Ch. 178 Her Own
She knew reasonably that it was not Carlisle’s fault if he chose another woman as his second wife. Carlisle, like Elena, had made a contract out of necessity, and he was still faithfully fulfilling his terms. It was Elena’s fault that her heart was uncertain. They were married before she realized that she liked him, and now she could see him welcoming another wife before she even expressed her feelings properly.
‘…I don’t like it.’
She tried to soothe her nerves countless times. She didn’t want to share Carlisle with anyone. Her greed for him crept up unexpectedly, and she had not taken it into account when she first drew up the contract. Elena’s mission was to protect her family and make him emperor. Only then could Paveluc be eliminated and everyone’s future changed.
‘Caril may never be my own.’
An emperor had to secure his position with many alliances, which naturally led to marriage. It was unheard of for an emperor to marry only one woman. Elena wrestled with the idea of wanting Carlisle to be emperor, but also having him solely as her own. However, no matter her heart’s protests, there was only one answer. Carlisle had to become emperor. She simply needed a little time to kill the feelings inside of her.
Carlisle looked at her worriedly.
“If there’s anything wrong, tell me.”
She couldn’t bring herself to confess that she feared him marrying another woman. What would he say if she was honest with him? A bitter smile spread on her face as she imagined it.
Carlisle gently stroked her chin with his hand. After taking in her troubled expression, he spoke in a low voice.
“Shall we talk over a drink?”
Ever since Elena drunkenly said she wanted to kiss him, Carlisle had been offering to drink with her. It was obvious he thought that kissing was her drunken habit, but she couldn’t understand why kept making this offer.
“I’m fine. I’m not distressed enough to need a drink.”
A small smile of regret passed Carlisle’s face at her rejection.
“Call me whenever you need a drinking friend. I’ll drop everything.”
“Thank you for your words.”
Elena set down the sword in her hand, then picked up a bow and arrow and stood in front of a target. She had used a crossbow before when she saved Carlisle and had less muscle strength, but now she was considering returning to her main weapon.
Her shot landed dead center of the target.
Hwig! Hwig! Hwig!
Each arrow she let fly had the same result. Eventually, dozens of arrows tightly packed the center, and each subsequent arrows split the wooden shafts. Meanwhile, Carlisle observed her practice with an interested expression.
Elena pulled another arrow in the bowstring, and her worries about Carlisle taking a second wife flashed in her mind. Her focused calm seem to unbalance.
‘… Don’t be greedy.’
There was only one option for her. She didn’t need to worry about something useless—
Elena was jerked out of her thoughts. She had pulled the bowstring incorrectly, and it almost whipped onto her face.
In a flash, Carlisle shot to her side and covered her face with his palm, preventing an accident.
Elena looked up at him in amazement, and he returned her a scowled look.
“What were you thinking? You almost got hurt.”
“Is your hand alright? Let me see.”
Elena quickly took Carlisle’s hand and inspected it. Though his skin was reddened, the injury was not deep enough to bleed or cut through the bone. She looked up at Carlisle in relief.
“I’m sorry. I was thinking about something for a while…”
“Your beautiful face would have been scarred. Last time you already burned yourself by spilling tea. How can I not be worried about my wife?”
Elena had burned herself when she was talking to Log, and even that minor injury was treated with the same care as her ankle. Of course, if Elena had been cut by the bowstring this time, the injury would be so severe she couldn’t attend the party. She couldn’t believe that she let herself make such a clumsy error.
“I didn’t realize I would make a mistake.”
Carlisle continued, gazing at the center of the target that was packed with arrows.
“Normally you wouldn’t have made a mistake. Well, there are days when monkeys fall from trees too, right?”
“…I’m sorry anyway.”
Carlisle saw no need for her apology. He stroked her hair and spoke in a softened voice.
“I don’t know what you’re worried about, but let it go. If it doesn’t work, talk to me. I’ll make it whatever you want.”
She gave an involuntary smile. He didn’t even know he was the source of her worries…
But one thing was clear. She was greedy, and she was incapable of throwing away the greed that filled her heart. That was how much she wanted him.
Elena took Carlisle’s injured hand and bent down on one knee, in a gesture knights made when they formally gave their vows to their lords. Although she was slender, an intense aura came out of Elena’s small frame. She pressed her lips against the back of his hand, then lifted her head and looked straight at him. Her deep red eyes fixed on his without so much as a flinch.
