Ch. 51 The Sharpest Sword (1)
The food brought by the the restaurant staff was the best on offer. From appetizers to the main course, it all lavished the senses exquisitely. The variety of foods was so great that some of the meat and seafood were completely unknown to her.
Elena tasted everything, but she ate carefully so as to not show the contents of her mouth as she chewed. Carlisle closely observed her as she ate.
“You look beautiful when you eat, too.”
Elena choked on her mouthful. She quickly picked up her glass and drank from it, calming her stomach.
“I appreciate what you’re saying, but…it’s uncomfortable if you keep looking at me like that.”
“My eyes can only face you, so where else should I look?”
Elena couldn’t find anything to say. One would naturally look across at the person they were dining with, but it was normal to avert one’s eyes after hearing this. She never expected his answer, let alone one said so brazenly.
Instead of saying anything, she faced Carlisle looking straight at her. Maybe it was time to start the conversation. Dinner was coming to an end, and now was the time to get some answers.
“Do you remember when you said you’d answer my question last time?”
She couldn’t tell whether he didn’t really know or if he was pretending. She wouldn’t be teased with his vague answer, so she decided to confront him directly.
“According to you we met a long time ago. You said you would tell me about it when we met again, so tell me now.”
She held his gaze unblinkingly, and Carlisle was unable to contain a smile.
“Well, I have to keep my word.”
He murmured reluctantly as he placed down the fork he was holding.
“When I was thirteen, I saw you at the palace.”
She cast her mind back. She seldom traveled from Blaise castle in the southern region to the distant capital, though one of her favorite memories from a young age was going to the capital to visit the palace. However, there was no sign of Carlisle in those few memories.
Elena was quiet for a moment, then spoke to Carlisle wonderingly.
“…Is that it?”
“Then what do you want me to say?”
Elena was lost for words. It didn’t make any sense that he would be so generous to her because of a chance encounter. She wondered if she really did meet him in some dim, forgotten memory. It didn’t make sense to have this kind of relationship after meeting each other at thirteen years of age.
Tonight, Carlisle already purchased a private box at an opera and rented an entire restaurant for a private dinner. He also had given her a highly skilled subordinate, Kuhn, and commanded him to obey Elena’s every order.
No matter how much she thought about it, these weren’t simple favors for a contract marriage partner.
Elena needed him to explain.
“Did we really met when we were thirteen?”
“So the day I remember was in reality the second time we met?”
“Yes. The day you saved my life.”
She was so stunned she almost accidentally knocked the table. None of her questions were solved. Why on earth was Carlisle so good to her?
She stopped trying to guess the answer to her questions. There was only one way to find out for sure. She had to ask Carlisle himself.
“Please answer. Why are you being so generous to me?”
Carlisle was not simply dealing with someone who signed a contractual marriage with him. At first she had wanted to see what he would do, but as time went by she was more curious.
“We met once when we were thirteen, so it doesn’t make sense to treat me the way you do.”
“No more clues.”
“You have to think about the rest yourself. Otherwise, it’s too much damage for me.”
Damage? For what?
Elena’s eyes brimmed with questions. Carlisle replied in a reverent tone.
“The first time I met you was the most memorable moment in my life. I wish I could go back to it.”
Elena felt as if she had been struck on the head. Why did Carlisle have such a powerful memory? One thing was for sure–no matter what kind of a meeting it was, it was still clearly engraved in Carlisle’s mind.
She had more to ask, but she bit her lip and held back. She didn’t think he would tell her more if she asked him anyway.
Thirteen years old, at the palace.
There was no other clue, so she really had to find out for herself.
“…Alright. I’ll find out the rest according to the clues.”
“I look forward to it. “
Carlisle smiled contentedly at her reply. When the meal appeared to be over, the waiter hurried over and began clear away the dishes from the table. Then the waiter placed a several delicious-looking desserts in front of them.
She stared the the desserts, thinking back on the conversation she just had with Carlisle.
“Don’t you have another question for me?”
“The ball gowns. Don’t you need them?”
“Oh. Do you happen to know a dress shop where I can obtain them?”
She had been lost in her thoughts until Carlisle interrupted her. Elena looked at him expectantly, and Carlisle replied, the corner of his mouth lifting up.
“No, I don’t think there are any available dress shops in the capital city right now. They’re so full of orders that you’re unlikely to get a dress made even if I force them to.”
Elena’s mind turned back to worry again. She would find another way, but even Carlisle said the task would be difficult. Bitterness welled up in her throat when she remembered Mirabelle’s disappointment. In the worst case, she would be forced to abandon her official first meeting with Carlisle.
“If you don’t mind, there is one way.”
“What is it?”
“Look for dresses that have already been made. Something slightly different from your size, so it won’t be too difficult to make alterations.”
He was right. It would not be easy to find someone to make alterations, but it was not as demanding as creating a completely new dress. And if there were no availabilities, the Blaise maids could do it themselves. Last time, Elena had worn a dress made under Mirabelle’s leadership for a tea party.
Even if altering a dress wasn’t too difficult, obtaining a dress to be altered in the first place was. Most nobles preferred custom-tailored clothes rather than ones already pre-made. Even the samples were hung on mannequins could not be bought as a new product.
Premade or already worn dresses could be fetched at low-to-medium prices, but the ones of decent quality would likely already have been picked up by poorer aristocrats, even if the dresses had been worn a hundred times.
The royal ball. She could not afford to wear something inferior. Time was extremely short, and finding a dress that wouldn’t bring shame to House Blaise was difficult task.
“I’m sure you know this, but it won’t be easy to get an already made dresses, either. “
“You don’t have to worry about it. I’ll get them for you.”
Elena’s eyes widened. Come to think of it, Carlisle said he obtained jewelry and clothing as spoils of war. She had assumed they were different from something one would wear at a ball.
Carlisle noticed Elena’s uncertainty and continued.
“I don’t like other people looking at you, but I don’t intend to disappoint my woman.”
Elena paused, not knowing how to respond when he called her “my woman.” But apart from the sentiment, his suggestion sounded convincing. So far, Carlisle had never broken his word and trusting him hadn’t failed her yet. She had no other options anyway, so Elena nodded.
“I would appreciate it if you could help me.”
Carlisle replied immediately, as if he anticipated her response.
“There is a condition.”
“Whatever I send, you can’t say anything against it.”
She felt uncomfortable about this vague condition, but was not in a position to refuse. She didn’t care what the dress was for the ball. As long as she had one, she could carry out her plans and Mirabelle wouldn’t be let down. After mulling over it for a moment, Elena nodded.
“Alright. No matter what kind of dress you send me, I won’t protest. If I don’t think it’s fit for the ball, then I might just not wear it.”
“I don’t mind. Then I’ll send someone to your residence as soon as possible.”
She didn’t know what he was going to send her, but she was still relieved.
Elena tasted the ice cream served with a more relaxed look on her face.
The guard, who briefly entered the restaurant at Carlisle’s call earlier, reappeared. Carlisle’s brow furrowed slightly at his sudden appearance, but spoke in a casual voice.
“I told you not to interrupt. What’s going on?”
The man quickly strode over from the doorway. He then gave a slight bow to Carlisle, speaking in a whisper.
“Kuhn handled one rat, but he missed the other.”