Chapter 1. An Accidental Encounter
Thank you for the Kofi, Yona ! (1/8) 💖
The content of his scary words and his elegantly grinning face were simply not a match.
Nelia was frozen in her spot like ice, and the duke soon burst into laughter.
“I’m just kidding.”
This man is really………!!
I’m about to die from bewilderment, and now he’s pulling a joke on me in this situation!
But rather than speaking out her thoughts, Nelia wanted to make sure.
“……About paying for the sin that I committed, you’re just kidding, right?”
“Yes. It was nothing.”
The moment she was about to loosen up upon hearing his calm voice.
“However, I’m uncomfortable with my foot, so you ought to help me whenever I ask you to.”
The duke added while smiling leisurely.
“Not so often.”
His condition was very obscure, but she was not in a position to question him as she was a sinner. Even so, it’s an insignificant improvement that he has been freed from using crutches.
“Shall we head to the study now?”
Duke Hart reached out to Nelia. And Nelia stared down blankly at his hand.
Then as if coming into the realization, the duke retrieved his hand.
“I’m sorry, it has become a habit of mine.”
“It’s fine. It’s understandable.”
Nelia comforted him by saying that she understood why he acted like that.
But Nelia didn’t know.
That there would be much more things that she has to do with him in the future other than dealing with his bandaged foot.
Nelia plopped down on her seat in the study.
She thought she would have to part ways with this seat when the duke took off the bandage on his foot, but because she had learned about Duke Hart’s secret, her grace period was completely out of sight now.
‘I need to find out why the duke was able to return to his human form after turning into a snake.’
This was the only way to part with him.
Just in time when Duke Hart was taking medicine.
Nelia stared at Duke Hart who was taking his medicine. She wondered how long he had been taking it while gulping down the large medicine without water.
His throat fluctuated as the medicine went through it.
It suddenly reminded her of something.
‘What is the medicine that prevents the curse made of?’
It was really surprising although she knew it was a fantasy world.
‘I mean energizer, the medicine that keeps you hot to spend the night together!’
She suddenly remembered what Leighton said.
It turned out that celebrities weren’t the only ones who got dragged around like that.
Nelia felt sorry for Duke Hart, so she decided to secretly inform the duke about the rumor.
When Nelia called his name, his head quickly snapped toward her.
“It’s about the medicine. Where is it produced?”
First of all, it was most likely that the person who supplied that medicine created such a rumor about the duke.
“The Werther Farm behind the capital, it’s the exclusive pharmacist of Dukedom of Hart. The Pharmacist House has been in charge of producing medicines for my family for a long time.”
An exclusive pharmacist?
Hm……… Then it’s not likely that the pharmacist would spread that rumor.
Nellia spoke out the next question.
“Has anyone ever seen you when you took the medicine?”
“Yes………? I guess so. Because I often have a meal with others.”
“You didn’t say anything weird about that medicine to others during those times, right?”
Duke Hart was motionless for a moment as if he was wondering about the question before nodding his head.
“Of course. But may I ask why you’re asking about it?”
She was wondering about how to phrase the word ‘people misunderstand that medicine as an energizer’ to not be as awkward and uncomfortable as possible.
“Uh……. Uhm……. So, about that………”
Nelia’s eyes roamed in the air.
“The medicine……. People strangely misunderstand it.”
The duke tilted his head.
Nelia could barely look Duke Hart in the eye. This innocent-looking man, who resembled a fox, disturbed her greatly.
“So, the medicine………”
“Is an energizer.”
She managed to swallow her breath and spit it out. The duke smiled and snickered.
She could barely bring herself to speak it out, and what she got in return was a dry response.
“Why is that so hard for you to say?”
It was so embarrassing to say that to the person concerned, but wouldn’t it be more weird if she were to say it brazenly…….?”
“I already know about it.”
Nelia raised her head.
“But didn’t you think about explaining it?”
“They’re just gossip anyway, so they’re going to come up with another story in no time even if I explain it to them. Though it’s kind of true it’s an energizer.”
Hm………? Did she hear it wrong?
Nelia opened her eyes wide like an astonished rabbit. What the duke said was too vivid for her to think she had heard it wrong.
“Is it true that it’s an……… energizer?”
“Yes, it’s true.”
The duke looked as proud as when he consumed multivitamin.
As she expected, there would be no smoke in the chimney without fire……… Nelia looked at Duke Hart with a shocking face.
“It’s because the pharmacist in Werther Farm is the one who supplies the medicine to us.”
“…….What about the pharmacist?”
“The pharmacist is working exclusively for us, but they sell their produced energizer to the public.”
So, that was why such a rumor spread around. He was usually supplied medicine by someone who sold energizers.
No, wait. She didn’t need it all, so…….
“Are you saying that the transformation suppressant is an energizer?”
The duke smiled. It wasn’t like his usual gentle smile, but a smile which seemed like a strange sneer.
“To be precise, there’s energizer ingredients in it.”
Then he should have said so from the beginning!
But Duke Hart added a twist in his words again.
“But it’s hard to say that it’s different from energizer. The concept is to give an impulsion to the body like an energizer and stir up hormones that inhibit transformation.”
“So that means………”
“Well, I’m consuming an energizer everyday, but it’s not really an energizer.”
Nelia’s mouth opened droopingly.
‘He’s not ashamed of how things turned out.’
He acted similar to when he was naked yesterday, and now, too………
So, he has this quite embarrassing side of his, too.
