A few days later, as expected, His Highness the King summoned me to the royal palace.
The moment I stepped into the palace, there was the figure of Alice snuggling up to His Highness Albert, and His Highness Albert himself, who looked terribly haggard.
Ah, as I thought—
—well, not really.
Turns out he went for the worst-case scenario.
“N, no, you’re mistaken!! Eliza, w, when we did it, I, all I ever thought about was you!! I didn’t think about Alice for even a second!!”
“Silence, Albert—!! Take proper responsibility for what you did—!!”
His Highness the King glared at His Highness Albert who spouted an outrageous excuse.
Then, came the full story—
—Alice, who had fallen head over heels for Albert, was frustrated because Albert wouldn’t choose her in the end.
Thus, she went all-out and prepared an aphrodisiac. The previous evening ball was the stage. Alice borrowed my perfume, saying “I want to match His Highness Albert’s preference in woman…” Then, she also inquired about his taste in dresses.
A single glance towards His Highness Albert told me that it wasn’t his intention.
Surely, Alice had pretended to be me. That was an established fact.
As I thought, she’d resort to that!
Like mother like daughter! I was sure they even used the exact same medicine!
Well, Alice’s mother, my stepmother, although the scenario was the same, might come off as a better person. After all, she did it after my own mother had passed away after giving birth to me. Therefore, it technically didn’t count as adultery.
Yes, my stepmother had resorted to that exact method, too.
Originally the princess of a neighboring kingdom, when she realized my father had lost his wife, she began to endlessly flirt with my father.
My father refused to indulge her. In his heart, there was only my late mother—I had also just been born, too.
My stepmother refused to concede and managed to force my fFather into wedlock through the use of said aphrodisiac along with the authority of her own father, the King.
Even though they were considered perpetrators, the judges of my kingdom refused to do anything because they were afraid of spoiling the friendship between the two kingdoms.
Afterwards, my stepmother took Alice away. Meanwhile, my father, feeling guilty towards my late mother, busied himself with work so he’d have a reason not to face me, his own child.
At the cost of my mother’s life, I was born. Then, I had the luck of having a similar face as her, therefore I wasn’t loved.
Even now, my father didn’t feel like family.
While my stepmother and my half-sister experienced living in the mansion of the royal capital, I was taken by my maternal grandparents to their territory because they deemed such an environment bad for my development.
That was when I met with His Highness Albert, whom was sickly at the time, and had come to recuperate.
Growing up in the country, I had a good time with everyone. I was also told that I was too naughty… only those days were fun for me.
Using the standpoint of the, ‘Prince’s Perfect Fiancée’, I chided him.
I told him many times, “Because you have a fiancée, please refrain from getting too close with Alice even though you’ll be close relatives in the future,” and “Even though she’s my half-sister, Alice is still an unmarried woman.” I changed the wording and made sure it sounded cold.
Every time, His Highness Albert would reply with—“Are you jealous?”
Every time, I’d reply in a formal manner. “As the fiancée of the Crown Prince, I’m merely fulfilling my obligation.”
…Surely, if even once, I had shown anger out of jealousy, he’d return to me. If I had shed even one painful tear, he’d surely panic and kneel in front of me, begging for my forgiveness.
I was aware of his true intentions.
Because Alice behaved the way I used to—the way his beloved Elizabeth used to—he acted as if he was in love with Alice. He wanted me to get jealous of her—that way, I might attain an epiphany of sorts and reverted to my old self. Thus, our cheap relationship of the past would return.
However, contrary to His Highness Albert’s expectation, I didn’t remove the façade of a perfect lady for even a second. Instead, I only showed him the disdainful expression of a proper fiancée.
My relatives thought although he was being selfish, he was merely trying to garner my attention. But I didn’t try to understand that.
After all, His Highness Albert had used Alice to try and “fix” me.
Meanwhile, Alice truly thought she was “loved.” He kept giving her hope, further nurturing her belief that, ‘there’s still chance’.
