Chapter 6:

Not So Bad of a Punishment

Hated by the Evil Lady

“You’ll be okay, right?” Lucien asked again to make sure. Clara nodded and smiled.

“It’s just that Duke Karron has so many admirers. I can only hope I don’t provoke their ire…” Clara muttered. Lucien felt sad when he saw that her face was showing her worry once again. “Especially if it’s someone as high-ranked as Her Highness the Princess Giselle.”

Lucien’s ears perked up when he heard that name. Why did that name come up in his conversations so often now?

“Has she done something that makes you think she would? Because of that time?” he asked, referring to the day of Cecile's tea party.

“Oh no, never! That was my fault that day anyway,” Clara denied it while shaking her head and hands. “It’s just… the rumors are…”

Although she didn’t seem to dare finish her words, Lucien could understand. The fact that the rumors about the Princess’s affection towards the Duke were so widespread was just a sign that it was basically a public secret. Even though he wasn't initially in on that secret, that is.

The Duke’s mother, the late former duchess, was the little sister of the current Emperor of Ollandis. Even though incest was looked down upon in the Ollandis Empire, the Imperial family was an exception. They would never allow marriages between directly related siblings, but marriage between cousins was not uncommon. It served to preserve the Imperial family’s signature black hair and eyes.

Therefore, it was obvious that there were rumors that Princess Giselle was going to get engaged to Duke Karron once she came of age. They had spent a long time together since they were children, and most ladies didn’t dare to approach Duke Karron precisely because of that.

Though, Duke Karron did end up getting engaged once the Princess came of age. Just not to Her Highness herself.


The moment Lucien and Clara heard those knocks, their eyes went straight to the source—the door to the study that Lucien had left open earlier.

“I know you kept the door open just in case, but you guys shouldn’t be alone together this late at night,” Cecile said with a smile and one of her eyebrows raised. She was leaning on the door in her thin white sleepwear.

“Good god, Sister! Have some shame!” Lucien looked away and closed his eyes, his cheeks turning red. “An unmarried young lady shouldn’t go around in her flimsy sleepwear!”

“Come on, you’re sounding more and more like Mother.” Cecile rolled her eyes. She grinned at Clara as she approached her and wrapped her arms around her. "I can't believe my baby sister is engaged."

Clara giggled as she hugged Cecile back.

Every time they did this, Lucien would just feel so left out. There was no way he could ever intrude on their sisterly space.

"All right, you two should head to bed now. I have work to do tonight," Lucien said while waving his hand to shoo them away.

Cecile stuck her tongue out at him as she linked her arm to Clara's. "Let's sleep together tonight!"

Clara nodded with a grin. Both of them then left the room without even sparing another glance at Lucien. Those girls… Lucien laughed helplessly as he took a seat behind his desk. He took out the documents that Giselle gave him earlier in the day and began to look through them one by one.

“Let’s see, the scale of this ball is…” he muttered as he went through the first document.

At the cost of his eyebags, Lucien managed to grasp the upcoming ball in just one night. He already knew the theme of the ball, the complete list of invitations, and the personnels that he must communicate with to ensure the whole thing would proceed as smoothly as possible. As the future marquess, this was a simple thing for him to do. At the cost of his eyebags, though.

“Hmm,” Giselle said, when Lucien came to make a report that he’d done his task. She was so engrossed in reading something that he didn’t even know if she was listening to him or not.

He didn’t expect her to see him in a different light just because of this and immediately relieve him of his duties, but he wished she would at least pretend to be listening.

Maybe she was right. Maybe this IS a punishment, Lucien thought while sighing inwardly despite the professional smile on his face.

Giselle had been reading this paper since he first entered her office. Come to think of it, did she even acknowledge him when he entered earlier? Not knowing what else to do, Lucien just stood in front of her desk and waited for further instruction.

It took a good few minutes before Giselle finally lifted her head and looked at Lucien right in his eyes. He didn't know if he was right, but for a second, she looked surprised to see him.

"Were you the one who was talking?" Giselle asked. Even though Lucien was confused, he still nodded.

"Yes, Your Highness. Is there a problem…?" he asked.

Giselle's face quickly returned to normal as she put down the paper she was holding and grabbed a different one.

"No, there is none. Good job. The next thing you should do is…" Giselle began to explain the scope of Lucien's work for the day. He was relieved to know that they were all just simple things like helping her organize the documents according to importance, but the next thing she said came out of left field.

"...And you'll be the one to escort me on the day of the ball," she said without batting an eye. Lucien blinked.

"Why me, Your Highness?" he asked.

"Because neither of us have a partner for the ball, surely," Giselle said again, her eyes still fixed on the papers.

She was correct. Lucien had no fiancée, so he usually would just escort his sister or Clara, who had no fiancé of their own either. However, this time, Cecile was dead set on getting Lord Cheshire Nomal to escort her and Clara already had an official fiancé to be her partner.

He basically had no reason to decline. Moreover, he would be escorting the Imperial Princess herself, which was a prestige in and of itself.

Before he could say anything as a response, Giselle suddenly put down her hand that was holding the papers and gave him a nasty glare.

"Yes, Your—"

"Who is Lady Renand going with?" Giselle asked before Lucien could finish his panicked reply.

It turned out she wasn't angry at him for not replying sooner. She just looked like that because she wanted to ask him about his sister. Lucien cleared his throat to collect himself.

"It's Duke Nomal's son, Lord Cheshire Nomal," he answered.

Giselle then looked like she fell into deep thought after hearing his answer. Her eyebrows were furrowed and she looked like she was muttering something.

"Your Highness?" Lucien called out to her in a careful tone. Giselle pressed her lips together and shook her head.

"I can't remember. I'll tell you if anything comes to me. Go do your work," she said before going back to working.

Although Lucien found it weird, he still said he understood. He went to the other desk in the room, set up for his use, and sat down to start working.

Lucien took a glance at Giselle. She was unexpectedly not a very fussy employer. She didn't try to control him on what to do and let him figure things out for himself.

That worked out really well for Lucien, because he was the type to get even more confused if someone tried to steer him into doing things according to their ways.

When Giselle stretched her neck by moving her head around, Lucien immediately shifted his gaze back to his work.

It didn't seem to be that bad of a punishment so far.