The Crown Prince’s mouth opened, but he fell silent for a while.
Eventually he said with a frown on his face.
“I thought you were someone else for a moment.”
“Is that a compliment?”
“You look beautiful now, but personally, I think I liked it better before.”
The Crown Prince said with a slightly sad face.
“Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t mean that you’re not beautiful now. But I think the dress you wore earlier suits you better.”
“Is that so?”
It seemed as if the Crown Prince was trying to change what I wore.
“Okay. Let’s go now.”
As I walked forward, I heard footsteps behind me.
The Crown Prince quickly caught up with my steps with his long legs.
I could feel the gaze from the side, but I didn’t look back.
As I entered the banquet hall, people’s gaze turned towards me.
Maybe it was because of my mood, but the way they looked at me seemed a little different from before.
I passed them and headed straight to the Duke.
Fortunately, the Crown Prince did not follow.
“You’re here. Your dress….”
The Duke looked at me with slightly startled eyes.
At that moment, the emperor, who was standing a little further away, approached and said,
“She’s grown up a lot since I haven’t seen her. I thought she was someone else for a moment.”
“I see you, Your Majesty.”
The emperor smiled kindly at me.
“Princess, haven’t you decided on the wish I said last time?”
“Actually, there is one thing I would like to ask of Your Majesty.”
“What is it?”
“I would like to request an investigation into the case of Viscountess Willis, who recently committed suicide in the Imperial Palace Prison.”
The Emperor’s face hardened a little at my words.
“I told you to say what you want, but I didn’t know you would say this.”
The Emperor stared at me.
He even spoke in a soothing tone.
“An opportunity like this doesn’t come easily. But you’re going to use it for someone else? For someone who’s already died?”
“The nanny betrayed me, but she was with me for a long time. I hope there wasn’t any resentment at the end.”
“I don’t know who dares to use their hands on sinners in the palace. Does the royal guard look so lax in the eyes of the Princess?”
When the Emperor revealed his uneasy feelings, the Duke pulled me behind him.
“Your Majesty, forgive me. My daughter made a mistake because she was still young.”
“No. Duke, I’d like to hear why the Princess thought that way.”
The Emperor softened his voice again.
Considering the achievements the Duke had made, the emperor seemed to have overlooked my bluntness.
“The nanny was a venomous person. But she was not the kind of person who would leave her children behind like that. I was suspicious of that, but I didn’t think of anything else.”
“Okay. Since I told you personally you could make any wishes, I have to take responsibility. But I ask you one thing. If there was another cause behind the death of the sinner, what would you do?”
The Emperor narrowed his eyes.
I was suffocated by the feeling of oppression I had experienced for the first time.
“I have no intention of doing anything. I just want to know the truth.”
“Is that really all?”
I nodded my head without thinking for a long time.
“I see. I’ll investigate soon and report the results.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty.”
I bowed my head and expressed my gratitude.
The emperor raised the corners of his lips with a frown on his face.
“Duke, your daughter is very clever.”
After the emperor left, the Duke asked me with a puzzled face.
“Roxana, what you said to His Majesty a while ago…”
“I thought it was strange from the beginning. Then, after reading the nanny’s will a few days ago, I became more and more convinced that the nanny might not have committed suicide.”
“Could it be that someone encouraged her?”
The Duke looked at me with a worried face.
Perhaps he was worried that there were dangerous people around me.
“It’s not like that. I’m sorry I did this without consulting you in advance. But I won’t cause any harm to our family.”
The Duke sighed.
He then looked at me and said in a stern voice.
“I have no intention of stopping whatever you are doing as long as it does not endanger you.”
The Duke’s gaze at me softened again at the gentle answer.
He patted me on the shoulder with a complicated face.
“Yes, you’ve been a smart kid since you were little. I trust you.”
I felt his words were sincere rather than empty words, which made it even more uncomfortable.
I smiled awkwardly.
“Okay. Don’t worry.”
The banquet ended after a long time.
I stayed with the Duke until almost the end of the banquet, and was only able to return home at dawn.
On the way back, I dozed off in the carriage.
As soon as I returned to my room with the help of the maids, I was completely exhausted.
Lying on the bed in a dreamy state, I could feel Annie removing my makeup and taking off my clothes.
But I was so tired that I didn’t even want to open my eyes.
The next day, when I woke up, the sun was already in the middle of the sky.
It was much later than usual.
The maids also looked more dazed than usual due to the aftermath of yesterday.
While everyone looked tired, only Annie was healthy and full of vitality.
“What is this?”
I looked at the two boxes on the shelf curiously.
One was a tiara sent by the Crown Prince.
It was pretty because I knew what it meant, but I didn’t use it on purpose.
And the other one…..
“It was sent by the Second Prince.”
Annie answered in a bright voice.
Instead of following me to the banquet yesterday, she arranged the presents that had come for me.
Thanks to the merits of the Duke, this birthday was more prosperous than ever.
