Chapter 87 - He Knows!
As those seated at the banquet table resumed their meals, the music band read the atmosphere and swiftly began playing their instruments. A calm piece befitting of a banquet ensued and everyone moved their hands and mouths again. However, they were only going through the motions; unlike several minutes ago, all eyes focused on the imperial couple.
Feeling their gazes, Cecile raised her head, only to see a smile on her husband’s lips, chin resting on his hand as he gazed at her sitting in his arms. ‘Oh you think this is funny now, do you?’ Cecile hissed inwardly. At first, he had seemed panicked, something expected if he had a conscience. After all, the first thing she had seen upon entering the hall was Estian about to hold Princess Yuliana by the waist. Looking at Estian smiling now though, it was apparent that he had no conscience, let alone even a trace of its existence.
For some reason, her insides twisted at the sight of his smile. Cecile then reached out and grasped Estian’s waist in the same spot he had intended to hold the princess. The moment her hand made contact, she felt him freeze, but she didn’t stop there; she rummaged about his formal suit and put a hand inside his top. After several blind gropes, her fingertips soon reached his bare, smooth skin.
“…Cecile?” Estian growled under his breath, but Cecile’s hands only became more unrestrained. Her well-maintained fingernails grazed over his six-pack, and Estian had to clench his fists harder to not let a groan slip out. When he could endure no more, he caught Cecile’s hand by the wrist and asked, “What are you doing?”
“What am I doing?” she sneered. “What you were going to do to Princess Yuliana, that’s what.”
Unsurprised by her sour reply, Estian rubbed his face with his free hand. How would he even begin to explain this?
Meanwhile, the band seemed to have noticed the unusual air around the imperial couple—the previously calm tempo of the music turned up a notch.
“Who told you Princess Yuliana was here?” Estian asked.
“A passing sparrow left a message on the ground.” Cecile’s tone was very clear: she had zero intention of telling.
‘Maybe I should’ve told her,’ he briefly thought. It was necessary to ascertain Princess Yuliana’s power and the easiest, fastest way to achieve that was to pretend to have succumbed to her power, then scrutinizing it. Estian had no choice but to do it, and since nothing good would have come out of his wife knowing about this, he had tried to get it over with quickly before she learned about it, but… He inwardly sighed. ‘Everything went wrong.’
Clearly, there would be no examination anymore—he knew Cecile would not sit still through it. He glanced at her again. His initial plans had devolved into an utter mess so it would be understandable if he became annoyed. Yet, strangely enough, he only felt laughter bubbling up his chest.
“What is it that you find so amusing?” she snapped, raising her brow.
She seemed displeased by his mirth, and Cecile’s grumpy visage made Estian realize why he was laughing. ‘This is my first time seeing her like this,’ he realized. He thought he had seen every aspect of her, but now he knew that was a big misunderstanding. “Cecile,” he called out.
“Do not call me by name,” she snarled. “This is a formal setting.”
She was visibly struggling not to pout, but she failed, a sign of how angry she was now. He pulled her closer by the waist and firmly held her in his arms, saying, “So this is why you came in such formal attire?”
“Think of it as a mistake born out of an irrepressible joy from receiving your gifts.”
“Right. Happy enough to scrap 120 rolls of Delphian silk into the ground. I hear you loud and clear.”
Estian watched, enraptured, as she bit her lips stiffly and her entire body trembled for a second. Ironically, her obvious anger made him happy. His wife had let a quiet life until she had been dragged off to the empire to marry him. Since her arrival, a lingering doubt had taken place in a corner of Estian’s heart. Did she not hate their marriage to the extent of staking her life on crazy shenanigans?
‘She must’ve forced herself to accept the situation to survive,’ he convinced himself. Of course, judging from her sincere remarks about how great his face and body were after drinking the truth serum, he was quite certain Cecile did not completely hate him. But what if she had had a choice from the start? Would she still have chosen their marriage? He doubted it.
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