‘Her beauty is truly outstanding I must say.’ Bjorn thought as she stared at the lady who calmly looked back at him.

Just like Gladys Hartford, Erna Hardy possessed an allure that stood out among the others.
Even though both women had completely different lineages, both of them were unparalleled beauty that could cause an uproar wherever they went.
Perhaps this was the reason he didn’t mind getting involved in a scandal with her even when he normally found such stuff distasteful.
However, such a beautiful appearance ended up being wasted due to her insufficient lineage.

He had no aversion when declaring such a statement because it was obviously a fact.
Of course, he was fully aware how rude such a belief could be.

“Are you sure there is nothing between the two of you?” Leonid, who was also carefully watching Erna, asked sternly.

“Well, If you’re interested in her… I can help you seduce her.” Bjorn kept his gaze at the lady and gave a witty reply while slowly turning his head to face Leonid. 

“What kind of relationship do you want to have with her?” His lips contained an elegant smile that completely contrasted the vulgar implications of the question he asked  

“You’re crazy…” Leonid, who couldn’t help but  laugh at such an absurd statement, decided to stop doubting his older brother at this point.
Bjorn Dniester was certainly a madman in many ways, but at least he was a madman true to his desires.

“Why don’t you go and ask her for a dance? Do you think she would dare to refuse you, the Crown Prince?” Bjorn asked as he took a glass of champagne handed to him by the servant, who quietly approached them, while glancing towards Lady Hardy.

“Why do I have to do that?”

“You like her, don’t you?”

“What crazy statement are you talking about?” Leonid asked with a frown.

“I was just wondering.
Maybe you are worried that the girl you like might be having an affair with your brother.”

“Not at all.
I am not interested in such a woman.”

“You’re so rigid, lighten up.” Bjorn shrugged his shoulders lightly and emptied his drink at once.

Women could freely socialize and expand their social connections during this season, however, some would resort to unsavory means just to quickly achieve results.
Although they would succeed to achieve popularity, this kind of fame was usually accompanied by animosity.
A family that decided to sell their daughter after heavily deceiving her, and a daughter who willingly cooperates with their plans in exchange of her dignity and pride.
In the end, such occurrences were never seen by the others in a favorable light, and no one wouldn’t even have the heart to get acquainted with such a woman.

The Crown Prince soon left after getting called by the elders of the royal family.
His younger brother, who faithfully did the responsibilities that were once given to him, now perfectly performed the role of the Crown Prince.

However, Leonid stopped after taking a few steps and looked back unexpectedly, perhaps suggesting that they should go together.
Bjorn, on the other hand, roughly waved his hand to reject his brother’s kind offer and turned around without any regrets.
After all, Victoria Meyer was still there and he didn’t want to interact with her any more than he already had.

Bjorn had already given her a brief greeting with a slight nod and a small smile, and Countess Meyer also casually replied politely with a small bow.
Aside from her filthy methods, that woman’s passion and tenacity was something that he gladly acknowledged.

After all, social events were Victoria Meyer’s play table.

A place where you can enjoy ‘games’ that could give such exciting stimulus to their boring, dull lives.
He admits that he also enjoyed such games, and naturally was someone who could devise detailed strategies and achieve outstanding victories one after another.
They had the same boldness of not getting caught up in trivial plays and testing their limits by increasing the difficulty progressively.

Putting down his now emptied glass, he turned around to grab a new glass of champagne.

If Victoria Meyer was born as a man, the fame that Bjorn had with playing cards might not have reached such heights of what that he had today.
Anyway, it was an altruistic gamble to find a good marriage for the daughter of another family, so it was worth to say that she was a woman who enjoyed a much healthier hobby than the card players that gambled at various social clubs.

The Grand Duke, who decided to approach the group of nobles who beckoned towards him, unconsciously turned his head to return the gaze that had been persistently following him for quite some time.
It was actually that lady, Erna Hardy.

The lady, who hesitated to even stand up a few moments ago, was startled to the point of sitting back down again when their gazes met each other.
He didn’t find it amusing when she grabbed her lace shawl around her tightly with her cheeks stained with a red blush.

