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Chapter 143

Updated: Dec 26, 2022


(Image to be updated)


In which Tara and Theodore Stuart meet for the first time over tea in the Winter Garden.


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Episode 143. About 10 months (20)


Tandra Mansion was in turmoil following the assassination attempt that took place during the hunting competition.


If you had to pick out the causes of the commotion, the first cause was the nobles and servants who gathered to talk about yesterday's incident whenever they had a spare moment. The second cause was that Prince Kyle had ordered knights to search every room in the mansion.


Many nobles and Imperial family members were visibly upset with his orders, but he couldn’t care less about their woes.


Among this group was Joseph, the Third Prince.


“Since he's an illegitimate child, it’s no wonder that bastard has no respect for the nobility or the Imperial family…” He growled as the knights left his room.


With only his face exposed, Hans's dark figure slithered out of the shadows.


He had entered the Third Prince's quarters through the back door, his entire body covered by a thick black coat.


He silently stood in front of Joseph, who was radiating arrogance, his hand politely held together.


Joseph's complaints left him indifferent.


If you gave it any thought, it was only common sense to search the whole mansion immediately after the incident occurred.


There was no way Joseph didn't know that, but it seemed like he was trying to vent his frustrations over what went wrong.


“…”


"Sheesh, he didn’t even manage to get one hit in.”


“…”


“Who would have thought that somebody would be able to stop a flying arrow? This is so ridiculous.”


"Sometimes things don't go as planned."


“Who doesn't know that? I'm frustrated because I don't know when another chance will come again!"


"Majesty. Opportunities need to be created. I’m actually worried…"


“What are you worried about? Kyle is indeed quick-witted but has no clue about the situation at hand.”


The Third Prince sat on the sofa and lifted his teacup.


“It’s all my fault, Your Majesty.”


Joseph pouted slightly as the cup reached his lips. He was satisfied to hear remorseful words coming out of that willful man.


“... Well, you already knew what type of person Kyle is. Next time, you'll be more careful."


“Yes, Your Majesty, I am truly grateful for your generous and benevolent nature.”


Even though he had admitted wrongdoing, seeing Hans’s slight smirk upset his stomach.


However, in a way, this was also not too bad because it meant he wasn’t too concerned with the failure.


Weren’t they both talented people united by common goals?


It would be difficult to find someone smarter, even in the Palace, to replace him at the moment.


Joseph got up and tapped Hans on the shoulder with a smile on his face, just as a benevolent monarch would do.


“Well, as you said, my uncle is looking for me.”


"Yes. Then I shall take my leave.”


"By the way… ?"


As Hans turned to face the back door, the prince mumbled as if he still had more to say.


“Yes, Your Highness.”


“If my uncle came to visit me in this case, wouldn’t he think I’m involved as well?”


“I have also planned for that. The Second Prince will not be deceived, but it seems that he will be able to stall for some time.”


"Oh. So? In what way?”


“Something rather unpredictable… After today's search, you'll find out soon."


"Yes. It’s better to wait and see than speculate. Until we meet again, then?"


"Your Highness, as I said before, please call administrators similar to me to visit you from time to time."


“Okay. But don't worry, I haven't called you since I came here.”


“Yes, Your Highness is very smart. But to fool people’s eyes it is better to mix things up a little, that way, it will make it difficult to figure out when I come see Your Highness for the time being. Once you return to the palace and become more active…!”


Angry, the Third Prince raised his hand and stopped Hans from speaking.


“I hate it when people become too insistent. I already know this. You are wasting a lot of my precious time, so please stop for today.”


“… Yes, Your Highness."


Hans finally left the Third Prince's chambers and raised his head.


His expression changed from pleasant to furious.


Clearly, there were eyes focused on the 3rd Prince. Even though he was aware of that fact, the Third Prince did not take the threat seriously.


To dismiss it as just being normal because of his position…


He wanted to…


Hans twitched and looked back at the doors from the chambers he just left.


“...”


Now was not the time to expose his existence. The best time to reveal one's position was when you know the enemy is at your mercy.


“You must sit on the throne, Your Highness.”


***


At the same time, in Tandra Mansion's winter garden.


The winter garden couldn’t dispense its usual tranquility due to the shrill laughter that continuously pierced my ears.


“Kyahahahaha. Oh my, my, you are so amazing! Oh my God, oh, hahaha.”


I tilted my head back and laughed out loud. Theodore, who had stopped and picked up his teacup, was handsome.


Ah. What a nonsensical sentiment this was.


That handsome face had been set in a perpetual frown ever since we met in the garden.


The more he scowled, the more outrageous and louder I got.


