Chapter 01 – The Duke’s Daughter (1)
The prime minister of the Noin Kingdom, Duke Zariel had a single daughter.
She was a beauty who possessed silver hair and eyes as clear as amethyst. With nose that was not too high, a pair of beautiful coral lips, impeccable pure skin, and elegant nails polished by her retainers, she was a perfect lady whose every movement made onlookers sigh in awe.
The beautiful young lady who captivated everyone, Christina, as if a matter of course was the fiancée of the Noin Kingdom’s first Prince, Alberto.
With a stature that could draw every eye at an evening party, garbing his splendid physique trained in the military, he was beyond doubt an utterly good-looking man.
Surrounded by her childhood friends, Christina was pretending to have a pleasant time while she took a glance at Alberto from time to time.
She was seven years old when she became Alberto’s fiancée. Taking into account of the prince who has turned ten, the arrangement of his fiancée proceeded quite naturally.
When she first met him, Christina thought of him as a grown up boy. Without showing any reluctance, he would always smile gently while listening to her childish stories of her conversation with her friends, the currently popular sweets, or her favorite hair ornaments and jewels.
Yet, Christina thought all of them were naturally allowed, what with she being his fiancée. Above all, thinking that this mature and tolerant young man that she loved would eventually be hers, she just couldn’t help but be in high spirits.
Because──I’ve come to love him so much, Christina softly sighed.
After she turned fourteen and finished her social debut, Christina immediately favored grandiose cosmetics and dresses with lots of exposure. It was all in order to catch up even a little bit to him, who had rapidly grown to be a wonderful man after joining in the military training.
On the day she first showed him the dress which emphasized her breast, he was obviously flinching. Even though she thought that her different than usual makeup and dress were done beautifully, but he averted his eyes and then showed her a fake smile.
From then on, his attitude changed. The opportunity to be called to the royal palace decreased, and even when it was her fifteenth birthday, with the reason of being busy, he didn’t show up in the Duke household and only the present reached her house.
The present was a bouquet of pink rose, as well as a newly released hair ornament from a branded jewelry shop.
White lace and a bird’s feather, mounted with ruby and diamond, it was a pink rose hair ornament. When she looked at it, she somehow thought to herself, I’ve seen this somewhere before. Not as an advertisement for the new product, but in a much more different place.
When Christina tried to recall the memory, suddenly lighting passed through her vision. It was a clear day outside. No rain at all.
The lightning was in fact, only inside Christina’s eyes and head.
Christina then muttered with a trembling voice.
“It’s a lie…………”
── It is truly a despair……
This hair ornament was the one that was always being boasted in the evening party by that high-handed lady.
A poor commoner girl, losing her only blood relative and drifting around in the streets, she was then adopted by Marquis Schönhausen who secretly loved her mother, and thus throwing herself into the thorny path of the high society ─ the female dating simulation game ── [Clara and The Seven Colored Jewel]’s one scene.
Acting as the love rival for the one the players choose as their favorite among several handsome men ── that was exactly, Christina herself.
Like a flashback, the image of her previous self playing the game passed through her mind. Even though Christina was such a beauty, she was selfish, moreover in order not to be found by others, she used other people to harass the protagonist. Just before the event with the targeted character started, she would always come to obstruct, such an awfully calculating young lady.
Whether the memory of that entirely different world is mine, is quite questionable.
A woman who finished her job, ate her dinner, and then played the dating simulation game every night to relieve her stress. Even though she was completely unable to remember her own name, family, or cause of death, some fragments of the game content she played in that other world came to her mind.
The game world had seven routes. And the one appearing as a nuisance in all of them, was the Duke’s Daughter, Christina. The reason to that was all because, she would always ended up liking the man that the protagonist was trying to capture.
In other words, on top of Christina liking the First Prince Alberto at the moment, from now on Clara would appear, start liking Alberto, and then someday in the future she would become Alberto’s lover.
Christina who obstructed the romance between the protagonist Clara and Alberto, would have her engagement be relentlessly broken off in the middle of a party by the prince who was actually black-hearted.
If she remembered it correctly, he would dance with Clara, and Christina who was blinded by jealousy would splash red wine on Clara. However the prince quickly sensed it and protected her, making Christina defile the Prince’s white outfit before the presence of the public. The people who saw the scene would then leave it as a story of a foolish lady blinded by jealousy, making her unable to receive a proper judgment. Furthermore, after being told by the prince “I am disappointed in you“, she would then flee from the hall while crying.
