23 I Have A Condition (1)
There was something strange about her having so many people trailing her. She ducked into an alley so she could determine their number, and her pursuers began to follow.
‘One, two, three…Seven?’
She had an ominous feeling. Carlisle would not have sent all these people. She wondered if anyone had a grudge against her, and Helen’s face emerged in her mind. Elena did not know if Helen would go as far as to hurt her, but she was the only one who had reason to resent her currently.
Elena entered deeper into the alley where she could not easily seen. She took out a small dagger from a leather strap on her ankle, hidden beneath her large skirt.
‘I’ll soon find out who ordered them to follow me.’
It was a matter of capturing and interrogating her pursuers. The process of extracting the truth wouldn’t be so clean.
This was the biggest city center in the southern region, but going off the main road one could find a cool place even in midday. Ironically enough, there was nowhere as dirty and ugly as in a wealthy area.
Elena slipped into a darkened alley without hesitation. She glanced around and spotted a suitable place to deal with her pursuers. She made to move there when–
A hand suddenly grabbed Elena by the shoulder and pulled her into the darkness.
Elena immediately swung the dagger in her hand towards her opponent. The sharp edge of the knife flashed in the gloom.
The other person swiftly captured her wrist to block her dagger as it aimed for their neck. She heard a low voice in her ear before she was able to launch the next attack.
It was a short word, but she had heard that voice before. Elena stopped struggling. If her memory served her right…
As her eyes gradually became accustomed to the darkness, her gaze slowly moved upwards. Hard chest, broad shoulders, and a slender neck. Her eyes rested at the man’s face. A sharp jawline and a straight nose, and above it, pale blue irises that stared down at Elena. It was as if the blue of his eyes were the only color in the world, and they burned like flames.
It was Prince Carlisle.
As soon as she realized who it was, she noticed that she could feel his warm breath on her forehead. His large hand still gripped her shoulder, and he had enough height that she could only make eye contact when she raised her head. She could feel the strength of his body where they were pressed together. Elena’s breath caught at the sudden contact.
She watched him as he carefully checked their surroundings. She felt that he must have a purpose and waited patiently. Then, after the brief silence–
At the sudden sound of Carlisle’s soft chuckle, Elena looked up at him with a confused expression.
“This wasn’t the intent, but this isn’t so bad.”
He whispered in her ear, causing a blush to creep up her cheeks.
“I don’t know what’s going on, but please let me go.”
At her cold tone, Carlisle took his hand off her shoulder with a look of regret.
“I didn’t plan to touch you, so please don’t look at me like that.”
“Like I’m a villain. You must have forgotten it already, but it was you who pointed a knife at me first.”
She couldn’t argue with that. The blade was still dangerously close to his neck. She didn’t know she would end at that position.
“I can’t help that you’re popular. As soon as you left Blaise Castle, you had so many people following you.”
After Elena entered the alley, she did hear the sound of footsteps dogging her. But now there was no sign of anything at all.
“Do you know who followed me?”
“Let’s move for now.”
After Carlisle finished speaking he moved away first, and she knew that she was meant to follow. She walked behind Carlisle, and after a short distance they reached a shabby house. Carlisle seemed to have planned a safe area for his meeting with Elena. On the outside the house looked quite ordinary, but the interior was neat and tidy as if was well-cared for.
Carlisle led her to the table and pulled out a chair so she could sit down, then seated himself opposite of her. She didn’t know if it was ingrained behavior, but he had excellent manners towards women.
“Is there anything else you want to know other than the identity of the people who followed you? “
“Are you alright?”
“As you can see.”
He had an arrow in his back the last time they met. It was impossible for that injury to have healed in just ten days, but Carlisle behaved as if he had never been injured at all. It was if it was nothing more than a daily routine to him.
Elena looked him over to assess his condition then returned to the subject.
“…How long have you been watching me?”
“Rather than surveillance, think of it as protection since we last parted.”
Although she had suspected that Carlisle would hire someone to keep a watch on her, it was at a much earlier time than she expected. It made her feel a little uncomfortable to think of the eyes that had been quietly shadowing her. However, since she decided to eventually become empress, she knew it was inevitable.
“If you’re going to catch and torture the people who were following me, I will personally–”
“You don’t have to do anything. I brought you here because some of them were knights from your family. “
Only then did Elena come think of the possibility that her family’s knights might have followed her to protect her. If Carlisle had not stopped her earlier, Elena might have raised a blade against them. There may have been a situation where blood had to be spilled to keep her secrets. Carlisle had told Elena to cover up her abilities if possible.
Enlightened of the situation, Elena gave a small bow towards Carlisle.
“Thank you. Your Highness saved me from trouble.”
It was then.
Carlisle’s hand shot forward. He captured her chin in one hand and lifted her head straight again.
“Have you forgotten whose woman you will be? “
Elena stared straight ahead at Carlisle’s eyes. There was a curious heat in them. They were a cool blue color, but they burned as hot as a flame.