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First Dinner Together
When Ann arrived at the dining table, Allen was already there, waiting for her. This naturally caught Ann off-guard, as she was more or less ready to wait for Allen instead. On the way to the dinner, she had already thought of other possibilities. Perhaps, Allen was trying to piss her off by making her wait for so long, or through other measures?
Well, at least he wasn’t going to make her wait until she was starving.
Then, could it be the food…?
But when Ann looked at the food on the table…
OH HOLY MOLE—He’s trying to kill me by starving me?!
She couldn’t believe what she was seeing. There was only two small plates of food, located in front of Allen and one across him. Ann never saw what kind of food it was, but it looked so little…Little did she know that the food on the table was toasted crostini with herb-infused cream cheese spread on it. It was the amuse-bouche of the full course meal.
Ann never had a proper full course meal before, so she never knew that after this, there should be more food coming. Seeing the small plate and little food on it, Ann’s mood immediately soured.
I’m sure of it. He’s going to make me angry and starving.
Alas, she didn’t know that his intention was indeed to make her die, but due to the lack of table manner that she herself wasn’t aware of…And when she realized later what kind of mean it was supposed to be, that’s going to be too late…
“What are you doing? Sit,” Allen said as he raised his eyebrows and tapped on the desk.
“That’s exactly what I’m going to do!” Ann said, trying to hide the fact that she was just lost in her thoughts.
Allen didn’t answer, but he still raised his eyebrow, shooting Ann a questioning look. Ann noticed this and only harrumphed.
“Now that I’m here, let’s just eat,” Ann said after clearing her throat.
“Mm,” Allen began to eat with the right table manner as he kept his eyes on Ann…who didn’t know what she was doing, for as long as she got to eat.
Due to her hunger and anger, Ann’s eating speed was quite fast and the way she ate was rough. It was totally unladylike. Allen frowned a bit, but he believed it was just the beginning.
She might be able to keep up the pretense in the beginning, but slowly, it will crumble.
When the two finished eating, Ann angrily used the hand towel to tidy her mouth and was about to stomp in anger when she noticed the maids removing the initial bowls just to take out two bowls of soup.
Ann widened her eyes a bit in surprise.
Wait, so that food earlier isn’t the only thing we will be eating?
Ann didn’t hide her dumbfounded look upon seeing the tasty-looking warm bowl of soup. If she didn’t close her mouth, she would be drooling by now.
Luckily, Ann’s way of eating the soup could be said as good enough in Allen’s eyes. This made Allen believe that Ann was only pretending earlier when she was eating the amuse-bouche.
Ann’s mood took the turn for the better after having her stomach more or less filled. The soup was also warm and tasty, so she swallowed all the protests that she was going to say.
…But then, the real problem had just begun.
The maids removed the empty bowls of soup only to give yet another food in place of them. This was the time for the appetizer: fried ravioli with marinara sauce. Ann was stunned seeing that there was yet another food, but she believed this would be the snack to end everything. She was the type of person that would eat at most three different kinds of food in one go. But at times, she had also ordered only a soup and persevered with it.
She was no longer hungry, but there was quite some empty spots in her stomach that could be filled with food, so she happily ate them without caring about anything. Allen frowned again.
How come this girl’s table manner is so fluctuative? Bad, good, bad…?
The maids then came and changed the dishes again. By this time, Ann wasn’t so surprised anymore. When she saw the provided food this time was salad, she was very sure that this would be the end of everything. So, she happily ate the fresh salad.
Aside from Ann’s manner in eating, Allen also observed how her gesture during drinking wasn’t quite right, and that was the only stable thing from the beginning up until now. Allen was so patient that he calmly noted everything in his head.
After eating the salad, Ann immediately used the hand towel to wipe her mouth as she suddenly stood up.
“Toilet?” Allen asked in surprise.
“Eh? Isn’t it over?” Ann cluelessly asked.
Allen’s face turned weird as he looked in disbelief at Ann.
“Arlea, the main course. Now,” Allen shortly said.
“Huh, main course…?”
To answer Ann’s words of question was the appearance of a thick slice of roasted tender, complete with carrots and potatoes.
Ann’s stomach churned a bit.
She wasn’t sure she could actually stomach everything, and she kinda regretted why she emptied everything up so far. The main course was this delicious-looking steak!
How could one say ‘no’ to such a feast?
