Once home, Lia removed her dress, discarding it on the floor.
While she changed into more comfortable clothing, Pepe folded the dress and placed it in a wash basket.
Far too exhausted to wash up properly, Lia sunk down between the soft pillows of her bed.
Approaching her, Pepe rapidly fired off a string of questions.
“Did something happen What transpired with the criminal Are you hurt”
“Don’t worry, Pepe, I’m not hurt.
Today just wasn’t my day, and that damned dress is terribly uncomfortable,“ Lia said, sighing as she finally began to relax.
“Can we adjust it for you somehow Now that you have to wear it every now and again, I don’t want you to be constantly uncomfortable,” Pepe kindly inquired.
“Don’t worry about it Pepe, there is nothing to be done.
Please, just have it laundered and sent to Viscount Shelby’s manner,” she requested, disinterested in any further discussion.
Lia had long ago promised herself, even if she went back to being a proper lady, she would never wear another uncomfortable dress again.
Pepe nodded her head in acknowledgment of the order.
An angry rumbling sound could be heard originating from Lia’s stomach.
With a little giggle, she inquired if the food was ready yet.
“It should be ready in about five minutes,“ Pepe responded, covering a small smile with her hand.
Resting her head against the soft satin of the pillow behind her, Lia gladly let her mind go blank for the first time that day.
Her eyes rested on the curtained billowing in the wind, the sweet smell of rain carried upon it.
As the door was brazenly flung open, she heard Ian’s loud voice inquiring, “Darn, did you already change”
Not deigning to respond, Lia kept her eyes fixed on the open window.
“That’s too bad.
You looked absolutely gorgeous,” he said, spotting her wig on the floor.
I think the word you were looking for is hideous,” Lia said self-deprecatingly.
“What happened Why did you return in a dress,” he asked, ignoring her previous comment.
“I had to take care of something,” she responded vaguely.
Noticing his wet hair, Lia subconsciously reached a hand up and ran her fingers through it.
Smiling, he lowered himself onto the bed next to her, granting her easier access to his dark locks.
He snaked an arm around her shoulders, pulling her closer.
Resisting his advances, she squirmed away from his embrace.
“Stop, you’re making me uncomfortable,” Lia glaringly said to him.
“You look cold.
I only want to help you get warm,” he said, once again inching closer.
“I’m not cold,” she declared, shifting further away from him, “It’s the middle of summer.”
“It’s raining,” he responded, calmly looking out the window.
“Not at the moment, it stopped a few minutes ago,” Lia retorted.
“Even so, it will soon begin again.
It’s monsoon season,” he countered.
Grinning at his own comment, Ian covered Lia’s cheek with his right hand, stating, “So today’s a cold day.”
She felt a strange sense of comfort from his warm touch, but it was overpowered by the utter weirdness of it all.
“Nevertheless, soup can do a far better job,” she said, removing his hand from her face and getting out of bed.
“Your eating habits are very strange,” Ian observed.
Disgruntled by the man, she opened the door and strode out, responding over her shoulder, “Sometimes my appetite is larger than others.”
The aroma of food drifted up from the first floor, and she started salivating in anticipation.
“You can join me for a meal now.
But if you don’t, I don’t want to hear about it when you’re hungry in the middle of the night,” she said, turning back to Ian, still sprawled on the bed.
Sudden shame came over her, as she looked down at the floor and asked, “Can you teach me how to use a dagger”
Canillia’s honey-colored hair was plastered to her forehead from the rain.
Her umbrella had made a valiant effort to protect it but had ultimately failed.
As she entered the Academy, Count Tholin spotted her, his face turning red.
With a creased brow , she did her best to avoid him, as she made a beeline towards her; she had not slept well the previous night and was not in the mood for any uncomfortable encounters.
Unable to lose the man in the crowd, he eventually caught up to her.
His face was a putrid scarlet color, and a massive vein was bulging in his forehead.
“Good morning, Count Tholin,” Lia greeted politely.
She glared at Tholin.
He was alone for once.
The young low noble he treated as a servant usually accompanying him was nowhere to be seen.