Recalling Lisa’s warning, she breathed out a small sigh of annoyance.
Pretty and colorful poisonous mushrooms, she would often see them while taking in the forest of Buford, and now, their images were superimposed on that ugly man’s face.

“I guess he is indeed a poisonous mushroom.”

As if erasing the memory of a certain huge poisonous mushroom, Erna tightly closed her eyes.

‘I hope dinner will arrive soon.
Let’s meet Pavel so I can finally open up my troubled heart and feel refreshed.’




“Isn’t it better to call the attending physician?” The butler’s gaze, which was examining Bjorn’s naked back, clearly showed deep concern.

In the last three days after the incident, the Grand Duke wore his shirt casually.
Every time he locked a button, a small sigh accompanied by a smirk would appear on his face.
He had the same reaction just like the moment he had first seen his bruised back after he recovered from his drunken state.

The memory of the incident remained hazy, but he must have been hit very hard for him to have received such injuries.
For the first time in his life, he was beaten to the point of bruising and for him, such a rare occasion was certainly quite monumental.

‘And they said she looked harmless like a little deer?’ 

As various “praises” for Erna’s prowess came to his mind, laughter escaped from Bjorn’s lips and he slowly began to laugh aloud.
The fact that he was the only one who knew the reality of how beastly she could be once cornered suddenly made him feel regretful.

‘I guess she is not only a beast but also a thief.
And a very robust thief at that.’

He fastened the last button on his shirt while recalling his golden trophy gleaming beautifully while being held in her hands.
Butler Greg, who stood beside him, handed over the tie he was holding on the tray with an agile motion without any wasted movement.

“If you find bringing the doctor is burdensome, then at least a treatment… … .”

“It’s okay.”

Bjorn turned around while tying a knot in his tie.

“It’s not such a big deal, I’ve only been hit this much.”

“Are you really alright? Who dares to do such a thing, Your Highness?” Greg’s eyes widened  in disbelief as if they were about to pop out.

“I have a pet, you see…” Bjorn casually picked up the jacket.

“… and it’s such a vicious beast too.”

He continued with a bright smile as he wore his jacket, then walked out of the dressing room with wide and energetic steps.
Fitz approached quickly as if waiting for him.
Additionally, she silently sent a signal to Greg, who was following behind him.

“I heard that you got hurt… … ”

“I’m okay.” He reassured her with the same smile he had given to the other servants.
Fitz,on the other hand, had a butler-like expression on her face as she expressed her fuss and concern.

“If my life was really in danger, the first thing I would do is to ask our Mrs.
Fitz for help.”

“Your Highness!” Even when the stoic head maid stood in front of him with a strict expression on her face, he just continued to smirked without raising an eyebrow.

In the end, Mrs.
Fitz could only sigh and decided to step back.
She knew from her many years of experience that any further nagging would only be meaningless.

Clearing out her exasperated expression, she continued to follow Bjorn and began to report the various work of the Grand Duke that needed to be dealt with within today.
This continued until they had finally arrived inside the library.

“And finally, I think you should reply to the invitation from Harbor St.” Mrs.
Fitz, who had always maintained her composure, added in a perplexed tone.
The Grand Duke, who had just taken his seat, raised his narrowed eyes to meet her gaze.

“Harbor St.? Do you mean my great aunt ?” TN: sister of his grandmother

“Yes, Your Highness.
The party hosted by Marchioness Harbor will be held in two days.
I think you will have to decide whether or not to attend by today at the latest.”

“Oh, right.
The season has come for my aunt to show off her personal connections.” He nodded in understanding and picked up the papers lying on the desk.

The party of Marchioness Harbor, who boasts a wide network, was very famous among the nobles for its grand scale.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that it was a place where all two-legged socialites gather.

“Then I will send a letter to reject their invitation.”

“I’m afraid that couldn’t be done.” Bjorn, who had been scanning the report on his last investment case, raised his head once again when he heard her rebuttal.

“Sure, I will participate then.” Mrs.
Fitz’s eyes widened in surprise at his unexpected answer that came out of nowhere.

“But Prince, as you know, Marchioness Harbor… … .”

“I know.
Princess Gladys must have received an invitation too.”

A raucous party with various infamous individuals and the assorted events that would result from it were the greatest pleasures of old age for Marchioness Harbor.
There was no way she could miss the former crown prince and his ex-wife, who were the most important and prominent interest in the social circle.
Furthermore, he bet that Erna Hardy would be there too.
That old woman would be sad if the second most prominent figure in today’s social circle would not attend her beloved party.

“If I have to say one thing, there are many mouths out there who want to speak maliciously about Princess Gladys and Your Highness.” Mrs.Fitz reminded with a worried expression on her face.

