An invitation to dinner actually came from Duke Inglacia awhile after the evening party hosted by Duke Lombardini. The current Inglacia family head was Luca so he was the sender of the invitation. The handwriting on the invitation was also Luca’s so he probably wrote it himself. Elsa laughed thinking about what he could have been thinking while writing the invitation.
Meanwhile she was preparing for the academic conference, the one that the season ended on. It was almost ready but it didn’t hurt to revise it many times.
“Elsa-sama. You should prepare for the dinner party soon.”
Ashia came into the room and said to Elsa, who was double checking the facts in her thesis with those in the book. Elsa was concentrating and gave a half-hearted reply.
Ashia resorted to a radical measure because Elsa was replying but her hands were still moving. She took the pen from Elsa’s hand.
“Elsa-sama. Let’s start preparing now.”
“What kind of preparation?”
“For the dinner party.”
“Isn’t it still early?”
It was just a little after teatime. Elsa felt that it was still too early to prepare for dinner.
“It’s not too early, it’s a little too late.”
“What?! But, the academic conference preparations……”
“Elsa-sama, you can do it even if you don’t practice.”
“…… Everyone says the same thing……”
Elsa felt as if someone had said that to her before. It was impossible for her to do something like that but everyone insisted that this was more important.
“What will you do if Duke Inglacia abandons you because of this!?”
“I’ll probably just go back to how I used to be……”
Elsa said in a fed up way and with that in mind it was clear that she felt gloomy at the thought of her relationship with him would disappear.
Nonetheless, Elsa stood up. For once she still had time to prepare for the academic conference and it wasn’t like she had to prepare for it straight away.
She thought, however, that it was best to strongly refuse this time.
She was thrown into the bath before she changed. The maids and servants were rinsing and washing her body and hair for over an hour.
Toner was applied on her face while they were drying her hair. She felt much better than she did in her normal university lifestyle but it seemed that it still wasn’t enough.
After that she got dressed. She knew that her mother, Palmyra and Ashia had picked out her dress for today. They couldn’t rely on her to pick her own dress. No, it was also troublesome to ask her. The dress this time was crimson. That reminded her, when Luca had picked out her dress some time ago, he had picked a red dress.
“Elsa-sama’s hair and eye colours are soft so you suit anything you wear.”
A single maid said while laughing. Elsa smiled wryly and said, “Just say the dress isn’t fashionable.”
“But I don’t mean it like that.”
The maid said while tilting her head and fastening the hook at the back of the dress. It was a slightly painful. It was too bad that there was still room left around her chest area.
There was no room for a panier underneath this red dress and the lower part was different from the top. The upper half was a bustier type with no shoulder straps nor sleeves. Elsa, however, was wearing a sleeved bolero on top of the dress so she didn’t care much.
“Okay, please sit down so we can do your hair and makeup.”
They sat her down in front of a three-sided mirror.
“I’m already tired though.”
“No. Ah, you don’t need your spectacles today either.”
She didn’t feel like arguing anymore.
Her makeup was applied lighter than when she attended the evening parties. Her hair was fully done up and the silver hair ornament that Teresa had given her was clipped on her hair. It wasn’t the one that she had received 10 years ago, but a different one.
Elsa had expended a lot of energy preparing for the dinner party and the main event hadn’t even started yet. Just like Ashia had said, it was the perfect time to start preparing. How much time did she spend preparing for the party? The young ladies were amazing.
“Elsa, you look beautiful.”
Elsa had a feeling that Palmyra, who was laughing inside of the carriage, had praised her but she was already too exhausted. Dino smiled wryly at the sight of his daughter.
“Elsa, don’t make that face. Oh look, we’re already here.”
It wasn’t that far from the Lombordini household but they still went by carriage. They were both Dukes so it wasn’t strange for them to be residing in the same district.
“Welcome, Duke and Duchess Lombardini, Elsa-sama.”
For some reason the servant had only addressed Elsa by name but she didn’t care. She wouldn’t know how to react if they addressed her as, “Duke’s daughter”.
“Welcome, please follow me.”
