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33 Good Girl Gone Bad

 PRESS CONFERENCE.

If Tilly needed to explain the tactic she chose to prove her innocence to the whole empire, then that would be organizing a press conference. She asked her father to invite the most credible journalists in the empire.

[To be honest, the royal family kind of hates journalists because sometimes, they act like the paparazzi. So I wasn't sure if the emperor would allow them in the palace- especially in the princess's residence.]

Thankfully, Kiho managed to convince Emperor Aku to give them the permission.

[His Majesty wasn't just all talk when he said that he considers Kiho as his younger brother, huh?]

Anyway, right now, Tilly was having a tea on a table that she occupied by herself.

Lady Belington and the other ladies were flocked together on her right side. They were sitting on a long table but couldn't even enjoy the tea served to them.

[They're too tense.]

If the reporters weren't sitting on the long table on her left side, she would have laughed her ass off like a villainess that she used to be.

[But I have to be careful of who's in front of me.]

Princess Nia was having tea with Emperor Aku in front of them. Of course, Captain Sherwood and Lahara were standing behind the twin royals.

"Your Majesty and Your Royal Highness," a royal standing by the garden's entrance announced. "Captain Kiho, Vice Captain Blake, and Captain Denver have arrived."

[Finally.]

Kiho, Blake, and Captain Denver greeted the emperor and the princess first.

Then, after that, Kiho turned to her. Much to her surprise, he started to walk towards her. Of course, she stood up to greet him as well.

Kiho put his hands on her waist then kissed her forehead.

[OMG!]

While she was giddy, everyone around them was obviously shocked by their public display of affection.

[Well, the noblemen in the empire are stiff. Most of them believe that showing affection to their spouses is a sign of weakness. The sexist men of the society also taught women that any amount of clinginess is a nuisance���� that women should be ashamed for showing affection to their husband in public. So, yeah. The couples in the empire are so stiff and boring.]

For the record, she believed that everyone should be mindful of their manners when they were out in the public. But to make two adults in a loving relationship feel ashamed for showing a bit of affection? That's b*llshit.

"How are you, Tilly?" Kiho whispered in a worried voice. "I hope you're not too affected by the rumors."

"I should be the one saying that," Tilly said with a smile. "Are you okay, Kiho?"

~Her~ captain nodded and kissed the top of her head this time. "Let's get this done and over with."

Emperor Aku cleared his throat to get his attention.

Tilly and Kiho automatically put a decent distance between them before facing the emperor.

"Lady Prescott, all the people you have requested have arrived," Emperor Aku said. "What do you plan to do now?"

"Your Majesty, I would like to ask your help," Lady Prescott said politely. "Captain Denver could show everyone here our memories of what happened the day the "witness" saw me and Captain Denver in a compromising position. Captain Denver could also show the memories of Captain Kiho and Vice Captain Blake of that incident. By doing so, we can prove to everyone that the nasty rumors about me and Captain Denver aren't true."

In her past life, Captain Denver used his ability to "pull out" a person's memory and show them to others like a movie on a projector on her. The captain used to prove to the whole empire that she committed crimes to the royal family.

But today, she was going to use Captain Denver's ability to prove her innocence.

[I'll use the memories of my past life to my advantage.]

"Let me guess," the emperor said with an amused smile. "You want me to check if the memories that Captain Denver would show us are tampered or not. Am I right?"

"Yes, Your Majesty," she said. "Please lend us your ability to know if the information presented to you is real or fake."

Everyone in the empire knew that Emperor Aku had the keen sense when it came to fact-checking the information being presented to him. That ability of His Majesty was one of the reasons why no one had succeeded in fooling him ever since he ascended the throne.

[Well, maybe Princess Nia is an exception since she can use mind control.]

"Since you and Captain Kiho are two loyal subjects of mine, I shall grant your request," Emperor Aku told her. "And personally, I don't like the fact that a rumor involving an engaged couple is circulating around the empire. As an engaged person myself, I wouldn't also like it if Princess Nia gets involved in a malicious rumor like that." The emperor turned to Princess Nia and held her hand. Then, he brought her hand to his lips and kissed it. Ah, it looked like the emperor was influenced by Kiho's boldness, huh? "My princess, don't you think it's unfortunate that something like this happened to Lady Prescott when she's about to get married?"

"I'm also disheartened by the news especially since Lady Prescott is a dear friend of mine, Your Majesty," Princess Nia said in a convincing sad voice. Then, she turned to her with a sympathizing look on her face. "Lady Prescott, my heart goes out to you. His Majesty and I will help you in any way we can."

[Pfft.]

To hide her evil smile, Tilly gracefully bowed to the princess. "Thank you, Your Royal Highness."

"Now, shall we begin?" Emperor Aku asked, then he turned to Captain Denver. "Captain Denver, do it now."

Captain Denver bowed to the emperor. "As you wish, Your Majesty."

***

TILLY's plan was a success.

Captain Denver pulled out his own memory first. Then, he pulled out Tilly's, Blake's, and Kiho's. Thanks to that, everyone finally realized that Captain Denver didn't touch her chest because they were having an indecent affair.

Also, everyone witnessed her sweet moment with Kiho after he pulled her away from Captain Denver.

[Now they know that Kiho's sweetness isn't just for show.]

"I swear on my name that the memories Captain Denver had shown us are real," Emperor Aku declared. "Lady Prescott and Captain Denver are innocent. Anyone who will still continue to spread the malicious rumor will be held accountable for their actions."

