Raw Provider: s.h.i.+ko
Would that make her a vongole?*
*TL note will explain the t.i.tle later on in the chapter.
\"I think I know why Leo liked you.\"
His confession was full of sincerity.
Zion took my hand, which had been resting helplessly on the table. His slender, white fingers enveloped mine on the table.
He kept his gaze on me and whispered in a low voice.
\"I, I\'m so nervous that I\'m trembling.\"
\"That\'s too much.\"
He kissed my fingertips carefully. It was like some sort of religious ceremony.
I\'ll take you home. Zion clutched my hand tightly and contained each of my five fingers within his grasp.
…And he didn\'t seem to want to let go.
There seemed to be a sort of invisible emotional exchange between us. The atmosphere was calm and relaxing between us that night, so I didn\'t feel uncomfortable about staying with him a little longer…
But to my surprise, we parted neatly without Zion doing anything too strange.
Zion, after returning me to the Marquis\' estate, travelled back to the Tower with a promise for us to meet again.
Hey, Zion Leppe. You\'re such a playboy. Are you sure you can really leave without doing anything? Well, you did say you were nervous around me, but…
I curled up on my bed, remembering the words I couldn\'t bring myself to utter aloud.
I\'d always thought this, but Erika\'s bed was far too large for just one person. I slowly opened and closed my eyes, deep in thought.
What if I end up getting closer to Zion and encounter Leo again?
Well, I don\'t know when, or if, I\'ll see Leo again… But I do know that I don\'t want to hide from him again like today.
I can\'t keep hiding.
Alright. If I coincidentally encounter Leo again, I\'ll not avoid it next time.
I was so nervous, but in reality, Leo could simply see me as a mistake and pretend not to know me.
\'It\'s a shame I met someone like you back then\', well, he might think something like that.
Considering my options, I\'d prefer if Leo acted like that.
But, you know, wishes can always be stopped by the wind.
I had a hunch that Leo wouldn\'t act in accordance with my wishes.
Leo, looking at me with sad eyes and calling my name… I had an ominous and foreboding feeling.
The next day, I had a visitor in the morning.
The man naturally walked to my room and sat comfortably on the sofa as if it were his own house.
“It\'s so hot.\"
I sat across from him, offering him some iced tea. Then, I went back to idly staring at him.
The blond man dressed in finery, and his deep brown eyes had an attractive glow. I watched as his deep-set dimples creased into a smile.
This man\'s name was Alio Olio.
Alio was the head of the Olio conglomerate family – the main client of the crops grown by Marquis Connors.
Five years ago, he was the first man to become my friend shortly after I \'became\' Erika and was in a state of confusion.
Alio never appeared in the novel 「Yulliana」, and Erika certainly never had a friend of the same name.
For example, Alio could be deemed a person I shouldn\'t know.
I\'d often chatted with him every time he visited the estate to make a deal, so we\'d met by complete chance.
And today was no exception. I was about to tell Alio about what happened the day before.
\"Alio. I met with Zion yesterday.\"
Alio, who was usually cool and dignified, exclaimed as if in shock.
\"…What? You met Zion?\"
Was it so shocking to hear I went out with Zion?
Alio\'s brown eyes grew quite large. His round eyes reminded me of a rabbit… yes, a white snow rabbit.
\"Huh. Why? Is there a problem?\"
You might be wondering how this happened. Two days after we met, I not only became Zion\'s lover, but also hugged and kissed him.
Well, it sounded pretty bad. I got a little nervous.
I don\'t think I could tell him the entire truth about that. If I explained in detail, Alio would probably be more shocked.
His face was plastered with a dumb look of astonishment, and his reply came late.
\"No way… Zion Leppe?\"
“Yes. Zion Leppe, the one and only.\"
\"Wow… I\'ve always wanted to see the head of the Tower. How did you meet? I heard it\'s very hard to cross paths with him.\"
\"We just b.u.mped into each other at the banquet.\"
Alio seemed to be genuinely amazed that I\'d met Zion.
It made me suddenly want to play a prank.
I asked with a smile plastered across my face.
\"Alio, don\'t tell me you\'re interested in men?\"
You\'re much too preoccupied with Zion.
Alio retorted angrily.
\"Oh, no! I was just wondering if he was the same person! Don\'t be ridiculous- that\'s irrational. He\'s just the youngest Tower master. That\'s it.\"
\"Fool. To panic like that… fufu\"
With a small giggle, I recalled what Alio had said.
\"The youngest tower master in history…. Right, Zion is like that.\"
That was his outward image, as seen by the general public. He presented such a sparkling face. But I knew better than anyone that Zion\'s innermost thoughts were at odds with his splendid facade.
Zion\'s face, seemingly saying that he wasn\'t okay and would break down at any moment, appeared before my eyes.
He was like a wounded animal.
But as soon as I remembered him, I recalled the sensation of his kisses on my fingertips; I felt my body heating up.
I carefully clenched and unfolded my hand. I hoped the strange energy would dissipate, but the heat didn\'t seem to go away.
Alio glanced at me with suspicion at my sudden serious expression.
I shook my head as if nothing had happened and changed the topic.