The person who gave them a warm welcome was the former head, Duke Giotto. The lady of the house was the one who would normally give this type of warm greeting, but the current Duke Inglacia didn’t have a wife. The wife of the former duke was……
“She is strategizing with my son.”
She could only reply with, “Hah”.
“Elsa-san, you look especially lovely today. You’re wasted on our son.”
“…… Thank you. No, I’m the one who is wasted on him……”
“What are you saying? If there wasn’t someone as well-spoken as you they wouldn’t be able to get my son.”
Elsa couldn’t refute it. She couldn’t say that it wasn’t like that because she also thought so too. She felt that a normal woman who would wait for men to do everything for them, wouldn’t get along well with Luca because Luca wouldn’t even notice them.
Luca and Lorena were already waiting in the dining hall. Did Luca look tired because of Lorena’s 『Strategic meeting』? He met Elsa’s eyes and smiled wryly.
Seating arrangements are important at a dinner party. The guests sat in the place of honour and the host’s sat on the other side. That hadn’t changed but the seating arrangements were a bit confusing this time.
Duke Lombardini, Dino was the representative of the guests and along with his wife and daughter, they made three people. There were also three hosts with Luca as their representative. If they were seated how they were supposed to be, Dino would be in the seat of honour, followed by Palmyra, Elsa, and so on. The host side would be Luca, Giotto and then Lorena.
Today, however, they weren’t eating out. Elsa and Luca were the main people of this event, so the seating arrangements weren’t amusing at all. It was a round table.
Therefore, Elsa was currently sitting with Luca on her left. On her right was her mother, Palmyra. She felt like she was being tortured a little.
It was like the time with her older sister except the topic this time was, “When did it start?” Elsa was asked this question, but she exercised her right to remain silent.
She didn’t know how to answer. If it was about how they first met, then they first met in primary school. But if it’s about how they first started their deal before the social season, then she would have to begin with Luca’s, “Marry me!” It was troublesome so Elsa passed the baton onto Luca and cut her meat.
It was mainly the mothers who talked when they were in such places. Palmyra and Lorena who gave off different impressions from how they were, really did resemble mothers didn’t they?
“Will you continue being a professor at the university, Elsa-san?”
Lorena suddenly talked to Elsa. The question was different from before but Elsa felt as if she was implying, “even when you get married?”
“I don’t plan on quitting right now.”
It’s almost time for the new school year. If Elsa stopped working at the university then she would need to arrange for a substitute for the term. Elsa has not done such a thing.
“I think that’s fine, that’s so like you, Elsa.”
It came from her left. Elsa unintentionally looked up to see a man’s face. She could recognise his face if she looked at him from this distance.
“…… What is it?”
She got angry for some reason and kicked Luca’s foot from under the table. She met Palmyra’s eyes when she looked to her right. Palmyra winked at Elsa and chuckled. Next, she looked at her father but he once again, looked as if he was tearing up. What’s with that, argh?
After the dinner, the men usually gathered together and the woman would do the same, but Elsa was thrown out along with Luca. Well, she had expected that they would but she felt as if they were watching her from somewhere.
“I have a feeling that we’d really get married next year if things keep going the way they are.”
“…… When you see how the parents are acting…… It’s possible……”
“I’m fine but Luca, you’re a Duke, right?”
“Well, yeah but……”
She felt as if Luca was weak against pressure. No, it wasn’t like Elsa wasn’t, but she was a little worried that Luca would be pressured into buying strange things by pushy salesman.
“You really do look good in red, Elsa.”
“Really? Then that’s fine.”
Elsa didn’t have any fashion sense, so she couldn’t tell if it suited her or not. To be more accurate, she was afraid of deciding. Well, she thought it was fine since her mother and Ashia had picked it out.
“Won’t you wear something I picked out next time?”
Luca said as they were walking through the garden and Elsa stopped. Luca, who was holding onto the lamp, also stopped.
“I’ll tell you now since it’s a good opportunity.”
Elsa looked at Luca, who was slightly absent-minded, and said.
“I want you to stop treating me so kindly, it could create misunderstandings.”
Luca didn’t actually love Elsa.
“We should return soon.”
Elsa hit Luca’s arm and started walking towards the mansion.