Chapter 21

 

***

 

Kane’s expression hardened. When his eyes met Rodelia’s, he turned his head away. 

 

‘It seems we made eye contact…….’

 

His gaze turned to Sola, who was standing by Kane’s side. Sola, who had been holding Kane’s arms, seemed to become aware of her surroundings, smiled kindly at Rodelia and nodded in greeting.

 

The attention was focused on her surroundings, but Rodelia was not so generous as to accept the greeting.

 

Rodelia’s gaze turned coldly.

 

Rumors had already spread that the Empress was not on good terms with the mistress. So it was no problem to ignore Sola’s greeting.

 

“Have you decided not to be aware of the stares around you anymore?”

 

Cerdian’s laughter tickled her ear gently. He seemed very pleased that his sister was humiliated by Rodelia.

 

“Of course. From the moment I entered holding the Grand Duke’s hand.”

 

“Then what are you going to do about those ladies?”

 

“Do what?”

 

Cerdian winked at the ladies. Rodelia, who had only then discovered the ladies who wished to speak to her, frowned in annoyance.

 

“I’m afraid you need my help.”

 

“…… it seems so.”

 

She sighed as she touched her forehead. The problem was that the foreign delegation had not yet entered and there was still time to exchange greetings.

 

One of the noble ladies, who had been looking at Rodelia for a long time, approached with a smile.

 

“Countess Cullen.”

 

“It’s been a long time, Your Majesty.”

 

It was Countess Cullen, who usually played coy with Rodelia.

 

She was also the one who had recently turned down Rodelia’s invitation to attend a tea party at Sola’s.

 

She had originally wanted to work as Rodelia’s maid of honor. However, being a person with a light mouth and having grown up like a princess, she was not suited to serve as someone’s maid.

 

Her reputation as a famous socialite and a bit of a poseur, so it was unknown what would happen if she actually became the Empress’s maid. For this reason, Rodelia was able to refuse her in the past.

 

But even after that, she was a woman who somehow managed to do everything in her power to be associated with Rodelia. Since Rodelia distanced herself with efforts, the bad feelings must be quite strong for the Countess.

 

“But, Your Majesty, why did you come separately with His Majesty?”

 

After all, she seemed intent on embarrassing Rodelia. Rodelia hated that the Countess knew better and dared to ask.

 

She scratched Rodelia gently without crossing the line. But perhaps she could not hide her uneasiness, she rubbed her fan against her plump wrist, which was exposed through her sleeves.

 

“I begged her.”

 

It was Cerdian who stepped forward and answered while Rodelia was thinking what to say.

 

“Your Highness did?”

 

“Of course.”

 

“Why the Grand Duke…?”

 

Cerdian replied without appearing arrogant or, for that matter, condescending. A charming smile spread across his lips.

 

“I’ve been chasing the Empress recently.”

 

 “What……?”

 

Countess Cullen opened her eyes in surprise, not befitting her appearance, and asked a counter-question.

 

Rodelia, too, heard the unexpected answer and made up her mind firmly. She immediately pulled Cerdian’s sleeve lightly. Her brow wrinkled slightly.

 

It was a silent pressure to signal Cerdian to stop. But Cerdian didn’t seem to want to stop. He spoke in a more amused tone.

 

“Her Majesty didn’t comply at all, so I pleaded with her. She only meets me after 3 times.”

 

“Oh, is the Grand Duke claiming to be the Empress’s concubine?”

 

“Why not?”

 

Seeing Cerdian’s crooked smile, Rodelia gave up trying to stop him. She had already expected this to some extent the moment she took his hand, and it was quite funny to see Countess Cullen’s bewilderment.

 

She knew Cerdian was different from the existing aristocrats. No high-ranking aristocrat anywhere made a fuss about becoming a concubine in the presence of a spouse. And that was even more so if the other party was the emperor.

 

“Is that so?”

 

The Countess could not hide her bewilderment. She glanced at the ladies in the back helplessly. She wanted their support, but they weren’t brave enough to spoil Cerdian’s good mood either.

 

Cerdian’s cold glare pierced the Countess. Cold sweat trickled down her forehead.

 

Her plump face turned red as if it would split open at a quick touch. It was not surprising if she immediately began to cry.

 

Fortunately, the musicians changed the music.

 

It was a signal that the foreign delegation had finished preparing to enter the hall. Rodelia slowly made her way to the center door.

 

“Countess Cullen, I have to leave you now. I must receive the delegation.”

 

Rodelia felt the need to soften her mood a little and said with a benevolent smile on her lips.

