Chapter 15 - A Mistake (19)
“When will she be here?” Gareth wondered aloud.
Elena had not come up to his room yet, even after Gareth had finished cleaning his armor and sword. ‘A night’s sleep, ha!’ Gareth was looking forward to his time with her. He could tell that she knew just too well about these things, from how she was heightening his desire by making him wait.
Nevertheless, he was certain that she was eventually going to make her way to his room, for he’d had many encounters with noble daughters previously. They had secretly come down to the hall to wake him, waited at the stable for him, or visited the lodging rooms… Still, none of them had made him wait in anticipation like this.
‘Elena is different from them…’ Gareth’s heart was already pounding at the thought of her. He decided to enjoy a bath until she came to his room and slowly pushed his scar-riddled body into the tub. He exhaled deeply as the warmth of the water gradually spread through him. It was the first time in a while he’d been able to relax.
Gareth dipped his head inside the water to wash his hair, then washed his face as well. His shoulders creaked at the movement, perhaps from long-accumulated fatigue. After washing, he raised his head up and swept a hand through his short blonde hair, which spiked out in random directions like thorns.
The tiredness that bound him like a chain was only now becoming loose from the warmth of the bath. Gareth leaned his head against the tub, lowering his long, dark eyelashes after a while. ‘I’m tired. Will I be able to sleep at least a little today…?’ he pondered.
He had never been able to sleep properly after losing his family. Even if he were to fall asleep, Gareth suffered from a recurring nightmare about the day his family died. He would be sprawled on the ground, unable to do anything.
At that moment, he suddenly saw the woman with black hair and emerald eyes. He could see her vividly, even though his eyes were closed. Gareth’s mouth loosened into a smile. ‘Get over here. You’ve made me wait long enough.’
He remained relaxed with his eyes closed for a while before he abruptly opened them. Elena was before him, and he snatched her up, not even giving her a chance to react as he pulled her into the tub. Water splashed everywhere as she was submerged. Her black hair began to fan out in the water, and she struggled frantically while gasping for air.
Now completely awake, Gareth quickly lifted her up. He didn’t ask if she was okay. Instead, he just stared at the soaking wet, coughing woman with his coal-black eyes.
Elena had no idea what was happening. She had accidentally swallowed some of the water, and now she couldn’t stop coughing. It made her feel like her throat was being torn apart.
She had quietly knocked on the door to Gareth’s room after hesitating for a long time, but there was no answer. She had gone to her room after that, only to return, resolved to at least have a conversation with the man. After knocking and waiting awhile for an answer to no avail, she had turned the doorknob to make sure he was okay and had realized the door wasn’t locked.
She’d gone inside to see him leaning against the tub, eyes closed, and he hadn’t responded when she had called his name. When she had approached him, she had realized the bath had gone ice-cold, and he had snatched her up when she had placed her hand on his shoulders to wake him.
“I-I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you,” Elena, utterly drenched, apologized as soon as she managed to come to her senses.
‘He must have quick reflexes since he’s a mercenary… He was obviously surprised by the unfamiliar feeling on his shoulder,’ she thought. Still, she couldn’t have just left him be since the water had been freezing when she had entered the room. Just being in the frigid water was now making her teeth chatter. Moreover, being so close to a strange man like this went against her dignity as a noblewoman.
Elena tried to hurry out of the bathtub, but Gareth moved swiftly to hold her waist with both of his hands. He whispered, “You’re late.”
“What?” Elena mistook his hands wrapped around her waist as a gesture of support and tried once again to leave the bathtub, dragging her soaked dress. However, she couldn’t move at all. She was about to ask him to let go when the man’s mouth suddenly covered hers.
Elena held her breath. The man pushed his lips roughly against hers, one arm wrapped around her waist while his other seized the back of her neck. It happened so quickly that Elena didn’t even have time to react.
Gareth parted his lips and slipped his tongue into her mouth, savoring the taste. She tried to move away, prompting him to tighten his grip on the back of her neck. He bound her with his strength so that she would become helpless, then slightly tilted his head to swallow her lips greedily. This was what he wanted from the beginning. This was why he had endured for so long.
Elena was frozen in shock, unable to react when Gareth began to push his tongue between her lips. Brute forced, her mouth parted and he roughly explored it, wrapping his tongue around hers. Elena began to resist at this sudden invasion, punching his shoulders.
Gareth pulled away for just a moment, laughing quietly as if her struggling entertained him. Then he kissed her even more deeply. Elena gasped for air, unable to breathe for a moment. She had shut her lips tightly, but he forced her mouth back open, making way for his tongue to delve deeply inside. With one hand still on the back of her neck, the man moved his other hand to her chest, roughly grabbing her breast without a hint of hesitation.
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Lantern Against the Wind
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