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“Lea, so it is really you!” Silas said with certainty this time.
Great, basically I had a chance to pretend I was someone else and dodge this difficult situation but here we are.
Ann tried her best to show a smile on her face, although she totally felt that this smile was so forced and strained!
“What brings you here, Silas?” Ann asked, really wondering why Silas would even be here in the first place…!
She was still lucky that Silas saw her during her undercover mission, and not when she was inspecting with Allen…
“I sometimes go here to sightsee. What about you? …Are you with him?” Silas asked as he looked at Allen, who remained standing next to Ann, with his arms crossed and his eyes staring dagger at Silas.
“Mmm, no—,” Ann wanted to use this chance to deny it, to save her from the hardship of having to come up with a good explanation. She even slightly turned to give a meaningful glance to Allen and Allen’s eyes clearly saw it, and yet…
“Yes,” Allen cut off Ann’s words with a firm confirmation.
Silas and Allen then looked at each other with a clearly non-friendly stare, while Ann couldn’t believe what was happening!
Rationally speaking, if Allen stayed quiet or denied it with her, they’d be saved the troubles, so why would this calm and rational man suddenly pick the troublesome option of an answer?!
“What’s your relationship to her?” Silas asked.
“That’s my line,” Allen answered.
“She’s my friend. You’re way older than us, that makes you suspicious.”
“I’m not that old,” Allen said with a hint of irritation.
“Uhm, guys, can you include me in your conversation?” Ann couldn’t stand by any longer. She snapped her fingers and stood between the two males who ignored her, who should be the main topic of the conversation.
The two males turned to look at her, so Ann cleared her throat and began talking.
“Al, meet Silas, a friend that I made from my days volunteering in the orphanage! Silas, meet Al… my fa—father’s friend,” Ann decided to come up with this story instead.
Allen stared at her after she finished introducing him, which made Ann contemplate whether or not her decision was right…
“What’s your father’s friend doing with you?”
“We’re not that far apart in age. Uhm, you see, my father is a merchant and Al comes from a well-off merchant family, too. I’ll inherit my father’s business in due time, so my father introduced me to him…,” Ann’s brain worked so hard, she hoped this story was convincing enough…
“Is that so…,” Silas seemed to accept her answer, albeit he sounded reluctant.
“Yes, yes, we’re good friends! He taught me a lot!” Ann reinforced the idea, but for some reason, it didn’t come out as good…
Allen stared dagger at her upon hearing the first sentence, while Silas stared dagger at her upon hearing the second sentence…
In this kind of situation, what would be the best solution?
Ann’s bright mind came up with one brilliant solution!!
“Anyyyywayyyy, it’s good to see you, Silas, but we’ve got other stuff we need to do, so see you soon!” Ann said as she pushed Allen to another direction, leaving Silas behind.
“Ah, hey—,” Silas’ words fell into deaf ears as Ann didn’t slow down at all, she seemed to increase her pacing instead.
“Talk to you later at the orphanage, Silas!” Ann said with a much-strained laugh before she disappeared from Silas.
She seemed to have forgotten about something in that moment, but she decided to not pay it any mind.
As for the forgotten ‘thing’…
“Oh dear, you’re not buying anything in the end?” The store owner auntie sighed in disappointment at the figure of Ann and Allen going away.
She then turned to look at the youngster left in her store, Silas.
“Are you going to buy things or not? I’m not sure why they left after seeing you, but don’t disturb that cute young couple, alright?” The auntie gave out an advice that wasn’t actually needed…
“Cute… young couple?” Silas’ mouth twitched.
“Yes, don’t you think they suit each other?”
“Don’t you think the man is too old for the woman?”
“Eh, it’s not that far away, I guess. Women tend to fall for older men anyway, right? Men mature slower than women, so it makes more sense for a woman to look for an older, mature man.”
“H-huh? Is that so?” Silas was surprised to hear the auntie’s opinion.
“Yes, yes! And don’t men love younger women, too?”
“Not really…,” Silas unconsciously replied.
“Ah, don’t tell me you have a thing for that woman earlier? You seem to be around the same age. Oh ho, I see how it is…,” the auntie laughed in confidence.
“No, I’m telling you, you’ve got it wrong!” Silas denied right away.
In his mind, the figure of his childhood sweetheart appeared again, but then Ann’s figure also appeared.
‘What’s going on with me?’ He thought.
But they have some similarities…
He shook his head.
I wonder how she’s doing right now?
Leaving Silas whose young mind was confused, Ann and Allen were now standing at a quite far away place from where they encountered Silas.
“Phew, that was so close! I didn’t expect I’d meet him here and that he’d recognize me easily… But then again, I disguised as a commoner when I saw him too, so it was easier for him to see through my commoner disguise now, I guess…,” Ann sighed in relief. She didn’t know how she got through the whole ordeal, but it was good that the ordeal had passed!
“Anyway, did you not get my signal? I was telling you to pretend like we weren’t together! That’d make the whole thing easier!” Ann nagged at Allen.
