Ch. 168 Playing Dirty (1)
“Would you like a drink?”
Carlisle, stunned by the offer, approached Elena and sat in front of her. He cast a sidelong glance at the empty bottles before speaking.
“When did you start drinking?”
“I was only going to drink when you came, but you didn’t show up, so I ended up drinking a little.”
Elena handed Carlisle a full glass of wine. Carlisle wordlessly accepted it without a word and downed it in one gulp.
“Don’t you think that’s more than a little??”
He wouldn’t call that quantity just a little. Elena looked at the offending bottles on the table.
“I’m just… I’m feeling rather upset today. Did you hear what happened at the party?”
“You warned me many times to watch out for her, but I was too confident.”
She refilled her glass as she spoke.
“I kept an eye on the maid Asabe. It’s ridiculous that a Vanera plant came from her room. I don’t know if she really had it.”
“At the order of the Empress, the Vanera plant was discovered by a guard. Now Asabe that has been executed, we can no longer uncover anything about the incident.”
Carlisle quietly listened to Elena as she more freely spoke her mind.
“I was probably playing into the Empress’ hand in the beginning. I only ended up revealing myself to the enemy.”
Elena gave a defeated sigh. She looked up at Carlisle, and he noticed that her eyes were glazed and bloodshot.
“I look like a fool, don’t I?”
Last time she asked Carlisle to believe in her, and now she was upset that she hadn’t lived up to his expectations. She should have been more cautious…
Carlisle, who had been sitting quietly so far, finally answered in a soft voice.
“I don’t know if this is comforting, but what you’ve been through today, I’ve already experienced countless times because of the Empress.”
Elena’s eyes widened at Carlisle’s unexpected confession.
“If you are a fool, then I’m even more of a fool. You don’t have to blame yourself. Your plan sounded good to my ears, and the only miscalculation was not realizing why the Empress sent twin plants.”
“Because of that, Asabe was executed today.”
“She was a spy the Empress planted anyway. We would still have to get rid of her, but this way there’s no blood on our hands.”
Carlisle’s words eased Elena’s mind. She had been tremendously burdened by the knowledge that her family may die if she failed in her mission, but when she suffered defeat by the Empress, her fears became crushing. What if she couldn’t change the future no matter how hard she tried? How much more cunning was Paveluc to win against the Empress?
Elena’s mind was a whirlwind of thoughts. The blame she placed on herself was so heavy that she even drank alcohol, which she rarely ever touched. However, in the end, it was not the drink that quelled her anxiety, but Carlisle. His words seem to say to her, “It’s alright.”
Elena gave an unfocused smile at Carlisle.
“You’re so sweet…that I dislike it.”
For the first time, she considered that she would be be jealous if Carlisle’s affection turned to another woman. For him, he was simply consoling Elena as a partner walking on the same path, but for her, she was alarmed that her personal feelings were growing.
‘I thought I could stop my heart, but….’
Elena smiled disappointingly as she gazed at Carlisle’s handsome face, which appeared blurrier than usual.
‘….I won’t let this man stop me.’
These new temptations could make her forget her duty. But she had to admit it. She loved this moment with Carlisle.
“Sweet enough to dislike…words that are so contradictory that I don’t know if it’s good or not.”
At his words, Elena raised her wine-filled glass without replying. She couldn’t answer him, as she couldn’t really tell what her feelings were either. She hated the way he looked at her with kindness, but she also liked that he treated her warmly.
Carlisle swiped the glass from Elena’s hand, then tipped the entire contents in his mouth. Elena’s jaw dropped open.
“What are you doing?”
“You’ve had too much. From now on I’ll drink my portion.”
“I’m still fine…”
“Those are the words of a drunk.”
Elena bit her lip. The noblewoman Elena of the last life did not enjoy alcohol, but when she lived as a female knight, she drowned herself in strong drink after strong drink. There were many nights she spent in drunkenness because of the guilt she felt about being the sole survivor of her family.
“I said we should drink together, not watch you drink alone.”
“That’s what I meant.”
“It’s too—too one-sided.”
“It’s too dangerous if you drink more here.”
Elena looked at him dumbfoundedly, and when Carlisle smiled there was a mysterious heat lurking behind it.
“You and I are the only ones in this bedroom together. What do you think the danger is?”
Elena mulled over his words. No matter how much she thought over it, there was only one answer. In this closed environment, there was only one thing that was a risk factor.
“Hmm. What you’re trying to say is…Caril is dangerous? “
After his brisk reply, Carlisle refilled his drink and swallowed it. Elena propped her chin on her hand as she watched his lean figure go about the motion.
“I don’t know if you’re dangerous. You said you would follow the contract. And I know you’re a man who keeps his word.”
Carlisle gave a sardonic chuckle at everything he had to endure. He looked up at Elena’s sparkling eyes, and when he spoke his voice was deeper than before.
“My wife doesn’t know anything. Though you mention the contract, it’s not just about sharing a bed.”
Elena looked up at Carlisle’s questioningly. It was safe, and there was no need for the two of them to have physical contact before he became emperor. However, Carlisle continued to speak as if he were laughing at Elena’s idea.
“There’s plenty of things you can do even if we don’t go all the way. So if you are too drunk and lose your inhibitions, my self-control may be compromised. I’m warning you in advance.”
She couldn’t understand what kind of skinship he was talking about. Did he mean kissing? However, the nuances he was talking about seemed more obscene than that.
“What do you mean?”
Elena’s pure curiosity instantly brought a dangerous smile to Carlisle’s lips.
“If you’re curious, do you want me to teach you?”