“I shall finish here.”
The maidservant finished up tidying Chesney’s beautiful hair because she knew that the princess would be hurt if the emperor of Belcansus sent her back.
“Yes, thank you.”
From early this morning until past noon, Chesney had been able to transform herself into a more colorful look than ever. She had become a glamorous lady who would turn heads if she walked down the street. When she opened the door to come out, the corners of the duke’s mouth curled up. But Chesney took that smile as an illusion. Duke Atelian didn’t take care of her to the point where he didn’t even know that she starved herself often because of the harassment of the duchess, Euclis, and Uriel at the dining table.
“You look just like your mother.”
This was the only time she had heard him speak of her dead mother. Only when she put on an expensive dress and bright lipstick did she ever resemble her mother.
Since Chesney has never once seen a picture of her, she had no choice but to believe his words. From then, the duke didn’t start any other conversation. Duke Atelian needed to know how disturbed her heart must be that she was about to go a long way. But he wasn’t delicate enough toward her to think such a thing. No matter how long it was connected by land, Sepion belonged to the continent of Euron.
However, Belcansus belonged to the continent of Finn. Chesney, who had to leave the place where she’d been raised for a cold, dry, barbaric country, was obviously distraught. So, she only hoped that she’d become relevant enough there so that she could live comfortably.
Duke Atelian opened the large door wide to greet the guests of Belcansus. Maidservants busily moved their feet to meet and greet the dozen or so people. The parade passed the garden, halting in front of a beautiful fountain decorated with several statues. Then, the bustling maidservants, after finding their positions, bowed at the waist. A little while later, the door on the huge carriage that’d just arrived slowly opened, and a man dressed in white blinding attire stepped out. He was such a big man that his size let everyone know what the enormous carriage was for.
“I welcome His Majesty emperor of Belcansus.”
The duke bowed as if trying to break his hip and extended a hand for a handshake. But he didn’t know the man’s gaze would be fixated on only Chesney. Thanks to this, she felt a sense of nakedness.
His muscular body looked stronger than a marble sculpture. Despite the cool autumn weather, he was wearing a thin shirt with very little trim. The collar opened wide enough to reveal his entire neckline, protruding collarbones, and muscles wriggling under his skin. Chesney, embarrassed, didn’t know what to do with her eyes.
“Your Majesty. This is my daughter, Chesney Atelian.”
At the duke’s words, it felt like a pile of stones was placed on her chest. Did he just acknowledge me as a member of the Atelian family, she wondered. Chesney had always regarded her mother’s name, Tricia, as her last name. She had heard dozens of times through the mouths of the duchess, Euclis, and Uriel that she didn’t deserve the name Atelian.
However, to her ridiculousness, the moment she was to leave the Atelian mansion, she was acknowledged as a family member. There was no contradiction. Chesney, who is not recognized by the members of her family for being an illegitimate child, marries the emperor of Belcansus as a princess to the Atelian family. How comical.
“Tomorrow you will become Chesney Belcansus,” he said in a tone of indifference. But it was enough to make her heart flutter because there was hope that maybe he didn’t think much of her being an illegitimate child.
As the duchess had ordered in advance, Chesney greeted him as a lady, lifting the hems of the luxurious dress she’d borrowed from Uriel. Then, she reached out to him a hand in a white glove that came up to her wrist. But instead of placing his lips on the back of her hand, the man grabbed her thin wrist. The fingertips of his other hand caressed her arm, digging into the thin fabric of the glove. After it was removed and Chesney’s bare hand was revealed, he pulled a high-quality silk pouch from his breast pocket.
“Your Majesty …?”
The bewildered Chesney was unable to snatch her hand away from him. This was her first time having physical contact with a man. Indeed, she was very disconcerted. From inside the silk pouch, he pulled out a thick platinum bracelet with a large white jewel, and with a rough touch, he fastened the bracelet to Chesney’s wrist.
“Fits perfectly,” he said in a firm voice, still not smiling. His gray eyes felt colder than blue ones.
Perhaps because of his attitude and way of speaking, the bracelet he snapped onto her wrist felt like a shackle that bound criminals.