Novel Name : A Saint who was Adopted by the Grand Duke

A Saint who was Adopted by the Grand Duke - Chapter 87

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“How have you been…”
Their atmosphere was awkward since they hadn’t been with each for a while. Esther opened her mouth in an attempt to start the conversation when she abruptly forced it closed.
Dorothy’s counseling resurfaced her mind: She should never ask questions first.
“No, let’s have sandwiches.”
“Were you hungry?”
Noah opened the basket, pulled out a clumsily packed sandwich, and placed it in Esther’s hand.
It was a sandwich filled with salad.
Noah sent her a dazzling smile and took a big bite from his sandwich.
“How is it?”
Esther’s pupils expanded in surprise as she began hers; she really had no expectation at all.
“Delicious. Did you really make it?”
“Yep. Palen helped me a bit but… It’s true that I made it.”
Noah glanced at the distant Palen and pleaded for help.
Palen was merely enjoying the two when he surprisedly nodded in agreement.
“That’s right. It was all made by the prince.”
He smiled again and tried to continue observing the two when he felt Victor’s gaze.
“Why don’t we move there so that they may talk comfortably?”
“Let’s do that.”
As Palen accepted Victor’s proposal, the two retreated ten steps from Esther and Noah.
Esther and Noah were too occupied making up for the time they couldn’t meet to notice the two men’s generous act.
They exchanged back-to-back stories, and Noah told Esther how he had been in the meantime.
“…So next month, a meeting will be held to decide the Crown Prince.”
“Do you have enough people to support you?”
“Yes. Of course.”
Esther raised her thumb in respect as she watched Noah’s bold response.
“You’re really amazing.”
It was a sincere statement. Esther couldn’t fathom how difficult it would have been to gather supporters again in such an abandoned state.
“What do you mean amazing? It’s nothing.”
Noah scratched the back of his head. This was the first time he received a compliment from Esther.
Esther wasn’t aware that his ears, covered by his hair, were beet red.
“I guess I spoke too much about myself. Esther, how have you been?”
“Nothing really happened. I had a good time with my father and brothers.”
The past year was more like her receiving overdue gifts altogether.
Noah smiled broadly as he observed Esther’s well-founded expression.
“I can tell just by looking at your face. I guess it was nice.”
Esther recalled the conversation she exchanged with Noah before they parted.
‘He told me to become happier, little by little, every day.’
Now was the time to confidently boast that she faithfully kept their promise.
“Noah, you too…”
She was going to ask if he also underwent difficult circumstances during the last year, but held back as she recalled Dorothy’s words.
“What about me?”
She quickly finished her sandwich to distract herself from asking.
Noah gazed at Esther as she ate well, honey dripping from his eyes. He stretched out his hand.
He casually wiped the sauce around Esther’s mouth and smiled.
“Do you want mine too? You’re eating well.”
“I’m full.”
“I’ll make it for you next time as well, so let’s go somewhere else.”
Esther quickly wiped her mouth and glared at Noah who treated her like a child.
“Did you dance well yesterday? You didn’t like it when dancing with other people besides me, right?”
“It was okay though?”
Esther opened her eyes in surprise to tease Noah.
“That’s too much. I would’ve said it wasn’t good.”
As she expected, Noah’s expression soon darkened and he hugged his knees sulkily.
Esther, satisfied to see his sour expression, looked down at the river, her chin on her hand.
“This place is really nice.”
She complimented the site instead of claiming that she enjoyed their time together. Dorothy’s counseling.
But there was no answer.
It wasn’t a thing for Noah to remain quiet. She turned her head in bafflement at the quiet atmosphere.
There was Noah, his face closely staring at Esther since who knows when.
Their faces scarcely collided with each other as she turned her head.
“Why… so close…”
Esther stood frozen in embarrassment before Noah’s eyes, unable to even pull her head back.
“You came closer to me. I was always here.”
Noah smiled mischievously and remained as he was. He was so near that she could make out his baby hairs.
“You look even prettier up close. Esther’s eyes are very transparent.”
“Don’t do this, really. I’m going to be surprised.”
Esther pushed Noah in fear that he would come nearer.
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Her heart was beating like crazy. She worried Noah would hear the sound of the fast thumping.
“Hoo, it’s hot.”
“I know. It’s a little warm.”
Esther turned her head to conceal her red face, but Noah’s face was also flushed.
