Making it Bizarre and Weird - The Detective Girl

Chapter 10 - The End

"Do you really think that this is alright?" he could not help but ask. His hands were still folded around the lid of the suitcase, his gaze on the recently repacked belongings. The detective girl had requested this; once he had returned the piece of clothing she had specifically asked for, she had instructed him to pack the rest. There was no need to spend another night, was what she had said.

"Of course it is," she stated simply. "Why wouldn't it be? The culprit is caught and confined. We might as well get ready for our departure."

The suitcase closed with a loud thud. The locks clicked into place. "...I am not talking about the case itself."

The detective girl remained silent at this. The young man turned his head to her and met a distant gaze. She had not left her position since the moment they had entered the room and had chosen to linger close to the doorway. The golden-colored dress was loosely hanging on her arm and her bemused expression was a sight he had now grown rather familiar with.

"I am talking about you," he elaborated, feeling the urge to express this to her. His hand blindly folded around the handle of the suitcase, lifting it from the bed. "Are you really alright with this kind of ending? Lady Millina was important to you, wasn’t she?"

It certainly triggered a reaction out of her. "Are you suggesting that I should let this affect me?" she responded, the bitterness of the situation surprisingly surfacing in the tone of her voice. He had the feeling that she did not like him repeating knowledge she hadn’t wanted him to gain, but despite of that, he would not hesitate to bring it up. “I would not judge you for having a natural human reaction,” he continued.

There was a glint of fury in the eyes of the detective girl. "Should I not arrest her for the murders? Whatdo you want me to do, Len?" Now that he was deliberately poking a sore spot, she was having difficulty not to release her frustration on him. The only reason she kept her voice from raising was the sheer will to keep her posture intact.

“Be honest with me,” he replied. “It's not healthy to keep everything inside like this.”

But she only coldly narrowed her eyes at him. "Forgive me if I don't feel like crying my eyes out. I have better things to do than to satisfy your curiosity."

He kept his lips together at that. It might be better to keep his silence. She had once again chosen to keep her distance and no sweetly-formed words of compassion and understanding would change that. But while he could certainly understand her skeptical nature, he longed to see more of her character. He had been trying to grasp her thoughts ever since they met, but it was like trying to catch smoke each time. The moment he seemed to take hold of it, it slipped through his fingers. He nearly sighed. The essence of his relationship with the detective girl was exactly like that.

He watched the blonde girl heave a calming breath as she allowed the door to support her weight. He could feel his heart leap in his chest the moment her back touched the door and he had to squeeze his hold on the suitcase tighter in order to keep his distance. She seemed oblivious enough about the position she was in, but he found himself strangely memorizing each and every detail of the intimidate moment that passed less than twenty-four hours ago. She was standing in the exact same position against the door of his guest bedroom and she was making it very difficult for him to keep him from repeating it. He knew that he would not mind stealing her detective hat once more, to lean in until there was only little distance between them... He could only break into a sad smile, trying to still the heavy feelings in his chest that were burning more fiercely than ever before. She had warned him not to give him a demonstration again, had she? Provoking her now did not seem advisable.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” her voice called out. Her brows were pressed together and among curiosity there was a skepticism glistering in her expressive eyes.

He softly shook his head at her. “I am going to bring my belongings to the carriage now,” he announced. “Maybe you can take back that dress in the meantime?”

Her eyes clouded over. “That is your method to speed things along?” she murmured.

He blinked at that. This is the first time that she mentioned any feelings of dread towards the end of the case. While it would surely be for a different reason than his, he found himself silently agreeing with her. These hours had been intense for the both of them. Their cooperation had been frustrating but entertaining at the same time. “I will be taking your belongings with me as well,” he informed her.

Rin’s eyebrows frowned together at that. “Doesn’t your shoulder still hurt?” she questioned.

The shoulder he had fallen on while protecting her… he could almost appreciate the hint of concern in that carefully constructed sentence. “It does, but I will be fine. I am able to carry two suitcases with me,” he replied, taking a couple of steps toward her.

