Updated: Mar 17
In which Tara tries to find her 'item' in the office of the annex Kyle is residing in.
This chapter is dedicated to Melenay, thank you for your support!
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Episode 18. 90kg (5)
An hour ago, Niels sent a signal that he had hid the item well. Only after hearing the confirmation did I go to the annex, where the showdown would take place.
Where was he? Was he working somewhere else?
I carefully looked around for Niels to reassure myself, but he was nowhere to be found.
It was strange how many times I had to wipe my sweaty hands on my skirt.
It seemed that about 10 minutes had passed since the knight entered the office, but there was no answer.
Well... It had only been 10 minutes...
[... Master Jason waited for 3 hours and was stood up, and Lady Aria sent him a letter that was thrown away immediately. Lady Chloe hasn't done anything yet.]
I was sure he'd be curious. Smart people get bored with predictable situations.
That was what I believed, but honestly, I wasn't 100% sure.
[... What if even 100 gold isn't enough?]
I swallowed my dry saliva.
His voice still lingered in my ears. I thought he was unusual for a criminal, but I never would've guessed he was the Second Prince.
Reflecting on the future, I waited for the knight to come out and give me the answer I wanted, pretending to be as calm as possible.
Finally, the knight came out.
"His Highness will allow you 15 minutes. Please step inside."
Yes! I was the one who could see him first.
The moment I stepped through the door the knight came out of, I regretted it.
Oh. I should've brought Bernard...
The man was leaning his elbow on the sofa's armrest and lightly supporting his chin.
I could read no emotions from his eyes. No, from the first glance, his indifferent gaze seemed to be mentally charting me.
He looked so natural here, as if the annex's office had been built for him from the start.
Why was it so hard to look him in the eyes for even a few seconds? I stood still for a moment, forgetting my reason for coming here.
"Are you challenging me to a staring contest?"
"I–I am the fifth child of House Elias, Tara."
Oh, I was stuttering again. Calm down, calm down.
"I didn't ask."
Ah. I didn't feel good. I felt like I had already lost.
“… Thank you for your time.”
"Well, you forced me to make time. You have 12 minutes left."
Look at him getting straight to the point. I had never met anyone this difficult.
I should calm down and not panic. I was going to do what I needed to do now...
Internally chanting the same words, I took two steps forward, lessening the distance between us.
"I–I will start my search then."
Damn, no reply. Did he think I wasn't even worth talking to?
I deliberately approached the office desk, and looked around. He persistently followed my actions with his eyes. It was seriously making my back and sides sting.
What appeared to be Ministry of Security documents were neatly arranged on the desk.
As if I had a letter addiction, I desperately wanted to take a look at the documents, but I controlled myself. I looked under the chair and the flowerpot next to the desk.
"It's not here. Haha..."
I was laughing like a fool.
His gaze was persistent, one you could notice without looking.
Ugh. It was really inconvenient, and more uncomfortable than anything in the world. It was driving me crazy.
I quickly looked under the bookshelf, pretending I was doing my best. I squatted with difficulty, holding onto the shelf to support my body.
Damn, this body.
I eagerly searched under the bookshelf, as if it was my one goal in life.
"It's not here either."
"… 9 minutes."
Oh. My, his voice was so creepy. A tone that sounded like I would be thrown out the door in 9 minutes.
I really didn't have time now. I had to settle it here. I internally swallowed a groan and got up slowly.
Then, I took a deep breath, turned around, and looked at the Prince again.
As if he had sensed something different in my eyes, his handsome eyebrows rose slightly, and then went down.
That was all. He still didn't say a word.
Dark gray eyes that looked mysterious at first glance, with a straight jawline and nose. Long black eyelashes. A long neckline that could be seen through his blue shirt... If it wasn't for that chilly expression...
Oh, what kind of behaviour was this? I was crazy, really.
I pulled myself together and approached the sofa. Step by step.
Prince Kyle Amure was still looking at me like that.
It felt like the heavy atmosphere would crush me to death.
Two steps in between.
"I think it's in the sofa. Could you please stand up?"
"What if I don't want to?"
It was working! He was starting to react. This was a partial victory.
"Then I can't find my precious item. I really need it today."
"Yes, I'm going to use it for tonight's banquet."
His monotonous voice, without highs or lows, was even eerier. Still, this is what I had expected.
"Pardon my rudeness. It's been a while since I lost it because I didn't need it, but I realized today that I had forgotten about it when I was looking for it for tonight's banquet. This is the place I traced it back to, so I had to take the liberty of making this request."
Huh? Why wasn't he talking again? Why was he so quiet and just looking at me? Oh, what an uncomfortable person...
"Do you have to..."
"... Have to find it now?"
"Please forgive me once again"
I bowed slightly to show my utmost respect.
