Chapter 53 - Rottweiler
I somehow managed to flee into the empty room of the annex. I finally exhaled my breath that I had been holding as I lay on the empty bed. The room must have been left vacant for quite a while, as I could smell the faint scent of dust. I had to blindly wait here for god knows how long. I was already starting to feel stuffy.
Staring at the ceiling with my back on the bed made one corner of my heart feel empty. I scrambled to open the book, but I couldn’t process the printed letters.
‘In 18th century France, there lived a man…’
I repeated the same line in my head multiple times over. However, the text still just continued to float around in front of me with no intention of entering my head.
I was woken up by an abrupt ringtone. I lay on the bed and blinked slowly before finally snapping out of my sleep. I hurriedly checked the number to find that it was Emily’s.
“Oh, I’m sorry, Emily. Did everything end well?” I quickly apologized and asked.
She laughed and replied, “I figured that you might be asleep because you were answering late. You must be quite bored.”
I felt a little embarrassed because it was true. It made me feel especially bad thinking about how busy she must have been taking care of the guests.
“I’m all good… Did the guests leave? Should I return to the mansion now?”
“Yes, you can come now. It’ll probably be a little disorderly because we’re cleaning up right now.” Emily added, seemingly having just remembered, “Oh, right. You haven’t had dinner yet, right? Would you like me to bring it to your room?”
I couldn’t possibly impose on her any further. I frantically refused, “I’ll fix something up for myself. Don’t worry about it, Emily. Thank you.”
When I added a small word of gratitude, Emily candidly wrapped up the conversation and hung up. It was already dark outside.
‘The guests must have already had dinner. I wonder how busy everyone was.’
Even though it wasn’t part of my job, I felt guilty that I had fallen asleep alone while everyone else was busy.
‘I should at least help with the cleaning,’ I thought as I quickly fixed myself, gathered my things, and left the room—though my only possession, really, was a book and my cell phone.
The annex was silent with no sign of people. If they were in the middle of cleaning up right now, they must all be gathered at the main building. I took particular care so as to not impose on them as much as possible and quickly guessed where everyone may be.
It wasn’t difficult to draw a map in my head of where everyone might have gone. Thinking about how they would move in order to care for the guests quickly gave me an answer.
‘They probably greeted the guests at the reception room, headed to the dining hall, and moved to the tea room.’
Then the busiest place right now had to be the kitchen.
I thought about Emily and Charles, who always sternly refused my offer to help. It was probably going to be the same this time around, but I still wanted to at least ask.
The only source of light that shone on the garden was the light coming from the mansion, but that was more than enough. The lights that lit up the entire mansion overflowed into the garden and even reached part of the annex. I moved my legs and began to walk quickly. First, I would return the book.
Just then, I came to a halt at the ominous noise from behind. Before I could even check what it was, chills ran down my spine. It must have just been the wind. I struggled to calm myself down as I slowly turned back.
What came into my sight first was the dark, vast garden. I checked the path that I had come from out of reflex before shifting my gaze downward… very slowly. And I met eyes with that thing that was baring its fangs at me with its whole body tensed up from not too far away from me—a Rottweiler.
The humongous fighting dog that I had only ever seen in photos was growling at me. My whole body frozen, I opened my eyes wide. What had happened? Why was a dog like this here? Had one of the guests brought it here? But Emily had told me that everyone had gone back.
Numerous thoughts all simultaneously brushed past my head. They were all meaningless questions, however, and none of them were useful in this situation. I had to call for help.
I finally managed to open my mouth, but no sound escaped. ‘If I don’t call for help…’ Anxiety attacked me at the same time. ‘Will anyone come by? When? How long would it take? If they get here after everything is over…’
An illusion of my bloody body sprawled across the ground and gasping for breath reflected in my eyes. In that moment, I shot open my eyes. Almost at the same time, the dog barked violently and leaped forward. I covered my head with my arms and curled up, but my head was still blank. Even the air settled heavily under the godforsaken weight of the large dog. Unable to even let out a scream, I froze on the spot.
Just then, a shrill cry flew out of nowhere. “Alex, stop!”
The heavy mass of muscles hit my shoulder and passed by. I staggered and fell to the ground. And that was all. There were no more attacks.
I processed the situation a beat late. The dog had withdrawn its hostility upon someone’s command.
I spaced out for a moment. I saw the black dog running beyond my blinking eyelids. The person who seemed like its owner was standing not too far away.
“Alex, sit.” It was the same voice as before.
The dog obeyed the command told by the icy cold voice like a docile sheep, completely different from what it looked like when it had just attacked me. Feeling unreal, I slowly shifted my gaze.
I knew the man who was holding the dog’s leash. He, too, recognized me.
“Yeonwoo?” he asked with a familiar smile. “What are you doing here?”
Still collapsed on the ground, I blankly stared at the tall man.
Grayson continued to look down at me as if he were waiting for an answer. What took over my mind in that moment was, stupidly enough, the existence of the dog that was lying obediently by his feet.
Why did Steward’s words pop into my mind at this moment?
I gulped without even realizing it myself. Grayson tilted his head, seemingly finding my reaction strange. The smile that remained on his face even then felt somewhat off.
For the first time, I thought that his smile may be something that he had forged.
I forced my mouth open to say something, but I couldn’t bring out any sound. Perhaps I was taken aback by the intimidation I felt. The faint smell of his pheromones continued to make my heart beat.
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