Ch. 71 Just Once (1)
Carlisle’s hand guided Elena away from the ambient noise of the ballroom. She followed him wordlessly, and before long a beautiful outdoor garden emerged before her eyes. She took in a breath of the cool night air, and soon she felt her mind slowly returning.
She almost acted rashly. When she saw Paveluc alive in front of her eyes, all the anger from her past life slammed into her instantly. Even now, she could not forget the scene of her father’s and brother’s bodies hanging on the castle wall. In that moment, her whole being was saturated with blind rage.
Carlisle spied Elena’s still-shaking fingertips.
“Are you alright?”
“You don’t look well.”
Carlisle didn’t say anything more and just stood there silently. After settling her thoughts, Elena spoke to Carlisle at last.
“Thank you for bringing me out here.”
If she hadn’t quickly regained her reason, she might’ve attacked Paveluc.
“I would appreciate it if you would tell me why you looked so pale all of a sudden. “
She didn’t answer, instead staring at the view before her. The outdoor garden was dark, dimly lit by only the gentle moonlight. Carlisle’s blue eyes shone like a wild beast even in this shadowy place. He was her best chance. She didn’t have any idea what future her decision would bring, but the die had already been cast and Elena would make him emperor by any means.
However, that didn’t meant she completely trusted in Carlisle. She doubted he would believe her absurd story, and he might treat her like a crazy woman if she told it to him. She wouldn’t take the risk. Furthermore, it didn’t make sense to tell Carlisle something she had not even told her family yet.
“I just…I just felt dizzy all of a sudden.”
When she finished speaking, Carlisle reached out to her. The moment she realized what was happening, Carlisle was already touching Elena’s forehead and murmuring,
“…You don’t have a fever.”
Feeling self-conscious, she quickly drew back her head to avoid his touch. Though she was distracted at the ballroom, she still clearly remembered what he had done earlier. He had cupped her cheek and lowered his head to look into her eyes.
“I don’t like to be touched.”
“So you want me stay still when you’re about to fall?”
She couldn’t see his furrowed brow in the dark, but the tone of his voice told her enough. Elena had something else she wanted to say, and she replied calmly enough.
“Also, I have not given you permission to call me by my name yet.”
She heard him call her “Elena” in the ballroom. She was also still upset when he called her “Len” when she was serving as his guard. He was crossing over the lines at his own will.
Carlisle said nothing for a moment, but his eyes, however, shone with unhappiness. It couldn’t be helped; There was nothing pleasant about what Elena said right now. However, she was determined to take this opportunity to tell him her mind. There was nothing wrong with what she said now. They were not real lovers–it was a contractual relationship.
Carlisle’s blue eyes darkened over. He replied, his voice subdued.
“…I’ll keep it in mind.”
Now that Elena had him alone, she wanted to finish saying everything else she couldn’t say in the ballroom. Elena touched the red diamond necklace she was wearing.
“This is too much, too. If you could take this back…”
“Have you forgotten the promise you made me? “
She had promised to take anything without question in exchange for the dress.
“But the price of this necklace…”
“It was still promise. Didn’t Kuhn tell you? I said, ‘If she doesn’t keep your word, tell her I’m not going to keep mine either. ‘”
If Elena was the one who protested at him a while ago, things were now quite the opposite. Elena was unable to refute Carlisle’s words, but she couldn’t continue to feel indebted to Carlisle. She didn’t want to get used to relying on other people either. This time, she needed to be much stronger than before if she wanted to defeat Paveluc with her own hands.
“I feel like I owe you more…that is why my heart is heavy.”
She honestly expressed her feelings, and Carlisle replied in a tone as if what he was saying was obvious.
“Then pay me back.”
“If I give you one hundred, you only need to give me one back. I’m not asking for you to give me as much as I give you. Just once…please come to me first.”
Elena froze by a totally unexpected reply. The average person would have listened to her by now and taken back the necklace. However, Carlisle had the audacity to ask if she would repay him. His expression also looked mournful. She didn’t think about this development.
‘…What does it mean?’
Give him one thing back. She didn’t know what he meant to come to her first. The more she thought about it, the more vague it was. Her head was spinning fast, but somehow it was one answer.
‘You want me to pay you back in the end.’
She knew even in her last life that one could not get something for nothing.
“I want to pay you back, but the price of this necklace is too burdensome.”
A subtle heat seemed in shimmer in Carlisle’s blue eyes, as if disappointed with her reaction. He opened and closed his mouth a few times, then finally managed to find the words of what he wanted to say.
“No matter what you say, I have no intention of taking back what I’ve given you.”
“That was the deal. So accept my gift without saying a word.”
Carlisle seemed unwilling to give an inch. She had promised. She was forced to accept the dresses and jewelry he had given her.
“…Alright. Now that you’ve given it to me, I’ll make use of it when I become crown princess. But I won’t express gratitude.”
At her words, Carlisle burst out laughing. She wouldn’t even say thank you despite being given expensive gifts. She expressed her dissatisfaction in her own way, and he didn’t expect to have such a positive reaction about it.
“I don’t need pleasantries. They are with its rightful owner.”
Carlisle seemed to think little of the value of the precious items. Somehow it was Elena was the one more preoccupied with these things. It felt a little unfair, but she made her decision.
‘I’ll use it all to make you emperor.’
She had little use for luxury, but since he was insistent that she keep the items, they could be put to use in her palace life. Or perhaps as a fund to help Carlisle take the emperor’s throne, just like his other spoils of war.
The emperor’s throne.
Seeing Paveluc today made her feel all the more determined to never let him sit on the throne again. This time she would take what he coveted the most, just like the way he took her dear family.