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 "I PREPARED a small gift for you, Kiho," Tilly told the captain while they were sitting side by side on the bench. Even though they just got engaged, he was still very mindful of her personal space. He wouldn't even let their arms touch. But she was fine with it. "Here."

She handed him the box with a big bow on it. He looked hesitant when he took the gift because she insisted. It looked like he was conflicted for some reason.

"Tilly, I'm happy that you got me a present but at the same, I'm embarrassed," Kiho said. "I didn't prepare a gift for you."

Of course he wouldn't prepare a gift for a woman he was supposed to dump.

He may not have prepared a material gift for her, but she sure received a nice present from him a while ago.

"That's not true, Kiho," she said with a playful smile. "You gave me a gift."

"What do you mean by that?"

"You gave me a lovely title," she answered. "You called me a goddess."

"Of crabs," he reminded her. "And you hit me for it."

She laughed heartily at how light and fun their conversation was. This was so different from the formal ones that they had in her previous life. Plus, the current Kiho spoke a lot. In the past, he used to be so awkward at communicating.

[I'm glad our first meeting turned out to be very different from the first one we had in my previous life.]

"I may have overreacted but I like the sound of it. For real," she said sincerely. "If you didn't see me struggling from trying to open crab claws, you wouldn't have approached me. So I'm grateful for the crabs for letting us talk that night."

"Ah, that's true."

"I like your confession, too," she added. "You were willing to risk your life just to be with me. That's already a priceless gift, Kiho."

He blinked in surprise. "I didn't expect a duke's daughter to be this easy to please."

She giggled at his straightforwardness. "You seem to have prejudice against higher nobles."

"Did I offend you?"

"No. Most of your bad impressions on higher nobles might be true anyway," she admitted. Before she was reborn, she used to be a high-maintenance lady. She loved glamorous clothes and expensive jewelries. Well, she still enjoyed luxury but right now, she has also learned the value of non-material things. "Anyway, you may open your gift. It's a simple present so don't expect too much."

"That will be impossible because whatever I receive from you, I will treat it like it's the most precious thing in the world," he said while opening the box in a swift movement.

Thank god he was busy "unboxing" her present because he couldn't see her blushing face.

[I didn't know Kiho can be this smooth.]

"Oh."

She couldn't help but smile when she saw Kiho's face light up as soon as he saw the content of the box. Then, he turned to her with a childish glint in his golden eyes. He looked like a little kid who just received a present from Santa Claus.

"You got me seafood tools," he said with a slightly more cheerful tone than his usual monotonous voice. "I'm delighted."

"And I'm happy that you liked my simple present."

She got Kiho a set of crab crackers, a pair of butter warmer (a small ceramic bowl over a votive holder and candle), and a customized seafood scissors. She drew the design of the seafood scissors and had a great smith to create it. It was closer to the seafood scissors she had in the modern world than what was currently available in the empire.

[No wonder the captain looks very impressed.]

"You even got me butter warmer," he said, then turned to her with a spark of curiosity in his eyes. "Do you know that I like dipping lobster and shrimp in melted butter?"

Of course she knew. They were married for ten years in her previous life. Though unfortunately, her past self didn't enjoy seafood so they didn't bond over that.

[I really was a bad bitch then.]

"I like melted butter so I thought that we have the same taste as fellow seafood lover," she said as an excuse. "I'm glad that my instinct was right."

"I never thought the day I'd say this would come but I can't wait to marry you."

She just laughed softly while trying to ignore the butterflies in her stomach.

[I'm already an adult but he's making me feel like I am young again!]

"Thank you, Tilly," he said in a gentle tone. "What can I give you in return?"

"I'm not expecting anything in return when I prepared a present for you."

"I know. But I still insist," he said in a firm voice. "I may not be as wealthy as your family but I have enough to pamper you."

She already knew that since she was in-charge of their family's finances in the past.

Kiho, as the captain of the Black Serpent Knights, actually earned a fortune. Every time his troop conquered a country or a kingdom to expand the empire's territory, Emperor Aku would give him a portion of the fallen land's wealth. Aside from that, the emperor would also pay Kiho a huge amount of money for every person he would kill under His Majesty's order.

But Kiho was frugal. He wouldn't spend money on himself. But he let him spend his hard-earned money on luxury.