“Everyone is looking forward to it, can’t I do at least one good thing for their enthusiasm?” He nodded casually as he opened the lid of the fountain pen placed on the pen tray.

“I’m going to give my aunt and grandmother great pleasure for the rest of their lives.
Ah, of course, since they already have a chronic disease, I have to provide them entertainment that wouldn’t put too much strain in their heart.”

“You Highness!”

“I guess even if Marchioness Harbor suddenly dies and goes to hell, she will have a party with Satan in the end, won’t she?”

“Either way, it would still be hell even for the Marchioness.”

“My aunt and grandmother cannot live in heaven.
A hell full of troublesome bastards is indeed a paradise for them to be honest ”

Bjorn smiled as he signed the bottom of the report in his hands.
The numbers on the papers were satisfactory, and so was the party of his aunt and grandmother, who would provide him an easy way to catch a sneaky thief.

“I will do as you command.” Exasperated with his antics, Mrs.
Fitz could only obey his order.

Finally finished with the conversation and his work, he decided to smoke a cigar and approached the window of the study.
He could still hear the cheers of the crowd practicing rowing every day from the nearby Arbit River.

“Crazy bastards.” As he let out a long stream of cigarette smoke, he spit out swear words like a whisper.

In the midst of savage shouts, sunlight, and the humid wind, Bjorn reminisced about his debt relationship with a certain lady.
In the end, he could only take it slowly as he decided which method would give him the most satisfactory result.



Pavel arrived at the Grand Duke’s Bridge earlier than the promised time.

Situated on the lower reaches of the Arbit River, this bridge was famous for its golden statues adorning the railings and the delicate and colorful street lamps.
It was built to commemorate the victory of Philip II, so it was given the same name.
However, most people just called it the Grand Duke’s Bridge for the simple reason that it was the bridge that connected the city center to the Schuber Palace, which was the residence of the Grand Duke.

Pavel leaned against the railing and looked at the other side of the road where Erna would soon appear.
Except for events at the Schuber Palace, the road was mostly empty because the area was sparsely populated.
That was the main reason why he chose this place as the meeting place.

It was about a week before the opening ceremony of the art exhibition that he had heard that Erna came to Schuber to live with her father.
And then just after a few days, Erna Hardy had become the hottest topic in the social circle together with the former Crown Prince and his ex-wife these  past days.

The rumors about his dear friend that he heard through his friends from the upper class were all maliciously perverted, and she was also known as a snobbish lady who was clueless regarding the marriage business.
There seemed to be no reputation more incompatible with Erna than that, considering their friendship for all these years.
That was the reason why he suddenly changed his mind and decided to visit her right away.

Pavel, who had indirectly encountered the social world during his stay in the capital, already knew what it was like.
It was no exaggeration to say that it was a place where reputation could dictate your life, and it could end it as well.
Even if the two of them were close friends in Buford, here in the capital, they were undeniably a noblewoman and a painter in the eyes of others.
The fact that their relationship can cause a big scandal just by being intimate with each other must have been the reason why Erna didn’t announce her connection to him.

So he tried his best to keep in touch with her at the right time, but he never thought that they would suddenly encounter each other at the art exhibition just like that.
It was also shocking to learn that, after only a year of not seeing her, the petite-looking country girl had turned into a perfect lady.


Pavel, who was gazing at the clear summer sky without a single cloud, looked down at the familiar voice he heard from afar.
There, he saw the very face  that he was looking forward to meeting once again.
Erna, with a bright smile on her face, waved her arm excitedly while staring at him.
A girl, who was probably a maid, accompanied her.

As he watched her approach at a slow pace, he couldn’t help laughing out loud at the sight he saw.
Where did the perfect lady he had seen on that day go? The Erna in front of him had returned to the country girl that he knew really well.
Donning a flowing floral dress, a hat full of ribbons and flower decorations, and even her fresh smile with a bit of shyness; the lady in front of him was undoubtedly the Lady of the Baden family, his friend Erna.

The two, who were approaching each other, stopped on their tracks at the same time, leaving a gap of about a step between them.
In the end, it was Erna who reached out her hand first.

“Should I call you Mr.
Lore today?”

“No.” He shook his head and grabbed her extended hand.

“Today, call me Pavel.”

“My friend Pavel?”

Staring at her who naughtily asked him again and again, Pavel happily nodded his head.

Erna’s smiling face was as bright as sunlight and a smile resembling hers suddenly appeared on the corner of his lips as he continued to gaze at her contagious smile.

It was the first time after years without seeing each other, he could finally meet his dear friend once again.


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