Chapter 21

***

Sponsored chapter by Nikki. Thank you💖 (⅗)

****

 

The Crown Prince could not answer my question immediately.

 

Actually, I was not curious about his answer, so I did not wait and continued.

 

“How could His Highness not know how it would look in the eyes of others for an unmarried man and woman to exchange gifts in such a manner?”

 

“I’ve thought about it that deeply. I swear that I never intentionally tried to hurt you, not even a little.”

 

The Crown Prince looked at me and bowed his head with a look of shame.

 

I sighed.

 

I don’t know how this happened.

 

I planned to just compromise today and send him on his way after we made up, but as we talked, I felt emotional.

 

Unless I tried to fight him, this way of accusing and biting off the other person wasn’t the least bit helpful.

 

An engagement with the royal family was not something that could be broken selfishly, and the Duke of Lillian was currently on the same boat as the Crown Prince.

 

I would have to see him for a long time to come, but from now on, if I befriended him, it might not be good for me either. 

 

The only one who would benefit was Claire.

 

I never wanted to see her happy face.

 

I sighed and opened my mouth.

 

“I don’t mean to blame His Highness, so there’s no need to be so nervous. However, I would like you to restrain yourself a bit from now on.”

 

The Crown Prince raised his head and looked at me. His blue eyes sparkled.

 

I averted his gaze and continued.

 

“I hope you will remember that the more affection His Highness shows for Young Lady Claire, the more it hurts my reputation as I am your fiancée.”

 

“I promise.”

 

“I’m glad. I’m a Princess, and I don’t want to be ridiculed by a daughter of a Baron.”

 

 

The Crown Prince’s face, which was softened earlier, crumpled.

 

“Now…does that mean that such things have happened more than once or twice?”

 

He asked me with a look of disbelief on his face.

 

“Not once or twice. She’s been doing it all this time.”

 

“I didn’t know. Why didn’t you tell me?”

 

The Crown Prince asked,

 

I had my doubts, but it didn’t really matter.

 

Either he knew and kept quiet about it, or he was tricked by Claire and really didn’t know.

 

Things had already happened and the hurt that Roxana had  suffered would never be able to be erased.

 

And to not know about what Roxana had been suffering for two years meant that the Crown Prince was that indifferent to her. Or that he was too careless.

 

The answer to my thoughts should be closer to the former, but neither was pleasing.

 

“What difference does it make to say it?”

 

“ What do you mean? Of course you should have told me.”

 

I asked, to which the Crown Prince replied with a frustrated look on his face.

 

I don’t know if it was an act or if he was serious, but the current Crown Prince seemed to be greatly disappointed with the other side of Claire.

 

He also seemed to feel guilty about me.

 

I hesitated for a moment and then asked him.

 

“I have only one question for you. Your Highness, now that you know, are you going to throw Claire out for me?” 

 

“That….”

 

The Crown Prince hesitated to reply. When I saw that he didn’t answer right away, I could tell his true feelings without having to listen.

 

“I will assume that I have heard the answer. I know exactly what you mean, Your Highness.”

 

My voice cracked a little as I was tired.

 

The Crown Prince seemed to have something to say, but I got up because I didn’t hear anything more from him.

 

“You seem to have finished your tea. I’m tired because I couldn’t sleep well last night. Let’s get up first.”

 

***

 

I went back to my room and threw the handkerchief in my hand on the desk. I stared at the handkerchief with his name engraved on it for a moment, then called Stephen over to tell him about what happened between the nanny and Annie, and left him to investigate.

 

“Examine what has been missing in my room lately, or rather in the mansion.”

 

“…!”

 

“I understand.”

 

“Also look into the servant who stole from my room a few years ago and was thrown out. And find out about the nanny’s behavior and family affairs over the past few years.”

 

Stephen’s face was filled with surprise.

 

“I will do so. Now, young lady, get some rest.”

 

He walked out of the room with a happy look on his face, despite the fact that he had more things to deal with in his busy schedule.

 

The sight reminded me once again that the emotional divide between him and the nanny was deeper than I thought. Unlike me, the real Roxana and Stephen were very much at odds with each other, like water and oil that cannot mix. The young Roxana felt jealous when the Duke was closer to Stephen than his own daughter.

 

Her nanny, who was not usually on good terms with Stephen, noticed this and put in more words.

 

“His Highness seems to be closer to the butler of the house than the Young Lady. I think the butler was quick to tell the Duke about your mistake at the last banquet. So as soon as he came back, he didn’t even look at you and went straight to his office.”

 

The nanny used the gap between Roxana and the Duke to her advantage.

 

“The Duke is terrible too. Did you see the butler’s attitude last time? 

He often seems to forget that he is a servant. He doesn’t listen to you at all.”

