Chapter 49 – Am I Dreaming (1)
He had a point. Aderon told Max to think it through and left the banquet hall to investigate the hallway and other rooms. He then fluently listed the items that each room needed. It sounded excessive, but Max did agree on his opinion on changing the stair handrail and the window frames. It was an issue of safety, she thought.
After a while, the merchant left the castle and Max returned to her room and looked through the ledger. On one of the pages was the amount of money Riftan has given her to renovate the castle, but Max had no idea how much it was worth. Although she was treated like an insect by her father, she was still a family of a Duke. She had never even held a coin in her hand.
I should be asking for help… But who did she have to ask? Riftan may realize his wife was an idiot and start treating her like her father did. And the servants? They might talk behind her back, how their stuttering Madam didn’t even know the most basic things. Max began to get paranoid.
It might be the best idea to just go along with the merchant.
Max settled on the simplest solution. He must’ve been to many different castles, so he must have enough experience in how these things work. She may get a bit overcharged, but Aderon’s words were very convincing and he sounded like he knew what he was doing.
Riftan did tell me the money wasn’t the issue.
After coming up with a decision, she felt calmer, walking out of her room in more resolute steps. The rain had died a little, sprinkling lightly onto the Earth. She missed the fresh air, after spending a couple of days indoors. Max went to the terrace extending into the garden and looked up at the gray sky and the moist garden.
The bare tree branches by the gazebo were soaked in the rain, appearing black, adding to the spooky atmosphere. The smell of wet grass struck her nose. Max reached beyond the terrace roof and felt the cold-water droplets fall to her hand. The drizzle soon soaked her sleeves.
“Why are you outside?”
Max looked into the garden. It was Riftan, walking across the empty garden. With his big strides, he jumped up the stairs within a couple of seconds.
“And you’re dressed lightly.”
“I-I just wanted s-some f-fresh a-air…”
The eyes hiding under the hood of his cloak squinted. He removed the wet strand of hair poking into her eyes with his cold hands. Max wondered if she should do the same; sweep his wet hair out of his face. It seemed normal that he touched her, but she felt she needed his permission to touch him.
“At least put on a robe if you want fresh air. You might catch a cold.”
Riftan reached for her shoulder to cover her, but soon realized he was wet and lowered his arm.
“We should head back inside.”
She followed him into the castle. He left a long track of muddy footprints on the cold stone tiles. While she thought of placing a brush by the entrance to wipe off the mud on the shoes, she noticed a handful of wildflowers in his hand. She looked at the flowers, puzzled. Feeling her gaze, he quickly pulled down his cloak to hide his hand.
Perhaps she wasn’t meant to see it. Alarmed by his stern response, Max immediately looked away. An awkward silence lay between them. They continued to walk in silence when Riftan cursed lowly.
“Damn it,” he said. He held up the thing that was in his hand. “I saw some in the garden.”
Max’s eyes bulged with surprise. It was a bunch of wildflowers, still wet in the rain. Looking down at his own gift, Riftan frowned like he was angry.
“It looked quite pretty in the empty plain… Now that I see it properly, it’s just a shabby bunch of grass.”
Did he pick them himself? Max looked at the flowers, then at him. Riftan, hesitating at her blank reaction, handed it over to her.
“You can throw it away if you don’t like it.”
Her eyes widened. “I-I would n-never throw it a-away.” It would be too much of a blunder to throw the first gift she has ever received in her life.
As she slowly took the flowers into her hands covered in small droplets of rain, as if they were fragile, the scent of rain and grass struck her nose. She carefully stroked the tiny petals.
She was being honest. But although she mumbled the words with her shaky voice, the man didn’t look entirely happy. He must’ve thought she was simply being nice. Max opened her mouth to say something but closed it again. She didn’t know how to express her current feelings in words. Instead, she took the wet flowers into her face and breathed in their flowery scent. The wet and droopy flowers in front of her had never looked so lovely before.
Just the thought of someone crouching in the rain to pick flowers for her was tremendously touching.
“T-thank you,” she uttered as sincerely as she could.
Riftan’s cheekbones slightly flushed. He turned his body away to hide this, continuing his steps forward.
“Let go to our room. I want to take a shower.”
Max delicately held the flowers by her heart as she quickly caught up behind him,a warm feeling spreading inside her.
Hello dear readers, had a personal problem that was interfering with my translations, so I had to step back for awhile else it would have been too much for me. Thank you so much for your kind words, patience and support. Updates for our Max and Riftan will now resume back to schedule.