Chapter 17 - Misunderstanding
It was the first time anyone had said such harsh words to Gareth, and she was a woman at that. He watched as the look in Elena’s eyes changed. They had remained gentle throughout the evening, but now they were as fierce as the ocean that carried the biting northern wind. Gareth looked away to her soft, plump lips and recalled how amazing they had felt. Kissing her had been as refreshing as the water of an oasis.
Recalling what had happened stirred up Gareth’s intense desire once again. His already black eyes deepened further until they were darker than the night sky itself.
She was different. She was not running away from him, instead she was making every desperate effort to negotiate. It seemed that she didn’t know her hands were shaking, or rather, that her body had been shaking like a leaf since earlier. She had said everything she wanted to say as if she was not even aware of the trembling.
At that moment, his bitten lips stung with pain, as did his abused scalp. She was truly a fierce woman, and it would amuse him to try and tame her.
At that moment, the woman turned the doorknob. “The medicine I make is of fine quality. Think about my offer.”
Elena looked at the man who didn’t seem to have any idea that he had done something wrong. There was no way he would be sorry for his actions; he had said himself that he was out of his mind. It would be impossible to get an apology from someone like that.
With this in mind, Elena raised her head haughtily and straightened her back. She pressed one hand over the front of her dress he had torn and stepped out the door with arrogance in her stride. Her pride stopped her from simply running away.
‘I’m not going to be discouraged by a man like him,’ she pledged silently. The wisdom that had helped her manage the estate was shining through. Elena knew how to be patient and secretive about her emotions. In fact, she had mastered these skills and was now using them to be careful and hide her fears.
Gareth leaned against the doorway and watched Elena until she completely disappeared into the darkness. She might be as haughty as a typical aristocrat, but she made realistic judgments. The sight of the trembling woman holding her tongue to avoid making a fuss kept replaying in his head.
His door leaked light into the dark hall, but Gareth only closed it when he heard the faint sound of another door shutting. He had never cared about the stares people shot him when he was spending time with a woman, but with his attention focused on Elena, he didn’t realize there was someone in the hall who hadn’t fallen asleep.
* * *
Elena flopped on the floor as soon as she arrived in her room. She covered her mouth with one hand while crying, but sobs still leaked out. Her whole body was shaking from fear and anger. She had never met a man like Gareth in her whole life.
‘Logan wasn’t even this bad…’ Logan had never kissed Elena against her will because he feared that his reputation would be tarnished and that he would get accused by the church if he did so. But Gareth was completely different. It seemed that nothing restricted this man. He did not hesitate or have second thoughts. He had no conscience, mind, or emotion. He seemed to do whatever he wanted to.
Elena rolled onto her stomach and tried to let out the terror that overwhelmed her by crying. She didn’t stop for a very long time.
The next day at dawn, Elena got up from crying all night and knocked on Rowena’s door. When Rowena got up and let her inside, Elena briefly told her what she had to do in the morning. Elena couldn’t go downstairs alone, since her father had told her not to come down alone last night.
Rowena listened to Elena for a while, then her brow furrowed. Gazing into Elena’s eyes, she asked, “Elena, did you cry? Why are your eyes so bloodshot?”
Elena chuckled and replied nonchalantly, “What I went through yesterday wasn’t normal. I couldn’t sleep well.”
Rowena’s expression became filled with remorse. She hugged Elena tightly and whispered, “Oh… I should have slept with you, Elena. I’m so sorry. I didn’t think about what you were going through.”
Elena hugged back Rowena gently, then replied cheerfully, “Don’t worry about it. Anyway, you should hurry. It’s almost time for Father to get up.”
Rowena agreed and Elena returned to her own bedroom. She stood by the window and listened to the commotion made by Gareth’s men, signaling that it was morning.
Elena then immediately recalled what happened the night before. She had cried and regretted her desperate behavior all night, as it was what had caused Gareth’s misunderstanding.
“I was so desperate. I wanted to hold on to anything I could,” she muttered in shame. She was still standing straight-backed out of pride, but her eyes quickly welled up with hot tears that threatened to fall any minute.
Elena had never cried in front of others because she knew her younger siblings depended on her. Whenever she cried, her sisters became anxious and restless as if they were having a panic attack. The need to keep her feelings to herself had been carved into her bones. Elena had stopped crying in front of others at some point and only cried to her heart’s content in this room, where she was alone. She had suppressed her emotions again and again, but had acted too hastily yesterday. No matter how harshly she scolded herself, it wasn’t enough.
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Lantern Against the Wind
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