Chapter 70 – Are You Jealous? (1)
No. He couldn’t have said that. My head whirled towards Sovieshu. Why would he lie…?
My husband approached me, then leaned over to kiss my cheek.
“You are beautiful beyond imagination, Empress. Thank you for granting my request.”
I didn’t know why he would invent such a thing, but I quickly responded as if his words were true.
“Whatever color you wish, simply say it.”
“Oh…it was the Emperor’s request.”
Grand Duke Liltiang looked embarrassed, but then he quickly smiled and amended his words.
“It’s nice to see them get along so well.”
The group surrounding Rashta exchanged nervous glances with each other. Rashta’s expression, on the other hand, was dark. Even with Sovieshu by her side, she looked unhappy. I watched Sovieshu take a drink, but his gaze was fixed elsewhere and I couldn’t ask him why he helped me.
I held on to my glass like a lifeline as I stared around the hall. The ladies-in-waiting stayed with me at first, but as they became bored, one-by-one they began to peel off in different directions. The nobles who were sitting close to the Emperor went to the dance floor as soon as the music began. Surprisingly, Rashta went somewhere else instead of lingering here.
‘Is she going to Duke Elgy?’
No, I had heard Duke Elgy left the palace a few days ago. Perhaps she just wanted to socialize with everyone? I was caught up in my thoughts when a voice spoke up from my side.
“So who copied who?”
I turned to my side. Sovieshu was looking at me with a gentle expression.
“Who do you think?”
“To be honest…”
His voice was a low whisper in my ear.
“I don’t care.”
“Yet you sided with me?”
“You don’t approve?”
“I don’t like it. Miss Rashta will be upset later.”
“Even so, I had no choice but to help you.”
“What do you mean, you had no choice?”
“The empress is the face of the Eastern Empire. You represent the honor of the Imperial Family. Isn’t the answer obvious?”
His answer eased my confusion. Convinced, I looked back towards the front as bright light and cheerful music began to fill the room. Masked men and women held each other’s hands, smiling and moving their feet jovially to the music. Even if someone wasn’t a skillful dancer, they had a smiling look on their face. The commoners enjoyed the novelty of the ball, while the nobles seemed to be excited about the less formal atmosphere.
There was a cheer from somewhere in the room. I turned towards the sound, and saw Rashta dancing alone in the center of a high stage. Her silver hair gleamed in the air as her light feet waltzed and twirled, and the crowd was drawn to her like a moth to flame. The commoners in particular seemed cheerful, and clapped their hands whenever Rashta spun around. I noticed that Sovieshu’s admiring gaze was also fastened on her.
“Why don’t you go and dance with her?”
The words involuntarily left my mouth. Sovieshu turned to look at me.
His eyebrows lifted in surprise.
“You seem to want to go.”
I answered with a nod of my head, and he gave me a strange look.
“Are you jealous?”
“Jealous? Me? ”
“Or is it sarcasm?”
“Who says it’s sarcasm?”
“When are you going to break the habit of speaking like that when you’re angry?”
“Isn’t it the same?”
“You know, I think…”
Sovieshu bowed his head in a moment of thought, then turned back towards me with a serious expression on his face. I wondered what he was going to say.
“By any chance, when my empress mother brought you around, did she teach you how to fight with words? Why is it that you always refuse to support even one word of mine?”
“You want to know?”
“To be honest, a little.”
“Well then, why don’t we put down the crown for half an hour and have a heart-to-heart talk? In a neutral zone? Then I’ll give you my mind.”
Sovieshu’s eyes narrowed.
“You said that once when we were children. Do you remember what you did afterwards?”
“I’m not falling for it again. I clearly don’t like it.”
‘What are they talking about?’
Rashta stopped dancing and brushed the sweat off her face as she stepped down from the stage. She frowned as she saw the Emperor’s and Empress’ heads leaned towards each other in conversation. They looked quite serious…
Rashta’s heart sank. The Emperor never discussed state affairs with her, or his job, what he’s been doing, what he was worried about, and so on. She enjoyed his warm eyes and attention, but she felt uneasy whenever the Emperor and Empress talked about something so seriously.
‘Duke Elgy has gone to Rimwell…’
She had no word from him since he went down to Roteschu’s estate to investigate the matter about the baby. She wondered if he was doing his job well. Rashta had stopped dancing, unable to cope with her rising anxiety.
There was something else that captured her attention, however. From across the room she spotted Duke Tuania, who, unlike the ever-popular Duchess Tuania, was sipping his wine alone. Rashta smiled to herself and approached him.