Ch. 156 The Name Of The Emotion (1)
Silence hung over Carlisle and Elena after they left the palace. It was only when they reached a fork in the path did Elena shatter the quiet.
“I’ll go this way. “
She turned away, when—
A hand captured Elena’s wrist. She looked questioningly back at Carlisle, who responded in a firmer voice than usual.
“I don’t know what she gave you, but whatever it is, dispose of it now.”
“If I dispose a gift from the Empress, there will be gossip. Don’t worry, I have a plan in mind.”
“…You make me worry about you.”
“You needn’t be concerned about me.”
Carlisle’s eyebrows lifted at Elena’s over-confident answer, but she refused to retreat. She knew Carlisle was worried, but he didn’t understand her position right now.
“I am not a little girl hovering at the water’s edge. Are you going to be angry simply because I hadn’t yet told you about the Empress’ gift?”
His jaw clenched, but he had nothing to say about it.
“Don’t forget our contract, Caril.”
It wasn’t as if she had made the decision so easily. After receiving the plant from the Empress, her first course was action was to come up with a solution, not to go running to Carlisle at the first sign of danger. She didn’t come to the Imperial Palace to depend on him, but to ultimately make him emperor and save her father, brother, and Mirabelle. She couldn’t bear to lose them again in this lifetime. As her heart became more desperate, so did the burden on Elena’s shoulders become heavier.
“…Are you telling me to leave you alone, no matter what you do?”
“I’m not saying that. I just want you to trust me.”
In less than a year, Paveluc would attempt to seize the throne. When Elena had returned to the past, it was as if her blood dried up when she realized that she had so little time left. She threw herself into doing everything she could for Carlisle—sword fighting, power games, living in the palace. Sometimes, however, Carlisle’s overprotectiveness threatened to obstruct her path.
“…You’re mistaken. It’s not that I don’t believe in your ability. In truth, I’ve admired everything you’ve done so far.”
Elena’s ruby eyes shimmered at the unexpected answer. She thought he didn’t believe in her decisions, as he always tried to stop her every time she tried to do something.
Carlisle continued, his voice soft.
“Trusting you and feeling worried about you are different. The Empress is known to be vicious and clever, both at home and abroad. I can’t leave you vulnerable to her.”
“But if you’re going to be emperor—”
“Why the hell are you so obsessed with me becoming emperor?”
Elena was struck dumb. Carlisle may be ignorant, but it was because she couldn’t confess her motivations. She wasn’t sure how much he would believe in a situation that couldn’t be explained logically.
‘…I would be lucky if he didn’t see me as a madwoman.’
Elena didn’t answer, and Carlisle continued on in a suspicious tone.
“I thought you wanted to be empress because you desired wealth, but you have no care for it at all… I don’t understand why you want me to become emperor.”
To her amazement, Carlisle seemed to have gleaned Elena’s thoughts in all the time they were together. In fact, all of what he said was true. She wasn’t greedy for wealth or power. What she wanted was to protect what she had. No one knew how horrendous her past life was, how she shivered in the biting winters surviving for days on a piece of bread, with only one thought in her mind.
‘I want to see my family…’
She had spent those decades possessed with regret and anger. After experiencing a hellish life, she had a miraculous chance to turn her fortune. She decided she had to change her future at all costs, no matter the pain and sacrifice.
“When you become emperor…I hope that someday I will be able to explain it to you with a smile.”
Carlisle’s brow furrowed at the seriousness of her tone. So she couldn’t tell him right now.
“You leave me with a big question.”
“Forget about it for now. What’s important is that I will support you immensely in your path to emperor.”
Elena’s eyes and Carlisle’s complicated gaze met in midair.
A warm spring breeze blew past them, and Elena raised her hand to catch the stray locks from flying in the wind. Carlisle lifted his hand and arranged her fine golden hair. It was a special gesture without physical contact…
A strange feeling welled up within Elena. It was something that she had never felt before in her life.