Chapter 1. I like you, Prince
The Prince of the country died, but no one wore mourning clothes.
The King served food from the capital to the smallest village, letting the people revel in at the end of the war and the sweet victory.
…It was almost as if the King wanted people to forget not only the ‘Lochlan’ scandal but also his existence.
The banquet was much the same, and April was dragged there by the Countess.
The heroes returning from the war sought out beautiful women and danced to joyful music before their feet even touched the ground.
Some of the men approached April as well.
“If you don’t mind…….”
But they were forced to give up April by her mother, Countess Campbell, who stood in front of April and prevented all the men from approaching her.
“I’m sorry. My daughter is tired. But thank you for asking.”
April was very surprised by the Countess’ behavior. She thought she was going to force her to dance, since she had told her that they were going to have fun and celebrate.
‘Or is there a specific person I must meet?’
Seeing that the Countess was constantly looking around, maybe she was right.
“Are you waiting for someone?” (April)
Her prediction was correct, and the Countess quickly looked at her stepdaughter and covered her lips with a fan.
“My dear, have you heard about the young Lord Grey?”
He was the only heir to the Marquis family and made great contributions in this war.
But….he never returned either. Just like Lochlan.
When April dropped her head sadly, the Countess tapped her shoulder and smiled.
“The widower Marquis Grey now needs a woman. Isn’t that great?”
How could it be great after the death of his beloved son?
The Marquis must have been in an increasingly lonely situation, having lost his son after the death of his wife.
“The problem is that he’s old and I don’t know if he can have children.”
“Mother, so……. “
“That can be worked out if you’re young enough to try, right?”
April’s trembling lips could not be stilled. She couldn’t believe the words of the Countess.
“If you even have a child, you will be the future Marquis’ mother.”
As if she didn’t care about April’s reaction, the Countess continued.
“Even if you don’t produce an heir, you’ll soon be a rich widow in a few years or so. Isn’t that really the best kind of marriage?”
“You must make sure that the Marquis Grey is yours before his relatives come out and push for an heir. Do you understand?”
Now April knew why the Countess was so hasty with the banquet.
It was just after the war, and everyone was preoccupied with sorrow and joy. However, if a few weeks passed like this, people would calculate their gain or loss and act accordingly.
At this point, it was obvious that someone would visit the Marquis, saying, “My child is smart, please make him your successor.”
The Countess’ idea was to make April capture his heart before then, so that the Marquis would turn down all other proposals.
“But I’m only 17, and I ….”
“You’re eighteen. Isn’t that old enough to know men? Or marrying the Marquis?” (Countess)
“Don’t you see what a great help you would be to your family?” (Countess)
“No, I can’t.” (April)
The Countess laughed as she pulled up one lip at April’s frank answer.
“Are you going to rot while thinking of the Prince? Why are you so selfish?”
“Your adoption cut Charlotte’s dowry in half. When you realize how much you owe me for raising you, think about marrying into a rich family and helping your sister get married. Don’t be selfish.”
‘What do you mean by raising me?’
The only reason they adopted April was because they thought they would have a Prince for a son in law.
Since that was no longer going to be the case, they were going to sell her off to her new position.
“Anyway, today you should only worry about looking good for Marquis Grey. Do you understand?”
The Countess, who finished her words, said, “You’ve made me thirsty,” and moved to the drinks table for a while.
April, who was left alone, stepped back.
She was well aware that running away would not make things better. In fact, it would probably make it worse.
However, she couldn’t just stand there.
The uncomfortable shoes on her feet gradually accelerated.
April cried tears of misery as she walked past the happy people and repeated the words “excuse me”.
‘…I wish I could just disappear.’
‘Not just in this place, but in this world……… completely.’
April was running with her head down and only thinking negative thoughts when she bumped into someone who was facing her in the corridor that surrounded the hall.
When she flinched.
April just had one silly wish.
At this moment, she wanted to let go of everything, she prayed that the person who appeared in front of her would be Lochlan.
She raised her head, praying for some idle hope.
Then, as soon as she saw the other person’s face, she was startled and had to take a step back.
The owner of the sleek hair, an old man, was looking at April with a surprised look on his face.
He didn’t look threatening, but to April’s eyes, he looked terrifying.
“Marquis Grey …….”
April called out to him in a trembling voice. It was the first time she had ever seen him.
“The problem is that he’s old, so I don’t know if he can have children.”
April did not know much about the affairs of men and women, but she was not so stupid as to not know anything.
She at least vaguely knew what she had to go through in order to have a child.
That alone was enough to scare her, and to be with a stern old man….
Startled, a terrible hiccup burst out.
She was so startled and horrified by the terrible thoughts that she couldn’t seem to control her body.
“Miss Campbell….You don’t look well.”
Marquis Grey gave April a sympathetic look and she remembered the Countess’ words again.