“If you did that, wouldn’t he insist on coming with you?” Allen asked in return.
“Huh, why would he?” The clueless Ann asked back.
“A woman walking around in an unfamiliar district… He’d definitely offer his company to keep you safe,” Allen explained in a calm manner.
“Huh, that actually makes sense… Right… It’d complicate things more, then… So, this is the best outcome from that sudden event?” Ann muttered.
Thankfully, she accepted his answer.
If not, he wasn’t sure how he should explain it more to her.
Based on his instinct, he felt like that man, Silas, seemed to be interested in Ann, though it wasn’t clear yet that the interest he had would grow into the like or the love that he felt right now. But he knew that man was dangerous… as a rival, that is.
Plus, Allen was a bit intimidated by the fact that Silas and Ann were of the same age. Even if Allen and Ann’s age gap wasn’t that huge, there still bound to be some generational gap.
If Silas were to develop this interest in a romantic way, realized it, and started to act on it… How should he take care of it…? Allen wondered.
The two were too preoccupied to realize that they forgot to purchase something at the store they visited when they encountered Silas…
In the end, they decided to end this dangerous undercover inspection at this and returned home for the day. They found what they wanted to look for, anyway, so it wasn’t all for naught.
It was finally the day Ann had to go to the orphanage after that unexpected meeting with Silas. She hoped Silas would just act as if nothing happened, but she was wrong.
When she arrived, Silas took her with him and questioned a lot of stuff to her regarding their unexpected meeting.
“Is what you said the other day true? He is really just your father’s friend who’s helping your family business out?” Silas asked.
“Yes, yes. Why would I lie?!” Ann felt a little bit irritated at Silas’ questioning.
“I’m telling you, I’m worried. He seems to be older than you and exudes this… wealthy aura? I don’t know how to phrase it, but he doesn’t seem like an ordinary merchant to me,” Silas said.
Eh, even if Allen was disguised like that, his aura can’t be hidden? Or this Silas has a radar against him because they’re both male capturable targets in this game?
“The thing is, I’m just afraid he’s actually taking advantage of you… like for example, you’d be married off to him by your father to help the family business?” Silas suddenly dropped a bomb.
“What?!” Ann was surprised, not because of the ridiculous idea, but because… Silas’ conjecture was almost hitting the perfect mark.
She was indeed politically married to Allen, for the sake of their families… Or at least the faction of this body’s biological father, to act as a spy? And Allen, marrying her who was the daughter of a long-standing noble, for the sake of strengthening his family’s noble standing… or was his faction already suspicious of her and the Claritianta family, thus agreeing to this, too?
Either way, this Silas didn’t seem as simple-minded as he seemed…
“Do I look like some kind of a pure girl who’d be swayed with that?!” Ann asked.
“Right, you’re not. You’re a stubborn girl who’d go with whatever you want,” Silas readily agreed, but Ann felt irritated hearing Silas’ words instead.
“The point is, don’t worry about me! I’m not a fool! And you’re not my parent, but you sound like my parent!” She bickered.
“Geez, why are you like this? I care like this because you’re my friend!”
“Wait, we’re friends?!” Ann was genuinely surprised.
“What, you don’t think that way?!” Silas was also surprised.
“Eh no, we can certainly be categorized as friends, yes…,” Ann thought and said to herself. But she thought Silas would just consider her as another colleague who helped out in the orphanage. He seemed to not have interest in anything other than his sister, the orphanage, and his childhood sweetheart of a heroine…
“Anyway,” Silas sighed as he scratched his head, “If he were to take advantage of you and your family, tell me. I will try to help. I don’t want another friend of mine to be taken away by someone of higher standing.”
At his words, Ann understood why Silas thought and acted the way he did.
The heroine, his childhood sweetheart, was suddenly taken from his side by a noble. The two didn’t seem to be able to see each other again after that. She wasn’t sure how the heroine in this world reacted at her adoption to a noble family, but…
To young Silas, it must have been one of an experience. He must have been helpless against someone older and more influential than him. He didn’t even know if the noble family who took the heroine treated her well. He just knew that the noble family was interested in her for a reason and might have taken advantage of her for that reason.
It all made sense now.
“Don’t worry, I will,” Ann could only say that in return.
Although this was an unexpected development, she didn’t think that it was a bad thing.
She never expected she’d make another friend in this world, especially with another male capturable target who should have had no interaction with her character at all.
The fact that there was someone who’d care for her in this world…
Pretty sure the real villainess didn’t have anyone like that by her side, even her biological family’s faction who only cared for her… for her bloodline.
Not just Silas, she felt like other people cared for her now…
Then, did she manage to change things significantly?
Was it even possible to escape her character’s looming death in the first place?
Just by existing, her presence was a threat…
But what if… she had already changed her destiny?
Though she wasn’t sure how she could avoid her doom scotch-free, she was starting to feel a bit optimistic!