Melissa smiled at her own appearance. After the earthquake, it wasn’t safe to stay in an inn. It was also too late to return to the village. She had also let people evacuate using her previous carriage.
“Please rest assured. His Highness will pick you up soon.”
“…We haven’t met for a long time, and when we’re to be reunited, I’m like this…”
“What’s the problem?”
Melissa thought that Jill didn’t understand a maiden’s heart.
Even if she was no longer engaged to the prince, as a maiden, she wanted to appear as beautifully as possible in front of her beloved.
Because of her present appearance, she grew even more reluctant to meet His Highness.
She half-regretted not taking advantage of the turmoil to make her escape.
As the sun went down, cool air enveloped her skin. Jill draped a coat over Melissa’s shoulders.
The coat was a thick military uniform. It was also laden with heavy decorations.
She wondered if one could train their muscles through simply wearing such a garment.
By the way, back then, when she ran around the plagued village and fainted from exhaustion, she woke up wearing such a heavy coat.
In the morning sun, her hazy sight bore the visage of His Highness Jeid. When he saw Melissa, he smiled and greeted her.
Recalling that, Melissa contemplated.
“…Now that I think about it, I’ve been showing His Highness my unkempt appearance for a long time.”
Unlike other ladies, Melissa seldom wore beautiful dresses or make-up. She didn’t make any effort to be loved as a woman.
The only time she’d polish her appearance was during a grand ceremony, one before her power as the saint had diminished.
Dressed in the most beautiful dress she had ever seen in her entire life, she was praised by many. Due to the flattery, Melissa was both happy and embarrassed. Her cheeks were tinted with red.
“Melissa is always beautiful.”
“Fufu, it seems that even a man like Jill can be quite the charmer.”
“After you vanished without a word, I learned that I should just say what I’m thinking while you’re still here.”
“It seems that you were truly concerned about me. I didn’t vanish, I merely left.”
“Can you still say the same to His Highness?”
Reflected upon Jill’s eyes was a figure.
Silvery white locks which glittered as the night dawned.
The man was someone she both wanted to meet and didn’t want to.
“His Highness Jeid…”
His long legs erased the distance between them with each step. Having abandoned all thought of escaping, Melissa stayed rooted in place.
How many months has it been? He seems a little thin…
Is he angry?
His neatly-arranged face displayed a quiet, but otherwise firm listless expression.
His Highness Jeid called out to Melissa and reached out to her, as if wanting to confirm her presence.
His long fingers slowly caressed her cheeks. He didn’t care about how soiled her face was.
He scooped a lock of her blonde hair, before placing it behind her ear. As he caressed her hair, his lips loosened—
“—I wanted to see you. I’m glad that you’re alive and well.”
Did he worry more about Melissa escaping than the earthquake?
The fact that His Highness’ face was filled with an intense relief constricted Melissa’s chest.
“A rescue team was immediately dispatched, but Melissa saved the people first. There are few injured and the shelter is full. Supplies will arrive tomorrow. Be rest assured, Melissa.”
His Highness was always kind—after all, he was that kind of person. Above all, his voice was gentle and comfortable to her ear. He spoke in a way that immediately sank into her heart.
She liked the voice of His Highness.
Her own nostalgic feelings, when added with His Highness’ gentleness, broke her tension. Melissa felt as if all her energy was drained from her body.
“As there was no damage, the castle seems to be a solid place. Everyone is safe. So, let’s go home. A warm bath has been prepared. Everyone is worried. They’re waiting for Melissa.”
Although Melissa had a lot to say and hear, she was vulnerable to His Highness’ words.
She was aware that by meeting him, her feelings would overflow.
As she nodded in silence, His Highness Jeid’s black eyes and expression seemed to have been filled with all the happiness in the world. Thus, he laughed.
A nearby servant escorted His Highness’ trusty horse into the royal castle. The horse was carrying both Melissa and His Highness on its back.
As she felt the warmth of His Highness directly on her back, Melissa grew nervous. He was pulling the reins.
Surrounded by his arms, she couldn’t escape.
“I’m sorry for the lack of a carriage. Tell me if you get tired.”
“It’s alright. This child always walks slowly when I ride him.”
“…For a long time, now, this child has been trying to flirt with you. He is usually not like this.”
“Fufu, what a good boy. The one who pulled the carriage is also a good boy. He didn’t get shocked despite the earthquake. It’s all thanks to Conrad’s care.”
Conrad was a trainer exclusive for the royal family. Conrad’s beloved horses were famous. Whenever Conrad talked about horses, it felt like he could go on for three days and nights.
Of course, the beautiful maned horse Melissa was currently riding was also being taken care of by Conrad.
“Now that I think about, I used to ride horses with His Highness.”
“No matter even if it’s the mountain or the sea, whenever there are people in need, Melissa always runs towards them. Because of that, my riding skill has improved considerably.”
“That’s because Your Highness never let me ride a horse alone. Certainly, I didn’t have time to learn horseback riding at the time. Actually, it is unnecessary for His Highness to ride with me. You could’ve left me with Lord Jill…”
That way, she wouldn’t be so nervous and her heart wouldn’t be racing so fast.
She wondered if it was part of the royal family’s obligation to accompany the saint during horse riding. When she imagined His Highness riding a horse alongside Monett, her chest hurt.
“…Is Jill that good?”
“His horseback riding skill? Yes, it is.”
Jill could certainly afford to ride a horse while carrying Melissa. Besides, that kind of duty should be left to an escort, or so she thought.
***T/N: Sasuga saint-sama, to be immune towards the ikemen under such a close proximity!