Ch. 189 Tonight, We Will
Elena spent days mulling over what to do.
She had received a clear confession from Carlisle, but she hadn’t given him the same in return. He might already have some idea of Elena’s feelings, but there was a difference in his candid words and Elena’s ambiguous ones. Now matter how embarrassing it may be to tell him her feelings, she didn’t want to remain in this ill-defined state. She wanted to give him an equally heart-pounding confession.
“Where would be a good place?”
She wanted to go somewhere with a little more atmosphere to impress Carlisle. She wondered what expression he would make after she confessed to him.
Since returning to the past, Elena only ever focused on defeating Paveluc, not giving much thought to what she would do afterwards. Until now. After Carlisle became emperor and the threats were eliminated, she imagined herself living a happy life by his side. She had once seen their relationship as contractual, then it grew to something more, and when she fully realized the feelings of her heart, she vowed to stay with Carlisle until he no longer needed her. Now that she knew that their desires were aligned, there was no need for further divergence.
‘Can I be this greedy?’
Nothing was organized yet. Empress Ophelia and Paveluc were still alive and had their sights set on the throne. Elena didn’t want to put off being honest with Carlisle anymore.
I love you the same way.
After a moment of hesitation, Elena gathered up her courage and opened her mouth to speak.
Carlisle, who had been silently eating opposite of Elena, lifted his head to look at her.
Not long ago, Elena hadn’t understood what that flame in those cold blue eyes were. But now she knew. The passionate heat in them was reserved only for her, a reminder that his heart was hers.
“Do you have time this evening?”
“What is it?”
“You asked if I wanted to go out and get some air. It’s been a long time…I would like to go out.”
“Very well. Is there anything in particular you want to do?”
“No, but I’ll work out the schedule so you don’t have to worry about it.”
Elena’s words caught Carlisle by surprise.
“You’ll do it yourself, my wife?”
“Yes, if you would allow me.”
“I can’t object to anyone you want.”
Carlisle offered a gentle smile. In the past, Elena thought that Carlisle liberally gave these smiles to other women and scolded herself for harboring unnecessary fantasies, but in truth he really only smiled this way for her.
Elena’s heart began to pound again. Nowadays, just looking at Carlisle would do that to her, as if there was some fault with her heart. She was embarrassed that she was unable to express these uncontrollable feelings, and she glanced down quickly, hoping that Carlisle wouldn’t notice the heat on her face. She cut her food methodically and placed it in her mouth. Carlisle studied her for a moment before speaking.
“Do you have something planned?”
“I don’t want to leave because you look beautiful when you eat.”
Elena choked on her food. Carlisle was even more flirtatious lately, and she didn’t know how to react now that she knew he was not acting. In the past, his words would have easily passed her by, but now she became hyper-aware of everyone else around them. She was unused to receiving so much affection.
Elena spoke, her cheeks colored.
“From now on, you’re forbidden to say that I’m beautiful.”
Carlisle looked at Elena in confusion.
“If you keep saying that…I don’t think my heart can take it.”
She bit her lip and swallowed the lump that had risen in her throat. Then she continued in a curt voice.
“So don’t, please.”
Carlisle grinned at Elena’s reddened face.
“My wife is the most beautiful woman on the continent.”
He escalated it even further. He fixed Elena with his piercing gaze and spoke in a low voice.
“I’m looking forward to tonight’s date.”
He always had a mischievous streak, but now Elena found herself drawn to it like a moth to flame.
That was even worse.
After making dinner arrangements with Carlisle, Elena was kept busy with preparations. Carlisle had said he was free this evening, but she understood better than anyone that finding free time in the Crown Prince’s demanding schedule was rare. Another opportunity wouldn’t come by so easily, and so tonight, she had to confess her feelings.
Elena requested the services of Isaac once again, and he arrived at the palace with a box containing a ring.
“Please take a look. This is a ring made with the finest ruby, just as you ordered, Your Highness.”
She nodded as she inspected the ring in the box. As it was a man’s ring, its design emphasized simplicity rather than glamour. There were no other gems besides the brilliant red jewel set in the center, but the ring itself was made of platinum and of exceptional make.
“This is exactly what I wanted. I’m satisfied.”
She wanted to give Carlisle as heartfelt a gift as when he had given her a blue bead ring a long time ago. He had masculine hands, but they were still long and pretty. She wanted to see a ring on one of those elegant fingers, to mark that he was hers.
