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10 Butterflies in the Stomach

 TILLY could feel the curious gaze of the other customers in Velvety towards her and Kiho.

[Well, I'll ignore them as long as they don't approach us with hostility.]

Plus, she and the captain were busy lining up while looking up at the menu board. Velvety just opened but it was swarming with customers. The owner of the café was the wife of Viscount Blakely so most of the patrons were nobles, too.

If she remembered it right, the viscount's wife was a noble from a neighboring country.

[No wonder the menu is very strange from the usual food served in the Royal Capital.]

"Kiho, they have crab cake," Tilly said to the captain, then she looked up at him (literally because he was just so tall). "Would you like to get that?"

"Yeah, it sounds good," Kiho said in his usual monotonous voice. "What else would you be getting?"

The captain's face was back to being stoic. She also noticed that he was stiffer than usual. By that, she could tell that he was on his guard. It was as if he was expecting an ambush anytime and he was prepared for it.

[My poor captain.]

"I'd like to try their shrimp avocado toast," she said while looking at the array where the café's various bestsellers were displayed. "And some pastries. Their macarons look good. The cookies, too. Oh my gosh. I think I'd like to have muffins and brownies, too. But I'm worried about my tummy. I don't want to get bloated."

[It's gonna be hard to breathe because of my damned corset.]

The captain visibly relaxed while looking at her (probably) excited face. "Don't worry about it, Tilly. I don't mind even if you get some weight. Actually, I'm worried that a mere gush of wind would be enough to literally blow you away."

So, he was saying that she looked too thin to him.

The giddiness she felt made her giggle. "Oh, Captain. You're making the butterflies in my stomach ram against my tummy."

"You have butterflies in your stomach?" Kiho asked in a shocked voice. "Tilly, it's not healthy to eat butterflies. Are you okay? Should I bring you to a hospital?"

She was stunned by the captain's innocence.

When she realized that he took her words literally, she burst out laughing. Then, she couldn't stop herself from playfully hitting Kiho's chest.

The captain blinked in surprise, but he also looked amused by her reaction.

[I didn't know that Kiho has a funny side!]

But her happy mood was ruined when she heard the sudden loud buzz around them.

That was when she realized that everyone in the café was giving them strange looks. Just like how people in the streets looked at them a while ago.

She looked up at Kiho to make him feel less uncomfortable. But then, she realized that she didn't have to do anything.

The captain's gaze was fixed on her face. He seemed so focused on her that he probably didn't hear or notice that the people around them were talking about them again. But the best thing about it was Kiho's face was so bright and his eyes were sparkling.

He wasn't smiling but he looked really happy.

[Does this cinnamon roll really look like a monster to other people?]

"Kiho, stop being cute," Tilly playfully scolded him. Then, she linked her arms with his and gently pulled him to the counter because it was their turn to order. "Come on. Let's get our food for our boat ride."

His face seemed to glow even more when they walked arm by arm. "Tilly, I'll buy you all the food you want."

She laughed softly at that. "Thank you."

Kiho's innocence face was gone instantly when he faced the female staff on the counter. Suddenly, the captain returned to his usual intimidating look.

The poor girl visibly shivered in fear. She couldn't even look at Kiho's face. So she just turned to her as if she was silently asking for help.

[Chill, girl. My captain won't hurt you. He just put up his guard because he could sense your fear and that's making him really uncomfortable.]

But unfortunately, Tilly couldn't say that to the staff. "Hi. We'd like to get two sets of crab cake and shrimp avocado toast. Then, we'd also get one of all the desserts on the display cabinet." After placing their order, she motioned her hands to Kiho. "Please give the receipt to the handsome gentleman here. Thank you."

Kiho didn't say anything but he looked happy and proud that she was letting him pay for their food.

[I'm so glad to discover this side of my captain in this lifetime.]

***

TILLY was amazed that the "take-out order" from Velvety Café came with an old-style picnic box. Also, they bought tea. The café owner gave them a tea set (cups, teaspoons, saucers, and tea pot) that she put in a bigger basket.

Well, it cost them a fortune because the tea set wasn't cheap. But Kiho didn't seem to mind. In fact, he looked really happy when he paid.

Now, they were walking to the riverside to rent a boat. Unfortunately, she couldn't link her arm with his because he was carrying a basket in each of his hand. So now, she was carrying her parasol. She wanted to put the umbrella above his head but he was too tall for her to reach.

"Tilly, you can ask Damian to carry the parasol for you," Kiho told her.

Damian was walking behind them. He didn't enter the café a while ago but he stood guard outside.

"I can manage," Tilly said with a giggle. Then, she turned to Kiho and noticed that his snake-shaped golden brooch was glowing in yellowish light. She knew that it wasn't just an ordinary brooch- it was actually a communication device. "Captain, you can answer the call. It might be important."

