Stuff in italics is direct translation while the rest is summarised. Enjoy.
Rumours are going around London that Lord Ashenbert was to announce his engagement soon. Apparently, he'd ordered a regard necklace from a jewelry shop on Bond street with the message 'dearest'. However, no one was yet able to figure out who the identity of the lady he was to wed. Just that her initials were L. C.
At the Ashenbert residence, Lydia, her father, and Edgar look over various fashion plates of wedding dresses. While the Duchess of Maysfield had already expressed to the Carltons that the Earl was happy to bear the expenses for the wedding as well as whatever she would need as the wife of an earl, Lydia's father offers to bear the cost of her wedding dress and putting some money towards her dowry.
In Lydia's room, Nico tells Lydia that still more candidates for the earl's fiance were being listed in the tabloids. However, Lydia's name was not among any of the names suggested. Nico wants to know why they don't release Lydia's name to the public yet, and Lydia tells him that they haven't yet set the date for their engagement announcement. Nico can't help being suspicious that perhaps there was some reason why Edgar wasn't able to set a date for the announcement yet suggesting that perhaps he'd promised to wed another woman as well. Given the figures suggested for the earl's fiancee's dowry, Nico suggests that Lydia should elope like her parents had. That way, she wouldn't need to worry about a dowry or things for the wedding.
"Lydia, I'd like to get the preparations finished and get married soon."
"Ye-es...... Around when were you thinking?"
"Around three months from now. It should be possible to get everything prepared in that time."
"Eh? Three months?"
Lydia couldn't help thinking that was too soon. Even now, it still didn't feel real to her, so she didn't feel she would be ready to wed in three months time.
"Wait, I can't learn to become a countess that quickly. I still need to learn the proper manners and customs of being one of the nobility."
"You can learn that after we're married."
"But maybe we should takes things a bit more slowly... half a year or maybe a year from now......"
"I can't restrain myself that long," he stated firmly. "Lydia, most likely three months is my limit. No, to be honest, I'm not even sure about three months. I have to control myself quite a lot every time I see you."
Lydia wasn't sure why, but she shifted slightly away from him.
"Duchess Maysfield's already reminded me that if I truly care about my fiancee, I'm not to lay hands on her before the wedding. Ah, of course, she said so in a very gentle and round about manner. But she's very strict. Certainly maintaining decorum is important. And I wouldn't want you to have any guilty feelings when making your vows before God. You're a proper virtuous girl, so probably, rather than giving in to passion, you'd feel happier having maintained your virginity. So, I want to be a proper gentleman of a fiance. But three months is the limit."
He said all in one go, but she wasn't sure she completely understood what he meant or not. However, she sensed that it was something Edgar was adamant about, so she could only nod.
He smiled as though relieved, and pulled Lydia towards him. She quickly turned her face away from him when it seemed like he was about to kiss her.
"Um, Edgar, not in front of other people......"
"People?" he asked as he glanced around the room. "There's only a cat."
Nico had claimed the sofa as he poured over the tabloid, but his ears twitched at the word 'cat'. He turned and looked at them.
"Hey, Earl. I'm not a cat!"
Lately, Edgar was wont to try and kiss Lydia wherever they were, so she was always having to make sure not to give him any opportunities when they were in public. Since Nico was the only one around, she'd been a bit careless, but it was still embarrassing even in front of him.
"Don't worry, Lydia. I know the difference between kisses in public and when we're alone."
I-is that something to say in front of Nico?
Edgar took advantage of Lydia's confusion and kissed her lightly.
Nico sighed while Lydia blushed.
"Edgar, I wish you'd be a little more restrained......"
"Even though I've been unbelievably restrained with you until now?"
"But Lydia, just because we've spent time together where we've maintained proper decorum, I hope you won't think that I have no passion. If you wish, I'd be more than happy to show you how passionate I am for you."
"Um, you don't need to do that."
She tried to move away from him but was caught in his arms.
"It was just a suggestion. That's right. It may be that you won't be able to wait until the wedding. If that happens, I hope you won't hesitate and will come straight to me."
"Um, I don't think..."
"You can say it? Then, just in case you might feel that way, would it be okay if I invite you to my bedroom every day?"
Why was he able to say such improper things so readily? As always, she couldn't tell if he was being silly and teasing her or if he was serious.
Lydia couldn't help feeling flustered.
"Honestly. Now that you're getting married, I thought we'd heard the last of that incessant sweet-talk, but now you're going to make advances about not being able to wait until the wedding."
