Chapter 11

Translator: Alice

Editor: SoaringPeaches

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Huge thanks to K for the kofis! (1/3)

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Her mother wasn’t pleased that Eileen was spending time with Cesare. When she found out about the dancing lessons, she exploded in hysteria, screaming and throwing things all over the house.

 

Little Eileen had cried and begged her mother to stop, praying in her heart that she would rage like that again. Only after seeing her despair did the nanny’s anger subside. When she came to her senses, the older woman had embraced her daughter and hush,

 

“I’m sorry, my little Lily. But you understand, don’t you? This mother only has you and the Prince in her life…”

 

As a baroness, she took great pride in being the Prince’s nanny while he competed for the throne.

 

That pride also served as her mother’s driving force throughout her life. She was even willing to sacrifice her last breath for Cesare. 

 

Eileen did not want to hurt her beloved mother. She did not want to be a hindrance to the Prince.

 

Thus, Eileen gave up on dancing. Cesare never pushed for details.

 

‘And yet, I am here once again, about to dance the night away with His Excellency.’

 

Eileen rubbed her fingertips along the edge of her dance card. She could feel the sharp edges through her silk gloves.

 

The silence that followed was strange, and his gaze was even stranger. It gave her slight goosebumps the further it went along. She opened her lips to break the tension.

 

“Shouldn’t you go to the banquet hall? Everyone must be waiting for you…”

 

“There’s enough time to admire the garden.”

 

Cesare replied as they observed the castle’s little Garden of Eden. 

 

“The staff reported a new flower tree was just imported from the East.”

 

‘Liar. You came here on purpose just to see me’

 

Eileen sighed inwardly.

 

She had always thought that Cesare was as enthusiastic about plant life as she was. After all, he was the only one who would listen to her talk for hours about their properties while everyone else turned away in the middle of their conversation.

 

‘I was such a fool not to notice…’

 

Eileen cursed her past and present selves as she walked inside her greenhouse with Cesare. She swallowed dryly to keep her calm and carefully selected her next words.

 

“Thank you for the lily and for the dress. I apologise for not being able to dress appropriately, despite His Excellency’s thoughtful gesture. Initially, I had only intended to say hello and then leave. I hadn’t even considered the possibility of dancing, yet here we are… I realise now that I should have put more effort in.”

 

Eileen, who had been reciting her prepared lines in order, suddenly halted. Her eyes widened, and her mouth slowly fell open.

 

“Oh, my God.”

 

Eileen dashed to the flowerpot, brimming with seedlings.

 

“This is a Camellia tree! I saw it in a book once, but it is my first time seeing it in person!”

 

It was a tree she had longed to see in person for quite some time. The flower petals had particularly piqued her interest because she had read that they were used as hemostatic agents. She had given up hope of obtaining them due to their rarity. Who would have imagined that it would be planted in the imperial palace garden?!

 

Eileen squatted down in front of the sapling, peering closely at the camellia tree with eager anticipation.

 

“They say the leaves feel like thick leather, and indeed, they do. The gloss is so vivid, and… If you observe closely here, the edge of the leaf resembles tiny teeth. It’s quite unusual, isn’t it? Hah, it would have been wonderful if the flowers had bloomed. The protruding stamens looked so enchanting in the illustrations… How I long to witness them in person!”

 

Eileen made an effort to contain her excitement, speaking in a composed manner as she admired the camellia tree.

 

“The flowers are also distinctive in that their corollas are all attached without a peduncle. That is why they claim it falls off completely. In the East, they say it is a symbol of bad luck because it looks like someone’s head is being cut off…”

 

Eileen, who had been speaking with enthusiasm, suddenly jumped and fell silent. She belatedly realised that she was talking passionately about a subject that the person she was with might not find interesting.

 

“A flower that resembles a severed head,”

 

A deep voice echoed Eileen’s words.

 

Eileen slowly turned her eyes from the camellia tree to the source of the voice.

 

“…”

 

Cesare lowered himself to sit beside Eileen. His attention was solely on her, not even glancing at the camellia tree.

 

Eileen’s eyelashes fluttered. There was always a strange chemistry between them, no matter how they looked at each other. When she locked eyes with Cesare, the maelstrom of thoughts inside her mind seemed to calm.

 

Was it the darkness of the greenhouse, or did his eyes radiate a particularly deep red?

 

“Do you have a fondness for this type of flower?”

