Sponsored by Nila 💖 (1/10)
The imperial servant handed Claire the jewelry box.
“The Crown Prince had a small accident while coming here, so he asked the Lady to understand that he could not come in person and only send gifts.”
Claire opened the jewelry box in the middle of the crowd. In it was a bracelet on a soft velvet cushion.
The bracelet was very elaborate and was inlaid with emeralds that were very similar to the color of Claire’s eyes. It was a gift from the Crown Prince, so needless to say, its value was very important.
The people admired the Crown Prince’s perspective and looked at Claire with envy.
“I’ve delivered the gift, so I’ll be leaving now.”
Claire grabbed the servant who was about to leave and asked with tears in her eyes.
“Is His Highness okay?”
It was not that the Crown Prince didn’t want to come from the beginning, but he had an accident on the way and couldn’t come. The difference between the two was big.
It was unfortunate that the Crown Prince could not come in person, but with such circumstances, it could not be helped.
Moreover, since he also sent such a fine gift, Claire decided not to blame him.
“His Highness is not hurt at all, so there is nothing to worry about.”
“I’m glad to hear that….”
Claire dropped her gaze with a worried look on her face. Her long golden eyelashes quickly drained.
Her reddened eyes, closed lips, and hands gripping the hem of her dress were straining and trembling greatly.
The sight of the beautiful woman struggling to hold back her tears looked so pathetic and pitiable. The servant bowed to Claire with a troubled face and left.
When the servant left, people immediately crowded around Claire.
“I thought the Young Lady only has a beautiful face, but she has a beautiful heart too. You don’t need to worry too much.”
“There’s no need to be so depressed. Today is a happy day.”
Surrounded by people trying to comfort her, Claire managed to open her mouth.
“Ladies are right. Thank you for the consolation. I’m sorry that I seem to have spoiled the mood for no reason. There’s still plenty of time left, so please have a good time now.”
A young lady, who was usually close to Claire, changed the subject to evoke the melancholy mood.
“Lady Claire, I don’t think I saw those flowers in the garden earlier, did you buy them? They’re really beautiful. Can I have some flowers when I leave?”
Claire dabbed her eyes with the handkerchief and answered in a deliberately cheerful voice.
“It was given to me a few days ago by the Crown Prince. The last time I went to visit him at the Imperial Palace, I admired the beauty of the garden, and since then, His Highness has often sent them to me.”
“Claire, have you ever been to the Imperial Palace to see His Highness?”
“What? Yes, I have. ……Not often, but occasionally. I couldn’t go this month because I caught a cold.”
Claire blinked with a disappointed look on her face.
“His Highness is truly generous to Young Lady.”
One of the female nobles said in a thorny tone. Claire tilted her head, not sure what she meant, and thought of the Crown Prince, blushing wryly.
“His Highness is a kind person? Isn’t he?”
People were rendered speechless by Claire’s innocent reaction.
Under the strict control of the soldiers, the Imperial Palace was not a place that even nobles could easily enter and exit.
It was even more difficult for a noblewoman who had no reason to commute to and from the imperial palace.
But how could Claire, a Baron’s daughter, casually come and go to such a place?
Since she was favored by the Crown Prince from the beginning, she seemed to have no idea how great it was to come and go there at will. Everyone swallowed their saliva as they looked at the vases full of flowers, one for each table.
The imperial family has always been the envy of the world, but the royal family and the palaces they reside in have also always been of great interest to people.
There were many people who wanted items used by the imperial family or items of the imperial palace, but exploring the imperial property could have been a felony.
Even if it was just a single flower.
No matter how much you wanted it, not everyone could get it and even if you had a lot of money, it was not readily available.
However, a number of items from the imperial family were found in an insignificant Baron’s family. They were all sent by the Crown Prince.
Looking at it now, the Crown Prince’s affection for Lady Dana seemed quite deep. They thought Claire had been abandoned because the Crown Prince and Princess Lillian were on good terms again, but after seeing it firsthand today, it was clear that this was not the case.
As the mood sobered a bit, a nobleman in a dark blue coat picked up one of the glasses of wine from a nearby table.
“Let’s have a toast, shall we? We’re here to celebrate Lady Dana.”
Claire nodded again, a smile on her face.
Then the nobles around her raised their glasses with smiling faces.
Soon there was a clear, lilting sound of glasses clinking against each other along with joyful laughter.
The carriage ran fast and stopped after arriving at its destination. Although I had expected it, I felt awkward as I was left alone with the Crown Prince.
Annie, who came with me, did not ride in the same carriage as the Crown Prince, but rode with the horseman in the front. So it was just me and the Crown Prince inside.
I tried to maintain a calm face, but it was a moment when I felt like I was suffocating from awkwardness. Fortunately, it didn’t take long to get to the upper street.
As the carriage doors opened, the Crown Prince, who was on the outside, stood up, dismounted first, and offered his hand to me. I took his hand and got out of the carriage and thanked him.
“Thank you for the ride. Your Highness, I can walk on my own from here. “
“Roxana, by yourself?”