Because of that, Annie looked busy as if her work had not yet been completed.
I slowly opened the box in front of me.
Inside the box was a pair of silver earrings studded with light water-colored jewels.
It was not as flashy and conspicuous as the gift from Elvin or the Crown Prince, but the neat and elegant design drew attention the more I looked at it.
“It’s pretty. Put it in order.”
I put the earrings back in the box.
Then I looked elsewhere.
Then I found a bracelet on the dressing table.
It was given by Alvin.
When I think of yesterday’s conversation, my face warmed without realizing it.
I turned away and picked up a fan nearby.
Then Joan asked with her puzzled face.
“Lady, are you hot?”
“It’s a little hot.”
“It’s strange. The weather is cool today, so I think it’s fine, but if it’s hot, should I open the window?”
“Yes. That would be nice.”
“Then wait a minute…”
Joan got up and went to the window.
As she opened the window, a cold wind blew in and rain poured down.
The sky was darker than usual, and it was raining all of a sudden.
“Lady, are you really hot?”
Tien looked at me worriedly.
I couldn’t say anything.
“Your Highness, Lady Dana has come to visit. Should I tell her that you will not be able to meet her because you are busy again this time?”
The servant asked.
The Crown Prince was sitting at his desk as usual, looking at the documents.
Lately, he had been avoiding his beloved Lady Dana.
He would make excuses and refuse to meet her, so it was natural for Lady Dana to be upset.
The servant thought it would be the same today.
But the answer he heard was different from usual.
“Tell her to wait in the parlor.”
“Yes. Then I’ll send her back…What?”
The servant opened his eyes and looked at the Crown Prince.
The Crown Prince still didn’t take his eyes off the papers.
“I’ll be there in a little bit, so tell her to wait. Do I have to say this many times for you to understand?”
The Crown Prince said in a dissatisfied voice.
The servant hurriedly bowed his head, answered and left.
“How did it go?”
When the servant went to see Claire, who was waiting with an anxious face.
Today Claire was wearing a bright yellow dress.
Her bright and innocent atmosphere made her look more attractive.
Today, he felt a little lighter because he didn’t have to see a beautiful woman disappointed.
“The Crown Prince said to wait. He will come soon when the work is done. So why don’t you have a cup of tea in the meantime?”
Claire answered meekly.
The servant took her to the parlor and then quickly left the room.
In the spacious parlor p, Claire was left alone.
Soon several maids came in, gave her delicious refreshments and tea, and then left again.
It was in that state for a long time.
‘Why aren’t you coming?’
Claire bit her nails with an irritated face.
Recently, the Crown Prince did not want to meet her.
But today, for some reason, he told her to wait in the parlor.
It was only one meeting, but it has to be so hard.
It was a moment when the difference in status became evident.
At the same time, it also meant that the heart of the Crown Prince was different from before.
Another hour passed.
Finally, impatient, Claire went out of the room and asked a servant who was passing by the hallway.
“I have an appointment with His Highness, can you find out when he’ll be done?”
The servant looked Claire up and down once. Claire’s visit to the Crown Prince and returning without meeting him was already widespread in the Crown Prince’s Palace.
He thought it was a similar situation today and made a sullen face.
“Please wait. If you have come with an appointment, His Highness will come soon.”
It was a very unpleasant conversation. Not long ago, the courtiers of the Imperial Palace were kind to her. But these days, the way they looked at her seemed to be dealing with uninvited guests.
Clearly different from before, Claire bit her lip secretly. She remembered an incident not long ago when she had just been released from prison.
At that time, the royal servants sent by the Crown Prince had come to pick her up. On her way back home with their support, she met the Princess. Their attitude towards the Princess and her was very different. Things around Clair were getting worse and worse.
“Your Highness, won’t you go see her?”
The servant came and asked.
The Crown Prince took his eyes off the document and turned his gaze to the watch.
He looked at the time and noticed that a lot of time had passed.
He then looked a little annoyed.
“What about Claire? Is she still waiting?”
“Yes. It’s been almost two hours already.”
“I made her wait too long. Let’s go.”
The Crown Prince put down the papers he was holding in his hand and stood up.
On the way out of the parlor, he saw a familiar figure in the distance through the window.
It was Elvin.
The place he was headed was the passageway to the Imperial Palace. Seeing that the emperor’s attendant was next to him, it seemed that he had been called by the emperor again this time. The Crown Prince frowned at once.
“He comes and goes to the imperial palace as if it’s his own house.
I can’t understand why the emperor wraps up such a jerk just because he’s pretty.”
The Crown Prince turned his head away and walked, then stopped his steps.
He then narrowed his eyes and looked towards Elvin.
Today Elvin was wearing a creamy cravat with his black overcoat.
The brooch on his chest was exceptionally gorgeous and sophisticated, making it very noticeable.
The Crown Prince paused for a moment.
Then he stared at it.
Elvin’s brooch looked familiar as if he had seen it somewhere.