 

“I-It’s not it! I–Argh! It’s just that it’s fascinating…”

 

Eileen screamed in annoyance, while Cesare held a camellia sapling in his hand. His large hands seemed poised to pluck and crush the delicate plant at any moment.

 

“Why do you always do this?!”

 

Cesare smiled softly. Eileen begged him, even breaking into a cold sweat, but he just laughed ironically.

 

“Just– Let go of the saplings first, then we’ll talk. They can get damaged so easily…”

 

He did as was told, but his actions were sudden and rough. Eileen felt her heart sink when she fixed her eyes on Cesare’s face.

 

“I’m sorry, Eileen. I’ve been out of sorts lately,”

 

Cesare apologised without sounding remorseful. Eileen furrowed her brow in concern.

 

“Has something troubling happened to you?”

 

“Aside from the fact that you almost got your head cut off on the guillotine?”

 

“I’m sorry…”

 

Eileen murmured quietly, not knowing what else to say. As Cesare claimed, had Morpheus been discovered by someone else, Eileen’s fate would’ve been that of a headless chicken.

 

‘Still… He was never like this before…’

 

Had Cesare found this exotic tree troublesome, he would have had his henchmen remove it a long time ago, and Eileen would never have been the wiser. But here he was, sitting with her, touching the sapling, listening to her ramblings… It’s unusual to see him acting on impulse, indulging her as he did. Not that he hadn’t before, but not to this degree…

 

What on earth has happened in the last three years?

 

Eileen gave him a strange look, and Cesare leaned forward. Then he declared,

 

“The wedding will take place in a month. I would have had it sooner, but some preparations take time…”

 

Eileen blinked slowly at him. Everything she wanted to say, everything she had neatly ordered, was tangled up in an impossible knot. She was defeated before she even set foot on the battlefield. 

 

“I can’t win against you, can I? There’s no point in even expressing my opinion, is there?”

 

“As an adult, you must put up with things you dislike.” 

 

Cesare rose to his feet with deliberate slowness. As he stood tall, his back silhouetted against the moonlight, he cast a penetrating gaze down at Eileen. His bright red eyes locked onto hers with an intensity that sent shivers down her spine.

 

“Then again, why would it be so unpleasant…?” 

 

He mused aloud, a twisted smile curling onto his lips.

 

“Considering we have to marry eventually, wouldn’t it be preferable for me to be your partner than some old pig?”

 

‘What old pig?!’ 

 

Eileen almost squeaked, both scandalised and feeling indignent.

 

The harsh words that came out of his mouth caused her eyes to widen at that precise moment. Cesare tilted his head slightly.

 

He frowned at her before grabbing Eileen’s forearm and lifting her up. Eileen staggered to her feet under the weight of his power.

 

Then, in the quiet greenhouse, the shadow of an uninvited guest appeared. They were covered in black from head to toe, and there appeared to be more than five of them. Eileen asked, her face full of disbelief.

 

“They’re not assassins, are they?”

 

“I wonder…?”

 

He responded in a leisurely tone. Eileen was on the verge of crying from fear.

 

As they were in the Imperial Palace, Cesare was completely unarmed. There wasn’t even a ceremonial sword at his side, let alone a firearm. 

 

Fortunately, the assassins wielded only swords. Firearms, with their limited number of manufacturers and tendency to make loud noises, would have been easier to track. It seemed the assassins had opted for swords to carry out their task quietly.

 

Yet, even in the absence of firearms, Cesare stood defenceless against the armed assailants. Eileen tightened her fists in frustration, realising the dire odds they faced.

 

If there was only to be one survivor, it had to be Cesare. Eileen lowered her voice and whispered to him with determination evident in her expression.

 

“Your Grace,” she began, catching his glance. “I’ll create a distraction for you.”

 

“A distraction?” Cesare echoed, clearly intrigued.

 

“Take that opportunity and make a run for it.”

 

Knowing her agility, she believed there would be a chance for him to flee on his own. It seemed like a viable plan to her, but Cesare burst into laughter.

 

“Eileen,” he said, his tone almost amused.

 

“Yes?”

 

His response perplexed her.

 

“Could you close your eyes for a moment?”

 

“Um… sure?” Eileen replied hesitantly, unsure of what he had in mind.

 

“And perhaps… sing a song,” he added gently.

 

“A song? How… how many?” Eileen asked, confused.

 

“Just one song would suffice,” Cesare replied tenderly.

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Notes

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