Chapter 6

 

Bang!

 

The sharp tip of the cue hit the billiard ball.

 

“Nice.”

 

At the same time, an exclamation escaped. 

 

The blond man whispered in a condescending tone as people applauded.

 

‘What’s wrong with them?’

 

He smiled awkwardly and swept his hair back.

 

The light and the golden hair shined brightly. His eyes were red as blood.

 

“Jason Evanders!”

 

The voice calling his name was sweet and alluring.

 

The man named Jason turned around, and the women around him flushed, glancing sideways at him.

 

His face was sharp and attractive as if an Angel had descended. His blond hair was frizzy and slightly covered his eyes.

 

A gorgeous woman moved closer to him.

 

First Princess Karen Ethelanche.

 

She met his gaze and smiled ceremoniously, her eyes downcast.

 

“It’s been a while.”

 

“Why are you here?”

 

Her slightly raspy voice was incredibly seductive.

 

The man took out a steel case from his pocket, plucked a cigar from it, and asked,

 

“Cigar?”

 

“You know I don’t like it.”

 

Jason nodded and bit the cigar.

 

A peculiarly insincere look was directed at the edge of the table, and he tilted his head and asked, “Does anyone have a light?” A woman with heavy makeup strikes a match and lit his cigar.

 

“Thank you.”

 

Jason smiled kindly and took a deep inhale of the smoke. The woman who had lit the match blushed away.

 

Holding the cigar deftly in his fingers, Jason leaned back against the billiard table and stared at Karen.

 

He had a lazy look in his eyes.

 

“You don’t like it then why come here?”

 

“I need a favor.”

 

Karen smiled, her eyes searching for his.

 

Jason Evanders.

 

Chieftain of the Underworld and only son of Marquis Evanders, and now Viscount Evanders.

 

If every man’s unrequited love was Imperial Princess Karen Ethelanche, then every woman’s unrequited love was Jason Evanders. That was how it spread throughout the Empire.

 

However, in front of the angelic and handsome Jason, Karen was nonchalant. His appearance had no effect on her.

 

“I want to find someone. It’s a personal favor.”

 

“Will it do me any good if I do as you say?”

 

“It’s not something to talk about when everyone is listening.”

 

Karen glanced at the surroundings.

 

And the eyes of everyone here were on the two of them.

 

“Follow me.”

 

Jason said in a low voice, then stepped away, and Karen followed.

 

In the middle of all this, the woman who had lit Jason’s cigar earlier was still blushing bright red and sneaking looks at him.

 

A disdain flashed across Karen’s perfect smile.

 

However, her smile quickly faded.

 

Her expression as she looked at Jason was as calm as looking in a mirror.

 

* * *

 

“Make yourself at home.”

 

In a private room, the man held the burning cigar in his hand. His crimson eyes shone sharply, though they looked lonely.

 

Karen tilted her head and looked at her share of whiskey on the table.

 

“There’s a woman who looks just like my sister, Stella Ethelanche. She’s a commoner working in some diner.”

 

“And how do you know that?”

 

Jason tilted his head slightly.

 

“We don’t even know exactly what the princess looks like, so even the portraits in the press may or may not resemble the ‘real’ one.”

 

 “The man said it looked like her. So I’m sure.”

 

“Who is he…”

 

“…”

 

“Who is he?”

 

Jason stared at Karen who seemed hesitant.

 

“He’s my future husband.”

 

Instead of saying more, Karen took the glass of whiskey and emptied it in one gulp.

 

Jason chuckled. He gave Karen an interesting look as he turned the cap of the whiskey bottle.

 

“Would you like a refill?”

 

At his words, Karen’s gaze went to the whiskey bottle he was holding. It was a luxurious type.

 

She could see the black spade on the bottle’s label, and the word “delight” written in wiggly letters.

 

“It’s an expensive one.”

 

“Well, an important person is here…”

 

“…”

 

“The most beautiful person in the empire came to see me, this is the least I could do.”

 

Karen chuckled.

 

She didn’t want to prolong the conversation so Karen decided to be blunt and opened her mouth.

 

“Anyway, find her. Follow Duke Clyde’s trail. She’s probably in one of the diners he regularly visits.”

 

“By the way, Your Highness. Why are you suddenly looking for your sister?”

 

“…”

 

“What’s the matter?”

 

“Substitute.”

 

“What?”

 

“…because all everyone thinks about is that child. Stella, she’s probably dead, and if there’s a child who looks so much like her that she can fool the Duke, so why not use her. I’ll teach her a few things about Stella and let her play the role of the Princess.”

 

“That sounds like something a good girl would do. Is that right?”

 

His voice was slow and supple. A look of nervousness came over Karen’s face and Jason lifted his whiskey glass and took a sip nonchalantly.

