Where intentions are conveyed.
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Episode 220. About 10 months (97)
He took my word for it and apologized stiffly.
Ah... He thought I was scared.
"Right... A little. I–I'm a little scared."
Well, it wasn't wrong.
If any 19-year-old noblewoman went through the same thing I did today, they would be terrified.
But I was 33-years-old, and I had experienced a lot more. In other words, I had already lived another life as a scriptwriter in Korea.
So, even though he didn't understand the words that came out of my mouth, I sure did.
Most couples would understand each other perfectly when they sent these kinds of signals...
Seriously, I should've told him I wanted him to stay the night. 'Don't go' was too weak.
Could we call each other lovers? Well, things were a bit ambiguous right now.
It might seem thoughtless of me to do something like that after what happened today. Still, would I have to be bound by it for thousands of years?
No. Well, I wasn't sure why I wanted to do it. Because I just wanted to be with him...
Hmm. Was I being too straightforward?
At that moment, reality hit me like a truck. I squeezed my eyes shut and then opened them.
In the meantime, he had pulled up a chair and sat down next to my bed. The thick book he had taken with him was in his hands.
"Don't worry, I'll stay here until you fall asleep."
Hah. Indeed, he had just gotten out of the shower, and he was really going to stay there until I fell asleep surrounded by the fresh scent of his body...
I awkwardly raised the corners of my lips and slowly nodded. Then I slipped down from the head of the bed and laid down, looking at the ceiling.
I was laying in his bed and he was reading a book next to me.
I probably felt hazy because it had been a long day, or because this situation didn’t feel real.
Tick tock. I heard the constant sound of the ticking clock and turning pages. I glanced sideways at Kyle, who was reading a book.
Sitting with his legs crossed, he was comfortably holding the base of the book and concentrating. His disheveled hair was still half-wet.
Whether he knew that I was watching or not, he swept back the hair on his forehead. Brown hair, flicked away by long, pale fingers. However, his brushed-back hair was unable to defy gravity, and flowed back down to his forehead.
His natural hairstyle, his beautiful half-lidded eyes, his sharp nose, his smooth lips, and his neckline, visible through his open white shirt. His white shirt was stretched by the solid muscles of his chest, and he was slightly leaning back against the chair.
Plus, his sleeves had been rolled up a couple of times, exposing the tendons on his forearm from under his grip on the bottom of the book.
I should lower my gaze a little.
"What? Why are you looking at me like that?"
Startled by the embarrassing words, I lifted my gaze straight to his face. He looked at me obliquely, with a slight frown on his forehead.
"I felt your eyes a few times..."
"You’ve been looking at me like that occasionally. Haven’t you?"
"How have I been looking at you, then?"
"How do I put this... It was like you were secretly looking at me...!"
I cut him off right away.
"Ah... Haha. I was just doing eye exercises because they felt sore. Haha. I would never think of doing such a thing right now. Mmm. It's not like that."
I immediately rolled my head all the way to the other side. His chuckling voice reached my ears.
"It's okay. If you want to look, just look at me openly. I like it."
I turned my head again in surprise.
The damn guy grinned as if he was possessed.
What? Had he been a fox in a previous life?
"Wow. Huh. That’s nonsense, haha. Look at the book. The book."
"Alright, I will."
A docile answer.
Why was he being so obedient? And the way he grinned, like he was possessed...
Ugh. A real fox. Not just any fox, but probably a thousand-year-old fox.
I pretended to organize the blanket and pulled it up to under my nose, staring at the ceiling as if I was wearing a cast around my neck to prevent myself from accidentally looking at him again.
Yes. Sleep. I should go to sleep.
I felt awake even after closing my eyes. I opened my eyes for a moment to see if I could count the patterns on the wallpaper.
I heard the clock ticking again. I had enough light to count the number of diamond patterns on the ceiling's wallpaper.
155. 156. 157. 158, 158. 159, 159. 160... Ah, again. 1. 2...
"You can't sleep?"
I heard him laugh. He then cleared his throat and said something strange.
"Do you want me to read you a book?"
I turned my head towards Kyle, thinking I had misheard.
A faint smile played on his lips.
"When you can't sleep, reading a book is a good idea."
"Are you going to read it yourself?"
"If you want."
"Your Highness, the 2nd Prince of the Ocerian Empire?"
"Hm... Why can't an Imperial Prince read you a book?"
"Is it possible? It's just, I don't think it fits my image of you so far..."
"What is your image of me?"
"Should I tell you?"
"That's too bad. You're definitely way too sweet today."
He raised his eyebrows at my words.
"Wasn't that what you wanted?"
"I do. I want you to. Alright. Please read it. I think that's better than counting diamonds."
Kyle looked up at the ceiling I had been staring at and frowned slightly.