And the same was true for the uncontrollable beating of his heart.
‘That was really close just now.’
Noah had unknowingly moved to kiss Esther’s cheek. He pressed his pounding chest.
The two couldn’t face each other for a while and took that time to calm themselves.
After a while, Esther gathered her thoughts a bit and clapped her hands to speak nonchalantly.
“Will you compete with Prince Damon for the Crown Prince’s seat?”
“Right. Have you met Damon again after that one time?”
Noah’s eyes shook anxiously as he recalled Darwin’s words regarding Damon’s proposal.
“I ran into him at a gathering once, but that’s all.”
Esther shuddered at the thought of the ill-starred Damon.
She held Noah’s hand firmly.
“Noah, you must win. No matter how much I think about it, Prince Damon is not fit. You have to become the Crown Prince.”
Even if her intention of holding his hand was to encourage him, Noah’s lips parted in surprise. This was the first time Esther held his hand first-!
Noah was indeed startled, but his eyes creased like crescent moons at his delightedness.
“Yes. I’ll definitely win.”
Noah put his hand over Esther’s.
She belatedly strived to pull herself from his grasp, but Noah was more firm than she expected. In the end, she couldn’t budge.
“It’s your choice to hold my hand, but it isn’t up to you whether you want to take it back.”
Their hands clasped together.
“Esther, is that all you’re curious about? I think I was the only one talking today.”
Esther fiddled with her luscious hair.
“Because you already said everything.”
“Shall we go now?”
Noah pushed his hands against the ground to pull himself upwards, suggesting they return.
Startled by his sudden actions, Esther hurriedly grabbed Noah’s clothes and stuttered.
“We just got here. But to leave already? The weather is very nice today.”
Esther lowered her head. She probably seemed pathetic as she held onto him pleadingly.
“So, you like to be with me.”
Embarrassment took over Esther to the extent she couldn’t face Noah properly. She confessed her intentions.
“Actually, Dorothy told me not to ask questions when I meet you. That way, I can take the initiative…”
“What? Then, did you hold back what you wanted to say?”
Noah burst into the brightest laughter she’d ever witnessed from him.
It was almost comical how all the muscles on his face were moving.
“Idiot. If there is any initiative between us, it is unconditionally up to you. You still don’t know me?”
Noah bumped his forehead onto Esther’s and soothed her to stop worrying about such useless thoughts.
“You don’t need that when you’re with me. Of course, it would be preferable to do so if another man approaches you. Don’t ask questions and just ignore him.”
Esther glared sulkily in response to Noah’s playful tone which seemed to be teasing her.
This time of exchanging small jokes with Noah was very sweet and dreamlike for Esther.
She thought to remember this beautiful riverplace for the longest time, deep within her heart.
At the same time, same place.
Esther and Noah were unaware, but apart from Palen and Victor, there was one more person pursuing the two.
“What kind of guy is he?”
Judy hid behind a huge tree, fire blazing within his eyes.
About an hour ago, the time he ran into Esther, Judy oddly recalled what Sebastian had spoken previously.
‘Does Esther have a boyfriend?’
He simply brushed past Sebastian’s words at the party, but seeing Esther adorned to the fullest brought up that one conversation.
So he followed along in a carriage, just in case…
“It’s true. Who the hell is he?”
Judy’s eyes narrowed.
He wasn’t angry, but witnessing Esther with a boy he didn’t even recognize annoyed him immensely.
He was also concerned whether the guy Sebastian caught sight of was the same person;
“He looks familiar.”
After earnestly rummaging through his memory, Noah eventually appeared in his list.
“Right! The 7th Prince!”
Judy would have recognized him sooner had their distance been narrowed, but it’s been years since Noah last made an appearance.
He also knew him as per their encounters at official events during young ages.
However, Judy’s confusion grew even more after figuring out Noah’s identity.
“He’s the prince who got sick and was kicked out.”
The reason Noah vanished over the years was because he was deprived of his status as a prince. He hadn’t seen him since then.
It was also bizzare how that same 7th Prince resided in the Tersia territory, and why he was currently with Esther.
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Judging from the current atmosphere, this was the first or second time they met.
Judy eyeballed Esther’s strange condition when he scarcely collapsed from shock.
“He must be crazy!? How dare he touch Esther?”
It was the moment Noah placed his hand over Esther’s.
To add to that, Judy’s face converted from shades of red to blue as Noah scarcely grazed her face.
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