Had it not been for the name of Hardy and the existence of Victoria Meyer, he might have been fooled by such an innocent act.
He didn’t even expect that this lady could make the infamous Grand Duke break out in a cold sweat.

Lady Hardy, who glanced at him with her trembling eyes, suddenly bowed her head and began to mumble something incomprehensible.

What kind of hellish trick was she planning to do now?

Bjorn quickly left the scene before he became a victim of Victoria Meyer’s schemes once again.
He silently offered his condolences to anyone who would fall on her wretched machinations.

“Bjorn! Are you really sure you don’t know that lady? Are you two in a relationship?” The crowd rushed over and surrounded him while hurriedly asking.

“Say no, please.”

Peter said with a very serious expression on his face.
After letting out a light sigh, Bjorn sat down and reclined deep in the chair while consuming the rest of his drink.

“You better sober up, you fool.” Prince Bjorn’s lips gleamed in a reddish hue while giving out such friendly advice.




“Bjorn needs to get married.” Philip Dniester, who was contemplating seriously, abruptly said.

“I think that’s the best for him.
Isn’t it?”

He turned towards the Queen, who was sitting across from the table, as if asking for her consent.
Isabel Dniester put down her teacup with a slight frown while clicking her tongue.
With the kingdom enjoying peace and prosperity, Philip’s greatest concern was his troublesome eldest son, Bjorn.

“Bjorn will not even listen to you, much more follow your suggestion.”

“We have to somehow make him follow our will then!”

“You don’t know Your Majesty’s son very well then it seems.”

A light sigh penetrated the night air filled with the scent of spring season.
The terrace in the garden, where the King and his wife enjoyed tea time together, was filled with the scent of flowers in full bloom.

“I even secretly asked him if there was any girl he likes, but he resolutely denied having any.
He even asked me if one divorce is not enough, what a smart-ass.”

“That is…” His Majesty’s gray eyes, like those of his son, deepened.

Gladys’ name, which could be heard from all over the kingdom as of lately, was one of the things that bothered his son the most.
He expected Bjorn to be on edge because of this, however, he was amazed to see his son’s carefree attitude during the party.
Philip could even foresee that something absurd would happen when that girl and Bjorn were reunited, and just thinking of such a scenario made his back ache.
If that really happened, he would rally his army and wage war against Lars.

“Don’t worry, Philip.
A reunion with Gladys will be unlikely to happen.” Isabel reassured him as if she could hear her husband’s concern with a single glance.

“You know it, too.
What kind of heartbreak from being abandoned Bjorn suffered to make that kind of decision.”

“I know.
Of course I still remember.”

The King’s eyes deepened once again as he nodded slowly.

‘I want to step down from my position of being the Crown Prince and concede my rights to the throne.
Additionally, I want to file a divorce.’ Bjorn declared calmly on the night his child was born.

‘I’ve already made up my mind.
I will not change my decision no matter what, Your Majesty.’

There was no emotion in his face as he slowly uttered those words.
However, the silent rage and despair boiling inside the Crown Prince’s eyes, who was only twenty-two years old at that time, overwhelmed Philip.
In the end, they yielded to their son’s will as they knew well that it was the best outcome for him.
However, His Majesty couldn’t even do anything to lessen the pain his son had suffered even when he was Bjorn’s father because in the end, he was still the king of Lechen.

“But honey, there’s nothing more we can do at the moment no matter how much I think about it.
Let’s somehow try to get him to marry again  for now.” Philip’s conclusion after much deliberation ended up being the starting point of this conversation.

“It’s not like we haven’t tried that before.
If it’s marriage, then that kid will decide what he wants himself.”

“It’s a problem because Bjorn doesn’t want to get married.”

“I guess in the end we need to make him interested in marriage again.
Speaking of which, does that lady really have nothing to do with Bjorn?” He looked at his wife with a mixture of expectation and concern.

“Leonid asked his brother a few times and it seems he is not interested in her.”

Is that so?”