“Don’t bother,” she told him. “You haven’t given me time to pack.”

“You never unpacked,” he easily countered. A spark of annoyance flashed in those different-colored irises. He smiled kindly at her while stating his offer more clearly. “Its fine, I promise not to look into your belongings. There’s no need to walk to the carriage twice, right?”

She moved away from the door, taking a step toward him. “Len,” she softly called out to him, causing his ears to perk. “It takes approximately seven minutes to reach the carriage from this place in the castle. I will give you fifteen minutes, but not a second more. We’ll meet back here in this hallway… is that clear to you?”

To be perfectly honest, this order did not surprise him in the slightest. “Are we heading to Lady Millina after that?” he decided to just ask her.

She averted her gaze. “We are.” He watched her fold her slender fingers around the doorknob and turn it around. Without so much as glancing back at him, she left the room and entered the hallway. He followed her to see her disappear around the corner and he quietly closed the door to the guestroom behind him without a last glance around. Although he had been grateful it had been provided to him, he did not feel any sentimental value to pieces of furniture he had hardly used. Pausing before the bedroom door next to him, he tried the doorknob. He sighed. He should have expected her to lock it.

Glancing at his wristwatch, he knew that there was only little time to spare. She had given him a limited time to arrange their departure and he needed to move along.

The figure underneath the blankets stirred when the door was opened in one quick movement. What unnerved the detective girl wasn’t that the woman was lying in bed at this time in the morning – she couldn’t care less about the maid skipping her early duties. It was the fact that her position reminded her that much of Lady Millina that it made her yank the blankets off her without even closing the door behind her first.

Shocked ice-blue eyes gazed back at her, legs instantly curling up.

“I brought your dress back,” she simply stated, dropping the folded piece of clothing on the maid’s pillow. “Oh, thank you for lending it.”

“Wait – miss detective,” Lily asked from her, lifting herself from the mattress. “Could I have a word with you?”

Instead of being angry at her for the less than subtle method to wake her up, the maid was surprisingly polite. Remembering that the woman had the tendency to come off as rude, Rin could only raise a skeptical eyebrow at this change in behavior. For her to be in her bed at this time of day could only indicate a restless night. It couldn’t be blamed; the chandelier incident must have been rather traumatic. “That’s fine,” she answered. “I have been meaning to ask you a couple of questions as well.”

The maid’s bare feet stepped on the carpeted floor. Her long locks of platinum-blonde hair were ruffled and she was wearing her long white nightgown. But when she placed her hands together, that appearance did not make her any less graceful. “What can I do for you?” Lily asked with a warm, grateful smile on her face. It seemed so guanine that the detective girl started to feel restless about it.

“This morning, I have been asking you about that dress,” she announced, seeing ice-blue eyes sparkle in recognition. “I mentioned that it was an expensive-looking dress and you told me that it had been a gift for your twelve years of service in the Callisford household. Is there anything you would like to add to that statement?”

For a moment, the maid averted her gaze. It took her a while before she was able to find her voice, but when she used it, she provided a clear enough answer. “My master had given it to me personally. He was grateful to the service I provided, but a little extra grateful to the secret I’ve been willing to keep from my mistress,” she actually confessed. “He never wanted my mistress to know about her friend.”

The detective girl huffed. “I figured as much. If I had known about his affair with Gillium Noverin sooner, who knows if I could have made a difference?” she sighed to herself. The maid’s head bowed lower, but she paid no attention to that. “Where did their rendezvous usually take place?” she interrogated, not an ounce of shame in the choice of her words. “The guest bedroom on the first floor, I would presume?”

The maid nodded. “Despite of my silence, my mistress had caught them there a couple of months ago...” was what she answered. “She had suspected it, but was still in great shock. She locked herself away for five weeks, barely eating and drinking anything. During that time, she refused to speak to anyone…”

The detective girl tilted her head, spotting an opening and taking it. “She would not even talk to her daughter?” she proclaimed. She noticed the shoulders of the woman stiffen, her eyes widening just slightly, a hint of panic silently ebbing away in those light-colored irises. Just as suspected. “N-no, not anyone.”