As a result, after one year of disdaining my fiancé, he stuck to my half-sister like glue.
Finally, the prince’s relationship with my half-sister had reached completion.
Even though he wasn’t just deceived, but also drugged, His Highness Albert couldn’t escape the consequences. He had to take responsibility for damaging the doted Princess of the neighboring kingdom.
That evening ball itself was held at a breathtaking house in the neighboring kingdom. I heard that it was a servant who made a fuss to inform the surroundings of the misconduct between his Highness Albert and Alice, as he finally managed to regain himself.
I was sure the neighboring kingdom played a hand in that, too. Who else could’ve set up that private room?
The king was allowed to have a concubine, but two women from the same house weren’t allowed. Inevitably, my engagement with him had to be annulled.
However, it wasn’t the conventional annulment, since there was no defect in me. Therefore, in my annulment, His Highness Albert would be the one to shoulder the blame.
His Highness the King’s concern almost caused me to become tearful.
Finally, I had the chance to say something to His Highness Albert and Alice.
Of course, the escorts and the maids were still present, therefore, it wasn’t really private… But Mrs. Evans could no longer restrict me.
“Eliza! It’s not what you think! The only one I love is you, Eliza! This woman, that day, she pretended to be you!”
“Your Highness Albert.”
“I’ve said it many times, didn’t I? Alice’s mother is the youngest daughter of the neighboring King. She’s cherished much by her father, the former King of that kingdom, and also her older brother, the current reigning King, to the point they wouldn’t hesitate to interfere should she ever be in any trouble. There’s a reason why Alice didn’t have fiancé until now, and that’s precisely because His Highness Jack treasured her so much he’d let her have her own way. Not to mention, Alice also never tried to conceal her feelings for you.”
Indeed, Al was targeted.
He was Alice’s—the neighboring King’s niece’s—first love.
At her debut, Alice, who fell in love with her sister’s fiancé at first sight, had executed various tricks.
Direct interference was obviously not possible. Even if he was the King, he wouldn’t be able to make a detailed intervention. However, he had made sure Alice’s advance would get through.
Through His Highness Albert’s resolute answer, “I already have a fiancée.” He had unintentionally exerted unreasonable pressure on our neighboring kingdom, which was more powerful than us.
What a careless man he was!
Even though as a prince, he should be concerned about the future of our kingdom!
The only reason I was worried was because I was the supposed national mother.
“I’m sorry, Eliza… please forgive me…”
“Forgive you? For what?”
“My engagement with you has been dissolved, and it has already been decided that Your Highness Albert will marry Alice.”
I retrieved the fragment of my first love, which had been left in the corner of my heart.
When I had finally given it a face, with a blink of an eye, a few drops of water fell on the tablecloth.
“I loved you, Al. I loved you to the extent I could do my best to endure the excruciating queen’s education and painstaking study—just for your sake.”
“Goodbye, Your Highness Albert. Congratulations on your engagement.”
“Ah, aaah! Eliza…! Eliza…!”
Al’s face—the face of my former love, full of despair, astonished me.
I stood up so that the remnants of my first love wouldn’t overflow anymore, and left the salon where I once had a tea party of two.
***T/N: Lol, compared to Eliza, who is aware of the existent of the ticking time bomb, but still let it reach 0 and explode, that Albert, that manipulative, conniving, asshole is way, way, worse.
It’s an established fact that Eli still loved Albert to an extent, and, …and imagine someone you love purposefully rubbing it to your face how he’d prefer his woman to be, and the kind of intimacy you would’ve received from him if only you acted like this woman he’s currently stringing along to make you jealous, concede, and beg for his sorry ass.
Yeah, G T F O.
I don’t care if he did it cause he “love” her. Cause he plain as day doesn’t. That ain’t even love on his part. IMO, If you love someone there’s no way you’d bear hurting them like that (rubbing your intimacy with other woman on their face to incite a reaction from them) FOR A WHOLE YEAR, and not to forget, ON YOUR OWN ACCORD. That’s just toxic.
Assbert can eat shit.