Chapter 12 Lancôme’s suspicion and invitation to a night party
The chief’s office of the central control room of Haggle Kingdom’s special mission unit.
Lancôme was thinking as he ran his fingers ran through his light brown hair.
The meeting between Lancôme and Chloe dated back to Lancôme’s time as a young agent.
Chloe was her name in the organization. Her real name was discarded when she entered.
On his way home from work in the countryside, Lancôme saw a girl painting on the ground with a nail in front of a general store. (She looks smart. And she seems dexterous). He was slightly interested in the girl because her drawings were detailed.
Brown hair and eyes. She had neither outstanding beauty nor ugliness that would aid in recollection. Her dress looked poor. While drinking tea at the store across the street, he observed the girl and the general store that seemed to be the girl’s home. Her parents, who enter and exit the general store, were also of medium build. In the future, she was likely to have a medium build too.
“That child may be suitable.”
With that in mind, he entered the deserted general store, showed the ID card he prepared in case something like this happened, and said, ‘I’m looking for a child to serve as a maid at a nobleman’s mansion. Would you entrust that child to me?’.
Her parents seemed to distrust the strange proposal from the young man and refused it once, but when he presented the sum, they accepted it immediately. The store appeared to be going through bad times.
Three days later, he picked up the child and paid the money. If the child was found not suitable as an agent, she would find a job as a real maid. Many such places were prepared by the organization.
As a young man, Lancôme was not very busy and sometimes worked as a role model for the children at a training school. Since she was a child he found, he became interested in Chloe and often talked to her.
The girl was reticent but resolute. When she learned that she would be well paid for assignments, she volunteered to take on the training school’s tasks.
Before long, Chloe stood out. In any situation, she immediately understood what was required of her and took action. When she turned fifteen, she was assigned to Lancôme, who had become a squad leader. Less than five years into her career, Chloe rose to the top of their records.
Chloe loved Lancôme like an older brother and obediently followed his instructions.
One day, Lancôme learned that Chloe’s family house was on fire while she was at work for a task only she could do. He couldn’t help her family but didn’t tell Chloe, who was in the middle of a big job.
“Chloe cares about her family. It would be a problem if she loses her calm at this critical juncture.”
With that in mind, he waited for the right moment to break the news to her about the death of her family.
He had intended to inform her after she completed the critical work she was dealing with, but the work that required Chloe’s skills came one after another. As he continued to put off telling her, Chloe began to feel unwell.
Furthermore, after talk of Lancôme’s marriage came out, she got thinner and thinner. After that, his subordinates heard rumors that ‘Chloe had a crush on her chief’.
That was impossible.
He didn’t recall ever seeing such a look from her.
He should have been like an older brother or parent to her. Lancôme wondered if there was something else at foot, but it was true that she had suddenly started to lose weight after his marriage announcement.
Chloe’s physical condition was poor, so he continued to hide the news about her parents’ house. If even one person can’t concentrate on their work, the rest of the operatives in the team would be at risk.
Chloe became so thin that it seemed like it would interfere with her work and her physical strength was also declining. He decided to let her rest for a while, but as soon as she started resting, Chloe disappeared.
It was highly likely that she went out to her favorite cliff and fell. There were traces of blood on the rocks. One of her sandals was found at the bottom of the cliff with the pendant that she wore all the times except when she was working. Lancôme had given her that pendant when she successfully completed her first job.
The rough waves and rapid currents made it impossible to find Chloe’s body so he submitted a report of ‘suspected death’ to his superiors.
He explained to his subordinates that ‘Her hat was caught in a tree just below the cliff, and she probably fell while trying to retrieve it’.
Lancôme wanted to accept that explanation, but he couldn’t. He couldn’t get rid of the discomfort he felt, as though a piece of food stuck in the back of his throat.
Before she got sick.