Following the event, the lady who went missing for two years was finally found by the kind hearted Clara who searched for her in worry. After falling in love with a merchant from a suburban town and living together with him, Christina at last apologized for her past misconducts, and then Clara and the Prince married happily. It was a happy end for everyone. Such a gentle dating simulation game it was.
Unfortunately, since she didn’t have any interest in the game’s bad end she hadn’t played it yet, however there shouldn’t be any route that lead to her being killed by the Prince. Thinking that it was good in a way, Christina started feeling disgusted.
For her to be someday happy with an unknown merchant from an unknown place might not be bad either, however, at the moment the one Christina was in love with was Alberto.
But in reality, for him to not show his face even during her birthday, surely his heart has drifted away.
The appearance of Clara was around after Christina turned fifteen. Similarly fifteen years old, she entered the house of Marquis Schönhausen and then appeared in the ball without knowing anything.
Soon after, Christina heard from her gossip-loving mother about the story of Marquis Schönhausen recently adopting a daughter, and how today’s evening party was to be her debut.
That’s right ─ At tonight’s party, my beloved Alberto will meet my love rival Clara, and fall in love at first sight
It really is impossible for me not to sigh ──
Her friend who was a Marquis’ Daughter, Cindy, tilted her head. Tonight, her flaxen hair was done in a half up style, with braids on both sides of her head forming a circle and put up together at the back.
“Oh dear, Christy. What has happened for you to sigh like that?”
Next to her, the Count’s Daughter Elena shrugged her shoulder. Her dark brown hair hung loose on her back, with a gorgeous hair ornament decorating the top of her right ear.
“I’m sure, it is because His Highness is talking with other ladies so she is feeling lonely.”
After her fifteenth birthday, Christina’s makeup no longer showed off any lavishness as it changed into a modest one. She stopped wearing suggestive dresses, too, and selected a neat one, though it was still following the latest fashion trends.
Tonight, she wore an elegant cream-colored dress, a blue jeweled necklace, a pair of pearl earring, and without using any ornament on her hair, she only curled the tip a little bit and let it flow on her back.
I don’t feel motivated at all.
Tonight ── on this night, my beloved, His Highness, will be snatched away by Clara, a mere beauty who came out of nowhere without knowing anything about the high society.
──I hate it! I hate it so much it is unbearable……!
Taking out a handkerchief, she was so frustrated she almost gritted her teeth.
However, as Christina could not show such expression on her face, she just put on a frail smile towards her friends.
“After all, I am not able to talk much with His Highness…… As expected it is quite lonely”
“Oh dear, Christy, you are so adorable!”
“That’s right. If only you’d say it directly to His Highness”
Even while being teased by her friends, Christina’s gaze was still directed towards Alberto.
At every ball, even if she entered while being escorted by her fiancé, (since it was necessary to keep in touch with every acquaintance as well as the nobles), it was not possible for them to always be together.
Being the Duke’s Daughter she was, after Christina danced the first song with Alberto, the other gentlemen would come in a rush seeking to dance with her first.
──Haa……I cannot feel any love……
Naturally, his interest was almost zero when I was fifteen years old. From an early age, I have been behaving so selfishly, and just by realizing how I’ve always caused him trouble, it won’t help me regain his heart.
Even when Christina was thinking so much about Alberto, she followed the game her other self played, and accepted the fact that she could not do anything but to give up on him.
I don’t even have any intention to be a hindrance.
Originally, as a Duke’s Daughter, Christina’s pride was high, and she was not the kind of lady who would cling on to the man who had lost interest in her. If you do not crave me, I do not need you. Feel free to do as you like ── even when she said things like that, in truth her heart trembled and burnt with the flames of jealousy. Having such contradictory thoughts, she really was an adolescencent young lady.
A little while after the party started, Christina found the aforementioned Marquis Schönhausen. He was introducing his daughter to his acquaintances first. Being in the prime of his life, he had a slender face and brown hair streaked with grey which was combed down with oil. One glance at the man who wore high quality grey suits was enough to understand. At that time, she thought, the gentle face that showed his kindness, had for some reason a similar atmosphere to the one around Alberto.
