“Well, I supposed you two must have met.
Even if you didn’t, I’ll at least praise you for your persistence to the end.”

The strong arms that had been holding my body suddenly released me.
I glanced at him, wondering why his mind changed.
Nezar’s eyes already shifted away from me and turned to inspecting the interior of the drawing room.
My gaze also wandered around the room to find the place his eyes rested.
But there was no need for that because he was looking at the gypsophilas in the vase.

Was it because it made the room come alive? Nezar’s could not take his eyes off the gypsophilas.

“Did you think about my proposal?”

Nezar then looked away from the flowers, his attention on me again.
If it’s about the previous proposal, it would be when he offered to introduce me to the princess.
She was someone who was unfit for my plan so I didn’t want to meet her at all.

“No, I don’t need friends who are forced to play with me.
That’s not a true friend.”

In my opinion, it was a very logical and sentimental rejection.
Perhaps quite shocked by this, Nezar leaned down to meet my gaze.
Looking at him up close, his black hair, which was messed up in the wind, was just as good as when it was tucked back.
The same applied for his face, despite having faced head-on with the dusty wind during training.
The current Nezar was not the usual dazzling prince, but like a mighty knight.

As he tried to reach out to me, he paused midway and wiped his hand on his shirt.
He put the back of his hand on my forehead, not his wiped palm. 

What kind of silly behavior is this? If you’re going to do this, you should have washed your hands.

“Kate, are you sick? Why do you keep saying nonsense? In the past, you always asked for help in whatever matters you needed.”

“I’m fifteen now.
I’m not a child.”

He laughed at my serious answer.

“Then who on earth was the little girl hanging onto my leg and crying for an engagement?”

Nezar slowly removed his hand from my forehead.
I stood in place and looked at him sullenly like a child being punished.
Upon taking his hand off my forehead, he subsequently made eye contact with me.
The series of actions suited his doubtful personality so well that if I were to describe it, I would say it was like a suit tailored just for him.
Because of that, I was a little scared.
I wondered if my grumbling and complaining from before had somehow hurt him.
That could have been the reason why he mentioned it so often.

“Can we just forget that it ever happened?”

My voice came out shaky so I quickly cleared my throat.

“Ahem, Nezar, if you don’t like it that much…”

Nezar silently signaled for me to continue.

“…You can just pretend it never happened.
It’s okay.
I will accept whatever rumours that come afterward.”

If my engagement was broken, I wouldn’t have to get a girlfriend, memorise young lords’ names, or practice embroidery.
It would be fine, but…

Unlike my words, the corners of my mouth were drooping like heavy rocks were hanging on them.
Nezar seemed to have fully grasped my gloom.
He narrowed his dark eyes and said in a somber tone.

“I think I have made it clear yesterday that you have to take responsibility for what you say.”

This time he pulled one of my hands and grabbed it with the hand he had just wiped on his shirt.

“Kate, can you take responsibility for what you just said?”

Can I take responsibility? Rather, the question is can we really forget about it and pretend it never happened? If I nod here and now, does it mean we aren’t engaged anymore? I would certainly welcome that.
If I don’t marry Nezar, I could have children.
I wouldn’t have to grow old alone.
Though I don’t remember all the advantages right now, it seems like there would be plenty of other plus factors.

With that in mind, I intended to nod.
I wasn’t confident enough to actually say yes, so I would have to indicate it through action..

Yes, definitely!

Suddenly, Nezar brought his hands onto my cheeks and held them firmly, preventing me from moving my head. 

No but, why are you stopping me when you were the one who asked?

Since you did not want to admit it, I, His Highness Nezar, who has unlimited grace and generosity, shall let it slide.
If you say that again next time, you will be in trouble.
Got it?”

“Where did that come from?! This is not fair!”

“That’s enough, now quickly nod.”

I quickly nodded at Near’s expression slightly turning cold.
My head could then move more easily thanks to Nezar’s loosening on his grips.
I couldn’t believe how rude he was.
Just because he was the Crown Prince, he thought he could just have it his way?

Nezar, who looked at me with his knees bent, soon pulled me by my hand.
Unlike before, all five of his fingers were cold.
As he led me, we slowly walked down the quiet hallway.

Nezar didn’t hold my hand tight.
It was always like that whether it was hot or cold.
At times, it was just mere touch or one hand putting over another rather than being intertwined.
I couldn’t figure out why, but even when I squeezed on his palm or tried interlocking our fingers, he didn’t show any reaction.
So from some point onward, I was always the one holding onto Nezar’s hand.

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