Then the 6 o’clock bell rang.
Dong! Dong! Dong!
Since guests could only be in the palace until 6 pm today, Adele got up. The emperor took her hand and kissed it gently.
“Milady, I look forward to meeting you again like today.”
Adele was flustered but tried to reply calmly. “You have my gratitude, Your Majesty, for your generosity and magnanimity.”
As the emperor accompanied her out with a smile, Adele followed him in, saying more words of thanks. When the glass door finally appeared, she pushed it hard, wanting to leave the place the soonest.
However, the large door didn’t budge.
She checked to see if there were any servants, but the emperor had sent them away earlier. As she struggled to push the handle, his arms stretched straight next to her own face. Soon after, the glass door unlocked quite easily.
“Adele.” The emperor lowered his head and whispered softly in her ear. “Please come here anytime you like.”
“You are always welcome here.”
Staring at the emerald-colored eyes of the emperor in front of her, Adele turned her face away and an involuntary blush creeped up towards her face.
He seemed to smell of dahlia.
The emperor said in a soft tone. “I am saying this as a close friend of Noah.”
“Ah, yes. Of course, Your Majesty…”
After bidding her goodbye, Adele rushed out of the garden to hide her blushing face, not checking if the emperor had followed her or not. As soon as she did, she fell onto the chest of someone standing outside the door and hit her forehead. When she looked up, she gawked at a familiar face.
“You must have missed me, seeing how you embraced me right after you see me.”
“What? No, how did you come here—”
“Isn’t it normal for a husband to come pick up his wife?”
Pick up? Adele blinked her eyes, bewildered. Noah was the head of a family. He was also a duke who secured a special position in this country. He was not the kind of person who had the leisure to pick up his wife.
She sighed and tried to get out of his arms. But Noah just tightened his arms around her waist. She bowed her head in that state to greet the emperor.
“Your Majesty, long time no see.” Noah voiced out monotonously.
“Not that long. I was present during your wedding.” The emperor walked out with unhurried strides.
Noah cocked an eyebrow, “Were you? That day, I was incredibly overcome with joy to welcome my wife that I wasn’t able to pay attention to the guests. Please forgive my negligence.”
“I understand. I believe that my mind would’ve been entirely occupied as well, if I had a beautiful woman like your wife as my life companion.” The emperor glanced at Adele and met Noah’s stare.
Noah himself did not avoid it, instead, he glared at him intensely. Then he smirked. “It is late, I shall return with my wife.”
“Of course, do take good care of your wife. She felt quite hot when she drank tea earlier. I am worried if she feels sick somewhere.”
“How kind of you to worry about someone else’s wife.”
It was like a normal conversation between a king and his subordinate, but somehow, the atmosphere was a bit strange. Adele was already feeling little hot and dizzy, being held in Noah’s arms made her feel like she was going to combust.
They were still in front of the emperor!
Adele hastily pushed him away and bowed her head to the emperor. After that, she went out to the hallway first. Noah looked at the emperor and followed after her, he wrapped his arms around her shoulders as he walked.
The emperor stared at their retreating figures. He took a deep breath when they were no longer in sight.
“Noah Maktus, that scoundrel!” a self-deprecating smile emerged from his lips, thinking of that face he had seen during tea. “She still looks so beautiful…”
The emperor clenched his fists. If he could see her again, he could tell the lie that he was Noah’s best friend a hundred more times.
Truth be told, he had indeed attended the academy with Noah, so it wasn’t completely a lie. It was just that, the two of them weren’t really that friendly, and Noah really took away the emperor’s first love.
As his wife.
He let out a defeated sigh.
The emperor watched Adele walk through the window with regretful eyes. Looking at her back, it somehow reminded him of old memories.
Of that one spring day where he met her for the first time;
The national holiday of the empire’s founding day was an occasion where the imperial family opened the palace for the people. In the garden, which had always been quiet, noble children let out a cacophony of noises while chatting and playing with each other.
A child cried out, ‘Receive my sword!’
‘Ha! Not a chance!’
Rayence, still 12, was sitting on a bench at the edge of the garden, watched those children playing knights with wooden swords. Next to him was a pile of books that he was supposed to read today. But for some reason, he did not want to.
A soft breath escaped his lips.
One of the children who heard Rayence’s small sigh, blinked and approached him, he held out a wooden sword. He wanted to play together with him. But before Rayence could refuse, another child came and whispered something to the one who handed him the wooden sword. Then the child hesitated and ran back into the middle of the garden.
The reason why other children avoided him was obvious. Rayence fiddled with the accessory on his chest, then he took off the eagle-shaped brooch, a symbol of the imperial family, and put it in his pocket.
I’m so sick of this.
This always happens. Rayence closed his eyes, remembering that he had to go back to the training room in five minutes. He had barely managed to get away from his chaperone, so he wanted to feel ‘free’, even just for a moment like this. Then again, he just wanted to run away.
As he had his eyes shut for a few minutes, somebody shook his body.
‘Hey, are you okay?’