Ch. 126 Trash (1)
This party was strikingly different from all the ones Elena had been to. She had attended many social events, large and small, but never one with this much decadence and deviancy.
Normally, gatherings usually had a large hall in the center for people to stand around and talk. However, there were more places for sitting than standing here. Dozens of tables and sofas scattered the room, with small groups of people already mingling around them. By one table, a masked man and woman were openly indulging in affection to each other, much to Elena’s embarrassment. It was a place where only young people gathered, and it felt much less constrained than an official event.
‘Is it because everyone is wearing masks?’
The lighting was dim as well, unlike the brightly lit chandeliers of the halls. This was new to Elena, but everyone else seemed familiar to this arrangement.
‘But…what is this smell?’
Ever since she walked in, a peculiar scent hovered in her nose. It prodded at some buried memory, and Elena turned her head to look for the source of the smell, but before she could investigate, the sounds of a man’s footsteps approached her.
She turned her head, and a man with fiery red hair came into view. He was masked like everyone else, but she knew immediately who it was.
It was Redfield. He seemed to recognize Elena immediately as well, by the mask he had given her.
“Ah, you have arrived.”
Elena had spoken in informal language at court dances in the past, but now she was more aware of her position of crown princess in the future. The corners of her mouth lifted.
“You were very earnest in your invitation towards me, and I couldn’t refuse.”
She made no mention of the wedding planning, and Redfield responded with a faint smile.
“Welcome. I would have been very disappointed if you turned me down again.”
It sounded like he would’ve continued to sabotage the wedding, as she suspected. Outwardly, the pair greeted each other with amiable smiles, but inwardly they were testing each other, keeping their true thoughts hidden.
“Shall I show you where I was at? I feel terrible keeping my future sister-in-law standing here like this.”
Redfield stepped forward first, a smile beneath his mask. She followed, noting his golden tongue and the way he called her “sister-in-law.” While Carlisle was occasionally mischievous, he was generally straightforward and said only what he wanted to say. Redfield was nothing like him.
Redfield led her to a large private room, not to one of the tables in the common space like she expected. There were a variety of rare dishes spread out on the table, but there was no one else there.
“Please have a seat.”
Elena settled herself onto a chair.
“Didn’t you say you would take me to where you were, Second Prince? But it looks like there’s no else here for the party.”
Elena didn’t hesitate to use Redfield’s title when they were alone. The masks were meaningless when they already knew each other’s identity. Redfield gave a crooked grin, pulling away his mask and revealing his handsome face. He fixed her with a burning gaze.
“I’ve arranged a private table with my sister-in-law. No one else needs to be here, don’t you think?”
She didn’t agree. However, Elena answered calmly, schooling her roiling emotions.
“You asked me to dance when we last met at the ball.”
“Haha, we can always dance anytime. Why? Would you like to have a dance with me now?”
He seemed to find glee in playing with her. His glibness caused a level of discomfort quite unlike Carlisle.
“No. I don’t think it’s necessary for us to dance.”
“Of course. Well, just not today.”
Redfield flashed a sly smile and picked up a bottle of wine.
“Would you like a drink?”
“No thank you. I’m not good at drinking.”
“How about just one drink? It has been a long time since we last saw each other, and I’ll be disappointed if you don’t have at least one glass.”
Elena held out the glass in front of her, and Redfield filled the vessel. The peculiar smell was stronger in this room than outside. Elena’s forehead tensed and she put a palm to it, while Redfield’s eyes flashed at the gesture.
“Will you pour me a drink as well, sister-in-law?”
“I’m grateful for the glass you poured me, Second Prince, but it would not look good in the eyes of others for me to do the same.”
“Haha, what do you think of your family?”
“It’s better to be careful.”
Redfield continued with a slight shrug.
“If you insist.”
He filled his own glass and drank first. When Elena tried to shake off the blurriness in her vision, Redfield stared at her with concern.
“Are you unwell? There is water if you don’t want to drink.”
Redfield filled another glass with water for her. Elena stared at it, thinking it strange that Redfield kept encouraging her to drink. She answered without touching the water.
“No, thank you. I haven’t slept much because of the wedding preparations, and I was feeling dizzy.”
“Oh, you should be more careful.”
“I only came here to see you briefly. If you have nothing else to say, I would like to leave.”
Redfield held back a cruel smile at Elena’s unyielding manner.
“Would I have invited my sister-in-law here without something to tell her?”
While she listened to Redfield speak, she kept trying to rack her brain about that peculiar odor. It unsettled her from the start, but her suspicion grew as her body weakened.
‘…Where have I smelled it before?’