”Shelly? ” Raiva called in a soft voice.

A few moments later, she appeared in the open doorway.

”Yes, my lady? ”

”Do you know where the tenancy contracts went? I can seem to find them. ”

”Oh, yes, they should be over here, ” she replied promptly and began shuffling through a cabinet drawer behind the desk. ”Here they are, my lady. ”

”Thank you. Tell me, did any of them seem… ” Raiva tried finding a polite word to use, in an attempt to describe the rooms shed seen. ”…odd? ”

”My, odd, ” Shelly contemplated for a moment. ”I would perhaps rather say eccentric? The lawyer and I rejected the applications from strange people, of course, the ones that just didn seem right, after all my lady is going to be living in the same building and all. But these ones, they seemed very polite, though I do agree some of the room furnishings are, well, particular. Unique? ”

”Right, ” Raiva muttered while scratching her eyebrow lightly. ”Oh, and Shelly? I know why you want to call me that, and want to insist on it, and I appreciate the sentiment, I do. But its just going to cause a lot of confusion and questions from the tenants, and Id really rather avoid it. Please? ”

Shelly looked surprised for a moment, then cast her eyes to the floor.

”Yes, madam. I- I just… ” she trailed off and looked like she might tear up.

Raiva stood from her chair and held her. For once, she didn try to protest, and instead just sighed softly.

”I know. Me too. ”

Shelly put her arms around her briefly, then drew herself back up to her full height.

”Alright, madam. I will show the tenants in when they arrive to sign the last bit of paperwork. Oh, and Frederick has been baking, heaps of biscuits again, but they turned out very well this time! ”

”I would love some, thank you. ”

She happily shuffled away, and returned promptly with said biscuits and a glass of iced tea for her, before walking off.

A little tired, Raiva sat down and took a biscuit into her hand. She was in the process of biting it when the bell at the font door was rung.

Raiva put the baked good back on the plate, when she heard Shelly moving towards the door. She tried to hear what was being said, but could only make out her part of the conversation.

”Yes? ”

”… ”

”Oh, yes, of course! Please come inside, sir. ”

”… ”

”My goodness, Im so sorry, My Lord. Of course. If I may show you to the madams office? ”

/My Lord?

She glanced at the contracts in front of her.

/Lord Cassian Lorentz, son of Countess Lorentz. No titles on the others.

Before she had time to think, Shelly appeared in the doorway again.

”Madam, one of your tenants has arrived. ”

She bowed and stepped to the side.

/No name?

Shelly was very experienced in working for high ranking households, noble ones included. If she did not announce the visitor, it meant he did not give one.

/Rude.

Into view stepped a beautiful man with dark curls, and dark brown, almond shaped eyes with a mole under his left eye, that seemed to make him look almost like a beautiful doll. This was only exacerbated by his olive toned skin, which, though not exotic by any means, was pretty uncommon in these parts. His overall features were on the delicate side. He seemed her own age, though his face was entirely smooth and therefore a little hard to estimate. Though she initially got the impression that he was quite petite, his frame was actually on the slender side, as he looked about her own height when he was standing next to Shelly. He was wearing casual clothes, but they were fitted perfectly and clearly made from expensive silk and cotton, the marks of typical incognito nobility.

”Thank you, Shelly. Lord Lorentz, it is a pleasure. ” Raiva greeted the man formally as she stood from her seat and curtsied. ”Welcome. ”

Cassian bowed lightly in return.

”Thank you, madam. ”

”I am sorry to take up your time when youve only just arrived, but might you spare a moment to sign some papers regarding your tenancy, My Lord? ” Raiva knew better than to take chances with nobles, especially ones that don give their names to staff to be announced properly. Best to be as polite as possible.

”Of course, madam. ”

Despite his almost feminine beauty, the man in front of her was quite cold and bland. It had been a while since Raiva had encountered such a disconnect from appearance to behavior, particularly among the nobility. She quickly dismissed the thought as she gestured to the chair in front of her desk, and discreetly moved the biscuits and her tea off the surface. Cassian eyed her slightly, and took a seat.

”Its nothing much. I simply noted that the signature was made by a proxy for Your Lordship, and was hoping to get Your personal signature on here, to ensure that everything is in order in regards to the legal side of things. ”

His face was expressionless as he looked at her for a few beats.

”My -personal- signature? ”

”Yes, My Lord, for the tenancy contract. ”

He stared at her for a bit, then let out a sigh.

”Are you sure you wouldn rather have me just sign the pamphlet, madam? ”

”Pamphlet, My Lord? ”

”Yes, your pamphlet for The Deers Sonata. ”

”Sonata? Is… is that a play, sir? Why would I have a pamphlet? ”

/Is he… off it?

He was now sighing increasingly dramatically and putting his fingers against his temple.

