Chapter 76 – What She Thought When She Kissed Him (2)
“When I return to the capital, can we meet up sometimes like this?”
“You’ll come to the greenhouse, won’t you?”
“That’s true. Mrs. Sweeney said she wanted to see my face.”
“And Simon is coming to visit, too. You two can come together “
“Of course, that too. But I mean–“
He stopped walking. He turned to Louise and as her caught his eye, he opened his mouth to say more.
“…I look forward to meeting you at the greenhouse.”
At that moment, his hand loosened. There was nothing else to be said, as if each were naturally building their own walls. Louise knew why. As soon as she looked back at him, Ian must have remembered the promise he had made on this roof.
Louise made a small apology in her heart. As he said earlier, Louise’s demands was as good as binding his hands and feet together.
“Shall we go inside now?”
Louise nodded. Maybe they couldn’t stand the awkward atmosphere any longer.
Louise turned to leave first, and he followed behind. The two didn’t share a word while walking down the stairs and through the hallway. It was not until Louise arrived in front of her room that she managed to turn around. His figure was in shadow.
Louise managed to open her mouth to speak.
He replied to her plainly. Louise turned and grabbed the doorknob.
A hand brushed her ear. She could feel the heat of his fingers penetrating through her hair, and she could hear the soft sound as he stroked it. Louise gripped the doorknob with both hands and didn’t move. She couldn’t muster the nerve to look back, though it wasn’t the first time he had touched her hair. Her body froze in strange anticipation of the moment.
His hand moved slowly down tumbling path of her locks. His fingers traced from her ear to her neck. Then her shoulder to her waist. When he finally reached the end of her tresses, his hand finally dropped away. There was a very different kind of heat prickling on her skin.
He spoke in his usual tone.
Louise nodded a little, then ran into her room. Without even thinking about changing into her pajamas, she threw herself into bed.
She had indescribably shameful thoughts when he had touched her hair. She thought he was going to go further, and was disappointed when his hands fell away.
It was Louise who set these boundaries. Her face flushed shame, and the sound of her heart thundered against her eardrum. The subtle distance he showed her today was because of his promise to Louise. Her heart was jumping so much that it hurt. Why did he have to listen to her? He could do as much as he wanted.
Louise hugged her pillow tightly, close to her heart. She remembered what she thought when she kissed him.
“There is no turning back…”
Once she had realized it, she would be conscious of him from now on. A man’s heart is like a bucket of water; once it leans and starts to pour, it becomes uncontrollable. Even if you manage to keep your balance, you can not restore water that has already flowed out.
Louise’s walls would be able to trap and stop the water flowing for a time, but when the stream builds up and the water level deepens, the walls would be eventually destroyed. The fragments of the wall would hurt everyone and leave deep bruises, and all that would remain is a vicious and twisted relationship.
Louise wouldn’t always be with Ian. So all the artificial barriers she had built had to be removed before their relationship was completely twisted and ruined. Maybe it would be fun for a while after the walls were gone. Ian had a mischievous side, but he actually knew Louise well and looked out for her. They had pleasant conversations and had similar enough tastes that they exchanged books with each other, but she couldn’t expect his friendliness to be directed at her forever. He may change his mind when the power of the horrible original story takes over.
… Even if that were the case. Even though the future Louise would one day shed tears, she couldn’t deny what they found in each other’s eyes now.
“…I’m a fool.”
She was pathetic. She was walking into pit of fire knowing it’s going to burn.
“And I’m afraid…”
Would Louise’s evil instincts wake up and make her do cruel things?
Louise’s future was precious to her. So hoped that she would be able to smile even if she had a hard day. She wanted to say, I had a good time, didn’t I? Louise needed to build up good memories now. If she did, at least she wouldn’t have any regrets about running away from the truth.
So, if tomorrow comes, she’ll tell him. She’ll take back all the promises she asked him to make. She always appreciated his stubbornness and acceptance. And from now on, she’ll face him properly without hiding behind any walls.
“Hmmm…I’m so anxious.”
She felt like she was rushing towards the final boss without a weapon or shield. Yet somehow, she smiled just imagining his reaction tomorrow. There was no such scene in the original story, so his answer belonged to Louise only. Completely.
The full morning arrived excruciatingly slowly. Maybe it was because she didn’t sleep a wink. Ian always came in to give her a cold drink. Maybe this time he’ll bring something with fruit in it.
She heard a familiar tapping sound, and the door swung open.
“…Did you sleep like that?”
He saw that Louise wasn’t wearing her pajamas. Then he plopped the cold drink onto the top of her head.
“Today is the last day.”
Louise gingerly retrieved the cold glass with both her hands. It had grapefruit in it today. The glass was filled with ice as usual.
“You say it like you’re sad.”
“All that work was pretty back-breaking though.”
He smiled as if to say, You know I’m weak in the morning, right?
“But you do it every day.”
“You won’t eat unless I do.”
Oh, really. Louise tipped the glass towards her mouth and drank.
“I mean it.”
“I know. I know everything when I see your face.”
Then he pointed out something else.
“And I can tell you’ve been thinking deeply about something, and you want to tell me.”
“Am I wrong?”
His voice was tinged with concern.
Please don’t ask that.
“Isn’t it? I knew it.”
He chuckled this time. Louise must be possessed by that man, since she found his expression of pure joy to be quite adorable.
“So what is it?”
Louise didn’t want to miss this opportunity, so she quickly chose her words.
“You know, I–
As she was about to speak, she heard another knock. When she turned her eyes, Ian captured her chin and forced her to look at him.
Then he nodded, urging her to continue.
She only spoke a few more words when there was another knock.
“It’s okay. Ignore it.”
The knocks then turned insistent, and eventually Ian turned and shouted at the door.
“Be reasonable, Hesse!”
No sooner had his shouting ended did the door burst open. As Ian said, it was Hesse who had been knocking. However, the bodyguard’s usually mischievous expression looked more severe than usual. Louise suddenly had a bad feeling in her stomach.
Hesse knelt before Ian to deliver a formal announcement. After a short sigh, Ian dropped his hand from Louise’s face. He turned towards Hesse, and made the face of the perfect crown prince.
Only then did Hesse speak further.