An intangible, airy kiss. A promise he couldn’t keep. A false oath. She added it into the sentence in hope he noticed that every word she said were also false, that she was innocent.
A dense silence fell upon them once Eva finished talking. It was like a prelude to the storm and a remnant after the typhoon. Either way, it would be a cruel and suffocating situation for them. Perhaps, for Edward too.
“How… c-could you…”
The Baronetess staggered as if she was dizzy, and fell on the coach. The Baronet’s mouth gaped as his hand, which was holding a pipe, trembled. All the more, Count Holland stiffened like a stone statue, glancing back and forth between Edward and Eva.
However, the best part among them was Pamela’s expression with her face as if blood drained from her. At the word ‘kiss’ coming from her lips, Pamela’s lips and chin were shaking while glaring at Eva. Just as Pamela hoped, Eva had covered all of her mistakes and admitted it for her, so she should be satisfied by it. Despite that, it seemed as though she didn’t care at all about it now. Pamela assumed that Eva had been playing a trick on her and looked as if she wanted to grab and pull Eva’s hair.
The moment Eva’s eyes met with Pamela’s, she put on a smirk. It felt refreshing, like her heart had widened and the clog disappeared. She had caused the things she wanted, so this was enough. At this point, Edward had to reap the seeds he had sown so that he would not be in trouble.
“Please don’t get it wrong. It doesn’t mean His Highness and I kissed. I’m simply referring to another story.”
Eva’s slack explanation made everyone’s faces more crumpled. It felt like the atmosphere that had been compressed had reached the limit and exploded. Their faces looked like they got overwhelmed by Eva, who seemed to have set the mood and toyed with them.
She couldn’t care less what the Baronet and his wife were thinking as they acted based on Pamela’s words. Count Holland was unshakable but he would find out later.
Eva whipped her head to look at Pamela. Her face was still stiff as ever, even though Eva had corrected that she didn’t kiss the Crown Prince. She’s a quick-witted girl, so she must be able to catch on about whether or not a kiss or something like that had happened between Eva and the Crown Prince. No matter how furious she got, she couldn’t tell off Eva. Because Eva got falsely accused and admitted it as she wished for.
“My apologies, Your Highness.”
Eva bowed her head and apologized to Edward. She was sorry for putting him in this situation. She also felt sorry for showing this, and put him in an embarrassing spot by bringing up their kissing conversation.
Edward, who had been listening to Eva without a word, took a step closer to Eva. He didn’t seem interested in Eva’s apology or her unexpected lies. Even with the atmosphere having shifted dramatically, like the temperature between night and day, he remained collected, unfazed by it.
“Eva, I’ll ask you one last thing.”
“Yes, please go ahead.”
“Is it still better to just observe the flowers?”
‘Ah…’ In that instant after she got that question, Eva was choked and became speechless. She realized that Edward had understood her metaphor and grasped her situation. Eva was already feeling grateful because of him, yet he was asking again to respect her.
“Yes. Please leave it be.”
Eva flashed a soft smile which was full of gratitude. She deemed she had enough help from him. As per his words, he wanted to repay this fleeting bond. He said he was leaving tomorrow, and she didn’t want to get in his way. In addition, he backed down right before the kiss, saying he didn’t want to be in an intimate relationship. So, this was it. The end of their bond.
“It’s getting late, Your Highness. Let’s head back now.”
Assumed there wouldn’t be more to say, Count Holland grabbed Edward.
Edward ignored Count Holland’s words and called Baronet Biti. A midwinter snow storm gushed inside his pupils as he looked at the Baronet’s family.
“Y-yes, Your Highness.”
“I’ll pretend this didn’t happen, so don’t ever bring it up again.”
“I understand, Your Highness.”
“And I’ll send people to pay you a visit from time to time, so please take good care of Lady Massies.”
Edward issued a lenient warning to them, not failing to help Eva. He’d be gone, but he was tolerant enough to make sure they couldn’t touch her anymore. He didn’t know it was useless, but regardless, Eva appreciated it.
“Certainly, Your Highness.”
Baronet Biti replied while bending his back. His figure looked pitiful. It would be a sudden lighting bolt day and a nightmare memory for him, too. A day that he pictured full of excitement as his daughter and Count Holland would be together, but got twisted completely at the end of the day.
Edward turned slowly after giving a glare at the Baronetess and Pamela. His eyes fixated on Eva once again, radiating a sign it was time to part.
“Take care, Eva.” A small voice that was unable to read upon.
“It was an honor to meet you, Your Highness.” Eva bent her knees with ladylike bearing, expressing a farewell.
When he disappeared with Count Holland behind him, the room felt empty. It all ended as if the moment she was with him was a dream.
The Crown Prince Edward Kane Butterfield.
Eva had totally separated from her once ex-fiancee.
* * *
Cecil was fast asleep, breathing evenly. Eva knelt on the floor and buried her face on the bedside sheets. She came here because she missed Cecil’s arms, but just by holding the blanket like this made her feel calm.
After a while Eva’s shoulders began to tremble slightly. “Uhh…” Quietly, a faint sob escaped her mouth. She had no intention to cry here, but tears kept coming down because she was drowned by emotions.
‘Nanny. I’m exhausted. I feel in despair.’
She couldn’t make a noise. Eva called Cecil’s name in her heart while pouring out her feelings. All she needed was Cecil’s loving solace and warm hands.
But then, she felt a slight movement, and a soft touch stroked Eva’s head. A gentle voice followed suit.
“Why is my baby crying so much?”
It was Cecil’s voice.
Surprised, Eva raised her head in a flash as Cecil watched her with a motherly smile. That smile soothed Eva’s pain and patched her wounds. Perhaps this was the reason. The reason why she couldn’t utter a word. Because she didn’t want to make Cecil worry.
“Nanny. Sobs. The Crown Prince has left…”