At my sudden question, he curled his lips up in a smile. “You have already forgotten it? I am not very sharp in mind either, but I still remember our meeting. It wasn’t that long ago.”
“No,” I said, “Before that. Have we met before? Maybe when I was younger…”
“Hm,” said the Grand Duke, “Unless you have visited the Royal Palace when you were young, or stopped by Glouster lands, I can’t think of anywhere we might have met. I haven’t been to Wishburn estates either.”
It was my first time visiting the Royal palace. I have been to Schway a few times but never as far as Glouster.
“I’ve heard Count Thoreau drowned while drinking in his bathtub.” He changed the subject.
I shrugged. “I wouldn’t know. My father just said so. It must be true.” My father hadn’t divulged the information to us officially. How did he expect me to know about it? He smiled at me, faintly.
“I saw you smile at the time, when the news was revealed,” he said.
“Me?” I frowned. I need to learn to hide my expressions well. Was it because it was personal, and it involved my family? I needed to learn to control my expressions. My life is so different from before. I need to be careful. There are eyes everywhere.
“Yes. It was very slight, but I saw it. The side of your mouth went up very fleetingly.”
I pouted. “Well, I should think it was something to be relieved about. The person who hurt my brothers drank himself to death and fell in a bathtub. I might sound morbid but that kind of death suits someone with such an evil heart.”
“Only your brothers?” I felt my body freeze at his words. Does this mean what I think it does? Is he asking if anything happened to me because the princess ran her mouth that time?
Rape is a heinous crime. It leaves physical and traumatic wounds that are hard to recover from. It is humiliating and violent and anybody who attempts it should be flogged to death.
“Nothing happened to me, if that is what you are asking,” I said coldly. “My brothers protected me.”
As though feeling the ice in my voice, the Grand Duke didn’t probe further. We danced in silence for a while. Just as the music ended, he said, “You love your family a lot.”
“Who doesn’t?” I said, “Most people love their families, I am not any different. My family loves and cherishes me. I am willing to return the love that I receive. I can also return the hate that someone directs at me, in equal measure.”
The music stopped and the nobles ceased their dancing. I took a step back and the Grand Duke bowed before me.
“How about a glass of something…”
“How did you like dancing with me, Miss Warwick?”
“Well, this dance…”
Young men rushed in, cutting off the Grand Duke’s words, and soon his form was hidden from me. For a moment, I thought he would make his way through the men and walk away, but he didn’t.
I held the hand of a man and danced to the next song. It seemed I would be dancing for a while now. At least it was a relief to move my body and forget about things for a while. Otherwise, after about three people I would have stepped on their feet with these high heels.
They’ve made a fool out of me. They’ve made a fool out of me!
Princess Eleanor paced in her room in anger. She picked up a flower vase and flung it against a wall. The maids flinched but didn’t dare utter a word.
“Monster inside the wardrobe? What on earth does that even mean? What on earth does that crazy girl think of herself?!”
She believed in monsters inside her wardrobe. What a joke! What an idiot! Do people like these actually exist? She was speaking nonsense, and everyone was laughing as though she said something profound. And Alex and Aaron stared at her with their fond faces as though they were fools!
They should have been looking at me! Princess Eleanor, the future queen!
“I can’t believe this!” she shouted. “This can’t be!” The story simply couldn’t change like this!
When she regained the memories of her previous life, the story had changed slightly. But not this drastically. The characters had done things they were supposed to do in the story. But this…. The death of Aaron’s sister and his revenge were crucial parts in the original novel which changed the fates of everyone. Aaron’s character developed because of that.
But today, Aaron looked like a fool. He didn’t even look like how he was described in the novel. He is just a stupid, scholarly bookworm here. Even Alex looked more like Aaron depicted in the book. How could this even happen?
“Your Majesty, Miss Kelevan is here,” said Jane Ann, one of the maids.
Eleanor looked at her. The maids flinched at her gaze and started cleaning up the pieces of the broken vase. The Queen’s lady-in-waiting, Miss Kelevan, entered the room and bowed to Eleanor.
“Your Highness, Her Majesty the Queen wants you to return to the party immediately,” said Miss Kelevan, “She says it would be rude towards the organizers and the nobles if you disappear without saying goodbye from a party held in your honor.”
“Oh? What did my mother do when I was being humiliated?” she yelled. “And father? They watched silently. Why didn’t they step up when I was being insulted? And now they are talking about being rude?” Eleanor yelled at Miss Kelevan as though she was the one who had wronged her.
Miss Kelevan clicked her tongue.
How dare she? She was just some daughter of some count in her mid-thirties! Eleanor seethed.
“They couldn’t believe Your Highness had caused such a bit of trouble on your own part,” said Miss Kelevan. “Did you really intend to make the most powerful nobles on the land, Marquess of Wishburn and Duke of Seymour, into your enemies? These are the families that His Majesty the King cares very deeply about. The Duke of Seymour himself is related to the royal family.”
“So, what if that was it? Duke of Seymour doesn’t even have an heir of his own and Marquess of Wishburn is supposed to be loyal to me! No one turns into an enemy suddenly. Something is wrong!”
Something went wrong.
Something was definitely wrong. Eleanor could feel it in her whole being.