Chapter 1. An Accidental Encounter
[t/n: Okay so let’s stick with the name ‘Hart’. After all, it’s easier to pronounce lol]
It had already been quite some time when she got home.
When Nelia arrived at her home, she thought again about how strange she had behaved earlier.
“Why did I suddenly have some empathy toward wild animals….”
Even so, she was pleased with what she did today.
She never had any influence toward anyone in her life, but today she had saved a life.
It was a precious experience for Nelia, who has always been busy saving her own life from the previous life.
However, a sense of satisfaction inside Nelia disappeared as soon as she got home.
“Did you get it?”
As soon as Nelia stepped inside the house, Leighton came up and demanded his strawberry tart.
Leighton’s expression immediately turned into a scowl.
“It was sold out.”
Leighton seemed unconvinced despite Nelia already explaining it to him.
“Ah, d**n you! How can’t you do anything right for once!”
Leighton was upset, like a refractory child that appeared on the Parenting Consulting TV Program.
Lily, who couldn’t endure the sight, stepped in.
“Leighton, I’ll get Dina to buy it tomorrow morning, so drop by the boutique first right away. If you don’t go today, the suit won’t come out until the day after tomorrow, which is on the day of the party.”
Huft, Leighton exhaled still with a scowl on his face, then spoke to Lily.
“Then you must buy me a strawberry tart tomorrow.”
After Lily told him several times that she would do that, Leighton left the house using a carriage.
‘Maybe I will put poison in the tart.’
Nelia glared at the carriage that just left.
“Nelia, it’s the same for you. The dress I set to be tailored for you has arrived, you can try it on.”
Oh, so she was going to the party as well.
Now that she was thinking about it, her mother seemed to talk about the party at breakfast.
“It’s a party hosted by the Imperial Family, so we can’t go there looking shabby.”
Party hosted by the Imperial Family…….?
Was she talking about the party where Nelia caused an accident in the original story?
‘This is where the Emperor said he would make an important announcement.’
That important announcement was to officially introduce Prince Carlos.
Carlos has never appeared among the public even though he was the Crown Prince.
‘He was ignored and received a lot of criticism for being an illegitimate child.’
People didn’t recognize Carlos as the Crown Prince, and Carlos knew about that, so he contemplated on appearing in public.
However, after he awakened as a swordmaster, he made a great contribution during the war, and finally got the recognition as the Crown Prince.
In other words, this party was the first time the Crown prince, who had been shrouded by the veil, appeared in front of people.
On the other hand, it was the last party Nelia would attend in the original story.
Nelia’s hand sweated immensely when she thought that this party was the gallows for her in the original story.
She thought for a moment that there was a way not to attend the party, but she also thought it would be difficult to figure out as she recalled Lily’s words before she came up to her room.
‘Nelia, I know you aren’t fond of going to crowded places lately, but at least you have to attend this party. If you don’t, it can result in punishment for the family.’
Lily notified her in advance as she was afraid that her daughter, who had recently confined herself in her room, would not want to attend the party.
It wasn’t just a random party, but an event for informing about the official announcement of the Crown Prince, whose presence was unofficial after all this time.
If she didn’t attend, it could have been deemed as an unwillingness to acknowledge the Crown Prince, a child born of a concubine.
Nelia nibbled on her lips.
The party she had to attend was where Carlos would appear.
Nelia, who appeared to be stiff, comforted herself right away.
‘No, I’m not going to act like Nelia in the original story.’
The original Nelia has caused her own death. If she didn’t act that way, she would not bring any problem to herself again.
Thinking that way, her rapidly beating heart seemed to slow down a little.
Nelia pushed back the uneasiness with a dry gulp.
That day came sooner than she expected.
“Nelia, are you ready?”
Lily’s voice came from downstairs.
The whole family was moving around busily for the special party. The imperial party was bigger than she thought, it was an important occasion after all.
All the important figures of the empire would gather there.
“Wait a little more!”
Nelia, with pale pink roses on her hair, has just finished dressing herself up.
As she was about to go downstairs, Nelia realized that she still wore slippers on her feet.
“Oh, I haven’t changed my shoes yet.”
Nelia looked around, then a maid showed up and put up a pair of shoes in front of her.
“I think these shoes would look best along with the purple dress you’re wearing now.”
The shoes held out by the maid were white-colored high-heeled shoes, and the pointed tip on the front definitely matched the sophisticated dress she was wearing.
