But now, being threatened by the princess, I had no choice but to comply. . .Glancing at Theodore, he clenched his hand tightly as if holding back something and looked at me with his well-shaped eyebrows furrowed.
“We’re leaving now!”
I urged him and got on the carriage with Theodore’s help. As Diark had expected, the princess seemed irritated as she looked at Theodore, unable to hide her jealousy.
. . .I felt a little exhilarated, even though I felt sorry for Theodore.
“What are you doing!? Onii-sama and the others should ride in the back carriage! It’s cramped here!”
“It’s cramped because your dress is so bulky. This carriage was originally for four people.”
Despite their conversation, the four of them ended up getting into one carriage and heading towards their first destination, Blitzen Street. Blitzen Street was a commercial district for the nobility, with luxury stores lining the streets. As a princess, Angelica could simply call for anything she wanted, so she wouldn’t normally go out of her way to visit the stores. It made Theodore wonder why they were being guided there. However, it seemed that the purpose of bringing them there was just to enjoy a date, with the contact with Grose Baehr being a secondary objective.
Angelica spoke to Theodore one-sidedly, and he responded with obligatory short answers. He was usually a gentlemanly and friendly person who was kind to everyone. He wasn’t the type to be attracted to someone like Angelica, who liked “cold, expressionless men who only showed a smile to her.” Therefore, his indifferent attitude towards her was unusual, and it seemed that he disliked her quite a bit. Even if he were to be abandoned, there was no need to worry about whether he intended to be with the princess.
While watching them with a wry smile, Diark and I exchanged safe conversations about what kind of stores we wanted to see.
When they arrived at their destination, Angelica naturally got off the carriage with Theodore’s help. Theodore was expected to escort her, but instead, he temporarily left her and offered his hand to me.
Despite the circumstances, the last proper conversation they had was a rejection of the need for an explanation, so I hesitated for a moment before taking his hand.
“. . .You will be accompanying the Third Princess, so please forget about me.”
I answered in a cold voice, conscious of my words, and got off the carriage. I heard him let out a breath as his hand, which had lost its place, was lowered.
“I apologize for my rude behavior.”
I didn’t want to see his face, so I hurriedly passed by him. It was absurd to feel hurt when I was the one who was hurting him.
Since the day I thought I knew his true feelings, I had been acting the same way towards him. I pushed him away and tried to avoid him as much as possible, thinking that it would ultimately be for his own good. That’s why I thought I could do the same thing this time, but. . .I was wrong.
Until now, I had been able to act that way because I genuinely believed that he disliked me and that it would ultimately benefit him. But now, I knew that Theodore liked me. Despite that, I acted like this. . .
“Are you okay? Don’t push yourself. If you want, you can go back now. It shouldn’t be a problem.”
“Indeed. . .that’s true.”
Diark, who had a worried look on his face, came over and made a suggestion. He was right, there would be no problem if I went back. . .in fact, it would prevent any unnecessary trouble.
Although canceling the plan suddenly would be bad for my reputation, at least I had achieved something. Just when I was thinking of using my poor health as an excuse to go back, someone spoke up.
“With all due respect, Your Highness, I would like to serve as your guide.”
“Oh. . .it’s Bella-san, right?”
“I have been instructed by His Imperial Highness to accompany you. Please allow me to do so.”
Despite speaking in Acardian and keeping her voice low enough not to be heard by anyone nearby, Bella, the imperial prince’s maid, called out to stop her. As someone who was playing the role of me, she seemed to be proficient in Acardian as well.
I didn’t know her background, but it was impolite for someone of lower status to address someone of higher status. But I couldn’t afford to care about such things.
“I can’t let you go back. If you fail, who knows what punishment awaits you. . .No, I’d rather be whipped than have something happen to my mother, who is being held hostage. . .”
As I watched Bella tremble and hug her shoulders, I couldn’t bring myself to suggest that she should go back. But I couldn’t just follow her lead either.
“I can meet with Grose Baehr at night if I disguise myself. But I need to learn his mannerisms and way of speaking now. . .”
I was in trouble. Why didn’t I realize such a simple thing earlier? I couldn’t stay with Diark until night, and it was impossible to stay in a place where I could be seen by others all night long. It was also difficult to create an alibi in the guest room where Theodore and I were staying. . .I needed to come up with a different plan.
I had to prevent Bella from moving at night or make her an ally. . .For that, I needed to know about my mother, who was being held hostage.
“. . .Please, I beg of you.”
It seemed that I didn’t have time to prioritize my personal feelings.