My head was tangled with fifty thousand thoughts.
But when I saw the prince’s eyes staring at me seriously, all other thoughts disappeared.
There was only one answer.
By marrying the prince, I would be able to escape here without any problems.
However, things change if what he wants is my heart. I couldn’t fool him by pretending to give what I couldn’t give.
As soon as I answered, the music ended. I let go of the prince in a neat motion.
The prince slowly pulled his hand from my waist as if he was disappointed.
“The prince seems like a very kind person, but I…… I’m not in a situation where I can love anyone.”
“May I ask why?”
I glanced at Lady Sherrington, who was looking my way from a distance.
“Should I say that I have a suspicious disease?”
I scratched my cheek when the prince raised his eyebrows at my vague words.
“I told you that I brought my family to its current position as the head of the Baloa, right? Strangely, the higher I climb, the more I can’t trust anyone. So, I mean…….”
“I apologize, Prince.”
I gave him a friendly pat on the shoulder with a broad smile.
It may be rude to the prince, but I went out of my way because I wanted him to know my true feelings.
“I think it’s a waste for me to be with someone like you who can love someone sincerely. Truly.”
“That’s too bad. I’ve never seen a woman like the Duke before.”
As the prince said so, he nodded his head. It meant he understood everything I said.
“Oh, I’m sorry, too. If the prince had only wished for a political marriage, I would have gotten married to you right away.”
Despite my lame joke, the prince smiled.
“But don’t worry. There are many women in the empire who live with pure love.”
I could tell by the fact that everyone had a crush on Cardan, who had a dirty personality.
“I’m a bit embarrassed to say this, but I’ve played the role of Cupid several times.”
It was all a failure, but I decided not to mention this fact.
“If you want, I’ll help you find love.”
If a lady, who is close to me, becomes a princess, she will help me in my escape, right?
Fortunately, the prince nodded without noticing my sly intentions.
“I’d appreciate it if you could.”
“As for the alliance, don’t worry.”
The south has to be an ally so that they can protect me when the empire falls down.
“I will discuss it with His Majesty and take care of it.”
I reached out my hand to ask for a handshake as a sign of promise.
“I’m relieved that the Duke says so.”
The prince held my hand and smiled a little.
“The next time we meet, I’ll meet you as the empress of an ally.”
I thought I had heard it wrong, so I blinked, then the prince smiled quietly.
“The Duke didn’t seem to know.”
“Your Majesty has a heart for the Duke.”
As soon as Cardan slumped on the bed, he picked up the candle on his bedside table like a habit.
He couldn’t figure out how he ended up in the bedroom.
There was still a thin smoke rising from the end of the wick.
Cardan took a deep breath and took out a box of matches from the drawer of the table.
With a wild gesture, the wick of the match caught fire.
He crumpled the dead match back into the box. The box was about to burst, tangled with other matches, but there was no time to worry about it.
Cardan put out the candle, spitting out a short swear word.
When Cardan couldn’t get rid of his frustration, he swept his face roughly with his hand. He’d ripped off the button on the collar of his shirt.
It can’t be.
Never. That can’t be true.
No way, no way, even for his mother.
In spite of this, even when he closed his eyes, the memory of the prince kissing Erina’s hand remained for a long time.
Upon closing his eyes, his mind was filled with memories of the distant past.
It was the day of the expedition.
As soon as the empress gave birth to a son, the emperor declared a war of conquest. He drove the first prince, who had not yet become an adult, to the battlefield.
Everyone said the same thing in unison. There is no chance that the first prince will return from the war.
Don’t you know that he has already given the first prince’s palace to the empress’ newborn son?
Within a few months at most, the first prince will be buried on the battlefield, and the empress’ son will assume the role of crown prince.
Everyone thought so.
And the first prince, Cardan, agreed with them.
If it’s not the enemy’s sword, he’ll be killed by an assassin’s arrow.
Maybe that’s why. Despite everyone avoiding him like the plague, Erina continued to visit him, which made him feel a deep sense of frustration.
“Why are you here?”
The voice that barely came out was harsh.
“I’m going to see you off.”
“It’s not as if I’m off to somewhere pleasant.”
