Chapter 23

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Claire hoped that he would understand her injustice. But his expression didn’t falter in the slightest. Claire opened her mouth in a trembling voice.

 

“There must be a misunderstanding…..”

 

Her pride was badly damaged.

 

Princess Lillian was fortunate to be born into a prestigious family, and she was a foolish woman who knew nothing. She never thought, and her personality was so bad that she dug her own grave every time. 

 

Claire could be sure that if she was born into a family as lovely as Roxana’s, she would never let anyone treat her like that in the society.

 

But, she couldn’t believe she was being put to such shame by such an ugly woman……. But the Crown Prince spoke with conviction for some reason. If she didn’t want his heart to leave her, she had no choice but to bow down now.

 

It was the first time that the Crown Prince sided with Roxana. Claire was perplexed by the situation she was experiencing for the first time, and it was lonely and insulting.

 

“Whatever the reason, never do it again, and if you do it again, I can’t protect you either.”

 

The Crown Prince’s voice was more decisive than it had ever been before.

 

“Your Highness!”

 

Claire’s eyes widened in surprise.

 

The Crown Prince stared at her with a frown.

 

When his cold eyes turned to her for the first time, Claire was speechless.

 

Eventually, the tears that were building up in her eyes streamed down her cheeks.

 

“Really… it wasn’t like that…..”

 

Her tears added a hint of weariness to the Crown Prince’s face.

 

After seeing the tears of his mother, the Empress as a child, the Crown Prince was vulnerable to the tears of women. So, in the past, when Claire cried like this, he would comfort her with a troubled look.

 

But today, perhaps because was already exhausted, he didn’t feel any special emotion when he saw her tears. He sighed deeply, then forced himself to raise his lips and smile.

 

“‘I will tell Ethan to prepare dinner for you. You can eat then go.”

 

 “What about Your Highness?”

 

Claire asked in a watery voice, wiping away tears as the Crown Prince’s voice softened again.

 

“I’ve got a lot of work to do, so I’ll just eat in my office. Don’t worry about it.”

 

The Crown Prince’s voice and tone were gentle and firm at the same time.

 

Claire whimpered at his words.

 

The Office was forbidden territory for her.

 

She had never stepped foot in it yet, and the Crown Prince had told her that she was not allowed to go in or out of the office. So these words now meant that she should not bother him any further, stay meekly, and then leave.

 

Normally, she would hold him back, act cutely, and express her disappointment, but for some reason it was not easy to do so today. She was nervous with an unknown anxiety.

 

“And from now on, restrain yourself from visiting me unexpectedly like this without any notice. It does not look good in the eyes of others.”

 

“…!”

 

After finishing his words, the Crown Prince calmly turned away without waiting for a reply.

 

Claire bit her lip as she watched the Crown Prince disappear into the distance without looking back, leaving her alone, as if he didn’t need her anymore.

 

Tears no longer flowed.

 

However, her fists, which were clenched so tightly that the knots in her bones turned white, trembled.

 

The long, slender nails sharply pierced the soft skin of her palms.

 

Seeing how pale her face had become, the servant beside her asked cautiously, 

 

“Lady Claire, you look pale, is everything all right?”

 

At the servant’s words, Claire raised her head and looked at her.

 

‘Are you asking me if I’m alright after you saw everything that happened just now?’

 

Claire felt the urge to raise her hand and slap the tactless maid on the cheek.

 

But she couldn’t do that.

 

Even if the woman in front of her was just a single servant, she was still strictly a lady-in-waiting.

 

It was not someone she could do as she wished.

 

Now, the crown prince, who had left her, and the princess Lillian, who was the root of everything, were people who were in positions that she could not even touch.

 

So even though she was angry and frustrated, there was nothing she could do about it except to endure, as she was powerless.

 

“Thank you for worrying about me.”

 

Claire said softly with a bitter smile on her face. However, unlike usual, it was not easy to manage her expression.

 

The rigid muscles in her face trembled finely.

 

“I’m not feeling very well today, so I think I’ll have to leave early. Please inform His Highness.”

 

The servant nodded as if to say she understood.

 

Claire gave her a faint smile, then turned and climbed into the carriage waiting at the front gate.

 

After getting into the carriage, she found the flowers still in her hands.

 

All the flowers growing in the Imperial Palace looked so beautiful and valuable, their colors vivid and fresh.

 

But the flowers that she now had in her hands were broken and crushed.

 

She saw a bright yellow violet that she had picked a while ago without thinking through the ruined flowers.

 

The floor of the carriage she stepped on was also full of fallen petals.

 

The flower was fortunate enough to keep the fine figure among the broken flowers, looking completely beautiful. 

 

As she looked at the bright golden petals, her mood sank infinitely as she thought of someone who had always stared at her with eyes as colorful as the flower in front of her. Claire opened the window of the carriage and threw all the flowers she was holding in her hands outside. The discarded flowers were eventually run over by her carriage, splattered and crushed.