[Yes, I was an awful wife.]

"Okay, I understand," she said when she saw the determination on his face- determination to dote on her. That was so cute of him. "Captain, please get me a nice engagement ring."

He gasped aloud. That was the most vivid reaction she got from him yet. "I proposed to you without a ring."

"That's why you have to make it up by giving me a ring that I can show off to other ladies."

He nodded as if he was telling her that he wouldn't disappoint her. "I will find the perfect ring for you."

"I'm looking forward to it."

"Tilly, are you sure you want to marry me?"

"Yes," she answered. "Why?"

"I just want you to know that when I commit to something, I don't stop halfway," he said like a mild warning. "I'm giving you this one and only chance to run away."

"I won't run away," she said firmly. But then, she got curious. "But what will happen if I ran away from you after we're married."

"I'll chase you," Kiho answered almost immediately. "And I won't stop until I find you again."

She barely noticed the threat in his words because his voice sounded really sexy. Plus, his face was so handsome that staring at it for long made her forget how to think straight.

But she would be careful, okay? She knew that Kiho wouldn't physically hurt her. But she would also make sure that he wouldn't get too obsessive. She may have been reincarnated in that world, but her mind and heart still remembered the modern woman that she once was.

[I'm still that strong, independent woman.]

"Alright," Tilly said after a while. "Let's stay together for as long as we can."

***

"WHAT?" Emperor Aku asked Kiho with a raised brow. "Will you repeat what you just said, Kiho?"

"I want to give Lady Prescott an engagement ring, Your Majesty," Kiho told the emperor. He called Tilly formally because he was talking to the emperor. He didn't want Emperor Aku to know Tilly's adorable nickname and use it carelessly. "I want to give her a pearl ring as a symbol of my feelings."

They were currently riding a horse side by side. The emperor went on a hunt and he was in charge of His Majesty's safety. While they were on their way back to the villa where the emperor was spending his short break, he asked about his engagement with Tilly.

"Are you crazy?" the emperor asked while gently shaking his head. "Sure, a pearl ring looks nice. But an engagement ring has to be diamond..." He paused for a few seconds before he turned to him with a horrified look on his face. "Kiho, am I not paying you enough that you can't afford a diamond ring?"

"Your Majesty, I have enough money to buy Lady Prescott expensive jewelries," he assured the emperor. "But I thought a pearl ring would be more special because we both love seafood."

"I fail to see the connection between the two," the emperor said in a dire tone. "Kiho, there's a reason why pearls aren't popular as engagement rings. According to Nia, pearls are easily scratched. If Lady Prescott wears it regularly, there's a high possibility that she might damage the ring even before you get married. But most of all, pearl rings are considered cheap compared to diamonds. Do you want the nobles to have another reason to look down on you?"

"Your Majesty, I heard there's a special kind of pearl in the Great Sea of the East."

His Majesty's eyes widened in shock. "Are you insane, Kiho? The Great Sea of the East is a lair for sea monsters! Are you thinking of braving the Great Sea just to get a pearl for Lady Prescott?"

"I heard the pearl is hiding in a giant clam," he said, ignoring the emperor's whining. "Pearls are usually found in oysters but this one, it can be found in a clam. That's already rare."

"The giant clam you're talking about is in the nest of giant sea monsters."

"Your Majesty, I haven't taken a long vacation ever since I became a captain," Kiho said while looking at the emperor. "Please approve my vacation leave as soon as possible."

"You're crazy," Emperor Aku said in frustration while shaking his head. "Don't make Lady Prescott a young widow, you fool."

***

[IT CAME.]

Tilly was actually waiting for Kiho. Today was the day the captain would visit their house to formally ask her father for her hand in marriage.

But this morning, a special letter was delivered to her by a messenger from the royal palace. The seal in the envelope had the crest of the royal family: a white lion and a full moon. To be precise, it was a letter from Her Royal Highness Princess Nia Moonchester.

Like what she was expecting, the princess sent her an invitation for a tea party with just the two of them.

[If I accept the invitation, I'm bound to discover her "secret." Well, I don't have any plan to use that against the royal family. But I still don't want to deal with it again in this lifetime.]

But how would Tilly avoid Princess Nia?