The Male Lead Is Obsessed With Proposing to Me - Chapter 18
- Said I Don’t Love You
As Benelucia had behaved as such every day, Lucalina could not pretend to be unaware that he was avoiding her.
“If not then talk to me, I have something to tell you.”
Lucalina adamantly cut his words off. She had an attitude of refusing to listen to any excuses.
In front of her, Benelucia couldn’t speak again.
He was always at his weakest before her as he owed her a debt.
“Madame, bring the tea over to my private parlor.”
Benelucia finally sighed as he gave the maid the order.
“Ben, if you’re avoiding me because of His Highness, I hope you don’t.”
After the maid had left the dessert cart and exited the room, Lucalina opened continued the previous topic.
She seemed to be under the impression that Benelucia was keeping her at arm’s length because of Cliff de Helios.
The more she responded as such, the heavier the duke’s heart became.
Before Benelucia could answer, Lucalina carried on.
“It’s not as if I have been in the distant battlefield for eleven years.”
She said something that the Grand Duke was not expecting.
“There I developed the strength needed to stand up against His Highness.”
His surprise was obvious.
In the region of war where Lucalina participated in, the war had continued without end.
When the battle seemed to be over, something new occurred and there was no end in sight for years.
It was as if someone planned it as such.
Benelucia had originally thought that it was the emperor’s masterpiece. However, it seemed that Benelucia had been wrong.
“Otherwise, no matter how long the war was, would I have been stuck there for an entire eleven years?”
Lucalina’s expression was brimming with self-confidence.
The efforts of Marquess Elihan with regards to bringing back her daughter for eleven years was ultimately a lie, a show for the emperor.
It was only then that the Grand Duke understood the Marquess lack of hate towards himself.
Lucalina and the Marquess of Elihan had been patiently waiting from the beginning.
Even as the emperor had Lucalina under constant surveillance, his guards would have loosened up over the past years.
Because the senses of people would always dull with time.
Changing people wouldn’t have made much of a change either.
The fact that the target they watched over had never seen anyone outside the battlefield, so they had fallen under a repetitive routine for eleven years where nothing had changed.
Even so, Cliff de Helios, who was busy being an emperor, could not directly monitor Lucalina. So, her victory laid in having patience.
“So, Ben, you don’t have to live under His Highness anymore.”
Lucalina spoke to him calmly.
Benelucia noticed that her speech had been building up for this moment all along.
“When the army returns, they will be on our side.”
Recruiting private soldiers and raising an army without the emperor’s permission was a crime worthy of treason.
That means that the knights who currently returned now were those whom were sent by Cliff before.
The Marquess had not openly sought soldiers for rebellion, those who belonged to the army simply had a crush on Lucalina.
Even though Cliff behaved as a tyrant to the nobles, the nobles never protested much because of the fact that Cliff was fair-minded to the people.
Many commoners supported the emperor, and Cliff held the only remaining heir to the throne, Benelucia Afron, in his very hands.
In such a situation, the nobles had no chance of doing anything.
But, what if Cliff’s army, those of which returned after eleven years, were not treated well and then dismissed without any particular reason?
It would provide a major flaw for the emperor.
Lucalina was aiming for that loophole.
She took a deep breathe.
“Let’s get married.”
It was as if that entire conversation had led up to that last sentence.
“Let’s get married later.”
It was a promise a young Benelucia and Lucalina made.
During the days of Cliff’s and Benelucia’s mother, their positions were established as enemies of the Empress.
It was a time when the brothers’ mother died and their father did not take in a new empress. Thus began their life in distress.
Looking back, Benelucia felt it was a dream-like time.
In it, a young girl and boy had made a pinky promise.
Up to then, Benelucia had bever forgotten that promise.
But… Now I just can’t keep it.
After a silent moment, Benelucia spoke with a heavy voice.
He realized that he couldn’t hide his heart anymore.
Benelucia felt as though he was a sinner, but still, he continued.
“I don’t love you.”
When he spoke those heartless words, he confirmed his heart.
I turned my back on Senelia like that, but… After all, I’ve fallen in love with Senelia.
He knew that he no longer loved Lucalina the way he did before.
He loved Senelia much more than he thought.
“I’m sorry, Luna. I… love someone else.”
The Grand Duke’s voice was firm. Now that he had decided to admit his sin, he could no longer hesitate or instill false expectations and deceive Lucalina.
