Chapter 37 - More Days
The Estevans did not seek Laila even until the engagement vows and the outing were over. That wasn’t all. Judging from the look of her dwelling, it was not hard to assume had been abandoned by them.
Venio’s soft voice fell upon Laila’s ears again, “I will not leave you alone.”
Laila let out a painful breath unknowingly. Before it subsided, Venio turned around. His men came silently and took everything that appeared to be Laila’s. Laos and Rakiel stood frozen in place for a long time, watching the men’s careful movements, as if they were packing some precious jewels.
* * *
“Have you calmed down a bit?”
Laila didn’t answer. Looking at her, who seemed like she had lost her soul, Venio gritted his teeth with an irritated look on his face.
When he was standing in front of the door, he couldn’t believe the voices he heard. He couldn’t understand it. Laila, this lovely woman, was more broken than he had expected.
‘No one in the world should apologize for that.’
He wanted to say something like that, but not knowing how it would affect her, he decided to be careful.
Looking at Laila sitting beside him without a word, Venio said, “I am grateful to have you.”
“It’s okay to cry. Though I would like you to laugh, and it feels good to hear you talk.”
Laila blinked exhaustedly. Venio felt embarrassed for behaving like a little boy. But he persevered and spoke with a brazen expression on his face, “No, I shouldn’t say that crying is okay because I don’t want you to be sad.”
Laila stared at him without realizing it. No matter how kind he was to her, his words seemed far-fetched as he was the Evil Duke.
She looked at him silently, then stuttered and whispered, “You don’t have to now.”
“What do you mean?”
“Act as if you are in love with me.”
At that, Venio’s eyes widened. He wasn’t pretending to be in love with her. He was just being sincere.
“It’s okay. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t say you’re sorry.”
Venio paused after automatically blurting those words out. Laila looked at Venio, trembled, then turned her head without saying anything more. He stared blankly as he watched her turn away from him. He felt as if he had been hit with a hammer.
Again, he was sincere.
After a moment, a more composed voice rang out, “Thank you very much, Venio.”
Sitting side by side on the bridge, the two fell silent.
A faint hum of grasshoppers could be heard in the distance. When even that sound had subsided, Venio looked at Laila’s profile, which looked slightly better, and with a relieved expression, he said in a bureaucratic tone, “Your belongings have been packed up and taken to the Grand Duchess’ mansion. When you get there, you can check them and bring in what you need.”
He felt they should have moved in earlier. Venio continued, “Our contract starts tomorrow, so there are quite a few things to talk about. Personally, it’s very refreshing to hear that the lady has thrashed her beloved room, so if it’s okay with Laila, I’d like to spend some time with you like this from time to time.”
He continued in a formal tone, “Not just occasionally, it would be nice if we met frequently. If you have any other requests, I’d be happy to listen.”
He finally stopped speaking, and ran one hand across his face, admitting that at the end of the day, he had become quite like an idiot despite having decided to focus on the details of the contract more formally.
Venio froze. Carefully and slowly, he tilted his head, looking to his side. It was Laila’s head that touched his shoulder.
She was sound asleep with her little head resting on his shoulder. Yes, she probably had a hard time today. She must have been really tired since she had cried so much too.
Her eyelashes gleamed softly under the moonlight. The truth was, there was nothing that wasn’t pretty, even with her lips hanging slightly open and the sound of even breathing. Venio looked quietly at her sleeping face.
And, without saying a word, he removed the blanket they had been sharing from himself and wrapped it around her. Looking out into the distant sky, his eyes were vacant but warm.
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