Chapter 18 – I went over to play at the earl’s house
Summer was just about over, and fall was approaching. It’s been several weeks since the first time that Sophia and her brother Nico visited me.
Sophia was now always coming over, and Mary would always join in as well, my romance novel boom was overheating even further. Due to Sophia who enjoys a wide variety of books, I’ve also greatly increased the genres that I read.
By the way, the current boom is a book about the romance between a girl and a devilishly charming earl.
The handsome earl’s devilish charm not only attracted women, even men fell for him. It’s a romance story about an ordinary girl that he met in town.
At Sophia’s recommendation, I started reading this story – it was about a beautiful handsome young earl who had black hair and black eyes.
Sophia told me secretly that “actually, I like it because the main character’s a bit like onii-sama.”
Sophia also said to me shyly “I see him in a favorable light……”
When I read the novel, I felt that they were indeed quite similar.
I’m already used to seeing handsome boys like Jared and Keith, but Sophia’s brother Nico has his own unique atmosphere about him as well.
His face is as beautiful as a well-made doll, and his beautiful black eyes have a mysterious charm to them that draws people in.
If he grows up like this, I can certainly feel that not only women, but men as well might get attracted to him like the earl from the novel.
However, I still don’t know Sophia’s brother Nico very well yet.
In the game manual’s information section on all the capture targets, it was said that he is the most normal person with a lot of common sense. Also, since he’s my important friend’s brother, I want to get along well with him, but…… The thing is, he hardly ever spoke. He only spoke when it was absolutely necessary, and even then he would only say one or two words.
Since it was always so busy around me, I hardly ever got any chances to speak to the taciturn Nico……
However, even so I understood that he cherished Sophia very much, and he considered our feelings very much, he really is such a good onii-san. I also know very well that Sophia likes her onii-san very much.
Also, I’ve heard that just like Jared and Alan, he seems to be a very high spec character who’s excellent in academics and swordsmanship.
If I get a chance, I definitely want to talk to him some more and deepen our friendship……
As I was thinking so, the chance presented itself.
“If you would like, won’t you come to visit me?”
I kept telling Sophia that “I want to see it, I want to see it!” about her book collection, and after telling her many times, she finally invited me over to her place. Well, it feels like I was being a little pushy and forced her into it though……
“Is that really alright!?”
I was so happy that I was jumping in joy in celebration while grinning at Sophia, while beside me Anne was furrowing her eyebrows and saying “if your mother sees this, you’ll get scolded again.”
And so, I’ll be going over to visit the Ascarot family.
The main purpose was to chat with Sophia about novels, but just maybe, I’ll get to talk with Nico some more too.
In order to get along even better with my cute friend that loves her older brother so much, I made up my mind to speak more than two words to Nico this time.
And so, the promised day arrived, and I headed towards the Ascarot mansion with my heart all aflutter in excitement at the thought of Sophia’s book collection.
By the way, as I’m the sheltered daughter of the Claes family, Keith was also accompanying me. My mother also said “be very careful not to make any social blunders” and was very worried about me. Even though I’ve already been to so many tea parties, and I’ve been to our relatives’ house and Mary’s house so many times without any problems, mother seems to be really worried for some reason.
And so, even though the Ascarot mansion that we visited wasn’t as large as the Claes mansion, it was still a clean mansion that gave off a good feeling.
As the servants greeted us and served us tea in the guest room, suddenly a handsome man about father’s age and another beautiful lady as well appeared close together.
Of course, I thought it would be Sophia coming to greet us so I just sat there with my mouth wide agape at their appearance. Uhh, who on earth could these beautiful people possibly be.
As I was thinking so, the handsome man flashed a dazzling smile towards me.
“Pleased to meet you, I’m Nico and Sophia’s father, my name is Dan Ascarot. This is my wife Radea.”
“My name is Radea Ascarot.”
At the man’s prompting, the woman smiled and greeted us as well.
What’s this! They were Sophia and Nico’s parents!? No wonder they were so beautiful. That means that this man is the rumored Earl Ascarot who accepted the position of prime minister from the king.
I stared at the smiling Ascarot couple. Earl Ascarot had the same black hair and black eyes as Nico, while Countess Ascarot had pale golden hair and blue eyes, and both of them seemed so beautiful as if they had come straight out of a story book. They are indeed the beautiful siblings’ parents.
While I was staring at them in a daze, Keith pulled on my arm lightly. “Nee-san, greet them,” Keith whispered to me in a low voice.
Oh right! As a noble daughter, I have to greet them properly –
“……Pleased to meet you, my name is Katarina Claes. Thank you very much for inviting me today.”
“I’m her younger brother, my name is Keith Claes. I’ll be in your care.”
I greeted them gracefully as befitting a noble daughter, and following me Keith greeted them courteously as well. Yup. We greeted them properly.
