I woke up and looked out the window. Before I knew it, we were already in the middle of the beach. It was a coral beach colored with white and pink coral. I thought it was just an ordinary coral beach because it was called Coral Beach, but I couldn’t believe its scenery.
The beach looked as if cherry blossoms in full bloom had been spread all over the ground. Without realizing it, I looked at the scenery through the window. It was so wide that I couldn’t see the end. No wonder the esteemed son of Marquis Radwike was proud of its sight.
“It would be better to see it in person.”
Valery opened the door and took my hand.
“There’s not much change in the weather here in all four seasons.”
The coral beach was connected to the sea like a huge fortress. There wasn’t magic, but even if other surroundings were damaged by a large natural disaster, it was said that this place alone wouldn’t suffer anything. They said the typhoon had never passed there, even if it was raining or snowing so much. What a cool place.
“It is more beautiful in the snowy winter. I will show you then too. You can come whenever you want.”
I had doubts as I constantly captured the scenery in my eyes. Isn’t this wide coral beach owned by Count Barbera? They’re not on good terms with the Imperial family, so how can we come here? Are they giving the pass to look good for the Imperial family?
“Call me Valery.”
“Valery, doesn’t this place have its own owner?”
“How did you know?”
“It’s just that the coral beach… is famous.”
Then he laughed a little and said that its owner had changed not long ago.
“I already thought you would like it a lot, but still, I was surprised. Anyway, I’m glad I was able to come here.”
“Looks like this place found a more suitable owner.”
He didn’t get this place through intimidation. It was clear that Valery was not a person who tended to do so, no matter how much I didn’t know about him.
“Do you like it?”
“It’s amazing. It’s not easy to see such a beautiful place.”
“It’s a gift for you.”
“Today’s date is really a gift… Wait, it’s not what I think, right?”
I realized something strange while I was talking and asked back. He just smiled.
“The gift you mean is today’s date, right?”
“That’s a gift I received from you.”
“This is my gift for you.”
I stared at him blankly and opened my mouth, “You must be crazy.”
Then Valery burst out laughing. “I understand that you’re happy with this gift.”
I knew that even if the emperor wanted this place, they wouldn’t give it to him. It made me snort while thinking the esteemed son Marquis Radwike said this place would be his. One thing was for sure, they wouldn’t hand over the ownership for a while, so what the hell did Valery do?
“You must be really crazy.”
“I wanted to get you a beautiful place that suits you.”
But who would give someone a beach?
I had a quarrel with Valery. It was a long time before I lost because he used his sullen face as a weapon.
“You will accept it.”
“Ah, I understand. It’s because you’re pretty stubborn.”
Valery smiled again as if he had never had a sullen face before. “Only those you allow can come, so you can rest here comfortably anytime.”
Whenever I met him, he tried to comfort me, maybe because he knew I was looking for a quiet, secluded place to rest. Indeed, this place would be able to hide me for a few days.
There was a small villa at the end of the beach where I walked for a long time. It seemed like a relaxing space with only a single floor consisting of white walls and windows. It seemed they had prepared only the necessary space to avoid harming the beautiful scenery.
After a long walk to the beach, we went straight into the villa.
“It’s a single floor, but there are stairs?”
“It’s connected to the roof. They say it is the place to watch the sunset or night view.”
I filled my stomach with the food his subordinates brought me and spent a leisurely time in the villa. Arriving in the afternoon, it had already begun to get dark, and we climbed the stairs we saw when we first came in and saw the sunset.
It was like a different world. At first, I was attracted to the beautiful scenery. Still, I could only hear the sound of the waves and our conversation, so I felt very far from the real world, which made me like it so much. Especially when the sun was setting, there was no wind blowing, but it wasn’t cold.
Valery invited me to go down shortly after came up, but I insisted on spending a long time on the roof. I sat with my legs stretched out. Seeing me like that, Valery laughed, and he was lying half down next to me.
“I want to go to the North with you later.”
“To the North? Why?”
“Because I met you there.”
I reflected on his words for a moment and then looked up at him again because I thought it was not a place to reminisce about the memories.
“Even though you heard such harsh words?”
“I sometimes remember the soup you gave me at that time.”
“…but the quality was very poor because it had been stored for a long time in the warehouse though?”
He burst into laughter when I asked in a voice full of doubt.
“I don’t know if it was because I survived there. If I were asked to choose the food I want to try the most, I would definitely choose that soup.”
I would never go there with him. I couldn’t refuse it for now because I didn’t want to ruin the good mood.
“Okay. Let’s go later if we have a chance. Well, I’m pretty confident about the soup from the warehouse. Ah!”
“Is something wrong?”
I turned completely to him. “How are you feeling now? Did your scars disappear a lot?”
“Should I show you?”
He touched the button as if he were going to take off his shirt immediately. It reminded me of how shocked he was when I first changed his bandages in the North. With that in my mind, a mischievous smile came out.
“You aren’t shy, aren’t you?”
“You were shocked when I changed your bandages. Your face turned red too.”
Then Valery hesitated. “…that’s because it’s the first time a woman’s hand touched me…”
“What about now?”
I reached near the button he had reached.
“It’s not different now.”
“Then why aren’t you shy?”
“Didn’t you say that I would be yours?”
At those words, I closed my mouth. How can he say that without blinking an eye? Still, strangely, I didn’t hate it.
Then he touched the button without hesitation. A light touch loosened the button. He took off his four lower buttons and paused. I stretched out my hand and slightly rolled up his shirt.
There was a long scar near the side after passing through the hard abs as if a delicate sculptor had carved a sculpture. After a long period of time, the redness disappeared, but the blurry scar was still there.
When I saw his wounds back then, I thought they would leave big scars because they looked deep, but the imperial doctor seemed to have great skill. Unknowingly, I put the tip of my finger on the scar.
“…urgh.” A small moan escaped Valery’s mouth.
I was startled and pulled my hand away, belatedly realizing what I had done. I must have gone crazy.
“Hmm, hmm. Y-You can button up again now.”
Then he laughed low. I could see his muscles trembling as his shirt was gone.
We didn’t come down until the sunset had completely set. After warming up our bodies with hot water, we spent quite a bit of time on the bed until late at night. We played chess lightly and made small talk.
After spending time endlessly, I suddenly realized that I was laughing quite a lot. There was a smile on my face without even realizing it. And I was also feeling very comfortable.
I felt a little empty when Valery was away for a while. Even though I had already realized this several times before, at this rate, I was afraid that I might be relying on him too much.
Let’s do it moderately. In moderation.
Looking at him approaching me, I made that promise once again.
* * *
It was not until midnight that Bella fell asleep.
“Please… stop it.”
But Bella, who seemed asleep for a while, frowned and murmured. Her sleep-talking was cute, but she looked in pain and distressed, which made Valery run his fingertips over her forehead. Bella’s expression became more comfortable after a few warm touches came and went back and forth.
As if she was instinctively looking for a warm embrace, she clung to Valery and dug into his arms.
Valery knew she was unconscious, but he couldn’t stop himself from being overwhelmed. The relief that the person he loved was in his arms, the feeling that she needed himself, even if it was just an illusion.
Valery shifted his position so that she could hug him more comfortably. Then, as if she was aware of that, Bella hugged him more comfortably. A small smile spread out.
Valery watched Bella sleeping without taking his eyes off her until the morning sun came.