"What if it's not in this sofa?"
"What are the grounds for your certainty?"
"I have a very good memory. Also, I do not act upon things I'm not sure about."
"... You overestimate yourself.”
"It remains to be seen whether I'm overestimating myself or not."
"But what if you are?"
"I will be punished for my disrespect. However..."
"If I'm not, I would like you to answer one of my humble questions," I provoked.
Commoners would've just moved out of the way to let me search. A noble would've called a servant to ask them to look for it, and a tyrant would've been angry at me for being disrespectful.
On the other hand, the Prince in front of me was a resourceful man, who used his head.
He enjoyed controlling the situation with his intelligence. Therefore, he would accept my offer out of curiousity, even though he knew it was a provocation. That was what I believed.
"Punishment... The crime of holding a Prince in contempt is sedition. A rather heavy burden. Do you think you can handle it?"
"There will be no punishment because I'm not lying. I'm not concerned about sedition."
"Really? Your arrogance has gone through the roof."
"It's not arrogance, it's the truth."
"... Yes. You boldly offered me a piece of gold. I thought it was confidence, but it turns out you're just reckless."
"What the... You asked if the item was there, Your Highness, and I said yes. If it wasn't, I would be punished, and if I was right, I merely requested that you answer my question."
I was puzzled for a moment.
It was definitely progressing in the direction I wanted it to, but what was this feeling that I was losing? What did he keep talking about?
However, my thoughts ended there because of the Prince's next words.
"Why should I? It's annoying."
His answer deviated from my prediction.
Huh... What? This wasn't right. Why was he being so difficult?
I shut my mouth again. His expression made it clear he didn't want to deal with it anymore.
I could hear ringing in my ears for a long time, and for a moment, my sight became clouded. I squeezed my eyes shut.
"Well, in that case, I'm sorry, but could you please stand up so I can find my item?" I asked carefully.
I decided to look for something I could escape this moment with first.
"You are not qualified."
"Could anyone who gives up so easily pass the Administrative Interview personally held by the Imperial family? I also overestimated you, young lady, when I told my knight to tell you that you had 15 minutes."
Only then did I realize. He was clearly different from the others. He was a master.
Like the Prince had said, I was overconfident of myself, having convinced Bernard with a shallow trick, fearlessly persuading Andrei Pitt with a blank check, and taking advantage of my father's leftover expectations to catch his eye a little.
It wasn't even shocking. From the moment I first entered this office, I had been overwhelmed by his demeanor.
Without saying a word, I was already lying flat on my stomach in front of the Prince.
He happily ignored what I said as a provocation. And I was acting like someone who had just given up on the battle.
It was pathetic. I felt like I was going crazy with the disappointment I had in myself.
But that was for a moment. I looked up at him, an idea flashing by.
This was my chance!
Facing the already very annoyed look in his eyes, I summoned all of my determination.
It was a mistake to try to provoke him with some clever trick. Such a man should have been dealt with in a straightforward manner.
"The item really is here. If you look for it after I leave, you'll know right away that it wasn't a lie. However, Your Highness, I made a mistake. I dared to judge you by my criteria."
"The item was an excuse."
"How straightforward. Let's hear it then."
"I think you know what my intentions are. I wonder if you know this, too."
There was no sound, but he nodded. His eyes seemed to show a little curiousity.
"My question is not what you believe it is."
"... You dare... read my thoughts?"
I waited. If this didn't work, I had to leave the annex empty-handed.
There was still time, but I didn't know when I'd be able to talk to him alone again.
I didn't even have a watch, but I felt like I could clearly hear the ticking of the clock.
His dark gray eyes were so calm, as if he was digging in my head.
Looking into those eyes was difficult.
Whoa. Why was he suddenly moving?
He rose to his feet in a flash.
He was tall. Damn it.
I gulped. My pride was hurt, since I had to tilt my head to look at him and take two steps back. But me looking up at him as he was looking down on me with folded arms was only one thing.
The Prince was 27 years old now. I was 33 years old in Korea.
He was a whopping 6 years younger than I was, he was supposed to be like a kid...
Never mind, never mind. I shouldn't be scared. He was 6 years younger than me.
"You have 2 minutes left. So, what's your answer?"
As expected, he was different.
"You think that I'm going to ask what the real purpose of your visit to the Elias family is."
"... It's so obvious that this is a waste of time."
"I'm not going to ask about that since I already know the answer."
"I've told you not to be arrogant."
I held back my glare.
"I already found out that it's 'bait'."
His calm eyes lit up for a moment.
Of course he'd be a little surprised. So was I.
I pretended to be relaxed, went to the sofa opposite to him and sat down.
I was nervous, but I pretended not to be. In order to negotiate, I had to at least know how to manage my expressions.
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