I could tell who was crying and who was angry without him telling me. I smiled as if imitating his expression.
“That’s too bad. I wanted to see it too.”
“There will be another chance.”
When could we meet again? Since we met today, I thought about when the next time would be. Unless there was a special occasion, we never met. In fact, we announced that they were dating, but did not mention when we would get married. Since I had already been branded as the woman of the Grand Duke, even Beralt couldn’t act hastily. This result was sufficient.
“Thank you for today.”
“You’re welcome. I’ll have to say that. Thanks for helping me before.”
“It’s round… what?”
“That’s not an expression to use with a lady.”
“Then call me by my name.”
I laughed at the smiling voice. The laughter died down and I looked up at him.
“Beralt is very obsessive, so I thought he would give up until he got married. But if this is enough, I don’t think there’s any need to bother you any more.”
“What does that mean?”
“Well… To put it directly, it means we don’t have to get married right away.”
“Is that so?”
Even the way he brushed his hair looked cool. They say that the magical power of the night bestows aggression on women and sensuality on men… It looks really sexy.
“Anyway, thanks. I don’t know when we’ll see each other again, but next time we see each other, don’t carelessly kiss me.”
I smiled and looked up at him. My last words were meant as a joke, but his expression turned weird. Were my words unpleasant? He tilted his head slightly, frowning.
“I see there is some misunderstanding.”
What a misunderstanding. I looked back at the conversations we briefly had, wondering if I had said something that could be misunderstood. Wasn’t there anything that could have been misunderstood?
“Remember what I said earlier? Stress wasn’t a joke. I smoked.”
“Uh… I remember. It was just a while ago. But I heard you hung up.”
“Yeah. I hung up. What do you think is the reason?”
“Om, because the stress is reduced?”
Ian’s head tilted again. What does that have to do with a misunderstanding? Unable to understand, I waited for the next words.
“I had quite a few worries. But, an angel came down and whispered to me. There is no need to worry anymore.”
What angel was he talking about? When I asked, he lowered his head and looked at me blankly. No way…?
“There seems to be a misunderstanding, so I’ll be straight.”
He grabbed the armrest of the chair I was sitting on with one hand and lightly bent his back. He came close to me, eye to eye level. I couldn’t even react to the black incoming barrel and greeted him with my back straight. The cool scent was permeated with sweet strawberry scent.
“I don’t want to promise a next meeting that I don’t know when will happen.”
Carried by the wind, the scent only grew thicker.
* * *
I was sitting blankly. I sat in my office and let go of my hands fumbling through papers, just mechanically signing. Seals and signatures were randomly placed on the main approval documents. But I didn’t even realize it.
‘What was that?’
I remembered the conversation I had with Ian after the party yesterday. He gave off a very unaccustomed air and opened his mouth quietly.
“I’m looking at this meeting quite seriously. Actually, as Laurencia said, we’re not in love to death, and we’re not familiar for a long time. So the word love can’t exist between us. But we’re pretty important to each other. We made a contract.”
He narrowed his eyes. His voice seemed to echo in my head. Not only that, his face was drawn when he closed his eyes. Oh, why was he doing this?
“I think we are pretty good partners. I can take what I want, and you can take what you want. And I’m pretty interested.”
What was he? What kind of mouth would use such an arrogant word!
“I’m seriously thinking about dating you. So I’ll refrain from talking about it as if today’s meeting will be our last.”
Ugh… what the hell was he thinking when he said that? Was he really thinking of dating me? It was ridiculous. He’s doing sodomy! I stood in front of people and told them that the rumors about him were false, but wasn’t he a guy who didn’t care about women?
“Lady? Miss Lawrence?”
I raised my head quietly at the voice calling me. The young butler looked at me and opened his mouth slowly.
“Do you feel unwell?”
I was very uncomfortable. I think I’m going crazy because I don’t know why that man did that. What was he thinking?
“Butler Fiebel, what do you think about sodomy?”
He seemed surprised, as if he thought it was an unexpected question. Even the butler, whose expression didn’t change, was surprised. Certainly, the perception of sodomy was still quite embarrassing.
“I think it’s a preference.”
I thought he would be honest, but I’m a little surprised.
“I don’t think such a preference is a problem as long as it doesn’t harm others.”
“Then, is there ever a case where a sodomy man feels a crush on a member of the opposite sex?”
“Well, I’ve never thought about it, but isn’t it rare? I wonder if there’s a reason to enjoy homosexuality if you’re interested in the opposite sex in the first place.”
That’s right. I thought so too. But why did that man say that to me?
“But why is that all of a sudden…?”
“It’s nothing. Take the payment documents. I’ll take care of the rest tomorrow. Oh, I’m tired, so I’ll go in a little early.”
