Chapter 22

Translator: Alice

Editor: starrie

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The silhouette stirred like a heat haze and gradually formed into a clear shape. As memories of her father resurfaced, Dahlia calmly recollected about her father.

 

Her father was a fisherman, and was someone that liked to drink and had a rough mouth. He would hit Dahlia and her mother without hesitation whenever he was angry, and he couldn’t be termed as a good father even with empty words.

 

Dahlia hated her father. Funnily enough, after losing her father, the survivor’s guilt of, “I should have taken care of him when he was alive,” tormented her.

 

Is this the nosiness of a lucky survivor or was this a self-criticism that naturally arises for the past mistakes? The answer was unclear, but Dahlia concluded simply.

 

“It’s weird. Bad people wouldn’t change after their death, but the feelings of regret would still remain. In the end, it will become a stain that’s left in your heart.”

 

“Stain?”

 

“It’s remorse for my attitude towards that person. Don’t leave a stain on yourself, even if it’s to not end up like that, and for you to be able to face yourself confidently.”

 

Isaac asked in reply with a faint smile.

 

“To be confident?”

 

“Yes. For yourself, Young Master.”

 

‘For yourself.’ Isaac savoured those last words into his mouth.

 

Perhaps some might find it fake, but Isaac always treated the members of the Duchy with a polite attitude.

 

Because that’s what they want. However, from a different point of view, Dahlia’s words were right. Isaac has been as polite as possible, and knew that he wouldn’t have any regrets if they died.

 

That’s what happened to Rene. The only thing left in his mind after his mother’s death was compassion for himself. There wasn’t any feeling of indebtment towards her.  

 

Because she didn’t leave a stain. Because he did his best to be polite when she was alive.

 

Isaac gave a plain smile and bowed his head.

 

He had only chosen to be courteous to live, but when he listened to Dahlia’s words, it seemed as if his life had become something noble. 

 

And she moved him at this very moment and felt amazing and mature.

 

Not knowing Isaac’s inner thoughts, Dahlia changed the subject with a composed face.

 

“It would be nice to go out with the Young Master… I’ll have to find a way to not get caught by the Madam. If we leave from the main gate, we’ll be caught by soldiers. Is there any other path?”

 

There are two ways. 

 

“If you cross through the Northern forest towards the right, you can get to the town.”

 

“Really?”

 

“Yes. It’ll take a while since the path is winding, but it doesn’t take that long if you ride a horse. The road is dangerous, so you need to be careful. There’s a cliff, and the downcline is steep.”

 

When she heard about the cliff, Dahlia’s shoulders trembled. 

 

The cliff in the Northern Forest. The stories that were told by the maids earlier passed through her mind. 

 

…Maya Oubric died there.

 

Instead of agonizing over it silently, Dahlia chose to ask directly.

 

“Young Master, I heard of a strange rumor.”

 

“What rumor did you hear about?”

 

“Do you happen to know someone named… Maya Oubric?”

 

Isaac nodded and replied readily.

 

“Yes. She was the Duchess’ lady-in-waiting. She was strict but had good sense, and the Duchess cherished her greatly… She suffered an accident in the forest last year.”

 

“Really?”

 

“It could be because of the rainy season that the ground was softened. But why did she have to be at the cliff… It’s unfortunate. Besides, Viscount Oubric is the most renowned amongst the vassals. The incident was so shocking to him that he didn’t attend the vassal meetings ever since and apparently was living in seclusion.”

 

No matter how she looked at it, Isaac reciting the circumstances of the lady-in-waiting with a gloomy face, was wholly unlike the main culprit who caused the incident. 

 

Isaac, who had been speaking in a pitiful tone, looked at Dahlia with his head tilted.

 

“But why are you talking about that?”

 

“That’s… I heard something a little absurd. They said that….”

 

“Was it that this incident occurred because I pushed her?’”

 

The ruthless words made Dahlia bite her lip in response, before nodding her head slowly.

 

The clear and limpid eyes staring at Dahlia curved lightly, and Isaac continued in a soft tone.

 

“It’s not odd for such rumors to float around. As I’m the only person living in the annex and Lady Oubric wasn’t the kind of person that normally wouldn’t enjoy taking walks. Yet such a person has died in this area… I would be suspicious too.”

 

“…You must have been upset.”

 

“It doesn’t matter as it’s not a day or two of me being misunderstood. And, Dahlia doesn’t think that way, right?”

 

At her nod, his smile deepened a little.

 

“That’s all that matters.”

 

Isaac leaned against the bookshelf and smiled languidly.

 

The half-closed eyes overflowed with a sensual beauty that didn’t match his age.  

 

Although she had always coaxed him like a younger brother with the thought that he was younger than her, this mature appearance that occasionally appeared was unfamiliar. 

 

When she stared at him blankly like she was bewitched, Isaac stretched out a long arm and tapped Dahlia on the cheek. Then he smiled mischievously.

 

Dahlia, who was drunk on the naturalness of his action, became bashful a beat later and slapped away the hand that was touching her cheek. 

 

Even though the action was quite rough, Isaac wasn’t embarrassed, instead bursting into laughter.

 

“You–you scared me! Must you always joke around like this?”

 

“Dahlia’s reaction is so fierce that I’d like to keep messing with her.”

 

“…Please don’t do that. I’m shy.”

 

Isaac, who was tapping his pants, suddenly approached and held Dahlia’s shoulders. When Dahlia faltered and tried to pull back in surprise, he gripped her shoulders a little harder and pulled her close to him.

