“Then what about you, Alex? Seymour has richer lands than Wishburn. Just leave Wishburn to Aaron. You take charge of Seymour.”
Some distressed expression flickered on Alex’s face. This wasn’t the first time it had happened. Alex was obviously capable of being in charge of larger lands but seeing how miserable Alex looked, even I wanted to jump to his defense.
“Duke of Seymour,” called a low and calm voice. I looked over grandfather’s shoulders.
The Grand Duke of Glouster. His gray eyes met mine before it darted towards my grandfather. “It’s been a long time. I haven’t seen you in a setting like this in quite a while.”
“I’ll happily go anywhere for my lovely granddaughter. I haven’t seen the Grand Duke leave the palace in a long time either.”
The two men shook hands. The ambiguous smile on the Grand Duke’s lips disappeared. “Well, it’s my niece’s party so I couldn’t have refused. It’s my duty.”
“There are duties people do gladly, joyfully. And others that you put up with like a chore. Which one is it in this case?” I openly poked my grandfather’s back.
“Hello.” I couldn’t register the greeting as directed for me so when it was repeated once again, Alex pinched my side, urging me to respond. I turned my head and looked at someone trying to get my attention. Is he in his twenties? Maybe late teens? He didn’t really look like a man, only a boy pretending to be an adult.
“I am Callum Anis, Count of Cadover,” he introduced himself. “Would you have this dance with me?”
No, I wanted to say. I didn’t want to dance or give any kind of hint to this boy with a soft heart. I was a twenty-eight-year-old woman (at least in spirit).
“Even the Princess hasn’t started dancing yet, so it would be rude to lead the dance firs,” I said in a friendly way. The dance could only start when the main person, for whom the party was held in the first place, led the dance. Especially when the said person was a member of the royal family, one had to tread carefully.
“Ah, yes. Anyhow, I thought I should ask early for later,” said the boy, fumbling with his hands as his face turned red.
What should I do? “Of course! Let’s dance later if I am not too tired.” I directed a smile at him.
He beamed, bowed politely and left with springy, confident steps. I grimaced. What had I done?
“You must secure networks and followers now, so that even after this, nobles will keep visiting you, Miss Alice.”
At the Grand Duke’s voice, irritation surged, and anger bubbled within me. “Is that supposed to be my only charm? Do you suggest I flirt with every noble I meet just so that they ‘might’ visit my land later?’ I snapped.
Even my grandfather seemed shocked at my words. But I saw his beard twitch and quiver and I knew that he was forcing himself not to burst out laughing. Alex was mortified and Aaron just rubbed his temples.
At then a sharp and excited voice rang. “There you are! Aaron Warwick, I’ve been looking for you!”
Everyone turned towards the voice. The Princess was truly gorgeous up close. Her jet-black hair and purple eyes looked like something out of a whimsy painting. And her dark red dress seemed to bleed color. In ten years, the princess would look absolutely divine.
However, at just fifteen years, her child-like figure stood jarringly out in the red dress. She would have looked pretty in a lavender dress that suited her eyes, or even a light pink one. It would suit her as a young princess making her first appearance in social circles.
I had the eye of my mother when it came to colors and fashion. In my past life too, I had taught myself from professional make-up artists so that I could disguise myself well. The knowledge remained.
The clothes and the make-up on the princess seemed unmatched. I wondered why nobody stopped her. Didn’t the queen comment on it? The Queen knew about fashion too, and how important it was to make a good impression. The king himself looked okay as well. But the princess… my mom would have ripped the dress to pieces.
But this wasn’t the time now to comment on it. Her fashion sense isn’t a problem, anyway. I was curious why she had sought out Aaron of all people.
“Aaron Warwick? “For a second the Princess seemed to be looking around to find who Aaron was exactly. Why would she come find him if she didn’t know for sure who he was?
My brother politely stepped forward and introduce himself. “I am Aaron Warwick, Your Highness.”
“Ah….” The princess looked at Aaron carefully and seemed quite disappointed. It made no sense to me.
Alex grinned as though he knew something that we didn’t. I looked at him. When his eyes met mine, he closed his mouth tight and held back his laughter. Grandfather and the Grand Duke looked on silently. I thought it was very strange of the princess to not acknowledge them before calling out to Aaron.
“Um, is your leg okay?” she asked.
“It’s quite fine. Thank you for asking but… how did you know about my leg?” asked Aaron.
The princess smiled coyly. “Everybody has secrets. I came here to tell you that I support your actions, even if they might be criticized by others in the future. I will stand with you and vouch for them,” the princess declared.
Not able to respond in shock, we stood there staring at the princess. What is she talking about?