Chapter 22 – Light Beyond the Haze (2)
The women left the room without further admonition, leaving what they had brought on the table. Max remained seated, waiting until they had gone far enough before she got up and closed the door. She then began to soak up the clean towel with the warm water on and wiped her body, that had been overworked all night, with it.
It wasn’t quite a refreshing feeling to feel the wet towel on her skin drenched with sweat and fluid. She wiped away the traces of last night. There were many red marks on the shoulders, forearms, thighs, legs and chest.
Will it be like this? Memories of last night rose in her mind, and her cheeks warmed ember. Even though such marks couldn’t disappear, she soaked up the towel and still rubbed the red spots vigorously.
When she spent the night with him, she only felt embarrassment, but it was not as horrible as the first night. No, she even felt bliss when he hugged and kissed her tenderly, all the while smiling at her softly. No one had ever done such a thing to her.
But her husband, who she always thought disapproved of her—not only did he take himself seriously as his wife, but he even seemed to like her in some ways. She remembered how he said he didn’t want to leave even on the first night.
“Three years ago, I wanted to be with you, I didn’t want to leave. You don’t know how hard it was to get out of that bed.”
She soaked her face in the basin to cool off the soaring heat. It was all like a dream.
Max meticulously took care of her tangled hair like a vine with the soap and squeezed the water out of the towel. Then, she applied perfume evenly and brushed her locks carefully, but then she heard knocking again.
“Madam, your husband has sent you a change of clothes.”
This time, Max opened the door and only received his clothes. It was a rosy dress with golden embroidery. When she unfolded it, the waistband, the bre*st strap and the thin cloth that appeared to be und*rwe*r rolled down. Max’s face glowed red when she saw it.
The und*rwe*r was not much different from the nanny had saved. Her face was so hot that she thought it would burn any moment now. In such a simple town, she could only wonder how she could have gotten it. This isn’t his cup of tea… or is it?
She clasped her face in unbearable shame and made a strange sound, yet again she heard a thumping on the door. This time it was a Riftan.
“Maxi, did you get your clothes? Are you all dressed?”
“Oh, not yet…”
“Hurry up, we have to leave quickly.”
“Now, wait a second…”
His impetuous voice made her dress hurriedly in the underwear that seemed to make little difference. She quickly put on some white underpants and the sumptuous dress over her head. It was not easy because she had never worn such clothes without help before. She pulled her sky-high skirt over and stretched it long to her ankles and tightened her belt. But the strings on her back was unrelenting and she groaned for a long time almost having a cramp in her shoulder. It was when Riftan rapped at the door again.
“Not there yet?”
“Well, o-over here…”
“Who, anyone can help… a person, one person, call for them again…”
“Oh, the back, behind my clothes…”
“Open the door.”
“Open the door.”
Caught by his urging, Max opened the door with one hand to keep the clothes from slipping down. Riftan, who pushed his way through, shut the door behind him and carefully scanned her. Max was clueless and apologized hurriedly.
“I’m sorry for being late, I’m sorry—ha, but the clothes are…”
“I’m not angry, so don’t apologize. I didn’t know much about women’s clothes, so I didn’t even think how it would be uncomfortable to wear and take off.”
He said, looking down her skirt and long sleeves. She squeezed her fingers in an awkward silence. Did the fancy dress truly suit her? Maybe it looked ridiculous. While she was hesitating, he held her by the shoulder and turned her around.
“I’ll do it for you.”
“Uh, well, there…”
Then he grabbed the string and began to tie them one by one with cautious hands. The rustling noise made Max nervous. He fumbled with the unfamiliar for a while before he allowed her to turn back.
“All right, thank you…”
“I got it from a merchant staying nearby, so I’m afraid it won’t be to your fancy. But for now, you have to put up with this. I’ll give you better clothes when I arrive at the estate.”
She blinked her eyes. She already thinks this outfit is very luxurious, but it wasn’t to him?
It was depressing. Max did not live a life of luxury as he thought. All the descendants of the Duke of Croix were all given to Rosetta. All of Max’s clothes were made by the maids and roughly made from the rest of their fabric. She had never worn anything with such fancy embroidery. Still, Riftan seemed worried that she might be dissatisfied.
Maybe he’s a person who thought she’s used to more beautiful apparel. She swallowed, feeling her throat run dry. She felt fortunate that she didn’t bring any of her luggage and avoid humiliation by revealing her shabby wardrobe. She then spoke with a nonchalant air, pretending to straighten her skirt.
“This… this dress is not bad for me, either.”
She looked into his eyes, acting as if she were haughty, but the man merely hung a robe over her shoulders without any signs of upset. She cast her eyes on the delicate palette of her cloak.
It seemed so strange that a knight like him would be so tender to her.
T/N: Underneath that agitation, Riftan is actually quite soft.