“They weren’t close?” she theorized, watching the maid’s parted lips close together. Distinctly remembering Millina’s reaction when Julie entered the masquerade, it had always felt as if something hadn’t been quite right. The tone of the lady’s voice had held panic, but instead of sounding overly concerned, it felt hostile in its own way.

“I apologize,” Lily then sighed. “Not even after his death, will I break my master’s orders not to speak of it. But if there is anything else I can do for you...”

This time, Rin visibly frowned at the maid’s eagerness to assist. “What changed?” she stated, the annoyance making the words colder than she had intended. “This morning you were snarling at me not to stain your dress and you weren’t half this willing to answer my questions.”

The maid gave her an apologetic smile. “You have earned my respect, miss detective. When we were cleaning the ballroom… if you hadn’t been there…”

Realization dawned on the detective girl and she almost took a step back in astoundment. She took a breath, suddenly realizing that this conversation could easily be…

“I landed on the chest of the person who pulled me out of harm’s way,” the maid knowingly smiled. “Detective, I could tell the difference.”

Not private. Spinning on her heel, she leaped to the opened doorway. Her short locks circled when she sharply turned her head left and right, only to meet the sight of a long, abandoned hallway. Pure relief made her momentarily close her eyes, resting her forehead against the now closed door. “Have you told anyone?” was the first question she raised.

“…No.” The light-heartedness in the blonde maid’s voice had disappeared, along with any warmth in the temperature of their conversation. “I had kept it to myself.”

The detective girl flatly placed her hands on the door, before pulling away. “Keep your tongue. Do not repeat this to anyone. Flowers that wilt prematurely are the worst kind of sight,” she muttered. “I hate seeing it more than anything.” With that, the detective girl yanked the door open again and left it without waiting for a response.

The stress building up in her head made her chew on the inside of her cheek. The only way to confirm this new theory that she formed at this information would be finding Gillium or interrogating Millina. She had the feeling that both will be impossible at this point. She did not want to show any weakness, but dragging her feet forward to an ending she was not content with felt exhausting in itself. Realizing that she had approximately four more minutes before Len was forced to meet her, she started to pace around the hallways in her lightly agitated state.

Abruptly, her feet stopped as she gazed at the detailed wooden door of another guest room. There was a hand beckoning her from a small gap that caught her curiosity. She didn’t see a face behind the broad hand, but she recognized the large wedding ring. Following her instinct - which Len would definitely scold her for - instead of her common sense, she stepped towards it.

In an instant, her breath was taken away. The moment she entered the room, she was pushed back against the door. She glanced up and looked into the sea-colored eyes of the purple-haired man. His muscular arms had a firm grip on her. If he didn’t have such a clean alibi, she might have hit him the very instant he laid his hands on her.

“Lovely morning,” she announced. “Mind inviting me to a nice restaurant before we get cozy?” Tensing, he man understood how improper this situation seemed to be and took a step back. “I apologize for the situation, but I can only spare a moment.” She had noticed the absence of his wife immediately and assumed his statement was related to that.

“Really?” the detective girl mused. “I only have three minutes for you.”

“Have you put more thought into what I told you yesterday?” Gaillard asked her.

The blond girl tensed, looking at him warily. Her voice was soft when she parted her lips, hesitating for a moment. “…Damn it,” she muttered, wanting to hit her head at the back of that door for her own stupidity. “I hadn’t noticed.”

“I know that you are suspecting my sister-and-law of the crime…”

The detective girl narrowed her eyes. This man was more intelligent than she had accounted him for. No one else had made the connection. They all thought that the lady was merely grieving over her loss and locked herself into her room.

“I never liked how my brother treated women, but I have a soft spot for the one he married with. Please reconsider your suspicion of her. Isn’t it strange to you that Gillium Noverin has disappeared without a trace?”

The detective girl kept silent at this.

