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31 Nasty Rumor

 "TILLY, have you taken your medicine?"

"Uh-huh," Tilly answered while fixing Kiho's tie. They were currently in her room because a while ago, he came to check if she drank her medicine. When she noticed that his tie wasn't tied properly, she fixed it for him. "Did you get your lunch box?"

"Yes," Kiho said. "Thank you for preparing the menu for my everyday lunch."

She smiled at him. "You're welcome."

It had been a week since she moved into Kiho's residence.

Ever since then, she had been taking bridal lessons every single day. Those lessons included stitching, dancing, flower arrangement, and organizing tea parties. Since she was already a high-ranking noble who received education since childhood, she didn't need to take etiquette classes.

During her free time, she would design jewelries for her upcoming store. And about the interior for the store itself...

"Kiho, do you have a scheduled plan for you next day-off?" Tilly asked after she was done fixing the captain's tie.

Kiho thanked her before he answered her question. "No. Do you want to go somewhere?"

"Not really. I'd like to ask for your help," she said. "I'm going to open up a new jewelry store soon. I know that you're busy but if you have spare time, would like help me design the store? I already hired an architect but I would need help for interior designing. And if you know a place where we can buy high-quality materials, I can also use some suggestions."

His eyes sparkled in delight. "Of course, I'd love to help. I know a thing or two about interior designing."

She knew that very well. In her past life, Kiho would redecorate some of the extra rooms in their mansion whenever he had free time. He would even create furniture if he couldn't find a particular design that he was looking for.

Before, she thought his love for interior designing and furniture making were useless skills. But now, she'd love to work with him and that talent of his.

"Great," she said with a smile. "Then, should we also visit the building on your day-off? The architect was almost done with the blueprint." It was the same architect who designed most of her father's stores. He modeled her new building from the previous store that their family built so he finished up with the design pretty fast. "I heard that they will start the construction tomorrow."

The construction of buildings in this world was faster compared to the construction in the modern world. If the modern world used equipments to build, in this empire, they used magic. It was pretty amazing to watch.

"Then, let's go out on my day-off," Kiho said, his usual monotonous voice sounding a little bit livelier now. "We can also go shopping if you want."

She smiled and nodded at his suggestion. "Sure, let's do that."

Last week, they shopped clothes and toys for Flint and Julian. They sent the children's stuff to the Fire Wielder Guild. Would it be weird if she bought clothes for the kids again?

Let's write them a letter first.

"Ah, right," the captain said as if he remembered something. "Are you going to the royal palace later?"

She almost scowled at the reminder.

[Right, Princess Nia sent me another invitation for a tea party a few days ago.]

But this time, she wasn't the only person invited. The tea party was for the young ladies from the houses belonging to the Royal Faction.

"Yes, I'll be attending the Her Royal Highness's tea party," she said. "Why do you ask?"

"Can I pick you up after the party?" he asked and for some reason, he looked excited. "I'd be going to the royal palace to report to His Majesty later. I was thinking that it would be nice if we go home together."

"Oh, I like that," she said with a smile. "I'll send you a message once the tea party starts to wrap-up."

"Understood.

"Wait," she said, then made him sit on the bed. "I'll show you the necklace I'll wear later. See if it looks good on me."

"I'm not an expert on that field but I'll try to give a sensible remark."

She just laughed at that. "Don't look," she told him while she was walking towards the vanity.

Kiho, as cute as he was, closed his eyes.

[Gosh, he's so adorable!]

She sat in front of the mirror and quickly put on the two necklaces that she prepared last night. First, she wore the dangling necklace that had a tear-shaped pendant. Then, she wore a short pearl necklace- a dainty chain with three tiny pearls- like a choker.

After she was done, she stood in front of Kiho.

"Baby, you may open your eyes now," she told him. When he opened her eyes, she pointed at her neck. "How do these necklaces look on me?"

"Your neck is pretty," Kiho said out of the blue while looking intently at her neck.

That made her blush.

"Baby, focus on my necklaces," she lightly complained.

"They look pretty," he said, then he looked up at her face with shining eyes. "Baby, are those the necklaces I got for you from Pillas?"

"I'm glad you noticed," she said while gently touching the pearls. "I kind of changed them a bit to look like this. The pendants I chose are smaller compared to the jewelries I used to wear. Are they noticeable?"

"The tiny pendants made them look dainty," the captain said. "And your neck is pretty so anything you wear on them will look pretty as well."

She couldn't help but smile at that. "Thank you, baby," she said. Then, she sat on his lap and wrapped her arms around his neck. After that, she gave him a kiss on the cheek. "Thank you also for the necklaces. They inspired me to make my new collection."

"You're welcome, baby. I'm glad to be of help," he said, then he gazed down at her neck with hungry eyes while his hand was sliding up and down her waist. "May I...?"

Tilly giggled because she knew what he wanted to do. "Go ahead."

And Kiho started to give her open mouth kisses on the neck.

[Good morning to me.]

***

AFTER Kiho's work, he went straight to Amilo's. It was a small jewelry store owned by the empire's greatest jewelry maker. But not everyone knew that because Amilo's was a rundown shop in the poor district of the empire. And the jewelries they sold were mostly cheap and fake.

