Chapter 1. An Accidental Encounter
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‘What was that……!’
This time she knew for sure it wasn’t merely an illusion.
Come to think of it, the distance between them seemed to have gotten narrower.
They should have been far away from each other………?
Nelia put the remaining strawberry tart in her hand into her mouth.
Then she ran away.
The reason was due to some kind of anxiety inside her.
At first, she thought the two times he gazed at her were just coincidences, then she came to realize that the duke might have been looking at her with different intentions.
Then, the anxious doubt remained.
Why did he look at her?
If she were a living doll like the female lead, she might have been flattered by the duke’s gaze, but as a matter of fact, her appearance didn’t really stand out at this glamorous party.
That’s why she chose to avoid him rather than seeking the answer.
Just in time, Nelia met her parents who had returned after greeting others. She wondered where did Leighton go as there were just two of them standing there.
Lily asked with a worried look.
“Nelia, there you are. Do you happen to know where Leighton went?”
“He went to the bathroom and disappeared, I didn’t see him after that…….”
If it were someone else, she would wait for a grown-up adult to come back by himself, but she was anxious because it was Leighton.
Even during the first week after she woke up and realized that she had been possessed into the body of Nelia, Leighton used to get into accidents that she had never thought of. While following a stray cat, he jumped over the garden of people’s home, and drank late in the evening, even going as far as fighting the bully on the street.
She couldn’t believe he was an adult.
“I’ll look for him.”
“Yes, Nelia. Please.”
Lily patted Nelia on the shoulder and disappeared to greet others again.
Nelia wandered around in the party hall, desperately looking for the man in a dark purple suit.
‘Where did that punk suddenly go?’
Leighton was nowhere to be seen at the party.
In any case, she wondered if he was really getting into trouble somewhere.
She turned away her head while letting out a sigh, but then found the slightly opened door in the corner of the hall.
She had no idea where it led, but she thought it would be better to enter it just in case.
The door led to the terrace which overlooked the first floor.
There was a large chandelier and small lamps on the ceiling, and something shining was placed under it.
This place, which had an atmosphere similar to a place for exhibition, seemed to have something important stored in here just by the sight of it….
As soon as that thought crossed her mind, she heard something in particular break.
Nelia looked down slowly under the railing, feeling a bad hunch ran over her.
There stood Leighton, the person she had been looking for a while now.
He was really stiff.
‘Haa, don’t tell me…… he must have caused trouble there.’
As Nelia hurried down to the first floor, she spotted a broken necklace and Leighton was looking down at it.
“What, what have you just done!”
Leighton looked at Nelia and blinked.
“I just wanted to take a closer look at this necklace, but I dropped it….”
Nellia put her hand on her forehead.
Did this guy not even have basic education?
When you go to the museums or art galleries, it is written that you should only look at the piece of work with just your eyes…….!!
“But what’s this, displayed alone in such a huge place?”
Does it matter now?!
The important matter is that you dropped this extremely expensive-looking necklace and broke it!
In the capital……!!
Her head was pounding at its greatest.
The necklace which was displayed alone in this huge place……..?
And that bright blue gem in the middle of the necklace was clearly….
Nelia felt a rush of pain in her already throbbing head.
Leighton committed the accident that the original Nelia had done in the original story.
“What should I do?’’
Should I call out others?
The moment Nelia was thinking about how to deal with the situation,
“Who caused this?”
A gruesome voice was heard from a distance.
Nelia turned her head in surprise. She saw a man leaning against the wall obliquely under the lighting.
The light of the lamp shone brightly from behind him, making it difficult to stare straight into his eyes.
First of all, instead of asking who he was, it’s all about someone else who had seen this situation.
While Nelia was thinking about what to say, Leighton scowled and asked the man first.
“Who are you?”
The man’s voice was heard by them.
“Were you the one who did it?”
“What if I wasn’t? No, I mean, you speak informally to me as if we had met before!”
It’s right that you did it……….!!
Not only was Leighton blatantly telling lies, but he also lost his temper.
On the contrary, the man didn’t budge. His face was unable to be seen, somehow his expression was carried by the cold blowing wind.
“The necklace was definitely intact until a while ago. But then, it appears like that now.”
“……it was already like this when I came.”
The man tilted his head slightly. The shadow under the lamp moved along.
“Are you sure about that?”
Leighton answered loudly. His head was fixed at Leighton. He seemed to be staring at Leighton.
“I will give one last chance. If you tell me the truth now, I won’t ask you to pay for it.”
Leighton clenched his fists and stared at him.
“I told you I’m not……!”
He raised his hand and pointed to the corner of the ceiling.
“There’s a magic sphere that keeps watch on this place. Perhaps, the records will show who did it.”
Nelia suddenly questioned his identity.
‘Who is that man…….’
How did he know this place as much as his own home and talk about it as if he had the right to decide on compensation for this necklace?
The moment she was getting curious about the man, he walked forth.
Once he got out of the bright light, not just his face but his hair color was also clearly visible in her eyes.
Ashen hair that seemed to be dyed in monochrome on its own and coal-black eyes resembling the night sky.
Nelia realized at that moment.
This was Carlos, who she didn’t want to encounter so badly.
‘This is crazy.’
Nelia was standing in a daze momentarily at the fact that their opponent was Carlos, whom she really wanted to avoid as hard as she could, before Leighton’s voice was heard.
Leighton seemed seriously taken aback to hear that there was equipment monitoring this place.
And he was restless.
Just like someone who committed something.
Nelia became anxious.
Their opponent was Carlos, the male lead and the Crown Prince of this world.
However, Leighton didn’t know about it during this time.
Nelia threw a quick glance at Leighton.
Leighton, who was cornered, clenched and opened his fists, as if he was ready to swing them at any moment like a louts. He was doing that.
