Ch. 24 I Have A Condition (2)
“You don’t have to bow to anyone in the future, including me.”
Elena remembered that the man in front of her came from one of the most noble lineages in the entirely of the Ruford Empire. He was next to become emperor. He wore his pride as easily as he wore his finery.
Elena pulled away from the hot hand holding her face and forced herself to keep calm.
“With the exception of the knights from your family, there are my men as well as men from Marquis Selby.”
Elena knew her suspicions were correct. However, it was hard to tell to what end Helen had hired the men. Elena wasn’t easily defeated by anyone, but she couldn’t guess whether their purpose was for her own life or simply surveillance. In a word, it was annoying.
‘…She was the one who did the wrong thing, yet she dares to get revenge.’
It was Helen who provoked her first. It was ridiculous to become vindictive just because things didn’t go the way one wanted.
Elena became lost in her own thoughts for a moment. Carlisle looked at her, then spoke in a quiet voice.
“If you have any more questions, you can ask me.”
“…I don’t know. Nothing comes to mind right now.”
Carlisle’s expression shifted at Elena’s reply.
“Do you have any questions about your future husband?”
“Oh! There was one question I wanted to ask. We’ve never met publicly before, but if we suddenly got married everyone around me would think it strange. I need to create some stories that will convince them.”
She was relieved that Carlisle hadn’t changed his mind about the marriage. Now they should make haste with the wedding. She would feel better once she was married to him and was at the imperial court.
“Yes. Other than that…you have no questions.”
“No. Well, for now.”
Carlisle’s forehead knitted together. Elena only noticed the change in his mood, but she did not know the reason for his displeasure. She was sure he wasn’t expecting her to ask trivial questions such as his tastes, his personality, his likes and dislikes…
Carlisle seemed to have lost his words for a while, so Elena took the conversation.
“Firstly, I’d like to arrange the contracts for our marriage. Are there any terms you’d like me to agree to?
“…When I see you, I feel as if I don’t need anything. But sometimes I feel an unbearable greed.”
Elena didn’t know how to respond to that. Since their first meeting, Carlisle had sometimes spoken to Elena with a strange affection. Once again she wanted to ask him if they had met in the past, but thought he would deny it like last time.
And suppose that they didn’t know each other. Did that make any difference? There was no way Carlisle could would be in love enough to marry someone he just met. One of the most realistic hypotheses formed in her head.
‘…Are you a philanderer?’
Carlisle was known to have lived on the battlefield since childhood, but in reality he might be the kind of man who steals the hearts of women. Carlisle looked exactly the type. His face alone could make women cry. Even Elena, who didn’t pay much attention to other people’s appearances, was sometimes taken aback whenever she saw him. If he became emperor he may have several women, but even so, she did not want to interfere.
She wondered if they would love each other. As their marriage would simply be a contract for mutual benefit, Elena did not intend to touch on such personal matters if possible. However, she couldn’t allow her husband to meet another woman at the start of their marriage. A woman’s power in any family came from their husband’s full support, and if the crown prince did not favor her, her title would be in name only. If possible, she needed the power gained from being the only crown princess.
After thinking over this briefly, Elena looked directly at Carlisle and spoke again.
“If there’s nothing that comes to mind right now, think more about what conditions you want. In the meantime, I’ll tell you mine.”
Carlisle crossed his arms, casting interest in her words.
Facing his deadly blue eyes, Elena repeated her words in clear voice.
“Please act as if you love only me once you become emperor.”
Carlisle burst into a small laugh. Perhaps he had never thought of this condition. Elena stared unblinkingly ahead. From now on, if she had to sign a contract she wouldnwring as much benefit from it as she could. Bargaining for a few years of power was not enough; she had to control longer periods as well. She had no intention of compromising.
“Why do you need that condition?”
“Didn’t I tell you first? I hope you will become emperor. Likewise, you said you had no complaints about me being empress.”
“You mean you want power?”
Elena did not bother concealing her ambition. She would be his partner who would help him rise to the top and take down Paveluc.
“…Alright. I agree.”
Carlisle’s reply left Elena with an indelible joy.
“But I have a condition.”
All contracts were a one-for-one exchange. Now that Carlisle accepted Elena’s condition, she felt inclined to agree to almost whatever he wanted. Elena wore an encouraging expression and Carlisle continued in a soft voice.
“People in political marriages don’t always live together.”
“I want the real thing as well as the facade.”
Elena faltered for a moment. The nuance of this conversation was flowing strangely.
“I want us to share a bed.”