“Do you really like that lady of the Hardy Family?”

“It’s not like that, but I welcome any lady that can move Bjorn’s heart.
As long as she’s a better lady than that Gladys, of course.” There was a faint hint of anger that could not be hidden in his voice as he mentioned Gladys’ name.

“Come to think of it, it is time for us to move to the Summer Palace soon.
Let’s pay more attention to him this summer season.
It sure will be nice to finally see Bjorn have a happy family before the end of the year.”

“I agree…” She thought such sentiments were a dream that wasn’t very likely to come true, but Isabel still happily nodded her head when such thoughts came to her mind.
There was nothing else that could give such hope to her pitiful husband who was only worried about his eldest son every day other than seeing Bjorn finally live happily with someone who loves him dearly.

“I hope that he will find happiness soon.”




Erna, Erna, Erna.

The Grand Duke felt like that was the only name he could hear recently whenever he went after that cursed debutante ball.
Much more so when he encountered male nobles who were infamous for their debauchery.

“It’s been a few days since I sent flowers to Lady Hardy and there is still no response.
Did the maid possibly misplace the card I sent with it?”

Bjorn slowly turned his head after hearing that cursed name once again.
A group of noblemen, who lost all of their stakes, was sitting in the corner of the card room while talking about women.

“Why don’t you ask her personally? Even if she doesn’t show up at any recent social gatherings, she might still occasionally show up around here and there.”

“I could do that, but I need to have an ample amount of time.
With such a ferocious maid standing guard around Lady Hardy like a dog from hell, no one could even come near her!”

Laughter erupted from all over the place.
A long game finally ended with a few more vulgar jokes.
Naturally, today’s winner was Bjorn Dniester.

“I think you were planning to sweep away every gambling board and add your winnings to the Kingdom’s finances, Your Highness.”

“What an unfair and dirty world.
Even the Goddess of Fortune grants her favors to a person depending on their appearance.”

Various laments of those who had just lost erupted from everywhere, but Bjorn, without any reaction, left the room.
The morning sunlight pouring in through the window was dazzling, illuminating his graceful figure.
He continued walking across the club and towards the terrace facing the square.
The crowd that followed his departing figure soon sat around the table that he chose.

“Why didn’t you send a bouquet of flowers to Lady Hardy?” Peter, who had been fiddling with the glass the waiter brought, slowly asked.

Erna again.

With his chin on the palm of his hand, Bjorn grabbed a glass of cold whiskey from the table.
The clear sound of ice colliding with the glass resounded together with the name that was starting to bore him.

“Are you sure about what you’re doing? If you take that woman, you will also acquire Viscount Hardy’s debt as an added bonus, you know?”

“That’s… Well, what if it’s an amount I can afford?”

“I guess sooner or later we will hear the sad news of Count Bergen expelling his idiot son.”

Peter frowned and opened his mouth to refute, but couldn’t make any objection in the end.

Everyone in this social circle clearly knew what Viscount Hardy was trying to do with her daughter: using her as a bait for a wealthy nobleman.
Such marriage with vulgar intent would never be accepted by a prestigious family with high authority and long history.

If you’re lucky, you would be able to marry a wealthy aristocrat or become a wife of a title-less wealthy man.
Any more than this would be difficult to achieve, even Countess Meyer would be having a hard time.
Considering the current situation of the Hardy family, even that outcome could be considered as a miraculous achievement.

“Look! There she is! It’s Erna Hardy!” Peter, who had a troubled expression on his face just a few moments ago, jumped up from his seat and excitedly shouted.

Bjorn shook his head while loosely holding his glass, turning his gaze to where Peter was looking at.
Two women could be seen walking slowly from the other side of Tara Avenue: a tall maid walking like a bouncing rubber ball and a petite lady adorned with lace who followed the maid lightly.

She was wearing a wide-brimmed hat while also holding a parasol, making her face unrecognizable.
However, there was no doubt that the lady was Erna Hardy, the only lady who would walk through downtown with an appearance of someone walking out of a 100-years old painting.

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