Ch. 111 It’s Fine. It Was Only Once (2)
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The couple rode together on horseback towards Blaise Mansion. Lady Elena was in front, while Carlisle was seated behind her. She originally intended to take the carriage, but that changed when Carlisle suddenly offered to go on a horse. Elena was curious about his sudden suggestion, but she liked riding and had no reason to refuse.
‘Does he remember?’
The two had ridden together at fast speed at the night of the opera. The sense of freedom she felt was still vivid in her mind. Trotting through the city was quite slow in comparison, but the wind was still cool and she liked the open view from this height.
“Did you choose to go on horseback because of me?”
“Well, what do you think?”
“I’m not sure. I don’t know if you would remember those trivial things.”
“I remember everything about you. I’m still wondering if you’ll invite me to the bakery like you did in the past.”
Elena hadn’t known then that the child she once promised to go to Charlie’s bakery with was the crown prince.
— I’ll watch the opera with you, and we can go to the bakery…I’ll show you a lot of other fun stuff. Promise!”
She didn’t realize that he would remember all that, and she turned her head around to look at him.
Her cheek touched Carlisle’s chest. Their bodies were closer together than she thought.
Elena gave a small exclamation of surprise at the unexpected contact.
“What is it?”
“Oh, nothing. You really remembered all those details.”
Elena turned her head back again, and Carlisle replied in a soft voice.
“I told you, I remember everything. So keep watch.”
His voice was husky in her ear. She could feel his body heat behind her, and she flushed when she remembered the image of his naked, muscled torso.
She shook her head to toss away the delusions in her mind.
While it wasn’t intentional, the couple riding through the streets caught the attention of many. In any case, it was not a bad idea to show this kind of open affection.
The pair finally arrived in front of Blaise Mansion. Carlisle dismounted the horse first, and was about to take Elena’s hand when an unexpected voice rang out.
“Elena, what are you doing there?”
Elena turned her head towards the sound, and saw Derek staring at them with an expression of disapproval on his face.
At that remark, Carlisle seemed to realize the other man’s identity. There was still one other family member he hadn’t met yet. But before Carlisle could speak, Derek strode over and reached out to Elena. It meant one thing: for her to take his hand, not Carlisle’s.
Carlisle’s blue eyes flared. Elena hesitated over this sudden war of nerves, but she could not ignore Derek’s hand in this situation and quickly took it. Her brother gently lowered her to the ground, then turned towards Carlisle, who was as hard as stone.
“Elena, you can’t be escorted by a man you are not married to.”
A drop of sweat gathered on Elena’s forehead. No one could have mistaken Carlisle’s identity. The horse they rode on was decorated with the symbol of the imperial family. She quickly thought of a way to alleviate the situation somehow.
“Don’t be so rude. This is the Crown Prince Carlisle.”
It wasn’t until then did Derek bow belatedly, pretending as if he had not realized it was the prince before.
“Hail his Royal Highness the Crown Prince. Eternal glory to the Ruford Empire.”
She had never known Derek to be so sly. Alford was overly concerned with the prince’s status, while Derek treated him first like a suitor. However, Carlisle was the crown prince of the Ruford Empire before he was Elena’s lover.
Carlisle turned to Elena and addressed her first.
“Please call me Caril as usual.”
Derek’s face twitched slightly at the revelation that she called him by a pet name.
“Ah…yes, Caril. I was going to introduce you.”
She anxious about Derek’s rudeness, but Carlisle was wearing a faint smile.
“Are you her older brother?”
“Yes, I’m Derek Blaise, brother of Elena. How are you?”
Despite this superficial exchange of greetings, she couldn’t shake off the feeling that she was watching a battle between a dragon and a tiger, each of them an equally immovable force. Elena hoped it was only an illusion, but she cut in, hoping to end their meeting early.
“Brother, Caril brought me back from the palace. When we’re done saying goodbye I’ll come in, so please go ahead.”
“Don’t stay too long. I’ll leave now. Your Highness.”
She forced a smile. After Derek disappeared, there was silence for a moment. A dangerous glint was in Carlisle’s eyes, but surprisingly he didn’t act as unpleasant as she thought.
“…Your brother doesn’t seem to like me very much.”
“Actually, he was a little worried about me marrying you. If you’re offended, I apologize for it.”
Carlisle shook his head lightly.
“It’s fine. It was only once…”
His words implied that he wouldn’t tolerate it a second time, and Elena felt a prick in her chest.
“I was a little nervous because everyone agreed to our marriage so easily. But this makes me relieved.”
Before Elena could even ask why, he gave her a soft smile.
“I was hoping that you were loved.”
Elena was momentarily speechless. There were so many implications in what he said. Perhaps he was also aware of the sorrow she felt about her father’s attitude towards her marriage. She was strangely moved. Carlisle’s words sounded so warm, and Elena answered with a faint smile on her lips.
“Yes. They are my precious family.”
The day of her meeting with Emperor Sullivan finally arrived. She was not to see him at one of the massive, elaborate halls, but at a relatively regular building.
Elena left the mansion looking as neat and elegant as possible, nervous as the time Carlisle came to meet her father. When she finally arrived at the palace in a carriage, there were several servants waiting for her at the entranceway.
She followed the servants down a pathway, and a beautiful annex built at the center of a pond appeared before them.
“Just go this way.”
The servants pointed down a straight path, then disappeared from her side. She didn’t come across a single soul as she was walking there. The emperor seemed to have gone to some considerable lengths for this meeting.
When she finally arrived at the annex, she met the man who had invited her there. Emperor Sullivan had a gentle expression and kind eyes.