”Yes, madam, the pamphlet you have of the play The Deers Sonata. Id rather not be so frivolous as to sign my autograph on a contract, so I might as well sign the damn pamphlet so you can show it off to your lady friends freely. ”

/What?

”My lord. I do not know what The Deers Sonata is. ”

He opened his mouth in protest, but she continued.

”I need Your -personal- signature on the aforementioned -contract- to ensure that You, personally, agree to the terms of your tenancy, by advice of my lawyer. ”

”You -don – know who I am? ”

He looked surprised.

Did he not hear anything else I said?

”No. ”

”How do you not know who I am? ”

”How would I? ”

”You knew me -on sight- as I entered. ”

Raiva took a deep breath and scratched her brow.

”I knew who you were, or rather your name, because Shelly, who as you may recall welcomed you at the door, and she changed her sir to My Lord. Her voice happened to travel all the way in her. There is exactly one tenant with a title, and that, -My Lord-, is a Lord Cassian Lorentz, the- ” she looked at the paper in front of her, reading out, ”Son of Countess Amelia Lorentz. Now Her Ladyship I have heard of, and that, -My Lord-, is all I know. After all, I didn conduct a rigorous background check beyond requesting recommendations for any of my tenants. None of yours mention anything about who you are other than
ot the tidiest of tenants, but perfectly pleasant regardless and always pays on time. ”

Raiva leaned back in her chair, observing him.

She asked, ”Now. Is there anything else I -should- know, Lord Lorentz? ”

Cassian had fallen quiet. Finally, he smirked, so slightly that Raiva almost didn catch it. Then he stood and bowed to her.

”I am -very- sorry, madam. ” He looked up at her apologetically with his annoyingly pretty brown eyes. ”I genuinely cannot remember when I last so severely misjudged a situation. ”

Raiva held eye contact, lifting an eyebrow inquisitively, but remained silent.

”I am a playwright, you see. I am flattered that you thought me an actor, though I am afraid those days are behind me. Unfortunately it seems as though the playwright is almost as hounded by admirers as the actor, especially when the playwright is of noble origins.

”I had, mistakenly and foolishly of course, thought you to be one of my admirers, who tend to try and trick me into giving them autographs, rather than simply ask. Quite a few try to have me sign receipts and fraudulent petitions. ”

He shook his head a little, incredulous at the absurdity.

”Right, well then. Shall we move on to the topics at hand then, Lord Lorentz? ” she interjected. ”This is the contract your proxy signed, and if you would be so kind as to- ”

”Madam, ” he said with that same smirk on his face. ”I can help but notice that you haven accepted my apology yet. ”

”I tend not to accept apologies given out of necessity, My Lord. ”

”But it -is- considered impolite to reject an apology. ”

”I haven rejected it, I just haven accepted it either. ”

The two stared at each other for several seconds, before Cassian began laughing and sat back down.

He muttered under his breath, ”Thats a new one. ”

Putting on a more cordial smile, he leaned forward in his chair.

”It occurs to me, madam, I don believe I have asked for your name? ”

/He knows that because of his title I had to wait for him to ask.

”You haven , no, ” she silently made a note to scold Shelly for selecting him. ”Raiva. ”

”Well, Madam Raiva, I will happily re-sign the contract, if you promise not to auction it off. ”

”No promises, Im afraid, ” she slid the contract towards him and recomposed herself. ”Did you have any inquiries about your tenancy, My Lord? ”

”Only a request that my room be left alone by the maid. ” He slid the contract back to her and stood up to leave.

”I will let Shelly, the -housekeeper-, know, My Lord. ”

/The
ot the tidiest tenant strikes again.

He nodded in affirmation, but continued.

”Oh, and one last thing, madam? ” he tilted his head to the side and smiled sweetly. ”Please feel free to drop the formalities. I wouldn want to put the other tenants on edge. We
e all house mates now after all. ”

”Im afraid I- ”

”And Im afraid I insist. ”

/Oaf.

”Yes. ” She rubbed her brow, exhausted. ”Sir. ”

”Cassian. ”

”-Fine-. Cassian. ”

He let out a laugh at her expression and turned around, leaving the office. Shelly had been waiting by the entrance to show him the way to his room, and guided him up.

As soon as she heard him reach the top of the stairs, she slumped in her chair and let out a prolonged groan. She felt 5 years older.

/Lords have mercy.

She sat back up, and finally took a bite out of Fredericks biscuits. They were alright.

Her updo suddenly felt tight and restraining, so she pulled out her hairpin and ruffled her locks lightly.

/Is he always so demanding? Just what is perfectly pleasant about him?

She sipped her, now room temperature, iced tea. It was still delicious.

/Aristocrats.

She briefly recalled Cassians deep brown eyes gazing at her playfully, with that annoying, charming beauty mark making him look deceptively sweet.

/Actors.

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