Elsa Lombardini, who taught at the University of Fillure, was Luca’s friend from primary school. It wasn’t that she wasn’t a woman but she had a candid personality, so she acted more like a man than Luca did. To such a woman, Luca proposed that they pretend to be sweethearts.
Luca had gynophobia. He was assaulted by a woman a long time ago and since then, he was scared of all females except for the ones in his family. He was still fine with talking to them, but it scared him when they stuck to him. He would get nervous and shiver in fear even if they were just talking to him.
However for some reason, that didn’t happen around Elsa. He could always talk with her normally. He could hold her hands and hug her. That was because Luca saw Elsa as a 『friend』instead of a『woman』.
Her frankness was harsh but it was cute compared to how devious other woman were. It was better for women to be frank. Elsa was smart so talking to her was also fun.
Elsa called Luca many horrible things like: airhead, disappointing and a piece of junk. Even so, he still liked Elsa, who was going out with him. Elsa was lured into it by the research funds, but when he had yelled, I wouldn’t mind getting married if it’s with Elsa, he was about 90% serious. He, who had gynophobia, had that much fun with Elsa.
She had said that she was a middle-aged woman who had past her prime, but Luca didn’t think it was to the point that he should mind it. Well, it was rare to find a 28 year old unmarried aristocrat woman, but she had a lot of talent to compensate for that; which Luca thought was way more attractive.
Elsa had no sense when it came to dressing herself and declared that fashion was secondary; on the contrary, she only dressed up to suit the occasion. In other words, if she dressed up then you would be able to tell. The person herself said, 『Honestly, I don’t think, I do』. So she was probably aware of it.
Luca felt that she didn’t have much self-awareness, but Elsa was beautiful in the first place. So even if people say, 『Are you kidding? 』, they didn’t actually care that she’s unfashionable. It was unexpectedly fun to dress Elsa, who had no fashion sense, up.
Even if she looked pretty, Elsa was still Elsa. As long as she was still herself, Luca wouldn’t reject her. Rather, he felt a little excited when he thought that she had dressed up beautifully in clothes that she wasn’t used to just for him (That’s why he acted suspiciously).
Elsa had accompanied him despite saying that she was busy with the academic conference. She was a very kind woman. Luca knew that she had been betrayed by her fiancé in the past, but she didn’t seem to care; so he didn’t either.
He had noticed later that Elsa, who had left the evening party, had encountered her ex-fiancé, Mark. It might have been better if Luca was by her side the whole night, but that didn’t happen. Mark had talked to her when she was alone.
Luca has also said this before, it was hard to read Elsa’s emotions. Therefore, he didn’t know what Elsa, who had met her ex-fiancé, was thinking about. She just looked slightly appalled. Luca couldn’t understand.
He also brought Elsa to today’s evening party. The evening party was held at Duke Verdi, Benedetto’s mansion. His family was the one that Luca’s older sister, Fiona had married into. Benedetto was a jurist and he was also friends with Elsa.
There were also many people who attended the academic conference at the evening party because it was held by Duke Benedetto, who also attended the academic conferences. Luca had let Elsa rest and went around the party to give his greetings to everyone and then he heard a lot of interesting stories from the scholars. The research they talked about was interesting and he could hear about what they thought of Elsa.
It wasn’t like there weren’t any female scholars, but they were few in number; so Elsa stood out. Elsa was more logical than the other female scholars and she was excellent at explaining things. In other words, she was excellent.
Luca became happy while being told that as if they were talking about him. As expected of Elsa, he thought. His expression was like that of someone praising his wife and the scholars stepped back while turning a blind eye; but Luca was ignorant of that.
He should have been talking with the scholars, but by the time he’d noticed, he was surrounded by young woman.
He knew they were looking for the most advantageous man they could. It was common for aristocrats to marry those older than them by 12 years. In any case Luca, who was the Duke Inglacia, was very advantageous.
He had status, money and he was good looking. There weren’t many people who possessed all three things. From an outsider’s perspective, he also had a good personality. No, it wasn’t like his personality was bad but Elsa called him: really disappointing and an airhead.
That Elsa disappeared from the seat that she was sitting on while Luca was held up by the women. Instead, her sister Alesia was waving her hand at Luca while smiling. Her lips moved.
『On your ri-ght!』
Was what Luca thought she had said and he looked to his right; a man had grabbed Elsa’s arm and was quarrelling with her.
Was he someone from the academic society? Elsa’s expression didn’t change even though she was having abusive remarks thrown at her, so he couldn’t tell. Therefore he didn’t know what they were talking about, but it probably wasn’t anything good.
His body moved on its own when he thought like that. He grabbed the arm of the man quarrelling with Elsa and pulled her towards him. Luca had pulled her strongly and she fell into his chest.
Elsa herself didn’t notice that it was him and had a slightly frightened look on her face. If someone grabbed her arm then she would probably be scared, wouldn’t she? Duke Verdi also stepped in, so it ended without anything major happening. But Elsa was trembling. Well, she didn’t seem like she was aware that she was……
It was decided that Elsa would be resting in a different room because of Duke Verdi’s goodwill. There are several rooms prepared for people who werern’t feeling well at the evening party.
Elsa said to Luca when she was relieved. He was a little happy that he was able to help her out.
Luca had previously asked her to rescue him as soon as she saw him being surrounded by women. He took action this time because of that. Elsa had thanked him without saying that he did something bad or complain about him being late. So he thought that he was narrow minded and was a little dishearten.
She was a stubborn woman. When they arrived at the room, she talked about the man, who had quarrelled with her, as if nothing happened. So Luca listened while gently caressing her hair. When he caressed her cheeks, she turned away.
Luca thought it was strange and asked. “What’s the matter with you?!” She rebuked him in return. It’s her usual rebuking skill.
When he told her that he felt as if she was frightened, she rebuked like she always did, “I’m more frightened of you”. Luca was relieved at that.
Then Elsa made a fuss, “Aren’t you hot?” Luca finally realised that he wasn’t feeling well. His face was still the same and he wasn’t even aware that he wasn’t feeling well; so no one else noticed as well.
The hands of Elsa, who was faithfully nursing him, was cold and pleasant. It might have been his imagination but he felt that Elsa was kinder than usual.
His conscious was hazy and his body felt sluggish. He had a fever and his throat hurt. He sat up to drink the water.
“Ah, you’re up?”
Elsa was by his bedside when he got up. She was sitting on the chair, reading a book. …… The book was pretty bulky so it was probably be a technical book.
She was wearing a grey dress but it wasn’t like the usual unfashionable ones that she wore. This dress had an elegant design and a blue shine to it. Perhaps, someone other than Elsa had chose the dress. Her fashion sense was really devastating. She herself was aware of it.
“Are you ok?”
Elsa stood up, placed the book down and sat down onto the bed. She put her hands on Luca’s upper body to support him and touched his forehead. She normally wouldn’t do something like that but she didn’t seem to care since he was sick.
“You have a bit of a fever. Your joints hurt, right?”
Elsa rebuked him with a wry smile because he didn’t actually answer her question and passed the water to him. Luca drank it slowly.
“Today’s the day after the evening party. It’s already noon. It was a bit awkward to move you, so you stayed over at Duke Verdi’s.”
Elsa briefly explained the situation to Luca while he was drinking water. Luca felt that his throat was still sore but he asked her anyway:
“Did you not go home?”
There was one more academic conference that Elsa had to prepare for and he was worried about it, but she tilted her head.
“I’m not heartless enough to leave you here by yourself.”
Luca looked at Elsa, who had said that without hesitation. She really did seem kinder than usual.
When Luca had realised it, he had already kissed Elsa.
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