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960-chapter-64

Chapter 64

The chef had taken Carinne’s words from yesterday to heart. As a result, the only edible food she could find in the kitchen was a pot of watery soup.

She had to coax the chef to cook more dishes. Unfortunately, there were no shrimp left, so she couldn’t cook a shrimp dish. Instead, she grilled some meat, stir-fried some vegetables, and poured a glass of milk for nutritional balance.

She placed the plates of food, spoons, forks, and folded napkins on the table when Archen walked into the dining room.

He looked stunned when he saw her serving the food herself.

“Are you preparing the food yourself, Princess?”

“As you can see, I don’t have any servants. Come and sit down.”

Carinne pushed him, who was standing there in a daze, toward a chair before she sat him down and placed a large plate of meat in front of him.

“This is yours.”

He looked down at the plate, then at her, then back at the plate. Then, he pushed the plate to the middle of the table.

What was he doing? She brought it all the way over here for him to eat!

Carinne pushed the plate back in front of him. He looked embarrassed.

“It’s too much.”

Nonsense. The meat was large, though it only covered the plate. By her estimate, it was about the size of three of her palms. How could a grown man not finish this amount? Besides, hadn’t he collapsed yesterday? He needed to consume high-quality protein to replenish his energy.

As she cut a piece of meat for him, who was pouting, Carinne speared the meat with a fork and placed it in his hand.

“Come on, eat up.”

“I can’t finish it all.”

“If you don’t finish it, you won’t be able to stand up.”

“….”

Archen looked at her fierce face and reluctantly picked up the fork.

Carinne sat down as she watched him put the meat in his mouth. She cut a piece of meat and put it in her own mouth. Of course, she ate it every day, but it was so delicious that tears came to her eyes. The market vendor had been right about the taste, and she felt like she could eat all the food on the table.

She was busy cutting the juicy meat when she looked up to see if Archen was eating well. She let out a gasp without realizing it.

“Wow…”

“Yes?”

“Oh, no, nothing.”

While she hurriedly looked down at her own plate, he blinked as if he had no idea what she was talking about, then started cutting the meat again.

The silver knife moved rhythmically, cutting the meat into even pieces. The meat on the plate was cut into uniform sizes without any mess. It was as if he had simply placed the meat that had been cut on another plate on top of his own.

…How could he even cut meat so gracefully and elegantly? Had he taken etiquette lessons at the academy? Surely he had. How else could he have acquired such graceful hand movements?

Carinne tried to cut her meat elegantly like him, but after five minutes of trying to cut a single piece of meat, she gave up and went back to her usual way of cutting. Some people were just born with it, while others weren’t.

She belonged to the latter group.

“What do you want to do after eating?”

She asked as she finished the meat on her plate and started to stir the stir-fried vegetables.

Carinne was excited to think about what they could do now that they were officially dating. What should she suggest first? Should she ask him to go on a picnic by the river? Or should they go to a fancy restaurant together? Actually, she would be happy just sitting still with him.

However, what Archen uttered next shattered her fantasies.

“I have to go see Duke Lucas.”

…What the heck? Wouldn’t he just quit his job and come to the Second Duchy?

“You’re not going to stay in the Second Duchy?”

“I think I can get a week off.”

Despite the fact that she tried to sound coquettish, he was relentless. Even if they were lovers, he drew a line between work and play. He still seemed to regard the Second Duchy as a workplace where he had to filter himself.

It was a little disappointing. She was confident he could do really well if she came to the Second Duchy.

Since she didn’t want to force him, Carinne quickly changed the subject.

“I’ll come with you.”

“Do you have business with Duke Lucas?”

“Ah…”

Originally, she said it because she wanted to spend a little more time with him, but in retrospect, she did have something to say to Duke Lucas.

Carinne recalled what the Duke had said yesterday.

“No, I’m serious. What’s your real name?”

The Duke had noticed that she wasn’t the real Carinne. Even though he wasn’t the kind of person who would go around spreading that fact, since he suspected her, she had to somehow explain herself.

What should she say?

It was true that she was not Carinne, but she was also not a witch? Would the Duke even understand the concept of possession in the first place?

She thought hard, but no clever ideas came to mind. What should she say to reassure the Duke and get through this crisis safely? It was a question without an answer, and it wasn’t a problem that could be solved by thinking about it.

At the thought, the meat she had just eaten felt stuck in her throat. Archen noticed the shadow that fell over Carinne’s face.

“Is something the matter?”

He tried to get up from his seat, so she quickly waved her hand.

“Ah, no. Nothing. I do have something to say to the Duke, but it’s a personal matter. More importantly, are you okay?”

“I’m fine.”

He nodded slightly, so she nodded as well.

Of course, she didn’t completely believe what Archen said. Given his personality, he was the kind of person who would never show it, even if he was sick enough to die. At least he didn’t look sick right now, so she decided to be satisfied with that.