Anyways…… I wonder why Sophia’s parents came out instead of Sophia. My question showed on my face.
“We figured we’d come to greet you first, since our daughter won’t come when we call. Right now, she’s waiting for you nervously in her room.”
Earl Ascarot answered my question for me.
“Oh, is that so.”
For the time being, at least I understand why they showed up first now…… I was a bit nervous because her parents showed up to greet me so formally.
I’ve been to Mary’s place many times to play, but since her father’s always busy with work and is hardly ever home, I haven’t even seen him since the first tea party there. That’s why this is the first time my friend’s parents have greeted me so formally. While I was completely stiff from the tension, Countess Ascarot walked over gracefully to me.
“I’ve heard many things from my daughter about you, Katarina-sama. After meeting you, my daughter seems to be having lots of fun now…… Thank you very much.”
As she said so, Countess Ascarot reached out to take my hands. Looking at her so closely, she’s really beautiful. Also, her features were very similar to Sophia. Although I was still very tense, I let her take my hands.
“The pleasure is mine. Being able to talk with Sophia-sama is very fun, and I’m very glad that we get along.”
Because of Sophia, I’ve been having a very fulfilling life filled with romance novels. If I hadn’t met Sophia, I wouldn’t be leading this fulfilling life right now. I definitely want us to keep getting along from now on.
As I said so, Countess Ascarot that seemed so much like Sophia was gripping my hands tightly.
“I’m really glad that Sophia was able to make a wonderful friend like you!”
Then, following his wife, Earl Ascarot was also bowing his head towards me.
“I would also like to give my thanks to you. Lady Katarina Claes, thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
“Ah, uh, I would like to as well, yes.”
The overly beautiful couple lowered their heads together towards me, and I became rather flustered out of nervousness. I had just thought that I could do the greeting properly, and now it’s all come to naught.
However, even though I was completely panicking, the Ascarot couple were still smiling at me in a friendly manner. How wonderful and kind these parents are.
And so, both of them kept gently smiling, and said “we’ll leave the rest to you girls” and they left the guest room. Even looking at them from from behind, they’re so beautiful.
After the two of them left, I finally let go of my breath. ……I was really so nervous.
Well…… For the time being, I’m glad they’re so welcoming.
I think that it’s the fault of my villainous face, it’s really hard to leave a good impression on people as opposed to if I had an ordinary face.
Even when I smile elegantly, it’s highly likely to turn into the sarcastic smile of a villain. Just like that time at the castle’s tea party, it’s only sad memories of people running from me.
While staring at the door that the Ascarot couple had left from, I started whispering secretly to Keith next to me.
“They’re very beautiful, kind parents.”
“Yes, I agree.”
Keith smiled as well and agreed with me.
“As for our mother, I wish she could just be a little calmer like Countess Ascarot, she’s always angry with furrowed brows, that won’t be good for her beauty.”
“……Nee-san. ……Mother herself probably wants to live a calmer life as well.”
When comparing the gentle and beautiful Countess Ascarot to mother, I remembered how mother always loves to complain, but Keith sent me a pained glance for some reason. I didn’t understand why, so I just looked at him blankly.
When Keith sighed at my state, Sophia appeared. Nico was accompanying her as usual.
Sophia seems to have hurried here as she was breathing hard, and her cheeks were also stained slightly red. However, even though they should have come here at the same speed, Nico’s breathing was perfectly even.
“Katarina-sama, thank you very much for coming, and welcome.”
The way her cheeks were slightly red as she smiled, ohh Sophia is so cute today~.
And so, I had a fun time chatting with Sophia, and I was also shown the amazing collection of books in the Ascarot mansion. There were tons and tons of the books that Sophia had read before there, I was very excited.
By the way, since Keith came with me today, Nico wasn’t left out of the loop like usual. As expected of two boys that are the same age, they seemed to have various things to talk about, even for a guy as taciturn as Nico was, but not as much as Sophia and I did, their conversation was moderate in comparison to our lively and energetic discussion.
And so, the fun times were over way too quickly. Even though academic lectures always feel so much longer, and I would always wish that time would move faster…
Although I still regret having to leave, I can’t bother them and stay too late, or else mother will be really angry at me. I borrowed an armful of books from Sophia, and got ready to return home.
And so, it was time to say goodbye to the Ascarot siblings at the entrance.
“Oh no, how could I! I left a book in the study that I was going to recommend to you earlier!”
Sophia raised her voice in panic.
“Ahh, is that the book you mentioned before?”
If I recall correctly, it was the book that Sophia had recommended the most to me. While passionately telling me about its appeal in the study, the book seems to have been placed there and forgotten.
“That’s right. I’m sorry. I’ll go get it for you right now!”
