This must be a nightmare.
Bridget Dashwood briefly caught a glimpse of the approaching man with her head lowered.
His golden hair fluttered elegantly with his movements, and his gray eyes shimmered subtly under the dim lighting.
The deep dimples on his cheeks deepened every time he smiled.
All the women present in this place made an effort to catch the attention of the man, except Bridget, who tried desperately to avoid his gaze.
The man was undoubtedly Dominic Meyer, whom Bridget knew well.
He was the one responsible for bringing Bridget Dashwood to this place and the man she despised simply because she was a commoner.
‘What should I do?’
Cold sweat covered her palms.
Somehow, she should have realized that not only the high-born male students but also the professors couldn’t gather their confidence in front of Dominic.
‘I just thought he was an impressive noble.’
Who would have dared to imagine that he was the crown prince!
If it were discovered that Bridget Dashwood, a commoner, had lied about her identity and entered the crown princess marriage market, not only would she be in trouble, but so would her family.
Bridget lowered her head as much as possible to avoid facing him. But since she was present in this place, every young lady had to dance with the prince at least once, and her turn was fast approaching.
On the surface, it was the first official appearance of the Crown Prince and a gathering to promote friendship, but in fact, it was a ceremony to pick the Crown Princess.
With a deep sigh, Bridget was overshadowed by a dense shadow. Bridget kept her lips tightly sealed and focused only on Dominic’s sharp shoe tip.
In a tone that Bridget had never heard before, Dominic called out the name she was pretending to be, Megan Bass.
Bridget felt everyone’s gaze turning towards her. In this situation, she couldn’t keep bowing her head forever.
It’s bound to be exposed soon. Bridget lifted her head slowly, wondering what excuse she should make.
And then, she met Dominic’s gaze.
“My hand feels awkward.”
Dominic acted as if he was seeing Bridget for the first time. She wondered if he was pretending not to recognize her, but his lack of perception was truly perfect.
‘Could it be that he can’t recognize me without my glasses? It’s not that big of a difference.’
Bridget blinked her large eyes. In a moment of impulse, she held Dominic’s large hand, and a right amount of force naturally guided her body.
Her body swayed to the music. She lost count of the number of times their eyes met, but Dominic still pretended not to know Bridget, even now.
Goodness gracious. A myriad of thoughts rushed through her mind.
‘I hope he’s not pretending not to know me just to put me in a difficult situation…’
I should come up with some excuse.
Dominic wore an expression that made it impossible to know what he was thinking. He seemed completely disinterested in Bridget.
Bridget, who had been worried about his reaction the whole time, spoke up just before the music ended.
“Um… Can we talk for a moment?”
Dominic, who appeared uninterested in Bridget until now, finally lowered his gaze.
“Sorry, Lady Bass, but that wouldn’t be fair.”
“It’s something really important…!”
At Bridget’s determined look, Dominic looked troubled, then nodded with an expression of resignation. As she followed behind Dominic, people murmured, but Bridget didn’t pay the slightest attention to the sound.
When Dominic stopped and turned, they had arrived behind some sparsely populated bushes. He turned around and looked down at Bridget.
“What business do you have?”
His tone was polite, but terribly annoying. Bridget wondered if he was making fun of her, and now she felt a bit upset.
‘How long do you plan to pretend not to know me?’
Bridget asked, sounding slightly irritated.
“Mey… no. Your Highness, if you’re going to keep pretending not to know me…”
Dominic finally erased his expression of indifference and frowned. It was a slightly bewildered look.
“Lady Megan Bass, I’m sorry, but where have we met before?”
Dominic was acting as if he really didn’t know Bridget Dashwood. He addressed her as if she were really Megan Bass.
“What’s going on…”
Bridget found it difficult to understand the situation she was facing right now. She asked incredulously.
“Don’t you know me?”
Dominic did not readily provide an answer. After a moment of silence, he replied.
“I’ve had so many passing acquaintances.”
Bridget Dashwood was the only female student at Widdleton University, where Dominic attended, and they had encountered each other several times. She even attended this event because of Dominic!
Sure enough, there’s no way someone wouldn’t recognize me just because I don’t have my glasses… It’s unlikely that he would engage in such unproductive behavior just to tease me.
‘In that case…’
Bridget pondered a small question and quietly called out the name she knew him by.
His perfect expression crumbled. Dominic, who showed signs of considerable confusion, looked at her with an expression as if he had heard a name he shouldn’t have from a strange woman.
The moment doubt turned into certainty.
This man, Dominic Meyer, who wanted to completely manipulate Bridget Dashwood through a strange bet. No, Crown Prince Dominic Beaumont.
I’ve heard about it once. Of someone with symptoms similar to Dominic.
Bridget’s lips, filled with conviction, curled into a sneer. This man has fallen into my trap.
“Dominic, you really can’t differentiate between people’s faces.”
* * *
So, to explain this, we need to go back a little further in the past.
Bridget Dashwood was a woman with a definite eccentricity, a rumored old virgin and a known eccentric.
She started studying education at Widdleton University, a place off-limits for women, and found herself caught up in the peculiar and headache-inducing marriage market of the Crown Prince’s marriage market, partly by choice and partly by accident, all because of one bet.
