Chapter 03 – The Duke’s Daughter (3)
Fate is really mean. Christina put her chin on her hand while cursing the God of Fate.
Despite enduring her irritability during the tea party in the royal palace, after all it still ended with an impression as if Christina was blinded by jealousy and had dirtied Clara’s dress.
Even though the Queen and Anna were watching from the beginning to the end, there was no guarantee that they would be able to explain accurately since they were in that kind of condition.
Rather than having a strange expectation, it was easier to think pessimistically.
As if in proof, since then there had been no contact from Alberto, no interaction at all.
In the one months time after that tea party, Clara and Alberto had been steadily meeting over and over again, it was a period for raising his favorability rate. It was possible to visit the royal palace to study, and if she didn’t choose the wrong option during the conversation, she would be able to meet him by coincidence in the city and then have a short date.
If his favorability went up, Alberto would start sending her presents, popular sweets, bouquets, and on top of all that he would even give a jewel.
Christina who was unable to go on a date would start pulling some strings, so that Clara’s coach could not move, and to prevent them from meeting in the royal palace she would pay a visit to the Prince on the same day. That was how it progressed inside the game, but of course Christina would not imitate such things.
Even if she did it, to make up for the unusable coach, the Prince was going to use the royal palace’s exclusive coach to meet her, and for the event of meeting in the royal palace, the Prince would choose Clara.
When Christina participated in a tea party, sometimes, there would be talk about the Prince. A few days ago it was hair ornament, and on the other day the present was confectionery. She would hear some very detailed information, which made people doubt whether someone was actually keeping a lookout on them.
Tonight, Clara would be invited by the Prince for a dance, and it was an evening party event where their relationship would be widely known. Later, on the terrace where she previously offered a drink to the Prince during the break, she would run into Christina. Seeing how they were alone together again, Christina flew into a rage, and she slapped Clara’s cheeks, the Prince would nurse her, and their love would deepen more, it was that kind of melodramatic developments.
Sitting beside the window and staring at the sky listlessly, Christina was softly called by the maid. “Ojou-sama…… You should prepare soon”
Christina let out a sigh and gloomily smiled. “You are right……”
The silver hair that glistened under the light came in through the window, and the sorrowful amethyst eyes shone. Enlivening her white skin was a pair of coral lips, which contrary to her feeling, was gently forming an arc. Overflowing with charm, as if a perfect Goddess had descended, her appearance could only be described as divine.
Overwhelmed by such beauty, the maid blinked and forgot to move, but she instantly remembered her own job and managed to prevent herself from being thought of as suspicious by her master.
According the regular practice, Alberto would come to the Duke Zariel’s house to pick up Christina.
After she was informed by the butler of his arrival and led to the entrance hall, there was Alberto, who was dressed in navy blue outfit today.
He quickly glanced at Christina from the top of her head to the tip of her toes.
Today’s dress was using fabric weaved by silver and blue thread which seemed to give off a peculiar luster. When seen, it would look blue and yet at the same time also silver. Since she had no time to style her hair, she let it flow on her back, and chose a pearl hair ornament that she usually used.
He, with no different than usual, showed a gentle smile. “Christina, it is a very beautiful dress today too……”
Looking at him, seemingly not remembering anything about the tea party’s incident and keeping his unchanging expression, she felt a burning sensation on her chest. During this one month, even though he could not make time to meet Christina even once, he repeatedly met Clara and sent her gifts.
How dare you put on such a refreshing smile. To prevent herself from making a ruckus out of it, Christina nonchalantly averted her gaze, and then did a curtsy. “It is such an honor to receive your praise, Your Highness”
Now, she even hesitated to call his name. She couldn’t call the country’s prince who eventually would be stolen by another woman by his name as if he belonged to her.
“…… Let’s go.” Alberto’s hand was held out in front of her eyes, and Christina gloomily took that hand.
