Chapter 97 – Flirting in moderation
It was the day of the departure for our trip.
Because the route passes through steep mountainous areas, it would take way too long to get there by carriage, so we’ll travel by train instead.
The journey would take us roughly three days by carriage, but the train will take less than a day to get there.
“If you rode on my back, we’d be there in an hour.” Lady Vanette made a very valid statement.
“I have never traveled by train, so I’m looking forward to it.” Michael replied.
“If you say so, Ma…” Lady Vanette said.
It was cute that lady Vanette couldn’t be pushy when seeing Michael being happy.
“Seeing that stupid couple really clears my head and helps me calm down…” His highness muttered.
His highness and my two guards were all staring at Michael and lady Vanette with cold eyes.
As for me, I just smiled wryly as I waited for the train’s arrival.
Michael and lady Vanette were receiving warm gazes form onlookers though. A handsome man and a beautiful woman being openly flirtatious surely attracted a lot of attention. Especially with how much of a fuss Michael raised as he hugged lady Vanette.
I took a few steps back, keeping a distance from them, trying to not make it obvious that I was their acquaintance.
His highness was probably feeling the same way.
“Ah! Lady Nogger!” Suddenly, I heard a loud voice.
My two guards immediately entered alert mode at that.
“As expected! It is lady Nogger!” The person who was waving and loudly shouting that, was the daughter of earl Aino.
She came closer to me, glanced at his highness, then grabbed my hand, “I’m so happy to meet you in a place like this!”
I gave her a wry smile, “I’m happy to see you too. Are you also traveling?”
“I’m going to a villa! It’s near the hotel you bought last time!” She exclaimed.
She seemed innocent and cute as she jumped in place while holding my hand.
“Yulias, who is she?” His highness asked with a worried tone.
At this moment, the girl let go of my hand and gave his highness an elegant ladylike bow, “My name is Michelle. I am the eldest daughter of earl Aino.”
“Oh, the daughter of earl Aino.” His highness stated.
“Do you know of me!? I’m so happy! Feel free to call me Michelle!” She gave his highness a lovely smile.
“Thanks to you, I can go on this trip with Yulias. I’m grateful for that.” His highness was smiling, but his grim was twitching a bit.
“I’m really happy that I could help you, your highness!” She exclaimed loudly with sparkling eyes.
His highness tried making eye contact with me, but without letting go of his smile, so as to maintain politeness.
And Michelle seems to really want to get along with his highness…
“Oh, right! If you’re okay with it, would you like to go together on the train up until we reach our destination?” Michelle asked us.
At her words, Michael and lady Vanette looked clearly displeased.
“I’m sorry, but we already prepared a private room, and we’ll be traveling while working. We’ll be handling some confidential information too, so I’ll have to reject your offer.” His highness started clearly.
In response to his definite refusal, Michelle grabbed the hem of her skirt and did a curtsy with a business smile, “I suppose it can’t be helped then. I apologize for taking your time.
“If you will excuse me then, the train should be coming soon, so I must take my leave now. It was a pleasure.” then, she turned around and walked away.
As we saw her leave, Michael put his arm around his highness’ shoulder, “Hey, brother, do you really have work to do? Do you need help?”
“Don’t be silly. I’m not bringing work to a vacation. I’m not Yulias.” His highness instantly replied.
At those words, everyone, including the escorts, turned their gazes towards me.
“I have finished taking care of the urgent matters.” I told them.
Nobody seemed to trust my words though…
“You’re bringing things with you regardless of them being urgent or not, aren’t you?” His highness asked.
Those words took my breath away.
In response to my reaction, everyone’s expression seemed to say, ‘I knew it’ even if they didn’t voice that out.
“My goal for this trip is to let Yulias have a good rest.” His highness stated.
Hearing his words, my two guards put their hands on their chest and bowed down to his highness, as if they were swearing loyalty to his cause, “We’ll help you.”
They seem to be in really good terms with his highness…
“Look, even your escorts are worried about you. Take it easy and relax on this trip, okay?” His highness told me.
But even if he says that, the purpose of this trip is to confirm the financial situation of the hotel…
“Hey, brother! Don’t be unreasonable! If the young lady does nothing and relaxes, she’ll surely collapse from stress! Tell her to just slow down a bit instead!” Michael exclaimed.
