After Ekaterina knocked on the door, Ivan, Alexei’s valet, opened the door. His eyes widened the moment he saw Ekaterina.
“My Lady, why are you carrying such a big basket?”
Ivan took the basket from her at once. Ivan was a valet who was just as sensible as Mina. The only difference between them was Ivan had an amiable smile plastered on his face, unlike Mina. His light brown hair and amber eyes gave off a gentle impression. He was pretty much as tall as Alexei, considerably good looking.
“Thank you. Can you make tea for everyone?”
“The basket smells good. What is this?”
“Ufufu. I made this!” Ekaterina said with a grin. That shocked Ivan.
(He doesn’t have to look that surprised…)
“Your Excellency, Miss Ekaterina came to visit.”
Ivan got over the shock and called his master. At the mention of Ekaterina, Alexei looked up. “Ekaterina. What’s wrong?”
“Brother, I brought our lunch.”
“It seems like Miss Ekaterina made this.”
Ivan picked up the basket and showed it. That made Alexei’s eyes widened. Not only Alexei, but the executives managing Yurinovas’ territory in the office turned their faces up at the same time, looking at her.
Was it that surprising?
Well, Ekaterina wanted to speak to them anyway.
“Everyone, how about taking a small break from your work to have a meal? It’s only a light meal, but I tried cooking it.”
“Did you really make it…?”
“Yes, Brother. I borrowed the kitchen in the cafeteria… Um, someone taught me how to make it, so I don’t think you need to be that worried.”
While Ekaterina and Alexei were chatting, Ivan prepared the plates and served the crepes from the basket. Then Ekaterina remembered something and gave Ivan a share that had been tightly wrapped with cling wrap.
“This is for you. I wrapped it up so that it won’t get cold. Make sure to eat it once you already serve everyone’s share, okay?”
“My Lady, you prepared my share as well?” Ivan looked surprised, but he happily accepted it.
“...It’s delicious,” Alexei muttered after taking a bite, unable to hide his slight surprise. Hearing that, Ekaterina was joyous.
(Yay! He’s not flattering me just now! He unconsciously praised me, right! Brother praised me!!)
“This is a light meal that the commoners buy at the stalls, right? I used to eat it when I was a student. How nostalgic… You even put mustard on the sausages, My Lady. It’s delicious.” Among the executives, the young man who was the head of the mines chewed the crepes, muttering with deep emotion. His name was Aaron Kyle.
“It has the home-cooking taste of the imperial capital. Fried onions and bacon are the standard ingredients in my parents’ home, but potatoes and bacon are also delicious,” Boris Nova, Alexei’s right-hand man, commented with a sombre voice.
Since the Novak family was the branch of the Yurinova family, Most people thought that he was born in Yurinovas’ territory. Turns out her grandfather Sergei appointed Boris to work for him when he used to be a junior public servant, then he married into the Novak’s family.
“I have eaten this with sweets like jam in Yurinovas’ territory, but these ingredients also taste good. Now that I think of it, there is a similar cuisine in other countries.” The person carefully scrutinizing the crepes with interest was Halil Tallal, who was serving as the head of commercial distribution.
He had brown skin, an evident proof that he was from another country. As the direct lineage of the head of a large Halil with offices around the world, Harry could tell many details of other countries’ circumstances.
In addition to them, there were the head of forest-agriculture, the head of finance, the head of administration, the head of the Knights’ Order, and the counsel (lawyer and adviser). Together, they worked as Alexei’s brain. The executives took turns visiting Alexei one after another to report or ask for permission to the young Duke. Most of them were the talents found by Sergei, and they were the best pick among their respective fields.
It could be said that Sergei left his greatest possessions to his grandson. Thanks to them, Alexei could balance his studies with his duty as Duke.
It was unusual for them to have friendly conversations about the commoner’s food, something not related to their work.
“This is the first time I heard about Novak’s parents’ home. In which area of the imperial capital is it?”
“It's located at downtown. Your Excellency, you won’t know the location. I haven’t visited them in the last twenty years… I’m sure it has changed a lot. Aaron, how about you?”
