YCKTML Chapter 17
“Count, would you like to hold out your wrist?”
Enoch, who had escorted me to the entrance of the Imperial Library, suddenly stopped and faced me.
Without any hesitation, I reached out my left wrist. He took a slender bracelet from his pocket and showed it to me.
“What is this?”
“It is a bracelet with a magic stone attached to it. Think of it as a kind of pass. If you hold the jewel of this bracelet to the device like this, the door will open.”
As I watched the Prince hold his bracelet to the device, my eyes widened in wonder. A red light flashed from the transparent gem on his bracelet. The Prince stepped aside, grabbed my wrist, and brought it to the device.
The jewel on the bracelet shimmered, and the door opened automatically. The magic stone on my bracelet turned blue.
“It’s a different color than yours.”
“Yes, you can think of it as having a different color for each status.”
I heard from Jenny the other day that only high-ranking nobles could access even the Imperial Library. Without Enoch, I would not have even known that such a bracelet existed.
I looked closely at the wrists of passersby. The bracelet was not a one-size-fits-all design, and it seemed as if each person had it designed their preferred style and put only magic stones.
Enoch turned to where I was looking, coughed, and said, “I made it myself, but if you want a different style…”
“No, I like it.”
Seeing his relieved expression at my smile, I thought it was a little cute. Ugh, what are you even thinking? Control yourself.
As soon as you stepped inside, you’d be blown away by the size and grandeur. And although it was noisy outside, it was surprisingly quiet inside, just like what a library should be. Of course, there were a few small voices and footsteps, but otherwise, it was peaceful.
And the Prince’s escort ended there. He took a step back, stood behind me, and whispered, “The middle-aged woman on the right is Countess Margaret. I believe she was acquainted with the former Duchess of Clifford.”
I didn’t answer and just nodded my head.
“Look to the left. Don’t turn your head.”
As he said, I peeked to the left to see a young woman and a middle-aged man pretending to read a book, sitting closely together.
“They said the Marchioness of Raphael has died, and the Marquis has taken a new wife. I heard the new wife is young… but is well-informed on things about perfumes.”
I glanced at Enoch behind me. When our eyes met, he looked away and shrugged.
It was surprising that the Crown Prince knew these aristocrats’ affairs, but it was even more surprising that he would let me know at all.
In any case, taking one big lap around the library, he told me a lot. He shared the stories of the nobility and pointed out the sections of the entire library.
“I have some business to do, so I have to go. I’ll come see you later, so take a look around.”
“Yes, Your Highness. Thank you very much for your kindness.”
“… There’s still a long way to go.”
Wide-eyed, I looked at him, but he only smiled, turned around, and walked away. I decided to look around the library to distract my trembling heart.
The Prince was a great help, but I was better off alone from now on. Maybe it was because of his thoughtfulness that he disappeared at the right time.
In any case, I had to move diligently before Enoch returned. I lightened the sound of my footsteps and walked around the library at a slow pace, looking for the books I wanted.
I felt overwhelmed as I gawked at the books piled up on the desk. There were more books I needed than I thought, and no matter how I looked at them, I didn’t think I could finish reading them all today.
However, it was too much of a hassle to go to the Imperial library every day.
“Only the royal family can borrow books,” Enoch came up behind me and said as if he had read my mind.
I looked back in surprise and met his eyes, and he looked like he was looking at a cute little animal. What a surprise!
By the way, how did this person show up at such a time of need? It was getting suspicious, but I couldn’t doubt the only person who would help me borrow a book.
“Of course, nothing is free in this world.”
“Is there anything you wish for?”
“It’s not much,” the Crown Prince replied and ordered the library servants to move the stacked books to my carriage. “You can accept my dance request at the ball on Her Majesty’s birthday.”
He said it as if it were an insignificant request.
Naturally, Rupert would be my partner when I enter, but I could dance with several people inside.
Wait. Why did I think Rupert would be my partner? Rupert couldn’t leave Chloe alone.
In a world where people regarded a lover as a person with a higher position of power, there was no way a married couple would enter together.
Come to think of it, would it really be an issue if she came as the Prince’s partner?