I got up, handed over the documents, opened the door and left. My chest was stuffy, and I longed for some cool air. So I left the castle and took a deep breath. Then my hardened head seemed to roll a little.
Ian was the best fit for me. Along with his great position, he owes me, and he also enjoys sodomy, which has allowed him to draw the line in a troublesome relationship. It couldn’t have been more suitable. That’s why even if Ian suddenly kissed me, it didn’t mean anything. I was taken aback for a moment, but since it was an expression of affection between friends, it was understandable if you think broadly. Even though he was friendly, I thought of it as a contractual relationship, a friendship, or a fellowship.
I hadn’t even thought about having a romantic relationship or a deep personal relationship with this man. But suddenly he was interested in me? I didn’t understand. I couldn’t figure out what that word meant.
“Huh? Aren’t you Lady Lawrence?”
I nodded and looked at the approaching middle-aged man. He was a gardener taking care of the castle’s shrubbery.
“Long time no see.”
“That’s right. I thought it’s been a while since I’d seen the lady, but now I’m surprised that she’s a full-fledged adult…”
“I see. Is the garden growing well?”
“Would you like to see it?”
He sidestepped and pointed the way to the garden. After nodding my head, I followed him and looked around the garden. It wasn’t big, but it was cozy and beautiful. As it was made at the fingertips of a gardener who devoted 20 years, his traces remained thick. It looked like nothing had changed from before. But this was good.
“As you can see, it remains the way you like it.”
“I see. I’ve been so busy I haven’t had time to check it out…”
Should I say that the feeling was new? This garden had been around for years. I remember once playing with my grandfather here. And memories with my parents, which had faded from my memory, also permeated. She approached a large tree and put her hand on it. I felt refreshed.
“This is the tree that the lady especially liked. Do you remember? Since the tree is the biggest, we put a ladder here. The lady always stepped on the ladder and climbed up there and cried. I received all the scoldings for putting them in danger.”
I smiled at him, who was shaking and complaining. It was then in the past that I used to climb trees. Because I was young and old enough to be pampered. As time passed, I stopped climbing the tree, but the memory of this tree was still embedded in me.
The gardener continued.
“It’s been a long time. More than 20 years? It’s been very difficult to give these kids all the attention and love they have for 20 years. I had to take care of them even when you lost interest.”
Interest? He turned his head. The words seemed to get stuck in my ears.
“Are you interested?”
“Yes. If you give love, people want to get it back, right? But these kids just stood there silently, so when they were young, it was like talking to a wall. So I quickly lost interest.”
If one thought about it, ‘interest’ had many meanings. I thought that it would not be used only in relation to love. Once my thoughts were changed, my actions and words seemed to be quickly reorganized. I’ve calculated the benefits Ian would gain from being with me, and the benefits the two of us will make.
After answering nothing to the gardener who asked me back to my muttering, I quickly left the garden. I walked through the corridors of the lord’s castle again, lost in thought. After all, what the man said was not about the relationship between men and women. He should have noted that the benefits accruing from the union of the Ajstain family and the Berdian family were considerable. In addition, it could solve the private problems of the two people. By making me his wife, he was a man with a wife in public, but he could enjoy his private life behind the scenes. I, too, was able to solve the problems of marriage by having a husband who did not bother me. At the same time, the barrel could be removed, and when the idea was established, it seemed that the complicated and cramped chest was opened.
I took a deep breath and exhaled. It was then that the surroundings seemed to come into view. There were a lot of things that I didn’t recognize because I was clogged and distracted. It’s been a long time since I’ve been working in the castle, so it’s time to live. I looked around the castle, pushing my thoughts into my head. The castle, which I looked at after a long time, still remained as it was in the past. When I was young, I was afraid to look at the cracked wall, but it was still there. It wasn’t real money, it was just graffiti, and it circled along the wall. Then a large door greeted me.
It was Ersia’s room. I haven’t seen her since yesterday’s coming-of-age ceremony. Grandpa was also busy with work and was not attached to the castle. So Ercia entered the room and did not come out.
I suddenly remembered her looking blankly at me and at Ian. That meant that I became the main character of yesterday and received all the spotlight. It was a position that she firmly held despite the interruption of her dress being torn and the incident in which her partner almost failed to arrive on time. And Ersia completely collapsed. Somehow, I felt like I was about to burst into laughter. I wanted to face Ersia with this smiling face. But it couldn’t be. I touched my lips and quietly knocked on the door.
“Ersia, are you inside?”
I knocked and called, but there was no answer. Normally, she would have answered right away, but there was no reply. I haven’t received any other reports of Ersia, so she must be inside.
I called once again. Then came a quiet voice.
“… I’m here.”
“I’ll go in for a minute.”
Hello there! This is RJR. Thank you very much for reading.
Next post will be released on March, 27.
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