 

“Of course, please go ahead!”

 

Quickly answering, the Countess spoke in an excited voice.

 

“Well then, I hope you have a pleasant time.”

 

Rodelia looked at the Countess in greeting, and before she knew it, her eyes were sparkling.

 

‘After all, I suppose rumors spread with exaggeration.’

 

Cerdian seemed to have acted with that in mind….

 

Rodelia left the place with graceful steps. Then, after a short distance from them, she pulled Cerdian by the arm and walked behind the curtain in the corner.

 

Rodelia, aware of her surroundings, pulled at the front of his jacket and lowered her body.

 

“The Grand Duke will wait here without causing any trouble.”

 

Cerdian wondered if Rodelia was a little more comfortable now. Rodelia, who had pulled Cerdian close enough to feel the scent of his body, quietly ordered.

 

“If you wish.”

 

“Promise you won’t do anything. When I don’t want you to, you won’t step forward.”

 

“I promise.”

 

Cerdian said with a laugh. He seemed to find the situation quite amusing.

 

“By the way, Prince Gray.”

 

Rodelia stopped in her tracks as she turned to head for where Kane was. It was because she had not expected to hear Prince Gray come out of Cerdian’s mouth.

 

“Prince Gray?”

 

Cerdian stopped her and told her a few things about Prince Gray.

 

Rodelia narrowed her eyes.

 

“I understand…”

 

There was no way now, though she didn’t entirely believe him when he said, “I won’t cause trouble.” Rodelia, who had urged him to finish, took a steady step.

 

****

 

After Rodelia finished preparing to greet the noble guests, Rodelia sat down on a chair on the platform with Kane.

 

She looked impatiently toward where Cerdian was and saw that he was still keeping his word to stay still. Was he the type of person who listened well more than she thought?

 

Fortunately for her, he was.

 

Noble ladies were hovering around him, but could not approach him because of his cold atmosphere, and he did not even look at them in the slightest.

 

Fortunately, it seemed like he wouldn’t cause any trouble. Relieved, Rodelia returned her gaze to its original position.

 

Kane’s expression darkened as he noticed that Rodelia had turned to look at Cerdian.

 

“You seem to be on good terms with the Grand Duke now.”

 

“Is that so?”

 

Rodelia replied bluntly without looking at him. Even if there were unavoidable circumstances, Kane didn’t even care to assign a partner to Rodelia beforehand even though he knew it was an important banquet and there was bound to be talks.

 

‘You smiled so brightly at Cerdian.’

 

Her indifferent response only made Kane even angrier inside.

 

“You’d better stay away from him…”

 

Kane flicked his finger on the armrest. Rodelia could see he was unhappy, but she didn’t care.

 

“Why?”

 

Her tone was very innocent, with a bit of anticipation.

 

“It might damage your reputation.”

 

Kane’s reply was muffled.

 

She had expected him to be jealous, but he was at best concerned about trivial appearances.

 

‘What did I expect?’

 

Kane was by nature such a person. He would strive to protect his high position.

 

Although she fell in love with him, she couldn’t get used to the fact that Kane viewed appearance more important than her.

 

Of course, she did her best to please him and she thought he was satisfied. But looking back on it now, after recent events, it just made her feel foolish for her past.

 

Rodelia couldn’t help but laugh.

 

“Is it true that you’re worried about my reputation? I think Your Majesty should worry more about your reputation instead.”

 

“What…..”

 

Was it fortunate? There were no more tears.

 

“My reputation has long since bottomed out. I’m sure Your Majesty knows well why.”

 

“…..I know you’re upset with me, but he’s not a good person. Keep my words in mind. There will be nothing good about getting involved with him. These are words I say out of love for you.”

 

It was funny. Because he had never listened to her.

 

For three years, she couldn’t see his face properly because of his whispering of love in that way. But now she could see it clearly.

 

Kane was anxious. He was terrified that his fame would run out.

 

“You know what I mean, don’t you? You are the Empress, so you know well. I believe you’ll behave properly.”

 

***

*I don’t really understand what Kane wants from Rodelia. He said he loved her, but he deliberately humiliated her again and again, but asked her to wait for him? Wait for what? Why was he even afraid he’ll lose her when he treated her like trash? He wanted to have someone for him to bully? He obviously barely or didn’t even sleep with her in the last 3 years. Well he didn’t go see her in those 3 years, left alone to sleep with her. So what does he really want from her? He’s so shameless and narcissistic. (Kaaaaaa, I’m angry lol.)