Where we learn why Kyle has her earring on the second cover...
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Episode 134. About 10 months (11)
Because she was so light, Kyle doubted whether Tara had the stamina to manipulate an axe. It surprised him that she could become so strong in less than a year, so he had to admit she had alot of willpower.
She drank half a bottle of cognac, so she must usually have drinks with a low alcohol content, such as sherry or beer.
Kyle turned and strode to his room.
He didn’t realize it while he was holding her, but when he tried to put her down, he felt it was a pity, so he stood in front of the bed for a while. Eventually, Kyle sneered at himself.
Kyle had never put a woman on his bed and was most unfamiliar with the experience, so he carefully laid her down.
Tara tossed and turned, looking for a blanket. Kyle naturally covered her with the blanket.
It was just past three in the morning.
He had to sleep, but it didn’t look like he would. He went to a chair about 10 steps away from the bed and sat down.
He turned off all the lights, leaving only the lamp on the table. And still, she looked so good.
He needed more alcohol, but he didn't want to drink.
His index finger unconsciously tapped the table, his gaze resting on the bed. His thoughts brought him back to an hour ago.
["When did you cry properly after your mother died like that? I know you kept smiling. You did it for your mother, but I wonder when you cried for yourself, Your Highness."]
‘Crying for myself is... a luxury.’
He thought it was a luxury to cry for himself because he couldn't protect his mother or take revenge.
Kyle, in deep contemplation, continued to knock on the table.
Even to this day, that thought had not changed. But why was it suddenly hollow, as if his heart was empty?
[If you allow it, I will dedicate that last drink as consolation for your suffering 12 years ago.]
“Ha! Consolation for me...”
He laughed, but he was not smiling at all. His serious face looked ready for a war.
‘Does she know? I’ve never told this to anybody else before. And she said something no one else has... Does she know?’
Kyle lifted his gaze and looked at her, rolling around in the blanket. The duvet was shaking.
She kept tossing and turning as if she was uncomfortable.
A loud noise as something fell off the bed.
Surprisingly, it was the pink axe he’d seen before.
The Knights of the Phoenix all hid weapons on their person. They didn’t even take them off when they were with the Prince. However, that was an exemption only permitted for the Order of the Phoenix.
He had to punish the escort knights who had let Tara, who wasn’t a member of the Phoenix Knights, carry weapons in his proximity, but no one would’ve suspected that an axe was hidden beneath a woman’s clothes.
Kyle decided to make an exception like the Order of the Phoenix.
‘Yes, if you learned it, you should use it. You ought to protect your own body.’
After throwing off her weapon, a smile lingered on her face as if she was now comfortable. He didn’t think he’d get bored of it even if he watched for hours on end.
‘I’m not so shameless asto watch a sleeping woman all night. And I don’t want to see her startled expression in the morning.’
Even so, he struggled to get up from his seat.
6 am the next day.
‘This crazy, it’s crazy…’
Beth came out of Tara’s empty bedroom on the verge of tears and grabbed a large cloak, heading straight to the Second Prince’s quarters.
Fortunately, there were no aristocrats in sight and the employees’ visual field was also limited. Since there weren’t any nobles who roused at 6 o’clock, she was reassured that only her lady was there.
“Ah… Beth… Just a little…”
“Now, five more minutes… What?”
“Now… I would.”
“Huh? My stomach hurts… Spicy bean sprouts soup...”*
The soft bed made it impossible for me to open my eyes. I switched to the side to get more sleep, thinking that Beth was trying to wake me up. It was my favorite position.
‘Ugh… But why does my stomach hurt so much? … Even when I drink beer bombs without any snacks…! Oh my god!’
I opened my eyes and froze. My head didn’t move as if I had short-circuited.
Unable to believe my sight, I blinked many times.
‘No way! This is crazy, Yeon-Woo. No, Tara Elias. Ugh!’
This wasn't my bedroom. I got up as soon as I realized that.
Is this déjà vu? Why do these situations repeat themselves?
"Huh? Huh! Uh…"
I frantically checked my condition and looked around. And then, a voice spoke.
“Are you awake now?”
Ugh. If this was a dream, please suddenly disappear.
I wished it was a dream, but he was too real.
"Why am I here? Where did you sleep?”
“This is the first time I’ve slept on a sofa since I entered the Imperial Palace.”
Ah. Damn it. Did I steal the Second Prince's bed just now? Oh my.
“Could it be? Here on the sofa? In the same room…?”
“What are you thinking? I slept on the office couch. I had no choice but to wake you up.”
“Ah… But I’m sure I was drinking alcohol in the office… And asking questions… Huh! I just fell asleep? Why didn’t you wake me up? Who moved me to the bed? Did you ask your knights to carry me by each limb again?”
“You must’ve been very virtuous in your past life to have me carry you.”
What did he say?
The Second Prince’s face, who hadn’t answered any other question and boasted about how he carried me to the bed himself, looked even better today.
He always seemed so confident that even his expressionless face looked arrogant.
