Dangerous Attraction (1)
Huge thanks to kristenanna for the kofi! (1/1) Sorry for the late update!
A very long table was in the centre of the hall. How hard would it have been to bring this onto a ship? The tablecloth placed on it was almost too gorgeous to be used. Rosen whistled in admiration, then hurriedly glanced at Alex. In the eyes of a high-ranking person, she was acting vulgarly.
“It’s okay. It’s a bit extravagant, but it’s not a table I use all the time. I only use it for formal dinners. Now I have enough people for a dinner party, but because of the circumstances…”
Alex Reville mumbled the end of his words. She nodded. Treating a prisoner to a decent meal would not look good to others. Alex quickly smiled and added.
“Shall we start eating, Miss Walker?”
The moment he clapped his hands, a magical scene unfolded before her eyes. Beautiful attendants lined up carrying plates. When the first five dishes were placed on the table, she was stopped by Henry as she reached for food.
He slapped her hand and gave her a scolding.
“Fool, wait! You’re going to eat with your bare hands? What are you going to do handcuffed? Even if your hands were free, you can’t eat now. The Captain hasn’t said you could yet.”
Rosen folded her hands in her lap and tried to hide her embarrassment.
“He told me to start eating”.
“It’s another thing to ask, ‘Do you want to start eating?’ Besides, there’s only soup. You have to wait for the appetizers to come out. What the hell have you been eating all this time?”
He seemed to want to help her, but she couldn’t understand Henry’s explanation, so she became rather depressed. Rather, if they treated her like a prisoner, she would have eaten in her own way, saying that she did not understand the manners of high-ranking people…
It was embarrassing not to hide the tendencies she learned from the slums in front of those who dressed her in decent clothes and treated her politely.
There was a misconception that people had, but it was the people of the slums, not the upper-class, who were sick of the slums the most. She, like many others, didn’t know where she came from, couldn’t read, and had a dirty appearance… It was a bit embarrassing.
So she pretended to be confident. However, her concocted boldness did not work all the time.
“Just eat a little.”
Ian Kerner shoved a spoon into her mouth. The soup filled her with warmth, so she forgot what she was going to say and just blinked.
“It’s all the same once it gets to your stomach. Henry, you ate with your bare hands on the battlefield.”
“No, Sir Kerner. It’s a different situation. I didn’t mean to humiliate Rosen… ”
“Go away. Did you forget that I told you not to come within 1 meter of Rosen Haworth?”
“Are you serious about that?”
“When have I ever spouted nonsense?”
Ian responded coldly, and Henry was puzzled. Without a moment’s notice, Layla criticized Henry.
“Uncle should learn to be considerate of others.”
“Layla! You too…?”
Alex glared at Henry.
“Henry, I’ll speak to you after dinner.”
Henry quickly became teary. Rosen was elated again. It was strange for her to have everyone on her side.
‘I’ve always been treated like a maniac.’
Ian ignored Henry and fed her soup as if he was feeding a baby. Rosen quickly swallowed what was in her mouth and asked.
“You won’t eat?”
“I take care of my meals. Don’t mind me and just eat.”
Her front teeth kept getting hit by the hard spoon. As she grimaced in pain, he switched to a smaller one.
His facial expressions and hand movements played out independently. He had a prideful face, but his touch was infinitely meticulous. At first, Rosen, who was hesitant to eat out of awkwardness, began to make more and more shameless demands.
“Give me meat, not grass.”
“Why? Is it a waste to give me meat?”
As soon as she spoke, he ripped off a large turkey leg and cut it into small pieces. After a long time, hot food warmed her stomach, and her hunger got bigger and bigger. She couldn’t afford to stop. It was so delicious that she felt like crying. It made her forget that she had just been embarrassed by Henry and Ian Kerner was serving her.
At first she was going to eat quietly, but suddenly she couldn’t even speak, and gestured at the food she wanted to eat. She devoured whatever Ian offered.
Alex just watched Rosen eat happily, but Ian frowned and put down his utensils as she was chewing.
‘The way I eat isn’t polite, is it?’
Rosen looked at Ian and raised her eyebrows.
“You are going to have an upset stomach.”
“And that’s something you don’t want to see?”
Rosen retorted. People needed to be consistent. If he was going to say her eating with them was okay, he should stick with that until the end, or show that he despised it from the beginning. She didn’t know how many times he had given her hope and crushed it.
“Don’t misinterpret what I’m saying. Think about whose loss it will be if you eat like that and vomit it all up. If you get an upset stomach and start going crazy, Henry and I will suffer…”
“Then why are you frowning?”
“My face is always like this.”
He pointed at his own face, dumbfounded. Rosen ran out of words to say. She suddenly realised that they were having a childish argument that even Layla wouldn’t have. Of course, it was her who disagreed, but it was solely Ian Kerner who had turned this into an argument.
