Chapter 39 – An Embarrassing Situation (2)
“You can’t buy such expensive clothes out of nowhere!”
Louise cried as she hugged the clothing Ian had brought her. Their first stop was the merchant union, the center of the shopping district. The union was a simple place for merchants to find lodging, and if they were lucky, trade imported dresses, fabric, and jewelry.
Of course, it was all very expensive.
“It’s already been paid for.”
“Don’t worry about it. I wanted to give you something as an admission present anyway.”
“You worked hard for it. Anyway, I begged them to let me buy the dress, or I would be fired by my bad-natured master.”
“You’re not referring to me, are you?”
“I am. A good-natured master wouldn’t show off a wizard she didn’t need.”
He bowed lowly as if she really was his master.
“So, Mistress. Why don’t you change?”
He was gracious enough to open the door. He must have talked to the union and rented an empty conference room.
Louise sighed and entered the room. After wiping the sweat off her forehead with a handkerchief, she picked up the clothing Ian had given her. It was a very thin, comfortable-looking summer dress. Ian may have picked it in consideration for the heat. But the problem was the color.
‘Black…The color of the villain…!’
She couldn’t believe she came across the color she always tried to avoid. Louise hesitated for a moment when she heard a knock. Before she could answer she heard Ian’s voice from behind the door.
“I brought something else just in case.”
She put down the black dress and opened the door for a moment. Ian really was looking around for other clothes.
“Now that I think of it, I don’t think I’ve seen you wear dark clothes before.”
He held out navy blue and white clothes for Louise instead. They were not the color of the villain.
However, Louise shook her head. She was concerned that if she accepted the new clothes on his hands, Ian would run away and buy new ones again, for reasons such as fabric and decorations.
“I like the first one you gave me.”
He looked disappointed. She didn’t know why. Louise closed the door and took off her clothes and shoes, then hurriedly put on the black dress. It was fortunate that the clothes were comfortable enough to wear without having to cinch the waist. A revolutionary way of dressing simply by wearing small buttons on your back…
Wait. Why were there buttons on her back? Ah, yes. If you’re a girl who could wear a dress like this, she would definitely have someone to help her put it on. There was always a maid in the Sweeney family to help with the buttons, but not here. She couldn’t very well ask the maid to come by letter and she couldn’t wait a few days.
With a little hope, Louise twisted her arms backwards and reached for a button and the buttonhole with her fingertips. However, whether she could insert them was a different matter. If she had known this would happen, she would have quickly picked another dress.
No, maybe some other thing would’ve happened instead. All the clothes in the world were so unreasonable, except for the working clothes of the Sweeney family. As her mind was reeling in despair, Ian’s voice came back from outside.
“Why is your voice like that? Is there a problem with your clothes?”
“Oh, there’s no problem with the clothes.”
The problem was Louise’s joints did not bend backwards.
“Good. When you’re finished dressing, I’d like you to open the door for a bit. I brought some shoes by shape and color.”
Geez! That man seemed to have a burning passion for shopping and somehow ended up with shoes. Louise held tightly on the front of the dress with one hand and opened the door slightly. There was colorful collection of shoe boxes piled high to the ceiling.
“It seems like a girl whose feet are similar to yours had ordered shoes from abroad.”
“Now she’ll go barefoot.”
“It’s okay, this is only a small portion. And you should try them on first. Just because your feet are the same size doesn’t mean they fit perfectly.”
“It’s more than that.”
Louise looked at Ian with a troubled expression.
“What’s wrong? You have a funny face.”
“…The dress has buttons.”
“Good. You can put them in the buttonholes.”
“Well…they’re on the back.”
Louise could barely croak out her words as she tried to hold herself back from throwing up in front of him. Luckily Ian didn’t tease her. Instead, he looked a little surprised.
“…I apologize. I didn’t mean to choose clothes that would be difficult for you.”
Ian ducked his head lightly.
“I want you to step back a little so I can enter.”
“You’re coming in?”
“There’s no one else to ask for help here.”
“Don’t worry. We grew up cleaning dirt off each other’s clothes from an early age. Think of it as something like that.”
“Compared to the past, a back is nothing.”
It was nonsense, but it was persuasive. Louise took a few steps backwards. Ian followed her inside and shut the door.
“Just button it!”
Louise repeated. Ian declared solemnly,
“I swear I’ll keep my mouth shut forever.”
He took off his long-sleeved robe and placed it gently on the table. Then, he walked right up to her and twirled his finger, indicating her to turn around. Louise closed her eyes tightly and turned slowly.
She couldn’t bring herself to open her eyes. Her thoughts raced through her mind. She was embarrassed for a moment. She could get through this. Her senses were so heightened that she could feel the subtle touch of his fingers moving on the buttons. Somehow it felt a little ticklish. Maybe because she could feel his eyes on her shamefully exposed back.
Then, a strange sound came.
A swallow. A deep sound of desire.
Louise could feel him flinching at her comments.
“Sorry, I didn’t realize.”
He must have been embarrassed, too. His fingers became busy as he filled up all the button holes.
“You didn’t swallow when you were shaking dirt off of me.”
“I didn’t know you had such a beautiful back back then.”
He finished buttoning her dress.
“And I’m an ordinary man who’s weak at pretty things.”
Louise mumbled, turning around and looking at Ian in front of her.
“Lie about what? That I’m ordinary or that you’re–”
“I know you’re embarrassed and you’re just joking around. So you don’t have to force yourself to praise me.”
Louise looked like she was about to cry, and Ian took a deep breath.
And he simply admitted it.
“I was embarrassed. I’m still embarrassed. I feel like I’m going to die of embarrassment.”
“It’s not more embarrassing than having to expose your back.”
“I would rather expose my back than be the idiot who stared at it and swallowed inadvertently.”
He said nothing for a moment, his fingers resting on his chin.
How did this situation get so embarrassing? It really meant nothing. They were two people who needed disguises and simply had to change clothes.
However, in a brief moment, he had forgotten all about it. It was because of that pale line below that slender neck. Skin that seemed smooth as white snow. His gaze was held captive to its beauty. It was not long until his reason left him, and it was a good thing that Louise snapped him out of it.
Louise’s suspicious expression returned.
“However, I did mean it when I said you were pretty. I apologize again if it was unsolicited.”
“…How many times are you going to apologize to me today?”
Only then did Louise smile with a softer face. Perhaps her heart felt a little guilty for being told sorry so many times. She was a little weak to it.
“We had decided to be honest. You should say thank you instead of asking me to forgive you.”
“Of course, thank you.”
“You can’t thank a man for being attracted to you. It’ll make them stupid.”
“…You’re attracted to me?”
“Well, for about five seconds.”
The hell? Louise slapped Ian on the arm.
“Well, let’s choose the perfect pair of shoes.”
Ian lifted Louise’s waist and sat her down on the conference table. Ian knelt before her bare feet hanging in the air.
“I can do it myself!”
“Didn’t you promise to give me a different answer to my kindness today?”
“But you said I shouldn’t thank you a while ago. It will make you stupid.”
Ian smiled as he took out a shoe from the box. It had a sleek, beautiful heel.
“Sometimes I need to be stupid to my fiancée.”
The shoe fit her perfectly.