He smiled while gazing down at Christina, who shined like the Moon Goddess, but it was not noticed by her at all.
Inside the carriage, were Christina and Alberto, as well as the maid and his attendant. The interior of the royal palace’s carriage was wider than the normal carriage, and even if four people rode on it, it would not be cramped at all.
Alberto, for some reason, made Christina sit beside him. Even though they would usually sit facing each other, which made the maid and the attendant a little surprised, but there was no sign to indicate that he cared about such things.
The maid who wanted to sit beside her, criticized him for being vulgar, and from then on the mood worsened, although he previously would only sit beside her when she seemed to almost throw a tantrum.
Perhaps, he thought that Christina was in a bad mood.
She hated him, he who might just neglect her if she was not in a bad mood and then engross himself with Clara, and to go to the party would only cause her to be depressed again.
Christina refused to meet his eyes and have any conversation, she shifted her attention to the scenery of the town which could be seen from the small window.
“What did you do today, Christina?”
“…… There is nothing special”
When she replied curtly, a wry smile was heard. As if humored by a selfish lady, it was a mature laugh.
“Then, were you pleased with the flower I sent the other day?”
Come to think of it, a few days ago the butler told me that some flowers arrived.
When she asked whether there was any card attached to it, the answer was no, and after taking a glance at the flower she told him to remove it. The butler asked for a confirmation whether that was really okay or not, but her feelings had sunk after hearing the rumor that Clara was receiving such presents every week.
If the flower from Alberto was to be displayed in her room, she would cry from the bitterness and adoration of it. Therefore she feigned ignorance and requested for it to be displayed in a place that would not be seen by her.
Christina answered indifferently.
Suddenly she felt his breath close to her ear. When she tried to move away in surprise, his big arm circled around her waist, and pulled her closer instead.
Christina’s eyes opened wide and stared at Alberto. The maid and the attendant also looked surprised.
He charmingly smiled, and whispered softly at her ear. “Do you remember, what kind of flower was it?
“…………” Christina glossy lips, unable to answer, were slightly open. Moving his gaze to those lips, he muttered.
“I knew it, I shouldn’t have sent a flower……”
The petal-like lips were pressed tightly. Even if you regret sending the present, to express it like that, you are so cruel.
With a gentle looks, he gazed at Christina who suddenly paled.
“Next time, I will send you a different one, Christina. Just like what you love, a more expensive one.”
“── Did you think that as long as it was expensive I would be pleased?” For Christina who fancied the latest fashion, everything she chose certainly had high quality, however it did not mean that there were only expensive things. She never thought that something was good only because of its high price.
By Alberto’s way of speaking, it seemed as if Christina was a fool who judged the value of a thing by its price.
He let out a chuckle and smiled.
Christina’s cheeks turned red and then she turned her face away. Her smooth white nape, was exposed in front of Alberto’s eyes.
Her silver hair was softly brushed away. Feeling the sensation of a finger touching her nape, Christina turned around, and in the next moment her body froze with a startle.
“You are such a bad girl…… To trouble me like this” Alberto, while whispering in a soft voice, gave a kiss to Christina’s nape. The kiss on her nape made a chu sound, and her body stiffened up from feeling this kind of sensation for the first time.
“Yo……Your Highness……? Ah……”
She tried to push away his chest in a startle, but without minding it, he buried his face on Christina’s nape from the front. While being watched over by the attendants who were unable to react to the sudden situation, he kissed Christina on the back of her ear, her nape, her neck, and her collarbone one by one, then finally to her who stiffened up and who was unable to react, he gave a kiss on her chest.
Looking at Christina who became bright red and kept on opening and closing her mouth repeatedly, he smiled bewitchingly.
“If you keep on being so cute……sooner or later, I’ll eat you, you know……?”
“…………Ye, yes……” She didn’t understand what did he mean by eating her, but pressured by the black aura he emitted when he waited, Christina could do nothing but to nod in return.
