Payne’s hand that was putting down the teacup stopped.
He frowned with a suspicious face.
When the 2nd prince showed signs of agitation for the first time while listening, Eileen made an anxious face.
She was concerned that he might have noticed something strange about her in the story.
But luckily he didn’t say anything.
Without asking anything, she continued.
“The Princess explained that she had nothing to do with Young Master Croix, but the Crown Prince did not believe her. Then there was talk of breaking up the engagement, and the princess said that she would obey the Crown Prince’s will. Oh, there was also the story of Lady Dana. During that time, it seems that the two of them often quarreled over the fact that the Crown Prince cared about her.”
Eileen lowered her voice in the middle and said in a whisper.
“The most surprising thing is that the Princess said that the Crown Prince had killed Viscountess Willis to get the daughter of Baron Dana out of prison…”
The conversation went on for a long time. Eileen repeated what she had heard from Sarah as close to details as possible.
After hearing everything, Payne had sunken eyes as if he was thinking of something.
When he didn’t say anything, Eileen wiggled her fingers awkwardly.
The silent spacious room was filled with only the sound of the clock’s second hand moving.
Eileen glanced at Payne, who was sitting opposite her.
The face of the 2nd prince immersed in thoughts was so beautiful that once seen, no one could not forget it.
People tend to be more beautiful when viewed from a distance than when viewed up close.
Because the closer you get, the more flaws you can’t see from afar will come to light.
But he was quite the opposite.
His skin, as white and transparent as snow, was clean with no blemishes even from a close up, with a high forehead and a straight nose.
If there was one regrettable part, it was that she could not appreciate that figure as much as she would like.
While waiting for Payne to speak, she drank her tea and ate the snacks.
“By the way, was the Crown Prince alone without an escort?”
A few minutes later, Payne asked curiously.
Eileen was almost taken by surprise at the unexpected question.
“I think there probably was.”
It wasn’t that she knew for sure, but it was the Crown Prince so there must be an escort somewhere.
She glanced at Payne, wondering if he thought something was strange. Fortunately, his expression was not different from before.
“Do you remember how many there were?”
“I don’t know about that. I didn’t really pay attention to the people around me because I only looked at the two of them, the Crown Prince and the Princess…”
Eileen answered while keeping her expression as calm as possible.
Outwardly she looked fine, but on the inside she was very nervous.
Would she have been better off just answering haphazardly?
No, but if it turned out to be false, it would become more difficult later on.
She now wished Sarah was here instead.
She regretted not asking Sarah more closely about what happened yesterday.
“Well, it could be.”
Payne narrowed his eyes.
Contrary to her words, Eileen, who read the suspicion in his gaze, had a cold sweat running down her back.
He asked her a few more questions.
It was trivial questions such as where she stood when she listened to the conversation, and whether she was not caught overheard overhearing the conversation.
To prepare for such a situation, she called Sarah yesterday in advance and inquired in detail, so she was able to answer without difficulty.
However, as the conversation continued, Eileen’s back and palms became damp with sweat.
“I will ask you one last time. When the Crown Prince and the princess were talking, was the lady alone?”
This question could not be easily answered.
But, seeing that Sarah didn’t say anything about it, she must have been alone.
At that time, she didn’t know whether Sarah was alone or not.
She was alone when she left the banquet hall, and she was alone when she returned.
After completing her calculations, Eileen answered without procrastinating.
“Yes. I was alone.”
“Is that so?”
Pain raised the corners of his lips humbly.
It was the first light smile, but it didn’t look like he was in a good mood.
The second prince she saw at the banquet hall was kind to everyone.
He was young, handsome, promising, and had a clean relationship with women, so she fell in love with him from the very beginning, but she was not the only one who showed interest in him, but he was polite and courteous, and he resolutely drew a line with everyone.
Nonetheless she had high expectations when she was called to meet him today.
But the more they talked, the more disappointed she became.
She looked at the attitude of the second prince toward her, and it seemed that he had no interest in her at all.
And she had a strange conviction that it would never happen again.
“Young lady, do you know what kind of punishment the crime of deceiving the royal family by falsehood is?” Payne asked coldly.
At his words, Eileen panicked for a moment and forgot to manage her facial expressions.
Startled, she lifted her head, and his and her eyes met.
The moment she met his cold gaze, she felt a chill that seemed to freeze even to her heart.
Her body stiffened and her spine shivered as if she had been thrown into a large beast cage.
She avoided his gaze.
“I don’t know what the Prince is talking about……”
“There’s no way that the Crown Prince wouldn’t have had any escort by his side. You were so close that you didn’t get noticed? Do you think that makes sense?”
Finally… she got caught lying.
Eileen felt her head go white.
