Updated: Aug 1
The Tension is real! What will Tara do? Is she going to accept to 'pay her debt'?
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Episode 142. About 10 Months (19)
I could feel a dangerous energy emanating from his body.
I was embarrassed by the fact that I had forgotten that Prince Kyle was a man until now.
No, not totally forgotten… something whispered inside of me.
My heart was pounding so wildly I thought it might burst out of my chest.
Oh, my God! Be still, my heart!
“Well, well, but wouldn’t it be a waste to spend such a precious card in vain...”
I pretended to be as casual as possible about this, hiding my flippancy as best I could, but this guy would never listen to my wishes.
His next words proved me right…
"No. There is no use more valuable than this one. I didn't know that this useless card you’d dealt me would bring me such a win in the future."
It was hard to take my eyes off Kyle's face. I still hadn't been able to get my thoughts back in order.
Until this morning, I had never even envisioned anything like this, and with this Prince even less... Actually, from the moment we met, this eventuality never crossed my mind.
Who would ever imagine such a thing? Who would ever think that this sharp, cold, brutal and meticulous Second Prince of the Empire could be romantically interested in Tara Elias?
Impossible. Me and the Prince who takes first place every year as the young lady’s heartthrob? … Preposterous.
Wide eyed, I instinctively stare at the barrack's door.
“Why, are you going to run away?”
Kyle's gaze was still upon me. From the moment he made the 'private request', it was difficult for me to stare at his handsome face, forcing me to admit his masculinity…
Besides, I could feel that he was enjoying the effects that his handsome face had on me while I was trying to avoid looking at it…
I didn't know where to look.
I settled for the edge of his ear.
“It can’t be. I am a woman of my word. By the way…”
"By the way?"
Ah… Why is your voice so deep again?
“Well… I don’t think physical contact can be the price of a request. Especially in the absence of two-way intentions, well, I don’t find it acceptable for you to ask such a physical contact unilaterally. That kind of intimate contact should only be performed when both parties are in agreement.”
Always quick on the uptake, the Prince, immediately understood my intentions.
“You don’t like me.”
“Rather than dislike… Hmm. It’s more along the lines that I’ve never thought of you as a man.”
I flattened the pleats of my pitiful skirt to avoid his harsh gaze.
Startled, I raised my head. He frowned slightly while looking at me.
“Why don’t you see me as a man?
My eyes widened, genuinely surprised.
How the hell was I supposed to answer that question?
"Even if you ask me like that… Ah! It isn’t gender related. It’s just there was no need for me to think about a possible relationship in the first place. So, I never saw you as a man but as a master to serve.”
He slowly pushed back from the desk, crossed his arms, and looked down at me.
I breathed a sigh of relief, lucky to get out of these hot waters unscathed.
But then what was this feeling… Never mind.
“So, you understand, right? That a 'private request' is different...!”
He cut me off mid-sentence.
“Then start thinking about me as a man from now on.”
“I don’t like it, but I don’t have the bad habit to forcefully impose my desires. So, I’ll put this ‘private request’ on hold for the time being.”
"Yeah, on hold. I'll do it when you're ready."
Oh… My God! What was he saying...?
My brain was short circuiting again...
“Your Highness. When you say: “I’ll do it when you’re ready”, are you forgetting what I told you just now or... Are you certain that it will happen, nevertheless?
"Huh. It will happen."
“Unbelievable. Where does that confidence come from?”
I couldn't help but fan myself to cool off the heat on my face.
Why did he add fuel to the fire?
“Why? Are you scared?”
There it was again, that devilish grin…
“I understand how it could be scary. You are still only 18 or 19 and you haven’t even made your societal debut yet... I was a little hasty... After talking with you on several occasions, I sometimes forget how old you really are... I apologize, so take your time. Well, however long it takes you... In the end, it’s a forgone conclusion.”
‘What did he just say!?’
“Why is that?”
“If you think about it for a bit with that nice head of yours, you’ll figure it out. Ever since I decided to become a Prince..."
I gulped down as I waited for him to speak. For some reason, I had a strong feeling that I was going to hear something I really didn’t want to…
Arms crossed, he leaned slightly forward towards me.
His eyes entangled with mine, making it difficult to avoid his intense gaze.
“I always got what I wanted. Whether it being something... Or someone."
"So, let me know when you're ready, I'm generous enough to wait for a while."
With those words, Kyle left the barracks.
Frozen by that threat, it took a while for me to come back to my senses and for my brain to start computing again.
The bottom line was that he likes me.
“Is this a confession or a declaration of war?"
And what was with the endless confidence of his...!?
At the same time.
He was halfway down the valley when Bernard found the burning hut.
He ran towards the direction of the black smoke but, by the time he arrived, the cabin had already been eaten by the flames and collapsed.
“Why this sudden fire… Is this the hut she found?"
Looking through the wreckage that was still spewing smoke, Bernard stopped dead in his tracks.
Lying on their side with their limbs intertwined, 2 corpses. Presumably, one was of an adult, the other one, a child.
Upon seeing the two charred bodies, Bernard immediately threw up and ran to the river nearby.
"Ha… What kind of bastard could be so cruel..."
As he was rinsing his mouth with cold river water, he saw knights coming up to the hut. They were the Second Prince's Order of the Phoenix.
"Elias’s Knight arrived first on the premises. His name is Bernard Smith, the axe is his main weapon of choice. He was looking around the Tillis Valley at his Lady’s request. Here is the investigation report."