When he kissed my chest, he nonchalantly groped my breast──Although Christina was in extreme confusion, only the sensation of his touch on her breast was clearly vivid.
At the party, after she danced the first song with Alberto, as always she would dance with the other men.
Even though in the carriage he gave me kisses like a lover would, but as expected he is still interested in Clara. Even now he, together with Emil, are chatting pleasantly with Clara.
She fell into a melancholic mood, lowering her eyes, she let out a sigh. Before her listless sigh and amorous expression, her dance partner gulped. When she heard a gulping sound, she raised her gaze and met his eyes.
To be preoccupied with another man while dancing, I have been impolite. Christina, with the intention to apologize, smiled gently.
The man opened his eyes wide and blushed.
It was a reaction that she often saw these days, but without minding it Christina kept on performing her dance steps. Somehow when they look at me, the men will blush. Although she understood and thought it seems they are being shy, but she would also think even though I don’t have any intention to stare at them that impolitely, and each time, she would find it to be a mystery.
After dancing several songs, the tired Christina flawlessly refused her next partner and headed towards the direction of her friends. Cindy and Elena were looking here, but their attention was directed towards Christina’s rear.
“Oh dear, that person. She is still talking with His Highness”
“You are right. Even though the people who want to speak with His Highness are waiting around them”
Receiving a drink from the waiter, Christina turned around, and felt as if her insides were being gouged out.
This country’s prince, who possessed neatly jet black hair and gentle obsidian eyes, was completely mesmerized by Clara.
With her eyes sparkling and her cheeks flushed, the beautiful girl who talked to the Prince with all her might was wearing a pink dress and a simple hair ornament today as well.
To the girl who spoke to him happily, Alberto was smiling gently and made agreeable responses. Although usually, if there were people waiting around, he would finish the conversation to a certain extent and move on to the next person, there was no sign of it today.
Christina tilted the glass and swallowed the sweet liquid.
“…… It must be a very pleasant conversation. There is nothing to mind. Moreover His Highness also looks very happy”── Aah finally, Alberto-sama will be stolen away……
Even while she was seething with anger, Christina’s voice was not discomposed, and her manner was still as elegant as always. When she uninterestedly averted her eyes, the orchestra started playing the interlude for the next song.
Christina raised her gaze. Alberto was, in a very natural gesture, inviting Clara to a dance.
“His Highness is the one that invite her for a dance……”
Her friends who raised their voices in a surprise, quickly held their mouths and awkwardly looked at Christina. Christina was elegantly smiling.
“It is not such an unusual thing. His Highness surely has times when he wants to dance.”
Even though she showed a composed attitude as if saying that there was nothing to be minded, her friends realized that she was only pretending to be tough.
He who was known to never decline any invitation from the ladies, the first Prince of Noin Kingdom, Alberto. On the other hand, he was also famous to never invite anyone for a dance himself. Other than Christina, he would never call out to other women.
For that kind of him to request a partner by himself, she must be a considerably important person for him.
Without looking at Alberto who was inviting that girl in the center of the hall, Christina turned her back.
“……I’ll go to enjoy the night breeze a little bit”
Even though anxious voices were heard from behind, she didn’t turn around. If she turned around, even if she didn’t wish for it, her eyes would start searching for Alberto, and then she would be forced to see Clara who was dancing together with him.── The cruel person who steal him away from me……
Clara who was innocently beaming with smile. The young girl who did not know anything about the noble’s world and could only have naive thoughts that belonged to the common people.
A person who is exactly the opposite of me──For Alberto to be attracted to her was natural. As the prince of a country, he had always mingled only with the nobles, and for that kind of him, she looked special. Since he didn’t know anything about the world of common people, her stories should all be enjoyable and interesting.
── It is not fair. The world she lived in is so different from me…
Since she was a child, Christina who was to be the country’s queen had trained hard at her education, etiquette, manners of the royal palace, pride as a noble to protect the people, as well as dignity. However, she still knew nothing about the life of the common people.