 

Karen sighed and said in a dry voice.

 

“Of course. I care about my family.”

 

“What are you going to do if the real one is still alive? If the fake becomes the real one, the search for the real one will end. It’s stealing the real one’s identity. Yet, you want me to find her?”

 

“It’s for the sake of my family.”

 

“Do you really think so?”

 

Instead of answering, Karen took the bottle of whiskey and filled her glass.

 

Instead of answering, Karen took the bottle of whiskey and filled her glass. 

 

“One more request.”

 

“What is it?”

 

“When you get her, make sure she’s completely on your side.”

 

“What?”

 

“You’re good at that, aren’t you? Seducing people. I want you to make her a doll that listens well and take her to me. Is that hard to understand?”

 

“I don’t do business with a woman’s heart. I hate trouble.”

 

Pretending to be stubborn, I see.”

 

Karen laughed heartily.

 

It annoyed her that a mere merchant with all that rotten money could be so arrogant in front of the imperial family.

 

“I’ll do my best to bring her in. But…be careful what you say, Princess.”

 

His lips twisted.

 

I’ll help you because we’re in an alliance.”

 

“…”

 

“It’s not like the penniless imperial family is on the same level as the Evanders family, is it?”

 

Jason smiled kindly.

 

****

 

Peanut butter and jelly, mayonnaise, and pickle jars…..It was always a struggle to deal with a storage unit that was taller than I was.

 

I reached over and pushed the peach extract into the side of the three neatly placed bottles.

 

Huffing, I sighed and put my hands on my waist. I stared at the bottles in the storage cabinet with delight.

 

However, I could only fill four of them.

 

Come to think of it, there were more beautiful jars to put in the cabinet.

 

Or to be more precise, there were many.

 

When are they going to put all of these in?

 

Let’s talk to Uncle Hans later when he comes. I’d like to get it done before the dinner guests arrive.

 

The height of the storage shelves was too low for me if I stepped on the chair and too high for me if I lifted my heels to organize the bottles.

 

It was a height issue.

 

‘When I’m a little older, will I be able to reach them properly?’

 

I picked up the bottle and stretched my arms.

 

I got on the table and stood on my tiptoes and finally reached the storage cabinet…….

 

“Do you need help?”

 

Crash.

 

The jar slipped from my hands and fell to the floor, and shattered into pieces.

 

The scent of sweet citrus spread quickly. At the sound of an unseen voice I turned around to see who had disturbed me.

 

The man alternately looked at me and the broken jar.

 

“Oh my God, you’re not injured, are you?”

 

The man in front of me asked politely.

 

He was an aristocratic man with curly blond hair that slightly covered his red eyes. He looked dazzling as brother Joseph.

 

“I’m sorry to startle you. I’ve come to see someone.”

 

“Who are you?”

 

“I’m Jason Evanders. My friends call me Jay.”

 

He had a kind smile that no one could dislike.

 

He quickly held out his hand to me.

 

“What’s your name?”

 

“Ethel. It’s just Ethel.”

 

“That’s a pretty name.”

 

He had a fancy appearance, and I knew I might be blinded if I looked at him too long.

 

“By the way, who are you looking for?”

 

“You.”

 

His lips formed a nice arc line.

 

“May I speak to you for a moment, Ethel?”

 

Behind him, I could see Aunt Mary poking her head out of the open doorway.

 

There was an expectant look in her eyes, as if the young lady’s spring breeze was blowing again, but I smiled awkwardly and kept my distance from him.

 

He was a stranger.

 

He was also of high status.

 

I wondered if he was related to the Imperial family. I said, exploring him.

 

“What brings a noble to visit me?”

 

“You have an elegant accent.”

 

I looked at him in surprise at his unexpected words.

 

A moment later, he took the tense silence into his own hands and stepped closer to me, narrowing the distance between us.

 

“It’s nothing special, but I’d like to make a proposal. I’m sure you’ll be interested in it. Have you heard of the missing Princess?”

 

The missing Princess….My hands froze.

 

“There is no need for such caution.”

 

The man took one more step closer and our gazes met.

 

“I’m not a bad person.”

 

Flawless, I would say. He smiled harmlessly at me with his beautiful face, but I was nervous.

 

My intuition told me to run.

 

I took a step back and he moved another closer, closing the distance between us again.

 

“You’re more beautiful than I thought.”

 

The man was smiling kindly, but the subtle uneasiness rose up my spine.

 

And I knew that kind of smile. It was a perfect one, created through decades of practice.

 

Karen used to smile like that to everyone.

 

This man was dangerous.

 

I took another step backward.

 

With a crunching sound, I felt a sharp pain under my foot.

 

***