Beside him, cowering like a frightened little squirrel, was that girl.
With vivid golden hair, eyebrows comparable to willow trees, blue eyes reflecting the color of the sky, and a pair of lovely pink lips. Wearing a pale pink dress, she was not an existence that stood out, but once seen, she was without a doubt a lovely lady that would surprised anyone.
Alberto was in a place not too far, yet not too close from where Christina and her friends were. It was a position where his conversation could only be barely heard by straining one’s ears.
Marquis Schönhausen shifted his attention to Alberto. Feeling the gaze, he lifted his head and returned a gentle smile to the Marquis.
“It’s been a while, Marquis Schönhausen……”
Even such casual few words were clearly heard by her. No matter where it was, Christina’s ears would never miss out on hearing Alberto’s voice.
The prince she met at the age of seven, when she immediately fell in love, and even after she turned fifteen she has not stopped loving him. She has always loved that deep and calm voice of his that brimmed with charm.
Christina tightly pressed her lips together.
After Marquis Schönhausen returned the greeting, in order to introduce his daughter that stood next to him, he put his hand on her back.
A light make up was applied on that innocent face. The lovely pink dress was accentuated well with the makeup, but her modest hair ornament adorned with white lace and bird’s feather was contrarily showing her purity. Her golden hair was reflecting the illumination of the chandelier, and when she smiled her blue eyes glistened with gleams of light.
Alberto looked down on her and slightly raised his eyebrow. Even though he had never failed to greet the other party no matter who they were, but for the first time he was at a loss for words.
With a fixed gaze, yet without any indecency on it, he stared at Clara and turned up a soft smile at her.
It was not the fake one he often use in the high society, but a genuine smile ──
Ku..Her stiffen throat emitted a small cry
“Nice to meet you, Clara-sama. It’s alright, you know, so please do not show such an anxious face. You will grow accustomed to it soon. If you’re alright with me, feel free to ask me for any advice anytime you want.”
Alberto’s sweet, gentle words. To have the prince offer a consultation personally was unprecedented before.
The love, has begun to start.
Christina turned her back, no longer able to see the perplexed look of Clara and of Alberto who flashed such a melting smile on his face.
“……It is quite unusual, isn’t it? For His Highness to do so”
“It seems so…… Christy? That girl, is she an acquaintance of His Highness?”
Interested in Christina’s gaze, her friends who saw their situation unexpectedly enquired her.
However Christina did not answer, only staring down at the table in front of her. On top of it, a mouthful size of exquisite snacks, fruit juice drinks, as well as wine were lined up.
Even though drinking alcohol was only permitted for those above sixteen years old, it was actually quite normal to turn a blind eye to the practice during the evening party. Christina who had been instructed to always behave like a lady had never tried her hand on it, however she thought that maybe at least for tonight, it should be permitted.
Cindy and Elena who had turned sixteen earlier than her, were already holding alcohol glasses.
Christina then took the wine glass that was diagonally in front of her.
“Ah, Christy you can’t have it yet!”
Ignoring her friends’ voices, she took a sip on the wine. The wine is unexpectedly sweet, and there is no unpleasant feeling even after I swallowed it. Although there is a slight hot feeling from the throat to the chest, it is still drinkable.
── After all, today should be the commemoration day of my broken heart. Her beloved Alberto. Even now she still loved him so much she wanted to jump into his arms and be embraced, so much that it felt painful, it felt lonely.
The prince who had always hugged her and kissed her eyes whenever she was crying ever since she was young. However, since who-knows-when, he never hugged Christina anymore. He wouldn’t kiss her, and he wouldn’t even meet her eyes either.
── Even though, I love him this much……!
The tears appeared on the corner of her eyes. As if to hide it, Christina closed her eyes and drank the wine again.
On her second sip, it feels like the situation behind her somehow began to waver.
She didn’t want to turn around as Clara and Alberto might still have a pleasant chat together. She absolutely didn’t want to see those beautiful obsidian eyes projecting only Clara alone in their reflection.
When she tried to have another sip, and raised the glass, suddenly a hand touched her hand.
From her hand, the wine glass was snatched away. The palm that took away the glass was a large, well featured palm of a man.
