Chapter 9 - The Spring Garden
Within the Xenon Empire, the standard of beauty was to have blonde hair and blue eyes. Aris, born with brown hair and equally brown eyes, did not quite fit that standard. She had heard that Violet had shimmering blonde hair and eyes as blue as the ocean and figured the crown prince would prefer her over Aris.
She relayed her thoughts to her father. “I know I’m not ugly, but Lady Violet is blonde and has blue eyes.”
“And what about the crown prince’s mistresses? Are many of them blonde?” she asked.
“The majority are,” he agreed, nodding.
“Then we have nothing to worry about!”
At Aris’s cheerful words, Ian smiled. She had a point. “You’re right.”
He silently apologized to Louison and proceeded to enjoy high tea with his daughter.
“You were invited to the palace?” Lucine squealed with excitement. She couldn’t believe it; Lady Aris had not even debuted yet, but she was already receiving invitations! “But your dress! What will you wear?”
Lucine began going over her mental catalog of her lady’s wardrobe. They were pretty enough to be worn every day, but they were far too simple for visiting the palace. Most palace women wore exquisite dresses with low, swooping necklines.
“You should get fitted for a new dress first thing in the morning, my lady!” Lucine said, concerned.
“I was thinking that too.”
“Then you really should get some rest,” Lucine said, watching Aris study late as always. “I think you should postpone all of your classes for now. You’ll need at least a week to prepare for the palace.”
There was much to prepare before the palace visit. Not only did Aris need to be dressed to the nines, but so did Lucine. No matter how extravagantly a lady dressed up, she would surely attract criticism if her maid looked shabby and unkempt.
“Get some rest!” Lucine nagged.
“Well… alright,” Aris said, shutting her books with a tiny smile. Since she had decided to postpone classes for a week, she didn’t have to complete her homework for tomorrow. “I really should finish this though…”
“It will be fine! You’re always so diligent, I’m sure nothing will happen just because you didn’t do your homework for a day.”
“Right?” Aris replied, relieved. The idea of not attending history classes for an entire week excited her. She tried not to let it show on the outside and pretended to sigh heavily before climbing into her bed.
“Should I turn the lights off, my lady?”
Lucine turned off the lamp and exited the bed chambers. Finally alone, Aris stared at the ceiling and murmured to herself, “What’s going to happen to me now?”
She had tried so hard to change her fate, but now things weren’t going as expected. Who would have imagined that she would be selected as a candidate for the crown princess position?
“I need to be careful.” She murmured. The mere thought of becoming the crown prince’s wife gave her a full-body shudder. The prince was not a loyal man, what with him having several mistresses around. He would probably treat her with as much respect as her position deserved, but that was not what Aris wanted.
Not to mention that if she married the prince, she would become the empress someday. The job entailed so many tiresome duties to carry out and was such a heavy role to play that Aris knew she would never be happy as an empress. She wanted a peaceful and leisurely life.
“Besides, I like the male lead.” She chuckled. He was loyal to the one woman he loved, listened to what she had to say, and always believed in her. What a man!
Unfortunately for Aris, there were still two and a half years left before she could meet him. She had to make it through those years safely. She decided she would keep a low profile at the tea party, take a walk through the Spring Garden, and leave.
There was just one chinch in her plan. If the emperor wanted her to become the crown princess, then the crown prince would certainly approach her. What would she do then?
After racking her brains for a suitable answer, she closed her eyes. It was late, and she was getting tired. ‘I’ll figure it out tomorrow.’
Aris fell into a deep, peaceful slumber.