But Amilo, the owner, was a good friend of his. He once saw the old man turn a rock into a fine ring. That was why Amilo was the first person he thought when he got the pearl.

And he didn't regret it.

"This looks great, Amilo," Kiho said genuinely while looking at the pearl ring inside the small box he was holding. He couldn't believe that the "pearl cube" that he found was now turned into a smooth and round pearl. "As expected of you and your skills."

Amilo, a grumpy old man who hated compliments, just scoffed at him. Gray hair, dark brown eyes, good built. He could tell that the jewelry maker used to be a dashing man in his younger years. "I used the finest materials that suit the pearl you brought. You better compensate me properly."

"Of course," he said while putting the small box in the inner pocket of his jacket. Then, he lifted the medium-sized chest of gold that he brought and put it on the table. "Would this be enough, Mr. Amilo?"

The old man gave him a strange look. "You're the only fool in this empire who would pay that much for a sham like me."

"I know that you're the real deal," he said. And he was aware that Amilo had a poor living condition because he would donate his earnings to an orphanage every month. He knew that Amilo would put his money to good use. "And the payment I'm giving you couldn't be enough to show my gratitude. Thank you for making a beautiful ring for my beloved."

"Is "Lady Prescott" the beloved you're talking about?"

"Yes," he said almost right away. "Have you heard about my lovely fiancée?"

The old man hesitated before he finally spoke. "I heard a nasty rumor about your fiancée."

His forehead knotted in confusion. The coldness he felt told him right away that he wouldn't like what he would hear. But still, he needed to know. "What rumor?"

"Apparently, Lady Prescott is having a sexual affair with Captain Denver."

When Kiho was angry, he wouldn't scream or get violent.

He would simply freeze his surroundings- sometimes on purpose, but often not.

[Just like now.]

The anger he felt materialized in the form of a thin layer of ice that covered the whole store in an alarming speed.

"Hey!" the old jewelry maker complained. "Don't freeze up my shop!"

"Who?" he asked in a voice colder than his ice. "Who said that gibberish?"

Amilo gulped, fear cracking his usual grumpy face. "W-What are you going to do if I tell you?"

"I'll cut their throat, of course," Kiho said menacingly. "I'll cut their throat so they couldn't speak gibberish against my Tilly again."

***

"THE rumor has already spread in the whole empire, hasn't it?"

"My friends from another household were talking about it last night."

"Do you think Lady Prescott is really having an affair with Captain Denver?"

"Well, if I were the madam, I would cheat on Captain Kiho as well! I mean, Captain Kiho is a commoner with filthy blood. His good looks will fade when he gets old. If he loses the only nice thing about him, then what would be left of him?"

"Ah, that's right. If he doesn't pay a huge amount of money, I wouldn't be working for a commoner like him."

Tilly had enough listening to that bullshit.

But to be honest, she intentionally went to the dirty kitchen in secret because she knew that the two "rats" would be there. In her past life, she remembered that two maids from Kiho's residence would talk shit about the captain. These two women would also spread rumors that would hurt Kiho's reputation.

[Sorry, girls, but I'll f*ck you up this time.]

When she noticed that the two maids were missing, she knew right away that they would be hiding in the dirty kitchen to talk shit about Kiho. That was why she intentionally asked Louisa, the head maid, to come with her to the dirty kitchen in pretense of looking for something in the cupboard.

As soon as they got there, the two rats were already talking. Louisa wanted to stop them but she told head maid to wait because she wanted to listen.

[Gosh, where did the rumor about me and Captain Denver come from?]

"That sounds interesting," Tilly said when she finally announced herself to the rats. "Care to share the rumor with me?"

As expected, the maids looked shocked when they saw her.

"How dare you speak ill of the master of the house with your filthy mouth?" Louisa sternly scolded the maids. In her past life, she remembered that the head maid was one of the few servants who genuinely respected Kiho. In fact, Louisa never hesitated to humiliate her whenever she was acting like a bitch in the past. "Do you want to die?"

The two rats immediately dropped down to their knees. They even bowed so low that their foreheads touched the floor. "Please forgive us, Lady Prescott!"

"Not even god could save you from my wrath," Tilly said coldly. She was so angry that her chest felt warm again. To be honest, she was afraid that she might faint again. But she couldn't control her anger. They didn't only insult her by assuming that she was cheating on Kiho with Captain Denver. They also insulted her fiancé, the master that they were supposed to be serving. "Before I kick you out, tell me everything you heard about that nasty rumor, you rats."

***

NIA was surprised when the candle inside the hour glass suddenly lit up in red flame. It was placed on her table so she could keep an eye on it while she was working. And finally, after a long time, what she had been waiting for had come.

Red was the coolest flame and the one that signified the beginning of the "process."

[She's really angry, huh?]

"Congratulations, Your Royal Highness," Lahara, who was standing beside her, said while bowing to her. "Spreading that nasty rumor seems to be effective."

Nia smiled while looking at the lovely flame. "Lady Prescott really has a bad temper."

***

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