“You’re not going around while telling everyone that, are you?”
“Of course. I’m saying this because it’s Nelia who asks about it.”
It’s because of Nelia who asks about it……? It sounded weird.
“Because we share secrets with each other.”
Their slightly-moving lips made it seem like they were secretly talking and attracted too much attention. The duke’s face has always been drawing a lot of attention, making it difficult to think normally and sometimes even she was distracted by his face.
Nelia replied while barely looking away from the duke’s beautiful face.
“Yes…….. I see.”
The duke wasn’t wrong.
Secrets naturally enhance the bond. Therefore, gossiping was a common way to strengthen solidarity with each other.
How close must someone like Duke Hart felt with her if it was someone who struggled with keeping secrets and couldn’t disclose it to anyone?
“Thanks to you, I’m vigorous all day and night.”
The duke rested his chin on his hand while staring at Nelia with a gentle gaze. Nelia avoided Duke Hart’s eyes as she felt a strange nuance somewhere.
“If I’ve satisfied your curiosity, shall we start working now?”
Upon hearing his softly asking voice, Nelia hid her red face and nodded.
She thought she was hearing the faint chuckle of the duke just now, but she thought it was her mere imagination.
No, it had to be her imagination.
Nelia moved her hand slowly with the pen in her hand. She finished her work earlier than usual today.
The duke usually gave her a mountain of decent job to do, but there was a little work today.
Nelia supported her jaw with her hand while spinning her pen repeatedly. Then, she suddenly heard a loud noise coming from outside the window.
To be precise, it came from the direction of the garden.
Most of the noise was coming from Ton, the butler, who was busy doing the talking.
“What is happening all of a sudden……..!”
It was the first time she heard Ton sounded flustered like that while speaking to anyone, except when he faced Marquis Clint.
Nelia decided to take a peek out of curiosity by looking out the window. There was a huge carriage stopped just outside the main gate.
‘It’s the pattern of a gray dragon.’
The symbol of the Andrian Empire. The symbol that could only be used by members of the Imperial Family. It seemed that someone from the imperial family was visiting here.
And confusion wasn’t just apparent in Ton’s voice, but also his expression while he was talking with the coachman.
Apparently the guest didn’t make an appointment for visiting in advance.
‘But still. Who the h*ll is coming here, why is he so flustered like that?’
Nelia glanced at Duke Hart.
He seemed to have no idea about the situation since he was immersed in his work. Nelia looked out the window again.
Then, the carriage door slammed open. Even though she was looking at them from afar, she could see that the door opened in irritation.
And a tall man got out of the carriage. Nelia couldn’t help but widened her eyes when she recognized the main character of the loud commotion.
With gray hair and an outstanding look like Duke Hart, he was definitely Prince Carlos.
‘Ca, Carlos, why is he here…….!’
Nelia thought she should inform Duke Hart about the situation first.
“Your Grace………! I think you have a guest!”
The duke finally stopped moving his pen and looked up at Neila.
“Who are you talking about?”
“…….Would you like to see them for yourself?”
Duke Hart stood up with a puzzled look on his face. The chair was pushed back and made a rattling sound. Then, the duke approached the window and looked out as well.
The duke’s face hardened evanescently. Carlos seemed to be an uninvited guest in the mansion.
The original story hasn’t progressed much yet, so she had no idea what Duke Hart thought of Carlos at this time.
But because Nelia knew the future, she had the courage to foretell how their relationship would turn out.
Duke Hart and Carlos were like water and oil. They could never blend in and understand each other.
When Duke Hart always concealed his feelings and intention inside, Carlos was outspoken and straightforward.
So the one was able to fit in, meanwhile the other one was unable to do so. Their words were so different like the language of dogs and cats.
On top of all that, Duke Hart despised the emperor.
She didn’t know if that emotion would also be carried over to Carlos, the Emperor’s son, but their relationship wouldn’t be a good one.
Carlos was the first person who realized Duke Hart was preparing to harm the emperor in the original story.
As a result, the two have an irrevocably hostile relationship.
‘They were also rivals who fought over a woman.’
Carlos and Duke Hart fought over Charlotte, the female lead.
It was due to this reason that Nelia became anxious about the sudden visit of Carlos.
“I will have to go down for a while.”
Duke Hart snatched his coat from the clothes hanger.
Nelia was puzzled like a cornered hamster, but soon followed Duke Hart downstairs.
She was thinking of watching their meeting secretly.
Duke Hart climbed down the stairs to the first floor with his long legs and opened the door. Carlos was on his way toward the door after he got out of the carriage.
Ton, who spotted Duke Hart, immediately approached him and let him know about the whole story.
“I apologized for this, but the Crown Prince came over for an unexpected visit.”
it wasn’t Ton’s fault that Carlos suddenly turned up, but he was panicking as if he was the one who summoned the man here.
She just realized it, but Ton was a man of great professionalism as a butler.
The duke replied calmly with a single nod. Soon Carlos reached the spot in front of Duke Hart.
Carlos frowned and looked at Ton, who stood beside the duke.
“The butler right here talks more than necessary.”
Carlos turned his head again and faced Duke Hart.
Although it was merely incoherent admiration, seeing two handsome men of the century together made her eyes more fascinated than seeing any admirable artist’ painting.
The first person to speak was Duke Hart.
“What brought you here, Your Highness?”
Tension arose in the air merely because the two faced each other.
Nelia watched them while holding her breath like a squirrel watching the fight between a dragon and a tiger.