36 Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

"Where did you hide James?"


"Release him." It sounded more like an order. For some reason, I didn't like that tone.

"I don't know where he is."

"If that's the case, I'll go tell everything to the queen," now I looked up at his face confusedly. "If you did throw him into the forest, just go and find him before she finds you," Edward rapidly said.

"..." I was confused because of his drastic behavioural change. I was speechless for a minute or two. "Brother, what is your plan?"

"I can advise him to be a good husband," This made me smirk. "Then, I have no way out of this marriage?" I asked.

"Obviously. It is not just an engagement but an agreement between two nations," he paused. "You can't go back, neither do I," he said.

It would have been much better if he had told this to me the day when I confessed to him about James. But this day I felt deceived. Besides, his tone angered me and I was on the verge of shouting at him. I almost forgot that he is the crown prince.

"Then, what if James is already eaten by the wolves?" I asked in rage.

This time he looked at me startled. This gave me some confidence.

"What do you mean?"

"What if?" I repeated.

"We need him alive, Athena. Or else, we'll have to hand over both you and your bodyguard to Letresh as a peace offering," he said without wavering.

I shook my head in annoyance as I stepped back. I was very well aware that Edward was not powerful enough to make me into a peace offering. Still, I was worried about Victor. That moment, I wanted to test Edward.

I wanted to see how far Edward would go to keep this friendship with Letresh. I kept thinking for a few seconds.

It was so evident that Edward was not ready to earn the enmity of Letresh. I was also aware that's why he is determined to release James. It was just another political game he was playing with me.

Since James was still alive, well and under my custody, I decided to see the extremity of this. I've decided to make Edward believe that James was dead. If something goes wrong I can release James to end the problem anytime.

"A peace offering?" I chuckled after thinking it through.

Seeing my evil smile, Edward knitted his brows, "Don't bring trouble to Astrana," he said.

"What if I already did?"


"I'm not lying, brother. James died a long time ago in the woods," I muttered looking at the ground. With determination, I looked up, straight into Edward's sky blue eyes. "So what now? Am I a peace offering?" I smirked.

"Athena, we'll be the ones to pay for your mistakes," he seemed to have stepped down a bit. "Release him," he said.

James is dead and that's the fact" I annoyedly looked up at his face. "Deal with it," I carelessly said and started to walk back to my chamber.

Though I was not sure if I was choosing the correct path, I had reassurance. That is James being alive. Still, I couldn't help but hesitate in my steps expecting Edward to give me a way out of this. He had been good to me since the day I've arrived here. If he was going to be an enemy, that meant a lot of trouble to me.

I moved forward, trying to hide my shaking hands. I clutched them without showing them to Edward. He must not know that I was scared and wavering. I tried my best to walk steadily towards my chamber.

"Athena!" Edward called me again from where he was standing. When I turned he was squinting his eyes. He had already lost his patience and composure. "I never thought you'll be this stupid," he said.

That moment I indeed felt like a stupid person because I was trusting Edward all the time. I originally thought I can use him to survive but it now felt like I have fallen for one of his political schemes. I had indeed underestimated Edward.

He walked to me with a frown and stopped a few inches away giving me cold shivers. He was intimidating with that angered expression. At that moment, I missed Victor a lot. If he was there with me, he wouldn't have left anyone to stand in front of me with that expression. He would have stepped in between as if to protect me. Then only I realized how much I got accustomed to Victor's presence and how powerless I would be without him.

With this thought, I looked up at Edward. He intimidatingly inched closer as he lowered his voice, and asked, "Don't you want to be a queen?". As I continued to look at his handsome face I witnessed it suddenly turning wicked. There bloomed an evil smile on his perfect lips. I was indeed startled since this expression on his face made him ugly. I've never expected to see Edward this way. Seeing my perplexed state, Edward stepped forward and leaned, then whispered beside my ear. "I thought you were ambitious. But I've miscalculated. You just want to be a duchess, don't you?" he asked.

Those words struck me like a lightning and I was unable to move an inch because of the startle it gave. His words were enough to throw away all my confidence.

He knew...

He knew all along that Victor was a duke. Judging from his villainous expression, I was so sure that he knew more than that. I couldn't help but widen my eyes in fear. But my dumbstruck state was not satisfying enough to him. So he continued to threaten me.

"After all, he is merely an extra. You can't get much from a villain. You must choose your allies wisely. Think twice," Edward said as he brushed past me.

At that moment, I could hear my heartbeats. My heart was pounding in fear. The words 'extra', 'villain', 'allies' were perturbing inside my head. I was unable to breathe properly and I even forgot to blink. The trembling hands were the only part that showed slight movement in my whole body.

I was in a catastrophic situation. This situation was not limited to me only. It was beyond my comprehension.

I stayed like that, even after Edward went away. For a few minutes, I was dumbstruck to move my body. My brain was trying hard to process the excessive shock and information it received minutes ago. In time, the fact that Edward knew all these finally struck me. He not only knew about Victor being a duke but also knew about Victor's fate in the book as well. Unless, why would he mention Victor as a villain?

The amount of information I came across made me clutch my head in horror. It was a massive revelation. It was an unexpected plot twist, not in 'No Romance, Please', but in my life. There was only one explanation for this.

'Edward... is he from my world?'

Suddenly, I remembered him being all friendly with Evelyn and hostile towards Flora. What could be the reason? Why would he try to change Edward's fate? Why would he choose Evelyn instead of Flora? If he is really from my world, who is he?

These questions were enough to give me an immediate migraine headache. This time, I felt so helpless and pathetic. Judging from his words, he knew the story well. If he is really from my world and he wants to change the plot differently, I will be in danger. Of course, he already started to change the story in the way he wanted. At that moment, I've realized that I have been one of his pawns all along. This made me wonder. If he and I, both are from my world, could there be more?

Dealing with the characters from the novel was never a scary business for me. But this, scared the hell out of me. From what I understood, if that's the reality, it will turn into a massive battle of wits.

I couldn't understand what could I possibly do next. All the plans I had all along may not work out with his presence.

I hurried back to my room since I wanted some time alone. All this while, my plans were the things that kept me going. Though most of them failed, a few like befriending Victor had been a great help.

"If Edward is also from my world, that makes him a strong opponent. That doesn't mean I can never fight him back. It is just going to be a bit difficult this time," I thought.

Still, I had Victor.

"If this Edward is not the real Edward, then according to the novel, the most powerful character Edward is eliminated. So it would naturally make Victor the most powerful character from the novel. A fake Edward will not be a match for him. That's a good thing," I thought.

With Victor's help, I might find a way out. But before everything I had one big work. That is, I need to find out, how many duplicates from my world are wandering in this novel universe.

I hurried to my workspace and sat down on the chair. 'A plan is everything,' I thought as I started to note down my observations. My observations were the key to finding who's characters deviated from the novel version.

But before I could proceed, I found a scroll on my table. To my surprise, it was sealed with the Royal emblem of Astrana.

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