He let out a frustrated sigh. "I told them not to contact me today..."

"It can't be helped," she comforted him. "You're the dependable captain of the great Black Serpent Knights after all."

He seemed to be pleased. "Let's stay under that tree first."

The tree he was referring to was a huge Juniper tree. It has a bench under it. Also, the tree was just a few walks away from the tent where the boat rental was.

Anyway, Tilly sat on the bench and Kiho put the picnic baskets on each of her side. Then, the captain stood a few feet away from her as he answered the call by putting the brooch on his ear. It worked like a mobile phone that was only meant to receive and make calls.

While Kiho was away, Damian stood behind her while holding the parasol above her.

"Damian, you don't have to do that," she said to the young knight while looking up at him. "The tree's shade is good enough to keep me cool."

"It's my job to protect you, Lady Prescott," Damian said in a cute, firm voice. He was talking and acting like an adult even though he was just fourteen years old. "And the captain will kick me in the butt if you get sunburn."

She laughed softly at that. Well, she knew that Kiho was the type of person who wouldn't hurt other people without any reason. But she gave in and let Damian serve her.

[It's an honor for knights to serve their master in any way.]

"Tilly, I apologize but I have to leave for a while," Kiho said apologetically as soon as he went back to her side. Instead of standing in front of her, he went down on one knee and looked up at her to meet her eyes. "My vice-captain returned earlier than expected. And unfortunately, he got into another brawl with some Blue Dragon Knights. I have to bail him out myself."

She almost laughed when she remembered Blake- the hot-tempered vice-captain of the Black Serpent Knights. In her previous life, Blake was Winter's combat teacher. Also, the vice-captain was openly hostile to her in the past because of how badly she treated Kiho.

"It's alright," Tilly told the captain. "I'll rent the boat while waiting for you. So when you return, we can take the tour right away."

"I'll be back right away," Kiho promised her. "I'll leave you in Damian's care for the meantime. Tell him to call me when anything happens."

"I will," she said. "Take care."

"Do you want to wait for me at the café instead of here?" the captain asked gently. Then, his hand moved to gently wipe the beads of sweat on her forehead. "It's cooler there."

Her Mana was naturally warm so when she was exposed to too much sun, she would feel really hot even though the weather was cold.

"I saw some of the ladies having a cold beverage in the café a while ago," he said. "I don't know what it is but maybe it will help you cool down. Do you want to try it? I'll buy you one before I go. And I'll leave my pouch to you so buy anything you want."

By "pouch," he meant the pouch of gold coins that he carried with him.

[He really wants to pamper me, huh?]

"Okay, let's do that," Tilly agreed with a smile. "Thank you for worrying about me, Kiho."

"It's my job to take care of you, Tilly," Kiho said in a voice that sounded happy. Then, he stood up and held out his hand to her. "I'll drop you off the café first before I leave."

***

[THIS tea is so-so.]

Tilly was on sitting under one of the huge umbrellas in the front porch of Velvety Café. It was full inside and since she was alone, she decided to enjoy her iced tea outside.

She was alone because Damian volunteered to go to the boat rental and reserve one in her place. The young knight insisted that she just stayed at the café when they saw the long line in the tent. It seemed like the boat riding business was a success, huh?

Anyway, it only had been almost twenty minutes since she got in the café but she already had two tall glasses of iced tea. She was very thirsty because the warmth of her body- caused by her Mana- was yet to cool down.

The iced tea wasn't that good but the coldness helping her body's temperature to return to normal.

[This is just tea that's literally has ice in it. The owner should have at least tried to tweak the flavors a bit to suit the coldness of the beverage. Should I start my own café that offers cold drinks?]

In her previous life as a modern woman, she used to have several businesses. She had a chain of restaurants and café. Also, she made a small business where she made her own jewelries and sold it online.

Although she was a successful businesswoman as Matilda Yap, her heart still yearned to be a mother so she built her own kindergarten school. From time to time, she would volunteer as a teacher and spend the day with the children.

[I really miss Winter so bad. Should I jump Kiho's bones before he leaves?]

"Lady Prescott?"

Her thoughts were cut off when a pair of nobles stood in front of her. When she looked up, she was greeted by the notorious Belington Siblings, children of a rich marquis. Lady Mara Belington and Sir Michael Belington (a Golden Tiger knight and the heir of House Belington).

The two shared the same blonde hair and blue eyes.

[Beautiful outside, rotten inside.]

If her memory served her right, the Belington Siblings were two of the nobles who loved bullying Kiho in her past life.

Tilly stood up like a proper lady that she was. Then, she greeted the Belington Siblings with a smile. But inside her heart, she was already prepared to fight.

[If they mock Kiho in my face, there's gonna be an ugly war.]

***

[NOTE: Thank you so much for the powerstones and for rating the chapters. I appreciate it. *insert crying emoji here*]