I shut my mouth tightly. The towel that I used to wipe his wet hair fell to the floor but I couldn’t pick it up. The skin on my wrist started to feel itchy.
He was looking at me with his cold and clear eyes as if he was going to dig up all of my secrets. He was staring at me intently. His cold, emotionless and suspicious gaze froze my thumping heart.
My head was blank. I couldn’t think of anything at all. My breathing stopped to the point that I even needed to open my mouth to breathe again.
However, he spoke coldly to me without any trace of sympathy at all.
“I don’t have any problem with your exceptional teas.”
“But I have a hunch that you will make my life a bit more complicated if things continue like this. Don’t you think so, Arielsa?”
I shook my head wildly.
“No. Duke. I just, just…”
‘I just wanted to help you! That way, I can also be helpful in this world!’
But the words that I shouted in my heart couldn’t reach him. No, it wasn’t supposed to reach him.
“Is this the influence of your visit to the world over there?”
It was Duke Kyron who gave me a hole where I could escape to. It was common for people to say that someone’s personality would change or they would have some unpredicted intelligence after they had experienced the afterlife.
I was supposed to answer ‘Yes!’ but for some reason, I was left speechless. I just stared blankly at the dripping water from his hair near the back of his neck.
He freed my hands not long after.
I quickly picked up the towel and wiped his hair dry. It was only then that I felt the warmth of the fireplace.
“You don’t have to tell me today. But you’ll have to say it one day, Arielsa.”
He added those words in a deep voice.
“You saved my life. Thanks.”
If this was a scene in the novel and I was reading this in text then I would have enjoyed this part with a small shriek. But the only thing that I could do was to stand behind him and bite my lips. For fear that he could feel my heated and shaking fingertips, I purposely grabbed the towel loosely as I rubbed against his scalp.
It seemed like the sound of my pounding heart was louder than the crackling of the bonfire in my ears.
I was already back in my room but the excitement from what happened earlier was still not subsiding.
I felt like the wrist that was caught in the palm of his hand was still burning. No, everything starting from the skin on my wrist to my thumping heart seemed to tremble and sting.
‘You must be crazy. You must really be crazy! Stop beating, my heart!’
I opened the window on purpose to let some cold air into the room. Only when the cool breeze fanned my face was I able to calm down. However, I still unconsciously held the wrist that Duke Kyron had grabbed earlier. I was like someone who wanted to preserve and prevent the residual heat from flying away from my wrists.
The last time I saw Duke Kyron, we were out on the field and he was a picky, ruthless, perfectionist. If one would say that Chaers was a ruthless and picky person, then it was as if Duke Kyron just lent him the word. He was the epitome of ruthless, picky and perfectionist.
But such a Duke was soft and kind to me. Although he was not going out of his way to treat me nicely, he treated me like he did not hate me and it looked like he did not intend to be picky and fussy with me.
He pretended not to know that I already knew that the boat had problems. But if it was Chaers who acted like me, Duke Kyron would definitely ask him how he knew that the boat would sink. At all costs. In the end, he left me without any further questioning.
This fact got my head all in a mess.
Because I’m a girl? Because you believed in me since we’ve been together since childhood? Or, perhaps it was because I’m just a nobody who will never be a threat to him?
But with the way he reacted, I couldn’t really ignore his attitude towards me. Although his attitude couldn’t really be called like that, his attitude to me still contained exceptional tolerance and an extremely passive tenderness. As long as I could feel this, I had no choice but to work harder for him.
But the harder I worked for him, the more his suspicions and doubt of me would grow.
What a vicious cycle.
I sat on my bed with a sigh.
Duke Kyron’s suspicions were a problem but I still had a bigger problem right now. After I saw his figure coming out of the bath earlier, I used it for my lustful fantasies. No matter how hard I tried to think of him as the perfect male lead, my breath still couldn’t stop from becoming turbid.
Then, I suddenly realized that he had no scar on his side when I saw his body earlier. In the middle of the original work, there was a scene where the female lead peeked at him when he was taking a bath. She was his scar and wondered where it came from. But from what I saw earlier, there was no scar at all. He had an endlessly perfect body.
So he still did not have a scar yet.