“I know about their affair,” Gaillard told her. “That it continued after the birth of his daughter is a thought I am repelled by. Even if it was a twisted method to keep this betrayal from reaching Millina, his love for her was corrupted to the core.” He sighed, his brows furrowing together in a stressed frown. “When I heard about that letter, I honestly expected my sister-in-law to be the victim,” he continued. “That way, Gillium Noverin would have clear access to the family she longed to be part of. I never expected my brother to be murdered, but maybe he finally tried to reason with her.”

Two different-colored eyes stared back at him, her face blank of emotion. “A heavy accusation,” she muttered. “But there is no evidence to back this up. As unfortunate as it may be, it is the evidence that tells the story here. And at the moment, I have collected more than enough for the arrest of Millina Callisford-Vanquost.”

The grip on her shoulders slackened and the man turned his head away.

“Now,” the detective girl softly stated. “What did you tell me at the masquerade?”

A sudden confusion was reflected in the sea-colored eyes when they met hers again. “Excuse me?” he asked again.

She was too impatient to explain herself. “I need you to repeat the exact words you told me at the masquerade,” she repeated in a demanding tone.

She continued to gaze at him as the hesitation slowly ebbed away while he cleared his throat. Even though he looked skeptical, he did follow her demand. “…Lady Millina Vanquost,” he stated once more. “…is infertile.

The detective girl’s lips parted, her heart rate speeding up in the progress of the information. Suddenly, the lady’s words echoed in her head and she almost gasped at the realization. It felt as if she had been trying to look into fog this entire time; seeing bits and pieces of the full picture and piecing it together to build an image of her surroundings. But in an instant, it was blown away and the image she had envisioned in her mind was a lot more detailed now that she was actually able to see clearly.

He desired more than I could give him. In the end, I just hadn't been able to deliver.

“Julie is the daughter of Lady Noverin,” she breathed.
She understood everything. She was staring straight at it. But instead of feeling appreciate or relieved at this conclusion, she could only feel her throat tighten. Because she was now forced to open her eyes to a very clear possibility.

Faintly, she heard Gaillard ask her something. But instead of answering him, she opened the door and met the fresh air in the hallway. She sucked it in immediately, sprinting through it with only determination to fuel her stamina. In the back of her mind, she could only conclude that she had already surpassed her scheduled meeting time with Len.

He felt his legs move on their own accord. There was something wrong.

It registered in his mind when he saw the detective girl running as if she was chased by something. Only by coincidence, their eyes met at the main staircase and the spark of fear in her eyes caused his chest to tighten. She disregarded him completely as she passed him, sharply turning left into the hallway. She hadn’t called him or send him any signal to follow him, but he chased after her nonetheless.

“Wait!” he had called, his voice echoing through the hallway. He was sure that she had heard him, but she did not stop or slow down at all. Several thoughts entered his mind, but the thing he wondered the most, made his teeth clench. What did she discover in the small timeframe he’d been gone?It was only until after she stopped, that he was able to catch up with her. She had already pushed the key into the lock hastily – were her fingers shaking? - and turned it around.

The door was slammed open and before he could fully comprehend the situation, bright light instantly blinded his vision. The contrast between the light room and the dark hallway only slowly ebbed away and what caught his eyes first were the pure-white curtains moving along with the rhythm of the wind… before a fully-opened window.

For a moment, he was focused on her ragged breaths alone in the silent room. They were deep and shaky, resounding through the room in an uneven pattern. It was as if the magic spell what kept him in place was only broken when she took that initiative step forward and crossed the boundaries of a place that almost felt holy in the intense silence. He did not stop her when she approached the bed. With a straightened back, she only hung her head low as she stared at the unfolded blankets. Slowly, her gloved fingers extended and touched the envelope on top of it, staring at the piece of paper. It was a pure white envelope, completely blank.

Diagonally pausing behind her, he gave her a respectable amount of distance. It was a simple, ordinary letter. There was no candle wax on the back of it as she turned it around and he watched the detective girl open it and reach the contents of the letter. He did not dare approach her further while her eyes roamed over the papers, giving her the privacy without asking unnecessarily early questions.