Nelia looked at Leighton in wonder. Then Leighton opened and closed his mouth while making an eye gesture.
‘I’ll knock him out, and run away.’
Nelia was appalled. She couldn’t believe Leighton was such a thoughtless man.
Their opponent was a talented person who has risen to the rank of Swordmaster.
Leighton wouldn’t be able to knock him out as the best he could do was fool around at home.
Of course, he couldn’t!
Suddenly, she remembered what Carlos said earlier.
‘I will give one last chance. If you tell me the truth now, I won’t ask you to pay for it.’
She didn’t think that remark would still stand now, but she couldn’t bear to watch Leighton in vain like a fool.
‘Leighton, this man. I’m going to kill you later.’
Nelia closed her eyes tightly preparing herself.
She knelt on the floor.
Nelia looked up slowly at Carlos.
“Actually…… I did it.”
She gritted her teeth inside.
Why did she accuse herself when she didn’t do anything?
Even so, it was better than seeing Leighton lunge at Carlos and break the family?
Carlos stared at Nelia.
“So you did it, not this guy.”
“Yes, it was really pretty that I stopped by and touched it……”
She could feel Leighton staring at her with his mouth open in shock.
But in the end, she knew he wouldn’t come forward.
“Do you know how much is the price of that necklace?”
She had been aware that it was incredibly expensive. Nelia just kept her mouth shut.
“It’s not worth the price even if you sell all the imperial stuff.”
The cold gaze of the crown prince pierced through her.
“I definitely gave you a chance earlier. If you confess, I’ll let you go.”
“…Please forgive me.”
Nelia lowered her head.
‘Is it too late?’
Then, she heard someone walking down the stairs.
As the footsteps reverberated in the room, they all looked up at the source of sound.
Nelia looked at the person who just appeared with her eyes wide open.
The person who was walking down the stairs in leisure motion was clearly Duke Hart.
Before she knew it, the duke walked closer toward them and looked down at the necklace that had been dropped earlier.
“Oh my. I dropped the necklace earlier, and the number of witnesses has increased.”
The Crown Prince frowned.
“What are you saying, Duke Hart?”
“I dropped it by accident, so I was on my way to call for someone.”
Duke Hart replied with a gentle smile, the gesture certainly did not match his confession.
What is going on here?
It was obviously Leighton who had dropped the necklace earlier.
But he admitted it was himself instead of Leighton.
And then suddenly, Duke Hart said he was the real perpetrator who dropped the necklace.
Nelia, Duke Hart, Carlos, and Leighton.
In that chaotic situation, the eyes of four people there were entangled.
Carlos spoke up first with narrowed eyebrows.
“This woman already admitted that she dropped it while touching it because she thought it was pretty.”
“The necklace was originally broken, but the young lady must have misunderstood it turned like this because she touched it.”
Duke Hart, who answered Carlos in a composed manner, turned his head and reached out to Nelia.
‘Is he telling me to hold it…….?’
Nelia was just staring blankly at Duke Hart, so he reached out to Nelia first and raised her back on her feet. It was just for a fleeting moment, but the gesture was very polite and kind.
Nelia looked at the duke with a puzzled look, and lowered her gaze. The current situation was very confusing for her.
She was sure Leighton dropped the necklace and broke it.
“Right, Young Lady?”
Duke Hart asked as she contemplated. Nelia unexpectedly nodded.
Duke Hart gave off a faint smile, as if praising Nelia for doing a good job.
She knew it wasn’t the time to admire his face, but it was truly a charming smile upon seeing it up close.
Even in such a serious situation, she felt it deeply. He was surely dangerous in many ways.
The duke averted his gaze from Nelia and looked at Carlos.
“I thought the necklace seemed rumpled, so I was trying to fix it, and dropped the necklace in the process.”
“There is a jeweler that I’m very familiar with, I will pass it to them so it can be restored. Fortunately, the gemstone is not damaged.”
Even though Duke Hart offered him the solution, Carlos still seemed dissatisfied.
“You will have to restore it the same way as it was.”
Duke Hart replied with a gentle smile.
Regardless of his role as the villain, the way he handled the crown prince in a calm manner was an amazing sight to look at.
Carlos threw a ghastly glance at them before turning away and disappeared.
Leighton muttered after Carlos disappeared.
“that rude jerk. Who the h*ll is he……..”
“That is Crown Prince Carlos.”
Duke Hart filled in the answer for him.
Only then did Leighton learn that he had spoken informally to the Crown Prince and even go as far as raising his voice.
Leighton’s complexion became pale.
“I’m glad it turned out this way. The door leading to this room is supposed to be locked, but the guard must have made a mistake.”
So that’s why.
Somehow, it didn’t make sense that the treasure of the imperial family, Elena’s relic, was just anywhere like this.
‘So that’s why Nelia in the original story committed this mistake.’
Nelia was lost in her thoughts for a moment, and she raised her head at the pat on her shoulder.
She looked at the white-faced Leighton.
“Nelia……. I’m going in first.”
Nelia grabbed Leighton hastily. And then whispering quietly at him while watching Duke Hart.
“You’re leaving just like that? You shouldn’t have to do that to me, but you definitely have to thank the duke………!”
He was willing to restore the necklace for you!
However, Leighton, who just realized that he was close to getting into big trouble with the crown prince, seemed to have already lost his mind.
Leighton didn’t answer, but slipped out of Nelia’s grasp like a zombie, opened the door and disappeared.
In the end, she was left alone with Duke Hart.
‘……I should thank the duke in his stead.’
She didn’t know what Duke Hart was up to by saying he did it, but she assumed he knew the real culprit since she was on her knees when he came.
Nelia looked up with the intention of thanking Duke Hart.
His silver eyes were staring at her intently to the point she felt somewhat uncomfortable with them.