Chapter 8

 

“Yes, yes?”

 

The man stuttered as he looked up at Layla as he knelt on the floor with a pale blue complexion. Layla just stared at him expressionless.

 

“I said, how much is it?”

 

“I-I don’t need money…”

 

“You also don’t need your nose?”

 

The man grabbed his nose with his hand that was on the floor.

 

She was not a witch so she could not put a curse on him that could make his nose disappear. But the man seems to firmly believe that Layla was a witch, and that she could even cast a curse.

 

“This is the last time. How much is it?”

 

“T-two shilling.”

 

Perhaps the threat had worked, the man spat out the words like a rapid-fire cannon.

 

Layla put her 100 shilling into his box of money and took her change. 98 shilling.

 

What Layla ordered was one pound, so she didn’t care how much meat the man put on his own accord.

 

“H-hey, merciful witch. Are you not going to curse me?”

 

The man cautiously spoke to Layla, who was about to leave his shop with change in her pocket. He was still holding his nose so it came off rather nasally.

 

“Not sure.”

 

Layla said, wiping the man’s spit at the back of her hand into his clothes.

 

If she did something a little more, the big man might sink down on the floor and pee on himself.

 

Passing by the man, Layla came out of the shop. There was still no one in front of the shop, people were only looking at Layla from afar.

 

With faces full of disgust and fear.

 

That was nothing new. Those were expressions Layla had seen most of her life.

 

***

 

A fly buzzed in front of Layla.

 

It must have flown over because of the meat on the table. But now, it was hovering around Layla, probably intoxicated by a much more intense scent than the meat.

 

Layla showed no sign of chasing the fly away, She just stared blankly in front of her. Or maybe not in front.

 

Then, suddenly, a tear fell from Layla’s eyes.

 

There was nothing new, it has alway been like that, Layla said to herself…

 

Those people’s gazes did not disappear from Layla’s mind.

 

Disgusted at seeing something dirty. Fear that she might curse them.

 

And the relief and luck that her dirty stench was not coming off from them.

 

Those gazes, those expressions, and those faces, were jumbled in a mess.

 

“I didn’t want to be born like this either.”

 

A small voice muttered.

 

“Even I-I  wish I’m not born in this filthy, stinky body.”

 

Once again, a single tear fell from Layla’s eyes. Suddenly, tears welled up in her eyes.

 

From the moment she was born, Layla had a stench. Her mother refused to give milk to a smelly child.

 

Layla’s father regarded her as the family’s black sheep.

 

Her younger sister despised and hated her. Layla was an abandoned child.

 

In her childhood, she lived in the Count’s mansion in a small shed next to a stable where no servants lived.

 

And when she turned ten, she received this cabin as a gift for her birthday. They said it was a gift, but it was no different from asking her to get out of the mansion.

 

Layla was someone who lived through loneliness by day and shuddering at the sound of howling beasts at night.

 

Layla was someone who had never been loved even at the age of twenty one.

 

So there was nothing new. Even this sadness was nothing new.

 

Just as time went by, just as the sun went down, just as the darkness came after a bright day, Layla’s sorrow did as well.

 

***

 

Layla’s fingers twitched.

 

Her eyes, which had been staring blankly in front , trembled. After a few blinks of her unfocused eyes, she saw darkness through the window of the cabin, and noticed that it was bright inside the cabin.

 

“What are you thinking about?”

 

Layla, startled by the sudden sound of a man’s voice, jumped up from her seat.

 

In the place where Layla turned her head was Bioust who had moved the lit candle on the candlestick to the other side.

 

“You, w-what the!”

 

Informal words came out of startled Layla’s mouth, but Bioust just smiled softly.

 

“Did I not introduce myself last time? I’m Bioust.”

 

Courteously pressing his right hand on his chest, Bioust said his name. Even though he knew that was not what Layla was talking about.”

 

“How did you get in?”

 

“I opened the door?”

 

Biost said, pointing to the door that he opened and entered again.

 

“It should’ve been locked though?”

 

“It was locked, but it was just a hook. I was going to tell you about that anyway. Isn’t the crime prevention too sloppy for a woman who lives alone?”

 

Bioust put the lit candle back on the candlestick. The cabin brightened enough with the four candles that glimmered softly.

 

“Besides, it was not just a woman, but a pretty lady living here.”

 

Bioust smiled broadly as he said that, and Layla frowned. She already knew herself that she wasn’t pretty.

