Chapter 20 - Cullan
Ella let out a sigh, or maybe laughter. She had to let it all out, or else she was going to die from the absurdity of the situation. Cullan looked at Ella with his cool grey eyes. Ella needed to think about how she was going to deal with this situation, not knowing how Cullan was looking at her. It was apparent that Clara entering the Academy was different from the novel. For a brief moment, unimaginable thoughts filled her mind, but she brushed them away as they seemed to be jumping too far away from the original novel. Although she was thrown into this new world, she managed to hold herself together. She was able to do so because she knew how things would unfold. But what if there was someone else with that same knowledge and used it?
The answer was clear. Everything Ella knew from reading the novel was useless, just like the boutonniere was for the prince. It was difficult to accept the reality that there might be someone like her in this world. Just the imagination of it made her feel terrified. Ella’s body staggered.
“My lady!” Cullan shouted as he helped Ella to stand.
His sudden touch called Ella back to reality. She could barely calm her shaking hands and looked at Cullan. She was so confused that she almost forgot Cullan was watching her but she couldn’t stay in such confusion for longer.
“Prince Kuitkarzan… are you also friends with her?”
“Do you know me?”
Cullan, who was surprised by Ella recognizing him, looked shocked. It was no wonder that he was surprised. He hadn’t left the Academy since he arrived at the empire. Most daughters of noble families shouldn’t be able to recognize him.
“I heard about you from Ethan that you attended the Academy as well. I guessed that you’re the one he described based on the color of your eyes and the emblem on your jacket.”
“I heard of your intelligence from Ethan so many times. Let me formally introduce myself. I’m Kuikarzan Dinor La Cullan. Just call me Cullan. I’m friends with Cladis and your brother Ethan. Since you’re his sister, I consider you a part of my family so you can speak comfortably with me.”
These were the same words that Cullan said when he first met Ella when Cladis introduced him to her in the novel. Ever since then, Cullan had looked after Ella like she was family. Was that going to remain the same this time? There were so many things that were different now. Ella wanted something familiar to hold onto.
“Thank you for your kindness. I’m Luciella A de Constance. Please call me Ella.”
Ella politely bowed with a calm face as if she had never staggered before. Cullan flinched. Although it was a formal procedure to bow to the royals, Cullan didn’t like such formalities.
“Ella is a name that matches your beauty. I’m jealous of Cladis for having you as his partner.”
“You flatter me.”
Ella would have talked something in the line where she would have done it just for the Crown Prince’s joy, but it wasn’t fitting for the current situation. Cladis was put off by her words rather than glad for them. Luciella’s hard work wasn’t paying off. Cladis’s smile was for Clara and not her. His smile tore Ella’s heart apart. Her heart sank as her expression darkened. She would have tried to keep her calm if she was around anyone else. But with Cullan, who was her ally, she could loosen her grip on herself. Her darkened broken heart was showing up.
“Hmph. Sadness doesn’t suit your beauty.”
Cullan followed Ella’s eyes towards Cladis and Clara and kicked his tongue. He then looked at Ella with a worried expression. His eyes softened quite a bit. He seemed to have gotten close with Clara, unlike in the novel. But it also seemed like he was starting to have feelings for Ella, which followed the plot. That alone was a relief to know that he wasn’t the “third”.
“Will you make the sadness go away then, Prince Cullan?”
“Just call me Cullan. No need for any formalities. So… sadness, eh? How about some sweets?”
Ella let out a laugh. Sweets? That didn’t fit his appearance at all. But, eating sweets to relieve stress was a characteristic that he and Luciella shared. His taste, which was the only thing that was the same as the novel while everything else was going different, relieved Ella. Ella then felt the urge to eat some sweets. Thinking about it made her salivate. Eating sweets while laughing sounded like heaven to her. Maybe it would even make her forget about this disgusting sight. But that wasn’t the best move right now. The corset she wore to appease that damn man was so tight that she didn’t even have any room to even drink a sip of water. “I’ll have to postpone that for now. I still need to look beautiful.”
Ella took a step back so he could see. Cullan was surprised by her bold words, and he smiled as he nodded. Ella was gorgeous right now, but she wasn’t in the best state to be eating anything. Cullan once had his sister throw a fork at him for offering something to eat while she was wearing a similar outfit. Cullan understood her as she expected.
“If you need a terrace where you can take your shoes off and rest, I can escort you there. I can also send your brother to you because I’m probably not the best man to speak to you right now.”
“Thank you for your kindness.”
She couldn’t stay with another man while her fiancé was at the same party. This long talk was too much for her. She had more unanswered questions, but it was time to part ways with him. Her footsteps slowed as she was close to the terrace. Cullan too felt like he wasn’t finished. He held her hand before he sent her to the terrace.
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