Chapter 22

***


I blinked my eyes out and looked at him.

 

Philen was looking down at me with dreadful eyes. He looked angry.

 

Why is he so angry? Don’t tell me, he heard about what happened between me and Sophia earlier? 

 

“Why…”

 

I thought I need to ask for sure rather than guessing. But as soon as I opened my mouth, Philen grabbed me hard on the shoulder and asked fiercely.

 

“Why are you cheating?”

 

Cheating? Who? Don’t tell me, me?

 

Ridiculous. At his words that were so out of the blue, I looked at him with a dumbfounded expression.

 

Thinking that my expression was positive, Philen made a more harsh impression.

 

“I can’t believe you openly cheated on me in a place like this. So audacious.”

 

“…who is cheating?”

 

I frowned and pushed away his hand that was holding my shoulder painfully.

 

There’s no one here, so I spoke informally. 

 

“I don’t know where or what you heard, but I never did.”

 

“I saw it with my own two eyes, okay?”

 

“You saw it with your own two eyes… Don’t tell me, are you talking about me having a conversation with His Majesty?”

 

“It’s not just that. You even hug His Majesty.”

 

Ha. I didn’t think it would be because of that.

 

I answered irritatedly, pressing down the middle of my forehead. 

 

“I didn’t hug His Majesty. His Majesty caught me because I was about to fall. I was simply getting help.”

 

“Do you want me to believe that?”

 

“You’re free to believe it or not, but I am innocent.”

 

When I spoke confidently without batting an eye, Philen’s expression shook slightly.

 

“Then why did you smile so brightly in front of His Majesty?”

 

“Then, do you want me to frown when talking to His Majesty? Hmm? Should I yell in a fit of irritation?”

 

Philen, who kept his mouth shut as if at a loss for words, said sulkily.

 

“You, you’ve never smiled so lightly in front of me.”

 

“I never smiled lightly.”

 

Like all nobles, it was just a decent smile for hospitality. 

 

“And the reason I didn’t smile in front of you is because there’s nothing to smile about. You’re doing weird things these days, so how am I supposed to smile?”

 

“I’m doing weird things?”

 

When Philen asked as if he had no idea, I was blown away. 

 

As expected, Philen really didn’t know what he had done wrong.

 

From where should I start teaching him this?

 

No, would he understand if I taught him?

 

I’m sure he won’t understand.

 

Rather, it was obvious that he would treat me like a strange woman. 

 

“Perhaps, is it because of Cecily?”

 

Fortunately, it seemed like Philen didn’t sell his tact completely because he asked that. 

 

As I silently affirmed, Philen sighed.

 

“As I said before, I’m taking care of her because she has my child. I’ll send her out of the mansion as soon as the child is born.”

 

“I don’t trust you at all.”

 

I retorted and he said frustratingly.

 

“Why don’t you trust me?”

 

“Look at how you’re treating her now. Who will believe you? No one will believe you.”

 

“But you still have to trust me.”

 

“You have to do something that will make me trust you.”

 

The mouth that burst once couldn’t stop. 

 

I started taking out everything I had kept inside.

 

“Whatever you do, you run to her, you move only for her, you don’t pay any attention to me at all. So, how can I trust you?”

 

“That’s because Cecily is alone and Leila, you can handle it on your own…”

 

Why can’t you know that I did it because I’m afraid you’ll have a hard time?

 

“Even if she has your child, I’m the one you should take care of first. Not her.”

 

I gave strength to my eyes and looked at Philen.

 

“Tell me honestly. Are you really thinking of marrying me? You’re not trying to make her a Duchess, are you?”

 

“It can’t be.”

 

“I don’t believe it. I can’t believe a single word you say.”

 

“Leila.”

 

“If it’s true, show me by your action so I can trust you.”

 

For example, Cecily, kicked her out.

 

I wanted to say that, but I didn’t say it because it seemed like I was being too childish.

 

After all, she had Philen’s child.

 

That alone gave Philen enough reason to keep Cecily. 

 

At my words, Philen thought for a moment and then said with a determined face.

 

“I just have to show a certain action so that you can trust me, right?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Okay.”

 

Philen grabbed my hand tightly and led me into the hall.

 

It was so serious that the eyes of the scattered people were focused on us.

 

Because of this, I missed the chance to shake off Philen’s hand, and I had no choice but to follow him.

 

The place where Philen took me was in front of Kalian.

 

“Your Majesty.” 

 

Kalian, who was talking with other nobles, looked back at Philen.

 

“What’s going on, Duke Williot?”

 

“I am here to ask Your Majesty’s permission.”

 

Philen spoke with a face more determined than ever.

 

“I, Philen Williot, want to marry Leila Thebesa, so please allow it.” 

 

What is this again? 