“That would be difficult, Your Highness.”
Enoch sputtered in embarrassment, startled that I’d turn down a dance request. I didn’t know why he wanted to dance with me, but his reaction made me happy.
I lowered my eyes and teased him for a while before finally saying, “I don’t know if that was a request to be a partner.”
I thought he would be sad because his emerald eyes were fixed on my lips. And when I saw Enoch smiling at my answer, I was relieved to know I was not mistaken.
“I see. I didn’t think that there was a chance. Count Spilet, how do you feel about having me as your partner for the ball?”
I was well aware that Erin, like Crown Prince Enoch, had an outstanding appearance. So, I took full advantage of her appearance and batted my eyelashes.
I felt sorry for him, but it didn’t matter that I was swaying Enoch… Only if I don’t put myself in the opposite situation.
“It would be an honor, Your Highness. However, if that happens, many women who admire your Highness would be disappointed. Would you be okay with that?”
“You’re not worried that rumors would spread about Madam and me.”
His emerald eyes were beautiful, crescent shapes, forming nice lines. I looked him in the eye to understand him, but I was distracted by that smile, so I averted my eyes first.
“What’s wrong with a rumor of an affair in my situation?”
Rupert’s relationship with his mistress, Chloe, was already out in the open. If it were like this, it would have certainly reached the Duke’s ears. Nevertheless, the reason Chloe survived was because my marriage became a shield.
It wasn’t okay to date before marriage, but it was okay to keep her as a mistress. I couldn’t understand that logic, but I couldn’t do anything about it if people from this world thought like that.
“Anyway, that’s fine. If I become the Count’s first scandal, it would be an honor.”
I didn’t take his words seriously, seeing it as a joke, and followed him. When I went out to the side door of the Imperial Library, there was a lounge.
However, it was different from the typical library lounge. This place was the reason why most people visited the library.
Inside the large glass greenhouse, birds flew around the trees and colorful flowers. There were tea tables everywhere, and attendants were busily moving between them, carrying refreshments and drinks.
Outside the greenhouse, there’s a garden where people could take a short walk, creating an atmosphere where people could have a tea party at any moment.
“Count, your hand.”
After Enoch spoke in a voice that only I could hear, he held out his hand, and I put my hand on it and walked with him. Thousands of curious eyes were looking at us.
I made eye contact with a group of nobles and walked towards them with the most picturesque smile I could muster. After taking me there, the Prince took a small step back.
But that alone was effective enough. Nobles with high noses spoke carefully to me while flapping their fans.
“I think it’s the first time I’ve seen you here, Madam Clifford.”
“Hello, Countess Margaret. It’s nice to meet you.”
She looked surprised yet delighted that I knew her. Although Countess Margaret wanted to have a relationship with the Duke of Clifford, she lamented the lack of opportunity.
Starting with Countess Margaret like that, I was able to greet and get to know a lot of nobles easily.
“With such a young and beautiful wife, the young Lord… Really, I can’t understand why he has the Baron’s daughter by his side.”
Marchioness Raphael spoke slightly sarcastically, but I wasn’t upset because I wasn’t jealous of either of them. Instead, I remembered that she was well versed in perfumery and turned the conversation around it.
Marchioness Raphael happily accepted the topic with a whole speech on her knowledge of perfumes. With this, she’d probably think it was easy to talk to me.
This was a great achievement.
It would be much easier to start a conversation if you knew a few people, rather than standing alone without knowing anyone at an Imperial ball.
Not only did I focus on their chatter, but I also carefully observed their every move. Of course, it was essential to know about them through the books I’ve borrowed, but I also had to learn by watching how they actually behaved.
Feeling accomplished, I was about to return home, but the Crown Prince, who disappeared a while back, was waiting for me in front of the carriage.
I didn’t tell him to wait. But, when I heard him speak, I felt like I could no longer ignore his feelings.
“I look forward to seeing you again.”
After the brief kiss he left on the back of my hand, I got into the carriage. The carriage with the imperial emblem headed back to the Duke’s residence without a sound.
 Prince Enoch said “아직 멀었습니다,” a modest reply when someone thanks them.