Slowly, a chuckle bubbled up in the throat of the detective girl and he felt his heart beating faster when it increased. Soon, her laughter filled the entire room and the sheer bitterness in her distorted laughter, made him uneasy. She stumbled forward and landed into the soft blankets of the unmade bed, her laughter resounding even while it was muffled.

Slowly, he stepped closer to her and stared down her fallen figure. There was a hollow feeling in his chest as he reached out to her. Slowly sinking to take a seat next to her, he gently placed his hand on her back. Turning his head away from the shaking form of the detective, he looked around the abandoned room. Drawers were opened and left completely empty. There was no sight of the teal-haired lady. In a timeframe between yesterday night and this late morning, she had disappeared. Only one conclusion could be drawn; she had fled.

The empty laughter seemed to go on forever and only subsided after the detective girl had no air left in her lungs, turning it into a coughing fit. It took her a couple of attempts to pull away from the blankets and when she met his gaze, the intensity of her unwavering stare made him swallow any words of consent he had been willing to share. Her long eyelashes fluttered a couple of times at their close distance and he felt his heart leap in his chest when she folded her arms around his waist and rested her forehead against his stomach. He stopped being aware of his surroundings. It was like the rest of the world ceased to exist. Slowly, hesitantly, he wrapped his arms around her and embraced her, his cheek resting on the crown of her head.

“This is the end now… isn’t it?” He wanted to answer her, but felt his throat tighten. An overwhelming sadness grabbed hold of his chest, that had nothing to do with the fact that a family tragedy had taken place, or that they hadn’t managed to catch the murderer before she could escape. It was a pain in his chest, when he realized… that this was indeed the end.

He had not allowed her out of his sight for another second after that shared moment, expressing his concern for her in his little actions. “Do you want to talk about it?” he asked softly, placing her hand on her shoulder after she had hung up the phone.

“What is there to talk about?” she replied indifferently, but her eyes had averted. She looked tired. “They’re on their way and they will arrive within the hour.”

Realizing that she would be sent to prison sooner or later, Lady Millina escaped with a few of her belongings. A carriage was missing out of the six the family owned. The rain had washed away any possible tracks. In the storm, no one had heard a thing.

Len nodded absently. “They were devastated…” he muttered, vividly remembering the expressions of Lucia and Gaillard when they told them the news. When he had finally convinced the detective girl to leave them alone to grieve, he had heard the quiet sobs through the closed door.

Now that the murderer had fled, the case has grown into a high-scale police investigation. A small detective agency such as the one she owns would never be able to track down a fugitive on the run. He quickly learned that Rin had been in touch with the police from the beginning, cooperating with them. She must have suspected that something like this could happen. “She did not address you personally did she, in her letter,” he sighed. “Didn’t that upset you?”

Any lingering doubt about Millina’s guilt was washed away with the letter the lady left behind. It contained a clear confession to both murders, hidden between the many words of regret. It told the story of a lady who had tried to give her husband a child for many years, only to conclude its impossibility. Instead of embracing that flaw, her husband had one day walked into the mansion with Julie, announcing it to be their daughter. Already carrying resentment to her husband’s unfaithfulness that allowed this offspring, she later discovered the biological mother to be her best friend. And that their long friendship had concealed an equally long affair. The betrayal she had felt at this knowledge forced her to see the shards of the happy life she had been trying to piece together ever since. Forced to raise a child that wasn’t hers, pretending to be friends with someone that had betrayed her and acting loving to a person who had vowed to share his life with her… The everlasting silent anger that smoldered inside her from day to day caused her to end the lives of the two people who hurt her most. The letter didn’t mention Gillium, so it was still unsure whether or not she was responsible for her death as well.

“Actually, I am relieved,” she glanced at him. “I’d rather not mention my previous acquaintance with Millina to the police. It is hardly relevant for them to know and I don’t feel like sharing information that should have stayed private in the first place.”
He frowned at her decision, but chose not to debate her role in this outcome. “Can I now ask you what your relationship was with Lady Millina? I mean, more than the vague outlines I overheard.”

