Chapter 91 – The Grand Duke’s Proposal (2)
I couldn’t believe my ears for a moment. I almost laughed, but when I saw Grand Duke Kapmen’s eyes, it died on my lips. His eyes spoke plainly of his anxiety. A man who I knew for his blunt speech and his confidence was now afraid of my rejection. Perhaps it was because of the potion, but at this moment he was sincere. A feeling of regret welled up in me.
However…I shook my head.
“Grand Duke Kapmen. Think rationally. You’re doing this because of the potion.”
“I know. I know…I’m alright.”
Was he? I drew my brows together in a frown.
“No. You’re not alright.”
“It’s my emotions. It’s up to you to reject it, but please don’t treat my feelings callously.”
“Grand Duke Kapmen. I know you. You’re only proposing this because of the potion.”
“You will feel guilty about it when it wears off.”
I deliberately spoke with a smile, but Grand Duke Kapmen’s expression did not lighten. I sighed.
“Don’t bet your life with me on what you feel at the moment, Grand Duke.”
“When this drug wears away, how can you be sure that my emotions will go back to normal? ”
“You didn’t like me at first, remember?”
“I don’t like my enemies.”
“I just felt frustrated.”
Grand Duke Kapmen’s face was carefully blank, but something about him was pitiable. His offer, however, was not something to be decided by sympathy and impulse. I deliberately looked away.
“Grand Duke Kapmen. You may find what I’m doing is frustrating, but…this burden is not difficult for me to carry.”
“I admit it is painful for the Emperor to love another woman while he is cold to me. But I am the empress.”
I let out a small, unintelligible sound and I turned my head back.
“I have lived and learned to become an empress all my life. This is my dream and reality. I don’t want to lose my life simply because of the suffering my husband is putting me through.”
When Grand Duke Kapmen spoke, his voice was heavy with regret.
“It’s a great belief, but a dangerous one.”
“How is it dangerous?”
“What will you do if your husband asks you for a divorce first?”
That wouldn’t happen, but he continued before I could reply.
“You have such a strong identity as an empress. But if you divorce the Emperor, you will not longer be the empress. I’m afraid you will fall apart then.”
I flatly denied his words.
“That won’t happen. The Emperor is not a fool.”
I was serious. Sovieshu wasn’t completely devoid of reasonable judgment. However, Grand Duke Kapmen coldly refuted me.
“He was already a fool the moment he turned away from you. People addicted to love are likely to act on impulse and do things they would never ordinarily do. Such as the way I punched your husband.”
He heaved a sigh. It seemed like there was more he wanted to say, but he didn’t. Instead, he carefully asked a question.
“Before I go, can we hug?”
A light embrace was common among the nobles, so I agreed. As soon as I gave permission, he stepped forward and pulled me in. But it wasn’t the hug I had in mind. Where had his calm and heavy attitude gone? His hug was impatient and intense. I was short on breath as I was locked tightly in his arms. His forehead touched my shoulder.
This…this was not a simple embrace.
“Grand Duke Kapmen.”
I didn’t think this was a good idea, and I called his name carefully. Fortunately, he retreated. When he released me from his grip, I saw his expression was carefully smoothed over. He gave a calm and polite bow, placed his hat on his head, and walked towards the door. He gave one last backwards glance, then left.
I collapsed onto the couch as soon as he was gone. Could it be the aftermath of his emotional whirlwind? I felt numb, but I didn’t have the luxury to stay that way for long.
“Your Majesty, Lord Koshar is here.”
Within fifteen minutes of Grand Duke Kapmen’s departure, my older brother, Koshar, came to see me.
As soon as Countess Eliza opened the door for me, my brother bounded into the room and embraced me. He was just as strong as Grand Duke Kapmen, but his arms were more comfortable. When I sat still, my brother buried his forehead in my shoulder like Grand Duke Kapmen as well. Was it natural for tall people to position themselves like this?
“Navier. Your shoulders are damp.”
I looked at him confusedly.
“What are you talking about?”
“There’s some water on your shoulder.”
As soon as my brother pulled away, I touched my hand to the spot where Grand Duke Kapmen placed his forehead. It really was damp.
Did the Grand Duke…cry? He cried and then left with a blank face like that? I put down my hand as my heart sank with regret, while my brother watched me closely.
“You look somber, Navier. Is it because of your husband and that woman?”
“How dare he make you so miserable.”
I looked up at my brother in surprise, and saw that he was grinding his teeth as he clenched his fists.
“All the commoners are talking about your husband and the concubine.”
So Koshar must have heard everything. I looked downward, feeling unsure of myself. I didn’t want to hear my brother talk about my husband being in love with another woman. Of course, I knew it would come up someday, but…
As soon as I dropped my gaze, I saw shopping bags near my brother’s feet. I deliberately changed the subject.
“What are those?”
My brother delicately held out the shopping bags to me like he was giving me a bomb, and I leaned from the couch to accept them.
“Can I open them?”
However, my brother didn’t say yes.
“Check them later. I’m not going to run away with the gifts.”
He stood in front of me.
“Where is that woman staying, Navier?”
“Oh my clever sister. Where are you pretending you don’t know? The woman with the bastard child. Along with that damn asshole.”
I quickly stood up and covered Koshar’s mouth.
“Watch your language. It’s dangerous.”
The palace had many ears and eyes. Everyone here was my aide, but I remembered that Viscountess Verdi had once been close to me. Even my own ladies-in-waiting could betray me depending on the circumstances. My brother’s eyes flashed and he pulled away my hand.
“Everyone knows that my personality is garbage anyway. Where are they, Navier?”
“What are you going to do?”
“I’m gonna kill those two bastards.”
My hand flew to cover my brother’s mouth again. I gave a harried glance towards Countess Eliza, she sent all the ladies-in-waiting out of the room. After they were all gone I locked the door securely, then pushed my brother onto the sofa and hissed at him in a low voice.
“Be careful, brother. People will find fault in any small thing you say.”
“I meant it.”
He answered firmly, and his eyes were sharp. I was worried. He really did seem serious. I was afraid that my brother would do something that I wouldn’t be able to control.