𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟔: 𝐀𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐠𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠
When Florenci saw me, he rushed over with a beaming smile.
“Graciela-oneesama! You’re very beautiful. You look like a real princess!”
Seeing me dressed up brightly for the first time in a while, Florenci’s eyes sparkled.
I didn’t expect him to be so delighted. . . . . .
In the last few years, out of consideration for my sickbed-ridden father, I hadn’t dressed up flamboyantly.
If Florenci shows such a bright expression, I should pay more attention to my appearance.
Although Duke Mendoza’s assets were frozen, with Ga-chan’s spiderwork, I should be able to dress up.
For Florenci, I swear in my heart to also pay attention to my appearance.
“By the way, you said you’re attending a evening party today.”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“Brother-in-law Anthony, is lucky to attend with you!”
The moment Anthony’s name was mentioned, my face cringed.
Speaking of which, I hadn’t told Florenci about the cancellation of the engagement.
At my bad reaction, Florenci seemed to have sensed something right away.
He lowers the corners of his eyebrows and asks apologetically.
“Graciela-oneesama, did you fight with brother-in-law Anthony?”
“No, it’s not that. I cancelled my engagement with Anthony the other day.”
“I see. I apologize for not knowing.”
I regret not having spoken about the termination of the engagement as soon as it was decided.
Florenci, despite being only six, is surprisingly mature and discreet. He would keep important matters to heart and wouldn’t spill the beans.
It seems he didn’t want to hear more about the cancellation of the engagement with Anthony, so he shifted the conversation to a different topic.
“Ah! You’re going with Galatona today, aren’t you?”
“That’s right. You noticed well.”
Florenci and Ga-chan are good friends, to the point that they play together occasionally.
He said that he noticed by chance because Galatona was exactly where his gaze landed.
“Galatona, please take good care of Graciela-oneesama.”
As if to agree, Ga-chan saluted while Nyaing “Nyaa!”.
Its eyes seemed to be ablaze with a sense of mission.
“Graciela-oneesama, please enjoy tonight.”
“Yes, thank you.”
When I stroked Florenci’s head, he squinted his eyes in pleasure.
He said he was going to sleep, so I left a goodnight kiss on his cheek.
Receiving Florenci’s send-off, I headed towards the palace where the evening party was being held.
The vicinity of the venue was congested with carriages. Today, due to the numerous invited guests, the city was abuzz more than usual.
Fortunately, the higher nobility were guided through special lanes, making the journey to the palace a breeze.
Upon seeing the splendid palace, I couldn’t help but let out a deep, long sigh.
Tonight’s gathering would have been one I attended with Anthony, if we had not broken off our engagement.
Naturally, he was nowhere to be seen in our usual spot. I would have liked to apologize if he had been present.
Indeed, perhaps he wanted to marry me for the wealth of the Duke Mendoza family after all.
Everyone was walking arm in arm with their companions.
The occasional glances I felt might have been due to me being alone. Having a companion at such evening parties is necessary, and anyone who’s single is deemed “with reasons”.
Perhaps those looking at me are those who have heard about the dissolution of my engagement with Anthony.
The place feels even more uncomfortable than I imagined, akin to sitting on a bed of needles.
Maybe I should spend some time in the garden before heading to the great hall.
As I was thinking this, I was approached from behind.
“Oh, isn’t it Graciela?”
The cloyingly sweet, shrill voice was all too familiar.
It must be my cousin, Sonia.
She’s someone I would rather avoid, but ignoring her would be a bad idea.
With a sigh, I turned around and was left in shock.
Sonia was arm in arm with Anthony, looking at me with a triumphant expression.
On the other hand, Anthony seemed awkward, avoiding eye contact by turning his face away.
I knew Anthony was interested in Sonia, but this change was too sudden. I am utterly astounded.
Bringing another woman less than a day after breaking off our engagement will surely tarnish Anthony’s reputation.
Sonia’s impression won’t be good either.
As I was thinking this, an idea popped into my mind.
I should take advantage of their folly.
With my eyes full of sorrow, I addressed Anthony.
I felt like the heroine of a tragedy.
“Oh, Anthony. You’re attending with Sonia today, I see.”
“A-ah, well. . .yes. . . . . .”
To an onlooker, it would seem like Anthony was cheating with Sonia, which led to our engagement being broken off.
Sonia, seeing my sorrowful demeanor, had a grin on her face.
“Graciela, it must be tough for you with things turning out like this, but you shouldn’t worry.”
“Yes. . . . . .Thank you, Sonia. I wish nothing but happiness for you both.”
The more I put on a brave front, the happier Sonia seems to get.
Meanwhile, Anthony wore an expression as if he didn’t belong in this place.
My act had a profound effect.
Those who had been whispering while looking at me were now casting critical glances at Anthony and Sonia.
They must have concluded that the reason for the dissolution of the engagement lies with Anthony.
All I had to do now was to wait for the gossip to naturally spread.
“Well then, take care.”
I made a gesture as if wiping away tears and left their presence.
The gaze from those around me had uniformly turned sympathetic.