Give it a rest already, Nico muttered.
"I can't help it. It's like a hobby."
"Eh, it was a hobby......"
"But there's no need to worry, Lydia. I've decided you're the only one I'll make advances towards for the rest of my life."
You mean it'll be like this for the rest of my life?
"My sympathies," Nico said before abandoning Lydia and disappearing.
Since they had only recently gotten engaged and had yet to announce their engagement, Lydia didn't feel comfortable being alone with him and couldn't help thinking that it was improper to be too intimate yet. She couldn't help feeling uncertain being alone with him. She couldn't just look away when he gazed at her, and she couldn't just refuse being kissed. Naturally she didn't dislike nestling against him nor did she dislike being kissed, but she didn't know how to respond to his affection. She could only freeze when he held her or kissed her. She couldn't even look at him straight.
"Ah, we'll be announcing our engagement soon after your audience."
"You won't mind being kissed after we've announced our engagement?"
Never mind that.
"By audience, you don't mean..."
"Right. You'll be presented to the Queen and make your debut to society."
"Eh, b-but that's impossible! I'm not from a noble family, so there's no way it would be granted!"
"I'll manage something."
Edgar smiled at Lydia as she tried to escape from him. If Edgar said he'd do something, it didn't matter what (sort of dirty trick) he had to do, he'd manage to do it.
Half an hour earlier, Edgar had left to see a visitor and left Lydia and her father looking over the wedding dress fashion plates. Lord Constable had come demanding that Edgar take responsibility for his actions.
Apparently, Lord Constable's daughter Lucinda was set to make her societal debut that year. According to Lucinda's diary, she had been exchanging love letters with Earl Ashenbert and that he'd secretly visited her.
Edgar has confidence in his memory when it came to women and denied ever having written to Lucinda (let alone knowing who she was). He tells Lord Constable that if his daughter had been ruined, he should find out exactly who was responsible and go after that person instead.
Lord Constable is aghast at the thought that Edgar had done more that just kiss his daughter. Edgar however, just shrugs at being told to take responsibility for having kissed someone and suggests that if he were to take responsibility for something of that nature, Lucinda would have to be his 15th wife.
After Lord Constable leaves, Raven tells Edgar that 15 was far too low a number. Edgar tells Raven that even if he knew otherwise, he shouldn't say so to anyone and that he especially shouldn't say anything to Lydia. Raven states flatly that he absolutely would not say anything about the matter to Lydia.
Edgar feels that it would be better for Lydia to be presented to the Queen and making her debut to society as a Carlton, and entering society after marrying and becoming a Countess was too late. People would view her differently if she happened to marry into the upper class compared to being part of the upper class beforehand. Since her father was a Cambridge graduate and a professor at London University, while not exactly a member of the gentry, the profession was regarded as one within the realm of a member of the gentry.
Raven informs Edgar that Lydia has returned home and Edgar can tell that Raven was feeling uneasy. Edgar admits that he'd upset Lydia and that she refused to consider the possibility of an audience with the Queen. Raven asks Edgar to try not to upset Lydia and seemed to be afraid that Lydia might change her mind about getting married to Edgar. Edgar suspects that Raven was almost as happy about Lydia joining the Earl's household as Edgar was and that Raven might blame Edgar if Lydia changed her mind. Regardless what, Raven had never said anything against or disobeyed Edgar, but when it came to Lydia, he would sometimes offer his opinion, and he was hoping that the two would manage to get married.
"But I want to do as much as I can before anything bad happens. I want to give her everything that is in my power to give."
Edgar had a powerful enemy. He'd gotten to know Lydia when he wanted to gain the rank of Earl of Ibrazel in order to protect himself from that enemy, and it was her ability as a fairy doctor that saved him.
Edgar had to keep Lydia with him in order to fight against the organisation that could control the Unseelie Court, but he'd ended up falling in love with her. Now, more than her ability, it was Lydia's presence, her kindness and compassion, and the comfort he felt being with her that made it impossible for him to leave her regardless what might happen.
The leader of the organisation that had killed Edgar's family and caused him so much pain over the years was dead. But the 'memories' that made up the heart of the organisation lived on.
Because Edgar had taken them on.
Edgar had ended up becoming the 'Prince' that was the leader of the organisation.
He didn't know if the power of the curse that had brought about the Prince would change him or if the memories would remain locked away and he would be able to continue to remain himself.