\"Has the contract for the crops been finalised?\"
“Yes. I\'ve finished filling out the transaction doc.u.ments. I\'ll be returning to the Kingdom of Orion a little bit later.\"
Oh, by the way, Olio wasn\'t from the Kingdom of Liechtenne like myself. He was a resident of the Kingdom of Orion, situated beside Liechtenne. To sum up, Alio was the head of the Olio family within the Kingdom of Orion.
That\'s all I knew about Alio, and I\'ve known him for 5 years. However, since I didn\'t know Alio well enough, that time was practically meaningless.
For example, how is he doing in the Kingdom of Orion? Is he married? I was unaware of such simple facts.
Well, I thought it didn\'t matter if I didn\'t know the truth.
\"Alio, have you gotten married recently?\"
My question struck him so suddenly that he acted as if he\'d been caught in a snare.
He finally calmed down and answered.
\"E-Erika. Such a sudden question! And no, I\'m not married.\"
That\'s why I thought it didn\'t matter, since Alio was good at answering my questions honestly. Every time.
\"Is there anyone you like then?\"
He dodged my gaze by coughing awkwardly, attempting to s.h.i.+ft the conversation. Turning his head to the side, I caught sight of his flushed ears peeking through his soft blonde hair.
I was sure of one thing.
Alio has someone he likes.
\"Alio Olio. Is there someone you like?”
After a moment of contemplation, Alio answered in a small voice.
\"…Yes, there is.\"
As expected, it was a straight answer.
\"Would that make her a vongole*?\"
*Author is making a pun here. Alio\'s name sounds like Aglio, as in aglio tagliatelle (type of pasta). His surname also hints at this, as it\'s also called \'aglio e olio\' in Italian. Vongole is also a pasta dish and is, therefore, his perfect partner.
And now I\'m hungry. I giggled with laughter at my own words. Vongole. The perfect match for Alio.
Being honest as always, Alio responded cutely with a curt voice.
\"Don\'t tease me. Stop talking about vongole…\"
\"But are you going to confess to this vongole?\"
\"I\'ll take care of it.\"
Alio breathed a long sigh, seemingly sulking at my teasing. After avoiding my eyes for a long time, Alio finally straightened his head.
And so our eyes met again.
I caught him swallowing hard for some reason, his throat lurching. His face, too, was quite tense.
What is he trying to say?
What was making him so nervous?
\"Do you have someone you like?\"
Oh… the ident.i.ty of the man I\'d removed from my heart…
I seriously contemplated my answer. Since Alio had built up the courage to ask, I thought it\'s only right to answer honestly.
Strangely, the man who came to my mind was actually \'Leo\'. The source of my deepest regret – Leonardo Stein. But we\'d already separated, so the past was irrelevant.
I shook my head to erase the image of Leo that clouded my vision.
Alio looked at me with an uncertain expression and pressed his lips together.
\"Is that something to be glad about?\"
Alio simply shook his head at me and rose from his seat.
\"It\'s nothing. Erika, it\'s time for me to go back.\"
Holding his thin jacket on his arm, he walked towards the door. I followed him with the intention of seeing him off; since I was sorry for teasing him about his name, I opened the door for him. He smiled and spoke a few words in parting, as he was soon to leave for the Kingdom of Orion once more.
\"When will you come again?\"
\"We\'ll meet again soon.\"
He smiled faintly.
\"We\'ll be meeting in a different way then. I hope you\'ll figure it out.\"
Alio\'s voice was thick with meaning; it was as if to suggest he wouldn\'t come to see me simply as a merchant.
A different look. I couldn\'t imagine it.
Once again, Alio offered me a deep smile, showing off his dimples. He gently ruffled my hair with a friendly touch.
I smiled along with him and my gaze rested upon a dimple etched into his cheek.
Such a beautiful smile.
It suddenly struck me that he was quite handsome.
\"I\'ll be going then.\"
After leaving the room, Alio slowly walked down the hall. I watched his figure retreating until he vanished into a dot.
That was because, even though he walked well, he occasionally stopped abruptly to check I was looking at him. Every time I caught him gazing back, I made a quick waving gesture. Still, Alio kept to his slow pace. Soon he completely disappeared from my sight.
Golden hair. Light brown eyes. Deep dimples.
In fact, there was a character from the novel that came to mind whenever I considered Alio\'s appearance.
The character was another sub-male lead in the novel「Yulliana」.
His name was Elliot von Orion.
He was another unfortunate sub-male lead, like Zion, who held a one-sided love for the protagonist. He was also a prince of the neighbouring Kingdom of Orion.
Alio and Elliot* – two men with similar appearances.
Frankly speaking, I\'d often suspected, in the five years I\'d known Alio, that the two of them might actually be the same person… But I\'d always shaken my head at the prospect.
To think that the prince of a neighbouring kingdom was disguised as a merchant would explain why \'Alio\' never appeared in the novel…
Besides, it would be strange for a man like that to become my friend.
\"…That can\'t be right.\"
I cleared the doubts from my mind.
Alio couldn\'t be Elliot. Surely not.
 idiom? Erika\'s wishes are signified by a candle. Leo\'s independent actions are represented as the wind, which is capable of blowing out the candle before the wish is granted. It states that, since Erika can\'t control Leo\'s actions (as she cannot control a force of nature), he may end up ruining her plans.
 Their names in Korean only differ by a few characters, which isn\'t really conveyed in the translation. Alio: 알리오. Elliot: 엘리엇.
How Erika sees Alio:12709