Later, when the female lead blatantly asked him about his scar, Duke Kyron bluntly and candidly answered that he got the scar when he fell off of a horse while he was hunting. Raised by her strong and wealthy noble father, the female lead had lived her life only seeing men bragging in front of her. That was why the female lead was disappointed. She thought that the rumored Duke Kyron was a man of little to no substance. That was why she even resorted to insulting him in public.
When I read that scene, I felt so heartbroken… Sob.
Perhaps, the comment box had exploded during that episode.
Raised like a house plant in a greenhouse by her father, the Marquis, she failed to see that Duke Kyron had the power to break and steam all of the bones of her entire family, including her father.
However, even though she learnt about his worth much later, rather than appreciating it… It was safe to say that subtle feelings of love and hatred piled up due to complicated situations.
What my dad—my real dad, not George—said was right. A person should have a goal in life.
So I determinedly set some goals. During the next hunt, I would do my best to prevent him from being seriously injured to the point that it would leave a scar. With my goal set, the fear and confusion that I felt earlier slowly disappeared.
I wriggled my way under the covers as I shouted my determination in my heart.
‘I will raise our male lead without any wrinkles!’
Early in the day, I looked up some information about medicinal plants in Duke Kyron’s library. I was missing the search window from my previous life but I had no choice but to take advantage of the things that I had.
It was a bit uncomfortable but I still had all the books that I needed. I was also able to learn a great deal about berries and herbs in this place.
After doing those, I also often stopped by the greenhouse. In addition to apple trees, there were also plenty of plants that grew on one side of the Duke’s garden. I also grew various herbs and fruits that could be made in a drink there.
I went to the greenhouse as I leaned on a ladder and stared up at the apple tree that was filled with scratches.
I can’t believe you fell from there. Extra, what a miserable life you lead.
“No. Let’s stay positive, positive!”
I slapped my cheeks lightly as I looked at the herbs. Arielsa’s herbs were mainly for warmth and to soothe the mind. Seeing as how she painstakingly grew these herbs, Duke Kyron must have really loved tea.
I quietly trimmed the leaves as I picked out some fresh herbs with distinctive scents.
Contrary to the ‘spring’ that was described by the people of the north, the air in the greenhouse was as warm as a real afternoon during spring. Because of that, I always felt a bit reluctant whenever I came inside.
It seemed like the afternoon sun had already passed since I already felt a bit cold. The greenhouse would be a bit hotter during sunrise and when the sun was up in the sky but once the sun had set, the temperature inside would drop sharply.
I lost track of time as I took care of the herbs. I quickly turned around when I heard someone opening the door.
“You were here?”
Just like what I did before, he also gazed at the apple tree where I fell earlier before staring at me again. His gaze felt strangely unpleasant.
“You always come here whenever you have the time.”
It was just a coincidence but it seemed like Arielsa’s usual behavior overlapped with mine. What a relief.
However, it was still not a good thing for me to meet with him alone.
“So you grow the tea that the Duke drinks.”
He looked at the leaves of the herbs in my basket as he spoke to me. However, the contents were not like that at all.
“We’re making a new boat. The one you rode in was crushed and used as firewood.”
Chaers shrugged his shoulders when he saw me look at him in surprise.
“The Duke was angry and the servant who took care of the boat’s maintenance was also punished.”
However, it was an accident where the Duke almost died so it was not something to be taken lightly.
“You’re probably thinking that we will give you a reward. Right?”
I shook my head. The ‘reward’ that Chaers was coldly talking about did not sound like it was a good thing. All I wanted to do was to get out of this rapidly cooling greenhouse. In a rush, our words overlapped over each other.
“It’s all right.”
“But only if you tell me how you knew and why you went to save the Duke.”
The greenhouse suddenly darkened since the servants started to put a blanket to cover the roof. The temperature would drop sharply at night so the servants protected the plants by covering the greenhouse with a blanket.
My heart started pounding wildly. This northern man was harmful for my heart, my healt and my freedom. I wish I could do one thing though.
When I opened my mouth to speak, Chaers spoke quickly as if he wanted to steal my words.
“Of course, you would say that it’s just a coincidence. I asked you to prepare the Duke’s snack but you wanted to check what he wanted first because he’s very picky and fussy.”
I was in a crisis. Right now, I felt that I shouldn’t be as passive as Arielsa so I asked him a bit more forcefully.
“Did I do something wrong? It sounds like you’re doubting me.”
As soon as those words came out of my mouth, the blanket finally completely covered the greenhouse and we were plunged in darkness.