In the investigation report that Walter gave him, the details of how knight Bernard went to the valley were written down.
It was just like what Tara had said.
"All right. Record all the other traces, and as soon as you get back to the capital, set up a team on this."
“Yes, Your Highness.”
Kyle went straight to the Emperor.
Sitting on the sofa in the drawing room, the Emperor quietly listened to Kyle's report, his gaze fixed on the chessboard. He asked:
"Is it Toulouse?"
"I can't say for sure, but I don't think it's Toulouse. More investigation is needed."
“There have always been assassination attempts. It's funny that this one was aimed at the First Prince, and not me. What do you think?”
“It is still under investigation. I will give you a detailed report once the investigation it’s completed.”
“So stiff. I’m just asking for your thoughts... I get it."
“I will cancel the hunting competition tomorrow. Would you like to have the party instead?"
“Go ahead. Because if I cancel the banquet as well after that assassination attempt, the nobles will use this to ridicule and gossip about me, saying I’m scared.”
"Yes, of course."
As Kyle was about to leave, the Emperor spoke again:
“The Empress went wild. She wanted to hold you accountable for what she sees as you neglecting your responsibilities for the hunting competition, so I had to placate her.”
“So, what did you say?”
“By the way, Kyle, I told you that she was going be there today. The Empress is not the kind of person you should ignore. You couldn’t properly guard the Hunting Competition. She was surprised and sad, as a mother, that you didn’t even enquire about her well-being after the incident... Even if I never saw a tear…”
Kyle opened his mouth, suppressing his emotions as much as possible.
“… Who is my mother?"
The Emperor took his eyes off the chessboard and looked at his son with a cold expression.
“Kyle. There is no denying that you are the Second Prince. It’s a clear fact that, as such, you should show respect to the Empress."
"What did she ask for?"
“You are still alone.”
“What are you talking about?”
“It is said that children do not know the hearts of their parents, because they do not have wives or heirs. Now that I'm old and I've come to the point of discussing the Crown Prince’s appointment, she said that we should choose a Crown Princess."
"It's not time yet."
“It is also said that the Toulouse family will vote in favor of your Talent Training System and cut your losses by not making the Hunting Competition incident public.”
‘Instead of trying to remove me from my position, they're trying to create my weakness.'
Kyle chuckled but didn't show it.
The Imperial concubines were entirely managed by the Empress's Palace. It was obvious that he would have a woman from a family suited to their taste as his wife.
He had a strong feeling of an upcoming crisis during this banquet.
“I also miss having grandchildren. So, I agreed. Of course, I also said that I would ask for your opinion on the matter.”
“Now that they’ve started this, shouldn’t you make sure that you can’t profit from this before answering, Second Prince?”
“It will be resolved over time, but I don't think time is on my side. Let me think about it. I can’t decide right away, of course."
Kyle walked out of the drawing room.
No matter what, this decree could not be arbitrarily enforced without the consent of the Prince.
So, he didn't worry too much about it, but his head was already throbbing thinking about how the Aristocratic faction was going to stir him up over this in the next coming months.
As soon as Helen found out that the Hunting Competition has been canceled, she rushed to see Theodore and immediately sent a telegram to Tara.
It went straight to Tara’s room.
Hiding in the corner of the room’s terrace, a man pricked up his ears at the maid’s fussy voice coming from inside.
After nodding a few times, he left his position and then waited in front of his master’s bedroom.
This was an urgent mission that had been assigned to him by his supervisor, so he had no basic information about the person he was monitoring. Therefore, he simply speculated that his target was a potential criminal.
After a while, his master, who had spotted him first, quickly approached and asked:
“Did anything unusual happen?”
“A telegram from the Stuarts. According to the maid, there will be a meeting tomorrow, afternoon since the hunting contest is cancelled. The time is 3pm. I didn’t hear the location.”
"Okay. Find the location.”
It was already late, and he hoped that there would be no more missions after this, but thinking that the target could be an important criminal, he steeled himself and didn’t complain.
Moreover, the master's voice was so harsh that he assumed that the person had committed a rather heinous crime.
“Yes, Your Highness!”
The man hid again on the target's terrace and, after monitoring for three hours, found out just as the target was going to bed, a little after midnight, that the meeting place was the mansion's Winter Garden.
It was just past midnight when the subject of surveillance fell asleep.
Next day, Tandra mansion Winter Garden
Just as Kyle entered the greenhouse, he heard laughter in the distance.
“Ahahahahahaha. You are really a fun person. Oh, my God. Oh, my God."
Approaching quietly, he saw her as he had never her seen before.
"The 3rd Aide... I never thought I’d see Lady Elias dressed up like that.”
Walter, who was with him, just admired her quietly.
"Yes. Your Highness."
“Is the Golden Spirit the first to be proclaimed when the selection of the Crown Princess begins?”
"Yes, it is.”
“Put in a request for an evening audience with the Emperor.”
"Yes, Your Highness."
The Prince's jaw clenched for a moment as he glanced at Walter who didn’t leave immediately after hearing his order.
He was still staring blankly at her as she was sitting at a distance.
"Ah. Yes. Your Highness."
As soon as Walter disappeared, Kyle slowly walked towards her.
The greenhouse was overgrown with trees dripping with vines, blocking their view, so they didn't even notice Kyle's presence.
"Ahahahaha. It's really... An interesting story I've never heard of... Ahahaha."
What was so funny that she kept on laughing like that?
‘Why do you keep laughing...?’
He accelerated towards the sitting couple.
End of Part 1