Elena didn’t like the way Carlisle deceived her, nor was she amused at the pleased expression on his face.
‘You don’t know how much I’ve been looking for you…’
As a child, Carlisle seemed to be in danger of something, as if he would suddenly vanish if she didn’t reach out to him. And so she made that promise to him when they were young. When she returned to the palace, she searched among the servants of similar age and was disappointed she couldn’t find him.
‘Then this bead ring was given by Caril.’
She looked down at the ring with new understanding. It was the same blue as Carlisle’s eyes, and the detail made her feel ashamed for some reason.
“This ring, didn’t you say it belonged to your mother?”
“I may be late, but I’ll return it now.”
As she made to pull off the ring, Carlisle raised a hand to stop her.
“You keep it.”
“I don’t intend to take it back now. You will be my princess anyway, and it’s the same as me having it.”
Elena also had a sentimental attachment to the ring as a reminder of her last life. But somehow it felt different knowing that it belonged to Carlisle’s mother prior.
“Are you sure you want me to keep it?”
“I’m relieved that you have the ring. So I’d like you to keep at as close to you as much as possible.”
“Yes. It’s hard to believe, but I feel like it’s some kind of talisman. When something dangerous happens, it will protect you one time.”
She gave him a questioning look at the vagueness of his words, but Carlisle smiled as if he didn’t intend to explain.
“I have a few questions that I can ask you now. After you left did you come back to find me?”
Of course she did. She searched for Carlisle for days and days and met with each of the palace servants. But Elena did not intend to tell the truth.
“No. It was a promise from my childhood, but I quickly forgot it.”
She felt hurt at all the times Carlisle lied and hid himself from her. In the meanwhile, Carlisle’s expression turned bitter.
There was a subtle change in the atmosphere, but Elena glanced over it. It was strange to think that the child at that time was Carlisle. He seemed a little shabby before, but even then he was still rather good-looking. However, his personality before felt quite different from the arrogance of Carlisle now. At that time, he was small and delicate enough to stimulate her protective instincts, but now she felt sad that that boy had turned into a haughty and cruel young man. What happened to Carlisle all those years? How did he grow up? She was flooded with curiosity all of a sudden, but she had no idea if he would answer if she asked him directly.
As Elena was staring at Carlisle, she was startled by a sudden realization.
“Oh, that’s right.”
She had left Mirabelle outside when she came running to Carlisle. Elena had wanted to see him immediately, but Mirabelle couldn’t run with her, and so Elena had told her sister to wait. It was impossible for her to forget her sister even for a moment.
“I just remembered that I left Mirabelle waiting. I’ll be right back.”
Elena rushed towards the door, then paused and turned back towards Carlisle. He remained the same as usual, but at that moment she thought again of her hidden memories of him.
At her voice, Carlisle turned his blue eyes towards her. As their eyes met in midair, Elena spoke softly.
“Thank you for being so sweet to Mirabelle and inviting her to the Imperial Palace with me. Anyway…it’s nice to think we’ve met again after we grew up.”
Carlisle smiled back.
“I told you last time, if you’re thankful, just pay me back later.”
“I see. I’ll be sure to pay this debt.”
Elena granted him a faint smile and hurried back to where her sister was waiting for her. Carlisle stared at Elena’s gradually receding figure. Soon after, Zenard, who was waiting outside, came back into the room.
“Your Grace, shall I prepare a room for the ladies, as you said earlier?”
Elena and Mirabelle had arranged to view and stay overnight at the palace. Elena had said, “I’ll live here when I get married, so it’s not a bad idea to become familiar with the grounds. Mirabelle said she wanted to see the palace as well.”
Carlisle smiled without realizing it, remembering what she had called him. There are many words in the world to describe him, but the word “sweet” was not one of them.
“You don’t know how dark I am.”
He was smart, not sweet. He wasn’t so ungrateful enough to hate Elena’s family.
‘If you knew how much I wanted you, you would be surprised…’
Carlisle would be both an angel and a devil to have Elena.
Elena quickly followed her guide before remembering something else.
‘Come to think of it, was Caril treating me so generously because of that past meeting?’
Until now, she thought the reason for the treatment was because of a past relationship that she couldn’t recall. She assumed it was some tremendous affair, even though she did not have any memories related to him. On the contrary, their relationship was very trivial. All they did was meet as children and play together.
‘But…is that reason enough for him to be so good to me?’
It was true that Elena desperately searched for Carlisle at the time. However, she did not ask around for months or years, and had given up looking once she learned there were no servants like Carlisle in the palace. It was inevitable, of course. She didn’t know anything about him except his appearance. Although the brief encounter at the time remained fond in Elena’s memory, it didn’t seem enough for Carlisle to treat her the way he did.
‘What is it? Is there something else I don’t know?’
She thought she’d ask Carlisle if she had another chance.
It was then.
Elena was in her own thoughts as she followed the servant, then she realized she was where she parted with Mirabelle. She turned her head toward Mirabelle’s voice, and saw her sister smiling brightly and waving into the air. Elena returned the smile as soon she saw her.
“What were you doing while I was gone?”
“I’ve been looking around at the amazing things in the palace. Did you have a good meeting with him? What was the rush?”
“Oh, well…I just remembered something I had to tell him.”
Although Elena was scarce on the details, Mirabelle nodded in understanding.
“Yes, there are stories that are only meant to be between lovers.”
“That’s not what it is.”
Elena yelled at her hotly, but Mirabelle just smirked. Ever since she found out about Elena’s relationship with Carlisle, Mirabelle enjoyed making fun of her like this. Elena spoke quickly, her face flushed.
“The prince is waiting, so let’s go and say hello.”
“Alright. Do you miss him already?”
Elena’s cheeks reddened even more, and Mirabelle wordlessly pressed down a smile. Elena had no idea that Mirabelle was making more fun of her because she liked to see her so embarrassed.
And so the sisters strolled happily in the glorious palace gardens, where the sun shone warmly.