Either way, Edgar could neither give up marrying Lydia nor could he give up his hopes for the future, but at the same time he was unable to tell her about that and continued preparations for their marriage.
By marrying, he could give everything he had to Lydia. And that in turn could protect her.
Upper class society was one of the things Edgar thought he could give her.
"Nothing will happen. You'll be able to live peacefully with Lydia from now on." Raven was the only one who knew about everything. And he stated that firmly trying to encourage Edgar.
"You're right. In any case....... I'll be sure to make up with Lydia."
"I don't think she enjoys having you be so affectionate."
Since Raven didn't understand the finer aspects of feelings, he ended up stating harsh things very plainly exactly as he thought them.
While he wanted to believe that she no longer became angry at being touched or kissed because their relationship had progressed, Edgar couldn't help feeling that she was even more stiff with him when they were alone together than she used to be.
Tompkins informs Edgar that a lady guest has come to see him and asks if he should tell her that the Earl was out. Ever since the rumour that the Earl was about to become engaged started going around, a number of ladies had been visiting trying to learn more. While they were ladies he'd only had passing acquaintance with, Edgar wasn't sure if he would be able to resist hitting on them if they were interested in him, so he'd been avoiding meeting with any of them.
Tompkins was one of the people looking forward to having Lydia marry into the Earl's house, so he tried to keep Edgar from temptation and was already determined to send the lady away. But Edgar noticed that the lady's calling card had the same pink ribbon decorating its edge as decorated the diary of Lord Constable's daughter, so he asks Tompkins the name of his visitor. Upon learning that it's Lucinda Constable, he can't help being curious as to who the lady is and instead instructs Tompkins to show her to the drawing room.
Edgar sees Lucinda and vaguely recalls having met and spoken with her briefly but that neither of them had given their name. Lucinda apologises for having broken her promise about not coming to see him, and that her father had found out about them after reading what she'd written about him in her diary. Edgar tells Lucinda that her father had been there earlier that day but that he had no idea what her father was talking about since he didn't know her, never made any promises to her, and likewise had never written any letters to her. When Lucinda asks him if he hadn't been serious that time when he'd proposed to her, Edgar tells her that he has a fiancee already.
Lucinda is shocked to learn that his upcoming engagement announcement isn't to her but to another person. According to her, the earl had fallen in love with her at a party and inquired to her identity and sent a love letter to her after learning her name. The exchange of letters was done via her maid Annie who is apparently mute, and she exchanged letters with another servant at a local pub. Edgar can only wonder why Lucinda would believe the letters since a man wanting to keep a relationship a secret most likely meant that he intended to break it off without any consequences in the future.
Edgar asks Lucinda about the man she'd been seeing since she'd supposed met with him at one point, but she admits that it was very late at night in the garden so she was unable to see him well. Edgar tells her that whoever it was wasn't him and that unfortunately, she'd been fooled by someone. Lucinda refuses to believe that because when they met at the party, the other ladies had been gossiping about her mother and how she was of lowly birth, but the earl had said some very kind things to her when she stood to leave and almost bumped into her and that's when she fell in love with him. (Lord Constable's first wife was apparently his younger sister's governess.)
Edgar suggests that if Lucinda doesn't believe that he wasn't the person she was exchanging letters with, that they could just compare his handwriting with the letters, but Lucinda tells him that she burned them all as instructed in the letters. Edgar can only marvel at how cautious the man was since the letters hardly contained state secrets, yet at the same time, Lucinda had not only written about them in her diary, but her father had found her diary and read about the letters in it.
Edgar suggests that if she still couldn't accept that he wasn't the person who'd written the letters, she should reveal the incident publicly and seek an impartial judgement on the issue. However, revealing such an incident publicly would be terribly scandalous for a well-bred lady and unthinkable.
Lucinda finally backs down and wishes Edgar happiness with his fiancee. After Lucinda leaves, Raven asks Edgar if the issue could cause any problems for him, but Edgar tells Raven that it was unlikely since he was completely innocent and the other party had jumped to conclusions. However, Raven reminds Edgar that secret letters and late night visits were things he'd done in the past. Edgar is surprised at Raven's good memory of such things and reminds him that those were things he'd done in the past while in America, so there shouldn't be any problems. While Lucinda had seemed to want to believe she'd been exchanging letters with him, she knew now that that was not the case and that he had a fiancee. Likewise, they were unlikely to ever meet again.