She placed her head into her hand, sighing softly. “Fine,” she mumbled softly. “I guess it’s almost time to put all the cards on the table anyway.” She met his gaze with a soft intake of breath. “I used to be childhood friends with Millina. My father owned a blooming company and met Millina’s father at a party; you know how these high society things go… I used to play at her house every other week and since she was an only child, she took a liking to me as if I was her younger sibling.”

The writer’s gaze widened slightly at her providence of personal information.

“I met Keaton Callisford only once before,” Rin stated while digging through her memories. “He was already Millina’s fiancé at a young age. We were briefly introduced, but I never met him after that until we came here. My parents were murdered shortly after.”

Len took in the detective girl’s desolate expression and felt his heart leap in his chest.

“I was six,” she softly continued. “When my brother shot my parents at the dining table. He could not handle the pressure my father put on him as his heir and snapped. Ironically, he could not shoot his younger sibling but did leave her crying in the blood of her parents,” she bemusedly laughed. “He said he loved me too much.”

Len frowned. “Oliver was his name, wasn’t it?” he quietly asked her.

“You were paying close attention,” she smiled at him. “Then you know what happened after that. I was too young to inherit anything, so every amount of money that the company and mansion made went to Millina’s father. He did not reach out to help me, pocketed his reward for being my father’s best friend and continued on living a comfortable lifestyle. I do not resent him for his selfish actions until this day; kindness is usually a façade in this world where everyone is struggling to achieve and retain their vision of happiness. I could only press my luck that I met the one man that selflessly looked after me when the old family maid no longer could. Needless to say, I never met Millina again up until we came here.”

The frown of the writer deepened. “She called you ‘Ring’ didn’t she?” he asked, causing the detective girl to blink. “An old nickname,” she replied. “One I kept.”

“I see…” he absently muttered. “It does sound like the sound a bell makes, doesn’t it?”

This caused the detective girl to immediately stiffen, her heart catching in her throat and she widely stared at the writer as if she was looking at him for the first time.

“…The name Nirellin, that is.”

Her stomach turned and a cold shudder ran down her spine. “That’s… how do…” For the first time since their cooperation together, she could not begin to form the questions that formed in her mind. “That can’t… did you – no, did Millina –”
“So it was you,” Len breathed and he closed his eyes for a moment. “…I thought you looked familiar when I first saw you again, but I couldn’t be sure without asking you.”

Her cheeks heated up in a flare of anger. “There is no way that you could obtain that information without –”

“We met before,” he decided to interrupt her. “But it was a very long time ago, so you might not even remember it.”

“Nonsense,” she stated coldly.

“The case of Ollivander Benjamin Rimms,” Len informed her. “Shot his parents at the age of fifteen, then presumably committed suicide. His weapon murder and shoes were found in front of a nearby lake, but as I recall, his body was never located.”

She narrowed her eyes at him. “…How the hell do you know all this?” she muttered.

His blue eyes calmly gazed back at her. “I told you… we met before. There had been a bandage in front of your right eye though, that’s why I haven’t mentioned it until I was absolutely sure,” he lightly shook his head. “It certainly explains why you’re not good at expressing yourself. You were like that back then as well, weren’t you?”

She took a step back and eyed him skeptically.

“It was the first case my father brought me to,” he continued to explain. “There, I saw a girl crying. There were no tears running down her cheeks, no sobs that came out of her mouth. But I could see her cry nonetheless.”

Rin’s eyes widened, her lips silently parting from each other.

Len held a hand through his bangs. “I can distinctively remember the police officers mutter admirably about your ability to stay strong; I remember hating them for saying that. Because you weren’t keeping yourself strong… you were breaking apart from the inside.”

Unblinking different-colored eyes kept their gaze locked. “…You told me to cry,” she replied.

He mournfully smiled. “And you did,” he softly stated. “And I embraced you.”

She took another step back, the words of that shared moment echoing in her memory. “I can’t believe this…” she shook her head.

“I never forgot about it,” he breathed. “To think that we would meet again like this…”

She quietly laughed at his words, far from amused. “The world really is a cruel place.”