 

Another day, she pointed out Stephen’s inflexible and principled side. Roxana’s hatred for Stephen was very childish and simple, but once you start hating a person, you will hate everything about that person. In Roxana’s eyes, the butler, who was good at his job and trusted by everyone, was the thorn in her eye. Even without the nanny, Roxana was impulsive and fickle, and Stephen was principled and inflexible, so the two conflicting people would never have gotten along.

 

In addition, Roxana, who grew up with only sweet praises, could not stand Stephen’s direct words because he interfered and bothered with her affairs in everything.

 

The nanny had never been on good terms with him, but the incident a few years ago had made their relationship worse, and Roxana’s maids did not like him either.

 

Stephen had also disliked the nanny for quite some time now, but she was raising Roxana, and unlike the other servants in the mansion, she could not be easily kicked out.

 

So even if it was inconvenient and he didn’t like it, Stephen had to put up with it.

 

But this time, when I gave him a cause, he seemed to be very happy. I briefly wondered if Stephen could really rule out his personal feelings while investigating, but I decided to put aside my worries.

 

He would be able to investigate more thoroughly, but it would not result in falsehood or exaggeration.

 

After Stephen walked out of the room, I looked out the window, a little tired.

 

The sky was cloudy, as if it was going to rain, and beneath it I could see the Crown Prince’s party leaving the mansion.

 

They made their way across the yard and through the main gate, and I couldn’t take my eyes off them until they mounted their horses and carriages. The image of the Crown Prince, who hesitated to answer my question earlier about whether he could abandon Claire, still lingered in my mind. I wasn’t hurt or offended by his words, but I couldn’t easily get rid of the disappointment.

 

‘I thought I had a good chance to kick Claire out. Is this not enough?’

 

I was disappointed for a moment, but quickly changed my mind. Even if the two were forced to separate now, such a solution could lead to greater anger.

 

The two of them could fool me and meet in secret, and, if anything, it would increase the affection between them.

 

I sat down with a serious look on my face and worried. Even if I did not care about the relationship between the Crown Prince and Claire from now on, Claire’s presence would certainly be harmful to me. Even if the crown prince’s girlfriend was quiet and gentle, it would still be a problem, and it was even more problematic because she was persistent and clever.

 

In fact, it was Claire who touched Roxana first, who was sitting still in the banquet hall.

 

‘I’ll deal with her, ignore her or not, but I’m sure she’ll cause more problems sooner or later.’

 

Thinking of her made me feel like I was in the dark again.

 

Just then, someone knocked on my door.

 

I habitually looked for Annie and realized I was left alone in the room, so I stood up to open the door myself.

 

When I opened the door, I saw a familiar-looking servant standing there. She spoke cautiously, looking at me. 

 

“Miss, where should I put the gifts that the Crown Prince brought?”

 

“Please bring them to my room.”

 

I instructed after a bit of thought.

 

The items the Crown Prince brought must surely be of high quality, so I don’t think I need to refuse the gifts. 

 

There was a saying, “Hate the sin, but not the person.”

 

Eventually, several servants came into my room with dozens of boxes. After saying thank you to them, I opened the packages. The gifts the Crown Prince had left were all of the highest quality and variety. It started with a jewelry box containing various accessories such as sapphire necklaces, earrings, bracelets, hairpins, etc., followed by a bouquet of flowers, perfume, a fur coat and scarf, a pocket watch……

 

I kept the jewelry box in my vanity drawer, and the fur coat and scarf in the closet. The bouquet with dozens of fresh, fully bloomed roses and lilies were put in a vase and was placed by the window when Annie came.

 

Anyway, after roughly organizing, I pulled the chessboard out of the pile of presents and sat at my desk. The board with black and white intersects was made of transparent stone, unlike ordinary chess boards.

 

The chess horses were elaborately carved out of crystal, as transparent as a grain of glass, and embedded with real gems, giving them a very luxurious look.

 

I hadn’t played chess for a long time, but the chessboard brought back memories of playing chess with my classmates every day in elementary school.

 

Chess was not a solitary game, but no one there to play with.

 

Stephen was very busy, and the nanny and maid servants I did not want…

 

There was no one else I was close enough to play with.

 

I reached out and touched the chess pieces.

 

A cool, smooth feeling touched my fingertips.

 

“….”

 

I leaned back in my chair and moved the horses.

 

I was bored, but there was nothing else to do, and since the chess board and pieces were so elaborate and beautiful, it wasn’t a bad idea to play alone, both to relearn the rules and make a use out of it.

 

After playing chess alone for a while, the Crown Prince’s face came into view.

 

‘It isn’t a love relationship…..What does that mean exactly?’

 

***

*The author is dragging the story out so much. It’s so frustrating lol.