Whatever, she would take her sweet time to finish everything! She wasn’t someone who could let the food go to waste after all.
Thus, with great difficulty, Ann started to eat the steak. Since she wasn’t used to eating steak, she had troubles in how to cut them easily. Hence, she grabbed the fork and knife as if she wanted to kill someone, stabbing the steak roughly with her fork while her right hand ferociously grinded on the steak.
Allen was focused on eating his food at first until he finished rather quickly. When he turned to look at how Arlea was doing, Allen was dumbfounded that he didn’t even remember to hide his surprise. Although his jaw didn’t break seeing Ann like this, his eyes widened.
It was unknown why, but though Allen at first wanted to scold Ann for such a bad method of eating steak, he found this side of Ann cute, so he rested his chin on his hand and continued to look at Ann’s journey to devouring everything on her plate.
The way she tried to cut the steak…how focused and earnest she was in eating…There was no hint of pretense, though it was rather out of character for the Arlea he had known so far.
Yes, Ann was indeed too focused on eating that she didn’t even notice Allen’s stare at her. Beside, it wasn’t such an intense one, it was an amused stare.
By the time Ann finished eating her steak, she finally put her weapons—the fork and the knife—on the plate and slightly whisked her forehead as if she had just done such an arduous task.
Allen snapped out of his daze when he saw this and he still couldn’t overcome his surprise from witnessing this kind of Arlea.
However, Allen didn’t avert his gaze on time.
“…What is it?” Ann finally noticed Allen’s gaze at her, and so she asked.
“Your table manner is bad,” Allen bluntly said, not daring to admit that he was amused by her.
“…Well, I’m eating at home, so it’s fine, right?” Ann tried to hint that she wasn’t doing her best try at table manner, so it would be alright.
“It seems like you did your best, though. So, it’s troublesome,” Allen denied Arlea’s words.
“…Ugh.” Can’t deny that. Seems like even eating at home has to adhere to some rules in this world?
“Has your table manner been this bad? I didn’t remember it like that,” Allen questioned. He was still suspicious of Ann faking it for something.
“That, uh…Anyway, dinner’s done, so I’m heading back. Thanks for the meal,” Ann dodged the topic as she stood up and was about to turn around when she saw a maid putting down another plate of food…It was dessert time.
“Uggh…,” Ann could feel her full stomach crying by now.
“Did you even forget about dessert? Eat,” Allen said.
“Uhm…,” Ann raised her right hand slowly as her left hand was covering her mouth. Eating any more than this would cause her to vomit…most likely.
“Can I be excused already?” Ann sincerely thought that tears would fall from her eyes if the answer was a ‘no’.
“Spill it out then,” Allen answered.
“Why you’re pretending to not have table manner,” Allen curtly said.
“…Look, I don’t know what you’re saying…”
“If you say so, then I’ll have you relearn table manner,” Allen challenged.
“If not, sit down and eat the dessert with a good table manner,” Allen gave another option.
“…Okay, fine. Fine, I’ll study table manner whatsoever! So, can I go back to my room now?” Ann thought that just learning how to adjust her eating habit would be easy like a piece of a cake. She was also intrigued to learn more of this world and wanted to challenge herself a bit. Most importantly, she was eager to skip the dessert this time to give some time for the food in her stomach to be digested. She never thought that it would be the cause of her complaints in the upcoming days…
Allen frowned in surprise at Ann’s quick agreement, but he didn’t say anything as he was also unsure about Ann. When she was eating steak before, it was clear how she earnestly tried to eat and she didn’t seem to be faking it. But if she didn’t fake it, what could be the reason behind her sudden decline in table mannerism?
That could be further investigated in her table manner lessons, then.
There was also another possibility that might explain many things, including her sudden personality change.
Did she hit her head that bad?
Allen began to have some doubts in his mind upon thinking about the differences between the Arlea before and the way she was right now.
When Allen returned to his study room, he arranged the tutor and lessons for Ann. Of course, he arranged a tutor that he could trust so that the tutor could also monitor Ann and evaluate her behavior.
Once it was done, he decided to brief Ann in person. This briefing in person was also done to see if Ann actually changed her mind after she realized that Allen was serious and quick about such matter. So, Allen went towards Ann’s living room that night…Not knowing that it would be such an unforgettable night for him…Despite him wanting to forget.
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