Tilly was relieved.

The reporters were having a field day while writing on their little notebooks and talking about themselves. She could hear some of them saying that the newspaper tomorrow would definitely sell like hot cakes.

On the other hand, Lady Belington and the other ladies went pale. They had been quiet from the start but now that her innocence was proven, they looked like they would faint anytime.

"Tilly, I'm happy for you," Kiho said while looking at her with shining eyes. "I've found who started the rumor. What do you want to do to Baroness Alphonse and her servants?"

"Good question, Captain Kiho," Princess Nia said. Then, she looked at Lady Belington and the other ladies. "So, Lady Prescott. What kind of punishment do you want to bestow upon the ladies who spread the malicious rumor about you and Captain Denver?"

Tilly was just about to answer when Lady Belington screamed.

"This is unfair!" Lady Belington complained. "We didn't start the rumor! We didn't even hear about it until we arrived at the princess's palace!"

Tilly raised an eyebrow.

[Lady Belington and the other ladies just heard about the rumor when she got here? Then, where did they hear it from...]

She gasped when she realized something.

[Could it be Princess Nia?]

"What are you trying to say, Lady Belington?" Emperor Aku asked in a cold voice while his red eyes were glowing. "Are you pinning the blame on the princess?"

Everyone in the garden felt the heavy pressure from the emperor's Mana.

That included Tilly, of course.

Her knees buckled and she almost fell on the ground. Thankfully, Kiho wrapped a protective arm around her waist and pulled her close to him until she was leaning against his solid body.

Lady Belington and the other ladies fell on the ground crying.

Even the reporters and the royal guards weren't able to remain standing.

The only people who managed to withstand the emperor's Mana without a problem were Kiho, Blake, Captain Denver, Captain Sherwood, and Lahara.

[His Majesty is scary!]

"I m-misspoke, Your Majesty!" Lady Belington said while crying. Then, she went into a kneeling position and bowed so low that her forehead touched the ground. The other ladies followed suit. "P-Please forgive your lowly subject!"

"Do not apologize to me," Emperor Aku said, his Mana still putting pressure on everyone. "Beg for the princess's forgiveness."

"P-Please forgive me, Your Royal Highness!" Lady Belington begged. "I d-din't mean to say that I heard the rumor from the princess. What I was trying to say was I heard the rumor while I was on the way to the palace."

Tilly wasn't convinced. When she turned to Princess Nia, she saw her looking at Lady Belington with glowing red eyes.

[Is Her Royal Highness controlling Lady Belington?]

Then, did it mean that Princess Nia had something to do with the rumor?

"It's okay, Lady Belington. I know you didn't mean to accuse me," Princess Nia said in her usual kind voice. Her red eyes also stopped glowing. "But unfortunately, it doesn't change the fact that you and the other ladies have wronged Lady Prescott. You still need to be punished." The princess turned to her with a smile. "Lady Prescott, the decision is yours."

Tilly smiled and bowed at Princess Nia to hide her scowl.

[What is the princess up to?]

***

"YOUR Royal Highness, I apologize for ruining your tea party," Tilly said to Princess Nia while bowing to her. "Your Majesty, thank you for helping us clear our names."

Right now, she was in the throne room while having a private audience with Emperor Aku and Princess Nia. The twin royals were sitting on their thrones, of course.

Captain Kiho and Captain Denver were standing behind her.

"Forget about the tea party, Lady Prescott," Princess Nia said kindly as soon as she raised her head. "I never believed the rumor so I'm happy that the issue has been cleared."

"Thank you for your generosity, Your Royal Highness," she said.

"I'm also glad that the rumor was cleared right away," Emperor Aku said. "I don't want two of the Four Orders' captains to get into a messy love triangle."

"That will never happen, Your Majesty," Captain Denver assured the emperor.

"I agree with Captain Denver, Your Majesty," Kiho said. "But if that happens, I won't make it messy and just kill Captain Denver without shedding too much blood."

Captain Denver scoffed at that. "Bold of you to assume that I will just let you kill me."

Tilly wanted to glare at the two captains but she just decided to ignore them.

Plus, Emperor Aku started to laugh heartily. "I would love to witness that."

"Aku, don't say that," Princess Nia scolded him lightly.

Oh. Princess Nia addressed the emperor casually. Was it because there were only a few of them in the throne room?

"I was just kidding, Nia," Emperor Aku said with a laugh. Then, he turned to them again. "Kiho and Lady Prescott, best wishes on your upcoming wedding."

Tilly and Kiho bowed and talked at the same time. "Thank you, Your Majesty."

***

"FINALLY," Tilly said as soon as she sat on the couch inside Kiho's carriage.

"Are you tired?" Kiho said when he sat across her. "Do you want to go home right away?"

She was about to say 'yes' but when she saw the nervousness in his face, she changed her mind. For some reason, her heart started to beat fast and loud because of excitement.

[Could it be...?]

"No, I don't want to go home yet," she said. When she saw the relief on Kiho's face, she smiled. "Do you have a plan?"

Kiho nodded eagerly. "Would you like to go to the Moon River with me?"

Oh. That was the location of their first date. It was special to them so if he was going to give her a ring, then it would be the perfect place to do so.

"Yes, Kiho," Tilly answered with a smile. "I'd love to."

[OMG! Is Kiho really going to give me a ring tonight?!]

***

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