Chapter 39 - Where We Part Ways
“No. I’m not going to be the crown princess.”
It was a firm answer. Cladis couldn’t hold his breath any longer. Luciella had always been his crown princess. He was aware of that phrase for a while, and now she had rejected it. He felt like his entire world was crumbling due to that rejection. Then a voice that lingered in his mind appeared. Clara, after quickly becoming close with Cladis after a few incidents, told Cladis, who was busy preparing for the festival.
“I think Lady Constance is obsessed with being the crown princess. If I were her, I would have visited you at the Academic festival to see you even if I was too busy studying. Maybe she likes that role more than being married to you. I just don’t understand her.”
Clara always mentioned that her priorities would have been different if she was in Ella’s position. At first, he defended Ella from Clara’s criticisms and warned her not to cross the line. Cladis, however, soon began to question Ella’s motives after repeatedly listening to Clara’s words. Was it true that Ella was only interested in the crown princess role and not him? Before he realized it, feelings of doubt began to grow within him. Clara’s words were affecting him.
“Are you going to let fate determine your future?”
“No. That’s too boring. I control my destiny. Are you really going to let fate determine your future?”
Clara showed great confidence in her claims. He wondered what kind of path she would pave for herself. Since then, he was interested in her stories. The Ella, mentioned in her stories, was different from the Ella that stood in front of him now. Where was the power-hungry, cold Ella? Where was the arrogant Ella, who assumed she was already the crown princess and refused to socialize with other girls? Where was the extravagant Ella who sent him lavish boutonnieres that were difficult to get even with millions? Who was this girl who was standing in front of him and wearing a simple dress that only a girl who hadn’t had her debutante would wear?
‘This Ella and the one Clara always told me about… which one is the real Ella?’ Confused, Cladis scratched his head. Although his servant Sneal had worked hard to style his hair, Cladis couldn’t care about that right now. His body shook from confusion. Then, he noticed a pile of books. The books, which ordinary women wouldn’t normally enjoy reading, were about ancient history, politics, and warfare. Ella was reading one of them before she fell asleep as it was left open next to her. The book written by Professor Lindsayhan was about politics. Cladis frowned when he saw that book.
‘She’s still working hard to become the crown princess! She’s lying!’ Cladis became furious as he remembered himself becoming scared of her lies moments ago. It was impossible to stop this marriage from happening. Just two days ago, he saw the perfect crown princess. Under no circumstances did her mask shatter. Thinking about all the hard work Ella had gone through, Cladis thought for sure that she was bluffing. He loosened his shirt’s collar while kicking his tongue. A thick scent of sleep that was left in a place where someone had been sleeping just until now kept bothering Cladis’s mind. The stuffiness in the room made him irritated. All he wanted to do was to leave the room.
“I heard the duchess put a lot of effort into her garden. Let’s talk over there.”
Garden? Ella was dumbstruck by the word ‘garden’ and turned to look at Cladis. She wasn’t sure why he wanted to talk at the garden like in the novel at this point. There was no way he knew about the contents of the novel. “The garden… you say?”
Cladis wondered why Ella was so surprised. Was there a reason why they shouldn’t go to the garden? Convinced that there was something interesting there, he wanted to go even more. He spoke excuses casually while hiding his stubbornness as though he intended on going there from the beginning instead of choosing it as an impulse.
“Your brother Ethan often told me about that place. For a while now, I’ve wanted to take a look myself,” answered Cladis. “Why? Is there a reason why I shouldn’t go there?”
There wasn’t any reason why he shouldn’t go. It was a beautiful garden where Luciella and Cladis had their first kiss in the novel. That obviously wasn’t going to happen anymore under these current circumstances. Ella let out a long sigh as she eyed Smila, who was standing by the entrance. Smila scurried over and placed a shawl over Ella’s shoulders. Because the weather was chilly, Ella needed to wear a shawl. Cladis, however, glared at the shawl embroidered with gems and gorgeous threads. It reminded him of Clara’s words.
Lavish Ella. It wasn’t sure if Clara’s words proving true was welcoming or disgusting. There was never a moment when Cladis felt uncertain about his feelings like he was now. He was always confident that he was right. Now he wasn’t so sure anymore, which he hated. He didn’t know whether or not to believe in Clara’s words. Cladis blamed the stuffiness of the room for his confusion and offered to escort Ella out of the room. She wanted to get out of this room as fast as possible. Then, Ella placed her hand over Cladis’s and smiled. It was easy to notice that her smile was fake. Cladis felt something stuck inside his chest when he saw that smile.
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