He usually left the gifts to send to her parents’ house in a room he rented separately instead of in the dormitory, but it was ransacked by a burglar. After Chloe’s disappearance, he suspected that the burglar might have been Chloe, who actually knew about her family’s death.
However, even after the burglary, Chloe entrusted Lancôme with gifts for her family. The money hidden inside was the same amount as before.
Even if he accepted the theory of her broken heart, would such a strong person choose death for something like an unrequited love? Chloe was the type capable of separating work from ordinary life even when he entrusted her with a mentally burdensome job.
Just to make sure, he did some research on people who passed through several border checkpoints, but he couldn’t find anyone who looked like her.
But she was good at disguise, so she might have managed to slip through. In addition, she was particularly skilled at document forgery. Creating a fake ID would be a piece of cake for her.
“I can’t deny any possibility because she’s so good at it.”
Lancôme was unconvinced of Chloe’s death. However, there weren’t enough people to search for her, while her life or death was uncertain, and if Chloe disappeared of her own accord, it would be useless to send a half-hearted person.
Three months passed since her disappearance and no information had come out, so his superiors were slowly losing interest.
Still unable to give up, Lancôme made a copy of Chloe’s investigation report and put it in a drawer.
Ashbury Kingdom, royal capital. The mansion of historian Bernard Fischer.
Jeffrey, who was on duty, stopped by.
“Soon, there will be an evening party hosted by the royal family at the royal castle, would you like to join me?”
“An evening party? Sponsored by the royal family? That’s impossible for me.”
“I will prepare the dress and accessories. If you can’t dance, you don’t have to. You just have to stay by my side and show that you are close to me.”
“What kind of role are you planning for me to play?”
The troubled face of the big man looked cute and I can’t help but smile.
“A person like you, there must be many women willing to take on that role.”
“I’ll end up in trouble if I ask a woman who has a crush on me to do something like that.”
“So you hope I participate to serve as insect repellent?”
“There is that too.”
“Aside from that?”
“I want to make my superior who persistently insists on bringing up marriage proposals give up. I think you can play the role of the daughter of a noble.”
I let out a sigh.
If it is an evening party hosted by the royal family, the probability is extremely low, but there is still a possibility that I bump into an acquaintance. Some aristocrats and agents are active across borders. Pretending to be an aristocratic daughter is something I’m good at, but I don’t want to go.
(Okay, let’s say no) I resolved my expression and raised my head but Eva, who was visiting the mansion today, interjected.
“You can’t? Could you please take it as a favor for me and attend? I’ll treat it as work and give you an allowance in addition to your salary. Every day you have to deal with my grumpy uncle, and when you get home you have a grumpy old woman too, right? Work and old people and children, day in and day out. That’s too pitiable, my heart aches for you. You are still young.”
“No, but I…”
As I hesitated, Eva …
“I’ll take care of Nonna, so don’t worry, leave it to me. Think of it as helping poor Jeffrey. Nonna, you can leave Victoria for one night, right? I’ll spend the night with you. Just come to my house.”
“I’ll be okay. Vicky, go with Commander.”
Thus, my retreat was cut off.
I reluctantly agreed. I would have to anticipate a lot of things that might happen on the day. ‘Assume the worst and do your best’ is ingrained in my bones. Or should I pray to God not to meet my acquaintances?
At night, when I lean over to say goodnight to Nonna who was in bed, she was still awake.
“Nonna, you can’t sleep?”
“You don’t like staying alone at home after all, do you?”
“I can stay at home. I do not want others to pity Vicky.”
I instinctively grabbed Nonna’s small face with both hands.
“I enjoy living with Nonna. I don’t feel a hint of being pitiable. Eva didn’t say that with that in mind. Don’t worry.”
“Vicky, will you wear a dress?”
Nonna giggled a little.
“Hmm? What about it?”
“I want to see Vicky become a princess.”
“I see… Okay. I’ll show you. Nonna, I don’t feel miserable. Don’t worry about that, okay?”
“Then, good night.”