Ch. 146 Our First Night (1)
Elena, fatigued after meeting many of the guests at the reception, returned to the corner where Carlisle was sitting alone. Her eyes were still fixed on Mirabelle and Glenn however, and when Carlisle spoke he was noticeably annoyed.
“You leave the groom alone on the first day of marriage?”
Elena turned her gaze towards a disgruntled-looking Carlisle, but his argument was flawed. Most of the people around here were anxious to hear his every word, but the overwhelmingly hostile atmosphere he was exuding kept them away.
“I thought you wanted to be alone. Isn’t that why you intimidated everyone away?”
“It’s true that I don’t want others to approach me, but that doesn’t mean I want to be alone. I want to be with you.”
Elena was taken aback by his forwardness. Despite his petulance, he did want her company after all. Elena hesitated, then softened her expression.
“…I see. I didn’t realize you were waiting for me. You said you wanted to introduce me to some people, right? Shall we go see them first before the reception is over?”
The most important task she had at the reception was to strengthen their position as a crown prince and a princess. Carlisle smiled and spoke in a quiet voice.
“Sometimes I feel like I’m being trained by you.”
“Yes. You talk in such a soft tone, like everything will be alright.”
So he wasn’t expecting things to turn out alright? Why? She stared at Carlisle confusedly, but he rose from his seat without an explanation and held out his arm for her to take.
“There’s only one important person we have to meet, and then we can get out of here.”
Carlisle suddenly leaned in close to her, whispering so only she could hear.
“…Tonight is our first night.”
Elena’s red eyes widened. The terms of the contract marriage stated that they wouldn’t share a bed until after she became empress.
“What are you—!”
But before Elena could finish her retort, Carlisle took her hand with a mischievous look and pulled her away. She belatedly realized that Carlisle must have been playing a prank on her. Come to think of it, just because it was their first night, it didn’t mean they would sleep together.
‘…He scared me.’
Elena stared at Carlisle ahead of her. She was determined not to be swayed by him, but she could feel as if she were falling into his pace.
And the bigger problem was…
She was gradually getting used to it.
Carlisle brought her to meet an elderly gentleman and a younger boy who appeared to be his grandson. Elena looked at them curiously, as she didn’t recognize them.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you again, Lord Krauss.”
Elena’s eyes glimmered when she recognized the name. If she was correct, the person before her was Count Evans, head of the Krauss family, and his grandson Harry, his successor. Evans and Harry both bowed respectfully.
“Hail the Crown Prince and the Crown Princess. Eternal glory to the Ruford Empire. “
Carlisle gestured them to raise their heads, and Elena calmly opened her mouth to speak.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you. I am—”
She almost introduced herself as Elena Blaise, but remembered that she took her husband’s last name now. After a brief pause, she smiled and continued.
“I am Elena Ruford, daughter of the Blaise family.”
Evans gave her a welcoming smile.
“Yes, Your Highness. I saw you at the wedding. I am Count Evans, head of the Kraus family, and this is my grandson, Harry. Congratulations on your wedding once again.”
It was a right and proper greeting. The noble socialites were a mere trifle compared to this powerful merchant family, and Elena could safely assume that Count Evans was an extraordinarily intelligent and crafty man.
‘How can I bring him to Carlisle’s side?’
Count Evans was highly coveted in the political scene. So far, he had stayed his hand in the power struggle between the Emperor and Empress, but it was clear that the balance would be tipped to whoever lured Evans to their side. He was simultaneously the most desired ally and the most feared enemy.
Harry had been quietly watching Elena and Carlisle by his grandfather’s side before he spoke up.
“Your love story has been passed around so much as to cause sore ears. The Crown Prince not only gave the Crown Princess a diamond wedding dress, but other young nobility have complained that there was no dowry as well.”
Elena looked at Harry questioningly, and he smiled as he explained.
“All the ladies compare the men with the romantic Crown Prince, and the rest of the men were unhappy. “
Elena understood Harry’s words perfectly. Carlisle’s popularity had soared among the noblewomen lately, and the rest of the men were feeling self-conscious.
After a second evaluating the situation, Elena took Carlisle’s firm forearm. Carlisle slightly stiffened at her touch, but his expression didn’t change and no one else noticed.
“My husband has been quite generous to me. I truly appreciate him.”
Elena smiled as broadly as she could. She was able to recall the details about the Krauss family without difficulty. Count Evans only loved one woman throughout his life, and he lived alone without taking another woman even after his wife passed away. It was likely Carlisle would make a greater impression if he was presented as a devoted lover instead of a playboy.