Chapter 160 - The Spring Garden
“You must’ve heard the rumors, yes?” Aris answered with a question.
“Oh, you mean rumors about communicating through letters?”
“Yes,” Aris nodded, “it’s true.”
“Oh my!” Elsa gasped. Could a relationship really be built through an exchange of letters without meeting in person? “Who sent the first letter?”
“I did, and I received an answer half a year later. We officially became a couple when we met at the New Year’s party last year.”
Elsa nodded in a daze. Listening to Aris’s explanation, she was beginning to grasp Roy’s personality.
“Lady Monetta, you’re the crown prince’s lover, aren’t you?”
“Yes, I am.”
“How did the two of you become a couple?” Aris asked curiously. It didn’t seem like Elsa would’ve agreed to be the crown prince’s lover simply because Hiel wished for it.
Elsa knitted her brows and sighed in response to the question. “His Highness investigated the gentlemen I was dating in the past. He came to me and revealed their pasts, saying that I shouldn’t associate with such unsuitable men.”
“Oh, my,” Aris remarked.
“Then, he told me that if I wouldn’t agree to be his lady, he would reveal their transgressions to the public. I couldn’t allow their pasts to be publicly exposed on my account, so I ended everything and accepted his terms.”
Elsa knew that the men she’d dated hadn’t always been faithful, but she was magnanimous and didn’t mind much since they only ever met with other women casually. It wasn’t like they were involved in crookery or thievery. Nonetheless, if their checkered pasts were publicly exposed because of her, they would become fodder for gossip. She didn’t want to be the sole cause of their misfortune.
“Goodness,” Aris sighed. She had no idea that the crown prince had resorted to blackmail.
“To become his lover through coercion… I can only say that it is my fault for having dated men that were less than upstanding,” Elsa uttered with a sigh. “Well, on the bright side, His Royal Highness recognizes his disrespectful behavior and treats me well now.”
“Break up with him if he doesn’t,” Aris remarked firmly.
“Oh, he’s only interested because I seem different from the women he’s dated in the past,” Elsa shrugged, “and since he tires of women easily, I’m sure he’ll tire of me soon.”
Elsa laughed quietly and sighed, “I’m waiting for that moment. My family is making a fuss that this is an opportunity and I can become the crown princess, but I’ve told my father not to dream in vain.”
Her family was welcoming of her relationship, but Elsa was more of a pragmatist—the seat of crown princess was reserved for ladies of high rank. It was a long shot for Elsa, who hailed from a family with the rank of viscountcy.
“I don’t plan to get married anyway,” Elsa winked, putting her finger over her lips, “though, that’s a secret.”
“I understand,” Aris nodded.
“I should keep him as a friend, not as a lover.”
“His Royal Highness also said similar words before,” Aris remarked, remembering how the crown prince also said the same thing.
“Did he?” Elsa smirked, but shook her head. “I asked him to be friends, but it was useless. He refused coldly.”
‘Oh, I guess she already suggested it to him,’ Aris thought. As they passed time together, Aris carefully listened to Elsa’s stories.
* * *
The crown prince watched Roy singlehandedly catch a boar with ease. The count was said to be a good shot, and his skills matched up splendidly to his reputation. Roy’s arrows flew precisely at the targeted beasts from a distance and the speed at which he hunted far outstripped anybody else. He had already caught two rabbits and a boar.
“I guess we’ll be needing a stretcher,” Roy remarked.
The crown prince sent up a flare into the sky and replied, “With this, people will come. We’ll need them since there’s another boar too.” He pointed towards Violet, where another dead boar lay at her feet. Like the year before, the crown prince and Violet had taken down a boar together.
They didn’t need to wait long before people appeared in the distance, carrying a stretcher and medicines in case of a medical emergency. The crown prince quickly gave the orders for the boars to be loaded on the stretcher. It was apparent to everyone that as a team with two boars between them, it was likely they would come out as the winner.