“I’ll protect you from getting hurt again.”
Her feelings would not change, no matter if Carlisle took another woman as his wife. So she had to make concessions. She would place Carlisle in the emperor’s seat, and be with him until he didn’t need her anymore. She didn’t know how long it will last, but if Carlisle looked at her as kindly as he did now, she could live on with those memories. There was only one path, but she was able to accept it all again. For her and her family. She will make Carlisle emperor.
For a moment, Carlisle looked surprised at the spirit and resolve emanating from Elena. However, he leaned down as if he could no longer endure it and hugged Elena’s small body.
Despite Elena’s stunned reaction, Carlisle did not move. He squeezed her tightly, before speaking in a hoarse voice.
“Where have you learned such a wonderful words?”
“Y-you’re saying I learned them.”
“No matter how much you make me fall for you, the difficult one is you.”
Despite Elena’s curiosity, Carlisle didn’t seem to be willing to explain any further. Elena, who was pressed against his body, couldn’t help but speak.
“Please let me go, Caril.”
At this rate, he would feel her rapidly beating heart. Even looking into Carlisle’s eyes would cause her heart to go crazy these days. As Elena was about to pull out of his arms, Carlisle breathed a sigh.
“What’s wrong? Are you hurt?”
“The hand that was hit by the bowstring earlier hurts.”
“Does it hurt a lot? Let me take a closer look.”
“I can’t move.”
Despite his complaint of pain, he hugged Elena even more fiercely.
“So just wait a little longer…”
In the end, Elena simply relaxed her body into Carlisle’s arms. His solid chest and firm arms seemed to stand out sharply before her. She could hear her blood pounding loudly in her ears as she leaned her reddened face against Carlisle’s shoulders. That small gesture alone was more powerful than any skinship.
Even since then, Carlisle kept complaining that his hand hurt.
His fork slipped from his hand onto the table.
“My hand hurts too much to hold it.”
“Really? The doctor said it wasn’t serious.”
Carlisle gave a secret smile under Elena’s worried gaze.
“Sometimes it feels better, then it suddenly gets worse. But it’s not serious, so I’ll get better soon.”
“I’m glad to hear that.”
“Still, I can’t eat now. I wish someone would feed me.”
Carlisle stared pointedly at Elena as he rested his chin on his other hand. She blushed and looked around at the servants standing by in the dining hall.
“If you don’t want to, I won’t force you.”
But as soon as that was over, Carlisle went back to spreading the fingers out of his injured right hand.
“Oh, why does it hurt so much?”
Eventually, Elena rose from her seat and approached Carlisle directly. She cut a piece of steak, placed it on a fork and held out to him. Elena assumed he would take the fork with his good hand, but instead he leaned down and took a bite. Her cheeks burned with embarrassment as she fed him. However, Carlisle gave her a soft smile.
“It tastes better when you feed me.”
“Is that possible?”
“Of course. If I can continue to enjoy this kind of luxury, I don’t think I’ll ever need my right hand again.”
Elena frowned, unsure whether he was joking or being serious.
“Don’t say that even in jest.”
“As you wish.”
Carlisle smiled gently and ate the food she offered him. Elena learned something new today from feeding someone else—watching a man eat was extremely attractive. Whenever Carlisle’s red lips open to accept the food, she had to avert her eyes. He truly was bad for her heart.
After finishing her meal, Elena was resting in her room when—
She turned towards the door and replied,
It was Mary who entered. She looked more serious than usual, and Elena gave her a puzzled look.
“I thought I might need to speak to you.”
Mary held out two envelopes she had in her hand.
“When I first received this letter, I tried to ignore it. I thought I was being tricked. But a second letter that arrived today changed my mind.”
“Who is this letter from?”
“It’s from Tilda, who used to work for the Blaise family. She was the one who tore your dress.”
Tilda’s face floated to Elena’s mind. Tilda also spent a considerable amount of time working at Blaise’s mansion, and so Elena hadn’t forgotten her.
“Is this letter from Tilda to you?”
“Yes, please read it yourself.”
With a determined expression, Mary handed the two envelopes to Elena.