My guards seemed to be a bit unsure about this, but his highness nodded to Michael’s statement, “I guess you’re right. Just like how a shark can’t breathe if it stops swimming, Yulias might really collapse if she can’t work.”
Is his highness aware that he is saying those words with a straight face…?
“I won’t collapse even if I don’t work.” I told them with an annoyed expression.
What do they even think I am?
However, nobody seemed to believe my statement…
And at this moment, the train arrived, so everyone boarded the train without even replying to my words.
It goes without saying that I was saddened by how little trust they had on me.
The train trip was comfortable.
Just as his highness said, we were using a wagon that was of exclusive use for the royal family.
This wagon was designed to be able to hold a meeting, and it even had a bed for napping, and a simple shower room in case you needed it.
“Wow! It’s bigger than my room!” Michael stated as soon as we entered it.
“Do you want to live in a large room too, Ma?” Lady Vanette calmly asked.
Michael smiled at that, “Not really, I wouldn’t feel comfortable in a large place, and since I’m going to live in your house soon, Grandma, I prefer it to be small, so as to be able to flirt as much as I want.”
Lady Vanette blushed at that. It was cute, but seeing them flirt in front of me was a bit annoying.
The two escorts immediately left after dropping their luggage. They said they would guard us by staying on the space in-between wagons.
I suspect they decided on that because they didn’t want to see Michael and lady Vanette flirting throughout the whole trip.
His highness laid sideways on the sofa and started reading Mathilda’s new novel. It was the third volume of prophetic book series called, ‘My heart is pounding, even if I become a noble, I will still do my best!’ it was the sequel to the second volume, ‘My beloved one doesn’t notice’, where the prince tries his best to get the villainess to fall in love with him.
It feels strange to see his highness reading a book aimed at commoner girls.
With some work documents in my hand, I was about to sit down on a chair next to his highness, but then his highness’ gaze met with mine.
“If you want to sit, I’ll make room for you.” As his highness said that, he properly sat down on the sofa, so I sat right next to him.
Then, as if he was waiting for it, his highness laid on the sofa again, this time putting his head on my lap.
I believe this is commonly referred to as a lap pillow.
“Ah, Rud! You’re cheating! I want Grandma to sleep on my knees too!” Michael exclaimed.
“Shut up. You’re flirting all the time so leave me be.” His highness replied, then went back to reading the book.
I didn’t allow this lap pillow, but I now have an urge to start stroking his highness’ hair, so I wish he could stop this.
“Eeh? In that case, we should just go to bed already?” Michael stated.
With those words, his highness dropped the book he was reading, which ended up falling on face.
As for lady Vanette, she instantly transformed into an old woman.
“Don’t say anything stupid!” She exclaimed.
“Eeh? I was just going to take a nap!” Michael said that, but he was pouting in dissatisfaction.
Ignoring him, I decided to focus on his highness, who might be in pain after dropping the book on his face, “Are you alright?” I asked.
Making use of this situation, I decided to start stroking his highness hair, to show how ‘worried’ I was about him.
His highness looked up at me with a troubled expression as I started doing that though.
“Do you dislike it?” I asked him.
“Not really, but…” His highness muttered.
Since he didn’t dislike it, I kept on stroking his hair.
At the same time, his highness was getting red, so he hid his face behind the book.
“Ah, Rud! You’re still flirting! That’s it! We should really go to bed!” Michael exclaimed.
“Michael, stop messing around! You’re not allowed to enter the bedroom!” His highness shouted from behind the book.
“Tsk.” Michael openly sulked.
Meanwhile, lady Vanette served us some herbal tea while in her old lady form, “It’s alright. Calm down and have some tea.” She told Michael.
Michael sat down on a chair, and instantly drank a whole cup of lady Vanette’s tea.
“Would you like a second helping?” She asked.
“Yes!” Michael happily offered her the empty cup.
Seeing the innocent exchange between those two made me smile.
Also, his highness’ hair is really smooth and pleasant to the touch. That, paired together with the train’s sway, is now making me sleepy.
“I’m looking forward to seeing Grandma in a swimsuit. What are you going to wear?” Michael asked.
