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Chapter 264

Updated: Dec 23, 2023



The tension comes dangerously close to popping


This chapter is dedicated to Pearsoup, thank you so much for your support!


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Episode 264. About 9 months (23)


It was clear what the Empress was trying to say. 


‘Look, it's only a trial. My family, and my beloved First Prince will solve this. As you gossiping aristocrats can see, I am in good health today.' 


While they were having a relaxed and constructive conversation (gossip) on various topics, the Chamberlain of the Empress' Palace rushed to them.


He had been on his way to the Treasury to request an additional budget for February. 


The budget for the Inner Palace would run out half-way through the month, so it was not uncommon to ask for more every month. 


After he asked the ladies for their understanding, they all bowed and walked around the greenhouse on the pretext of looking at the plants. 


The Chamberlain, seeing they were quite far away now, whispered quickly. 


"The position of Vice-Minister has been offered to a subordinate of the Second Prince, Your Majesty." 


"What?"


Despite the significant distance between them, the ladies' heads turned towards the Empress' high-pitched voice, and the Chamberlain lowered his hands twice as if to calm her down. 


"Your Majesty, there are many ears here." 


"How dare he take my baby's place? Why? When?" The Empress asked quickly in a hushed tone.


"A confidential notice was sent to the Ministry of Internal Affairs at the beginning of the month." 


"What? You mean to tell me that no one brought this news to me for more than two weeks despite the many people my brother planted there?" 


The Chamberlain had accidentally overheard it while walking to the Treasury. 


Normally when something like that happened, the information naturally came from Toulouse or from Jim Harriet, the First Aide to the First Prince. Otherwise, it came from the Third Prince, but his intel was always late. 


This time, however, it was all news to her.


"The Duke is not allowed to enter the Palace, and Jim..." 


The Empress was far more aware that Jim Harriet, the First Aide, had been banished to the salt mines than the Chamberlain, so he shut his mouth. 


"Where's Joseph? Isn't he at the Palace?" 


"He's been very busy lately. He's having a difficult time dealing with the various complaints of the nobility in the First Prince's stead. Moreover, he doesn’t want to neglect his duties at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He has a lot on his plate." 


The Chamberlain had always admired the Third Prince for bearing the brunt of the Empress' anger, and thus naturally spoke in his favour without prompting. 


"If it were the First Prince, he'd have handled the complaints with ease. The Third Prince doing a job he's not suited for must be tough." 


The Empress' tone softened as she pondered. Then, she gave an order to the Chamberlain. 


"I should've been informed though! Tell my brother to meet me at home right now. Joseph as well!" 


"Yes, Your Majesty. I will send word immediately."


***


Tara's room at the same time.


I was a little upset.


He hadn't touched me once the whole time we were together. As if he'd be in trouble if he did. 


We had stopped ourselves at Reese Castle, so I thought he would regret not having any skinship today. 


He turned around with a robotic grunt, and before I could think twice I was in front of him, my arms outstretched, blocking him. 


I wanted to say goodbye properly. Oh, my God. I squeezed my eyes shut, opened them again, and said half-heartedly, “Yes. Goodbye... That's right.” 


It felt like I was begging for a touch. Thoughts were running through my mind. 


Huh! It was completely different from what Bernard had said. 


He said it was all men could think about! Huh! 


That wasn't trueee! 


Well, it's not like I had directly asked for it or anything. 


For most people in a relationship, if you weren’t going to see each other for a long time, you would at least kiss and hug one another. It was an unspoken rule between lovers, like how when spring changed into summer, winter would soon follow. 


No. Where was the man who travelled down from Reese for my birthday and said he would've kissed me if it wasn't for Bernard being there?


What on earth had happened in the last few days to the man who had kissed me in a way that made my back arch when he came to my room again to give me information on Victoria? 


Or maybe?


I jerked my head up at the sudden thought. 


Was I just not that sexually attractive?


Did he tell me he wanted to wait until we were officially together because he wasn’t sexually attracted to me? 


Was that why he stopped half-way through in Reese Castle? 


Right. What kind of man would stop at that point? At the time, his words were so reasonable I had just believed it... Maybe it was because his desire had disappeared... Oh, my God. 


When my thoughts went that far, I squeezed my eyes shut. 


My mind was racing, but I couldn't do anything about it, so I decided to wait and see what he would do.


I didn't know how long I had been looking up at him like that. 


Kyle spoke very slowly. "Then... Should we say goodbye?" 


Ha!


He still approached stiffly, slightly stretching out his arms. I was stunned, but I did as he said and played along. 


"..."


"I'm going to miss you, Tara."


"..."


