He slowly reached out his hand through my hair. His hand was careful as it reached the tip of my ear.
I asked again whether he had heard my question, but he hadn’t answered yet.
“Can you tell me what you were going to say that day?”
Was he worried about that? There was only silence. His tightly closed mouth opened several times.
“If I say it.”
He pulled the hair he was holding onto and kissed at the end of it. Even while he kissed it, his eyes were only focused on me.
“Will you accept it?”
My hair slipped smoothly from his hand. I watched his actions without missing a single one, then raised my head again.
“I’d love to. If you believe me.”
Even just for a moment, I wanted him to believe that the deception my mother did with what I did was different. Valery’s eyes darkened for a moment.
“I want to be yours. Can I do that?”
I slowly closed my eyes and then opened them.
“Yes, please be mine.”
I ended up spitting those words.
“I want to kiss you,” his voice was so hot.
I closed my eyes instead of answering. The careful touch that was sweeping my hair earlier touched my cheek. His hands, which were much bigger than my cheeks, were warm and soft.
As soon as I felt his breath, a touch of warmth touched my lips. Unknowingly, my eyelids trembled. If it had been rough, I would have felt less guilty now. But every gentle and careful touch seemed to be forgiving my unforgivable sin. Nevertheless, I liked the warmth and wanted to keep chasing it.
His lips slowly parted at the end of the short yet long kiss. Our breaths were completely mixed just from a short distance. He swept my lips with his thumb. Valery was persistent and meticulous, as if imprinting one by one.
I impulsively kissed his lips again. He hesitated for a moment, but this time it was rougher, as if he was hungry for it. I was out of breath from it because I was experiencing it for the first time, but the skin that came against me felt sweet.
The kiss that never seemed to end came to an end. I burst into laughter at the somewhat impetuous breathing. He raised his lips unknowingly when I was like that. Valery’s eyes were much brighter than before. I wondered if I would look like that too in his eyes.
“Why are you laughing?”
“It’s just… fascinating.”
Still, his hands remained on my cheeks. This time he pressed his lips against my forehead. And when our eyes met again, he slowly opened his mouth.
I closed my eyes tightly, holding my breath at my real name that was being called for the first time.
* * *
Early the next morning, I left the Imperial Palace after talking all night. To be exact, when the dim dawn gradually receded
“Let’s go back.”
Ian, who was waiting, opened the carriage door.
He didn’t answer me, so I stopped trying to get into the carriage.
“It’s nothing. We are leaving the mansion right away.”
There was no conversation in the carriage. Well, it has always been like that.
“I will tell my mother. That you just followed my orders.”
“Will you be okay?”
“I won’t be okay. That said, I couldn’t use my power on the first prince. But I stood out quite a bit yesterday, so it should be fine.”
My mother would be a little upset…
Although I spoke positively, somehow, my body and mind were heavy on the way home.
When I got into the mansion, my mother was already there. She probably hasn’t returned to Bei since she came yesterday. After all, Sir Shubart was also away. My plan to rest a bit and find my mother later went off very nicely.
“I thought Mother was in Bei. I was going to get ready and go there right away,” I told casually as I put down the light coat that covered me.
My mother approached me with the clatter of footsteps.
Even though I practiced endlessly until I got off the carriage, my mouth was dry when I stood before my mother.”
“… I’m sorry.”
Then my mother’s mouth hardened.
“What do you mean?”
“…I did all the preparations yesterday, and the atmosphere was good with the first prince, but I drank too much because I was nervous…”
Mother’s voice became icy. I even felt the back of my neck stiffen. As if confirming the true meaning of my words, my mother’s eyes touched Ian for a moment. Ian lowered his head and turned to me again.
All right, let’s talk.
“I woke up in the morning and found out I was with the second prince.”
“Now with the first prince, but the second prince…”
My head got turned when I was talking. What was going on? As I felt surprised, my cheek felt stung.
“I told you to pull yourself together.”
I didn’t know she would slap me in the face. My mother had never touched me like this before. It was because I had never made a mistake, but the shock was still too great.
“Do you find this funny?”
“… I’m sorry to disappoint you, Mother.”
“Shubart ruined everything, but why did you too?”
My mother was sweeping her hair roughly when she stopped talking. She was cool-headed, but I could see that she was really upset right now. On the inside, I believed she would let it go, but my cheeks, which started to hurt belatedly, were tingling.
“It’s my mistake, so I will find another way. Maybe the second prince isn’t bad, right?”
“…it’s nothing. I will make sure not to make this mistake again.”
My mother didn’t answer. Instead, she only threatened me not to go out until she came back later. Perhaps she was planning to work things out with Sir Shubart again. Or maybe she would bring out Plan B or Plan C, which had been planned out before.
Anyway, I was glad that I bought some time. The sound of my mother’s carriage completely disappeared, and I let out the breath I had held back.
It felt stinging. Somehow it felt more painful than being beaten by Duke Rudbihi. Although I didn’t think it would get swollen as I got slapped.
Why is everyone doing this to my cheeks?
Ian quickly brought out a cold, wet towel and held it out.
“Are you okay?”
“What if I’m not okay? Just check my mother is doing well. My mother might have figured out a way to check if I was using my power correctly. I don’t know if there’s such a thing or not.”
And I turned my head away before Ian said anything useless.
The servants who had been holding their breath because of my mother began to stand out one by one. Among them, Nina came with a cup of water on the tray with quick steps.
“…Lady must have been surprised.”
“Thank you. I wanted to drink cold water.”
Nina leaned back slightly when she drank it halfway through.
“They want you to stop by. Tonight.”
I just nodded.
It wouldn’t be a light matter if Shale asked me to come in person. He may have finally been able to get in touch with that person’s daughter, who had the information about the special blood. Because a lot of time has passed.
I pressed my cheek again with a wet towel and climbed the stairs.
* * *
As soon as it was 9pm, I closed the door with the excuse of going to bed early. Then, using the teleportation stone, I headed to Iskar.
“You came right away. I was going to make another appointment if you can’t come.”
“I feel sorry, so I have to come. But what did you call me for?”
It didn’t take long to find Shale as soon as I arrived. No, rather, he was waiting for me.
“You look at it yourself. It’s time to come soon.”
“Is it the daughter of the book owner?”
Shale raised the corners of his mouth and nodded.
“I had a hard time bringing her here.”
“What happened to the mine?”
Then Shale’s expression became brighter. No, he looked so happy that he couldn’t control his expression.
“What are you saying that it could buy you two or three buildings?”
“Is it less than that?”
“No. It could buy up to five. Is it really okay to gulp it down?”
“As long as you don’t get caught.”
“Who am I?”
He spoke triumphantly.
It was good news after getting slapped before.
That information was the top secret among the secrets. Only Duke Rudbihi, Guladu, and a few of his subordinates would have known. Even if his title was duke, it wouldn’t be easy to track the one who spilled that information. He might suspect me, but he didn’t have any proof.
No outsider knew about that mine, so it was obvious he would be furious. Seeing that Shale swept everything a few days ago, Duke Rudbihi must have been upset by this now. I could feel the joy even though it was risky as I had been hanging around the Duke Rudbihi family.
“Wait a minute.”
Shale went with his subordinate as if to pick up the guest. About 10 minutes after Shale had left, a modest woman came with him.