Chapter 23: Invitation to Visit
With a fake smile and jerky movement, I look back and despair at the beautiful blonde-haired young man in front of me.
He was unusually alone today, as he didn’t have his childhood friend Isaac with him.
“It’s so bad, being just the two of us……”
I lament. I give off a dark aura of dread. If I could, I would have gone back to my dormitor… or even my parents’ house right now.
I just came to see His Highness Grayson, so why is this happening? Am I destined to get into trouble ……?
“I don’t want that fate!” I cry out in my heart, desperately stifling a sigh that threatens to overflow.
I couldn’t hide my disappointment, but His Royal Highness Crown Prince Leonardo didn’t move an eyebrow.
He smiled amiably, never revealing his true feelings. In a different way from His Highness Prince Grayson, he was difficult to read.
“Oh, it’s been a long time, your Royal Highness Crown Prince Leonardo ……”
“Haha. You don’t have to be so distant. There is only you and I here. You can call me by my nickname like Scarlett.”
“No! I respectfully decline! There is no need for such concern on my part!”
I paled a little at His Royal Highness Crown Prince Leonardo, who was casually trying to close the distance between us.
Shaking my head vigorously with a buzz, I took a few steps backward.
There’s absolutely no way I can call His Royal Highness Crown Prince Leonardo by his nickname….! They won’t care if she’s a candidate for Crown Princess, that’s asking too much for a mere Viscount’s daughter…! Well, my sister calls him ‘Your Highness Leo’ without thinking, but ……!
I show my firm refusal to call him by his nickname, dismissing it as not worth the animosity of those around me.
As I bare my guard like a stray cat, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Leonardo laughs as if troubled.
“I see. That’s too bad…… Then I’ll ask you to call me that after we get to know each other a little better. By the way──── it’s almost summer vacation, do you have any plans, Charlotte-san?”
I freeze with a snap as the words overflow from his shapely lips.
I have a bad feeling about this and said to myself, ‘This is what he was aiming for this whole time…….’
I thought that I would not have to see him again once the summer vacation started, but I guess I was naive in thinking that…. From the looks of things, Crown Prince Leonardo is going to invite me to visit him. Probably not a big gathering like a party or a tea party, but more of a personal interaction. I may be a bit self-conscious, but His Royal Highness Prince Leonardo likes me very much…… Well, it’s not me that he likes, but my talents.
But that aside…… what should I say? If I honestly answer, “I don’t have any plans,” he will surely ask me out for fun. …… But that doesn’t mean I can lie… I could even say, “I’m going on a trip by myself”. It wouldn’t be a lie if I disappear for a couple of weeks during the summer vacation….. but I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable cutting short my return trip to avoid the invitation of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Leonardo.
‘Ummm……,’ I groaned and pondered, and in the end I had no choice but to answer truthfully.
“….I don’t have any particular plans for summer vacation at the moment──── but I would like to spend some time slowly at my parents’ house. It’ll be my first time back home since entering Flugel Academy.”
I smiled as I deliberately emphasized “slowly” and “first time”.
Since I had said all this, he wouldn’t invite me to have fun with him. He wouldn’t be so tactless as to interrupt our time together as a family.
I was inwardly buoyed by the fact that I had said such a nice thing, but then Crown Prince Leonardo narrowed his eyes and said, “If you want to spend time at your parents’ house, do you want to stay at the estate for the entire summer vacation?”
“Yes, that’s the plan. Except, of course, when I have errands to run…..”
“Hmmm? You’re very family-oriented. By the way ──── what’s the Viscount Meyers estate like?”
“What? You mean our territory?”
“Yeah, you can tell me if you want.”
Whether he’s interested in the story in connection with my parents’ house or has another purpose, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Leonardo asks with a smile.
It was not strange for the conversation to go on, but for some reason I was alarmed. I’m made to feel threatened and although I hesitate to say anything for a moment….. I can’t help but answer and I have no choice but to open my mouth.
“…… Our territory is a prosperous agricultural area and we also make wine. The people in our territory are good people. Right now, we’re in the middle of working on the inauguration of a new business ────”
Digging up memories of a few months ago, I explain the territory in a nonchalant manner.
Smiling happily, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Leonardo listens attentively to the conversation, occasionally giving a few words of advice. I finished the explanation in a good mood, slightly impressed by his ‘good listening’ skills.
“I see. It’s a nice territory. ──── I’d love to go there once. I wonder if I could visit the Viscount Meyers family for a few days during the summer vacation?”
His Royal Highness Crown Prince Leonardo is coming to visit me. ….? What? Then, the reason he went out of his way to ask about the territory wasn’t because he was interested to hear about it but because he’d love to visit…? That was a little unexpected… I never even imagined that the Crown Prince would come to visit the Viscount’s estate.
I was completely blindsided as I peeled my eyes away and wondered how I was going to get out of this. I regretted now that I had gotten carried away and talked about this and that.
Naturally, I can’t say “No… I don’t like that”, but I’d have to have some reason for refusing. But there’s no such thing as a reason to refuse a visit from the Crown Prince. Most nobles would cancel all their schedules and give priority to Crown Prince Leonardo’s visit……
What am I going to do? I turn my eyes around and around as I inwardly think to myself, “What is going on?”
Slightly teary-eyed and troubled──── I suddenly heard a clatter of heels.
“──── Oh my? Isn’t that His Royal Highness Prince Leonardo and Charlotte-san there? How do you do?”
A familiar voice caught my attention and I looked up to see a ──── red-haired beauty.