Author: alyalia

“How did I get in here? Uhm… Did I walk in my sleep?”

 

At the familiar sight, I blinked my eyes for a moment and pulled the rope to call Madrenne.

 

“Lady, you’re finally up. It’s already time for afternoon tea.”

 

“Did I sleep that long?”

 

Madrenne raised me, who was still lying on the bed and led me to the bathroom.

 

“You must have been exhausted. Lady couldn’t get up even after arriving at the mansion, so we supported you and brought you here. Lady slept so well that you even snored.”

 

“What?”

 

I came to my senses.

 

Did I snore in front of him? Oh my god…

 

I grabbed my dizzying spirit and urged Madrenne.

 

“Really, was I snoring?”

 

Madrenne nodded.

 

“No way.”

 

I couldn’t believe it. I, who was neat and pure like a diamond, snored while sleeping? Nonsense.

 

“Buy, doesn’t Lady often snores in your sleep?”

 

I dipped my face in wash water at Madrenne’s words, reminding me that it was the reality.

 

Kill me. Just kill me already…

 

“Lady, do you know what rumors I have been hearing this morning?”

 

Madrenne, who was brushing my hair, suddenly asked.

 

It’s already chaotic, but there is still more? We aren’t even playing riddles.

 

I crumpled my forehead. Then I felt strange for a moment. Originally, Madrenne never asked questions first. Not only did she ask questions, but she seldom spoke first. She became a quiet person in front of me, fearing going against my mood… It wasn’t like her usual.

 

I wondered what the hell she was trying to say, then decided to ask.

 

“What rumors?”

 

Madrenne, reflected in the mirror, could not hide the smile around her mouth.

 

“I went downtown this morning because I had something to do. But the whole town has been in an uproar with rumors about Lady and Duke Kaien.”

 

“Really?”

 

“Yes. ‘It’s the first time I’ve seen such a lovely couple in the world,’ ‘They were a perfect match,’ ‘The romance of the century between the angelic lady and sculptural-looking-iron blooded duke,’ all of them were talking about that. I was happy when I heard that.”

 

“Ah~ yes.”

 

It was just what I wanted. My original plan was to tell the story of our engagement, but yesterday’s date made things easier than expected.

 

It would blow my father without dirtying my hands. Well, it’s not bad either.

 

If I had spread the rumors, there would be people who believed them, but there would also be people who doubted the truth of the rumors. However, they won’t doubt it when they see it with their own eyes. Now, the romance of the century between Duke Kaien and me has solidified into an unquestionable fact.

 

There won’t even be a word about the marriage between our families being a political marriage to benefit our family or something like that. Rather, true love would sound more believable.

 

So far, this is in line with what I planned.

 

If only we could get married safely… All that was left for me to think about was ‘How can I spend money more unconstructively and meaninglessly’ with the huge alimony.

 

The thought of living freely without worrying about money made me feel better, and the corners of my lips went up.

 

Seeing me like that, Madrenne smiled as if it was an opportunity and spoke to me.

 

“As expected, I thought Lady would like it if you heard the rumors too.”

 

“I don’t think there were just good rumors.”

 

Were there really only good rumors about the scandal between Duke Kaien, the Empire’s best groom, and me, the daughter of the Empire’s greatest villain? No way it won’t be like that.

 

Madrenne, who had been looking at me for a while, couldn’t resist my gaze and opened her mouth reluctantly.

 

“That… there were rumors that Count Bornes threatened the duke with his weakness, Lady bewitched the duke with your beauty or something like that.”

 

Well, at least one was true. I used the secret ledger to threaten him.

 

While I was having a late lunch and thinking about what to do for today, the butler appeared.

 

“Lady, Duke Kaien is here.”

 

“What? Why?”

 

The news of his sudden arrival made me puzzled without realizing it. But soon, I realized my mistake. The butler and my father didn’t know about the deal between the duke and me, so as soon as I remembered that I had to pretend to be a couple that loved each other as much as possible, I quickly reset my expression and smiled.

 

“Oh my~ He must have come to see me again because he misses me. All right, I will be right there soon.”

 

The butler nodded his head with a cold expression on his face and left. Then I bit my lips.

 

Is that person sleepless? He stayed with me until dawn, so why did he come again? Ah… Damn it!

 

Remembering my ugliness the night before again started from asking him to dance on the street and snoring on the way home, I leaned my head back on the sofa.

 

I couldn’t possibly see him today. I began to seriously ponder what I should say to send him back.

 

Should I say that I’m sick? Or I got a hangover? Ah… he knew I didn’t drink. And I was just eating right in front of the butler. Ah~ What should I do?

 

I already told the butler that I would be down soon. Now, even if I say I’m sick, it won’t work, and if I send him back without seeing him, the butler and my father would doubt us.

 

Eventually, less than a day after it happened, I came face to face with him.

 

The heck, that man didn’t even have manners toward women!

 

* * *

 

“It’s a relaxing afternoon, right? Duke Kaien.”