“The Marquis and you both lost loved ones in the war.”
That was why the Countess had advised April to take advantage of the Marquis’ sympathy.
The Countess’ words were horrible, and at the same time, she was worried about the pitiful look the Marquis gave her.
She didn’t want to follow the Countess’ plan.
She didn’t want to be this old man’s wife and have children….she didn’t even want it.
April stepped back, because each step back would put more distance between her and the Marquis.
But one day, her mother would inevitably grab her by the hair and throw her naked in front of that old man.
Regardless of April’s wishes.
And then the tears welled up again, filling her vision and quickly flowing down her cheeks.
After a long pause, Marquis Grey began to approach April.
She didn’t know if it was just his kindness that found a crying child, or if he meant something in line with the Countess’ wishes.
April was just afraid of him.
She couldn’t even speak a word, just tears and hiccups flowing endlessly.
Just then, she heard someone’s voice coming from right behind her.
“I’ll take care of Miss Campbell. Thank you, Marquis.”
April turned to look behind her, startled by the familiar yet somehow different voice.
As she raised her head, she saw his familiar face.
Golden hair, gentle purple eyes. And his lips….that seemed troubled, lifting lightly at both ends.
April whispered fondly through her tear-stained and mangled vision.
The words spilled out unconsciously.
He held a handkerchief to her face and gently wiped away the tears.
Her vision became a little clearer.
At the same time, the face April had missed so terribly became clearer.
April took another step closer to him, afraid the vision in front of her would disappear.
She wanted to say something. But she couldn’t say anything.
Her lips opened and closed again and again as she hesitated to speak.
‘I love you, my prince.’
She couldn’t even say the words she had practiced countless times.
In the end, what came out was ….
All she heard were stupid hiccups that wouldn’t stop.
April, in desperation, buried her bright red face in her hands.
Soon the giggling could be heard.
At first he tried to hold back his laughter at the thought of April, but after a few seconds he couldn’t hold back and started laughing.
Hearing that laughing sound, April fell deeper into despair.
Lochlan would never laugh at April when she was in trouble. But Dominic would.
“I’m sorry. April. You’re so cute when you cry and hiccup. I was expecting you to be a more mature young lady after about two years, but you still look like a child.”
“Your Highness …….”
“It’s the first time you couldn’t recognize us, isn’t it? If my brother finds out, he’ll faint.”
April’s silence was both happy and sad, as if Lochlan existed somewhere.
Dominic, who was watching this, asked, erasing the prevalent smile.
“So, what happened with Marquis Grey?”
April turned her head back for a moment to look at him. There was no one left in the seat where the Marquis was just now.
At that moment, April wanted to confess to him what the Countess said, as she had always done with Lochlan. But she quickly came to her senses when she realized he was Dominic.
“I bumped into the Marquis in the hallway….”
He touched April’s chin with his gloved hand, as if it was an unexpected answer.
“Is that all?”
“I should apologize, but I was so surprised…” (April)
The words flowed out of her mouth, trembling somewhat.
If it was Lochlan who heard this, he would probably have asked, “Do you think lies will work for me?” And he would have pursued her to find out her true feelings.
“I see. I’m glad you’re not hurt. You look better than I expected, and I’m sorry about Lochlan, too.”
But the other person was Dominic.
The feelings that April did not say were unknown….. Just, the twin brother of her loved one.
‘The Prince is really not here.’
April turned her face away, recalling the fact.
It was painful to look at Dominic’s face.
Until now, April had never thought of Lochlan in Dominic’s appearance because of how similar the twin Princes were.
‘Maybe it’s because things are different now.’
He acted completely different, and she was disappointed to find herself constantly seeking the shadow of Lochlan.
Knowing that it was disrespectful behavior not only to Dominic, but also to her beloved Lochlan.
“Well, I was actually expecting it.” (Dominic)
Soon, Dominic spoke in a heavy voice.
“It must be hard for you to look at me. My brother…” (Dominic)
“It’s because we look so much alike.” (Dominic)
He placed the handkerchief he was holding in April’s hand and stepped back.
“Then the funeral in three days will be unavoidable, but for the time being… Shall we be careful not to run into each other?” (Dominic)
It sounded like a suggestion, but he didn’t even wait for April’s answer.
“Yes, I think that’ll be better.” (Dominic)
Having come to a conclusion, he quickly turned away towards the hall where people were gathered.
Raising her head hurriedly to face Dominic, April took a deep breath and opened her mouth.
She had to say they were different.
Just like she told them at the banquet two years ago.
“Yes, you two are different. I am well aware of that.”
As if he felt her gaze, Dominic glanced back.
That was when their gazes met.
April swallowed everything she had to say.
Because right now Dominic looked so much like Lochlan.
To the point her silly heart skipped a beat.