IBMV – 50

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My original purpose was to congratulate Anna.

But all sorts of things happened in between.

Nonetheless, I gave Anna a brief congratulations.

I wanted to talk longer, but she couldn’t afford to because she had so many customers.

I left the store, promising Anna to meet and toast to her success separately sooner or later.

When I came out from the crowded space, the air felt fresher.

As I was about to get on the carriage, I thought it would be a waste to go home like this.

When the weather is nice like this, I should go for a walk.

Even if it wasn’t so nice, my body felt stiff and was lacking in exercise these days.

I walked with enthusiasm.

“Girl, I think you can stop walking now.”

Sir Philip, who had become a temporary escort until Sir Hans returned, timidly offered his opinion.

I looked at the clock tower in the central square at his words.

I tried to walk lightly for 30 minutes, but I guess I was over-motivated, so I exceeded my original goal.

After walking for quite a while, I felt thirsty…  …  .

There was a cafe not far away.

“Let’s go have a drink over there.”

“Yes, miss!”

Sir Philip’s face brightened at once.

The mellow aroma of roasting coffee beans lingered pleasantly on the tip of my nose.

I was drawn to the flavor and stepped into the cafe, when someone addressed me.

“Princess Ashford?”

I remember hearing that voice before. I turned my head to confirm the owner of the voice.

“Your Highness?”

The man drinking coffee at the outdoor cafe was the second prince, Alexis.

Suddenly, I remembered the first time I met him.

‘Come to think of it, back then when I first met him I was drinking coffee.’

I approached Alexis.

“Do you come here often?”

“I come here for coffee about three times a week.”

He’s a regular customer.

Whether it was because he enjoyed the taste of coffee, or the atmosphere of a sheek cafe there were many customers inside and outside.

The good seats were already packed with people.

Reluctantly, I asked, pointing to the seat opposite the second prince.

“May I sit here?”

“Of course,”

Alexis readily agreed.

I sat down next to him and the waiter brought me a menu board. I opened it.

Just by looking at it, I couldn’t tell what the cafe’s signature item was.

As I was flipping through the menu, Alexis asked,

“Does the princess enjoy coffee?”

“Yes, I do.”

He endorsed the most popular items the cafe served. I nodded my head, he was a regular so I could put my trust in him.

“Okay. Then I will order what you recommended.”

After a while, the waitress brought the coffee and cake I ordered. I ate the soft tiramisu cake with a fork.

“How is it?”

A pleasant sweet taste spread throughout my mouth.

“It’s to my taste.”

He smiled as if he was proud that his suggestion was successful. When he was expressionless, he had a cold impression, but when he smiled, he looked different.

“So do you like the coffee here?”

“Well, that’s part of it too. Honestly, it’s more comfortable outside than the Imperial Palace, so I come here often.”

Indeed, the imperial palace would be filled with the Crown Prince’s people who wouldn’t take kindly to his presence, so it must be ver  uncomfortable.

Even after returning to the imperial palace after 10 years, he couldn’t feel at ease and escaped to a cafe…….

To live, people need to be comfortable and at ease at home.

“You must have had a very difficult time.”

Somehow, I felt sympathy, so I unwittingly offered some words of comfort.

But when they spilled out, I immediately regretted it. Perhaps I was coming off as nosy or maybe he would see it as annoying pity from someone who didn’t know him well.

But looking at Alexis’s expression, it seemed that wasn’t the case.

His golden eyes shone like the evening sunset. He laughed and asked with a smile,

“Princess, are you worried about me?”

I spoke out of compassion rather than worry.

But I would not dare say that I felt sorry for a prince.

After taking a sip of coffee, I moderately answered Alexis’s question.

“Yes, well……  If I came home after 10 years and there was no one to welcome me…. I think it would be difficult for anyone.”

Wondering if I was being too honest, I studied his face but fortunately Alexis was not angry.

He laughed out loud, “Pfft.” He said in a voice interrupted by laughter.

“It occured to me before—but you’re an honest noble lady.”

I don’t know if it’s a compliment or an insult.

As I tormented the innocent cake with my fork, I repented,

“I apologize if I was rude.”

“No, it’s okay. It’s better when someone curses your face than pretend and do it behind your back.”

“But—I didn’t curse…  …  .”

Will I ever be arrested for contempt of the imperial family?

When I replied as if I was being unfairly accused, Alexis laughed for a long time.

“What’s so funny?”

‘And here I thought he was a cold-hearted person but look, he’s unrecognizable with a smile…  …  .’

I thought, tearing the tiramisu down with a fork.

After talking with the 2nd prince, the tiramisu disappeared quickly.  Alexis saw my plate empty and suggested the Earl Gray pound cake he had ordered.

I asked as I cut the fluffy, soft pound cake into bite-sized pieces.

“What’s the North like?”

After Alexis took a sip of coffee, he explained,

“The northern part is a barren land, but it is also a beautiful place.  You can only see glaciers, the aurora borealis and the snow-capped canyons in the north.”

“Your Highness must have grown attached to the North.”

“It wouldn’t have been bad to stay there if I could. It’s like my home now.”

That was surprising. Because I thought Alexis had achieved so many wins in battles to return to the Imperial Palace.

“If your Highness hadn’t called, would you have stayed longer in the North?”

Alexis shook his head resolutely.

“I have work to do here. I’ve been thinking about it for the past 10 years.”

His voice sank deeply.

Maybe it was my mistake, but it was as if an unrivalled rage appeared in his golden eyes and then disappeared.


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