But today, his face was positively brimming with confidence. No, to be more precise, it was full of certainty.
What was with that expression?
"Then why did you suggest drinking? What is this? My Father would faint if he found out. This will be a secret, okay?"
He didn’t answer and merely shrugged.
“Huh? Your Highness! I don’t want to make a weird rumor here. You don’t want to get tangled up with me, so give me an answer…!”
I belatedly realized that the Second Prince was not the type of person who caused gossip.
“Your Highness is not the kind of person who would spread rumors.”
I straightened my crumpled skirt, fastened three buttons that had let go, and loosened my hair again.
Why was he staring at me like that? Was there something on my face?
I scrambled to find a mirror and approached it. His voice was especially low behind my back.
“I’m not the type to care that much about rumors.”
As I was looking at the mirror next to the closet, I turned my head in shock.
“Wow. Are you saying it doesn’t matter if there’s a rumor? The Second Prince and I, at night! Alone! Just the two of us! Huh?”
“You know. Stuff like that.”
He just shrugged again.
“I don’t know what you mean.”
Who was he making fun of?
When I looked up, I saw a teasing face and my irritation flared.
I frowned for a moment and turned back to the mirror.
"Are you having fun?"
"A little bit.”
"Ha. I don’t want to be your drinking partner anymore. You have a knack for making fun of people. Please give me tea next time. That way, I can keep up. Ugh, saliva...”
I slept with my mouth open, so there was a trail of saliva from my mouth to my chin.
I casually wiped the marks with my hand and strode towards the door.
As he oversaw the Hunting Contest, he was wearing armor that gave off an ‘I’m a great knight who experienced all sorts of hardships on the battlefield' aura.
I felt sorry for a moment. I was the one who agreed to the bet, collapsed because of my low alcohol tolerance, and stole his bed. And yet I dared to complain to the Second Prince who lent me his bed.
Why was I so rebellious…?
“You must be tired because of what I unintentionally did. Thank you for letting me borrow your bed. I was so shocked that I ended up taking it out on you.”
“It’s alright if you know now.”
Oh, really? If so, woohoo!
"Yes, then I’ll get going.”
Pressing down the anger that was about to rise again, he spoke firmly.
“You’re a weak drinker.”
“Ah, I usually drink a lot. Yesterday, the alcohol was too strong. I’ll have to avoid that drink in the future. Haha…”
I turned around with an awkward smile, but at a sudden thought, I turned back again. I had to get a definite answer.
"Your Highness, you'll keep your word about what was agreed on yesterday, right?”
“It's up to House Elias, but can we continue?”
“I think you forgot something.”
I stared blankly at his smug, handsome face.
I had said thank you and checked my clothes. Hmm. Usually, this was a line in dramas where the husband kisses his wife when going to work in the morning... What was I saying?
Then I realized.
And soon, blood rushed to my face. The emptiness on my thigh reminded me of something.
"You threw it off the bed yourself, so don’t be suspicious. Come on. Here."
My face burned once more.
Why was he making it suspicious then?
He approached me with the pink axe.
He stopped when there was only a step between us and held out the axe’s handle to me. I grabbed it, but he wouldn’t let go.
“Don’t drink cognac anywhere else.”
“Because it’s a tough world.”
What was this? What do he mean? Was he worried about me? Yeah, this was a real green light!
I was about to ask again, but I hesitated. The indignation and bloodlust in his eyes the last time I asked whether he liked me in the interrogation room flashed through my mind.
Nevertheless, the signal was so clear that I mustered up the courage once more.
"Your Highness, one last question, do you…!”
“You better go now. After another 30 minutes, knights and hunters will be walking around the mansion. It doesn't matter to me, but rumors like this are not good for those will lead their House in the future.”
I came to my senses about the green light.
I knew. I did drink without a plan. He might be worried that his subordinate, who just woke up in his bed, would embarrass him at another time…
Besides, I didn't have time to fool around here anymore.
“Yes, Your Highness. Then, I’ll be on my way."
After bowing, I opened the door and Beth stood there, on the verge of crying. Her face lit up when she saw me, and she covered me with a large cloak.
"Oh, I was so nervous I thought I was going to die. Miss, let’s go. Come on."
“Yes, Your Highness.”
“The escort knights in a row.”
“Yes, Your Highness.”
The five escort knights standing outside the door in front of Tara and Beth crowded the hallway and moved all the way to the end of the stairs.
Thanks to that, Tara and Beth, who were relatively shorter than the knights, safely climbed the stairs to the third floor without being exposed to anyone.
Back in the bedroom to pick up his sword, a sudden light pierced Kyle’s eyes and he looked down at the bed. Something familiar caught his attention.
A dark red garnet earring.
Without realizing it, he muttered quietly.
“... Why do you keep bothering me? How annoying…”
Gazing at the tiny, scruffy earring on the bed, Kyle grabbed it and put it inside his armor.
* Spicy bean sprouts soup, or Kongnamul-Guk, is Korea’s no.1 hangover food.