 

*****

 

I was resting alone in my room after dinner. I was bored, so I spent the rest of the evening rereading the book I had read during lunch. But I was fed up with even that and walked around the room for no reason. Then I saw a pendant placed on top of the dressing table.

 

It seemed that I forgot about it when I went to see the Crown Prince earlier.

 

I approached and reached for the long hanging silver chain and picked up the pendant. The thin silver chain hung down in my palm.

 

Originally, it should be worn around the neck like a necklace, but the chain had broken in the middle. The necklace looked elaborate and valuable, but it was far from Roxana’s usual taste.

 

I didn’t remember seeing it, so it didn’t seem like it belonged to Roxana. So why would something that didn’t belong to Roxana be in this drawer? Just in time Annie came in with a mop to clean the room, so I asked her.

 

“Annie, where did this come from? I don’t think I’ve seen it before.”

 

Annie answered, looking strangely at the pendant in my hand.

 

“Isn’t it yours?”

 

I shook my head and Annie said with a troubled look on her face.

 

“Maybe I have mistakenly picked up something that belonged to someone else. Could it be the Crown Prince’s?”

 

“The Crown Prince? What makes you think that?”

 

I furrowed my brows.

 

“On the day of the banquet, I went there because I heard that the Young Lady was lying sick in the guest room in the imperial palace. I picked this pendant from the ground next to you.”

 

“The day of the banquet ….”

 

I gave a small frown.

 

Maybe Annie was referring to the day I first fell into this world. Come to think of it, after I fell in the garden, I woke up in my room in the Duke’s mansion. 

 

Then someone must have found me and moved me to the imperial’s guest room, then someone else took me back to the Duke’s mansion.

 

Suddenly a person popped into my head.

 

I wasn’t the only one on the terrace at the moment I fell.

 

There was another person.

 

“Were there any other people in the room besides me?”

 

 “No. I didn’t see anyone there when I came into the room, but the Crown Prince and the imperial physician came in shortly after…”

 

“Then you don’t know who moved me.”

 

Even if people saw someone fall, they wouldn’t move the person directly. 

 

They probably called someone else to come.

 

‘I’m not official yet, so I can’t go in and out of the royal family’s personal space at my own discretion to check.’

 

‘So is it the Crown Prince’s item?’

 

My interest quickly faded when I realized that the pendant belonged to the Crown Prince.

 

The next time I met him, I could ask him and return it. If it wasn’t his, then I would find its owner and return it. If I can’t find anyone, then there’s nothing I can do.

 

I put the pendant back in the drawer and gave the chain to Annie.

 

“Please go tomorrow and see if you can fix the broken part.”

 

“Yes, I will.”

 

Annie nodded with a sad look on her face, then left the room.

 

She must have thought she picked up the item belonging to the Crown Prince, and was scared. I thought it was a little odd, but I didn’t say anything anyway, since there was nothing wrong with being careful.

 

Just then, someone knocked on the door of my room.

 

There was no one in the room, so I opened the door myself and saw Stephen standing there.

 

“Miss, did you enjoy your meal?”

 

He had been asking me how I was doing lately.

 

The way he looked at me and the way he spoke to me was much softer than when we first faced each other.

 

“What’s going on?”

 

“A person came from the Hermes. The items you ordered have arrived, and he asked if it would be okay if he could bring it tomorrow.”

 

The Hermes was where I had visited a few days ago and left my request.

 

I couldn’t believe that they completed my request. I told them to visit quietly, and they seemed to have come up with a way to pass through the main gate without any suspicion.

 

The Hermes was a place that deals in many types of goods. With so many nobles already using it, no one would think it strange if I bought some luxury goods from them.

 

I marveled at the idea, which was more plausible than I thought.

 

However, I wondered a little bit why the butler would come to tell me just this in person, but I answered first.

 

“Tell him I don’t have any special schedule tomorrow.”

 

“Yes, I’ll tell him that.”

 

“….?”

 

Stephen heard my reply and I thought he would be leaving. But he was still standing in front of my room. 

 

“Is there anything else, by any chance?”

 

I asked, and Stephen replied with a solemn face.

 

“We’ve found the people who leaked the mansion’s affairs to the outside world. I’ve locked them in the basement for now, so what should we do?”

 

***

 

I followed Stephen’s lead down to the first floor.

 

As I walked down the hallway on the first floor, I saw a room with knights standing in front of it. It must be where the informants were locked.

 

After being greeted by the knights, I watched intently as Stephen slipped the key through the small keyhole into the door knob and turned it.

 

Eventually, the door to the room opened.

 

Stephen went in first and then he signaled that it was okay for me to come in.

 

I slowly went inside nervously.

 

“….!”

 

Three familiar faces were lying on the floor in the center of the room, their eyes and mouths covered, their hands and feet bound.