“Time flies. We’re already in the East.”
“I was thinking the same.”
The two weeks that seemed quite long went by quickly.
It seemed like they had just boarded the carriage in the capital yesterday, but the carriage carrying Kael and Adeline had already reached the eastern castle.
“I think the operation was a great success, right?”
Adeline asked, smiling, and Kael also gave a pale smile and nodded.
They thought it would be a topic of conversation, but the people’s reaction was even stronger than what Kael and Adeline had expected.
A crowd of spectators flocked to the carriage with the Northern seal the whole time. The knights escorting the carriage had to be even more alert than usual.
“I think it’s because you’re very famous.”
Adeline spoke quite seriously of the reason she thought. Kael smirked and looked at Adeline.
“There won’t be any imperial people who don’t know who Grand Duke Kael Inver is. Who wouldn’t care if you crossed the East like that?”
Kael didn’t seem to want to admit it, but it was a true analysis.
Everyone living in the empire knew Kael, and they knew a rumor or two about him. However, in comparison, he was considered very mysterious due to his few actual appearances.
Since such a person appeared in the east instead of the north, it was natural for attention to be drawn to him. In addition, there was also the love story with Adeline that spread throughout the empire, so people couldn’t help but flock to him.
“I think it’s because of you, not me.”
“Because of me?”
“Look at the people gathering over there.”
Kael pointed out the window. Looking outside in bewilderment, Adeline soon opened her mouth when she saw the crowd filling both sides of the road leading to the castle.
“And the flowers on the flags they’re waving.”
The flags the smiling people were waving had beach roses painted on them. The beach rose was a flower that symbolized the Young Lady of the Tien family.
Thousands of people were happy to welcome Adeline back.
“The East really loves you.”
Kael continued, seeing Adeline waving with a warm smile.
Adeline immediately turned to look at Kael.
“It’s nothing compared to the way the North loves you.”
Her calm words shook Kael again. It wasn’t something she made up so that his feelings wouldn’t be hurt. They were just pure words filled with sincerity.
That sincerity shook Kael relentlessly even today.
“Dear heavens, Theresa! You didn’t have to come out like this!”
The carriage quickly arrived at the castle of the Tien family. When Kael and Adeline got out of the carriage, Enoch and Theresa had come to greet them.
“How can I stay in my room when you come? I absolutely cannot do that. The baby will want to see you too.”
The delivery date was right around the corner, so Theresa’s stomach was greatly swollen. Adeline, who was looking at Theresa with worried eyes, soon grabbed the hands of the person she missed and conveyed her heartfelt glee and gratitude.
After exchanging greetings, Adeline shifted her gaze to Enoch, who was standing next to Theresa.
It was a much more awkward greeting than usual. She vividly remembered yelling that she would never see her brother’s face again if he left through that door, so it was hard to approach Enoch like nothing had happened.
“Aren’t you tired? I missed you a lot, Adeline.”
However, unlike Adeline, who hesitated, Enoch greeted his sister with a smile as usual.
Adeline’s nose wrinkled at the invariably soft and warm greeting.
“Brother. What I said that day…”
“I didn’t keep any of it, Adeline. Above all, even if you don’t see me, I won’t leave you alone.”
Adeline smiled and nodded at Enoch’s playful words. They only exchanged a few words, but after facing him like this, the worries and guilt that had accumulated in every corner of her heart disappeared.
“Thank you for working hard and coming all the way here, Your Grace.”
“Adeline worked harder than me. Thank you for the invitation, Marquis.”
After the conversation between brother and sister, Kael and Enoch shook hands and greeted each other. Kael did not forget to greet Theresa.
“Our schedule is tight, so I had no choice but to hold a banquet this evening. I apologize for not allowing you to rest after traveling.”
“No, it’s fine. It would be better to get done with the banquet while it’s hectic.”
Enoch smirked as if he understood Kael’s intention and guided him into the castle. Theresa and Adeline also naturally followed the two, walking side by side.
It was the moment her schedule in the east began.
“I was looking at you during the wedding and wondering what kind of woman could be more beautiful than you, but it seems that today’s you defeated that day’s you, Adeline.”
“Dear heavens. Theresa, please. How on earth do you come up with such embarrassing words?”
Adeline felt shy and embarrassed by Theresa’s sincere admiration. Even so, Teresa was busy expressing her admiration.
