Author: alyalia

“It’s strange.”

 

“Yes? What?”

 

May, sitting on the sofa eating the cookies that Verne had sent her as a gift, raised her head. Cookie crumbs were on the corner of her mouth. It was May who was enjoying her short vacation.

 

“I mean Ben.”

 

“…”

 

May’s move to put the cookies back in her mouth at Cersinia’s words.

 

“He’s gotten a lot stranger lately. May, did you feel it too?”

 

Cersinia, who had been staring at Ben in the garden beyond the window, turned and looked at May.

 

“May?”

 

“…Grand Duke? I think he’s the same…”

 

“You.”

 

“…Hiccup!”

 

“You know something.”

 

May was startled and covered her lips with her hand as a hiccup escaped. But it was late. Cersinia noticed everything as May looked like a thief being caught. To begin with, May wasn’t good at lying.

 

“Say it. Don’t even think about lying.”

 

Before she knew it, Cersinia had moved her feet and sat on the sofa, urging May.

 

“It’s really no big deal. It’s just something servants talk about.”

 

“So what is it?”

 

“It’s really not that big of a deal…”

 

“May.”

 

At Cersinia’s strong voice, May finally put down the cookie she was holding and hesitantly opened her mouth. “That’s… he has become much sharper.”

 

“Ben?”

 

“Yes… Originally, the grand duke was not interested in anyone other than Countess.”

 

As she already knew it, Cersinia nodded without answering.

 

“He’s the type of person who thinks the world revolves around Countess. He’s also someone who lives as if Countess is the only one in this world.”

 

“…”

 

“How many people are in this mansion? But he treats them as if they don’t exist and looks only at Countess 24 hours a day, right? Unless it’s related to the Countess, he won’t even pay attention…”

 

“Stop it, May. What does that have to do with this now?” Cersinia hastily interrupted May.

 

Even after getting married, Ben’s behavior remained the same. She was still grateful and excited because it was how he much he loved her, but her face burned as she faced what had happened so far through someone else’s mouth.

 

“It matters. Everyone was used to the grand duke not caring about anything but Countess, but these days, everyone is holding their breath in front of the grand duke.”

 

“Why?”

 

“If Countess is not around, the atmosphere changes suddenly, and everyone gets startled. It wasn’t to this extent before, but these days, it feels like we will be in trouble if someone gets caught making a mistake.”

 

Cersinia’s mouth fell shut at May’s words.

 

All the employees have been trying to stick to themselves for the past few days, which seems to be the reason. She found out a little late because Ben always didn’t show it in front of her.

 

“It’s scary, really. These days, everyone only cares about the grand duke. Perhaps everyone wants the Countess to stay with the grand duke all day? And yesterday, I…”

 

May, who stopped talking, trembled. For a moment, the look in his eyes she saw yesterday came to mind.

 

“Yesterday?”

 

“I was no exception. I made eye contact with the grand duke, and it felt as if a blade had touched my neck.”

 

Cersinia got up from the sofa and patted May’s shoulder as she was contemplative, hugging her body with both arms. She then stood in front of the window again. The figure of Ben standing in the garden on the first floor came into her field of vision. And another man was next to him. Unlike Ben’s stiff expression, the bronze-skinned man is smiling.

 

Cersinia had no doubt that the culprit of all this was that man.

 

* * *

It was a few days ago. When she entered the door opened by the knights, she saw Besanio sitting with his legs crossed.

 

“Only today I finally got to see Countess’s face.”

 

He smiled and got up.

 

“Besanio Blanche.”

 

Cersinia hid her displeasure as she walked over and stood in front of him.

 

“My name is Cersinia Gabieta. Greetings to Royal Prince Blanche.”

 

After completing the introductions, Besanio held out his hand with a sly smile. Although she didn’t like it, she placed her hand on his hand out of courtesy and greeting.

 

A soft touch touched the back of her hand as she moved. Besanio, who bent down and kissed the back of her hand, opened his mouth, looking at her fair hand.

 

“Countess’s hands are soft.”

 

As his thumb swept over her hand, Cersinia got goosebumps all over her body and hurriedly pulled her hand away.

 

According to the emperor’s order received yesterday, she entered the palace early in the morning. The celebration held to mark the birthday of the emperor was scheduled to be held in a grand manner over three days, starting yesterday. However, everything started in the afternoon when the sun began to set, so unlike last night, the palace in the morning was deserted and quiet.

 

“What do you mean?” Since she didn’t want to spend a long time, Cersinia asked directly.

 

She thought she would be meeting with the emperor, but she never thought she would end up being with him alone like this. Even though he was a prince from another kingdom, he was single, and she was married. It wasn’t good to meet separately like this. She also didn’t like the message telling her to come alone and not bring Ben.

 

Before coming here, Cersinia was concerned about Ben’s face. She couldn’t let the trust she had between him and her be broken, but it was better for her not to worry about it in the first place.

 

Haha. I thought you only had fiery looks, but your temperament is also fiery. Let’s sit down first.”

 

“…”

 

“Don’t be so wary. You look like you’re busy, so I’ll just briefly tell you my business.”

 

Cersinia had no choice but to follow the prince as he sat, then put her butt on the sofa next to him.

 

“Countess is the only wizard in the empire, right?”

 

“Yes. That’s right.”

 

This again? Cersinia sighed inwardly at the question she was tired of hearing. She had been asked to show her abilities behind the question. She had continued to do so over the past few years after being recognized for her abilities and receiving her title. It was as if she had to satisfy their expectations and curiosity.

 

“And so, I wish I could stay at the Countess’s mansion rather than the imperial palace during my stay in the empire.”

 

“Yes?” However, Cersinia was surprised by the completely unexpected words and raised her head.

 

Besanio lifted the corners of his slim mouth and smiled. There was a mysterious smile on his copper face.

 

“…”

 

Cersinia looked at Besanio, speechless for a moment. His blue eyes were fixed on her, unreadable as to what he was thinking. An unexplained feeling of nervousness ran down her spine.

 

She felt suspicious. From the moment she entered this room, he had persistent blue eyes that seemed to be looking into her.

 

Besanio’s eyes had a charm that captivated people. However, the more she faced him, the more uncomfortable she felt as her own reflection reflected in his blue eyes. It was as if he was trying to grasp everything beyond the surface without showing it.

 

“Did the grand duke enter the palace with you today?”

 

“No. I came alone.”

 

“Right. Since it’s something that needs to be discussed with the grand duke, you should go back and talk—.”

 

“Is this an offer that can be refused, or is this an order?” she asked, interrupting his speech with a playful smile.

 

She didn’t even need to consult Ben. Because she would never allow that man into their house.

 

“Of course, it’s okay to refuse. I’m a guest, and Countess is the owner.”

 

“Then I will refuse.”

 

“Oh my. Isn’t that too hasty? Without even the slightest thought.”

 

“No. I will refuse. I’m sorry, Your Royal Highness. If you don’t have anything more to say, I’ll just get up

 

After sitting down on the sofa, not even five minutes later, Cersinia got up again and started walking, pulling up the skirt of her long dress.

 

“That thing inside Countess. It’s going to explode soon.”

 

But in an instant, her steps were stopped by a voice that tightened her feet. She barely managed to turn her frozen body and looked at Besanio.

 

At what was so funny, he was still smiling and opened his mouth. “I’m talking about the woman inside Countess. In the form of fire. Ah no, isn’t she just a fire?”

 

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