 

When his muscular upper body was pressed downwards, she felt a subtle constriction in her chest. Their breaths tangled between their close faces, emitted a strange tension.

 

But Issac was very composed, perhaps Dahlia was the only one that felt conscious.

 

“Young Master, can you move away for a second?”

 

The clear smile on Isaac’s face wasn’t as welcome at this moment. When she tried to push away his shoulders, Isaac was a beat faster and used even more strength to pull Dahlia towards him.

 

“Young–Young Master!”

 

A strong force that did not match his usual weak appearance suppressed Dahlia.

 

She tried to raise her arm, but she couldn’t move the slightest bit. A husky voice rang over the tightly held upper body.

 

“Tell me, what were you thinking when you heard the rumor? Did Dahlia also think that I was the culprit?”

 

The lips that had stayed near her temple slipped downwards and a hot whisper flowed into Dahlia’s ear.

 

“Or did you feel sorry that I was being framed?”

 

It was difficult to grasp the context of his words because she was distracted by the tightly attached upper body. Dahlia moved her lips to respond belatedly. 

 

“That’s obviously…”

 

“Obviously?”

 

“…I thought the Young Master was pitiful, because I know he’s someone that won’t do that.”

 

The feeling of Isaac’s mouth lifting upwards from their touching cheeks was very slight.

 

Was he worried that she might suspect him? Dahlia raised her hand that was near her thigh and slowly patted Isaac on the back.

 

“Don’t take it to heart. The others are just swept away by the rumours, no one actually thinks badly of you.”

 

Comforting pats combined with her friendly voice evoked a tranquil coziness. Isaac closed his eyes and buried his face on her shoulder.

 

Dahlia is very naive.

 

It doesn’t matter what others say. Who would be angry at the sound of sparrows chirping? He just pretended to be pitiful before her, and he would be happy if she thought of him as even just a little more pitiful.  

 

The kind Dahlia that tried to comfort the poor Young Master gingerly, without knowing his true intentions. It made him really happy and overjoyed.

 

“It’s okay. I’m used to those kinds of gossip. If Dahlia thinks positively… no matter what. everything else is fine.”

 

Keep going, keep going. 

 

“Anyways, no one would like something like me. Just like this… I want to fall asleep and then melt away.”

 

He could pretend to be pitiful.

 

“If I die like that, wouldn’t everyone else be ecstatic that the ghost of the annex has finally disappeared?”

 

The miserable voice disturbed Dahlia’s mind. Dahlia held his face and checked his expression, before frowning at his gloomy face.

 

“Young Master, why are you saying that?”

 

‘Look at this.’

 

‘You’re looking at me with a face of worry again.’

 

As if proving his internal musings, Dahlia pulled Isaac into her arms pressing harder on the hand that was lightly patting his back. She gave a tight hug to the Young Master, who was larger than her, and expressed her sincerity urgently.

 

“You shouldn’t say that thoughtlessly! I like you. I like the Young Master.”

 

‘I like you.’

 

Words that evoked joy wildly every time it secretly tickled Isaac’s ear. 

 

However, such a friendly push passed through his mind and disappeared. In fact, nothing could reach his ear for now. 

 

All of his five senses were occupied with her body. The sensation of her skin and body temperature was being delivered throughout him, causing him to shiver. Isaac was busy not knowing what to do. 

 

“So don’t say things like dying or disappearing. Got it?”

 

Her small shoulders, her breath that touches his cheek, touching his chest…

 

‘Dahlia’s scent.’

 

The brown hair, which tickled his forehead and cheeks, shook his reason as it emitted her scent strongly. 

 

Her cheek that brushed against the nape of his neck was as soft as freshly baked white bread. What would it feel like if he licks and bites it?

 

His eyes widened endlessly at her soft female body.

 

“Young Master?”

 

‘Oh…oh no…’

 

‘No, no.’

 

His alter ego, which he didn’t know had existed in the vicinity of their touching flesh, began to twitch and increase in bulk. Isaac shuddered at the unfamiliar sensations. 

Although he remembered this feeling while half-awake from a wet dream, it was the first time in his life that he became so excited in this manner.

 

Why must it occur when Dahlia was in front of him… how indecent. 

 

…No, no.

 

Because Dahlia is here… because she was right in front of him.

 

‘Right now, am I… lusting for Dahlia…?’

 

A sad sigh leaked out unwittingly. Still, the guilt of his indecency and the self-rationalization that it was a natural phenomena and that it can’t be helped, mixed together and tormented Isaac.

 

As he bit his lower lip, he tried to swallow down his lust desperately. However, the sweet scent from her body brushing past the tip of his nose and the softness touching his chest ripped apart the string of reason he was barely held onto.

 

‘I want to hug you.’

 

‘…I want to kiss you.’

 

It was hard to control his steep excitement. As his lips trembled, Isaac felt his head turn blank and opened his eyes suddenly. 

 

Once… Just once.

 

In one moment, his worries cleared. Soon after, the lips that had been hovering around her thin shoulders as if it was about to touch, began to rise slowly up her neckline.

 

His harsh breathing didn’t sound like his own. His heated breath touched the pale nape of her neck.

 

“…Young Master?”

 

Dahlia, noticing Issac’s unusual behaviour, looked downwards puzzledly. Eventually, when his heated lips were about to reach her earlobe…

 

“Isaac.”

 

A heavy voice resounded through the door, along with the sound of a knock.  

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