Erina was unfazed by the cold words, and only wriggled her hands tightly together.
“I’ll write to you.”
A wild laugh broke out.
Nothing good will happen from her getting involved with him. He can’t understand why Erina, who is usually quick-witted, is so stubborn for no reason.
“Don’t send me letters. They won’t make it to the front line anyway.”
Cardan smoothed the sword around his waist.
He’s been training with the same sword without skipping a day, but today, the touch of the handle was unfamiliar.
“Letter, I’m going to send it to you.”
Cardan did not take his gaze off his sword even as Erina’s voice trembled slightly.
He didn’t think he should look into Erina’s eyes for today.
“I will also take care of Her Majesty Queen Eleanor, go to the temple and pray hard, and…….”
Erina stuttered uncharacteristically.
“It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you don’t become the crown prince, if you don’t become the Emperor, or if you can’t make me the prime minister. I will wait for the prince to return.”
As long as the emperor decided to kill him, hanging out with him was nothing but suicide.
In addition, Erina is the only princess of the Duke of Baloa, who lacks nothing.
It was in her best interest to forget him as soon as possible.
In the end, Erina’s eyes, which he couldn’t resist peeking at, were freezing blue.
Cardan was reminded again.
Erina was not one to say empty words. And she was never the one to give up.
So he had to cut her off even more.
“You’re too persistent.”
His voice came out. Cooler and sharper than ice crystals, so the sound doesn’t show any emotion.
“Are you being tactless or pretending to be tactless?”
Small waves rose in her blue snow-like eyes, like a lake.
“I wanted the Duke of Baloa to give me strength to become the crown prince, so I hung out with you.”
A sharp smile broke with a gush.
“The Duke of Baloa is useless, too.”
This time Erina turned her eyes away. As she lowered her head and drew back her shoulders, she appeared weak as if her body would disappear.
Her struggling whisper trembled with uncertainty.
“You may misunderstand however you please, but don’t write to me and do no such foolish thing as waiting.”
“It’s difficult to maintain our position, so there’s nothing good that would come out if there are rumors.”
Erina’s shoulders were shaking with the sound of her breathing in her throat.
However, Erina bit her lips as if she was holding back her feelings.
He couldn’t take to see her any more, so he got on the horse and snatched the reins.
“Even if I come back, we won’t meet again.”
The well-trained horse bolted at a small signal.
He would not forget the sight of her lips, which she had been biting hard until the blood began oozing, for a long time.
It was a relief, though.
Erina has a tough side.
Now that he’s touched her pride, she’ll cut herself off. She won’t shed tears for him.
I didn’t know how I got back to the office.
The prince’s words still lingered in my ears like noise.
‘The Duke didn’t seem to know. His Majesty has a heart for the Duke.’
The prince smiled lightly and raised his eyebrows as I made a stupid expression because his words were so absurd.
‘The ones involved are the last ones to notice.’
I shook my head.
“He’s looking for a marriage with love, so he must think life is like a flower bed.”
“Gu, gu, gu!”
My pigeons cheered me up as enthusiastically as always.
I muttered as I opened the cage door and scratched the birds’ heads.
“Well, the prince doesn’t know that I’ve been keeping Cardan’s mother locked up and threatening him for years.”
“If he finds out about it, he’ll want to make sure that he’s not dancing with a ghost.”
It was amazing that my neck was still attached to my body. I fumbled around me to make sure it wasn’t a dream.
The pigeons rubbed their heads in my hands as if to console me.
“You’re the only one who understands my heart.”
I sighed and took off my jacket. There was a loud noise when I threw it roughly on the chair.
“If I think more, my mental health will only deteriorate.”
I jumped right into bed.
Escape, alliances with the Eastern Continent, the search for the prince’s marriage partner, and the dubious move of Lady Sherrington, were complicated enough.
However, contrary to my confused thoughts, my tired body quickly fell into a deep slumber.
Tears fell without warning.
However, Erina’s expression as she looked at the newspaper article was cold.
【The first prince won successive victories in the south following the western front】
For several years, news of the First Prince never stopped.
Erina, who was crying with an expressionless face, quickly closed the newspaper.