 

I was bewildered at the sudden remark and looked back at Philen.

 

Kalian also looked bewildered.

 

There was a heavy silence in the banquet hall. Everyone was holding their breath and staring at us.

 

“Ha.”

 

The first person to break the silence was Kalian. 

 

He answered with a smile fresher than ever.

 

“I can’t do that.”

 

*****

 

Kalian smiled as he looked at Philen, who was shocked by his refusal.

 

That meant he thought he would allow it.

 

There were too many reasons for refusing Philen’s request. Half of them were reasons that most nobles here knew.

 

Unfortunately, it seemed like the young duke in front of him had no idea why Kalian refused.

 

Well, if he had known, he wouldn’t have come with such mettle and said it.

 

What a foolish, stupid man he is.

 

Kalian tilted his lips at an angle. He looked at Leila, who was standing next to Philen.

 

From the look on her face, Leila seemed to know why Kalian refused Philen’s request.

 

Yet, her calm, thoughtful face was impressive. She could stay calm even in this situation.

 

Kalian’s cold eyes were dyed warmly. His gaze was fixed on Leila for a while.

 

“Your Majesty.” 

 

Then he heard Philen calling and turned his gaze to him. His warm gaze froze again.

 

“May I ask why you don’t allow it?”

 

Not only is he a fool, but he also has a hobby of digging his own grave.

 

Kalian asked Philen without hiding the sneer that erupted out of him.

 

“Are you really asking because you don’t know, Duke Williot?”

 

“Perhaps…”

 

When Philen put his doubts on top of his vigilance and was about to ask Kalian.

 

“Of course, the Duke knows why, Your Majesty.” 

 

Leila took a step forward and gently interrupted the conversation.

 

Kalian’s gaze shifted to Leila again.

 

Leila gently held Philen’s hand and warned him not to say any more before continuing.

 

“When there’s a great ceremonial in the imperial family, there’s no way the duke is unaware of the custom that nobles do not hold separate ceremonies for three months.”

 

At Leila’s added words, Philen’s eyes shook slightly. His earlobes turned a little red. He seemed to have finally figured it out.

 

And Kalian, he was the only one who could see Philen’s stupid face that was cleverly covered by Leila. That was probably why she took one step forward.

 

I can’t believe you think that far. 

 

Kalian once again admired Leila’s ability. He wanted her even more. 

 

“He knew that.”

 

Wondering how far Leila could make excuses, Kalian deliberately asked back.

 

“But why did he come to ask my permission?”

 

“He needs permission to get married now so that we can get married within this year.” 

 

Leila answered as if she had been waiting.

 

“As Your Majesty knows, the higher the nobility, the longer it takes to get married because you have to go through various complicated procedures from the preparation process to the wedding.”

 

Nobles’ marriages took at least six months and up to a year. The imperial family took longer than that.

  

“So Your Majesty, the Duke wanted to marry me within this year, that’s why he tried to get permission from you first. Isn’t that right, Duke?”

 

Leila smiled shyly and asked Philen.

 

Anyone could tell that it was the figure of a fiancée who truly loved her fiancé.

 

“O, of course.”

 

Philen nodded reluctantly.

 

Upon hearing the desired answer, Leila stepped back, still with a shy face.

 

As a result, when Philen’s slightly red ears were exposed, the onlookers murmured, regardless of age or gender.

 

“Look at those red ears. I think Duke Williot likes his fiancée a lot.”

 

“That’s why he wanted to get the permission to get married in advance.” 

 

“I thought their relationship was neglected because of his mistress, but I guess not.”

 

“Well, a mistress is a mistress and a legal wife is a legal wife.”

 

It wasn’t because of Philen’s blushing earlobes, but it didn’t matter to those who believed in what they saw.

 

Public opinion, which was stirred by Philen’s sudden action, changed for the better with Leila’s improvisation.

 

Everyone cheered for Philen’s courage and envied Leila, who was loved by Philen.

 

“I see.”

 

If he kept arguing here, he’d be the fool, so Kalian ended the conversation.

 

“But since I’m a little petty, I want to talk about this again in a month. Can you wait that long, Duke Williot?”

 

“Of course, Your Majesty.”

 

The conversation, which was as dangerous as walking a tightrope, ended safely.

 

Kalian drank champagne and looked at Leila as she turned around, tired like a soldier returning from war.

 

I want her no matter how many times I look at it.

 

She was too talented to be left to rot for the rest of her life next to that idiot.

 

He wanted to let her talents unfold to her heart’s content in wider water.

 

To do that, he had to get her as his assistant as soon as possible.

 

I have to settle the official government test fast.

 

If Ver heard it, he would be shouting, but that’s how greedy he was to Leila…

 

Kalian thought so and called Ver, who was happy without having an idea what was going on.