 

I approached him, who was waiting for me, drinking tea in the parlor. I couldn’t bear to look at his face, just saying a formal greeting and staring at the vase next to him.

 

“You must have been very tired yesterday.”

 

Maybe he’s talking about my snoring. Damn it.

 

“Ah… thank you for your concern. Yesterday I was a little… like that.”

 

There was nothing to say. I just wanted him to forget it. No, I just wanted him to at least pretend he forgot about it… But he was a man who dared to come to me after that…  

 

Groan.

 

I thought I had to change the topic somehow, and while racking my brain, he opened his mouth first.

 

“Arianne. Actually, I came here to tell you something.”

 

“Yes, go ahead.”

 

It was a relief. As long as we could change the subject, it didn’t matter what he wanted to talk about. Unless it was about the annulment of our engagement.

 

“I would like us to get married sooner.”

 

Yes, as long as it’s not about the annulment of our engagement… But what? Let’s hurry to get married?

 

“Pardon? How fast will it be if you’re in a hurry?”

 

He took a moment’s breath at my bewildered question and said indifferently.

 

“It will be in a month later.”

 

…A month?

 

“We haven’t even had an engagement ceremony yet.”

 

That’s right, we haven’t even gotten engaged yet, and the rumors of our relationship were just spreading… But to get married in a month? I thought it was still too early.

 

But Charter didn’t have time. After sending back Arianne, he headed straight to the Imperial Palace. He met the emperor in the early morning and informed him about the Kelteman Empire and Duke Crow’s absurd behavior.

 

“I need to drag him down as soon as possible. It’s earlier than expected, but it would be late after Kelteman stormed in.”

 

If the war broke out right away, he wouldn’t be able to pay attention to internal affairs. And he didn’t know what he would do if the empire was in turmoil. No, it was something obvious. However, there was no justification to deal with him immediately, so he had to cut off his limbs first.

 

Fortunately, Arianne’s ledger would make things easier. In his mind, he wanted to have a wedding right away and get the secret ledger and defeat Duke Crow’s gang, but the empire had a law. Nobles of the empire should submit their marriage permission to the imperial family. Once the permission was granted, the wedding could only be held one month later. It was customary to prepare for the wedding in the meantime.

 

“An engagement ceremony is just an act of promising marriage. I don’t think having the marriage sooner is a problem.”

 

“Ah… that’s true. But in a month… isn’t it tight?”

 

Even though their wedding would be in a month without an engagement period, it was still a wedding… I’ve never done it, but I’ve heard that there’s a lot to prepare and to study.

 

“Yes, it’s tight, but I don’t think it’s a bad offer for you either.”

 

“Well, it’s not bad, but it’s not good either.” I gave my words.

 

No matter how much our relationship was a contractual marriage, I didn’t mean it to be like a bolt of the blue like this. After spreading the news about our romance of the century, I wanted to hold a sacred yet splendid wedding with everyone’s blessings and envy. And it was a once-in-a-lifetime wedding. Wasn’t it natural that you wanted it to be more gorgeous than anyone else?

 

Charter sighed low when he saw my inappropriate expression.

 

“I will be honest with you. Arianne, I need that thing you have as soon as possible.”

 

In other words, he said that he urgently needed the secret ledger I had. But that was his situation.

 

“Ah~ Yes~ But a month… Preparing for our wedding seems to be in a hurry, and my reputation is important to me, so I don’t know what people will say… I’m worried.”

 

I said that and stared intently at Charter.

 

In fact, my reputation didn’t matter. However, I said it with the intention that I would never allow it unless he gave me a price to fasten our wedding, even though it would lower my reputation.

 

I’m sure he understands it because he’s a sensible person, right? Then what would he give me in return?

 

I raised my eyebrows and urged him to speak. He smirked and opened his mouth with an expression that he couldn’t win.

 

“As expected, I can’t beat you. Then, I will entrust all matters related to our wedding to you to move our wedding forward. Of course, the budget is all paid by my family.”

 

Oho~ Then that would be a different story.  

 

“You mean everything? You don’t care who I invite or how much I spend?”

 

Charter answered, looking straight into my eyes.

 

“Yes. No matter who you invite or how much you spend, I don’t care.”

 

If that was the case, I had to accept it.

 

“Yes, that’s great. Then let’s have a wedding in a month.” I said that as if I had been generous.

 

Charter let out a small sigh of relief and leaned his back on the sofa as if he had relaxed.

 

My mind was flooded with thoughts about our wedding, which would be held a month later. The wedding venue should be the duke’s mansion, which was the pride of the empire. My dress needs to be ordered by the most famous designer… The time was tight because it was only a month. Thinking that I should get the dress as soon as possible, I should at least receive 20 jewelry sets for the present.

 

When I was just excited about spending money, Charter continued to look at me at what I was doing without going yet.

 

“First of all, please come into the duchy this week.”

 

“Yes… YES?!”

 

I, who was answering half-heartedly, asked in surprise.

 

What was this guy saying? Why should I go there?

 

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