If Prince Kyle was the cool type, scholarly Theodore seemed closer to the kind type.


Using my throat in such a forced and unusual manner made it itchy, so I picked up my glass of water to take a sip.


“My dear Tara Elias. Do you usually laugh like that?”


His voice, which begged for a quiet break, screamed 'intellectual' to me.


Oh boy, he must've left a plethora disillusioned women in his wake… He reminded me of one of my exes.


"Yes. That's right. I have a very good laugh. It's said that smiles and laughter will give you a long and healthy life. Oh, hahaha."


My voice, having been raised an octave, was too harsh, even to my ears.


"Ah… Yes. There is such a myth… You also seem to enjoy talking.”


He meant I blabbered too much. I grinned inwardly.


“Oh, hahaha, that’s right. Conversation is the basis of human relationships!"


His handsome face frowned again.


‘Yes! I’m almost there!’ I shouted to myself as my fighting spirit increased.


Just one more push…


After taking a sip of tea, Theodore displayed a nice smile.


He was very patient.


“But why is your hand like that? Are you okay?”


I had put my hand in front of my mouth, trying to look as feminine as possible, but I used my wounded left hand by mistake.


All of a sudden, the incident in the barracks flashed through my mind.


Since that day, the memory of it came and went with no rhyme nor reason.


"Ah… Hahahahaha. It's okay. I'm fine. I tripped and fell. Because of the snow I didn’t see the branches underneath and hurt my hand trying to break my fall… Hahaha… At first, I didn't even feel anything, but when I saw drops of blood falling on the snow, it became painful. I’m such a simple person, right? Oh, hahaha, why is it that you feel pain only after seeing blood with your own eyes? Hehehe."


Theodore frowned again.


“Anyway, what do I think I am...?


(Honestly I didn't even know what I was talking about…)


"… Was not properly aware of…”


I spoke like someone that would say whatever comes to their mind, with neither filter nor forethought.


In between, I’d say something unfunny and laugh cheerily. Just like an uncle who played jokes that only he found amusing.


It was only yesterday that the Prince confessed to me, and my mind was still reeling under the shock.


It would be strange not to be affected.


[At some point, I started to wonder where you were and what you were doing.]


Just thinking about it made blood rush to my face. In addition to that:


[Since I decided to become a Prince, I've always gotten what I wanted. Whether it was something… Or someone].


Last night was hell.


I woke up repeatedly, and when I slept, the Prince kept appearing in my dreams, exceptionally handsome with his grey eyes flashing sharply.


[Especially if we meet in an unexpected place like today… I like it.]


Those sentences kept rolling through my mind like tidal waves all night long.


The guy who pushed me around while being cold and brutal, confessing that he liked me.


Wasn't it natural that I had never given it any thought?


He was now my direct supervisor. Literally, my boss. The person I would be assisting as his closest aide. In modern terms, he was the boss, and I was the secretary.


“… You?”


Ugh... I groaned in agony


Without realizing it, I stirred in my seat.


Then, I noticed the bright big blue eyes staring at me.


“…”


“What are you thinking about so deeply? I said it twice. Did you hear it?"


Only then did I sit up and focus again


I laughed out loud to be faithful to my character.


"Ah… Oh… Hahahahahahahaha. I'm so nervous. When I think of the injury, I relive the experience again and my hand feels like it hurts. I guess I was lost in the moment. Oh, hahaha."


Theodore said, "Oh..." And let out a light sigh, shaking his head.


Yes! Yes! Look at how disrespectful I am. Reconsider the next two meetings, please…


Still, I'd rather be here right now.


If I hadn’t met the Stuart's second son today, I’d probably be tormented by the endless replays of the Second Prince’s ridiculous confession.


***


Theodore Stuart. Theo for short.


He looked closely at Tara Elias, who kept talking loudly.


The first thing that caught his eye was the dark shadows under her eyes that even make-up couldn’t conceal properly.


And the mouth with a smile wide enough to put her uvula on display.


'Oh my God, her uvula.'


Theo tried to remember the last time he'd seen down a noble girl's throat.


It was the first time he saw one since watching a nanny breastfeed when he was young.


No, who else could experience the glottis of a young noblewoman belonging to one of the great aristocratic houses so closely?


She laughed and talked excessively, but then for a moment, she looked dazed as if lost in other thoughts and then laughed and chatted again as if nothing had happened.


He thought it was just rambling at first, but, oddly enough, it became pretty interesting once he focused on it.


If he looked past her obvious behavior, there was an interesting story going on here.


After taking a sip of tea, Theo smiled and waited for the right time to speak.


However, the time for Theo to speak never came, and his thoughts naturally drifted to the real meaning behind this meeting.


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