Perhaps it has been a long time since she lived as a member of the royal family, and she was deeply immersed in the atmosphere unique to her royal family.
Most people would have no choice but to obey her words as she was the Empress.
I swallowed dry saliva.
“Of course, I’m old enough to wish for nothing more, but Jeremy is different. As his mother, anything that stands in the way of the child must be cleared. For that, I can do anything.”
The empress’s gaze at me suddenly softened.
She released the hand that was holding mine and looked at me with a warm gaze.
“Looks like I’ve been holding on to you for too long. You can go.”
“Yes. I’ll go back. The tea was good.”
I didn’t want to stay there any longer, so I got up right away.
Then, as I was about to say goodbye, the Empress caught me once more.
“Ah, Princess. Since you’re here, stop by the Crown Prince’s Palace like you did last time and see his face. I think he’s having a hard time these days. You need to help each other at times like this.”
“I’m sorry, but I will see him another day. I have an appointment with my father today.”
The Empress narrowed her eyes and looked at me.
I struggled to keep a calm face.
Fortunately she didn’t hold me any longer.
“Then I can’t help it. Go ahead. And from now on, you should often stop by and have a chat with Jeremy. Jeremy seems to be having a hard time these days, but people tend to feel grateful to the person who connects them at times like this.”
“I thank you for your advice. So I’m leaving now. Have a good day.”
The way back.
I saw a group of people.
Claire was seen being supported in the middle.
She was almost unrecognizable at first because of her disorganized appearance.
But looking back, it was clear.
Claire’s complexion looked pale and haggard and her outfit was very messy.
Her hair was disheveled and looked like she had no energy.
“Lady, that woman must be……”
Soon my maids also found Claire.
Tien said, frowning.
“She looks like Lady Dana.”
“What, really! I wasn’t wrong.”
At Joan’s raised voice, the other side noticed our presence and lifted their heads.
Claire also lifted her head and looked my way.
Our eyes met.
Her eyes slowly widened.
Soon, a deep hostility filled her gaze, and she raised the tip of her lips.
It was an unpleasant smile.
There was no reason to avoid them, so I slowly approached them.
“I see Princess Lillian.”
The courtiers who were supporting Claire were surprised by my appearance.
But they greeted me politely.
I turned to Claire, leaving them behind.
Until then, her gaze was solely on me.
“It seems that a lot has changed since we haven’t seen each other for a while. But there still doesn’t seem to be any progress. You still don’t even have basic manners.”
When I looked at her, Claire bit her lip with her head bowed.
Red drops of blood formed on her dry, pale lips.
“Lady Dana, what are you doing? Without greeting the Princess…”
The courtiers next to her whispered softly.
“…I see the Princess.”
The sound of Claire grinding her teeth seemed to be audible in my ears.
I bent down to her level.
As I got closer, a stench wafted from Claire.
“You look awful.”
I took a handkerchief from my pocket and threw it in front of Claire.
Of course she didn’t pick it up.
“Lady, what are you going to do if you get dirty? Don’t come near her.”
Joan opened her eyes wide and hurried to stop me. Claire said nothing, but Joan’s words made her ears a little red.
“By the way, Princess, where are you going? Have you come to see the Crown Prince? What to do? You will have to wait a while for the political meeting to end.”
Claire raised her head at the courtier’s question and looked at me.
“No. No need to. I’m here today for other business.”
At my words, the royal courtier made a puzzled face.
“I went to see the Empress a little while ago. Lady Dana, don’t you wonder what Her Majesty the Empress told me?”
At my question, Claire’s gaze became fierce.
When I looked at her, I felt as if sparks were flying from her eyes.
I raised the tip of my lips calmly, even as I received her eerily vicious gaze.
“Well, there’s nothing good to know.”
“I’m busy, I’ll get going now.”
“Yes. Please go ahead.”
I left Claire’s malice-filled gaze behind and headed towards the duke’s mansion.
Time flew by quickly and it was the day of Roxana’s birthday.
I woke up early in the morning and was taken care of by the maids.
Even before sunrise, I soaked my body in the perfume water and received a massage.
An unidentified pack of medicinal herbs was applied to the face.
After that, the maids brought large towels to wipe my wet body and dry my hair.
After suffering for a few hours in a dreamy state, I was able to start full-scale decorating.
As I was sitting in front of the mirror with my hair being brushed by the maid, Stephen knocked on the door.
After my permission was granted, Stephen, who had an unusually kind face today, came in with some servants.
“Good morning, Lady.”
“Yes. But what’s going on?”
“A gift from the imperial family has arrived.”
Stephen beckoned and the servant accompanying him carefully brought a jewel box.
“It was sent by the Crown Prince.”
The servant set the jewelry box down on the table.