“Me? I’ll wear whatever it is that the young lady chose.” Lady Vanette replied.
MIchael looked at me, “What kind of swimsuit?”
In response to his question, I took out a few swimsuit designs from my documents and handed them to Michael, “I wasn’t able to make all of them, but I was able to make some of the designs.”
Michael started becoming paler and paler as he looked at the designs.
Is he getting sick from focusing on the paper while being on a moving vehicle?
Though he doesn’t need to give me such an intimidating glare…
“Young lady, what’s the difference between this and underwear.” Michael asked me.
“Material.” I instantly replied.
At this moment, while Michael held his head with his hands, his highness jumped up from the sofa, then started looking at the designs scattered in front of Michael, “Denied.” He muttered.
I tilted my head to his highness’ words.
His highness then presented one of the designs to me, “It’s about you. You’re going to wear this together with lady Vanette, right?”
“Yes, of course.” I replied.
“No way.” His highness stated.
He had complained about the underwear models before, but now he is complaining about the swimsuit too?
“The cloth is made from a thick material that doesn’t become see-through even when wet, you know?” I told him.
“E-even then, I want you to understand that a man would not want other men to see their precious person exposing herself this much.” His highness told me.
He told me the same thing before, but this is a swimsuit. It’s important to prevent drowning.
Besides, men only wear a pair of pants when swimming anyways!
“Are you telling me women should wear clothes while men swim shirtless? Wouldn’t that be bad if one of us suddenly started drowning? Besides, it’s a material that is more opaque than bed clothes!” I replied.
I certainly feel like this is safer than wearing a shirt that will become transparent just from getting wet.
“Also, the hotel has a private beach that only guests may use, so even if we don’t do any photo shooting, there should be no problems in me and lady Vanette playing on the sea!” I told his highness.
Truth be told, I was looking forward to this part of the trip too, as I never swam on the sea before.
His highness stayed silent for a while, pondering about my words… Eventually, he muttered, “Private beach…”
It felt like he was about to give in. I just needed to give him one more small push.
“Actually, I can’t swim, so I would be happy if you could teach me, your highness.” I told him.
His highness seemed to be surprised, “You can’t swim?”
“It’s a bit embarrassing, but yes… So, could you please teach me how to swim safely?” I asked him.
“… Understood.” His highness approved. Seems like I finally won this battle.
“Why did you give up, Rud!?” Michael exclaimed with visible dissatisfaction.
“It’s dangerous to not know how to swim. You’ll never know if a time comes when it is necessary. That’s the reason.
“So, even if it means she’ll be using that swimsuit, I have to teach Yulias how to swim.” His highness explained with a strong sense of mission.
Michael sighed at that, then turned to lady Vanette, “Can you swim, Grandma?”
“I’ve never swam, but I cannot drown, as I can just fly out of the sea if needed.
“Besides, if I go back to my dragon form, I should be able to move through the water to some extent.” Lady Vanette replied.
Michael was openly disappointed at these words.
“What’s wrong? Would you prefer if I couldn’t swim?” Lady Vanette asked him.
“That’s not it! I just wanted to be able to teach you something, Grandma!” Michael exclaimed.
Lady Vanette gently stroke Michael’s head with a loving expression, “Perhaps you can try teaching me how to swim in my younger humanoid form?”
Lady Vanette was smiling, but she seemed to be stroking his head with quite a bit of strength.
However, Michael seemed to be actually enjoying it, “It hu-hu-hu-hu-hu-hu-hurts. Do it more…”
I tried to not look at it as he enjoyed this weird thing.
Once we arrived at the town where the hotel was located at, we decided to rent a carriage.
“Where are you going?” The carriage’s coachman asked.
After I told him the name of the hotel and its location, the coachman openly wrinkled his eyebrows, “So you’re going to Hotel Charlotte…” he muttered.
I tilted my head to this reaction, “Is there a problem?” I asked, without letting my anxiety show in my face.
“No, it’s just… That hotel is famous in these parts.” The coachman forcefully changed his pitying expression to a smile, “You’ll have a fun trip.”
It didn’t seem like he thought the trip would be fun at all. He genuinely seemed to be pitying us.
Right now, I was feeling an indescribable anxiety swirl inside me.