"It must be difficult to find a reference point. So, shall we begin?"
I was curious about his reading voice. Would he change his voice according to the person? Or would he change his accent?
I tightly grabbed the blanket and twisted my head to the side to look at him. I wanted to see him read out loud. And after a while, he began to read the book in a quiet but clear voice.
"If you come across a swamp where your feet are sinking while you march, you march faster than usual. However, when you're forced to confront an enemy in the middle of a swamp, you should preoccupy a place where there are landmarks, such as trees and rocks, around you. But if you can't, you should end the fight in the swamp as fast as possible. This is the key to a war march..."
(- See Sun Tze's The Art of War.)*
He had a nice voice... It was a military guide.
I naturally thought it had been a novel. It was the norm to read novels at night, wasn't it?
No? Actually, there were many people who read self-help books.
But why would I need a military guide tonight? Was there going to be a war in my dream?
I frowned as I listened to his voice while he read the book. He continued reading in a low-pitched voice, heedless of my expression.
Hm... His voice was really pleasant though. That was the important thing.
Instead of focusing on the content, I should focus on his voice.
Uh... The content was kind of familiar, though?
I waited for a break and coughed once.
"I think something similar appeared in Hamut's Handbook. Who wrote this?"
"It's a military guide written by a man called 'Sun Tze' from the East. Do you know it?"
Ah... The minute I heard it, I was reminded of Sun Tzu... Author Kim, you didn't exceed my expectations after all.
I nodded slightly.
"Yes, I've heard of it."
“Is that right? Is it in the Elias library? But it’s a hard-to-find strategy book in the Empire, isn't it?”
"I said I've heard of it, but I didn't say it was in our library. Haha."
"Is that so? I'll lend it to you if you want."
I nodded, and he continued to read the book for a while. Whether it was because of Kyle's voice or because of the military guide, I felt my eyelids get heavy at some point.
Then, I fell asleep, and when I opened my eyes, I saw Kyle trying to get up with the book.
Kyle sat back on the chair at the sound of my voice.
The room was darker than before. It seemed like he had turned off one of the two lamps when I had been sleeping peacefully.
“Weren’t you sleeping?”
"No, I'm still awake."
"Is that so?"
He turned on the light with a small smile.
"You can just turn it off."
"Isn't it better if there was light?"
"That is... Excuse me, Your Highness..."
He corrected his name again.
"Ah, it's not easy to change a habit. Well, I–Kyle, you know. As a matter of fact."
I swallowed my saliva until my throat made a sound and continued.
"The matter of fact is?"
“I’m not afraid at all.”
It was a really clear sign.
He didn't say a word even though he had enough time to speak, so I slowly looked up and Kyle was just staring at me, not moving a muscle. His eyes were deep and dark.
Then, he slightly raised his eyebrow.
"I thought... you weren’t serious."
His voice was very low.
I breathed in slowly.
"In that case, Tara..."
"May I carry out my thoughts?"
I took a deep breath and nodded slowly. The angel and the devil were still fighting in my mind, but my will was definitely leaning towards the devil.
I turned to the sound and saw Kyle's hand covering the lamp.
The bedroom instantly felt secretive with the light dimmed. I carefully got up and leaned against the headboard.
I... Did I just open Pandora's box?
Kyle sighed deeply and ruffled his messy hair once more. From now on, this action was going to be my favourite.
Oh, my God.
I could hear my heart racing.
Kyle gently wrapped his hand around mine, which was gripping the blanket as if it were a lifeline.
"I'll ask you one last time. Are you sure you're okay?"
Thousands of thoughts were running through my mind.
What would happen to me if I spent the night with this man?
What should I do from now on?
A noblewoman who hadn't even made her debut in society.
Could I do this? What if rumours spread? With the 2nd Prince of the Empire?
I didn't know what my future was with this person, so could I even spend the night with him?
'I like him! He makes my heart flutter! He wants to be with me! Isn't that enough?'
Everything was full of doubt, but I was going to die anyway. You only live once. Above all else, my heart wanted this. And I would never meet a man as picturesque as this again.
I looked nervously at Kyle's eyes, which seemed calm, but were fixated on my answer.
There was only one answer that came out of my mouth.
"Yes, I'm okay."
As soon as I had finished speaking–
–He pulled my blanket off with just one clean motion.
While I was looking at him, screaming internally, he took a deep breath and violently ruffled his hair again. Then, in a heartbeat, he grabbed my arm.
*손무 = Sun Tzu, a famous Chinese military strategist and the author of The Art of War.
손므 = Sun Tze, Munirang's parody of him.
The reason why I’ve chosen to translate it as this because you'd pronounce 손무 (Sun Tzu) as "sonmu" in Korean, and 손므 (Sun Tze) as "Sonme" or "Sonmeu".
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