“Good evening, Lady Warfield.”

“Yo, Your Royal Highness.”

The baroness bowed somewhat clumsily. She hadn’t expected the prince to approach her first, and though he was already a benefactor to her, she couldn’t help but feel a tinge of suspicion in the way he looked at her.


“Well, Prince Ian….”

“The Prince?”

“…Says he’s a big fan of David’s.”


It was due to Natalie’s vague response that the Prince knew how to answer her persistent question of how he knew about her.

The Baroness had heard the gossip about the Prince’s private life. But she’d always assumed they were just rumours, that someone had made them up.

But when she found out that he was actually indulging in the kind of racy novels that rocked the country, she couldn’t help but see the man in a new light in her conservative eyes. The appearance of the divine prince struck a chord of reverence.

The Baroness’s misconceptions about the Prince grew, but it was none of Natalie’s business.

Natalie came to her senses a moment too late and bowed.

The prince’s gaze lingered on Natalie’s face, then dropped to the dark grey dress that made her look like an old lady. He smiled coolly.

“A lovely dress.”

“…Thank you.”

Natalie realised that her timid defiance hadn’t made any difference to the prince–she’d known it would, of course–but she couldn’t help but feel secretly flattered.

“Will you allow me the honour of accompanying you on the next song?”

The prince asked, his expression relaxed.

Natalie stared seriously at the large palm held out to her. If you were at a ball, you were expected to dance. But….

She couldn’t help but feel that if she took his hand, it would be her answer to his bizarre deal.

Her head was so full of thoughts that it wouldn’t be strange if it exploded right now. Just as her head was about to explode, the Baroness, who had been watching her nervously from the sidelines, whispered in her ear.

“Dear, Natalie. Are you going to keep him waiting any longer?”

How dare you, Prince?

Natalie’s mind raced with destructive thoughts, but she came to her senses.

“With pleasure. It would be my honour, Your Highness.”

Natalie replied with as nonchalant a tone as she could muster, then gingerly placed her fingertips on his hand, her fingers twitching at the contact. His body temperature was higher than she expected.

Thinking that he sensed her nervousness Natalie quickly looked away. Fortunately, the prince said nothing. He just pulled her closer with a slow motion. Though she hated to break stride, Natalie followed him meekly.

They took their places on opposite sides of the floor, facing each other, like every other man and woman who looked at each other with curiosity and excitement.

The chatter of the crowd mingled with the tuning of instruments. Natalie hasn’t taken her eyes off the floor since she took the prince’s hand.

Her head spins until she doesn’t know how she’s standing, and then a crisp voice falls overhead.

“You look at me like I’m some sort of villain.”

The prince’s words were shorter now. There was a hint of amusement on his face.

He took her left hand and steadied her posture.

“What do you do when you’ve heard it all? It was my own proposal, thoughtfully made with you in mind.”

‘…Is that so? Are you serious?’

Following his lead, Natalie fumblingly raised her arm and placed her palm on his left shoulder.

She could feel his fingertips almost brushing against her bare skin as her dress plunged down her back to just above her scapula. She swallowed hard with nervousness, her hand on his shoulder tensing and sweat dripping from their clasped hands.

“Can you dance?”

He asked, just before the song began. Natalie lifted her gaze with difficulty and gave a small shake of her head.

Then the corners of his loosely curved mouth parted in a series of small smiles.

‘I may not know of other things about you, but you’re an angel on the outside….’

Natalie’s hazel eyes locked on his.

“It’s okay, I can dance.”

The moment she said that, the song began.

At the same time, Natalie’s mind went white. She couldn’t tell how she was dancing, just that she was caught in his gaze, moving her legs and twirling as he led her.

“I didn’t expect to see you in a suite. Your novel must have sold well.”

He whispered out of the corner of his eye, still focused on the dance. Natalie jerked, startled, and looked up like someone waking from a dream. The sound of the wind rushed through her hair.

‘All the proper rooms are gone, and the only ones left are suites, you bastard.’

Every time she opened her mouth, she felt condescending, but she only gritted her teeth inwardly because she was dealing with royalty.

