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The misinterpretation that he liked Marianne Rowain needed to be cleared up. Even though he didn’t know much, the relationship would not progress without resolving their misunderstandings. Frisia was just as stubborn as he was.
Aslei entered the garden and coughed to announce his presence. The maids and attendants, who were standing at the entrance to the park, bowed their heads to him.
He could sense movement from inside the garden. Frisia must have noticed that Aslei had arrived.
‘You… … Won’t run away, will you?’
There was no guarantee. So Aslei strode across the garden to where he felt her presence.
As expected, Frisia was frightened out of her wits. The problem was that her movements became arduous in the aftermath of last night. Even though she hastily put on her shoes and stood up, Aslei had already arrived where she sat at the circular fountain.
If she turned her back and ran away, it would be overtly advertising that she was avoiding him.
Frisia felt her face heat up and bowed her head. Her silver hair fell down as she half bent forward and half-lowered her body.
Aslei strode up to her, drawing close. It was when winter was departing, and spring was arriving, but he thought it was still chilly. Frisia donned a light indoor dress. He was worried that she might catch a cold, especially after last night’s overexertion.
As he approached, he took off his robe and wrapped it around her shoulders, catching Frisia unawares as she looked up in surprise and paused.
Their eyes met in the air. They both turned red and looked away, but Aslei didn’t stop his movements and wrapped his clothes around her shoulders.
“The wind is still cold.”
She tried to take it off, but Aslei shook his head and held her hand. He wondered with bated breath what would happen if she pulled her hand away or shook him off, but Frisia only paused.
She bowed her head and was relieved that his reaction was not disastrous. Aslei felt the same way.
If she saw him looking at her in scorn, she wouldn’t know how to make it up to him and express her apologies.
“How are you feeling?” [t1v: the phrase in Korean literally asks “is your body okay?” which also has more meaning after a night of sex]
He asked the same question he had asked last night again. Although his tone was different, he asked with similar words. Frisia didn’t like that kindness.
She didn’t want to fall in love with Aslei accidentally. He was the hero who was fated for the heroine.
“I’m fi-fine, fine.”
Her voice broke as if she was on the verge of tears. It was challenging to reply appropriately. Frisia asked him while averting her eyes,
“The Duke…… How are you?”
[t1v: although Frisia addresses Aslei with usual formality, he addresses her with utmost deference even though he is male, older, and higher in status. It implies how upright he is and also how much he respects and honors her.]
He was so close that she could only peek at him from the side because he had wrapped his clothes around her shoulders. But, because he was gazing at her, her eyes met his, and he gulped.
Unlike earlier, where she had previously avoided his eyes, Frisia stared into his eyes. There was a red tint present that was different from a bloodshot hue. On the back of his neck, she saw his veins rise.
The curse lingered like poison.
She clasped Aslei’s hand that had still held hers. Heat spread across his face, which had been fluttering for a moment.
“…… You’re still hot, aren’t you?”
“Ah, well…… !”
He couldn’t bring himself to admit it was because she gripped his hand. Moreover, her expression of concern for him gave him a strange feeling of satisfaction.
‘I’m an idiot.’
“I don’t have a fever.”
confessed Aslei, softly implying more and stealing a glance at Frisia. He had no clue how to bring up the fact that he wasn’t in love with another woman. It was ridiculous to bring it up abruptly, out of the blue, without any context.
Suddenly, his eyes caught Frisia’s lips.
She hadn’t even allowed him to kiss her last night. He hadn’t been able to touch or embrace her because he had been tied up.
‘Can you say that we made love?’
It may have been lust, the desire may have been relieved, but that wasn’t a relationship. Aslei felt bitter about it. The fact that they couldn’t exchange any emotions just like their closed doors. So he impulsively asked:
“May I hug you?”
Frisia’s eyes widened in surprise. However, the expression that appeared in her blue jewel-like eyes was not disgust, so Aslei gained a little more courage.
“Because I’ve been wanting to reach out, touch and connect with my wife all last night.”
Even though she had covered his eyes and he couldn’t see anything, he had felt something. Even in the midst of his excruciating pleasure, Aslei wanted to embrace Frisia.
Reach out, touch, connect, comfort……. he wanted to love her because he cared for her.
She seemed to hesitate. Aslei decided to use a slightly cowardly method.
“Is it difficult?”
Her resolve seemed to melt as he looked down and gave her a depressed countenance. Because she was weak to the weak.
He was ashamed of himself that he wielded such tactics, but there was nothing he wouldn’t use now.
As long as he could reach Frisia.