ht of confessing her memories to Russell, as he had shown her brother kindness at the year-end banquet.

If so, the Emperor, and no one else, would be a reliable ally on her side.

I'll do my best so that my brother does not bear the punishment that I deserve for offending the Imperial Family. 

Just like the times when you protected me. 

Rose felt sorry for herself for the younger version of herself who craved a love that wasn't possible.

She had no choice but to repeat what she had said to Wells.

“I don't love Duke Proud anymore.”

Her voice was powered by her conviction. 

Allison was gazing at Rose with her chin in her hand.

“How strange.
Even at the coming-of-age celebration banquet this past spring, Lady Honeywell's gaze at Duke Proud was very intense.”

Rose's shoulders trembled. 

To think that others who didn't know me well knew about my feelings.

Rose pretended not to hear Alison.

“It was a childish feeling.
I can truthfully confess here that I will never again love the Duke of Proud.”

Russell's posture changed at Rose's determination. 

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Arms crossed, he seemed lost in thought and didn't speak until he had carefully considered her promise.

“I understand that Lady Honeywell no longer loves Duke Proud, but it is not a decision that Lady Honeywell can make alone.
Before I can make a verdict, Duke Proud will have his turn to speak, but he doesn't seem to have any intention of breaking the engagement.”

Rose pursed her lips. 

Why would Elliot disagree?

She denied the very thought of it.

How can I cancel the engagement regardless of Elliot's will? How?

Is there really only one way—to make a scandal myself?

Silence fell in the drawing room as the three were lost in their own thoughts.

It was Alison who broke the silence eventually.

“I know how to convince Duke Proud to agree to cancel the engagement.
There are ways to postpone the engagement ceremony.”

Russell and Rose looked at Alison at the same time.

Seeing their excited reactions, Alison subtly laughed.

“I don't think Duke Proud would accept postponing the engagement currently.”

Russell protested, but Alison disagreed confidently.

“If I step out, Duke Proud won't be able to help it either.”

“The Marquise?”

Not as Alison Rosenberg, but as Alison Cullen van Tristan.”



Even the emperor, despite his brilliance, couldn't figure out what idea she had.

Alison slowly brought out the plan she had devised.

“I'm planning to stay in the Imperial Palace for a while, and I've finished my work in the Rosenberg estate.”

I know, but how does this relate to Duke Proud?”

“What if I am living in the Imperial Palace and I don't like the children who attend to me?”

Realizing her plan, Russell swallowed a laugh.

“That isn't ideal, Marquise, Lady Honeywell—“

Allison interrupted Russell.

“She can.”

The marquise turned her attention to Rose. 

“What do you think, Lady Honeywell? While I'm staying in the Imperial Palace, you can be my temporary lady-in-waiting.
Even if the engagement ceremony is postponed because of that, Duke Proud won't be able to say anything.”

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A temporary lady-in-waiting? It's going to be completely unexpected.
Duke Proud would never see this coming. 

Rose hesitated.

“But that would only delay the engagement.”

“Of course, that doesn't solve it.
So, I'll stay here and buy you some time, so think of a solution in the meantime—a way for Duke Proud to accept the breakup with ease.”

“To make him accept it…”

The best thing to do now is to find out what Elliot plans to do to bring Honeywell down.

…But there's no way to figure out the plan right now.
We have until the incident at a year-end party.

By that time, they should be able to gain some clues as to what Elliot was planning. 

After considering her options, Rose decided to accept Alison's proposal.

“Yes, Marquise…
I will be your lady-in-waiting while you reside in the capital.”

Veins sprouted from the back of Russell's hand, which hung over the armrest of the sofa.
He opposed Rose's decision. 

“Lady Honeywell doesn't have to go that far.
If you're postponing your engagement, there must be another way.
Lady Honeywell is not in a position to attend to others.”

Alison can't hide her regret at Russell's point.

“Your Majesty, could I really ask Lady Honeywell to attend to me like a servant? We are using this option only as a cover.
How could I think of doing such a thing?”

A look of bewilderment passed over Russell's face as he watched Alison sigh and stretch her shoulders.

“Ah, but, sister Alison…”

Russell was flustered, hurriedly calling out to her by her given name, even adding the title of “sister,”  which he didn't normally use.
He hadn't meant to doubt her. 

Alison, who even pretended to wipe away tears, winked at Rose before leaving her embarrassed brother behind.

There are no tears in her eyes. 

“Lady Honeywell, I'm not really trying to get you to be a lady-in-waiting.
First, I will discuss this with the Duke of Honeywell, and if the he agrees, we will try to carry out this plan of ours.”

“It's okay to hear about the opinions of my older brother.”

“Then Lady Honeywell will go back first? I want to have a talk with His Majesty.”

Rose slowly rose from her seat.

“Goodbye, Your Majesty and Marquise.”

Rose bowed and left.

A knight at the door took the lead, saying he would guide Rose to the carriage.

Following the knight, Rose looked back at the drawing room door, which was firmly shut.

I will not be a real lady-in-waiting, but if I become one, even nominally, will I be able to pull it off? 

Will I have to travel from the manor to the palace like my older brother? Or will I be living in the Imperial Palace?

Rose sighed and continued walking.

Was this the right choice?

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