Sponsored by Nila 💖 (3/10)
The Crown Prince had quicker instincts than I thought.
His words hit the mark, and I hesitated for a moment before answering with an indifferent look on my face.
“I received an excessive gift and prepared to return it.”
“May I ask who you are sending it to?”
“I want to send it to someone I’m grateful for.”
“A person you’re grateful for?”
The Crown Prince raised his eyebrows slightly at my answer.
“And who would that be?”
The Crown Prince asked me.
He didn’t sound like he was asking me a question.
He seemed really curious about who I was going to give the gift to.
Do I have to answer?”
“No, you don’t……..”
“Then I’m not going to tell you.”
The Crown Prince looked a little surprised at what I said. He asked me with an awkward smile.
“Is it someone I know?”
I put on a nonchalant face and answered.
“You’re not going to tell me who it is?”
Has the crown prince ever shown this much interest in Roxana?
The Crown Prince asked me what seemed like an insistent question, but when I didn’t answer anything, he quickly gave up and asked something else.
“What is your relationship with Elvin?”
“Our parents were very close and I met him several times when we were children.”
“But that was when you were very young, and I’ve heard that it’s been over ten years since the two families interacted.”
I didn’t deny it because it wasn’t wrong. The Crown Prince looked at me as if he didn’t understand.
“Is that really all?”
The Crown Prince looked at me strangely.
“What is your point?”
When I frowned in displeasure, the Crown Prince gave a small sigh and said.
“I don’t know what, but Elvin is not a nice person. So if he ever pretends to be friendly to you again, just ignore him completely.”
Elvin was more complicated than he looked, and I had no idea what to make of him.
At times he was up front and helpful, at other times he acted like a stranger, and at other times he was friendly again…
Anyway, after I found out that Elvin was a member of the royal family, I didn’t want to be involved with him anymore. However, Elvin was an opponent that could never be ignored, and I had no intention of pretending to be with someone for the Crown Prince.
Besides, it seemed ironic that the Crown Prince, who was so averse to any interference between himself and Claire, would say this to me.
However, I couldn’t easily say anything else today because I felt guilty about one thing.
“The wedding is less than a year away, so you’d better be careful not to get caught up in a strange scandal until then. Always….”
Don’t forget your place as Crown Princess.”
The Crown Prince drove me to the Duke’s residence and then left immediately.
I quickly returned to my room and called a servant to tell him to send the brooch I had bought today to the Hermes in my name.
After I changed into comfortable clothes, Joan handed me a box saying it came for me. When I opened it, there was a handkerchief inside.
At first I didn’t notice it, but after a while I realized that it was the same one the Crown Prince usually carried with him.
The handkerchief was sent anonymously around noon.
I didn’t receive it because at that time I had already left the mansion to go to Lady Milanov’s tea party and the carriage got broken on the way.
The Crown Prince’s handkerchief……
There was only one person who bothered to send it to me.
Claire. I think I know exactly why she did this. First she sent me the invitation to her birthday party, now the handkerchief.
Claire’s trick was childish and simplistic.
However, if Roxana had discovered this, she definitely wouldn’t let it go.
She probably would have gone straight to the banquet to check it out.
The scene she would come to see there would be of close lovers, and people admiring their lovely appearance.
Roxana had a childlike side, but the truth was that not many people would be able to resist such a scene.
A pleasant banquet hall would have been ruined by the intrusion of an uninvited guest, and Roxana would have been condemned by the people. Claire’s technique was the same this time.
It was so obvious and monotonous that it was almost boring. Of course, it wasn’t something to be taken lightly, considering the malice contained in it and what it might have caused.
But in the end, all of Claire’s preparations went to waste, because the Crown Prince couldn’t come. Besides, he and I walked around the crowded streets openly today, so perhaps tomorrow Claire will notice that I was with the Crown Prince at the same time she was having the banquet.
‘It should be enough of a return gift for the handkerchief.’
I smiled, hoping that today would be a memorable enough birthday for Claire. After changing clothes, I sat in front of the dressing table and took off my accessories, and Tien asked me.
“Miss, do you want your meals to be served in your room today?”
I shook my head and then went down to the dining room. Normally, I would come down to the dining hall and sit alone at the large dining table to eat, which felt like a hassle, so I would eat in my room.
Today, however, it wasn’t the least bit bothersome.
Perhaps it was because I remembered Claire’s twisted face.
Even though the food was the same as usual, it felt extraordinarily delicious.
The Duke’s return was just around the corner.
The servants were also busy welcoming the master who was coming back after a long absence.
I was also busier than usual, though there was nothing special I had to do since I had prepared the gift for his return.
This was because more invitations came to me than usual due to the spread of news that the Duke would return soon.
Unlike Roxana, the Duke of Lillian had a good reputation and was respected by many people, commoners and nobles alike.
It was only natural that the nobles, with their various interests at stake, would try to make them look good, since the Duke made a great contribution this time.
It was a typical day.
I ate a quick meal in my room, took a walk in the garden, and then returned to my room. I read the letters and invitations addressed to me.