Kyle gave me a quick hug and kissed me on the forehead, barely brushing it, and then immediately pulled away as if burned. 


Look at that! It wasn't even on the lips, and he only grazed a few nerves on my forehead before he moved away!


I simply stared up at him. 


"I'm going to add an escort knight. In case of an emergency, I will contact you through the escort knight, but you shouldn't know who he is. If you find out his identity, I'm sure you'll become conscious of it." 


"..."


"I hope you'll always be with Bernard when you go out, and make sure to carry your axe with you." 


"..."


"Tara?"


"... I have a lot to say, but I won't."


"Tara..."


"I don't want to be the odd one out in this situation." 


Without meaning to, the words came out bluntly. 


"Because of my attitude... You're angry." 


"What's wrong, really?" 


"It's nothing."


"No. It's not nothing, there's very, very much something. What the hell are you thinking, Kyle?" 


I looked up at him in frustration, but he avoided my eyes and re-directed his gaze to a spot on my temple. 


"..."


I could hear last brain cell snapping. 


I shouldn't think about it too much and just say it! 


"If you start behaving like that out of nowhere, I'm going to think it's because of me." 


"No way. Whoa." 


He roughly ran a hand through his hair, and then, grabbed my shoulders and looked me in the eye as if he had made up his mind. 


"Really? What is it then?" 


***


Kyle stared at her face and pondered again. 


He might not see her for a long time. Of course, he could meet her publicly, but he'd keep that to himself because it was up to him to avoid meeting her as much as possible. 


She, his woman, hated to be left with questions. She would find the answers one way or another, so it was best to be honest with her right now. 


Of course, it was harder than ever to be honest about himself now. 


"Tara. It's because of me." 


"...?"


She tilted her head and stared at him with furrowed brows. 


"Your Highness, what's wrong...!" 


And then her face turned red. 


After averting her eyes, she slowly looked up at his face. 


"... Yes, that's right." 


She blinked a couple of times in that state and vigorously shook her head. Then, as if she had made up her mind, her eyes steeled. 


"No, I want to hear it exactly. Kyle, what's wrong?" She asked.


"... Not today." 


"Not today?"


"I won't be able to keep it at a kiss. To be honest, even a simple touch will be difficult, so if I kiss you goodbye... I won't be able to keep the promise I made to you and myself." 


She gulped. Then, very slowly, her small, full lips moved seductively. 


"Do you always keep your promises?"


"Yes."


"You've never broken them?" 


"... Whenever possible." 


"So what you're saying is that when the situation changes, you break them?" 


"That's right."


"Is getting drunk such a situation?" 


"... What?" 


"Does the situation change if it's because of alcohol, because you're not sober? If you put the blame on that drink..." 


"Then...?" 


"In such a case, I'd understand going back on your word once in a while." 


"What? What's that supposed to mean...!" 


"I know it all. Everything. So..." 


She clutched the front of his shirt, with considerable generosity. Then, she raised herself on the tip of her toes. As if possessed, Kyle could do nothing but stand still as she did. 


The sweet scent of her body tickled his nose. 


"So...?" 


Perhaps that was why he was whispering, repeating her words. 


Then, his intelligent woman, the Elias who had learned so much during her studies, looked at him without blinking an eye and whispered. No. She commanded. 


"My virtuous Prince, won't you lower your head a little?"


Kyle's eyes widened before darkening indescribably. 


It was an overt provocation. 


"Damn. Tara. Right now..." 


She was so close he could feel her breath, he had to use every ounce of self-control to keep himself from gripping her shoulders. 


"What now?" She asked lightly, as if she was completely oblivious. 


"This is different from Reese Castle." 


He struggled to speak, and his voice came out low and raspy. 


He wouldn't be able to control it once it began. 


***


I had no idea where this courage was coming from. No, it wasn't courage, it was pure instinct. Did that count as courage? 


Oh, I didn't know. 


It didn't matter if it was courage, instinct, or whatever else you could call it. 


The handsome man in front of me was telling me he could hardly bear how much he loved me. How could I endure having to hear him struggle to express such things, with that face? 


He had bulldozed me when he first confessed, but now he was trying to control his desires, having reached its limit, for my own sake.


How could he be patient like a monk in a monastery when this was a moment from a fantasy? 


I must have saved a few countries in a previous life.


Ah. I'd been too busy when I was Yeonwoo. Then perhaps I'd saved a few countries in the life before that.


I'd ask again if he didn't answer. 


"This time... I won't be able to stop half-way through." 


My lips had captured all his attention. 


"That's exactly what I'm hoping for." 


"... Damn it." 


His voice was harsh, low, like a growl. 


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