Chapter Twenty: Prince and a Princess
“You truly have a boring persona…” Rosie spat out a line one couldn’t imagine coming out from her elegant and beautiful face. One could see hatred and a tiny bit of fear dwelling in her big eyes.
“It would certainly be all right when you conveyed this to my second brother. This should be enough to dissolve any misunderstanding.” As soon as Nolan finished saying so, Rosie flipped and broke into a run.
Uwaaah! She’s dashing in my direction!
Startled, I quickly moved behind the cypress tree nearby and hid. I couldn’t completely grasp the sense of distance, relying only on the dim moonlight, so my palm that I stretched out in front of me to grope around my way touched a bunch of sharp leaves densely growing from the branches of the cypress tree. It inflicted such pain that I unwittingly pulled my hand backwards instantly.
I felt like even the trees were rejecting me.
I held my breath and strained my ears to hear the sounds of Rosie’s footsteps running on the lawn. Finally, when not even any lingering sounds were left behind, only then did I heave a relieved sigh.
When I looked again from the shadow of the cypress tree silently, this time, it was Nolan walking in this direction.
He appeared from the side of the vine-entwined blockade and walked toward the terrace as if he didn’t notice me watching from behind the cypress tree.
I tiptoed my way behind his back.
However, he stopped right after I began to take a few steps, and with agile gestures, he looked back at me. Slowly, his eyes widened in surprise.
His complexion looked as if he had encountered a ghost.
I don’t think that’s a correct attitude one should show looking at their wife.
I walked slowly and stood in front of Nolan.
“How…? Since when you were listening?”
“I don’t really remember since when…” I was utterly confused the entire time.
Hearing that, Nolan grabbed my shoulder with both of his hands. It was as if to shake me.
“I… I don’t think it matters since when I was there!” I was so shaken that I shouted without realizing. Nolan’s eyes blinked as if he was also surprised by my sudden outburst.
“…It matters. It’s a big problem.”
“That’s right. It’s indeed a big problem. But all of that problem is on you! What the hell was that!? Being so late with a woman alone and moving to such a secluded place.”
I again checked our surroundings and saw that everything was submerged in the pitch-black darkness.
The scene of Nolan hugging Rosie, even carelessly, flashed in my head.
I even recalled his affectionate voice.
The rage inside me seeing my supposed husband’s betrayal scene didn’t burst out then because I was overwhelmed by shock and confusion witnessing it. But now, the feeling of anger was overflowing from the bottom of my stomach.
Why did these two who were both married to someone else come to this place so brazenly!?
“Liese, listen to me…”
“So the next illegitimate child I’m going to see will be your first love’s!? Just how much could fit on that dirty, shameless box of yours!” I swung my hands and shook Nolan’s hands.
“What’s more, the two of you even swore to marry each other in the past, was it?”
“…So you heard it all—”
“—If you had someone like her, then why…”
I pushed him by his chest and took some distance in the anger-ridden momentum. I immediately turned on my heels and tried to run away. I couldn’t stand being in place as him for even a second longer.
However, Nolan grabbed my upper arms from behind and prevented me from running. He did it so strongly I was rooted in place.
He was so gentle in embracing Rosie. So why…
Why was he so rough with me?
I turned around as he didn’t release me and glared at him. “Perhaps, you and your siblings are just fighting over a woman?”
“You didn’t hear it completely… Listen to me. I don’t deny that my relationship with Rosie in the past was good… We used to talk about our future together in our early teens. But she gradually distanced herself from me.”
“So you were dumped? In other words, it was Nolan-sama who has a lingering attachment to her?”
“You are wrong!”
“Then why… Why did you accept her invitation? Why didn’t you return to the room immediately? Don’t you know how lonely I was feeling in this unfamiliar place…”
“I was wrong.”
That’s right. Nolan-sama was wrong…
So why does it feel like I’m the one who’s most miserable in all of this?
I just continued to glare at him as he kept holding my hands.
Our feelings were so parallel to each other for a moment that I couldn’t spin out the questions I wanted to ask. However, Nolan said to me in a voice only I could hear, “I just wanted to know what my second brother was scheming.”
Second prince… So Rosie’s husband?
“It was you who wanted to probe their thoughts, is what Nolan-sama wanted to say?”
Can I really believe him on this?
Nolan pulled me towards him and hugged me tightly. He did so quite strongly, which hurt me. I didn’t even know if I could call it a hug.
“And you were so gentle to Rosie…” I said so with a tone oozing with sarcasm, “You even tried to kiss her.”
“It’s a misunderstanding! I was trying to scare her and let her realize her foolish act.”
“I’m not lying.”
“…Either way, even your love at first sight charade is at best a cover…!” I blurted out something unnecessary in the heat of the moment. Crap. I immediately shut my mouth as Nolan called out my name.
“I didn’t take upon Rosie’s invitation with some ulterior motive. I really don’t have any special feelings towards her, as you’re suspecting.” I slowly stopped pressing my palms on Nolan’s chest to push him off.
Nolan softly kissed my forehead. However, albeit a little, by his gentle act, my bubbling emotions had subsided.
However, immediately after that, I hated how quick to appease I was.
“I have never done such acts with anyone besides you.”
“Even if I’m being called a town girl… Only Nolan-sama has the right… To say that to me.”
“Liese… You’re my wife. And I think the distance between us, even if slowly, it’s surely shortening.”
