“Wh-where did you suddenly appear from?!”
He wasn’t here just a moment ago!
“I thought you were looking for me, so I hid. I wanted to surprise you like this.”
Crown Prince Jarvis straightened his waist, which was almost ninety degrees bent towards me, and spoke.
‘Why go that far?’
He’s definitely not a normal human. I hid my annoyed expression and stood up from my seat.
“Oh, and it would be a shame if you ran away when you saw my face.”
The Crown Prince smiled brightly. His smiling face scared me even more, so I quickly lowered my head.
“Your Highness, yesterday I didn’t purposely stand you up. I fell asleep by accident….”
“Asleep? So you’re telling me right now that you slept after making plans to meet with me?”
“Yes, I’m sorry….”
“How could you sleep? My heart must have been pounding so fast that I couldn’t sleep. So, did you really fall asleep?”
“Yes. Very much so.”
I answered without realizing it. The Crown Prince’s expression was more hurt by the fact that I had slept before our appointment than by the fact that he had been stood up.
“Do you know how many noble ladies want to meet me?”
“Unfortunately, I’m not one of them.”
“I receive dozens of letters every day.”
“I’m not really interested.”
“You’re being too much.”
“I’m sorry, I’m not good at lying.”
I should have accepted some of the blame, but I just couldn’t take it. The Crown Prince staggered back, holding his left chest as if he had been hurt, but soon approached me again.
“It’s okay. Treating me like this is your charm.”
The Crown Prince recovered too quickly. He smiled lightly as usual.
“Anyway, since you stood me up, you have to take responsibility for it, right?”
“Should I kneel down?”
Despite his somewhat arrogant attitude, he had an unfazed expression. Rather, he smiled, revealing his teeth as if he was enjoying it.
Jarvis was a person with a welcoming demeanor, despite his light-hearted behavior. He had a talent for making people feel at ease with his cheerful face, and indeed, I felt quite comfortable with him from our second meeting.
“I can’t torture the delicate knees of a lovely lady.”
He’s a bit annoying, but he’s quite alright. As expected of the sub-male lead…
“How about granting me one wish?”
“What? A wish?”
“No, one wish is too lenient compared to your offense. Since you dared to fall asleep before our appointment, even if it’s reluctantly, you should grant me three wishes.”
Now you’re asking me for three?
“…I’ll just grant you one.”
“But I said three.”
“You initially said one. So I’ll grant you one.”
“Well, since I’m generous, I’ll compromise. Two.”
The Crown Prince held up two fingers as if he was making a great sacrifice.
“While you’re at it, please please cut another one.”
“You want to increase it to four? Two.”
After a heated argument over one and two wishes, we finally settled on two wishes when Jarvis turned away, saying, ‘If you don’t want to grant my wishes, I guess I should call the guards.’
“I can’t grant unreasonable requests.”
“Don’t worry. They will be simple wishes.”
Damn it, it’s not déjà vu. I’m getting back what I’ve told Diart before.
‘I take back what I said about you being a decent person, you human!’
I’m worried about what kind of wish he’ll make since he’s an unpredictable type. I touched my forehead and asked him.
“What do you want?”
“Well, let me think about it from now on.”
“If you don’t make the wish within a month, it will be invalid.”
“What? Where does such a law exist?”
“You didn’t say that I couldn’t set a deadline.”
I feel like I want to tell him to decide right now, but I hold back.
“Alright, I understand. But by the way, I thought you and your husband didn’t get along?”
The Crown Prince, who was shaking his head as if he had no choice, turned his eyes and looked somewhere.
“What do you mean?”
I turned my head to where his gaze landed and involuntarily shivered.
‘Why is he looking at me like that?’
Diart was looking at me with his lips tightly pressed, his expression slightly grimacing.
‘Is there something here that’s bothering him?’
I looked around, but there was nothing particularly noticeable, and above all, Diart’s gaze was clearly directed towards me. It was evident that his attention was focused on me, to the point where he looked more annoyed than the Emperor who was grumbling next to him.
‘Why is he looking at me like that? It’s making me uneasy!’
Until just now, he had been escorting me and there was no sign of him being in a bad mood.
“Your Highness, did you perhaps make a mistake with the Duke?”
I asked Jarvis in a low voice. He shrugged his shoulders.
“I don’t recall anything like that. But maybe something will happen soon.”
“What? What do you mean…?”
‘Ah! Why is he coming this way?’
I stepped back and hesitated as I saw Diart approaching briskly.
‘Don’t you see the Emperor behind you? Why are you here? Just stay over there!’
At that moment, the music playing in the hall changed. The people who had gathered in groups to chat turned their expectant gazes toward the Crown Prince.
“As I’m sure you’re aware, it’s customary for the imperial family to begin the dancing at an imperial banquet.”
I replied dryly, not taking my eyes off Diart. When I turned my gaze towards the surroundings at the sound of people holding their breath, the Crown Prince was reaching out his hand to me.
“Will you stop embarrassing my hand?”
For some reason, I had a premonition that if I held his hand here, I would irreparably offend the man standing next to me. Just as I was about to refuse, the Crown Prince, who had taken a step closer, lowered his head and whispered in my ear.
“Let’s make this my first wish.”
With an expression that seemed to say, ‘Is this really all?’, the Crown Prince smirked.
I glanced up at Diart. He was staring at the Crown Prince with an indiscernible expression. Why is he so hostile even before meeting Adelia? Were they always on bad terms in the original story?
‘Ugh, I don’t know. Let’s just get rid of one damn wish first!’
“It is not right to repeatedly refuse His Highness the Crown Prince’s requests. I am honored to have my first dance with you.”
In this crucial moment that I couldn’t afford to miss, I took the Crown Prince’s hand. Since I had learned that I couldn’t dance with other men before my husband, it was even more crucial not to miss this chance. Diart, whom I caught a glimpse of, still had an unreadable expression.
“I am truly honored to be able to dance with you.”
The Crown Prince flashed a fleeting smile towards Diart and immediately led me to the center of the hall.
The Crown Prince seemed in a good mood for some reason.
“I will make sure that Your Highness’s feet remain unharmed today.”
“A welcome sound to my ears.”
“But I have a favor to ask in return.”
“A favor… Isn’t avoiding stepping on your partner’s feet a given?”
“Don’t think too deeply about it.”
“What is the favor?”
“It’s nothing major, but I would appreciate it if you could take off your gloves when we dance.”
Since we were already going to dance, I thought I might as well fulfill my personal desires.
“Is there a reason?”
“Your Highness, my shoes are unusually sharp today.”
“Do I just need to remove my gloves?”
It seemed like there was no way to refuse. The Crown Prince laughed with an amused expression and removed his gloves. Before I knew it, we stood in the center of the hall, him holding my hand with his bare one and placing his hand on my waist.
And that’s when the dance was about to begin.
“Presenting Her Imperial Majesty the Empress, the shining moon of the Empire, the eternal radiance, Princess Leticia, and Lady Adelia MacGregor!”