“I’ve never been to my parents’ home. I’m the fifth son anyway. I’m sure my parents have forgotten about my existence.”
“Being the fifth son is not that bad, you know? I have ten brothers, not counting my sisters. My father has three wives.”
“That’s amazing, Halil.”
The men laughed, then they immediately stopped after remembering Ekaterina.
“Everyone, please don’t worry about me. I’m happy that you are having fun.”
Ekaterina smiled. She had experienced sexual harassment and power harassment in her previous life. Hearing about someone having three wives didn’t really concern her anymore.
“I don’t usually get the chance to talk to everyone like this. It’s thanks to you, Ekaterina.”
“It’s my pleasure to make Brother happy,” Ekaterina smiled in satisfaction. She was happy to make him relax even if just for a while. This was her plan to break his death from overworking flag!
“I’ll be making something again tomorrow, so will you eat it?”
Alexei frowned. “I’m grateful for that, but you will have to personally make it, right? I’ll ask the kitchen to prepare these for us, so don’t do it anymore. What if you get injured?”
“But they won’t be keen on making this kind of dish, right? Brother, you can’t demand special treatment from the academy too much, or it’ll damage the reputation of Duke Yurinova. I’m sure of that.”
Ekaterina had expected this.
Alexei wasn’t choosy about his meal, but she was confident that he would be concerned about this.
Alexei used to say things like he’ll do anything for her like making her have good grades or something like that, but he then restrained himself when it came to his needs. He was that kind of siscon brother.
“One of my classmates also cooked their own lunch. We have fun cooking together while chatting. Please allow me to continue.”
“...If you wish so.” Alexei reluctantly nodded.
Looking at the siblings’ interaction, the executives stifled their laughter. Alexei wouldn’t be affected by anything during work, but he was very lenient towards his sister. For them, such Alexei was funny to watch.
Even after Alexei and the executives resumed their work, Ekaterina stayed in the office to help out with a few chores. She did that until Alexei finished his work near the end of the lunch break. They then returned to their respective classrooms.
The executives continued to work in the office even when Alexei already left. They had a lot of things to do, such as instructing their subordinates, filling the documents, and fixing the policies they had decided during the lunch break. They had to finish it by the time Alexei returned here after school.
“I never thought that we would be able to eat Miss Ekaterina’s handmade cooking. This is the first time I met her, but she’s a beautiful and gentle lady. Not to say, she cares for her brother. I’m deeply moved when I know that His Excellency finally has a family that cares about him,” Aaron said happily.
“I agree. But it seems like she’s even more capable than that. Lord Novak, what do you think of this suggestion? This is Miss Ekaterina’s idea.”
“What? What is this, a wagon?” Novak looked at the documents he received, puzzled.
“It’s a long pending issue for the revitalization of commerce in Duke’s territory. Miss Ekaterina, who found out about that, looked at a report to Lord Aaron and proposed to use the wagons that carried the raw metal from the mine to the imperial capital.
On the way back from the imperial capital to the Yurinovas’ territory, the wagons’ luggage is empty. Since they’re going to return with guards anyway, they can load the items of the small stores in the imperial capital for a cheap price. After all, those stores can’t afford to purchase a personal wagon. This will increase the stores that can handle the items from the imperial capital, which will naturally boost the market.
Now that I think of it, the cargo ships owned by my family’s company load as many things as we can when we depart and when we return back. We can do the same thing with the wagons.”
Novak began to read the documents with a straight face.
“Business is not my speciality, but… even if Miss Ekaterina casually thought of this idea, this is a groundbreaking proposal. Each department doesn't share its information with other departments, so we can’t think of this idea. And yet Miss Ekaterina was able to put this and that together. She has uncommon talent.”
Halil nodded to Aaron’s words. “That’s right. I was surprised that Miss Ekaterina, who was secluded and unfamiliar with the world could come up with such a proposal. As expected from His Excellency’s sister and the granddaughter of Duke Sergei.”
If Ekaterina heard their evaluations, she would with no doubt inwardly shout, “I’m just a woman in her thirties who was experienced in the logistic management system in my previous life! Sorry for betraying your expectations!”
But this was just the beginning of everything.
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