Chapter 32 - In Denial
“Anyway, I feel better than before. Thank you,” the woman said.
“Could you bring dinner to my room later as well?”
“Yes, my lady. Please rest.”
When the maid left the room, Max continued to stay in the closet and eagerly stared at the door. A few minutes later, he sensed the woman’s light and careful gait getting closer.
‘She’s here.’ The closet door opened, and she came into view.
“You can come out now,” the entrancing woman said. Her surroundings were bright; it looked like she was enveloped in a halo.
“Ah…” Max opened his mouth unconsciously, then closed it. He tried asking the woman if she was okay but found himself unable to do so.
She laughed brightly like a flower. “We’ll eat now as promised.”
If Max was being rational, he would’ve refused her offer. He usually wasn’t hungry and didn’t accept food from strangers. Even so, he was strangely hungry now.
“Come this way,” she said. Max felt his heart tingle when Jubelian made hand gestures to usher him forward.
‘This is only because I’m hungry.’ He again rationalized his confusing behavior. Max followed Jubelian to the small table in her room, where he could see some sandwiches arranged in a way that would be easy to eat. He frowned when he took a closer look.
‘Is this what I think it is?’ Max wanted to get angry because the sandwich contained an ingredient he hated, but he found himself unable to do so when he saw Jubelian’s face.
“Here you go,” she offered. Max didn’t refuse when she handed over a sandwich.
“Try it,” she said. “Our chef is very skilled.” At her request, he took a bite and tasted the very thing that made him harden his expression.
‘It’s indeed what I thought it was.’ The sandwich was full of cucumbers. It was truly terrible.
“How is it?” Jubelian asked.
Truthfully, Max didn’t even know what it tasted like because he had swallowed the sandwich whole. Even so, he continued forcing more into his mouth.
‘Why am I doing this?’ Max mulled over his behavior when the woman spoke with a smile.
“Do you not like it?”
He hated it. But instead of answering truthfully, Max slowly shook his head and met the woman’s smiling face. Strangely, his heart tingled again.
“I was worried because I have strange preferences for food, but I’m glad you like it as well,” she said as she bit into a sandwich.
Max looked at Jubelian, then at the cucumber sandwich he wouldn’t usually spare a glance at. ‘Is it that good?’ He took another bite of the sandwich and savored it this time. The blandness of cucumber combined with its peculiar smell reignited his dislike for the vegetable. But as he continued eating, he slowly got used to the taste. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as he thought it was.
* * *
I became sleepy after eating brunch with my father’s disciple, but I didn’t want to take a nap when he was in my room. ‘It’s not like I’ll pass out from sleepiness.’
I decided to read a book to stay focused, but my eyes kept fluttering shut. ‘What should I do? I’m so tired.’ My vision gradually blurred, but I managed to stay awake for a little longer.
“Hey,” my father’s disciple suddenly said.
I flinched at his voice and unconsciously yawned.
‘I really have to control myself now.’ Out of embarrassment, I covered my mouth with both hands and barely controlled another yawn. Even so, I couldn’t stop tears from forming in my eyes.
‘At least I didn’t show my mouth this time.’ I squeezed my eyes shut at this thought. The tears I had held back ran down my face. ‘Ugh, why do I always do that when I yawn?’ I tried to wipe the tears with my sleeves but stopped when I saw my father’s disciple looming over me.
‘Huh? When did he get so close?’ I was staring back at him when something soft touched my eyes.
“Why are you crying?”
I widened my eyes when I saw that his sleeves had become wet with my tears. His shirt was surprisingly soft to the touch, perhaps even softer than my handkerchief, which was made out of the finest cotton in the empire. ‘This is the highest grade fabric I’ve ever felt. Wasn’t he kicked out because he didn’t have any money?’
I became filled with doubt, wondering if I had guessed incorrectly about his identity when a thought occurred to me. ‘Well, you don’t have to be wealthy to wear high-quality clothes.’ Some people bought expensive clothes to feel better about themselves, even if they didn’t have a lot of money. My father’s disciple was probably like that.
At that moment, he frowned and repeated himself. “I asked why you were crying.”
“Oh… It’s nothing. You don’t have to worry about it.”
“Tell me now.”
It was honestly a little embarrassing. I didn’t want to tell him that yawning made me cry.
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