Elise’s younger brother had a habit of making promises to her, assuring her that he would find her the most suitable partner on the continent. “I’ll find you a man with a kind and loving personality, who will only have eyes for you,” he would say. However, Elise would often doubt this, questioning whether any man would want to marry someone as flighty as herself. To this, her brother would respond with compliments and flattery, praising her beauty and making her feel both embarrassed and unsure of herself. He would go on to promise her a grand and luxurious wedding, even more magnificent than the emperor’s. “Just promise me that you’ll get a little healthier,” he would plead.
Lost in thought, Elise suddenly snapped back to reality as she heard the officiant’s question. “Will you cherish and love Rezette Kyrstan as your husband for the rest of your life?”
Without hesitation, she replied, “Yes, I swear.”
The wedding was quickly coming to a close, just minutes after it had begun. However, the wedding organizers seemed to find this to be a relief, as they hadn’t spent months preparing for the ceremony like some had.
The archbishop posed the same question to Rezette Kyrstan, “Will you cherish and love Elizabeth Aseica as your wife for the rest of your life?” There was a tense moment of silence before Rezette finally answered with a simple, “Yes,” prompting a relieved response from the archbishop.
Elise’s maid, Yvesa, had told her that Rezette was surprisingly devout. It was clear that taking false vows before God would have been a difficult thing for him to do.
The archbishop continued in a business-like tone, “As a representative of God, I approve the marital vow of these two people. Please verify that there is no falsehood in the vow you have made, and share a kiss of oath before God.”
Confusion appeared on Elise’s face, as she had not realized that it was a natural process. She turned to the duke, who was facing her, albeit a beat too late. In a hushed tone that only he could hear, she whispered, “You can just pretend, Your Grace.”
Given the numerous onlookers, it was impossible to skip the kiss entirely. However, Elise could angle her head in such a way that it would appear they were kissing, even though their lips did not touch. However, she soon realized that a fake kiss might cause Rezette to hesitate. After all, why would anyone want to kiss a woman like her?
Instead, she decided it would be best if she approached him. Since the rumors about their marriage had already spread beyond the palace, it would not be unusual for her to take a proactive stance. Elise estimated the difference in height between herself and Rezette and lifted her heels.
Rezette gazed at Elise as she approached, his eyes fixed on her lips. Talk of their marriage had spread quickly beyond the palace walls, and Rezette was aware of how Elizabeth Aseica was being judged by the public. She was viewed as a beauty who had seduced a warlord, a woman who hid the wicked nature of a ruthless ruler beneath an angelic facade. Was he truly under her spell?
The princess inclined her head ever so slightly, and tentatively leaned forward and brushed her lips against the corners of his mouth, the faintest whisper of a kiss.
Rezette’s judgment was clouded, his mind twisted by an unknown feeling that plagued him. “If you’re going to do it, do it properly,” he commanded, his voice low and insistent. He reached out, his fingers closing around the soft nape of her neck, preventing her from retreating. In one swift motion, he claimed her lower lip. It was an impulse, an instinctive action.
What he stood to gain from this union was a pardon for taking the princess of Argan as he pleased, and so he had no reason to hesitate if she was willing. Elise, her lip caught between her teeth, gasped softly as Rezette devoured her mouth, taking everything that she had to offer.
The princess’s mouth was hot and soft, yielding to his kiss. Elise’s raised heel slowly returned to the ground as she seemed to surrender to the moment. Though surprised by the intensity of his embrace, she did not pull away or turn her head.
As they kissed, the sweet fragrance of her blooming courtesy mixed with the warm, heady scent of their shared breath, enveloping them in a cocoon of desire.
Rezette finally parted their lips, and the princess quickly lowered her head. Her ears turned bright red, her previous boldness replaced with a sudden shyness that made her seem vulnerable. Her chest heaved as she struggled to catch her breath, the dull white dress she wore tightly hugging her curves.
Unconsciously, Rezette’s eyes roamed over her body, taking in the curves of her bosom accentuated by the flower bud-like dress she wore. He couldn’t help but wonder who had chosen such an inappropriate attire for such a solemn occasion. If their intention was to arouse desire in men to peel off her dress like opening a flower, he could certainly understand why.