Adeline looked at Kael’s hand, still stunned.

If it was the way it was supposed to be, Kael should not have even glanced at Adeline once.
He had to treat all the women, including Adeline, strictly as if they were not there, and clung to Vanessa, courting her enthusiastically.

‘You’re not going to look at Vanessa right now, are you?’

But the situation right now was the complete opposite.
It was absolute madness.

She urgently tried to search for Vanessa, but she was completely blocked by the Crown Prince, so she couldn’t see what was going on.

‘How… Alright.
Let’s refuse the dance for now.
That comes first.’

The other ladies would be cheering inwardly if Kael asked them for a dance, but not Adeline.
The events taking place as they did in the original work was Adeline’s only goal.

“Your Grace, Grand Duke Inver, I… Ah!”

The moment she thought she had to get away from Kael and tried to refuse his request, the crowd at the place where Adeline was standing suddenly moved.
The densely packed crowd, which someone had to burrow through to come to the front, fluctuated somewhat raucously, and Adeline’s body was pushed forward in the process.
Although she was clearly going to refuse, she grabbed Kael’s hand on impulse while trying to regain her balance due to her body being pushed.

‘No, what is this! Who on earth!’

Whoever looked at it, it seemed that she had naturally accepted the request.
Adeline screamed inwardly, trying to find the mastermind behind the sudden commotion, but it was useless.

Kael led her to the center, bowing down to greet her.
It was the beginning of a full-fledged ball waltz.
Now, Adeline could not refuse or escape as she wished.
Kael’s large hand wrapped around Adeline’s waist, and Adeline’s hand rested on his firm arm.

“Dear heavens!”
“Oh my, oh my.”

As their hands were held together and the distance between the two became shorter, exclamations were heard among the noblewomen who were watching.
Until now, Kael had never danced with a lady at a ball, giving all kinds of excuses, and above all, Kael and Adeline’s picture was great.

‘Ah…’

Adeline, who was sighing inwardly, looked up at Kael at the sudden thought that crossed her mind.

In the original work, he fell in love with Vanessa while dancing.
She was worried that Kael would fall for Adeline because things weren’t going as they should.

‘That’s a relief.
He doesn’t seem to like me or be interested in me.
Phew.’

In the scene in the original work of Kael and Vanessa at the ball, it was written, ‘Everyone at the ball knew that they had fallen in love at first sight’.
However, she couldn’t feel the energy of someone who had fallen in love coming from Kael.
His blue-grey eyes still felt cold, and the corners of his mouth weren’t rising.

The way Adeline saw it, it was a face without any special emotion.
Only the end of his gaze was directed at Adeline.

But the moment she sighed, saying that it was a relief, something happened.
Adeline stepped on Kael’s foot because she had been distracted by her thoughts and missed the beat of the dance.

“Your Grace,”
“Shh.”

She pressed his foot with a high heel, so there was no way he was fine.
Adeline, who had come to her senses, quickly opened her mouth, but Kael stopped her with a relaxed, languid, low-pitched sound.
He did not frown once, as if he was really fine, but rather led Adeline more skillfully.

“I have a favor to ask you.”
“… To me?”
“When the dance is over, let’s come out and go to the garden for a moment.
Get out of the hall.”

Doubting her ears, Adeline could not hide her shocked expression.

‘… Is he crazy?’

If they left and went to the garden alone after the dance, it would obviously look like a secret meeting.

“… Why me?”
“In exchange for forgetting the mistake a little while ago?”
“No.
You don’t have to forget it.
You can remember it for a long time.
So I’ll pretend I didn’t hear it, Your Grace.”

Adeline refused, without giving him any possibility.
Kael, who didn’t know she would refuse so firmly, frowned slightly.

“If you stepped on His Highness’ feet, you would face a different level of consequences than when stepping on mine.”
“What?”
“If you dance in big shoes that don’t even fit on your feet, you have no choice but to step on someone’s feet.
So the Lady will continue to step on men’s feet today, and the next person after me will be His Highness the Crown Prince.”

Adeline looked at Kael, her eyes widening in surprise.

She never expected him to realize that the shoes she was wearing were big.
The maid had prepared bigger shoes by mistake, but she didn’t have time to change them because she had found out late.
She didn’t intend to dance in the first place, and it would not even be visible since she was wearing a long dress, so she just tied them with a strap and came out.

‘He saw it when I greeted him earlier.’

However, when she greeted him by raising the skirt of her dress before dancing the waltz, he noticed that she had a pair of shoes wrapped in white cloth.

‘How did he, in such a short moment… But what does he mean by the Crown Prince will be next?’

With a face still full of confusion, Adeline asked Kael another question.

“Did you say His Highness the Crown Prince will be next?”
“Because His Highness is still looking at the Lady, even now.”

When she glanced at the Crown Prince, thinking that it was impossible, Adeline swallowed an exclamation.

‘Oh my god.’

Kael was right.
Although he was in the middle of dancing with Vanessa, the Crown Prince’s gaze was stuck on Adeline.
Even though he was wearing a mask, it didn’t hide it in the slightest.

“I don’t intend to dance at the ball anymore today, and I think it would be better for the Lady to stop now than to step on His Highness’ feet.”
“…”
“Isn’t running away from this hall to the garden a pretty good proposition? If you go out alone, someone will follow you, but if we both get out, no one will follow.”

Kael raised one eyebrow slightly and spoke with a faint smile, and Adeline bit her lips slightly.

She was going to continue dancing because as long as Kael could dance with Vanessa in the next sequence, it didn’t matter whether she stepped on the Crown Prince’s feet or not, but Kael said he wasn’t going to dance anymore.

