Ch. 198 There’s No Need To Be Bitter (1)
Carlisle rarely stayed separated from Elena since her injury. Because she had long been confined to her bed, today he carried her to a private garden to get some fresh air.
“Ca-Caril, set me down. Someone might see.”
Her cheeks were hot as she kept glancing around, but Carlisle ignored her protests.
“So what if they see?”
“I’m not a child, and it’s embarrassing if you carry me around like this.”
“My wife is too shy. No one will blame a husband and wife going out together.”
The servants wouldn’t say anything to them, but Elena was sure they would gossip behind their back. Those who served in the Imperial Palace were human after all, and wouldn’t be able to resist a bit of chit chat about their masters’ private lives.
Carlisle replied to Elena’s continued doubt.
“Don’t worry. If anyone says something offensive to you, I’ll punish them severely.”
He didn’t sound like his was joking, and she gave a disapproving frown.
“You can’t gain your subordinates’ loyalty if you punish them too harshly.”
“People’s hearts are evil, and we don’t know if they are truly loyal. Obedience comes before loyalty.”
Carlisle was not wrong; objectively speaking, it was a standard belief for a reason. As Crown Prince, he did not have the luxury to easily place his trust in people.
However…Elena was worried about his occasional violent nature. She wanted to show him that the bloody conquest of emperors past was not the only path for him, and politics could be beneficial to his people. That was Elena’s small wish.
“You are right, but always remember to be kind. That way, more people will be there to support you if you get into trouble later on.”
Carlisle grinned at her words.
“Are you worried about me?”
“Of course. You occupy most of my worries.”
“Whatever they are, I like that you worry about me.”
At the same time, he stopped at a table in the middle of the garden. He sat down on a chair, and with great strength adjusted Elena so that she was sitting on his lap.
Elena gave an exclamation of surprise, and he looked at her, savoring her figure.
“In fact…I once thought that if I was not going to be loved by you, then I would rather be hated.”
“I wanted your mind to be full of me, no matter what emotions you felt.”
Carlisle’s feelings were different from those of ordinary people. Elena couldn’t define it in a word, but he certainly did not express his affection the way others did. She even discovered something new about it.
‘When Caril doesn’t act cute at all, I think he’s even more cute.’
In other words, probably only Elena saw him that way. From an objective standpoint, Carlisle’s actions were not particularly attractive, but she did not mind his greed. She was happy that those intense blue eyes were directed only towards her.
‘Maybe I’m strange too…’
Elena smiled happily as she immersed herself in thoughts of Carlisle.
Feeling somewhat exhausted after being outdoors for some time now, she leaned against his broad shoulder and spoke in a lazy voice.
“It worked. Now I spend most of the day thinking about you.”
Carlisle stared at Elena’s golden hair gleaming in the sunlight. Despite her sickly pallor, her eyes were bright, and he stroked Elena’s hair with a careful hand.
“And I’m madly in love with you. Stay by my side for a long time.”
Elena sensed a faint note of desperation in Carlisle’s words. He seemed sick with worry ever since she had been hit by the arrow. She knew that if she had been in his position, she also would have been just as frightened if Carlisle were about to die.
“I will. I’ll be here for a long time.”
Despite the confidence in Elena’s answer, Carlisle only gave a rueful smile. There was no guarantee that Elena would never get hurt, not when the road ahead of them was so dangerous.
“Unless I die, I will likely become emperor. But it’s up to you to decide what kind of emperor I will be.”
“You know more than anyone how selfish and aggressive I am. I am hardly a saint. So I need you by my side…”
Elena raised her head again to look at Carlisle’s face. No one had ever told her that they needed her like this before. When she thought about it now, that was the way it had always been with him.
A feeling swelled in her chest. She was so happy.
Elena smiled and cupped Carlisle’s face with her slender hands.
“A man who cannot be without me…”
While Elena didn’t realize this about herself, her beauty could captivate any man in the world. Carlisle momentarily gripped her hand as if he couldn’t hold himself back, but soon his hold loosened. His brow furrowed as he looked at her.
“You need to gain some weight. I feel like I’ll break you if I hold you too tightly.”
Elena burst into laughter at his words. It was true that she had lost some weight, but she wasn’t so fragile that she would snap by his hand.
She didn’t hate his words, however. Her chest warmed at the thought of his tender treatment towards her.
“I won’t break, so you can hold on to me tight.”
“Don’t provoke me, my wife.”
Carlisle gazed intently at the bandages on Elena’s back and continued in a low voice.
“…I’m already barely restraining myself.”
Elena understood his meaning and smiled faintly.
There in the lush garden of the Crown Prince’s palace, they basked in the early afternoon sunshine. Not much had changed, but Carlisle felt a warmth seep in him that seemed to come from another world. He embraced Elena quietly and spoke in a gentle voice.
“Did you forget something?”
Elena thought back on recent events to try to understand what he was talking about, but nothing came to mind. Ever since her injury, she had simply been confined to bed rest.
“I don’t know.”
At Elena’s reply, Carlisle quietly took a small box out of his pocket. He opened it and revealed a simple ring studded with a single red ruby.
It was the ring Elena prepared to give to Carlisle. She picked up the box with a surprised look.
“Did you forget my present?”
“But how did you—”
“I found it in your dress. I knew it was mine at a glance.”
Elena flushed. She was ready to give it to him now, but she was too embarrassed to say the words.
“How are you so sure it’s yours?”
“It’s a man’s ring.”
“So it’s mine, of course.”
Elena smiled at his unchanged attitude.
They had a similar conversation before, when she still didn’t understand his way of thought. She had asked him what he would do if she was unfaithful to him, and he replied without any hesitation.
— …I would kill them all. All the men who came into contact with you.
— What if it’s not one or two?
— I told you, I would kill them all. And if you don’t stop, I’ll kill all the men on the continent.
Though his passion was sweet, the words themselves were quite gruesome.
— If I were the only man in the world, then perhaps you would look at me then.
Elena looked up at Carlisle endearingly and spoke again.
“If this is another man’s ring, would you kill that person?”
“Yes. I would make it a painful death.”
For a moment she thought, what should I do with this man? His words were crazy, but she was drawn to his expressions of extreme affection.
Carlisle’s eyebrows lifted when Elena didn’t answer, and he spoke in a quieter, more curious voice.
“It’s not really another man’s ring, is it?”
Elena couldn’t hold back anymore and hugged him, but then her back suddenly twinged in pain.
Carlisle looked at Elena in concern.
“Are you alright? You should be more careful.”
“Then stop doing things that are so endearing.”
Carlisle stared at her with an uncomprehending expression.
“If not you, then who else would I give this ring? Of course I bought it for you. I wanted to give you an incredible confession that night.”
“You don’t have to worry about that. Anything you say makes me happy.”
“It’s the same with me.”
Elena took the ring out of the box, then carefully slid it on his left ring finger.
Carlisle stared at the jewel on his hand, and soon his face broke into a smile. The corners on the edge of Elena’s mouth also couldn’t help but lift at his pleased reaction, and she leaned in to kiss Carlisle’s lips.
They pulled apart and came back together repeatedly, their exhilaration building like fire until they were blissfully dizzy with happiness.