He understood that he shouldn’t have done as such to her.
However, Lucalina’s denial was a route that even Benelucia did not to occur.
She was just as determined as before, maybe even more so.
“Ben, you don’t love me? Do you think I’d believe that?”
It didn’t sound like she was insulting him. There was a clear conviction in her tone as if she would never doubt it.
The duke felt strange.
It was highly unfamiliar to see Lucalina behaving as though she knew his emotions better than he would. It seemed; he didn’t know the woman he knew from memory.
“Luna, why would you think I’m lying?”
Benelucia spoke in involuntary frustration.
But Lucalina continued to convince him otherwise.
“I’ve known you have been waiting for me for a very long time. In order to avoid the eyes of His Highness, you even met with the maidens of families that His Highness would not care about.”
His mouth tightened shut.
There was nothing wrong with Lucalina’s words.
He had indeed waited for eleven years for her. He even met other young ladies to pretend that his feelings for Lucalina had moved on.
Even Cliff would not need to check the families of the young ladies as their families weren’t those of influence or power.
It was also one of the reasons why Benelucia had dated without break.
He refused to marry any woman who was not Lucalina, so, he pretended to have no intention of settling down. Pretended to enjoy dating countless women. It was an endless repetitive cycle of meeting new people, then breaking up and moving to another.
Before meeting Senelia, the duke would constantly change his lover almost ever month. Which is why, soon after, the duke became known as a rare prodigal son.
Every word spoke by Lucalina was correct, but it still made him feel like it didn’t add up.
His first love had been on the battlefield for eleven years ago, and he had returned to the capital for almost ten years.
So, logically, how could she speak as though she had been watching me from close quarters for the past ten years?
“Luna, how do you know that?”
The question left his lips without thought.
It was strange, he needed this suspicion to be resolved immediately.
“I was just informing you of what I know. Because, you are someone neither me nor your brother can abandon.”
Her answer was too simple.
It was answered so perfectly, that it seemed as though it was rehearsed. As if she knew that she was going to be questioned.
Of course, she was right this time as well.
Countless government officials filled the gap before the death of the first Empress of the previous Emperor, this leading to the rise of the second Empress.
As a result, the royal family has flooded with children born of both empresses.
If Cliff de Helios had not picked up his sword and cut through everyone, it would have been Cliff and Benelucia who would have been cut through.
Up until Cliff ascended to the throne, there had been countless humiliations.
It must have been even more difficult to bear for Cliff as he had to endure being known as the established prince of the empire the day he was born.
The father of the brothers had not protected Cliff as the emperor’s heart shifted from this woman to that woman, and then from that woman to this woman.
In the past, their father had even persecuted his mother-in-law in order to welcome his second empress.
It was a close miracle that the brothers, who could not receive the support of their parents or help from their maternal family, managed to endure.
Still, Benelucia suffered far less humiliation than Cliff, largely thanks to his brother, Cliff, becoming his shield.
The brothers had endured for a long time together.
Even though he was a half-brother, just as Cliff, who’d slaughtered the entire including his own father, he was wary of his own younger brother but could not bare to kill him. So Benelucia would not betray his brother.
However, he was not a person who would want to turn his back on Lucalina, who spend years on the battlefield and was on Benelucia’s side until the end.
But unlike what Lucalina said, the best thing for Benelucia had to do was to not be entangled with her as much as possible.
Even if that would break the heart of the young boy who had been thrilled with his first love.
Even if there was nothing wrong with Lucalina’s words, Benelucia still felt it was strange.
Wasn’t sixteen years apart too long?
Benelucia had been fifteen-years-old when Lucalina left for the battlefield.
Now, he was thirty-one years old and it was their first reunion after sixteen years.
[T/N: He was in battle for years before Lucalina had to leave to fight eleven years ago.]
It seemed as though the woman she had become was not the Lucalina of his memories. It was as though he was meeting an entirely different person.
He blamed the strange sensation on the current of time.
“…If it was before, you would have been right, Lucalina.”
Benelucia replied to Lucalina with a serious expression.
He didn’t want to speak such words, especially to Lucalina.
But, somehow, he knew that she would not admit defeat or change her mind if he did not make it clear to her.
“I’m sorry, but I’ve had a change of heart.”
Benelucia’s tone was heavy, as if a sinner confessing his sins.
“I… I love Senelia, not you.”