Chapter 59.2

Only ten days had passed, but it felt like an eternity. Elise remained rooted to her spot until he drew near. Rezette Kyrstan appeared unchanged since his departure. It was astonishing how someone who had suffered from madness to such an extent could maintain such impeccable composure. He looked just as he did when he left, without a trace of disarray.

With natural ease, he closed the mere one-step distance between them.

“Why are you here at this hour?” he inquired.

Elise met his gaze and replied, “I noticed your arrival and thought it only fitting to come out and welcome you.”

“If you had waited a bit longer, I would have made my way up,” he said.

“We were in the midst of having dinner in the dining room,” Elise explained, still catching her breath. Just moments ago, her breathing had felt constricted, as if she were dangling from a noose, but now it had eased somewhat, though it still didn’t feel entirely comfortable.

Rezette noticed her trembling voice and immediately placed his hands on her shoulders. Her eyelids turned a bright shade of red as she struggled to hold back tears, exerting all her strength to maintain composure.

‘Don’t cry,’ she admonished herself. Even without turning around, she was aware of the many eyes fixed on her. The knights who had arrived with Rezette, the servants who had gathered upon hearing of the Grand Duke’s return, and even Genovia Irrien.

With so many eyes upon her, she was determined not to appear as a wife who cried simply because her husband had been away for a mere ten days, especially not in front of Genovia. Elise carefully controlled her voice and assured him, “No, I’m fine. It’s just that today, I had dinner with a guest, so it became rather late.”

“I smell alcohol,” Rezette observed.

“No, I didn’t drink any…” Elise began to protest.

“Come here,” Rezette interrupted, pulling her gently into his arms and lowering his head. Amidst the ever-present scent of flowers, there was a faint hint of strong spirits that immediately wrinkled Rezette’s forehead.

“I find that hard to believe,” he muttered softly above her head.

“No… I didn’t drink,” Elise insisted.

“In the list of precautions I received, it clearly states that all types of alcohol are prohibited…”

“I didn’t touch it, so it’s fine. Please, let me go.”

Elise struggled and quickly pulled away from his embrace. However, Rezette’s attention had shifted away from her face. For some reason, he alternated between looking at his own hand and the part of Elise’s shoulder he had just touched, his expression gradually hardening.

Her shoulder, which he had held in one hand and still found too thin. Now that he looked again, even her cheeks appeared pale.

Elise hastily took a step back, unable to see his stiffening expression. “Alfred and Sobeul are waiting, so please go to the study first. I’ll go ahead…”

Rezette frowned. “You’re going? Where to?”

“To the bedroom. So, um, rest since you might be tired, and I’ll see you tomorrow…”

“I’ll escort you,” Rezette interrupted, holding her again. Elise held her breath and clung to his neck.

“Plenty of people are watching…” Elise muttered under her breath.

“So?” Rezette responded indifferently.

Elise urgently tapped his shoulder, hoping he would discreetly move her out of sight, but the man feigned ignorance.

Rezette continued to stride forward, seemingly unbothered by Elise’s grumbling. However, he came to a sudden halt. Someone was blocking the entrance to the sanctuary.

Upon recognizing the person, Rezette’s expression turned openly hostile.

“It seems you’ve been indulging in some alcohol,” he remarked.

An uninvited guest in Rotiara, and likely the one responsible for the lingering scent of alcohol on Elise. Lady Irrien extended her hand toward him with a warm smile.

“Hello, my knight. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?”

Rezette turned to Elise. “Surely you haven’t been drinking with Lady Irrien, have you, Elise?”

Genovia’s choice of address caught Elise by surprise. My knight?

Genovia responded with a disgusted expression. “I didn’t make her drink. They warned us that she would be in serious trouble if she accidentally consumed any alcohol. But it appears you have no intention of greeting me, Your Highness?”

“I don’t perceive any attitude that suggests you desire to exchange greetings, so I apologize,” Rezette replied.

Genovia had her arms folded as she leaned against the door, letting out a mocking laugh.

“Perhaps you’re becoming like a married couple; even your way with words is starting to resemble each other?”

Rezette arched an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”

“Never mind,” Genovia replied curtly. “I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing your treatment firsthand.”

“I’m pleased that you understand it. No need for any formal apologies, it seems.”

“It’s curious. Why the sudden hostility?” Genovia surveyed the two of them, her gaze scanning up and down. Elise flinched, prompting Rezette to turn slightly, obscuring Elise’s face. Genovia’s eyes narrowed.

What’s happening here?

Their current situation was far removed from what she had envisioned in her mind.



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