Len looked around. “We still have some time before the police will arrive. Why don’t we go somewhere else for a little while?” he asked her. “…I’ve been meaning to tell you something.”

She followed his gaze, seeming to understand that the hallway isn’t the most ideal place for a more private conversation. “Only if I get to pick where we are going,” she replied.

“The rose garden,” the soft laughter of the writer rang. “I should have expected it.”

The garden was even more beautiful in daylight. Dewdrops still lingered and the occasional appearance of the sun made the roses look like sparkling jewels. The simple beauty of it almost mocked the horrible tragedy that had taken place inside.

Gazing at the red roses, he couldn’t help but connect the deep, rich color with blood. He let out a soft breath, trying to keep his mind from drifting back to the case. The two days he had spent here, had affected him more than he thought they would. Standing here now, between the perfectly bloomed flowers, he realized that his life would forever be changed.

The detective girl had slowly taken a few steps away from him, creating a distance between the two of them. Despite his many attempts to start a conversation, she hadn’t said a word in their walk towards the garden. Her eyes had been unfocused and she had seemed lost in thoughts.

“It’s quiet here…” Her voice rang quietly through the garden, interrupting his thoughts. He heard her take a breath, watching her frame as she walked towards the bushes. “It makes me feel safe.”

That seemed like a strange thing to say. He could only raise his eyebrow at the statement. “You’re contradicting your own words. Wouldn’t it be less safe, the quieter a place is?”

Instead of answering him, she reached out, fingertips lightly touching a rose. She gently stroked its petals and a graceful smile framed her face. That instant, he felt warmth spread in his chest, the peaceful gesture calming him. He had the feeling that she had already given him an answer.

Different colored eyes silently met his, glistering much like the flowers surrounding her. Heat filled his cheeks. Looking at the beautiful roses and the young woman standing between them, there wasn’t a place in the world he’d rather be.

“This will be the end then…”

He felt his throat tighten, her words hitting him like a ton of bricks. The fluttering in his stomach quickly turned in a big knot, almost agonizingly painful as he stared back at her. It… wasn’t as if he hadn’t realized this himself. As things were going, this conversation in the garden will merely become a memory. Nothing more than that.

“I don’t want that,” he spilled words without thinking about them first.

Curiosity gleamed in her eyes. “Well, that’s the way it is…” she started, with a voice surprisingly gentle. “This case has ended. We will go our separate ways. You will get to publish your story before tomorrow’s newspaper and I will pick up another case.”

He took another step forward, his heart pounding in his chest. “I would like to see you again… after this I mean.”

Blank eyes stared back at him, her expression indifferent. “You’re being unrealistic,” she stated. “This case was a lucky strike. My previous cases barely make it to the newspaper as it is. You have a place in Cambridge and your work is there.”

He parted his lips, ready to tell her that he didn’t mind the distance.

“Personally, I wouldn’t have time for visitations,” she interrupted him. “I travel a lot and so do you. It’s part of our jobs… Listen, Levon, this has to be the way things end.”

He lowered his gaze. Of course, he knew she was right.

“But who knows…” she mused softly, as a cheeky smile made an appearance on her face. “In a different time, at a different place… Once allowed to, I might visit you instead.” He shook his head at her. She was such a cruel person sometimes.

A soft wind blew, picking up a few strand petals. Gently, the red-colored rose petals travelled through the air, dancing around the detective girl as if she was the most beautiful flower in the garden. They softly brushed against her, playfully illuminating her radiant appearance, of which she seemed oblivious about.

And as his gaze locked with hers, he felt the determination in him rise.

“I won’t leave you.” His voice was soft, but determined. His blue eyes pierced into hers, staring with unwavering fixation. She must have picked up the change of atmosphere, because at that very moment, her shoulders tensed.

This feeling he had when he looked at her; he realized that he’d felt this way ever since he met her. The stirring in his chest only grew the more time he spent with her. This feeling he wanted to express… There was no point in denying it any longer.

“I am in love with you.”

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