When she blinked, and raised her line of sight, above her was the face of her beloved Alberto. That pair of obsidian eyes was staring down on her without any emotion, and his slick jet black fringe drooped down covering one of his eyes.
Concealed by his tall body, Christina was completely hidden from the hall.
Standing behind Christina, Alberto who took away the glass asked with a slightly cold voice. “What are you doing……?”
Her shoulder stiffened in a startle. With her position of being a minor, to try drinking alcohol was completely inappropriate for a lady.
In the game, the talk about breaking off the engagement should be a bit later, but could it be that the story has gone out of order, and he will announced it tonight?
──How awful… Even though I want to be by his side just a little bit longer……
Affected by the alcohol, Christina’s head was lacking in composure.
Just by being stared at by his cold eyes, her eyes began to be blurred by tears. Without noticing Alberto who was taken aback, Christina casted her sight down.
“Because……because……” Christina’s clear voice, due to the influence of the alcohol became spoilt like, yet it was nothing but a lovable one. ‘I was jealous seeing you being captivated by another woman’, how could I possibly say it?
Alberto let out a sigh. He looked up and suddenly gulped down the wine he snatched while his jet black eyes fixated their gaze upon Christina.
Drinking the whole glass in one gulp, it was a reckless behavior unusual of him.
Even fearing that he would spill out some words, Christina just held her mouth and trembled.
Putting the empty glass on the table, he licked his wet lips in a bewitching manner. And then slightly, he raised the corner of his mouth. “You are such a bad girl, Christina. Doing such mischief, showing me such face, are you doing it on purpose?”
“…………?” Christina didn’t understand any of what Alberto said. With moist eyes, she tilted her head, and answered him with upturned eyes.
With a gulp, Alberto’s throat made a swallowing sound.
Caressing the cheek of the frightened Christina, Alberto sighed. “In a place like this……please don’t show that kind of face”
“──!” Having too much shock, Christina was on the verge of crying. Concluding she was told that showing such teary face in the evening party was a great annoyance.
If a teary face is annoying, then if I cry I will surely be hated.
── But, I already……
The tears on her beautiful amethyst eyes could no longer be held back, it emerged and seemed to spill at any moment.
Alberto lowered one of his eyebrow. “……Good grief” Muttering a small complain, he brought his face closer to Christina.
As it had been a long time since the last time she was kissed, Christina could only blankly look with rounded eyes.
Having the alluring lips filling all of her view, Christina tightly shut her eyes. She then sensed the feeling of the soft lips fall on her eyelid.
When she opened her eyes in surprise, the tears which almost spilled was once more wiped away by the kiss.
Not understanding what just happened, she pushed his chest away. It was at that moment she finally noticed how she had been confined inside his arms all of this time.
Alberto, not heeding Christina’s resistance, started to kiss her other eye, drying the tears, and gazed down on her.
“Have you stopped crying? What happened, it really isn’t like you. You still can’t drink alcohol yet, okay, Christina?”
More than the time when she was often being held before, his arms who had grown up felt like a secure place for her. His slender arms, before she knew, had became firm and covered in muscle.
As she stared back with a blank look to that collected smile, Christina realized she was being wrapped in his arms and a blush bloomed on her cheeks.
── So dreamy……Alberto-sama.
Christina’s eyes began to wet, however for a different reason than before. She finally received a kiss for the first time in a while, moreover to be even embraced by the grown up him.
When looked closely, that beautiful face was full of adult charm, and she suddenly felt a strange shiver as if she could be eaten at any moment.
Christina whose discernment had become somewhat strange due to the alcohol, unusually, spoke up her feelings honestly.
“I have been yearning for you, Alberto-sama……”
Alberto, who was being confessed to so suddenly raised his eyebrow and smiled wryly.
Covered by that back, the appearance of Christina drinking the alcohol was not seen by anyone, yet their hugging and kissing scene was being watched over by the public.
Watching over the intimate situation with proximity, Christina’s friends were blushing and gleefully squealing kyakya.
The conversation of the prince and his fiancée was not overheard by anyone. The prince who was being confessed to in full view of everyone, smiled gently.
“Thank you, Christina.”
Christina’s heart grew cold.
── As expected, I am no longer in Alberto-sama’s heart. Even after receiving my confession, my feelings are not returned.
Christina, showed a fleeting smile.