Ch. 131 That Was How It Began (2)
Elena recovered to full strength. In truth, the drain on her energy was not so much the drug, but the fatigue accumulated from the wedding preparations. After a sound sleep, she woke up lighter and more refreshed than before. Then, Carlisle brought up something unexpected to her.
“What? What did you say?”
Elena’s eyes widened, but Carlisle continued on idly.
“I said you don’t need to pay the dowry.”
“Is…is that possible?”
Marriages among nobles rarely came without dowry. When they were, people gossiped, saying it was a marriage of true love. It wasn’t necessarily wrong. However, no bride has ever not paid a dowry for an imperial marriage.
“I already talked to my father. I’m telling you now so you won’t be surprised.”
“The Emperor approved it?”
Although Elena didn’t know Sullivan very well, she observed him to be a shrewd politician when they last met. It was hard to believe that he would approve a wedding without a dowry, even if it was with the Blaise family. Carlisle gave her a smile.
“My father believes that the Imperial Family would be ruined otherwise.”
“Ruined? You mean…”
Elena’s gaze turned to the blue bead ring on her finger. Although Carlisle and Sullivan claimed different things about the ring, it was clear that Sullivan valued it extremely. If he really believed that the man who married Elena would become emperor and revivor of the Ruford Empire, he would never let that wedding go. Carlisle had deftly exploited that part of his father’s psychology.
“Did you threaten him with what you said about this ring?”
“‘Compromise’ is probably a more appropriate word than ‘threat’, but he wouldn’t waive the dowry otherwise.”
“But the Blaise family is not poor. We can fairly pay the dowry and wedding ceremony requested by the Imperial Household”
“You would be surprised the dowry my father sought for.”
Elena looked at him, puzzled. Although Elena managed the finances, her father had not clarified it to her.
‘Is the amount more than I anticipate?’
The Blaises held considerable wealth, and it seemed impossible that even a princess dowry would drain their finances entirely. Noblewomen typically wouldn’t worry greatly about it, but Elena’s finance-minded approach wouldn’t let her set it aside. Her forehead creased, while Carlisle offered his reassurances.
“You don’t have to worry about it.”
“How can I not worry? It’s a serious matter if the Emperor requested a high dowry.”
“That’s why I’m saying you don’t need it anymore.”
Carlisle’s proposal was tempting, but she was unsure of the approach. Perhaps House Blaise would appear cheap to other nobles, and she didn’t know how the Imperial Family would tolerate that. Carlisle had his elbows on his knees as he languidly studied Elena.
“Sometimes you don’t listen when I speak.”
“I…No, of course I’m grateful, but the reputation of my family is at stake. I’m only being cautious.”
“Don’t overthink it. At home and abroad, it will be rumored that my love for you is so great that I turned down the dowry. There will be no harm to your family’s reputation.”
It seemed too good to be true that he would turn it down. What he offered so casually was unusual in the Imperial Court of the Ruford Empire.
“…This is too good for me.”
“Yes, so I think you owe me another one.”
Elena felt like she was already deeply indebted to Carlisle. On top of that, she felt uneasy about not paying dowry, but Carlisle simply smiled.
“Just remember to pay me back later.”
But as Carlisle suggested, the appearance of a love marriage had several advantages. Firstly, their relationship would appear stronger to others, and secondly, by not using the Blaise’s money, it was easier to hand over financial control to Mirabelle. The benefits were so tempting that Elena was almost apologetic towards Carlisle.
“…Then I’ll accept it without reserve. I’ll never forget to pay you back later.”
Although she was with Carlisle was for her family’s sake, after the marriage she wouldn’t be around to help her family as often. Elena had been part of the Blaise family all her life. She worried about how her father, her brother, and Mirabelle would fare without her there, and so selfishly, she could not refuse the burdensome favor Carlisle offered her. Meanwhile, Carlisle answered with a satisfied look.
“You don’t have to thank me. It’s all for you, after all.”
“It seems like I’m the only one who benefits, isn’t it?”
“Let’s say that what benefits you benefits me as well. We’ll be married soon.”
Elena heart softened. Perhaps it really was time for her to be married Carlisle.
“Let’s have dinner together before we go back.”
“It’s too late for that…”
“I won’t allow you to refuse. If you don’t want to walk from the palace to your mansion, you should follow me.”
He grinned at her mischievously, and Elena felt the urge to rebel. She was perfectly capable of returning home with Carlisle giving her a carriage, but she couldn’t refuse after the massive favor he had given her. Finally, Elena agreed.
Carlisle’s smile deepened at her answer. It is almost as if he waived the dowry just to create this situation. Elena felt like she owed another debt, and was slipping into the grip of a swamp called Carlisle.
A few days later, and Carlisle’s and Elena’s wedding was to be soon.
Michael delivered Mirabelle some unexpected news.
“Young Lady, someone came in for an interview after seeing the notice.”
“Interview? I think we’ve hired enough people already…”
“Then shall I send him back?”
Mirabelle thought for a moment and shook her head.
“No. But since he’s come all the way here, it would be more appropriate if I turned him down in person.
Michael nodded at her judgment.
“Yes, My Lady. He’s in the drawing room on the first floor. Would you like to see him first? I’ll join you right away after I finish my work.”
Mirabelle and Michael usually conducted the interviews jointly. Mirabelle did well without Michael in the end, and so there was no immediate need for him to follow her anymore.
“Alright. I’ll go first.”
Mirabelle gave a cheerful smile and headed towards the drawing room. It was unusually sunny today, and she matched her smile with the weather. She hoped it would be just as beautiful during the wedding. Mirabelle hummed to herself as she opened the door to the drawing room.
Inside stood a man with his back towards the door, and Mirabelle stopped breathing as she almost seemed to recognize his dark hair and pale skin.
The man turned around after hearing her come in, and she felt her heart drop to the floor. It was Kuhn, the man who appeared in her dream last night. He looked into Mirabelle’s green eyes, and spoke with an impassive face.
“Hello. It’s been a long time, My Lady.”