There was an invitation sent from the imperial family. Unlike the last time, this time it was not the Crown Prince who invited me, but the Empress.
The Empress and Roxana were not on bad terms, but when I received the letter, I instantly felt a sense of foreboding.
‘What could there be that the Empress called me for?’
I had a few ideas in mind, but I didn’t know the exact answer. From the memories that came to mind, the Empress was very fond of Roxana.
At the last imperial banquet, she had a benevolent face toward me.
Even when Roxana’s reputation had fallen to the ground, the Empress had never once blamed her.
However, the first thing the nobles learned was to manage their facial expressions. And since they don’t talk, it would be hard to know that they were thinking. This meant that the Empress was very thorough.
My assessment of the Empress was in line with her external reputation. Her type of people were the hardest to deal with.
They don’t show it outwardly, but you never know what they are thinking in their hearts. That’s why I didn’t feel safe. I wrote a reply to the Empress, saying that I would accept her invitation. Then I leaned back on the couch and asked,
“Have you heard any news about the nanny?”
“I have not heard any news yet. I heard that she sold her house, but I don’t know where she is staying…”
Tien spoke with a worried voice. I put on a nonchalant face and got up from my seat.
Today was the day I had decided to go to the tea party hosted by Young Lady Evans. Although I didn’t have a close relationship with her, Roxana had conversed with her many times.
Furthermore, the Duke of Lillian and Count Evans were of the same faction, so there was nothing wrong with being close.
I went out in a light dress and a parasol in my hand to block the sun.
As I entered Count Evans’ mansion, a servant of the Count’s family noticed me from the main gate and led me to the location of the tea party. The tea party was held in a fragrant garden full of different kinds of flowers.
After a short walk, I saw a large number of people gathered around a white table with many delicious-looking treats.
I could see several familiar faces among them, as well as some that I had never seen before.
For example, Lady Flynn, who was sitting some distance away, looking at me with a cold face.
I smiled and sat down in an empty seat. Actually, I came a little late because I had to write a reply to the Empress’s letter.
I thought that was why I was the latest to arrive, but seeing that some seats were empty, I guessed otherwise.
“I was a little late, wasn’t I?”
“No, though we all just arrived as well.”
“What Elly said is right. The party hasn’t even started yet.”
The pretty Young Lady, seated right next to me, whispered quietly with a kind face. Then the brown-haired Young Lady, who appeared to be her friend, added.
Whatever the reason, they were very nice to me. A few of them didn’t seem to like the fact that I attended this sitting. However, no one had come out to fight me yet.
There was no need for me to make more enemies, unless I wanted to fight like hell.
“Lady, I thought you might not be coming, but I am honored that you are here.”
The host of the tea party, Lady Evans, said. Despite her smiling face, she had the look as if she didn’t like me.
I also didn’t like the fact that I and Lady Flynn were at the same place. However, it was something I could do as much as I wanted to talk to someone I didn’t like with a smile.
“Thank you for inviting me to this great event.”
I greeted her formally and then, instead of continuing my conversation with her, I also greeted the other ladies who had expressed a liking for me.
Young Lady Evans looked at me a little stiffly, as if her pride had been hurt by my colder than usual attitude, because I was deliberately trying to keep my distance.
“It seems that everyone who should be here has already arrived. Why don’t you hurry up and start the tea party before the tea gets cold?”
Someone started to say in the subtly hardened atmosphere. The people nodded in agreement with her words. Lady Evans, seemed to have the same idea. She loosened her hardened expression and said with a smile.
“Thank you all for coming. I’ve prepared these seats with great care, so I hope you all have a good time.”
The tea party began with the words of the party’s host, Lady Evans. Unlike banquets, which were held in a heavy atmosphere, the tea party was held in a lighter atmosphere, as it was a place for like-minded people to meet and chat.
The nobles who attended the tea party drank tea, ate treats and chatted. I followed them, drinking tea and chatting with the young ladies who showed interest in me.
During this time, I was constantly being watched by curious eyes. They seemed to have something they wanted to ask me, but because of my position, they couldn’t easily say anything.
Even if that was the case with the others, I was quite surprised that Lady Flynn, who fought with me every time we ran into each other, kept quiet.
Every time I met her gaze, she frowned as if she was dying from displeasure, then quickly averted her gaze and engaged in conversation with the others.
It was hard to tell if she learned anything from our last conversation, or if she was scolded by her family back home. Nonetheless, I felt comfortable because I didn’t have to deal with her anymore.
The Crown Prince and I were related through a simple political engagement, and the Crown Prince was not interested in Lady Flynn.
Even if he broke up with me, there was no way that the Crown Prince would engage or marry her. In such a situation, unnecessary emotional entanglement was not beneficial to either of us and would only lead to exhaustion. I took a bite of the macaroon in front of me, hoping that Lady Flynn would also realize this fact soon.
“Sorry for being late.”
At that moment, I turned around involuntarily at the sound of a familiar, beautiful voice coming from right behind me. To my surprise, Claire was standing there.