The Crown Prince frowned as if he didn’t like it. I wasn’t alone, I was with Annie. Behind us were two of the family knights who had come with us on horseback.
It was a small number of the servants that I brought with me, but we could easily rent a carriage from here.
Since I wasn’t going to a particularly dangerous place, there was no need for an escort either. The Crown Prince, however, seemed to think differently.
He took out a pocket watch from his pocket, checked the time, and let out a small sigh.
“I can’t let you go around without an escort at this time……”
“Let’s go with me.”
To give me a ride to the upper street, then the role I wanted the Crown Prince to play was already done.
I thought for a moment and shook my head.
“Don’t worry. I can easily get a carriage from here, and I won’t be staying long. Aren’t you going in the opposite direction of the Imperial Palace?”
“I’m grateful enough for the ride here. I’m not going to cause His Highness any more trouble. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go.”
When I finished talking and was about to leave, the Crown Prince caught me by the wrist. When I looked at him with a surprised face, he let go of my wrist and looked at me with a meaningful face.
“You’re really doing this with me in mind?”
From the way the Crown Prince was acting now, it seemed that he still suspected that my blocking his path earlier was intentional.
But he didn’t have any solid evidence to support his suspicion. As for me, I had already accomplished what I had set out to do, so it was no problem for him to notice it now.
The Crown Prince frowned, as if my answer seemed a little presumptuous. He stared at me for a moment with dark, downcast eyes, then quickly changed his expression and said softly,
“If it is truly for my sake, there is no need to refuse. I said I would stay because I wanted to follow you.”
In the end, I allowed him to accompany me.
“That will be fine then.”
Once my permission was granted, the Crown Prince looked pleasant and held out one arm to me. I knew that he meant to escort me, but I pretended not to see it and passed him by.
As a result, the Crown Prince looked bitter, but instead of speaking to me further, he quietly followed me. I lied when I said that I was trying to go to Lady Milanov’s tea party. But the story that I had business in the upper street was not a lie.
A few days ago, I received a call from the jeweler that he had finished the work on the jewelry I had bought. It was the same place where I had sent the pendant for repair the other day. I could have let the jeweler bring it to me, but I told him I would come and get it myself.
I like the peaceful life in the mansion, but I also wanted to see the city for the first time in a long time. However, my plan to take a leisurely stroll and see the sights fell through when I allowed the Crown Prince to accompany me.
I quickly went to the jeweler and opened the door. As I pulled the door handle, the bell hanging above the door rang, producing a clear sound.
Then a staff member came out from inside and greeted me.
“Where is Charles?”
I looked for the owner, and the staff pointed with his finger to a door in the back.
“He’s in there.”
Roxana was the one who received special treatment, and the shopkeeper was not a diligent person to begin with. As was my habit, I was about to enter the back room where I was conversing with the owner the other day when I was interrupted by the staff.
As soon as I looked at him curiously, the staff looked at me and explained with a troubled look on his face.
“I’m sorry. There is a customer inside…. “
“How long do I have to wait?”
“It’s been at least fifteen minutes since the guests entered, so they should be out soon. “
“Then let’s sit down and wait. “
The staff led me to the hall’s reception room after our conversation was over. The Crown Prince also quietly sat down on the sofa.
While the staff prepared a cup of tea and a light snack for me to drink while I waited, I picked up a small booklet on the table to look at.
I wondered how long it had been.
Before the tea could cool down, the door to the back room opened and two people walked out.
One was the owner of the store and the other one was………
“Grand Duke Croix?”
I almost spit out the tea in my mouth when the unexpected person appeared. Looking at the dark hair, red eyes, and a face prettier and more delicate than most women’s, I was certain it was Elvin Croix.
Unlike the last time we met, I could see his face clearly because he wasn’t wearing a mask. His face under the bright daylight felt different from seeing it under the hazy moonlight.
I let go of the teacup in my hand and tried to regain my composure. Where I was now was a high-end jeweler, one of the best in the capital.
Roxana wasn’t the only one who interacted with this place, and it was not at all surprising that Elvin, the Grand Duke, would visit here.
In fact, if I were embarrassed to see him, it would seem even stranger.
Perhaps it was because I had been staring at him too long, my eyes met Elvin’s, who was having a conversation with the shop owner.
He looked at me and the Crown Prince alternately and immediately approached us. When I couldn’t take my gaze off Elvin without loosening my tension, the Crown Prince soon noticed the wonder and turned around.
“It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Young Lady.”
Elvin naturally kissed my hand lightly in front of the Crown Prince. His lips only touched my skin for a short moment, but I felt the heat where his lips touched.
I was speechless at his shameless attitude of pretending not to know me even though we met just a few days ago and drank tea together.
Even so, how could he kiss the hand of a woman he did not know while her fiancé was standing right next to her?
It was as if he didn’t even care about the Crown Prince who was with me.
It was a very rash act, but he was graceful and seductive. After we finished our greetings, Elvin let go of my hand.
I awkwardly pulled my hand away.
“I can’t believe we ran into each other here. What a coincidence.”