When I opened the white mother-of-pearl jewelry box, there was a necklace, a bracelet, and a pair of earrings that appeared to be a set.
I took out the bracelet and placed it on the palm of my hand.
A blue jewel hung from a thin platinum string shimmered in the light.
I couldn’t take my eyes off the water drop-shaped transparent sapphire shining brightly. At first glance, it must have been a very expensive item.
“Is this the only one sent from the Imperial Family?”
“No. There are more.”
Stephen said with a smile on his face.
“What is this?”
“This was also sent by the Crown Prince.”
Another servant carefully put down the box he was holding in front of me.
The servant slowly opened the box.
There was a tiara in it.
Bright and luxuriously dazzling.
From ancient times, the crown could be said to be a symbol of the imperial family and their exclusive possession.
So, just because you had a lot of money or a high status, it wasn’t something anyone could use. If someone with great influence wants to wear the crown, the imperial family will be wary of it.
“I’ll have a servant bring the dress later.”
While I was distracted by the tiara, Stephen said.
Moments later, he left the room and a servant brought a bulky box.
When he opened the box, the maids were amazed.
The white dress with a subtle golden tint looked very dazzling, with embroidery that the tailor of the imperial palace would have embroidered one by one.
In particular, it was very noticeable that hundreds of small pearls were threaded on the skirt. I had already checked it a few days ago, but looking at it now, it was definitely a luxurious and beautiful outfit.
It was no exaggeration to say that the tailor suffered days and nights to make this one dress.
After changing clothes, getting my hair done, and putting on all the accessories, a person arrived from the imperial family.
“The Crown Prince has come to pick you up.”
“Yes, let’s go.”
I got up slowly and walked outside.
As I went down to the first floor, I saw a familiar figure. The Crown Prince was wearing an outfit that seemed to match with me today. His blue eyes and sapphire brooch went very well together. The same was true of the white uniform, which had a bright and neat atmosphere.
However, his expression darkened as he looked over my head.
Maybe he didn’t see the tiara he gave me.
The Crown Prince held out his hand to me with an awkward smile.
I grabbed his hand.
Then he brought his lips to the back of my hand.
Something moist and warm touched the back of my hand for a moment and then fell.
It was an unpleasant feeling.
I had to try not to frown for a moment.
“Happy birthday, sincerely.”
The Crown Prince lifted his head and gave a dazzling smile.
I also raised the corners of my lips in response.
It was then.
Suddenly, the Duke appeared and blocked us.
The Crown Prince raised an eyebrow awkwardly.
The atmosphere hardened in an instant.
“What are you doing here?”
“I’m here to pick up my fiancée.”
“Looks like you’ve wasted your time.”
“What does that mean?”
The Crown Prince asked with a puzzled face.
“What should I do? I didn’t know you were coming, so I decided to go with my father.”
The Crown Prince made a blank face.
The Crown Prince’s face hardened at my words.
He had an awkwardly twisted face that was difficult to manage.
“No, it’s my fault that I didn’t contact you in advance…”
“Then, I’ll see you later at the banquet hall.”
The Crown Prince’s carriage went ahead, and I and the Duke’s carriage immediately followed.
I looked out the window and admired the scenery passing by quickly.
The embarrassment the Crown Prince experienced today was insignificant compared to the humiliation Roxana had suffered.
Still, looking at that stupid face now, I felt as if I had paid him back a little.
As I was looking out the window, the Duke coughed.
It seemed he had something to say.
I turned my head and looked at him.
When our eyes met, the duke pulled out an envelope from his pocket.
Inside the envelope the Duke gave me was a single sheet of paper.
It was a deed of transfer of a gold mine.
I opened his eyes round and looked at him in amazement.
“You’re going to be an adult soon, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to take care of it.”
Even if it was my birthday, to give me a whole mine was too much.
I couldn’t help but admire the wealth of Duke Lillian once again.
And in spite of the Duke’s boldness.
“Is it true that you really liked it? You don’t have a very good expression, did you think a dress or jewelry would be better? Or if you want anything else, just tell me.”
“No. I like it. I’m just a little surprised.”
“Then, I’m glad.”
Soon the carriage stopped.
From outside I could hear people talking.
First, the door of the carriage on which the Crown Prince was in front opened.
The whispering between the people grew louder.
Soon after, the door of the carriage on which me and the Duke had ridden opened.
The Duke got off first and I got off the carriage with his escort.
Everyone’s eyes were focused on us.
However, this was something I had gotten used to by now.
I crossed the Duke’s arm and walked down the red carpet.
I could see the Crown Prince standing a little further away.
The Duke asked.
“Are you worried about the Crown Prince?”
“Not at all.”
I slowly raised the corners of my lips as I looked elsewhere.
I shook my head and folded his arm more tightly.