“I’m so glad you came today. I hope this means you’re willing to make a deal.”

The prince scratched his head in frustration. He seemed more insistent that she look him in the eye instead of the floor. Natalie gritted her teeth and lifted her gaze to meet his. It was the right answer, and the prince’s eyes wrinkled in a satisfied smile.

They say that pretty things often hold poison, and apparently people are no different.

His Royal Highness Prince Ian, Duke of Baldoma, was said to be an angel from heaven. But I saw evil in his eyes.

‘…Ha. He’s not what he seems.’

Natalie muttered with her mouth in frustration.

It was a lament and a pure emotion that came out of frustration.

The prince stood still, his eyes narrowing like a man who had been slapped on the back of the head. Then he burst into a foot-stomping laugh.

“I hear that sometimes.”


The prince said, soundlessly.

“More than that, Miss Dowse, the song is coming to an end.”

Natalie realised that the Prince had read the shape of her mouth, and the colour drained from her face.

“I suppose you’ll have to give me an answer soon.”

He spoke in a low voice to Natalie, who had become contemplative.

“Lend me your notoriety. I want you to drag Ian Astius’ name through the mud.”

The words, whispered as if it were no big deal, were huge, to ruin a prince beloved by the entire nation.

A disgrace to women, the most lecherous woman of the era. Natalie Dowse is infamous. A prince so infatuated with such a woman that he forgot his duties. It would certainly be an interesting scandal.

“And divorce me. So that Ian Astius may never be king.”

It would be an interesting scandal, especially if he managed to crawl into a marriage that the whole world was tearing apart, and then divorce her after less than a year.

“But you have to be careful. The eyes of the world will be on you like they weren’t three years ago. And the world will be out to get you.”

As the prince spoke those words amidst the threat that hung over her life, Natalie couldn’t help but have a foolish misconception that he was genuinely concerned for her well-being. It was a fleeting thought, as there was no way that could ever be true, of course.

“Will you still be my bride?”

The prince no longer pressed for further questions.

‘You’ll kill me if I refuse, as if I have any other choice….’

A silent ripple went through Natalie’s dark eyes. For the first time in her life, she had felt the threat of assassination. But she hadn’t imagined that the prince’s comment about assassination was a joke.

She pressed her lips together as if to make it work, then opened her mouth slightly, as if to say something. The Prince’s eyes narrowed as he stared at Natalie.

“…I have one request.”

Finally, Natalie managed to spit out the words. She’d rehearsed the words a hundred times in the mirror, but she’d finally bowed her head.

But after a few more steps, there was no answer.

Natalie glanced up.


The prince’s expression was very strange. The oddly upturned corners of his mouth were somehow satisfied, and his gentle eyebrows were arched as if he had heard something unexpected.

Natalie pursed her lips, wondering if it had been impudent to ask for something after all.

“That…. Not so much a request as a question. I just wanted to ask….”

It was the best she could do to add in a hushed voice.

The response was unexpected.

“…You say it well.”

The prince who had muttered that broke into a full-blown smile.

Natalie, who had been devastated, was somehow energised by the look that tickled her heart. For some reason, he seemed to be in a very good mood.

She’s sure he’ll be forgiving of anything she says now. With an unknown certainty, Natalie opened her mouth as if mesmerised.

“Because of me, everything has become a mess. I hope it gets better.

She sounded like she could have died at any moment.

“I hope Father, Mother, and my younger brother Alex can leave the mansion safely. I wish Bianca could speak of her former self. No, if Dorothy could find a suitable fiancé and get married, that alone would fulfill my wishes.”

Natalie spat out the words she’d been holding back for three years. It was a first.

Adding the titles of wench and wickedness to the mix would be nothing compared to this nightmare. It’s a price she’s willing to pay if it means her family will be better off.

“When I become the prince’s bride for a year or something….”

She paused for a moment and stare at the angel in front of her. It felt like she was making a wish to an angel who might be a demon. That’s exactly how she felt.

“Is that possible?”

Natalie asked, her voice trembling.

The prince looked down at her face, contorted as if she were about to cry, and then slowly parted his lips. It seemed like a thousand years to Natalie.

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