Chapter 46 – How Far Will You Allow (1)
Why did her kiss her?
The day had started off strangely. No, actually from the day before that. The relationship between the two was strained, and they tried to ignore it.
Louise struggled to avoid his line of sight. Ian followed her as he had fun following her small, light footsteps. As he didn’t let her go, she was always in his view. To put it another way, that meant he was always looking at Louise, with considerable persistence. That couldn’t be explained by the relationship of a friend or former fiancée. Those thoughts, those feelings. His instincts knew. Louise’s eyes were a reel of ever-shifting emotions, and he remembered how they looked at him then. Perhaps as a result, he had kissed those lovely eyes.
If someone would ask him now, “Do you regret it?” Ian would probably nod his head, several times. He smiled in reverence of her eyes. Reminiscing the soft touch that still remained on his lips.
But then, he remembered Louise’s face when he pulled away. It wasn’t the look of surprise or embarrassment he had expected. Her face was an awful blue, as if seized with fear, and her normally talkative lips were frozen.
‘I made a mistake.’
That was the first thought that came to mind, and a faint sense of happiness shattered. Come to think of it, he hadn’t asked for permission. That was outrageous disrespect.
And most of all, Louise Sweeney didn’t think of Ian as a man. He knew he was precious to her, but only as a friend or family member.
At the tea room he ended up saying to her the last thing he wanted to say. His apology seemed to work a little, and Louise started blinking slowly and pulling herself back together after the kiss.
“I’m sorry, Louise Sweeney.”
He repeated the last words he wanted. He would have said anything if Louise could escape her present fear.
Louise came to her senses, and she struggled to put on a smile.
“It’s okay. No, it’s–“
She was unable to fully form a sentence, and her words were laced with a hint of a tremor as she smiled. Probably out of consideration for a friend. Because Louise Sweeney was kind.
Ian rubbed his forehead for a moment. Even in this situation, acting friendly must be both a relief and pain experience at the same time. He came to the conclusion that his presence was not very helpful to Louise right now. He didn’t want to make it more difficult for her.
Ian called for his bodyguard a small voice. Soon Hesse silently appeared from nearby.
“The two of you…go back first.”
“What about you?”
Hesse asked anxiously. Maybe it was because he watched the whole situation.
“I’ll follow you. Will that be okay?”
“There are other guards, so there should be no problem.”
Hesse politely extended his hands towards Louise. However, Louise didn’t seem to want to leave him immediately and shot Ian a worried look. That was probably a better reaction than her fear from earlier.
“Hesse knows how to get back safely. You can leave at ease.”
Ian looked at her with as calm as expression as possible, and Louise finally nodded but did not speak otherwise. Maybe she had lost everything she was about to say.
Hesse reached out again, and Louise took his hand. Ian looked at the natural connection of their fingers and wrists.
…Hesse was holding on to her. The image of it seemed to taunt Ian.
The bodyguard was a few steps away when Ian called out to him in a sulky voice.
Hesse turned around while Louise only lowered her head and did not look back.
Ian looked at Louise’s flowing hair and turned to Hesse again.
“The carriage. Don’t forget to travel slowly. It’s okay to make stops once in a while…”
Ian’s words gradually faded. He couldn’t help but force a few words of concern.
When the crown prince gave commands, everyone had to answer the same way.
Louise stayed up all night looking at notes Simon gave her. She slept for about three hours and had repeatedly woken up several times. After a restless night, morning finally arrived. Louise wriggled under her blankets to escape the sun. Why was it that sleep, which had evaded her all night, was now finally coming back when she had early morning classes?
“…I’m sorry I couldn’t keep my promise, Simon.”
Louise made a small apology to Simon. He stayed up late waiting for her, and she seemed unable to repay the kindness. The notes Simon gave was a copy of Professor Hewitt’s class notes. According to a small note Simon took the course last semester, and he had arranged the lecture notes so it contained the most crucial information. She had been dying for something like this, and yesterday Louise forgot she was tired and devoured the notes until late.
“But I have to get up…after ten more seconds.”
Ten, nine, eight, seven…one, one half, one quarter…
After several meaningless counts, Louise staggered out of the blanket. She washed, dressed, then picked up her hair brush.
“I can brush it for you. Later.”
She could hear his playful whisper in her mind. If she gave him her hair brush, she was sure he’d tear her hair apart. Then he’d blame the brush. It was a very rude brush.
The thought of his mischievous face made her smile a little. And after thinking for a moment, she picked up a ribbon that Ian had bought for her a while ago.
“No, I don’t have a reason.”
She spoke to herself in the mirror.
“It’s just a poor thing. The ribbon is a gift so it needs to be used…”
Louise tied up her hair in a high ponytail with the ribbon, then looked at herself briefly across the mirror to make up her mind about what she would do today. She wanted to thank him for organizing Professor Hewitt’s notes. No matter what happens.