Chapter 21 – Gardens and fated encounters
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It was at the peak of excitement and the band starts playing more songs with fast-paced tempo. Janet was happily dancing with her beloved fiancé. Men approach the women they fancy to invite them for a dance. Ruby, Cecile and I were left to ourselves.

Ruby holds a glass of wine in her hands, and suggests a more quiet place we could hang out and chat. She points at one of the terraces in the far left with an open balcony. “How about there? Drinking under moonlight sounds fun.”

Terraces are a big NO. Isn’t it always the case that the female lead goes to the balcony to stare at the bright moonlight and escape~ the~ suffocating~ atmosphere~~~ but “coincidentally” (always) meets the male lead?

The FL’s solemnly standing figure looks brilliantly charming under the moonlight. The FL drops her noble etiquettes because she thinks she's alone and the ML finds her adorably funny when he witnesses her other side, etc etc. Possibilities are endless.

Conclusion: It’s a danger zone.

“Hmm…” Cecile pouts, thinking over Ruby’s suggestion. “I want to eat something first. I don’t think I’ll get to eat something this luxurious in the future if I let this chance go.”

I glance at the wide table serving a range of posh food. I gulp when I see the gleaming roasted duck. Ruby agreed to Cecile’s idea, so the two look at me for my opinion. I return a determined look towards both girls.

I know the risks involved in what I’m about to do. But a woman’s got to take some risks to eat delicious food.

“Why do you look like a man heading to battlefield?” Ruby raises her brow.

“I have a mission.” I grin. “To eat good food.”

I survey the area, looking around if anyone was at the table. From a far, I see a silver-haired boy surrounded by girls from left and right, looking fed up with how popular he is. Despite putting up a smiling front, his eyes dart around looking for a mean to escape.

Otherwise, almost everyone in the table’s vicinity is busy socialising in their own cliques or dancing.

“It’s a noble’s party so we should eat with restraint, no?” I remind Cecile and Ruby.

“Yeah let’s not embarrass Janet. They’ll only look down on commoners more if we show lack of manners.” Cecile nods.

“That's all good but-” Ruby interrupts and eyes at a particular direction. I follow her line of sight and see a small girl with coral-orange hair grab a plate, eating the desserts as she pushes one cupcake after another into her mouth. She bites another piece of cake and closes her eyes with pure blissful satisfied expression.

Annnd… here comes the cliche. When I observe the surroundings once more, I realise there’s already someone totally eyeing the girl right now. Actually, hey that’s the popular silver hair boy!

The boy looks at the girl with a warm gaze, quite different from the fake “social” smile he puts on with the other girls who beg for his attention. If I may narrate his inner thoughts, it might go something along the lines of:

“Oh? That expression she makes when she eats is so cute. She’s different from other girls who are busy fighting for higher social positions in this society. She doesn’t even glance at ME who all the girls are after~”

He excuses himself from the large entourage of girls and approaches the coral haired girl. They chat for a bit and head for the empty terrace in the far left corner.

I explain to Ruby it’s probably okay for the girl because she’s a noble with high status. We decide to play safe and eat in moderation.

Crisis? Averted.
Stomach? Full.
Hotel? Trivago.

After eating to heart’s content, I had the urge to use the bathroom. (Blame my small bladder.)

But I don’t want to navigate my way alone… It’s easy to get lost in this gigantic castle.The last thing I know I’ll be wrapped into finding out the secrets of the mansion or run into some ML in a secluded corridor. I ask Ruby and Cecile to come along.

We make small talk on our way to the bathroom in Janet’s chamber.

“That steak was juicy. I’d have never tasted such expensive meat even if I saved for 3 years only eating plain potatoes!” Ruby walking in front of me cradles her belly like a pregnant lady.

“The desserts were really good too.” I add.

“Yeah no wonder that girl was shoving mouthfuls of it.” Ruby nods in agreement. “Cecile was totally eyeing the chocolate ganache but she already had two desserts. Hahahaha!”

We were half-expecting Cecile to retort, but there was only silence. When we both look back to check on Cecile, she was no longer there.

... I have a bad feeling.

After panicking a bit, we decided to retrace our steps. At one turning point, I notice an open path leading to the glass-dome botanical garden. At this, we both realise the same thing… knowing Cecile, her florist brain must have been distracted by the urge to see the flowers there.

Noooooo what are you doing Cecile?!!

Let me explain. Gardens are a big NO GO. Male lead gets tired of the party (they never enjoy parties) and looks for escape (they always run away from the scene). 7 out of 10 times, they go to the garden for a walk. Above all, it’s an ideal location for fated encounters to occur under the bright moonlight while surrounded by beautiful flowers.

“This is an emergency. We need to find Cecile right now!” I grab Ruby’s hand and run towards the garden. 

Upon reaching the glass dome, we enter through the door to see a picturesque scene of Cecile and the masked Duke engaged in a hearty conversation. The dude suddenly kneels and places a kiss on her hands. Cecile blushes, her ears tinged red.

Ahhhh too late.

Here, tonight, we’ve lost a fellow mob comrade.

Edit: Sorry for the dead trivago meme I couldn't stop myself fufufu