wished that Kael was his son, which led to the Crown Prince’s anger towards Kael.
In addition, rumors spread that the Crown Prince himself was so promiscuous that he called women every night without the Emperor knowing to make lowly harems.

Kael knew this better than anyone, and he constantly felt how much the Crown Prince was trying to hold him back.
It didn’t feel good.

“I heard that when two or more people come together in the capital these days, all they talk about is you and the daughter of Marquis Tien.”
“…”
“I heard that bets are pouring in on when the two of you will get married.
Well, that’s understandable.
You’re the one who has never glanced at a woman no matter how many try to court you after a few rounds around the capital.”

The Crown Prince came closer to Kael with a distinctive haughty smile.

“I want to ask you a question.
Are you really planning to marry the daughter of Marquis Tien?”
“Yes.”
“Did you already get engaged, as the rumors say?”
“We will be soon.”

Kael was calm and determined, as if he would be married tomorrow.
His attitude was that of someone who had no other choice but to marry Adeline.

The Crown Prince swept his chin with a ‘hmm’.
Then, he looked at Kael with a fishy smile and opened his mouth.

“Then you’d better give that up quickly and find another way.”
“…”
“Because the moment you and the Lady get married and the Inver family and the Tien family connect, I intend to consider the union as treason.”
“…”
“I don’t have to tell you how the empire handles treason, do I?”

Kael burst into laughter as soon as the Crown Prince’s groundless declaration of war was over.

‘Marriage is treason…’

Even if he didn’t, he was already on fire.
He put firewood all over the place.
As if he wanted to see how much Kael’s flame would grow to bring Adeline to the contract.

‘In that case, I’ll show you.’

Kael’s blue-grey eyes sparkled with a blue flame.

“You c-can’t go in there…”

The moment Kael tried to convey his will to the Crown Prince, the butler’s urgent voice was heard.
At the sudden interruption, both Kael and the Crown Prince turned their heads towards the sound.

“… Ah.
I apologize.
I didn’t know you two were having a conversation here.”

Adeline stood beyond the large door splendidly decorated with gorgeous jewels.

 

***

 

“I didn’t expect the Lady to come here without notice.”
“It’ll only take a moment.
Of course, I would have come at another time if I had known His Highness was here.
His expression seemed distorted.
Is it alright to let him leave like this?”
“You don’t need to worry about it.
At all.”

Kael smiled and looked at Adeline.

Although it was equally unannounced, Adeline’s visit was not unpleasant.
It was rather interesting once again, and enjoyable.

‘Adeline came to Kael’ became an unintended shot at the Crown Prince.
Adeline came to Kael’s mansion on her own, when he was unreasonably considering their marriage as treason.
It was a visit that provided supporting evidence that things would not go as easily as the Crown Prince wished, no matter how violently he acted.

In the end, the Crown Prince couldn’t hide his displeased look, and immediately left the mansion after glaring at Kael.
Only Adeline, who did not know the situation, was confused.
Though Kael said it was no big deal, and even that it would be sorted out quickly.

“How is your ankle?”
“It’s fine.
Fortunately, the bone didn’t dislocate, so it became fine after a few days of rest.”
“That’s a relief.”

Adeline looked at Kael with a quite surprised expression, as if she had no idea he was going to ask her about her ankle.

Then, she belatedly checked his outfit and stared at the firm body that could be seen through the loose fabric.

“It is my discourtesy to meet the Lady while looking like this.
I’m a little embarrassed when you look at me like that.”
“I cannot believe you when you are speaking with a completely unembarrassed face.”

Kael held back a laugh that was about to come out and took a step closer to Adeline.

“I guess you like my body quite a bit, seeing that you can’t take your eyes off it.”
“Well, it’s not bad.”

This time, he couldn’t hold back and laughed.

Her unusual answers and reactions continued to intrigue Kael.
It was pleasant enough to make all the unpleasantness he felt due to the Crown Prince fly away.

“Hm, you seem busy, so I’ll take care of my business and leave.”

When Kael couldn’t finish it off with a light smile, Adeline got straight to the point.

“I really wanted to thank you for your help so that Sophia’s debutante didn’t get ruined.
I wanted to express my sincerity.”
“…”
“In the case of jewels, you already own a mine, and as for other rare and valuable gifts, I’m sure you already have lots of them, so I have prepared a slightly different resolution gift.
I hope you like it.”

Adeline, who was in a position where she seemed to be holding her hands behind her back, held out a basket of flowers that she had been hiding all along behind her dress.
It was a beautiful basket decorated with blue roses and irises blending with big and small white flowers.

“These are blue roses that bloom only once every 100 years in the southern part of the empire.
It’s said that their scent has a calming and soothing effect.
I brought this because I thought it would be good to put it in the hall or a room.”

Kael looked at Adeline, who was confidently handing him the basket, with a strange expression.
The corners of his mouth were still slightly raised, but his eyes were cold.
As if he already knew what this gift meant, and as if he had figured out what Adeline wanted by directly bringing him flowers.

“Adeline.”
“I don’t want you to skip honorifics.
We don’t have that close of a relationship, do we?”
“I’m not sure.
I think this gift will make it a very special relationship.”
“What does that…”
“Where did you get the potion you sprinkled over these roses? I think you bought it from a guy who is going to end up in an underground cell the moment I get my hands on him.”

As he stared at the pale-green eyes that started shaking the moment she heard Kael’s question, he grabbed a blue rose from the basket and inhaled its fragrance very deeply.

“Unfortunately, this drug doesn’t work on me.”

As Adeline looked at Kael with a pale face as if she couldn’t believe it, Kael approached her with a grin and whispered in her ear.

“Drugs can’t make me hate you.
Though your effort is praiseworthy.”

A languid voice, like a beast holding the neck of a prey, reached Adeline.

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