Although he knew of Edward's visit, her father, James, didn't ask Mariabelle anything, he only made preparations for Mariabelle's return to the estate.

Even though it was sudden, it was a long way to the territory. It would take time to arrange accommodations and escorts. No matter how much he tried to hurry, he couldn't leave the royal capital until everything was finished.

However, James wanted to go to the estate with his daughter as soon as possible.

Since the engagement was broken off, Mariabelle's health had been deteriorating day by day.

If she returned to the estate, she would be able to slowly heal her wounded heart.

I want Mariabelle, who looks like a wilted flower, to smile again.

"But what should I do with... this?" James looked down at the envelope in his hand.

The coat of arms stamped on the wax seal was the queen's personal seal. The content was an invitation to a private tea party.

Perhaps because he had been refusing invitations from the royal family due to Mariabelle's ill health, the queen finally resorted to measures that James couldn't refuse.

"I knew I should have left the royal capital earlier..."

His voice was filled with bitterness, and full of regret.

Since the engagement with the crown prince was annulled, there is no way the queen would want to see Mariabelle personally.

Even though they were from the same marquis family, the queen, whose family rules over a thin land, didn't think well of the Marquisate of Berkeley, which rules over a fertile land in the south.

Perhaps that was why, although she refrained from overt attacks, they have received reports that the Berkeleys were hit hard in some way.

It is said that it was the queen who pushed the crown prince's wild idea this time.

She is foolish.

How could she not know that the daughter of Marquis Berkeley, the fiancée of the crown prince, was chosen to increase the power of the royal family?

With heavy steps, James made his way to the greenhouse where Mariabelle was.

Opening the glass doors, he could smell the sweltering scent of roses.

In the center of the greenhouse, Mariabelle was sitting on a white bench, staring at the roses without doing anything. She looked thinner than before, and James felt the weight of the envelope in his hand.


When he called out to her, Mariabelle looked up at her father with a smile that was clearly made up.

At her tragic appearance, James hid the envelope behind his back.

He had to give it to her, but he didn't want to. He didn't want to see his hurting daughter hurt even more.

"How can I help you, father?"

"I just wanted to see how you're feeling."

"Nothing different."

"I see."

James remained silent, and Mariabelle sensed something unusual about him.

"Father... what's wrong?" she asked when she noticed that James was unnaturally putting his hands behind his back. "Do you have something for me?"

After a moment's hesitation, James held out the sealed envelope and offered it to Mariabelle.

"This is the queen's..."

Her beautiful, well-manicured fingers tremble as they receive the white envelope.

After reading the invitation, she looked up at her father with a trembling heart. Her green-pillared eyes were shaking, as if the lush forests of her estate had been sealed away.

The queen doesn't have good feelings toward Mariabelle.

And yet, she went out of her way to invite Mariabelle, who was no longer the fiancée of her son, to her tea party, so there must be a deeper reason.

Is she being sarcastic to his face, or...?

Unable to answer immediately, Mariabelle looked down at the envelope in her hand.

James looked at his daughter and made a decision.

If he refused the queen's invitation, the Marquisate of Berkeley would probably cause displeasure to the royal family.

In the long run, it wouldn't be in the best interest of the house.

But, why should I hurt my daughter even more...?

As expected, if he ignored this letter and returned to his domain, he would be reprimanded.

Even so...

"The queen has made a direct offer, but you can write a reply of refusal. Let's see... Since you are too ill and unable to get up, shake your letter a bit."

At James's words, Mariabelle looked up with a startled look.

He was troubled by the shadow on her cheeks.

"Are you sure?"

"They were the first ones to be wrong. You no longer owe them anything."


Mariabelle knows that the queen is an emotional woman.

There were rumors that her family was quite struggling to make money, so they couldn't afford to hire good tutors. She didn't receive a proper education from an early age and didn't learn to suppress her emotions/

This didn't change even after she became the queen.

Mariabelle suddenly wondered about Edward's fiancée.

If she had been raised as a commoner, would she be more emotional than the queen?

Or would she be a well-educated lady who could hardly be considered a commoner?

For the first time, Mariabelle wanted to see the woman.

She didn't need to meet her and exchange words, just wanted to see what kind of person Edward loved.