The Crown Prince was not that good of a human being.
Although it was crazy why Kael, who was supposed to be dancing happily with Vanessa’s hand, was doing this to Adeline, there was no need to make things big by adding the Crown Prince here.
The answer was not to associate with the Crown Prince as much as possible.

“I’ll ask you again.
Will you come with me to the garden after the dance?”

As if convinced of the answer he would hear, Kael asked with an extremely relaxed voice and expression.

‘Damn it.
Damn it.
Damn it.’

After repeating a few times the curse her brother Leo, the Commander of the Knights, had taught her, Adeline sighed.

“… Alright.”

There was a reason for Kael’s ease.
Adeline had no other options.

 

***

 

‘There should be a lot of rumors about him and Vanessa, not me… What the hell is going on…’

Adeline, who had followed Kael to the garden, chewed on her lips.
It was a habit of hers that came out whenever she was troubled.

‘It felt like everyone in the hall was staring at me.
Ah, I’m going crazy.’

As soon as the performance was over and the dance stopped, Kael escorted Adeline out of the hall, and, just as Adeline worried, all eyes in the hall clung to them.

Even if she didn’t know what kind of rumors would go around after the ball, it was obvious.

“The dance should be sort of organized in about 20 minutes.
Just hold on until then.”

Unlike Adeline, whose head was about to burst, Kael was just fully calm and relaxed.

Adeline, who was watching him, felt overwhelmed.
Why didn’t he dance with Vanessa and fall in love with her as the book said? It was crazy.

“Your Grace.
Why did you dance with me?”

Adeline asked directly.
She was frustrated, so she wanted to hear the reason from Kael’s mouth.
Kael was surprised for a moment, as if he didn’t expect her to ask why, but he casually told her the reason for reaching out to her.

“You were the only lady in that hall whose face didn’t show any expectation.”

It was a reason that Adeline didn’t expect at all.

“I asked for a dance because you were the only lady who wasn’t excited about this ball.
You wouldn’t misunderstand me even if I asked you to dance, and you wouldn’t have any absurd expectations even if I asked you to run away to the garden like this.”
“…”
“You seemed like one of the few people like me who didn’t like balls, so I felt like we could understand each other easily.
Of course, I didn’t expect to be rejected so firmly.”

Without her even realizing it, Adeline opened her mouth slightly at the reason that she would never think of even in her dreams.

So what Kael was saying was that he held out his hand to her because it seemed like she wouldn’t be as excited as other ladies about his approach.

If you thought about it, his judgement was correct.
If it were the other ladies, they would have been shyly blushing by now and their hearts would have been palpitating about whether Kael would make a sweet offer or not, but Adeline wasn’t like that at all.

‘This is messed up.’

The reason Adeline could be so unexpectant and calm was because she knew the end of Kael and Vanessa.
So she was only waiting for the moment the two of them would fall in love at first sight with an emotionless face.
But she seemed to have attracted Kael because of that, and it made her head ache.

‘What can I do to make it go back to how it should be? Actually, since I know his pair is Vanessa, should I tell him to go inside the hall quickly and dance with her?’

There was a constant stream of question marks in Adeline’s head.
If things went on like this, Kael might only get involved with Adeline.
It was the worst situation for her.

‘Let’s stop him from getting involved with me first.
Vanessa comes after.
I have to put him off.’

The more she thought about it, the more she felt like she had to cut off her relationship with Kael.

Adeline raised her head a little more and straightened her posture, then slowly opened her lips.

“So that means you reached out your hand because you thought I would be safe.”

Kael, who was staring at the glittering flowers under the moonlight, turned to face Adeline.

“Your Grace is right.
Unlike other ladies, I am not the one to blush at your attention.
And it won’t happen in the future either.”
“…”
“But don’t put me in the middle of such unnecessary rumors for that reason.
Your Grace has reached out to me for being ‘safe’, and you will get the results you want without any particular incident, but what happened today will keep me in other people’s mouths.”
“…”
“The world isn’t as kind to me as it is to Your Grace.
So if we meet each other like this again in the future, I hope that this will not happen.
It’s very unpleasant.”

Adeline’s hands trembled a little as she quickly spat out her words.
Although she was desperate to make it go back to how the contents of the original work were, the person she was facing was Grand Duke Kael Inver.

The Grand Duke of the North, who had greater wealth than the imperial family and a greater and more powerful military strength than the imperial family, was the subject of everyone’s admiration and, at the same time, fear.
After seeing how he guarded the northern border, it was also said that he was a terrible person and that no one dared to look him in the eyes.

‘He wouldn’t kill me, would he?’

Not even the Emperor and the Crown Prince could easily deal with him, so no one could have snapped back at him as Adeline did a moment ago.

Adeline glanced at Kael’s face at the fear that was rushing in.

‘… What’s wrong with him?’

She was planning to flee into the hall if she saw a sign of him being offended or angry, but Kael was staring at Adeline with twinkling eyes as if it were extremely amusing.
Anyone could tell that he was very interested.

“Well, then.”

A sense of dizziness rushed in.
Adeline hurriedly tried to move into the hall.

“Wait.”

Why didn’t her anxious premonitions pass? Kael’s voice stopped Adeline as she was passing him.

“Do you perhaps have a prospective spouse or are you engaged?”
“… What?”

Adeline’s heartbeat accelerated as she stopped and turned her head back.
It wasn’t excitement.
The anxiety that struck her made her tense up.

“I’ve been looking for a partner for a contract under the name of marriage.”
“…”
“I think I’ve found the right person.”

Adeline looked at Kael with an expression of incredulity.
It was the worst.
This situation was the worst.

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