Chapter 53 – Ice Doll? (2)
Rashta’s eyes widened even further.
“You’re taking it to the villa?”
“It’s the Empress’ birthday.”
After Sovieshu’s reply, Rashta looked surprised and questioned him again.
“Who’s going there?”
“It will be the Empress, myself, the servants and the knights. There are no guests other than a lady-in-waiting. Why?”
Rashta covered her mouth with her hands. She looked so alarmed that Sovieshu frowned at her.
“Are you all right?”
“Rashta didn’t know it was the Empress’ birthday.”
“Oh, is that so?”
“No one said anything…”
“We want to be as quiet as possible. It’s not an open party, so only close friends or relatives know.”
“Viscountess Verdi could have mentioned it. She would have known.”
Sovieshu smiled when Rashta pouted her lips.
“You must be unhappy to only find out about her birthday now.”
“We’re still family. Rashta could have given something…”
Sovieshu gave a chuckle.
“You’re very kind.”
Rashta twisted her fingers.
It was about time for Sovieshu to leave, the coachman looked over at the pair of them.
“I’ll see you soon, Rashta. If I leave too late, it will be difficult for the coachman to drive.”
Sovieshu took a step into the carriage when Rashta quickly grabbed his sleeve.
He turned around curiously.
“Can you take Rashta, too?”
Sovieshu blinked in surprise, and she nodded hurriedly.
“Rashta couldn’t get a gift for the Empress, and if Rashta doesn’t celebrate her birthday she will be disappointed.”
Sovieshu couldn’t undo the skeptical expression on his face, and he was unconvinced that Navier would be disappointed by a lack of gift. However, he couldn’t say that the Empress would probably dislike it if Rashta came along.
“Bring Rashta with you, Your Majesty. She can liven the mood.”
She mimed drinking alcohol and Sovieshu replied with a faint smile.
“You don’t have to do that much.”
“Still, let Rashta go. It’s a family party, and I’m family.”
“I’m sorry. It will only be myself and the Empress.”
Rashta’s cheeks puffed out and she folded her arms.
“Oh dear. You’re sulking.”
Sovieshu laughed and pinched her bright red cheek.
“Do you really want to come?”
“I don’t like when you’re alone with another woman.”
“You didn’t protest when I brought up the villa the other day.”
“I thought you were going alone or in a group for work.”
Rashta was being cute and energetic, and the carriage driver gave an involuntary chuckle. She quickly looked down at her toes. Sovieshu checked his watch then stroked her shoulder soothingly.
“Later it can just be the two of us. Is that enough?”
“When? On Rashta’s birthday?”
“Rashta prefers being in groups.”
“But Rashta likes being with you alone, Your Majesty.”
“You are a greedy person.”
He grinned at her, and she quickly put her arms around him.
“Rashta wants a lot of people for her birthday, and then have you alone later.”
Her delicate scent tickled his nose. Sovieshu kissed her lightly on the cheek and answered, “Yes” before boarding. The carriage driver snapped the reins, and Rashta waved at the retreating carriage.
Before it disappeared completely, she lowered her arm. Sovieshu had promised he would spend time with her later, but now he would be alone with the Empress. She tried not to worry. She couldn’t have stopped him even if she had known in advance.
‘It will be alright. The Emperor and Empress are in a typical marriage.’
Rashta slapped her cheeks and returned to her room at the Eastern Palace. She would have a glass of champagne and a good night’s sleep.
However, someone was already waiting for her there. Her heart dropped to the floor when she recognized the despicable figure standing in the corridor. She braced herself, then walked up to Viscount Roteschu. He was standing in front of the door, yawning with his hand in his pocket, but he grinned as soon as he saw Rashta.
The windows at the villa had thin, translucent curtains. Because the curtains were rarely in use, aesthetic was emphasized rather than practicality, and I woke up to bright sunlight in my eyes. I decided the curtains needed changing right away. It was only after I sat up groggily in bed that I realized I was in a different place, and it was my birthday.
It was 7 a.m. according to my watch, and considering that it took about 12 hours to get here from the capital, I doubted that he had arrived yet. Perhaps by the time I had breakfast, he would have arrived and then fallen asleep.
I yawned again and got out of bed. I remembered my usual routine, but realized that I didn’t bring any work. Today really was a day for idle reading and resting. It had been a while since I spent the whole day on myself.
After concluding that this trip was a good idea, I went to the bathroom, brushed my teeth, and took a quick shower.
“Your Majesty, you should’ve called me!”
Countess Jubel gave a sudden exclamation when I left the bedroom with my hair already done.
“I’ve been waiting for you to call!”
“It’s fine. I’m just going to relax today.”
“Well, I suppose. What would you like for breakfast?”
“Just bread and juice, please.”
While Countess Jubel was busy preparing breakfast, I went into the drawing room and took my unfinished book out of the bag. I opened my book and reclined against an armchair.
After some time, I heard the door open. I thought it was Countess Jubel at first, but the footsteps sounded heavy. When I looked up, I saw a smiling Sovieshu in a suit.
“You came here to rest and you’re reading?”
I closed the book and stood up. Despite the fact that he was smiling, he looked exhausted, as if he had been riding in a carriage all night.
“Did you just arrive?”
He pointed his finger towards the window, and through it I spotted several servants unloading the carriage. Sovieshu spoke, his voice a murmur.
He collapsed on the couch next to me, and put his head backwards and closed his eyes.
He looked like he was about to pass out from exhaustion. I touched his forehead and found it was warm.
Maybe he was asleep. Then, Sovieshu opened his eyes and stared at me with wide eyes.
“You have a slight fever. You should sleep.”
I carefully took my hands off his forehead and made to stand up.
‘Is there an official on standby?’
Sovieshu grabbed my wrist as soon as I was about to get up. I looked back at him, and he ordered me to stay before getting up to leave the room. When he returned, there was a silver box in his head.
“You knew it right away.”
Sovieshu smiled lightly and held the gift towards me.
It was a music box.
When I opened the lid, tinkling music floated out, and a shining ring was displayed in the center. There was also a silver necklace and earrings on either side of it.
With a smile, Sovieshu lifted the necklace from the box.
I hesitated and took the box with one hand, and with the other I lifted my hair and turned around. His hands felt feverishly hot against my neck as he placed on the necklace.
Then suddenly, something warm and smooth touched my neck.