‘Even so, the heels look too high and pointed.’
She wasn’t sure if she could walk well in those shoes. She had never worn high-heeled shoes in her life.
Nelia was agonizing by herself, and the maid came closer and whispered in her ears.
“The other pair of shoes that would go well with this dress are black, but if you wear them, you will look like they are matching with Master Leighton today. Master Leighton is also wearing black shoes to go with his dark purple suit today.”
“I’ll go with this.”
At the maid’s remark, Nelia chose the white shoes right away.
As expected, high-heeled shoes were difficult to get used to. As she walked down the stairs leading to the first floor awkwardly, her parents were already standing there.
“Our Nelia, you look like a blossoming violet today.”
Lily looked at Delia with an emotional look on her face.
Nelia has felt something lately.
And that was how Lily took good care of her.
When her spoiled and hot-tempered daughter became quiet, she looked very happy.
She seemed to be even more worried on the one hand when she acted even more normally than before. When would Leighton become mature?
Nelia unintentionally heard Lily mutter to herself.
“When would Leighton become mature……”
Perhaps she has been thinking that way recently because she compared him to her.
“Everything is ruined because of you!”
Just then, she heard the voice of childish Leighton coming down the stairs.
Lily turned her warm gaze away from Nelia and looked up the stairs with a tired face.
Soon, Leighton appeared along with thumping steps and angry expression. There was Dina stumping along beside him.
“I said I absolutely didn’t like this shoes!”
“What’s the fuss about, Leighton?”
Lily asked when Leighton finally came down to the first floor.
“I clearly told you to find shiny black shoes, but Dina found the matte leather one!”
Ah, this guy again.
She naturally made a face seeing Leighton pester the maid over nothing.
“Leighton, we’re going to be late.”
Leighton got into the carriage with difficulty when Father, Sean, spoke sternly.
He complained for a long time on the way to the party.
By the time the imperial palace’s glamorous party was in sight, Leighton seemed to get tired and shut up.
The same with Nelia. It wasn’t because she was tired, but because she was amazed.
As she opened the door and got off, the colorful scenery filled her sight.
The large garden was filled with a lot of people. Their glamorous appearances made her eyes hurt.
Nelia walked in carefully so that her high heels wouldn’t trip over the grass.
The party hall was even more crowded.
“As expected, there are so many people…….!”
“Every nobles in the capital have to attend without any exception. I’ve heard that Duke Hart, who rarely attends parties, will attend today at least.”
Lily spoke to Sean while looking at the party hall. Nelia’s look hardened as she listened quietly beside her.
Nelia couldn’t hide her confusion as she remembered another main character in the novel who she had forgotten before.
Why did she not think Duke Hart would be coming to this party?
If the Emperor were going to make an important announcement, he would obviously attend as a high-ranking official.
Then, Lily extended her hand and pointed to the party hall.
“Duke Hart is over there.”
Nelia’s neck became stiff.
There were a lot of people gathering there from the moment they came into the hall.
Among them, she could see the face of Duke Hart.
Contrary to her uneasy heart, Nelia unconsciously muttered an amazed sound.
That was not how a human looked.
She felt like he was completely different in person although his admiring appearance also used to be described in the book.
The young ladies who had dressed up to the best of their abilities seemed like black and white around him.
‘Is he really a human………’
His perfect features with elegant lines were closer to being beautiful rather than handsome.
The silver hair and eyes shone as they took the light, empowering his non-humanely appearance, reminding her of a mythical angel.’
‘But unlike his angel-like appearance…….’
His personality wasn’t like that.
At the beginning of the novel, Duke Hart was portrayed as an attractive sub-male lead who fell in love with the female lead at first sight.
However, the situation was reversed halfway through the story.
Actually, Duke Hart wanted to avenge his father’s enemy, the Emperor, the villain who managed his hand and foot.
[t/n: I wanted to say here that he was the one who took care of people working under his father and took revenge on the emperor for the sake of his father.]
If it was necessary for revenge, he would have to thoroughly figure out, hold, and shake the opponent’s residence, their family, and properties.
‘Where is that all?’
If it was necessary, he would have cut their tongues, broke their legs, and exoculated them. He didn’t even blink in the process.
Certainly, it was the cold-blooded villain of the novel.
“Let’s also greet Duke Hart, dear.”
