Chapter 15 - The Moonlight
As if possessed, Laila stepped closer to look at a small leaf that was being whipped around by the wind.
She closed her eyes, and just as her cheek was about to touch the leaf, she stopped. She lifted her head and looked up at the moon in the sky.
‘Why am I thinking of him?’
It was the end of a peaceful day. The sight of the bright moon brought him to her mind. Laila thought about the conversation she had with him, then muttered, “I probably won’t be able to see him again.”
Without realizing it, Laila hung her head after hearing her own words. It was understandable, since he had rejected her suggestion. It was akin to him rejecting her outright.
Then, Laila thought about how he probably didn’t know how much impact he had on her.
‘Maybe it’s a good thing.’
Laila thought about how he had responded with, ‘I am not quite sure’, and the way he turned away from her without hesitation.
‘Even if I could see him again, I don’t think I would be able to make the suggestion again.’
She was pretty sure about her assumption. Laila did know what that meant, and she started mocking herself as harshly as she could.
‘You gave your heart to him so easily.’
The moment started ridiculing herself, she felt a sharp pain in her chest. Laila collapsed next to a flower that was growing from the grass beside the wall. She inhaled silently. This was the method she used when was about to weep.
Time passed, and Laila realized she couldn’t bring herself to return to her dwelling no matter how much she tried. She didn’t even have the courage to return home.
“What are you doing here this late?”
It was a voice she didn’t expect. Laila lifted her head quickly.
“Is it like a secret place of yours or something? It doesn’t really seem like a good environment.”
The man before her seemed like a mirage.
“I don’t understand why you’re not saying anything.”
He was expecting her to react with shock. Venio was slightly disappointed but didn’t let his feelings show. Because she was sitting down, when Venio looked at her, Laila’s vision was filled up by him. She stared at him blankly and whispered, “The moon must be playing tricks on me.”
The Duke’s puzzled face broke into a laugh at her response. He looked at the moon, then at the tiny woman who was staring at him without even blinking. Then, he frowned in puzzlement again.
Laila blinked slowly, not feeling the least bit scared at the sight of his frowning face.
“Ah, is it really…”
“Yes, really. Is it that hard to believe that I’m here?”
He gave a brief smile at the gray eyes that were now becoming two half moons.
“Anyway, the ground is cold. Please stand up.”
“Why are you here…?” Laila asked, startled by his touch as he helped her up. At that moment, she felt all her thoughts come to a halt. Strangely, Laila was at a loss as she watched him show her concern.
“I know it’s late, but I couldn’t wait any longer. I’ll come straight to the point—there’s something I’d like to speak to you about, Lady.”
Looking at Laila’s shock at his words, he withdrew his hand awkwardly from her. Then, he leaned gracefully against a tree that was some distance away from her and sat down.
Laila asked without making eye contact, “What do you want to talk about?”
Venio gave her a strange smile as he looked at her.
“Lady, you are a dubious one.”
“Dubious? Are you talking about me?”
“Yes. I’ve come here to talk to you, but I’m not really sure if you would be able to endure the tick, no, the woman.”
Venio’s eyes grew slightly wider. Laila was startled by her own outburst and lowered her head.
Venio looked at her mysteriously and asked nonchalantly, “No matter what she does?”
“Yes, of course.”
Laila thought she would be able to do anything as long as she could experience how it felt to be loved, even if it was just pretend. Laila suddenly realized her attention was drawn to the piece of paper she was holding on to. Somehow, she was continually bothered by it.
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