When she thought ── how to become a queen who brought prosperity to her people, she eagerly studied, she learnt what state the country ought to be, she even asked her father who was the Prime Minister to teach her. Even so, the field of the fight was different, and she was not reflected specially in those eyes.
If that’s the case, it is much better for me to just step aside.
The terrace connecting the garden and stairs of the mansion where the party was held, was lit by outdoor light, and compared to the hall it was quite dim. However, Christina was now grateful to the doubtfully visible light. Since my face is surely being distorted by jealousy right now.
Holding the glass with one hand, she gazed at the garden from the terrace’s railing, lovely pink flowers were blooming on trees and it was their best time. “…… It is so beautiful……”
“Rather than thousands of blooming flowers, you look far more beautiful”
Suddenly being called out, Christina looked up to the man standing beside her. He was a handsome man in his mid-twenties that possessed flaxen hair and amber eyes. His slightly drooping eyes, looked really gentle. Christina thought whether she had met him somewhere before, but she couldn’t remember.
Taking Christina’s feeling into consideration, the man laughed in a friendly way.
“I am the aide of Malt Company’s president, Franz Malt. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Christina-sama.”
“Ah……Have we exchanged greetings before……?”
Malt Company, presided by Count Malt, was a long standing shop competing for the title of number one or two in Noin Kingdom. A shop dealing with various goods from jewels to rare fabric, today’s dress was also using that Malt Company’s product.
By naming himself as Malt, he might be the son, but Christina didn’t have any memory of meeting him before. However, if he had actually greeted her before, then she would have been discourteous to him. Lowering his eyebrows, he shook his head.
“No, today is the first time I greet you. I was often busy with the company’s matter, so I rarely attended this kind of evening party. Since the lady of Duke Zariel is extremely famous, I one-sidedly know of you. I am really sorry to have impolitely called your name like that.”
His smile was very amiable, such that even if he called her name before she introduced herself, there was no unpleasant feelings.
Christina’s disturbed heart, was slightly healed, and she softly smiled.
“No, please do not mind it and just call out to me. My dress today was also the goods of Malt Company. I like it very much.”
He casually confirmed Christina’s dress and nodded.
“Certainly. That fabric is the one we handle, the latest product isn’t it? It is such an honor to have it worn by Christina-sama. But of course, in front of your beauty any dress will just go pale in comparison.”
As the famous first prince’s fiancée, Christina had a limited experience of being praised by an opposite sex. The compliments she heard were only the praises Alberto said every time they met, and she had never heard any pick-up line before.
To that first experience, Christina’s cheeks blushed.
“There is no such a thing……”
Since she didn’t know how to reply in the right way, she averted her eyes that openly showed bewilderment.
“My, I was only telling the truth, though. Even just now, seeing you gazing at the garden from this terrace, I reflexively called out to you. As you were illuminated by the moonlight, you looked like the Moon Goddess herself”
To that exaggerated praise, Christina could only return an innocent reaction. When she blushingly looked up, he nonchalantly combed Christina’s hair.
“This dress that was reflecting the moonlight, as well as your silver hair that was emitting faint light, created such magical spectacle. Even though I wanted to keep looking at that beautiful spectacle……I discovered your clear eyes were dyed in sorrow and I couldn’t just leave it alone, please forgive me”
To that ‘sorrow’ word, she remembered her feelings.
When she thought of her beloved prince infatuated with Clara, her chest creaked. Christina’s eyes started to be blurred with tears. As she couldn’t show her tears in front of the man she was meeting for the first time, Christina turned her face towards the garden in a hurry.
“You really are…… an adorable lady……”
When she looked at him who muttered those few words, he gently smile and went away. When she thought that he who suddenly went away was strange, on Christina’s field of vision, the figure of a black haired handsome man was reflected.