“Yes, let’s do that, he’s hard to meet at parties.”
Nelia secretly backed away from her parents’ conversation.
“I’m going to go to take a look around the party hall. Mother and Father, please say my greeting to the duke.”
Others might have wanted to get along with him since they didn’t know his identity, but she didn’t. She wanted to avoid greeting him if it’s possible.
Lily said with a tilt of her head.
“Will you be okay on your own?”
“Of course, I’ll take a look around and return here after that. Please go ahead.”
“Yes, Nelia. Be careful not to bump into others.”
Nelia showed a reassuring smile at Lily who has a lot of worries to her, then quickly slipped into the crowd and disappeared from their sight. Nelia was going to find out the location of the jewels she had broken in the original story on her own.
She would figure out the location in advance and refrain herself from going in that direction.
Nelia went around the party hall and peered secretly at the door crevice leading to another place.
‘Hm……. Where is the imperial treasure that Nelia had touched in the original story?’
The treasure was a necklace with a gemstone named ‘Elena’s Tears’.
The price of the precious blue gemstone necklace was literally tremendous.
In fact, the true value of Elena’s Tears could not be converted into money.
No one here knew about it yet, but Elena’s Tears was an ancient relic that could find the heart of Gray Dragon, God of Wrath.
There was a legend that if someone found its heart, the gray dragon would make their wish come true.
Charlotte, the female lead, later went out to find its heart with Carlos, the male lead, to grant their wishes.
In other words, the main characters in this novel were to be the important keys of the story.
It was obvious, but she wasn’t interested in it.
In the original story, Nelia came to the party and touched the necklace, so the place must be close enough for her to commit such a mistake.
Then, she felt a sharp pain in her heels.
‘I wore shoes that I’ve never worn before, so my feet was quickly hurting.’
Exhausted Nelia plopped into the chair in the corner of the hall.
Then, she took off her shoes after sitting down and proceeded to look around the party hall.
‘Where is Carlos at this time?’
The party hasn’t officially started yet, but he must have already in the party hall and stayed somewhere. When the party began, the Emperor would take time to officially introduce Carlos.
Nelia’s accident in the original story was also at this moment, before the party officially began.
So, Nelia didn’t recognize Carlos, and made a mistake.
Nelia clenched her fist as the anxiety inside her crept up again.
‘No, there’s nothing to be anxious about, I know what Carlos looks like, and I’m not even trying to go anywhere near the necklace.’
Carlos has gray hair and black eyes. It was such a rare appearance in this world, so he shouldn’t be hard to recognize.
She didn’t even know the location of the necklace, so she couldn’t get close to it if she was careful as she was.
That was how Nelia reassured her, but she felt a gaze from somewhere.
The gaze was quite blatant.
To the point that Nelia, who was lost in her thoughts, was able to sense it.
When she turned her head, her eyes were met with silver eyes.
Nelia’s eyes widened.
It was none other than Duke Hart who she was looking at.
Surprised, Nelia turned her head away quickly.
‘……It’s just my imagination, right?’
When she casted a brief glance at the duke’s place once again, he was talking to the people near him.
Nelia became aware of the reality right away.
Duke Hart had no reason to look at her while he was in the midst of many people.
His character wasn’t even related to Nelia in the original story, and her appearance didn’t really stand out.
Or, she might have turned her head and happened to meet his eyes.
Nelia was relieved and exhaled, as a sweet smell came from the side.
When she turned her head, she saw a strawberry tart on the catering table arranged beside her.
The reason why she just noticed the appetizing dessert now was the aftereffect of only eating a bit of simple dinner previously.
All she ate was just cabbage salad before they went, since her mother told her that the tight dress might not fit her and that she should eat just a little bit for dinner.
Due to that, her mouth was watering when she saw tasty food.
‘Right, don’t mind Duke Hart, let’s just have some desserts.’
Nelia took a small strawberry tart on the catering table.
It wasn’t as delicious as the famous bakery her mother gave her, but it was good enough.
The life of a noble is pleasant.
Being able to come to this wonderful place and eat tasty desserts for free.
Nelia, who was closing her eyes while savoring the strawberry tart, opened them again with a satisfied expression.
Then, she felt that intense gaze again.
She could not ignore it.
Nelia shifted her eyes slowly in an anxious manner.
Within her sight was Duke Hart.
The duke’s eyes were completely directed on her from across the noisy party hall.