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"Me? With Cedric?? Miss, you must be out of your mind," Mary responded, giving Clarisse a look that questioned her sanity just as well as words.
Clarisse had asked her about Cedric as soon as she saw her in the morning, and she knew almost immediately that her suspicion must be correct.
Mary continued, "It's true that Cedric was very kind to me. He was my brother's best friend. Even now, I would be happy to meet him, but I can say for certain that he doesn't have any special feelings for me."
Clarisse was taken aback by Mary’s definitive proclamation. "Is that so? Are you sure?"
"Yes. I can't tell even you all the details, Miss, but definitely yes."
Clarisse was convinced, since she said it with such conviction. She decided to tell Jean that there was no need to investigate Cedric any further.
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In the office, Marius and Jean were discussing the Viscount Farenheit family. Sid, who they had been informed was planning to visit the mansion today, had not yet arrived.
"Well, if they are going to divorce, perhaps the viscountess can finally get some peace of mind."
"I suppose so."
Marius started as if the idea had just returned to him. "Jean, you told me to look into Cedric, but I think it would be better to look into Mary's former lover's servant, don't you think? It seems that after Mary and he broke up, he was involved in an engagement scam and is now on the run bearing quite a large debt."
"Hmmm, I see. Mary had a lover, not Cedric."
"Oh, yes. Well, they were together for a short time, and it was a long time ago, so I don't think there's any chance he'll come back to Mary now…."
Sid stood outside the office, his hand on the doorknob, listening to the conversation. 'That's right, she's that attractive. She might even have had a lover or two...'
What Jean had once asked him—"What if Mary had more experience?"—now weighed heavily on his mind. However, his feeling of discouragement was short-lived. At that time, they had not met, and the important thing was how they were going to spend their time in the future.
'I'd be lying if I said I didn't care... but I still want Mary, so I guess it is what it is,’ he thought to himself, before smiling, turning the doorknob, and walking into the room.
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"Mary, what do you think of Sid-sama?" Clarisse decided to ask a more direct question after hearing about Cedric. She knew Mary's character well enough to know that she would not be offended by such a question, and she had recently found Jean's more direct approach to be very effective at times.
"S—S—Si—Sid-sama?" Mary reacted with more force than Clarisse had expected—her face, usually so calm and composed, flushed bright red.
'I knew it...'
Clarisse felt bad for surprising her with a sudden question. "I'm sorry, Mary. If you don't want to talk about it, that's okay."
Mary smiled brightly in response, as if to reassure her that that was not the case. "Sid-sama is so kind and cares for me so much that I find myself dreaming of things that could never come true."
"I am sure that you too had the thought that Sid-sama resembles Cedric-sama, didn't you, miss? It's true that their smiles are somewhat similar. When I talk to Sid-sama, I’m reminded of what it was like when I was a noble, and I find myself wondering what I would be doing now were I still one. I feel I spend a lot of time thinking about that when I am with him."
Although Mary was speaking around the point, Clarisse understood exactly what she meant. If she was still a baron's daughter, she would have a future with Sid. Yet she had disciplined herself from the start not to even dream of that possibility.
Clarisse hesitated before asking quietly, "Would you like to go back to the way things were?"
Mary answered with a smile. "No, actually, Sid-sama asked me a similar question the other day. I answered that I wanted to go back to before I was 12 years old. But, later, I thought it over again and realized how happy I am to have gotten to spend time with you, so actually I have no regrets."
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Jean, who had no plans to go out today, suddenly had some free time in the afternoon and wondered how Clarisse was spending it. He asked the butler, who answered that she was in her room, so Jean went straight there. When he entered the room, Mary bowed to him, but Clarisse—the most important person in the room—had a book spread out in her lap and was pondering something in a daze. Normally she would smile at him as soon as she felt his presence. This was really unusual.
"Clarisse," he called out, and she literally jumped up in surprise.
"Jea—Jean-sama, I'm sorry! I was just thinking."
"It seems so."
Well, the flustered Clarisse is also very cute in her own way, he thought to himself before instructing Mary to leave them alone for a while.
When she had, Clarisse told Jean what Mary had told her that morning.
"Mary seemed to be unable to tell me about Sid-sama, but she seems to like him. I think it is undeniable that she is hesitant about him because of her status. You were even thinking of restoring the Roosevelt family's title, but I don't think Mary would be happy about that. As I thought, we can't say anything now unless she and Sid-sama were on the same page."
"Yeah, let's leave that to Sid…. It's nothing for us to interfere with."
She nodded her head. Usually she seemed rather mature, but this kind of unguarded behavior seemed more appropriate for her age.
"I was thinking about Cedric-sama and wondering why Mary was denying it so much, and then I remembered something too…."
It seemed she had been lost in thought about that very thing. As she continued speaking, Jean was indeed astonished by the story she revealed to him.
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