It was surely time for them to appear at the terrace. Alberto who was accompanied by Clara was walking this way. This was the scene where Christina, driven by jealousy, slapped Clara’s face.
Although she thought that maybe she should just behave like in the scenario, but when she saw Alberto’s gaze that stood still near to her, her face stiffened up.
A cold gaze that she has never seen even once before, was piercing Christina.
Clara who was beside him, with a gaze full of out-of-place expectation, was looking at Christina.
“What are you doing……Christina?”
Even if she understood that she was being blamed, she could not find out what she was at fault for.
Moreover, that person was unashamedly accompanied by a lady other than his fiancée.
Christina slightly knitted her eyebrows.
“Since I was tired after dancing, I was taking a rest here. How about you, Your Highness? To be together with such adorable lady, I really envy you.”
After saying it, her inner heart flustered oh no! She inadvertently spoke sarcastically. Alberto raised his eyebrows.
Alberto tried to say something, but Clara opened her mouth faster than he could.
“Christina-sama. Who were you talking to just now? It seems you are very close with each other”
She who behaved like a pure innocent girl, with voice devoid of any malice and an adorable smile, let out words that would make others who heard it to misunderstand. Twitch, Alberto lowered his eyes to her.
Those words could only be taken as, Christina was having a secret meeting with man other than the Prince.
If that girl was a pure noble lady, Christina would judge it as a tactic to lower her reputation.
“……We were unable to greet each other the other day, weren’t we? My name is Christina Zariel”
To the sudden introduction, she repeatedly blinked in return.
“Errr……yes. Um, I am……Clara”
Between nobles of the Noin Kingdom, even if they knew the other party’s name, it was common courtesy to never call their name until they introduced themselves to each other. And properly speaking, until the person from higher court rank called out, the person from lower court rank must not speak first.
Whether that girl did not know such basics or maybe forgot about it, Christina forgave the fact that she was called out to, however, that girl did not even give her family name. Enduring the feeling of wanting to scowl at her, Christina showed an elegant smile on her face.
“Is that so, Clara-sama. Did you enjoy the evening party?”
“Ah, yes…… Errr, I was invited by His Highness for a dance. He was very good at it, and because it quickly ended, I asked for another one. He seemed to be tired, so he invited me to the terrace.”
An adorable smile of a maiden in love was blooming.
I don’t like it.
To dare declare that you got to dance two songs with him to the fiancée who never dance with him for more than one song every time. Are you boasting yourself?
She looked to Alberto who smoothly averted his eyes.
Christina, for the sake of her pride, held her head high and flashed a smile.
I will never ── do such thing like slapping this girl.
“Is that so. I am glad you enjoy it. When he is talking with you, His Highness seems to loosen up. Thank you very much”
Clara repeatedly blinked.
“Errr…… Why is Christina-sama saying thanks……?
── Does she not know, that I am his fiancée……?
Christina’s blood was boiling.
She couldn’t think of it as anything other than to purposely stirring up her feeling. If her innocent acts were all in order to show her as having no malice, what an unthinkable woman she was.
To endure her impulse to hit that girl, Christina tightly gripped her right hand with her left hand, and even so she still smiled.
“……You are right. For me to say thanks may be a bit weird. Your Highness too, please forgive my impoliteness”
While remembering that humiliation, she lowered her head to Alberto. After that she looked up, she glared at Alberto who seemed to be slightly wide-eyed, and walked away. Stopping beside Alberto who put himself on guard, she then said.
“Because I’m feeling unwell, please excuse myself for leaving first. Your Highness, please feel free to escort whoever you like”
As if having seen an unbelievable thing, he stared at her. Christina returned that surprised look coldly and then turned her back on him.
I didn’t hit her. However with this, just like in the scenario, you will be able to escort her to her house.
──Fate, is really something that won’t always go as we want.
With eyes blurred by tears, Christina left the hall with graceful steps.