37.1 The Answer is Obvious
A lover. In other words, a mistress or a concubine. A woman other than a legitimate wife who served a royal aristocrat.
His Excellency the Grand Duke of Rivalsi had told me to become his lover.
I almost couldn’t keep up. Finally, I understood that was the condition for the transaction.
Felix’s complexion changed. As he was about to open his mouth, I stopped him by raising my hand.
“Your Excellency… what do you mean by that?”
“It is what it is. I’ll have Lady Alisa stay in this land of Rivalsi to be my mistress in exchange for allowing you to trade timber with us. I’ll lend money to Arkhangelsk, as well.”
“B, but I’m Alex-sama’s fiancée!”
“Then annul your engagement.”
His Excellency Knut suddenly spoke in a cold tone. It was as if his gentle expression from before was a lie.
To see such an expression on his beautiful face… it was honestly terrifying.
I managed to squeeze the words out.
“…That can’t be done. Also, why me?”
“If I have the daughter of the prestigious Duke of Rushie, my position will rise. Moreover, you’re the fiancée of the former crown prince. By utilizing you, nothing is impossible.”
It was such a selfish argument, made only for the convenience of His Excellency Knut.
Given my status, my becoming his mistress was inconceivable. It didn’t matter even if he was the grand duke.
Whether it was in Rushie or in Ninorsk, the church wouldn’t recognize a mistress as a legitimate position. To be the mistress of His Excellency Knut would be akin to lowering myself to that of a commoner.
Felix advanced a step further and sternly glared at His Excellency Knut.
“—Even if you’re a grand duke, don’t you realize how uncouth your behavior is!? Lady Alisa is the fiancée of Prince Alexander—the first prince of Rushie. Not to mention, she’s the daughter of the Duke of Tchaikovsky!”
“Excuse me, but it’s part of the deal. Unless you’ve figured out another way to repay your debt to the United Kingdom of Sterling?”
I was shocked. That was supposed to be a secret so that we wouldn’t be at a disadvantage during the negotiation.
His Excellency Knut’s jade eyes glimmered.
“While we may be a small country, we don’t lose in terms of gathering information. We also have intelligence agencies that report directly to our congress. Well, what can you do under such unfavorable conditions?”
“Lady Alisa may be beautiful and noble—but in the end, you’re still a little girl. Neither the prestige of the Duke of Tchaikovsky nor the authority of the fiancée of the royal family are valid in the Republic of Ninorsk. On your own, you’re powerless. To me, you’re a charming woman who was once out of reach.”
“So, if I, who is powerless, present myself to His Excellency Knut, Alex-sama and Arkhangelsk will be saved?”
“That’s right. I expect wise judgment from you.”
His Excellency Knut smiled gently.
His gentle attitude up to now and his current rude and ruthless attitude—which one was his true self?
Was he merely wearing a mask, or…?
I began to contemplate.
Certainly, if I were to accept his offer, Arkhangelsk would be saved. Then, Alex-sama would be able to keep ruling.
Even if I became His Excellency Knut’s mistress, I didn’t think a miserable life would await me.
Although my high status would disappear, I’d be under the protection of three major aristocrats of Ninorsk. I also believed a life of wealth would be guaranteed.
If I were to think reasonably, it wasn’t that bad of an offer. By sacrificing myself, I’d be able to save everyone.
“L, Lady Alisa!”
Felix anxiously tugged at my sleeves. His eyes appeared to be pleading to me.
“Don’t worry, Felix.”
I caressed his head. Felix blushed and nodded in affirmation.
I turned to His Excellency Knut. Almost at the same time, he left his desk and approached me.
He stood in front of me. As he was significantly taller than me, he had to look down at me.
At the next moment, His Excellency Knut extended his slender hand towards me.
Then, he placed it under my chin, before forcibly lifting my head. That forcefulness caused my eyes to widen. Then, my gaze interlocked with His Excellency Knut’s jade eyes.
My cheeks were getting hot—due to embarrassment …and fury.
“…Let go of me!”
“That won’t do. After all, the powerless Lady Alisa has no other choice but to become mine.”
Yes. I was powerless.
Without my status, without Alex-sama, I was but a powerless girl.
Back when I was at the academy, I had nothing.
However, as of the present, things were different.
The answer was obvious.
“Your Excellency Knut, that’s an intriguing proposal, but I’ll have to refuse.”
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