I took a big sigh and buried my face in Nolan’s chest. None of us moved for a while and stayed in each other’s embrace. However, no matter how close we looked, being in each other’s embrace, deep down, I knew our hearts were anything but connected. And Nolan’s situation shouldn’t be any far from me.
That’s why his arms embracing me were strangely tight and somewhat overbearing.
It was frustrating.
The next day, we gathered in the plaza in front of the Royal Palace’s main gate to celebrate the king’s successful reign of 20 years.
The road connection to the plaza had already been sealed temporarily, and the plaza, which was usually bustling with the Royal Capital’s people passing by, was crowded with royalties or entitled nobles who had come to participate in the ceremony this morning.
Chairs were neatly lined up in the plaza, and we took our seats according to the predetermined seating order.
The plaza was already sealed off from the ordinary populace. Still, soldiers were stationed to block the way, and many citizens were crowding behind the fences, forming multiple lines to take a glimpse of what could be happening inside.
Glancing around, I felt multiple gazes coming from the windows of the houses around the plaza.
The king and the queen, albeit late, arrived at the plaza.
The crimson cloak, allowed only for kings to wear, stood out even from a distance, attracting the vision of almost everyone naturally.
With the arrival of the king and the queen, bards began to play music reverberating in the plaza.
The music being played was composed specially for today’s ceremony and, while high-pitched, was moderately short to not make the participants bored.
Next, the king was presented with a bouquet by adorable kids dressed up beautifully. I didn’t know where they got the kids. Nevertheless, it was spectacular scene to witness since everyone involved looked charming.
The main highlight of today’s ceremony was the unveiling of a bronze statue built to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the king’s reign.
The newly built bronze statue in the plaza was covered with a large white cloth.
The big cloth was taken off at the king’s signal, and there, was a giant bronze statue. There was great applause from the spectators almost instantly. The bronze statue was colossal and magnificent yet didn’t appear any less elegant. The figure, modeled after the guardian deity of the Royal Capital, the goddess, had giant wings unfurling from its back with a sword in its right hand and a book in its left hand. This would probably serve as a pseudo existence watching over the people going forward.
The king also looked satisfied as he clapped vigorously.
Eugenie, a princess, was sitting near my seat. The princess, who was still twelve years old, was the seventh child of the royal couple and the first princess.
She wore a chartreuse green dress with dauntingly elaborate embroidery, on which were sewn-in fine crystals, all over. I was pretty sure that even if I piled up all my dresses together, they wouldn’t be worth a quarter of hers. In addition, her dainty arms and neck were decorated with absurdly large jewel-embedded accessories.
The princess moved her ashen colored-eyes around and talked to the people around her, filled with curiosity. Still, there was a confident attitude about her that made people everywhere aware that they were beneath her.
I got curious, so I continued to look at her.
The Princess frowned in dissatisfaction when the court lady softly told her to quiet down and slapped the tip of the lovely fan she was holding at the beautiful face of the court lady.
Pashin! A snapping sound that was by no means small echoed in my ear.
Eeeek! I subconsciously screamed in my heart. Even those who were watching felt like it was them who got slapped.
What a scary princess.
I saw bright red blood oozing out of the face of an unblemished and white-like porcelain cheek of the court lady. She hurriedly bowed down and apologized for her impoliteness.
I can’t believe such a girl was Nolan’s little sister.
To be honest, I didn’t feel like having any connection with her despite her being my sister-in-law…
I unconsciously leaned towards Nolan sitting next to me. Thereupon, I heard the Princess’s clear and innocent voice, “Hey, is she that famed Liese? The one who ensnared my big brother Nolan?”
She’s talking about me.
I didn’t want to have any relationship with her, yet I became the topic of her discussion.
“I don’t remember ensnaring your big brother,” I retorted to the princess inside my head.
It was planned for the king to ride the carriage on the main road of the Royal Capital. It’s to respond to the populace’s congratulations. However, when the ceremony was near its end, a commotion arose from one of the fences that the soldiers were blocking. All the aristocrats in the plaza worrying about what had happened turned to look at them.
All the noblewomen had put their fans to cover their mouths, raised their brows, and whispered in a subdued tone.
On a closer look at one of the fence points, spectators raised their hands and complained to the soldiers while yelling something. Other soldiers were dispersed here and there, headed to their designated positions quickly, supporting the fence that the berserk spectators were pushing.
I barely heard one part of the spectators angrily shouting that they were against the reinforcement to the Sevesta.
Thus, the tranquil peace of the plaza shattered instantly, and as a result of the uproar, the ceremony was rounded up early.
I heard that even the king’s parade route had been changed in consideration of his safety.
We returned one step ahead to the Royal Palace after seeing the king and the queen getting on a gorgeous carriage, departing for their parade.
The ceremony, which I was so nervous about, finally ended.
Regrettably, there was no announcement of who the next king would be. It was a matter that Nolan had been waiting, so I was pretty disappointed as well. I also thought that maybe it was because of the unforeseen uproar that took place, that they weren’t able to make such a massive announcement.
Now that everything was over, I felt like an idiot for worrying so much about things I wasn’t accustomed to.
Just when I felt that I was finally in solace with all the main events being over and all we had left was just to return to our Dahl Island, Johanna reminded me…
I have a tea party waiting for me.
I was surprised that having a tea party wasn’t just some lip service…
What Johanna added further petrified me… “Eugenie-sama will also attend this party. She wasn’t able to meet you at the evening party so she will show herself at the tea party… The queen is so considerate.”
I couldn’t be any more depressed.