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The servant, who was answering the Crown Prince, looked at me.
“There is a carriage blocking the road, and that carriage belongs to Princess Lillian.”
The door of the carriage slammed open on when the servant’s words finished and the Crown Prince walked out. He was elegantly dressed in a banquet attire and looked incredulous when he spotted me.
“Roxana? How do you know this place………..?”
The Crown Prince frowned.
His expression and voice were not as warm as they usually were.
Indeed. The Crown Prince would not have expected to meet me on his way to Claire’s birthday banquet.
Now, judging from his attitude, he seemed to think that I was deliberately blocking his way.
Actually, it was understandable that he would think that.
The carriage blocked only one path at the perfect time, anyone would be suspicious. Actually, the Crown Prince was not wrong in his thinking.
All of this was not a coincidence.
They knew the Crown Prince would come to this path beforehand.
Claire had personally invited me to a banquet, and she had something to show me.
And it must have something to do with the Crown Prince.
I wasn’t going to be there, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t going to sit back and watch them.
“There’s a problem with the carriage. My driver has gone to call someone, but it’s taking longer than expected. I wonder if something went wrong.”
I replied with a calm face.
The Crown Prince looked at me and the carriage behind me in turn.
He finally realized that something was wrong with the carriage, and his stiff expression relaxed as he approached me.
“You must have been frightened. I hope you are not injured.”
The Crown Prince passed a strand of my hair behind my ear and asked with a worried look on his face.
“I was a little startled, but fortunately I was not seriously injured. But my arm is a little sore.”
“I’ll send the palace doctor to the Duke’s residence to take a look, just in case.”
“I’m sorry that I’ve inconvenienced an extraordinarily busy person over something so trivial.”
“Please don’t say that. You’re my only fiancée, so it’s only natural for me to worry. It’s not the least bit troublesome, so there’s no need to apologize.”
The Crown Prince stroked my head with a gentle hand. Goosebumps broke out on my arms, but I tried to lift the corners of my mouth up.
“By the way, where are you going?” (Crown Prince)
“Lady Milanov invited me to a tea party.” (Roxana)
I took an invitation out of my sleeve and stuck it out.
Perhaps it was my imagination, but the Crown Prince’s expression seemed to darken for a moment.
Was it because Claire was not on good terms with Lady Milanov? Or did something happen with Count Milanov?
“Let’s talk in my carriage.” (CP)
The Crown Prince got into the carriage first and offered his hand to me.
I took his hand and got into his carriage.
“Roxana, are you and Lady Milanov on friendly terms?”
Suddenly, I couldn’t grasp the Crown Prince’s underlying intentions in asking such a question out of the blue. I pondered for a while and then answered with the truth.
“I don’t have a close relationship with her, but I think she’s a nice person.”
“A nice person? The Young Lady?”
The Crown Prince wrinkled his brow in disapproval. I thought there was some problem with Count Milanov, but now I see that it was not the Count but his daughter.
However, no matter how brave Lady Milanov was, she could not have done anything to offend the Crown Prince directly.
Then again, was it Claire? Lady Milanov was one of those people who blatantly disliked Claire.
Instead of questioning the Crown Prince further, I broached another topic.
“Where were you going, Your Highness?”
At my question, the Crown Prince’s expression became even worse than it had been a moment ago.
He hesitated, unable to answer easily. ‘I met you by chance on my way to Claire’s birthday banquet.’
Obviously, it was not an easy answer to give in front of his fiancée. The Crown Prince seemed to doubt whether I really didn’t know or pretended not to know. I added before he could open his mouth.
“If you’re not too busy, can you take me to the top street?” (Roxana)
“Why do you want to go there all of a sudden?” (CP)
“I think it’s too late to go to a tea party..………. I have something to find.” (Roxana)
The way to the top street and Baron Dana’s mansion, where the party was to be held, was in exactly the opposite direction. And since it was quite a distance, it would take a lot of time to get me there and back to the Baron’s residence.
Claire would be worried and disappointed if the Crown Prince, who was scheduled to attend, had not shown up at the banquet hall. However, now that the second Prince has returned, the situation of the Crown Prince was not the same as before, so he would not be able to refuse my request.
If the Crown Prince attended the banquet hosted by Claire, it would not be heard by me.
The excuse that he was busy was not accepted because he was right here.
That was why I knew the answer from the beginning.
“All right. Then let’s go to the top street. But first, please wait a moment.”
The Crown Prince got up from his seat, got out of the carriage and said something to the servant who came up to him. After receiving the Prince’s instructions, the servant immediately put something behind him. He then rode off in the direction of Baron Dana’s residence.
I’m sure it’s a present for Claire.
Perhaps it was the fact that I was looking at it so openly.
My eyes met again with the Crown Prince, who was about to board the carriage.
Even if the Crown Prince were to give her a gift, it would be a good opportunity for Claire to show off her friendship with the powerful heir to the throne.
However, even this much was not a bad achievement.
I faced him nonchalantly and smiled. The Crown Prince also looked at me with a smile on his face.
“We should get going.”