“Sophia, it’s okay if I just come and get it next time, you know.”
Since Sophia looked like she was about to run out of the room to the study, I said so in order to prevent her from going, but……
“No, because it’s really such a great book, I’d love for you to read it as soon as possible. Please wait a little bit, okay?”
As she said so, Sophia went off to the study. Well, since she’s conscious of her status as a noble daughter, it’s not good to be seen running in a dress, but she was hurrying as fast as she could without running.
I saw my friend from the previous world, A-chan, in Sophia.
Just like with Sophia, in the previous world I would read manga together with her, watch anime together, and even play otome games together with A-chan.
Ahh, I’ve really made such a wonderful friend. While I was absorbed in staring at Sophia’s back as she was leaving, Nico who had been silent up until now opened his mouth.
“Katarina Claes-sama. Let me thank you once again about my sister. Really, thank you very much.”
Come to think of it, I was supposed to try and talk some more with Nico today……
In the end, I was too excited about visiting the Ascarot family library, and was having so much fun chatting with Sophia about books that I had completely forgotten about it.
This is a chance to talk to him a little and become better friends!
“No, I should be saying thanks. Thank you very much for getting along well with me…… Please tell that to your parents as well.”
Come to think of it, ever since they greeted us, Nico’s parents hadn’t come to say anything to us at all.
“Yes, they even came out specially in order to greet me. They’re really wonderful parents.”
“……Is that so, thank you very much.”
Nico returned to his regular expressionless self and didn’t say anything further.
Even so, that’s the longest interaction I’ve had with him up to now, but…… It’s still very far from a level where it can be said that he’s talked a lot.
I wonder what on earth Nico was talking to Keith about. As the older sister, I really want to know too! If I was a boy, I wonder if he would have more things to say to me. ……Let’s find a topic of conversation…… I got it!
Since it’s like this, I might as well use my knowledge from my previous life! I’ll show you the power of seventeen years of my memories from a previous world! I won’t lose to my stepbrother!
Topic of conversation…… Something to talk about…… I desperately tried to remember anything. And then – I remembered the way that the lady from next door caught my father for thirty minutes straight without letting him go. This is it!!
Anyways, since she’s an expert in lengthy conversations, if I use the lady from next door’s lines I’ll surely be able to have a nice long conversation with Nico. That’s right, I’ll start off with those words that she always used –
“Your parents are so wonderful, and your sister is so cute as well, Nico-sama, you’re a really lucky person.”
Copying that lady, I smiled as widely as I could.
By the way, this is what that lady always told my father, “you’re really such a lucky person to have married such a wonderful wife,” and I just changed it around a little. When she started her talk with those lines, in the end my father wasn’t able to leave for a full thirty minutes. Yup. I’ve imitated everything perfectly. However……
For some reason, the atmosphere around Nico seems to have changed.
“……You think I’m a lucky person?”
His face was just as expressionless as always, but something seems different. I’m a little lost at why Nico seems to be different. Ahh, drats. I must have failed in my choice of lines to use……
“You have such a wonderful family…… Isn’t that so?”
I mumbled rather timidly, and then…… Nico opened his black eyes wide and kept staring straight at me. Then –
“……That’s right. I have great parents I can respect, and I’m very lucky to have such a gentle, lovely sister.”
As he said so Nico seemed to be very happy…… And then he started laughing.
I’ve known him for several weeks now, but I’ve never seen his smiling face before.
I had also heard from Sophia that her brother doesn’t laugh very often. Such a Nico was now laughing. And so happily to boot –
I had always thought that he was quite handsome, but when he’s smiling, he seems to be several times even more handsome.
Right now, he’s just like the charming earl from the story whose captivating smile alone can capture everyone’s hearts.
Wow, to think Nico was really such a charming earl……
And so, what solved the issue of me freezing up at the major incident happening in front of me was Sophia returning with the book in hand.
“Katarina-sama, it’s this book.”
When I snapped out of being frozen, I saw the lovely Sophia next to me holding out a book, and…… My cute stepbrother Keith was also in a daze, he just kept staring at Nico who had already returned to his usual expressionless self.
This is really bad! I’ve lost my cute stepbrother to the charming earl! I didn’t want him to fall in love with the heroine, but, it’s pretty dangerous to lose him to a guy as well!
At this rate, my all-important stepbrother might step off the proper path!
I took the book from Sophia while casually guarding Keith from Nico, and departed from the Ascarot mansion.
And so, during the trip back in the horse-drawn carriage……
“……I can’t believe it, Nico is really just like that charming earl, from now on, I absolutely have to defend Keith from his grasp……”
“……No way, to have my rivals be increasing yet again, exactly how many more does she have to have before she’s satisfied……”
Keith and I each had our own troubles as we looked out the window while grumbling to ourselves.