“I know,” replied Jade.
“It’s a well-known fact that the former Count of Evelentia developed the yolk lands of the capital.
Thanks to this, the best box seats also went to Evelentia.” Indeed, the opera house had been bought and built by Lobelia’s father, James, which he then leased to Serge.

Jade, who was listening to the singer’s high-pitched notes, asked in passing, “Do you intend to take this opera house back someday?”

Without saying a word, Lobelia stood up and leaned against the box railing.
She saw nobles filling countless box seats, all enjoying the glamorous entertainment with the curtains drawn wide open.

“Exactly,” she muttered, “I need to get this opera house back.”

Lobelia’s gaze turned to where Elyan was.
Could it be a coincidence? Elyan was also looking at her.
He smiled softly and waved his hand slightly.

You’re the first step.

* * *

During intermission, the VIP lounge was bustling with nobles who had gathered in hopes of seeing the couple again.
Aina was no exception.
Throughout the first performance, Aina’s complexion was much livelier than before and her innocent smile never left her lips while she gave vague answers to people’s questions.

Jade and Lobelia descended to the lounge together.
As the door opened at their arrival, silence enveloped the room.
But it was only for a moment.
The nobles looked at each other again and began to talk, pretending to be indifferent.
It was a comical sight, considering the reason they hurried to the lounge.
No matter how hard they tried to feign nonchalance, their curiosity was palpable.

When Lobelia appeared, the women were overcome with curiosity and bombarded her with questions, failing to remember that aristocrats had to maintain outward indifference to gossip.
Even more so when the subject of the gossip was Lobelia, a commoner bearing gypsy blood and the black sheep of Evelentia.

Lobelia walked towards Aina with a subtle gaze; Aina panicked as she noticed her approach.

“Can I join you?” Lobelia asked Elyan next to her, ignoring Aina.
Aina looked up at Lobelia with bewilderment written all over her face as she couldn’t believe she had been ignored.

“Oh, excuse me, young lady.” Lobelia lowered her head as if she had found Aina only then.
Aina’s lips trembled.

Was it too much? thought Lobelia.
She did not intend to disrespect Aina this much, thinking the scene she had created earlier was enough.
However, Jade had given her some advice.
He said she needed to make it clearer to the people that she was no longer tied to Evelentia.
Lobelia doubted if it was necessary, but she followed his advice nonetheless.
Even if she had read the Original, she couldn’t grasp all the nuances of the social world with her knowledge alone.
It would be better to follow Jade’s lead, who had been exposed in the society for longer than she was.

Lobelia withdrew her gaze from Aina and looked at Elyan, anticipating.
The women around them welcomed Lobelia with wide smiles.

“Oh my, of course.
Come here, Miss Lobelia.”
“That’s good.
Why don’t you chat with us?”
“I’m sure Aina will love it.”

Lobelia examined the nobles curiously.
Jade’s advice was indeed effective.
They hadn’t developed a fondness for her nor turned into allies, but they were starting to treat her and Aina as separate beings.
If given the chance, they would again mock and condemn Lobelia.
Even now, their eyes were busily searching for faults in her movements.
However, it was a feat not to be treated as Aina’s handmaiden anymore.

As Lobelia sat down, Jade took the seat next to her.
The women’s eyes gleamed as they attempted to strike a conversation with the duke.
He was even more alluring now that he had a lover by his side.
They hadn’t forgotten his history of being a womanizer, but now that he had offered his heart to a woman, there was no one who wanted to drag Lobelia out and take her place as Jade Ferrado’s lover.

Lobelia showed little interest in whether Jade engaged in conversations with the women.
From a few seats away, Aina was glaring fiercely at her.
Somehow, there seemed to be a hint of betrayal in those eyes, which made Lobelia wonder. What’s there to betray between us? she thought. Were there any expectations between us?

Aina inched closer to Elyan and said, “Elyan, please continue what you were talking about earlier.
Are you planning to bring new jewelry into the department store?”

Lobelia laughed in her mind.
Oh how hard she was trying to keep Elyan’s attention away from her.

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