‘Why do you keep answering when you know I have a bad habit of talking?’
She was just messing around as usual. It was okay if Ian ignored her, just like when they first met.
He was a jailer. He didn’t have to listen to his prisoner or respond.
‘Didn’t you say it with your own mouth? You don’t care what I say.’
“Hey! Why are you being so childish? Miss Walker isn’t in good shape right now, and she’s tied up. If her words are sharp, shouldn’t you be more gentle?”
Alex Reville shouted and threw a fork at Ian. Like a true combat veteran, Ian accurately grabbed the flying fork, though his gaze was still on her. He started asking questions again when she swallowed.
“…Are you a nurse?”
“Then where did you learn first aid like that? I’ve never seen it in the Empire. Only doctors from Talas… Did you use magic?”
“You guys always say that a woman is a witch if she does something great.”
Rosen didn’t want to be interrogated during dinner. But now he was holding a delicious steamed pork hostage. If she didn’t answer, that perfect food would never enter her mouth. In the end, she came up with an answer that most people would accept.
“I’m not a nurse, but my husband was a doctor. Although he was an unlicensed quack, I learned a few things.”
‘Of course, Hindley had a real witch as his wife. Emily was a witch, I am not.’
‘Oh, I don’t know. I don’t have much to say about Hindley.’
As soon as her husband was mentioned, the atmosphere at the table became awkward.
‘Now you all remember that I am a murderer?’
Rosen chewed the pork Ian had put in her mouth and swallowed it. She didn’t know why he was making her talk when everything was already printed in the newspaper.
‘Thanks to you, the atmosphere got cold.’
It was Alex Reville who cleared the icy atmosphere.
Age was not something to ignore.
“Excuse me Miss Walker, but how old are you? What appears in the newspapers is completely arbitrary. In the tabloids, they say that you are in your seventies and use magic to look younger.”
“… The Imperial newspaper is correct. I’m twenty-five.”
“Then when did you get married?”
There was silence for a moment. The average age of marriage in the Empire was about twenty-three years old. The lower classes were more likely to get married at a young age, but even so, fifteen was too early.
It was not strange for slum children to get married, even if they did not get their menarche* at an early age. Actually, she was like that. She was skinny from malnutrition, short of stature, and looked younger than fifteen.
[*E/N: the first instance of a woman’s menstruation, which usually occurs anywhere from 10-16.]
“… You did it very early. Was it something your parents decided?”
“I’m an orphan.”
“The girls there get married early. Some of them get married at the age of twelve.”
Rosen answered in a cheerful voice. Her intention was to rectify the atmosphere once again. As soon as she was about to tell a joke, Henry muttered.
“Isn’t that crazy? Twelve years old? A twelve-year-old is getting married?”
“No, I was fiftee-“
“How old was your husband then?”
A piece of meat was popped into her mouth.
“I don’t know exactly how old he was, but he was in his late twenties.”
Henry was shocked and shouted.
“He should be locked in a cage!”
Rosen smiled and responded calmly.
“It doesn’t matter now. He’s dead.”
Great care was taken to enunciate the word ‘dead’.
“Layla’s here, so don’t say such mean things. I enjoyed being married.”
Henry hardened in astonishment. He lost his words for a moment and stared at her. She felt like he was measuring whether her words were true or an extension of the lies she had told so far.
“You’re making excuses again, right?”
“Oh, do you want me to repeat the same thing over and over again? I didn’t kill him, I loved my husband, and when I think of him now, my heart…”
She tried to say the same thing and squeeze out tears, but a large chunk of meat was stuffed into her mouth. When she looked up, Ian was glaring at her with an unpleasant look.
“Layla’s here, so don’t say useless things and just eat.”
Rosen nodded in agreement. However, Layla shouted enthusiastically with a fork and spoon in both hands.
“I’m fine. I saw the newspaper article too. As for Rosen’s crime-“
“Layla, let’s focus on the meal.”
“You killed your husband. I know that!”
Silence fell over the table. Layla was a little wary, but eventually opened her mouth and said what she wanted to say.
“…Couldn’t it be that Rosen didn’t do it?”
“There’s enough evidence and a ruling, Layla. Rosen is guilty.”
Ian answered immediately. He spoke kindly in his own way, but since he had lived as a soldier for a long time, his voice was hard and cold.
“But she said it wasn’t her. Why doesn’t anyone listen to Rosen?”
“Because it’s a lie.”
“It’s true that you survived thanks to Rosen. But it is also clear that Rosen Haworth killed her husband.”
‘I swear, if Henry had taken my side, I would have bothered Ian by shouting that I’ve never lied. But I don’t want to put Layla in trouble, so I’ll stay quiet.’
Layla dropped her head and ran into her grandfather’s arms. She stretched her legs under the table and kicked Ian in the shin.
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