After finishing the stir-fried vegetables and eating half an orange for dessert, there was no more room in her stomach for food.

Archen was struggling to finish the remaining meat. He put the last piece of meat in his mouth and chewed and swallowed the broccoli and shiitake mushrooms that came with it, then wiped his forehead.

Then, Carinne brought him a glass of milk.

He seemed to have given up, so he obediently took the glass of milk and brought it to his lips. Finally, after finishing the milk, he sighed deeply as if he were exhausted.

“That was hard.”

She was very proud of herself for having fed him so much.

He did a great job.

If she were a teacher, she would have stamped his hand.

After finishing his meal, he went upstairs to his room and came down with his coat. Carinne also changed into her outdoor clothes and prepared to go out.

It had been a while since she dressed herself. Since there was no maid to help her, it took longer than usual, and when she came out after changing her clothes, Archen was standing in the reception room, waiting for her.

“Princess, it would be better if you wore something around your neck.”

“It’s okay. I’m not that cold. It’s spring now.”

In fact, a warm spring breeze was blowing through the open front door. Why would she need a scarf on such a nice day?

“Even so…”

Then, he coughed and suddenly blushed for no reason.

Why was he doing that all of a sudden? Was there something wrong with her neck?

…Ah.

“Ah, ah, I see! You don’t have to say anything!”

“…I apologize.”

“No, it’s fine! It’s good because it’s a little chilly!”

Carinne hurried to her room, got a scarf and put it around her neck before she took his arm and dragged him outside. Since there was no coachman, they had to go into town and get a carriage to go to Duke Lucas’s mansion.

The two walked along the road and found a carriage waiting for customers.

It was a carriage with an open ceiling and sides.

After telling the driver to take them to the First Duchy’s mansion, Carinne got into the carriage. Archen sat down on the opposite side of her, even though he saw that the seat next to her was empty.

“Why are you going to the other side?”

“I can see the Princess better if I sit here.”

He was serious.

However, there was one thing he knew and two things he didn’t.

“If you sit next to me, we can hold hands.”

“I didn’t think of that.”

He looked like he genuinely hadn’t thought of it.

Carinne briskly moved to sit next to him, and she put her hand over his. A warm sensation spread through her, lifting her spirits. It seemed to do the same for Archen. He had been smiling gently the whole time, but then he looked at her and asked.

“I have one question I’d like to ask.”

She urged him to speak his mind.

“What will become of our relationship from now on?”

…What kind of question was that?

It was obvious that they would be lovers. It was a hundred percent true, without a shred of doubt, but it felt a little embarrassing to say it out loud. On the other hand, she also thought, ‘Do I really have to say something so obvious?’

When Carinne hesitated, he said casually, “I don’t mind either way.”

It was the same elegant voice as usual, and if she only listened to his voice, she wouldn’t notice anything particularly strange.

The slight upward curl of his lips made it seem even more so. However, his downcast eyes, though clearly curved, somehow gave off a forlorn impression. She could guess what he was thinking. If she left him alone, he would surely dig himself into a hole.

“Of course, we’ll officially be lovers!”

Carinne emphasized each and every word, speaking crisply and clearly.

“Archen will be my lover, and I will be yours. We’re on equal footing. So, any unnecessary thoughts…”

“—put them away. I understand.”

He finished Carinne’s sentence and laughed aloud. It was the brightest laugh she had ever seen from him. Carinne gaped at his face, dazzled by his smile, which was as radiant as the springtime.

Only now did she truly feel that spring had arrived when she saw him smile.

She wouldn’t trade this smile for all the treasures in the world. After much suffering, that smile had become hers, and it would continue to be hers in the future, and even if it didn’t, she would make it so.

When she came to her senses, she realized that he was also gazing at her with rapt attention. His sapphire eyes changed color with each passing moment, from pale blue like the spring sunshine to the emerald green of a beach at a resort, all thanks to the refraction of light.

She wanted to be absorbed into those brilliant colors.

His gloved fingers touched Carinne’s cheek, and she closed her eyes as she felt his breath grow closer. Her mind grew hazy as their lips met. He moved with a smoothness and intensity that made it hard to believe he was the same person as yesterday.

As expected, his intelligence gave him remarkable adaptability.

Carinne marveled inwardly as she wrapped her arms around his neck and savored the sweet moment.

It was a moment that would never come again.

The coachman, who had noticed what was happening behind him, coughed loudly, but the two of them couldn’t bear to part with each other. Nothing could separate two lovers who had finally come together after a long and arduous wait, especially after only a day of confirming their love.

When they arrived at the Duke’s mansion, the coachman had a sour expression on his face. She would have to give him a generous tip later.

Carinne got out of the carriage, her lips still tingling. Now that they had reached their destination, she had to put their sweet moment on hold for a while. It was time to meet with Duke Lucas and clear things up.