The Crown Prince got in the carriage again, and as soon as the door closed, the horseman shook the reins loudly.
Soon the carriage began to move, and the scenery outside the window quickly passed by.
Baron Dana’s residence, which was always quiet, was crowded with people today. The normally deserted garden was decorated with flowers and candles, and there were dozens of tables set up on the lawn.
On each table, delicious food and desserts were placed beautifully.
Baron Dana’s family was not a wealthy one.
However, Baron Dana was an ambitious and extravagant man. When he heard that the Crown Prince might attend the upcoming banquet, he invested a large sum of money.
He organized a banquet.
Of course, it was not comparable to a grand banquet held by the great aristocrats, but because of the care taken, it wasn’t too shabby for a banquet held in a baronial house.
Claire greeted people as she walked between the tables, as she was the host of the banquet.
Today she wore a pale blue dress with a clear emerald necklace. The dress was embroidered with several small flowers on the chest and hem of the skirt in silver thread. It looked very expensive, the fabric was high quality and the sewing was elaborate. The dress was sent to her by the Crown Prince, as she was holding a banquet to celebrate her birthday. Claire was usually beautiful enough in simple clothes.
But when she dressed up in fancy clothes, she was even more dazzling. However, unlike the fancy dress she wore, Claire’s expression was not very bright. She was conscious of people’s eyes and deliberately smiled.
However, as time went by, her mind became more and more nervous. In the banquet hall today, people from Count and Marquis families attended. Of course, they didn’t come just to celebrate Claire’s birthday.
They must have heard the news that the Crown Prince was coming and came to meet him.
It didn’t matter at first.
Whatever the reason, the more people there were, the more fun the party would be. But it had already been a while since the banquet started, and the Crown Prince still hadn’t arrived.
It was strange.
It was already certain information that the Crown Prince would come to the banquet.
The Crown Prince himself replied that he would attend the banquet.
Claire asked the nanny who was next to her in doubt.
“Why hasn’t His Highness arrived yet?”
“I don’t know either. Did something happen on his way here?”
“How about Princess Lillian?”
“Right after the banquet started, I sent someone to Duke Lillian’s residence, but there was no response.”
Princess Lillian, if it was her nature, as soon as she saw the handkerchief, she would rush over to catch the Crown Prince and Claire together. Claire thought, frowning.
She didn’t know what Princess Lillian was up to, but it was clear that the Princess had captured the Crown Prince.
“His Highness won’t come. She wasted her time for nothing.”
“That’s right. There is no way that His Highness will come to this place. No matter how much she’s favored, she’s just a Baron’s daughter.”
Claire returned to her seat and quenched her thirst with a glass of wine on the table to soothe her burning feelings.
She heard someone’s voice in her ears.
She turned her head to where she heard the sound, but there was no time to find out whose voice it was because of the large crowd and the fact that she was in this place that was designed to show that the Crown Prince’s favor directed at her still remained.
The situation was getting worse and worse.
Claire secretly clenched the hem of her dress.
“Lady Dana’s falsehoods are terrible. If I had known that His Highness would not be coming, I would not have come here.”
This time, the voice was a little closer and clearer than the one Claire had heard earlier.
Claire frowned and turned her head in the direction of the sound.
There was a petite, pretty-faced young lady conversing with the people around her. She was wearing a rather fancy dress, as if she were the hero of the banquet.
She wasn’t the only one who attended the banquet with impure purposes, but Claire couldn’t help but feel unpleasant.
Several of the people who made eye contact with Claire warned the young lady to be quiet. But the flamboyantly dressed young lady didn’t seem to mind in the least.
“I don’t care if she hears me. I’m a Count’s daughter, why should I pay attention to the face of a mere Baron’s daughter? Ladies, are you not angry? Lady Dana deceived us all”
The young lady made eye contact with Claire and said in a taunting voice.
“I think that’s enough time wasted. I’m leaving now.”
After finishing her words, the young lady turned her back and left in the carriage she had ridden here. People were buzzed by her rude behavior and lack of politeness, but no one did anything to stop her.
Rather, they just looked in the direction of where Claire was and whispered to each other in tune with her words. Along with the young lady, some people left the hall with disappointed or angry looks on their faces. Usually, when the Crown Prince was around, there were so many people crowded around Claire, but now there was no one near her.
A nobleman saw Claire’s face stiffen and handed her a handkerchief from his own pocket.
“You needn’t worry about those words. Just ignore them. It will be better for the young lady.”
“Thank you for the comfort.”
Claire took the handkerchief and looked at the person who had given it to her. The person who gave her the handkerchief was a young male aristocrat. He was the one who usually blushed as he stared at her.
‘Who do you think you are?’
Claire smiled at him. Then she wiped lightly around her eyes with the handkerchief and handed the handkerchief back to the nobleman again. His face flushed red.
At that moment, the imperial attendant arrived at the mansion. With everyone’s gaze on him, as soon as he got off the horse, he immediately approached Claire.
“His Royal Highness the Crown Prince has asked me to deliver this directly to Lady Dana.”