“Your Highness,” Rezette cut her off, his voice stern. Elise’s nonsensical plans were dashed, and she was left feeling frustrated and unsure of what to do next.
“Then what should we do?”
Elise looked up at Rezette, her face innocent and unclouded like the morning sun. Rezette gazed at her golden eyes for a moment before speaking deliberately.
“If possible, let’s write ‘as much as possible if conditions permit.’ I don’t want it to appear as though we are trying to accomplish a task by specifying a certain number of times.”
“I understand,” Elise replied, hastily amending the contract. On the other hand, Rezette was less focused on the words she was writing and more on her.
He began to wonder if Elise had truly comprehended his words. She had shown no indication of understanding the mechanics of intimacy between a man and a woman, despite his numerous warnings.
The princess was completely unaware of the fact that he was struggling to handle her delicately, as though any wrong move would result in injury or worse. It wasn’t a prospect that appealed to him, and he swallowed his discomfort.
“Assuming the child is born safely, they will carry the Kyrstan surname and the Princess cannot claim any rights to the child. Do you agree?” Rezette inquired.
Elise nodded her head in agreement.
“And while it’s unlikely…”
Noyer’s words had left a lasting impression on Rezette.
“If it were true, how can you be sure the child is yours, Rezette? Even the assemblyman cannot determine whose seed it is.”
Elise echoed Noyer’s words with curiosity, “Unlikely?”
“It’s nothing,” Rezette replied dismissively.
He didn’t want to think about the possibility, but he had no control over whom the princess might have had inside her. Besides, if the child wasn’t a dragon, then Elise would no longer serve as a valuable pawn for Noyer. In that case, she would be taken back to the capital, but Rezette didn’t want to concern himself on those thoughts. He decided to put the precarious nature of their marriage and the contract out of his mind.
In the meantime, Elise finished filling out the contract.
Elise carefully read over the paper one last time before writing her name at the bottom of the contract. Rezette, on the other hand, signed it without much thought, his angular signature scrawled beside hers. With both contracts complete, Elise’s heart swelled with relief.
“It’s over,” she thought, feeling safe and free within the confines of Rezette Kyrstan’s estate until October. Her grace period could last anywhere from six days to six months, and if she became pregnant, it would be extended to ten months. It was enough time for her to hide from the threats of the Ugel Kingdom and find a way to return to Argan.
Elise tried to keep her heart from collapsing in on itself, knowing that she couldn’t waste even a single moment of the time she had been given. Rezette caught her gaze and spoke nonchalantly, his breaths deep and measured.
“If you’re scared, you can run away anytime,” he said.
“Anytime?” Elise asked, incredulous.
“Yes, as long as you can,” Rezette replied.
Could she really escape the clutches of the infamous War Devil, a man who loomed over the entire continent? It was a warning, a reminder that there would be no mercy if the terms of their contract were not met. Rezette’s sarcastic voice cut through Elise’s thoughts, leaving her stiff and unyielding.
“So, it’s better for you to conceive as soon as possible, before the Princess’s lies are exposed to the world,” Rezette said.
Elise’s signature had already been placed on the contract, and the man appeared dry and unfeeling, as if he had no involvement with the agreement. He rose from his seat, as if he were preparing to depart.
“In three days, I’ll be heading to the Rotiara Territory. I’ll be taking a carriage. Is that acceptable to you? If you require additional time to recuperate, I can postpone the trip,” he asked.
“It’s fine. I haven’t been able to sleep for the past three days, so it’s all right,” she replied. “You don’t need to be concerned about me.”
Once more, the conversation petered out, and the duke appeared to pity her. Elise peered at him warily.
“Your Grace, I have a question.”
“Please ask,” he responded.
“If, by any chance, the child is conceived and safely born, what happens then?”
The man had no response regarding how they would lead their married lives in the future.
“There’s no need for a grand ceremony.”
Rezette snapped back to reality, realizing he was in the middle of a private conversation with the Emperor.
“We shouldn’t make a big fuss about the marriage between the Princess of Argan and the Duke of Van Yela. And if the Princess dies before giving birth, you’ll become a divorced man that day. We shouldn’t diminish your worth.”
Noyer had already devised a plan to proceed with the uncertain marriage without any formalities or announcements. Rezette wasn’t interested in the ceremonial procedures, so he only half-listened to the plan. However, he couldn’t ignore Noyer’s mutterings.
“Why get married at all?” Noyer said. “We only need her to have a child.”
Rezette addressed the Emperor, “Your Majesty…”
“Let her give birth safely. And if she can have a second child, let her live. Why don’t you marry a noblewoman who befits your honor? What about the daughter of the Count? She still seems interested in you, doesn’t she? If that’s the case…”
Ultimately, the princess was destined to live separately from her husband like a widow.