Ch. 25 Call Me Caril (1)
“I want us to share a bed.”
She responded before she even realized it.
“I don’t like it.”
Elena bit her lip. It wasn’t something she didn’t think about. Just because it was a political marriage, it didn’t mean that they wouldn’t share a bed. To solidify her power, it was best to give birth to a prince who would inherit the throne in the future.
She knew it well. The problem was that Elena’s ambitions didn’t necessarily lie in solidifying her power as empress in and of itself. Her goal was to prevent the destruction of her family with Carlisle by her side. It just so happened that becoming empress was the best way to do so.
In aristocratic society, where scandals often turned out to be true, Elena had grown up with a rare innocence. After her family died, she never had time to be with men as she spent her whole life trying to get revenge, and inadvertently never had any experience. Not even that of a common love affair, and she had instinctively rejected the idea of sleeping with anyone.
Elena tried to force herself to think rationally by clenching her first hard under the table. She was the one who proposed a political marriage first, and Carlisle only raised a related issue that had to be dealt with.
Now it was time to make a calm judgment rather than an emotional one.
“…This is not an opinion. Thinking objectively, I don’t think now is the right time.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“It…it means I can’t live only as your woman. I don’t know why you agreed to marry me, but I made this proposal because I wanted to be the empress. Until then, I don’t want to give up my sword fighting abilities.”
Carlisle listened in silence to Elena. She couldn’t read any emotion from his expressionless face, so she tried further persuade him.
“Until I become empress, I would rather act as your secret weapon rather than your wife. I will not resent this decision, even if a child born to another woman later becomes the crown prince. I’ll write it in the contract if you want.”
She trained every day after returning to the past. Elena would become Carlisle’s sharpest sword. It would be Elena herself who would stand at the vanguard of every war and cut down the enemies that stood in his way.
The ordinary life of dressing up for him and waiting for him to return to bed at night was not suitable for Elena. She wasn’t intended to be an empress. Carlisle, who had been listening quietly until then, was the first to speak.
“…Do you really want to become empress?”
At that question, she suddenly wondered what she looked like in Carlisle’s eyes. She must seem like a puerile aristocrat. However, she didn’t care if she risked her life for power or appeared as a crazy woman, so long as she kept her family safe.
“Yes, I want to be empress.”
Carlisle listened to her answer and remained silent again. Elena swallowed dryly. Any contract required mutual concession, and though Elena was bargaining from a relatively weak position, she was still firm on her conditions. From Carlisle’s point of view, it couldn’t have been pleasant. Then he said something entirely unexpected.
“Because of you, there’s one more reason I should be emperor.”
“If that’s what you want, I’ll accept the offer. We won’t sleep together.”
“Oh, thank you, Your Highness.”
Her face brightened. She had been worried what she would do if Carlisle refused.
It was only for a moment that Elena was able to sigh in relief. Carlisle still wasn’t done yet.
“Until you become empress. Not after that. Once you become the empress as you desire, then live only as my wife.”
Elena did not immediately respond to what he said.
She was in a marriageable position, and had chosen the person she thought would be the most advantageous to her. In fact, this marriage life was a future she hadn’t painted beyond Carlisle becoming emperor. After that, there was the possibility he could meet other women and become indifferent to Elena. She could enjoy a relatively free life as an empress and end her life quietly. Or, Carlisle could dismiss her from the empress position, or Elena could dethrone him if he led a treacherous government and she could put someone else in his stead.
She didn’t care what kind of future she would live in. But what Carlisle now proposed was a future she had never given thought towards so far. His words of living solely as his woman seemed full of meaning to him.
Carlisle spoke as if he could tell what she was thinking.
“Do you not like it? If you’re using me to become empress–”
“No, I will. I will live just as your wife.”
As soon as the implication came that she was “using” him, Elena stopped thinking and answered quickly. Carlisle had already made many concessions and was in urgent need of her protection. Her conscience pricked at her guiltily, but she hadn’t been able to give any other answer. Carlisle had a look of satisfaction, unaware whether it was a reluctant choice or not.
The smiling look in his blue eyes faded.
“I told you, you sometimes make me greedy.”
“I hope you will have my child. They would be lovely with blonde hair and red eyes like you.”
Elena blurted out. It sounded like he could not love his child unless it looked like her.
Carlisle smoothly changed the subject, as if he had no intention of explaining himself.
“You know, I’ve been trying to listen to a lot of your opinions.”
“Oh, yes. For that I am grateful.”
“I’ll tell you what I want from now.”
It was time for Carlisle to offer his conditions for the marriage contract.
Elena swallowed dryly at the tension hovering in the air.
“Call me Caril.”
Elena opened her mouth like a fool. He wanted her to call him by a pet name all of a sudden? Why?
Carlisle continued with a smooth expression.
“You asked me to pretend to love you. But will you continue to address me so formally? I will be your husband, right?”
Couples did not necessarily use pet names. In the aristocratic society where political marriages were common, many couples used honorifics until the day they died. A pet name, indeed, was an intimate expression that could only be used for lovers.
More questions threatened to burst out of her, but she simply nodded her head when she saw Carlisle’s determined look on his face.
“Alright…I’ll call you that.”
Yes. It didn’t matter if she called him Caril. She would gladly call him dog shit if he agreed to her other conditions.
“It may seem strange to others if I use a pet name from the beginning, so I’ll act formally in outside situations. Please understand this.”
“I’ll leave it to your judgment. But you can call me that when we’re alone.”
A picturesque smile drew on Carlisle’s lips. It was his first genuine smile that didn’t seem to be a joke or a grim expression.
Elena stared dazedly at him for a moment, then soon came to her senses.
‘…What was that?’
She didn’t know anyone who smiled like that just because they were called a pet name. But he wasn’t done yet.
“We have every meal together. Unless you have other commitments.”
That meant seeing him every day. Usually couples in political marriages end up taking their own meals, and did not often meet face to face unless it was absolutely necessary. Of course, in Elena’s case, she intended to stay as close as possible to Carlisle to protect him. But she never imagined that he would suggest it first.
“I see. I accept your terms.”
She immediately agreed as it wasn’t a bad deal, but she wondered what he really wanted. After a moment of contemplation, she spoke again.
“Our contract is getting longer, so could you bring me a pen and some paper?”
Carlisle stood up then placed a pen and paper on the table in front of her. She carefully began to write down all of their conditions.
For some reason it felt like a very long day.