Chapter 81: <Chapter 81>
“Your highness! His highness has arrived!”
The door opened and Lucretius entered. He looked perfect and glowing.
The emperor was clearly wearing an outfit designed to match mine. It was an elegant mixture of deep purple and black. His cloak was the color of bright blood. It was such a strong and aggressive color, but it suited him
He looked so magnificent I felt plain standing next to him.
As I stared at him in awe, Lucretius walked towards me and smiled in satisfaction.
“My wife looks beautiful as usual.”
‘But you look prettier than I am.’
I thought secretly but didn’t say it out loud.
After looking at me from top to toe, he clapped loudly.
At his signal, a servant walked in with an expensive-looking wooden box.
Lucretius took the box and opened it to show it to me. Inside were sparkly items that made me exclaim.
“T, these are…”
“My gift for my wife. What do you think? Do you like them?”
Honestly, I thought they were too much. It was way over-the-top gift, especially considering this extravagant dress was also his gift.
However, many were watching us and there was only one right answer for me to give.
Inside the box were lined with black silk. Two items were placed on it.
One was an ear cuff that looked like fairy wings. It was made of opal and depending on the angle of the light, its color changed.
The other item was a silver hair accessory made of four pins and one sapphire.
A silver hairpin with a sapphire.
I paused when I saw it. When I looked up slowly, Lucretius smiled at me gently. I knew why he was giving this piece to me.
It greatly resembled the hairpin I gave to Lisbeth. I guessed he was giving this to me so I would forget about the one I gifted to Lisbeth.
I knew he meant well, but to be frank, it just made me feel uncomfortable, but I couldn’t show my true feelings to him.
I replied politely, “Thank you, your highness. You are always so generous to me. I don’t know how to thank you enough.”
Lucretius smiled lovingly and explained, “I tried to pick out the best pieces for you…”
He picked up the ear cuff and tried it against my ear.
“But anything looks… dull against your beauty.”
Why did he have to say such weird things like that?
I tried to hide my annoyance, but it was hard especially because he continued.
“Now, I would love to put this on your beautiful ear myself. Would you give me that honor?”
I wanted to slap his hand, but I had to remember there was an audience.
You can do this, Sa Bina!
I pretended to look shy and answered, “Of course, your highness.”
He chuckled and put the ear cuff on my ear. It felt strange and cool against my skin.
Lucretius’s face came close to mine.
Was he going to kiss me again? There were so many people in this room though!
I tried to look calm, but I could feel butterflies in my stomach.
To my surprise, he kissed my ear instead of my lips.
“Oh!” He exclaimed and continued, “I knew it! Beside your loveliness, this kind of jewelry looks dull. For your great beauty, you need something superior like Genoa’s ‘Blue tear of the Goddess.’”
I suddenly got goosebumps.
The blue tear of the Goddess! I heard of this before. It was a national treasure of a northern kingdom from Genoa.
The way the emperor motioned its name was…very dangerous.
If I said I wanted to have or see this jewelry, or even show any interest, it could mean going to war against Genoa to steal it.
Did he want a war? Was that why he was saying this to me?
I started to sweat. I picked my words carefully.
“How could I ever compare to such rare jewelry? Your highness overestimates me.”
Lucretius frowned and pulled me towards him.
He replied, “You are so beautiful in my eyes, wife, so I don’t understand why you would say that. It sounds like you question my judgment.”
I whispered to him so only he could hear me, “I don’t want a war in my name, so you’ll just have to be known as the man who has bad eyesight.”
Lucretius chuckled and stepped back.
“As you wish, my lady.” He let me go and put on his white gloves. He ordered, “Now, we should go or else we might be late.”
I took his hand.
The ball was at the same place where Lisbeth’s trial took place. Lucretius and I walked together quietly to the event. Normally, the hallways were filled with people, but today, it was empty.
They were all at the ball. They were gathered there to wait for the emperor and me.
Standing in front of the giant white door, I felt nervous. I held Lucretius’s hand tightly.
This wasn’t my first big event. I remembered being at the coronation, but it was different. At that time, I was a small part of the group, but this time…
It was very different.
I was different for one. I was now the one scheming. I had planned plots that involved many people including the priestess, the dowager empress, Lisbeth, and Yulia.
I always thought I had no choice if I wanted to return home. I thought I couldn’t get anything on my own as I was only a pawn in Lucretius’s scheme.
However, now, I wasn’t a passive member of this game. I was actively involved. I could make things happen on my own. I wasn’t as helpless.
Yet somehow, I felt even more anxious. Perhaps it was because I was involved at a much deeper level.
The dress I wore felt too heavy.
It was such a dark purple, it looked ominous. I wondered if this was Lucretius’ way of telling me I was forever trapped in this world.
I couldn’t breathe. I remembered the silver hairpin he gifted me. It seemed that Lucretius meant it as a way to erase the memory of Lisbeth and her family. I knew he meant to ease my pain, but…
This was how he saw people. Just tools, nothing more.
I knew I was no exception.
How could I ever trust him and his love for me?
Was his definition of love the same as mine?
I felt fearful.
He must have felt my uneasiness. Lucretius held my hand tighter. When I looked up at him in surprise, he smiled at me beautifully.
“Don’t worry. I will always be by your side.”
He must have thought I was nervous about the big event.
I replied lightly, “That makes me even more nervous.”
Just then, I heard the sound of the trumpets.
The silence after it was deafening.
I knew there was a huge crowd on the other side of the door. They were all waiting for us.
“His and her highness, the emperor and his wife!”
The servant inside announced loudly.
So it began. I had no time to be nervous.
I took a deep breath and stood tall.