She thought she was well prepared and she wouldn’t be found out.
Even if she was found out, she had not expected that the second prince would question her so fiercely.
She was so scared and anxious that she felt like she was about to cry.
“Even now, if you tell the truth, everything will go unnoticed. So I hope you will answer the truth from now on.”
When Payne said that he would let the matter go, Eileen answered in a crawling voice.
“It doesn’t seem like you made up everything you’ve heard before, but from whom did you hear it?”
Since she was caught anyway, Eileen couldn’t make the second prince angry with additional lies.
Sarah asked her to keep it a secret, but……
There was nothing she could do in this situation right now.
Eileen confessed quickly.
“I heard from a friend. Even if she tells people herself, they wouldn’t believe her, so she asked me to tell what she saw, so I couldn’t help it.”
“So who is that friend?”
“Viscountess Willis’s daughter.”
“Viscountess Willis’s daughter?”
“Yes. Viscountess Willis’s daughter. She known that not long ago her mother had committed suicide in prison as a sinner.”
“She’s such a bold woman.”
After Payne and Eileen finished talking, the knight guarding the front door came inside.
It was the second prince’s lieutenant, Ellen.
He watched Eileen exit the imperial palace through the window on the first floor.
Even from afar, her steps were hasty, and her complexion pale.
He felt a bit of sympathy as he remembered her earlier steps as she ran away with her eyes reddened.
“She dared to deceive the Prince, so it is certainly not a big deal of courage. Still, she looked like a young child…”
Ellen sighed in a sad voice.
Contrary to popular belief, the 2nd Prince was a very cold and hard-headed person.
He was a fearless commander on the battlefield of life and death.
It would have been difficult for a young girl who had grown up sheltered to handle him.
“Did you scare her too much?”
Ellen’s gaze at his boss contained a slight rebuke.
At that, Payne shook his head.
“What do you mean? I think it is enough that she was not charged with the crime of deceiving the royal family by lying.”
“I wish you could have said something better.”
Ellen said as if trying to convince him.
Payne did not understand.
“As I always feel, you become overly generous when you return to the capital.”
“Of course not. The military and the social world are different.”
“If you’re so sad about it, you go after her and comfort her yourself.”
Payne shook his head and sat down at the desk waving the bell.
Then the attendant came in from outside and cleaned the table where they had sat and drank tea a while ago.
Meanwhile, he opened the drawer and pulled out the seal from inside.
Ellen glanced at his boss who started working again, and clicked his tongue.
‘How can he be so carefree? I mean, he still doesn’t have a lover, let alone a fiancee?’
The 2nd prince was tormented by work day and night, but he never showed any signs of being tired.
It’s only on the battlefield that you don’t know when the enemy will attack, so you should be nervous, but it was not now that he had returned to the capital.
Was he going to marry his work?
Even though he could leave that kind of work to the subordinates.
He wouldn’t have a chance to meet anyone at this rate, even if there were plenty of women.
“The Marquis of Kylon has sent an invitation to Your Highness to attend the coming-of-age ceremony for his daughter next month. Do you intend to go?”
Payne answered with his eyes fixed on the paperwork.
Although he had already expected his answer, Ellen sighed inwardly at the answer that came out immediately without thinking about it.
He did not give up and asked one more time.
“They seem to be looking forward to your coming. Why don’t you try visiting once?”
“That’s why I’m not going. Because I don’t want to make people have vain expectations.”
Payne said sternly.
His voice was unmistakable.
Seeing that, Ellen was even more frustrated.
Marriage is indispensable for the royal family who has the right to inherit the throne.
Since a powerful authority can receive a lot of help from his wife’s family, is there any alliance in the world that is as strong and appropriate as a relationship entangled by betrothal?
Like the Crown Prince and Duke Lillian, for example.
At present, the best partner for an arranged marriage was the daughter of Marquis Kylon, and the second prince’s reaction has always been cold.
The prince already held his coming-of-age ceremony last year.
Nevertheless, he had no lover or fiancée tied to a marriage affair he had yet promised a future.
Rumors had it that he had a hidden lover.
Only if that was true. He refused to date anyone.
He never mentioned marriage, let alone an engagement, and was consistently indifferent, so it was doubtful whether he could get married like this.
The good news was that the Princess broke up with the Crown Prince, so he wouldn’t have to worry about power imbalance for the time being.
“Then I’ll tell them you’re not coming.”
Payne caught Ellen as he was about to leave after finishing his duties.
“Wait a minute. I have a job to entrust to you.”
When Ellen turned around with a puzzled face, Payne said bluntly.
“Find Viscountess Willis’s daughter and bring her to me. And one more thing, Princess Lillian and Elvin Croix, find out what kind of connection there is between them.”