‘I never dreamed I would give anything like this when we had the wedding…’
Imperial marriages did not involve the exchange of rings like common marriages did. In an imperial lifestyle, countless jewels came and went, and a single token was considered insufficient as an expression of love. Women were expected to wear different jewelry at each social gathering, and the more jewels a woman had, the higher her status.
Of course, there were other ways to give tokens of love, but as Carlisle and Elena were under contract, they did not feel the need to do so. They already proved their love publicly, and there was no reason to give a gift that no one would know about. It was different now, now that their relationship had evolved far beyond the superficial.
Isaac looked curiously at Elena ‘s warm expression as she turned over the ring in her hands.
“I am pleased that you like it, but may I ask why you requested our services instead of directly ordering through the Imperial Household?”
There was no reason to hide it, so Elena explained.
“It’s a surprise. It’s possible that the person might notice if I ordered it through the Imperial Household.”
“Ah…is it a gift for the Crown Prince?”
“Yes. It’s for my husband.”
Elena paused after she answered the question.
“Thank you, Isaac.”
“Not at all. Let me know whenever you need me.”
Duty fulfilled, he rose from his seat and gave a bow. Then, he stopped and looked at Elena.
“Ah, Your Highness.”
Elena looked up at him, and saw that Isaac had a peculiar expression on his face.
“You said I would find out later what the letter to Lady Jenner was about.”
“Yes, I said that.”
“Assuming that the situation had gone as you had planned, I can guess what you wrote down.”
Elena was surprised that Isaac was still curious about it. What was he going to say? There was an interested glint in her eye, and Isaac bowed more deeply.
“I’m impressed. Personally, I think you made the best choice you could in the situation.”
The opportunity to eliminate an enemy did not always come, but Elena had chosen instead to turn Sarah to her side, even when they had never been on good terms. With the most sober judgment, Elena made the situation favorable to her. It was more difficult to accept an enemy as an ally than it was to defeat them, and Isaac had to admit that Log had good instincts. He was curious above Elena’s next move.
‘Presently, the Ruford Empire is divided between the Emperor and Empress. Excluding them, Grand Duke Lunen and Crown Prince Carlisle attract the most attention. But somehow…my heart goes to the Crown Princess.’
They had only met twice, but despite that, Isaac found himself inexplicably drawn to Elena’s character. She had the kind of leadership where one would trust and follow her to the end.
Elena gave a smile.
“Thank you for your compliment. Please take care of my future requests.”
“Yes, Your Highness.”
Isaac bowed deeply once more. If Elena’s judgment remained as discerning as it was now, Astar may gain even more advantage than expected.
For some reason, he believed his hunch.
As Carlisle and Elena went out for the night, a spy planted in the palace immediately delivered the news to Marquis Selby.
[The Crown Prince and Crown Princess are going out.]
“Tonight, we will kill the Crown Prince.”
An old butler, who had long been in the service of Marquis Selby, turned grim after hearing those words. This decision could bring ruin to the family.
“My Lord, are you sure you want to do this?”
“I’ve made up my mind.”
Helen’s charge of murder was too severe. Even if only she was punished, it was bound to affect Marquis Selby, and supporters of the Crown Prince were already showing signs of staying away from the Selby family.
In the event Oswald managed to keep the family alive and find a successor among his other relatives, he would still not want to stand by the Crown Prince. They had crossed a bridge that could never be uncrossed, and Oswald vowed his loyalty only to the Empress. His position had been neutral before, but now he wanted Redfield to become emperor more than anyone.
He was cornered, and he had to accept the Empress’ offer before it was too late. If he successfully killed the Crown Prince, the Selby family would ascend to the top, and Helen could be freed from prison.
The butler looked on anxiously.
“If it goes wrong, the consequences will be even more severe, My Lord.”
However, Oswald remained as convicted as ever.
“It won’t go wrong.”
He was still alive, and he had a large number of soldiers secretly on the move. He had selected only the best of them to form a secret unit, and hired extra assassins with money given by the Empress. Dozens of men only waited now for the order to cut off Carlisle’s neck.
There was a mad glow in Oswald’s eyes.
“I will never fail.”
The butler remained troubled, but he wasn’t in a position to oppose his master’s decision. He gave a deep bow.
“I understand. I will prepare for whatever you need.”