“It’s because you’re so pretty. Those words come from my heart. You’ve become more beautiful, Adeline.”
“It’s because the dress is beautiful. It looks better than I expected.”
Since a banquet was scheduled to welcome Kael and Adeline, Adeline had to get ready without even having time to unpack her luggage.
Adeline had spent two weeks on the road, and the only time she had to relax was when she was soaking in the bathtub a little while ago, so she was worried that her face might be full of fatigue.
However, Adeline was dazzlingly beautiful, dressed in a shiny, pale blue dress.
The entire off-the-shoulder dress revealing her collarbone was sprinkled with diamond powder, which glowed softly when exposed to the light.
The scattered diamonds, as well as the edelweiss-shaped hairpin and the platinum necklace and earrings, were all jewelry made from gems mined in the northern mines.
The color of the dress was oddly reminiscent of ice, all of which Adeline intended.
Although she was originally the Young Lady of the East and still had eastern blood, Adeline was undeniably the Grand Duchess of the North.
She knew how important her first event when she returned to her hometown was, so she focused on the meaning of various symbols.
“Everyone in the party hall will look at you. How can they look at someone else but you?”
“Theresa, please. More importantly, is it really okay for you to attend the banquet? It must be a longer banquet than usual, so I’m afraid you’ll push yourself too much. You really don’t have to do that.”
“You’re changing the topic because you’re embarrassed. Don’t worry, Adeline. Everyone is making such a fuss because my belly has come out like this, but it’s really fine. If I can’t do it, I’ll just go up to my room.”
Theresa smiled softly and gently touched her round stomach.
“Please don’t nag me, too. Enoch’s nagging is enough. Even Leo is doing it these days. And that’s not all. Yesterday, a letter came from Simeon, and there he was, nagging me. Why are the men of the Tien family so extreme?”
Seeing Theresa shaking her head, Adeline laughed out loud. The laughter of the two women mixed nicely.
“In any case, His Grace is going to fall in love with you again. He’s still looking at you with love, but his gaze will be even more affectionate.”
When Kael was mentioned, there was a ripple in Adeline’s calm lake.
“… Can you feel that?”
“Of course. Who knew? That the fearsome Ruler of the North would look at a woman with such a gaze?”
It felt strange to have Kael’s feelings confirmed by someone else.
Even though she knew that she should not be excited or happy about the fact that Kael was in love, she couldn’t stop her heart from constantly swelling.
Every day had been a war since the moment she vowed to hide her love to protect her marriage. Her head kept telling her that she had to distance herself from Kael, but her pounding heart found his warmth whenever it had a chance.
“I’ve told you before, Adeline. Men are a species that doesn’t know how to hide their love.”
Theresa said with a grin.
“You must go down now. His Grace the Grand Duke and His Excellency the Marquis are waiting.”
Theresa’s maid announced the time as she entered the dressing room. Theresa went first, saying they would meet downstairs. Adeline took another look at her appearance and slowly walked away.
After exiting the room and passing through the hallway, a large, high staircase awaited Adeline.
Adeline stood in front of it and took a big breath.
It was a staircase she went up and down countless times, but thinking that Kael was waiting for her at the end of it, it was not easy to step forward.
After taking another breath, Adeline slowly went down the stairs. There was a change of direction when he was about halfway through the staircase, and Kael’s figure fell into view. He was wearing a navy blue uniform with silver epaulettes.
At that moment, the light green eyes and the blue-grey eyes met. Unlike Adeline, who was shy and quickly avoided his gaze, Kael couldn’t take his eyes off her at all from the moment he saw her.
Finally, after going down the long staircase, Adeline approached Kael carefully and stood in front of him. Her gaze turned downwards, still unable to make eye contact.
“Are you alright?”
She felt uncomfortable waiting for the answer to the question she asked with a trembling voice.
“You look beautiful.”
The trembling conveyed in the low voice lifted Adeline’s gaze.
The moment she met Kael’s eyes for the first time, Adeline’s face burned.
The affection she felt from his clear eyes, and the admiration she felt from the corners of his slightly raised mouth, made Adeline’s heart beat like crazy.
Adeline realized at once why Theresa had said that men were a species that couldn’t hide their love.
“You look so beautiful that no words in the world can possibly explain it.”
It was funny how they had to push each other away because they couldn’t love each other completely, but Adeline realized something while looking at Kael.
The fact that a person’s eyes can never hide their love.