 

There wasn’t even a spot which men would find attractive. Unless they’re a pervert who likes skinny, rough-mouthed women.

 

‘As expected, a pervert.’

 

Layla, once again, viewed Bioust that way. Whether he knew he was being viewed as a pervert or not, Bioust sat down at the table with a grin.

 

“Why are you sitting on your own? No, why would you come into someone else’s house like this?”

 

“Because last time the cabin was dark, it made me upset.”

 

Bioust pointed to a candle that was shining brightly. At his words, Layla’s expression, who glanced at the candle with him, softened.

 

“I was worried that you might still have forgotten it. So I brought some.”

 

Then, Bioust pointed to the sack of spare candles that he had already set aside.

 

“T-this much?”

 

She sneakily approached it, opened the sack and cried out. There were about 30 candles in the sack.

 

These were scraped off by Suli from the Baron’s mansion. The Baron might eat in the gloomy darkness tonight.

 

But that was not known by Bioust.

 

“You, what are you?”

 

Speaking informally again.

 

(T/N: Formal and informal korean cannot be directly tled to english. TT)

 

He was planning to remove her wariness with a gift, but somehow the cat had more claws up. No, hadn’t she already had her toenails clipped?

 

“I’m just… I’m a little worried about you.”

 

There was no smile this time.

 

As if asking her to believe that he really meant it, Bioust looked at Layla with a rather sad look. And just as he hoped, Layla flinched.

 

“Actually, when you let me into this cabin a few days ago, I felt like I had met a savior. The rain was pouring down heavily, I didn’t know where I was because it’s my first trip here, I’m already far away from my companions, and my temperature was dropping so I thought I would just die wandering around the forest…”

 

Bioust shook his head, as if feeling dizzy just by thinking about it.

 

“Thank you for letting me in here, for warming up the cabin and for giving me hot soup.”

 

They were all paid services, but Bioust let it out and just talked.

 

“So I came because I wanted to repay you a little bit more. And the soup I had then…”

 

Bioust, who was talking, paused for a moment. He was moving his mouth to have an excuse to sit down, but that soup was really garbage. He didn’t want to eat it again.

 

“… And the strawberries were also delicious.”

 

“That’s the reason why you’re giving this many candles?”

 

“The strawberries were that delicious. Where did you get those strawberries? They were really good.”

 

“I had picked them by myself.”

 

Speaking formally again. Bioust smiled inwardly as he watched Layla go back and forth. She was faltering.

 

“Aah! Is that why they were so delicious? Because a cute girl picked the strawberries?”

 

“What the hell are you talking about?!”

 

First, she gets angry if she’s called pretty or cute.

 

“I kept thinking about those strawberries.”

 

Second, whenever Bioust smiles, she avoids his gaze.

 

“So, by the way, if there are any leftovers of those strawberries, can I get some more?”

 

“Why would I…!”

 

Layla, who was about to scream, flinched at the sight of the glowing candle quietly placed in the candlestick.

 

“… Wait.”

 

Third, if she receives something, she tries to repay that. Or, if you want something, she should also be willing to give it.

 

Seeing Layla’s back as she went to get the strawberries, Bioust smiled. Information was piling up one after another, and the prickly cat seemed to be easier to handle than he thought.

 

“Hmm…”

 

When he was left alone at the table, Bioust took a deep breath of the cabin’s air. The scent of Layla permeated.

 

It was still a sensual and colorful scent. Bioust lower region was hardened with just the scent of Layla.

 

“Where should I start eating?”

 

Bioust muttered to himself in a voice so low that Layla on the other side could not hear.

 

He smiled slowly and took another deep breath. The scent of Layla again entered his nostrils and began to caress his brain.

 

Compared to any other prostitute, it was a touch that knew very well where Bioust’s pleasure was, skillfully, and satisfactorily.

 

If it wasn’t for the d*mn conditions, right now…

 

“Why are you closing your eyes?”

 

Bioust opened his eyes at the voice he heard right in front of him. The source of the scent stood in front of him with a protruding face.

 

As the sharp blue eyes stood and looked at him, the Bioust felt more blood rushing to his lower region.

 

“Ah, I’m a little tired.”

 

Layla’s wet hand held a plate of strawberries.

 

“They look delicious.”

 

Bioust chuckled.

 

It looked like it would be sweet if one would take a bite.

 

***

 

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