“If things don’t go as planned, I plan to report the truth to Your Majesty. Then Your Majesty will make the final decision.”
His words hung in the air like a sharp blade, ready to cut through any hope of salvation. Elise knew what he meant. In six months, Rezette wouldn’t care about what happened. If she couldn’t accomplish the task by then, he would tell the emperor about her lie, and the emperor would cut off her head and send her to the Kingdom of Ugel as planned. She didn’t know if she would be handed over to the prince of Ugel alive or killed.
Despite the looming threat of death, Elise nodded calmly. However, the cold gaze of the man in front of her made her uneasy. She hastily added, “I promise to cooperate.”
“For the promised six months, including me, Kyrstan, and Rotiara, will protect the Princess,” Rezette continued.
“That’s not it,” Elise interrupted, her frustration building.
She couldn’t shake the fact that the man before her had expressed his disdain for women like her. If he had no intention of helping her, this contract was meaningless. As she chewed on her lips, Rezette’s eyes narrowed slightly.
“What do you mean that’s not it?” he asked.
“You, you can’t avoid it,” Elise stuttered, not caring that her words lacked poise.
“I know you may not like it or even hate it. Holding a woman you don’t want is surely a burden for you. But please promise me that you won’t refuse.”
Only then did Rezette seem to understand her intentions, and he muttered unexpectedly, “It’s fortunate that you know that babies don’t fall from the sky.”
Elise felt a twinge of embarrassment as she spoke up, “I’m not that stupid.”
She was taken aback by Rezette Kyrstan’s amused yet annoyed expression. She may not have much experience in the world, but she was twenty-two years old and had heard enough whispered conversations amongst the maids to know what was going on. She couldn’t shake off her unease, but Rezette gestured towards the paper on the table with his eyes.
“If you’re really uneasy, write it down. Would a contract that specifies the obligations and responsibilities to be fulfilled between us suffice?”
Elise’s face turned red at the thought. She had been considering leaving some kind of evidence. The only thing she had to believe in was the evidence of their marriage, written on paper. Her neat handwriting soon filled the page, outlining all the details they had discussed.
As she reached the more intimate sections of the contract, her hand holding the pen came to a halt. “In terms of the relationship, if we have it at least five times within the period specified by the doctor…?” Elise trailed off, her voice faltering.
Regis’s right eyebrow raised slightly, and Elise stuttered, “Is it too little?”
She couldn’t help but feel embarrassed at the thought of discussing their intimate life so candidly. But she had to consider her situation; if her body was difficult to conceive, five times might not be enough. Even if they did it five times on the moon, it would only be thirty times in six months. Moreover, her body wasn’t in the best condition right now.
Elise’s mind drifted back to her time in Argan, to the stories of her personal maid who had been unable to conceive a child after years of marriage. The maid had described having a child as a miraculous blessing from God.
How could she hope for a miracle with only thirty attempts? It seemed like an impossible feat.
But when she suggested doubling the number, the duke’s reaction was less than enthusiastic. He closed his eyes tightly and even took a deep breath. Elise’s impatience grew, and she blurted out, “What about tripling it?”