Chapter 28 - The Engagement
Laila froze. Venio couldn’t keep a smile from spreading across his face. Come to think about it, they would be living together as long as they were engaged, and their cohabitation wouldn’t bring any harm to either side even if they called off their engagement. He used to think this law was so funny and ridiculous, but strangely, he was now feeling good about it.
Venio lowered his gaze, trying to curb his growing smile, and said to Laila, “As I already told you before, I won’t be involved in what would happen between you and her if there is no specific reason.”
His tone was strangely deliberate, but Laila didn’t seem to feel any strangeness there. She wasn’t familiar with the concept of cohabitation, but if they were to be a typical couple, it wouldn’t be a problem.
But as Laila thought, her face darkened when she thought of something.
‘If the fiancée passes away during the engagement in the house…’
It was terrifying. It was a different problem from just breaking their contract. Laila silently glanced at his face, which was observing hers.
Venio’s suggestion was reasonable if she thought about her having to be his shield. Laila was persuaded by his words, but she couldn’t give him an answer. Before she became more confused, Venio said, “A gentleman ought to give a lady more time.” However, he decided to push ahead with his idea even though she looked like she was concerned about something.
No matter what Laila was thinking about, it would be best for her if she didn’t continue to stay at her place. Laila lifted her face, looking somewhat worried.
“But you can’t expect that from a thief, Laila. Please think about it today and tell me your answer later at night.”
‘Tonight? But more importantly…’
She thought Venio’s expression seemed to look like that of a little boy’s. She blinked her eyes and when she looked at him again, Venio’s face was still soft and warm.
He lifted her right away and started walking.
“Well then, shall we head to the next location? Would you like to explore a cave?”
Laila’s eyes widened. After hesitating a little, she asked, “A cave…?”
“It wouldn’t be dark or damp.”
The place they arrived at was nothing at all like her dwelling which seemed more like an actual cave. It was a place a white cloud-like mist spread across the floor in a lovely azure light that seemed to be channeling the blue sky.
“It is a cave above the ground. It’s called the cave in the sky. Not many people know about this place, only the professional hunters do. It doesn’t seem like there’s anyone around here now.”
The sound of falling waterdrops formed a brilliant harmony, and the hum of the wind resonated faintly. Laila, who was staring blankly at the scene, raised her head at Venio’s gentle prompting and marveled.
The ceiling was so beautiful. Round lacy five-colored lanterns were floating around.
“Laila, do you like them?”
“Yes! What are they? They’re so beautiful.”
“They are fireflies and they reside only in this cave.”
To make homes for the fireflies, Venio’s servants made the lacy paper bags, but it wasn’t necessary to share that with her now.
Venio secretly smiled with satisfaction as he watched Laila, who was completely mesmerized. she was possessed.
“I’m glad you like them. Oh, Laila.”
Laila looked at the red fruit he was handing to her. She seemed to be less nervous, probably because she liked the cave. Venio took a bite of the fruit and handed another one to her.
“It’s Aslan fruit. It’s sweet and watery. Try it.”
Laila took it from him and stared. It looked very pretty with its vivid red color and it fit perfectly in both hands. The plump object was not something she was familiar with.
Laila looked at Venio silently and when he gave her a slight smile, she took a bite without realizing what she was doing.
Seeing her gray eyes light up with surprise, Venio let out a small laugh. Again, she hasn’t even eaten these common Aslan berries before. He was smiling as he looked at the lovely Laila, but was inwardly gnashing his teeth as he thought about the Estevan Duchy.
“Have some more.”
“You should eat too, Venio.”
Venio opened his eyes and smiled softly. “Thank you, then,” he responded and accepted.
They ate Aslan berries as they admired the cave. In fact, he was actually working hard to fill his full stomach with fruits so that she could eat with more ease.
The Aslan berries tasted sweeter today. After a while, the cave started to grow darker. A cool wind blew in the darkened cave.
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