Ch. 49 Now, Shall We Eat? (1)
“When you look at me with those eyes, I want to give you everything.”
His gaze was like a net in the air. Elena couldn’t move as if she had been ensnared. She calmed her voice as much as possible, trying to avoid his intense stare.
“Thank you for your kind attention, but please don’t spend such a large amount of money on future meetings.”
The two didn’t even meet for a date, and she couldn’t stand this much extravagance.
Despite the seriousness of Elena’s tone, Carlisle only grinned.
“I’m just returning what you said. You do care a lot about useless things.”
Elena was about to refute, when she was interrupted by the sound of musical instruments tuning on stage. The performance would soon begin. Not wanting to disturb Carlisle’s first time at the opera, Elena stopped speaking. Carlisle recognized her silence.
“We’ll have the rest of the conversation after the performance is over. “
She pressed her lips close. She didn’t know where to look, so she slid her eyes towards the stage. She was worried about Carlisle sitting next to her, but as she wordlessly watched the performance from her vantage point, she realized that the box seats were indeed an ideal space.
Although stage was brightly lit before them, it was unlikely that she could be spotted from where she was sitting. The chairs were pulled away from the balcony and hidden in shadow, and the box itself seemed to be in a blind spot to the crowd below. There were a few other boxes located in the opera hall, but it was not easy to see them from there either. Carlisle had in fact been paying attention to the small details when it came to Elena’s request to not been seen together.
She suddenly remembered what Carlisle said the last time they met.
— In my way, it is true that I care about you.
What he said at the time was not untrue. Carlisle had done more than enough for Elena, and he was so dedicated to her that she even felt a little uncomfortable sitting with him in this dark, narrow space.
Every single move he made, every little breath he breathed, she noticed. Her chin was propped on her hand as she watched the opera in apathy, and she stole a sidelong glance in his direction. For some reason she couldn’t concentrate on the performance.
The curtain finally dropped on the opera stage. Carlisle had been watching the performance with an indifferent expression throughout. Elena spoke to him curiously.
“How was it?”
“It wasn’t as good as I expected. And you?”
Actually, it was a performance she had been wanting to see, but now she couldn’t remember what it was about. She had been unable to concentrate.
“It…it was enjoyable.”
She lied. Unaware of her feelings, Carlisle smiled.
“If you liked it, then I am satisfied.”
Elena suddenly felt as guilty as a child.
“Then let’s go to the opera often in the future.”
“…But you said you didn’t like it.”
“But you said you liked it.”
He answered without hesitation, and she was left dumbfounded by his reply. She couldn’t understand why he was trying to entertain her apparent tastes.
Elena was about to say something else when Carlisle stood up first.
“We’d better leave now to avoid the public eye.”
He was right. Even if they hesitated for a moment, the aristocrats who finished watching the opera would flock the building’s halls. For now, most of them were still in their seats, lingering on their memories of the performance. It was imperative to leave now to avoid the rush of people.
She had a lot to say, but they couldn’t have a conversation here. She was about to rise from her seat to follow him when–
Carlisle held his hand in front of Elena. She understood what he meant without speaking. I want to escort you. There was no reason to refuse Carlisle’s polite behavior, so Elena hesitated only for a moment before gently placing her fingers in his palm.
In any occasion, Elena would take a man’s offered hand regardless of who it was. Not for any particular reason; it was simple courtesy.
But now she felt trepidation as Carlisle took her hand. Even Elena could not understand why she felt that way all of a sudden. She rose from her seat, holding on to Carlisle with a guarded expression.
“Let us leave, then.”
Under Carlisle’s graceful guidance, Elena left the box and headed back to the carriage under guard by the bannermen. There were already a handful of nobility loitering at the entrance, but they could not see the faces of Elena and Carlisle. A murmur of conversation floated around them, wondering about the mysterious guests. Elena did not intend to come here to be caught, so she boarded the carriage as swiftly as she could.
She breathed a sigh of relief inside the carriage. Looking at Elena’s still nervous expression, Carlisle spoke in a low voice.
“You don’t have to worry so much about getting caught with me. And even if we do we can make something up.”
“I know. But if possible…I want my family to believe that our marriage was done out of love.”
Carlisle shot her a curious look, and Elena elaborated.
“If they find out it’s a contractual marriage…I’m sure they would be worried.”
Mirabelle’s sweet face came to her mind. Then Derek’s, who pretended to be blunt but cared about her more than anyone else. She wanted to show them marrying for love was possible, and she didn’t want to cause them unnecessary anxiety about her choice.
“You’ve made it this far, so you don’t have to worry. The royal ball will be soon.”
Carlisle strangely seemed to be trying to reassure her, so she gave him a faint smile.
Elena suddenly realized that the carriage had been heading somewhere since they boarded. She gave Carlisle a questioning look.
“Where are we going this time?”
“Let’s have dinner. Come to think of it, we’ve never had a meal together.”
She nodded instead of answering. She had no intention of opposing Carlisle’s schedule, and their meetings before had always been brief. It was not a bad idea to have dinner with him before they were married.
And there was no better place to have a long conversation.