Bridget had to give up inheriting the family business and convince her parents to finally enroll in college, where another trial awaited her. There was no one who wants to befriend the only female student at the university, Bridget Dashwood. (To make matters worse, there were even absurd rumors circulating, adding to the awkward situation.)
‘You must participate in a group class to graduate.’
She tried to find other options and even approached professors, but their conventional thinking didn’t give her any attention.
‘Miss Dashwood, you should handle your own affairs. We can’t provide you with such conveniences.’
Nothing changed. Bridget, as a last resort, sought out Dominic Meyer, the only person at the university who didn’t ignore her. fortunately, he was still on campus during the vacation when most students had left!
Dominic was peacefully reading under the large poplar tree, the symbol of the university. Bridget chose to wait a distance away so as not to disturb his reading until he finished.
‘Why is he reading so diligently?’
Dominic Meyer, whom she caught a glimpse of, appeared like a perfectly sculpted masterpiece. From his gently swaying golden hair to the hidden gray eyes beneath his long eyelashes, and even to his perfectly harmonized nose and lips. Furthermore, unlike other students, he didn’t openly ignore her, so it was evident that he also had a good personality.
Him leaning against the tree and reading resembled a magnificent painting. Bridget forgot it was impolite and quietly admired Dominic’s appearance. Bridget snapped back to her senses when Dominic, who had finished reading, closed the book and noticed her.
Her gaze locked with his piercing gray eyes. Startled by his slightly annoyed, low-pitched voice, Bridget flinched.
Quickly getting up, Bridget took a few steps toward him. During that time, she had to strain her neck until it became stiff to meet Dominic’s gaze, who was at least two heads taller than her.
Bridget raised her thin-rimmed glasses and greeted him in a bright voice, trying to appear as proper as possible.
“Hello, Mr. Meyer? I apologize if it’s an intrusion.”
Bridget, who quickly glanced at the book cover Dominic was reading, added,
“Imperial studies, isn’t it? It seems like you’re interested in that. Even though it’s vacation time, you’re still reading…”
“What do you want?”
“Right, let me get a hold of myself. I mean… you don’t even know me well, so you might find it awkward that I initiated this conversation. In truth, I’m not usually this reserved with people, but the situation doesn’t really allow for much else.”
At the sight of Dominic’s dark eyebrows rising higher and higher, Bridget decided to cut short what would have been a rather silly digression.
“Can you talk with me for a moment?”
Dominic simply stared at Bridget, not saying a word.
As expected, he must feel bad for watching her like that.
Bridget, feeling a bit awkward, continued speaking after tidying her hair that was being blown by the wind.
“I… I was hoping you can include me in your group.”
Dominic still did not respond. He wouldn’t reject me, right? Anxious, Bridget added.
“I’m begging you. No one else is willing to take me… You know, don’t you? In order to safely advance to the second grade, I have to take Professor Theodore’s class, but they only accept group applications. If it continues like this, I might fail. Maybe I won’t even be able to graduate.”
Dominic asked with a tone that seemed to question why she was telling him this. Flustered, Bridget quickly replied.
“Yes? Well, you haven’t blatantly ignored me like the others did. So, I thought…”
“You should blame yourself for not fitting in, Dashwood.”
With a condescending voice that seemed like he was trying to teach her a lesson, Bridget could only purse her lips without being able to retort.
This was a completely unexpected reaction.
Dominic, whether he knows Bridget’s thoughts or not, continues to surprise her with his remarks.
“I heard you’re an unusual eccentric.”
Goodness. How can he say such rude things to someone’s face?
Without batting an eye, Bridget realized that Dominic was not as kind as she thought. No, perhaps he was worse than other students.
Bridget, who had a stubborn side, began to respond with a slightly displeased attitude.
“…Whether I’m an eccentric or not, don’t you think your behavior is rude?”
“Yes, rude. Why do you all hate me so much? Is it because I’m a girl? Does that bother you so much?”
Dominic scoffed with a chilling tone. It was an arrogant laughter that made the other person feel embarrassed.
“You must be mistaken, Bridget Dashwood.”
Tilting his head slightly, he drew a perfect smile.
“I don’t hate you. I simply have no interest. No one is stupid enough to put their attention on parasites that cling onto others for survival.”
“What did you say? What did you just say…”
“Why don’t you go see your professor at a time like this?”
“Even the professor…!”
“Or someone like Hugo Ellington.”
“That’s up to you.”
He responded before she could even say, ‘I’m done!’
It wasn’t until Bridget heard Dominic’s firm voice that she realized.
She had been completely mistaken in thinking that Dominic Mayer didn’t ignore her. It wasn’t disregard; it was indifference. There was genuinely no interest whatsoever, and Bridget now realized that.
‘What should I do? Surely I won’t fail to graduate like this?’
After coming all the way to university!
It couldn’t happen. Bridget tightened her fisted hand, mustered her strength, and swallowed her remaining pride as she asked.
“Please, I’ll do whatever it takes for you to accept me.”
Dominic, who seemed lost in thought, finally spoke. It was a tone that seemed to mock her completely, with utterly impossible conditions.
“If you become the crown princess, maybe?”