When she lowered her gaze in line with his chest, Eugene couldn’t see what type of expression he was making with her statement. She knew she was likely risking offending the king, however, no matter what she thought of, she couldn’t bring herself to do it with him tonight.
“I’m sorry.” She apologized. There was a tense silence for a moment before it was finally broken.
“Eugene.” He called out to her. There was no inflection in his voice, no way of knowing what he was thinking about, so Eugene finally looked up at him.
He was composed, but she knew it was very difficult to know how he felt by just his outward appearance. He wasn’t the type that was easy to read.
“It’s not something you should apologize for. I don’t want to force you into doing anything.”
“But it’s my duty,” she said.
Kasser’s eyes bore into her frame, watching her in silence before he chose to answer.
“It should be fine as long as you’re not avoiding me.” He explained.
Eugene gave him a terse nod. “All right.”
After that, there was another tense moment of silence. And despite that, there was no exchange of harsh words or any word at all. They could feel the distance between them split further apart.
“All right, then…” Kasser’s words stuck in his throat.
He wanted to bid her good night, to rest well, but the words wouldn’t come out nor did his feet move from his spot. For the past few days, every night, he felt his heart pounding with excitement for their time together, not just to satisfy his sexual urges.
He could barely recall any time from his youth where he had roomed with another soul. Ever since he was a young boy, he could only recall falling asleep alone and waking up alone. And in the early stages of their marriage, he remembered, he barely slept a wink each time he shared the bed with the queen.
For three years, he’d spend one night with the queen every month. And while she slept soundly on the other side of the bed, he could do nothing more than just tossing and turning, staring at the queen’s back until morning came.
Until not too long ago this was true.
But now, there were barely any days where he didn’t have a good night’s sleep. And despite the fact he hadn’t changed the amount of sleep he got every night, every morning he felt as light as a feather. He found it even more relaxing to sleep when having someone by his side at night.
“Eugene.” He finally broke the silence as she perked up at him calling her name.
“Would you like some time alone?”
“No,” Eugene said resolutely as she quickly shook her head.
If he were to leave her room at a time like this, the servants would undoubtedly talk. She’s familiar with palace gossip. Moreover, she didn’t want to kick him out and risk hurting his pride.
“The bed’s large enough,” she added, gesturing towards her bed. “Unless…” She paused, feeling she overstepped her bounds. “You were offended and want to return to your room?” she asked with uncertainty.
Kasser chuckled at her.
There was nothing special with the way she said it. It wasn’t elegant nor frivolous, but from time to time, there was something different from the way she talked. Oftentimes, he even found it humorous and unique.
“Thank you for offering me one side of your bed, my queen ” He teased her.
She flushed for a moment before he gave her a genuine smile.
“You’re very welcome, Your Majesty.”
And with that, the tension in the room eased up a little.
Eugene looked at Kasser with interest. If she were to actually consider herself as one of the characters in a fictional world, then she could chalk up Kasser’s actions and words as something that was fixed to suit the character.
But, if she were to consider Mahar as her reality… If she were to consider Kasser as an actual, living and breathing human being… Then she could say for sure, it’s just another aspect to his personality as a whole.
She had to admit that in her first interactions with the king, the only thing she was attracted to was his looks. Now, after she got to know him a little better, she found herself more and more attracted to his personality instead.
Once more, she found a familiar thought run through her mind…
How good would it have been if I were Jin, born and raised here?
She could see it now, one where she had a life with none of these fusses, and only enjoying her happy marriage with Kasser for three years now. One where she could be happy and content, never asking for more.
But Eugene wasn’t sure of anything right now. She still didn’t know where the metaphorical ticking time bomb Jin had buried was, and when it would blow up on her. She could very well become a criminal overnight.
However, this wasn’t the time to be swayed by emotions.
If on Earth, Eugene lived as if she was being chased, then that life followed her all the way to Mahar too.
Indeed, life was too bitter for her.
Soon enough, the couple lay side by side on Eugene’s bed. Both closed their eyes, attempting to fall asleep in their respective spaces. However, both failed to do so as well.
Eugene’s thoughts consisted of the things she had done for the day. And indeed she could say today was the busiest day she had spent on Mahar.
I think Ellie is Tanya.
One of the many things Eugene had learned from the general officer was the standard procedures of hiring and managing staff members in the palace. And out of curiosity, she had asked how Ellie was hired as a maid.
Fortunately, Sarah remembered the day in detail and explained it to her.
“Ellie was not taken into the palace as an official member of the staff. Generally, the number of hired servants are kept constant, but every now and then, unexpected situations occur, and we become short-handed. So we temporarily hire staff during those times.” Sarah explained.
“Ah, so Ellie was only temporarily hired?” Eugene asked and Sarah nodded.
“Yes, Your Grace.”
“Then how did Ellie become one of my maids?”
“You hired her yourself, Your Grace.”
“Is it common for temporary staff to be hired officially?”
“No, Your Grace. That was the first time it happened.” Sarah replied, choosing her words carefully.
“And is that because there are customs?”
Sarah hesitated and had just said that there was a strict criterion in hiring new staff, and left it at that. From her reaction, Eugene assumed she wanted to say that Jin had defied customs and took Ellie without any discussion.
But of course, Sarah couldn’t be purely honest just to come out and say ‘you may not remember, but you did whatever you wanted’ to her, the queen.
“For what reason did I hire her?”
“You didn’t… give us a reason, Your Grace.”
“And did Ellie always work for me?”
“No, Your Grace. We do not let temporary staff around the members of the royal family.”
According to Sarah, all temporary staff was given chores such as chopping vegetables or sweeping empty rooms. They did not and would never be tasked to go near either the king or queen. Sarah had also admitted she had no idea how Ellie even caught the attention of the queen.
But Eugene knew differently.
If she’d successfully entered the palace, it’s easy to figure out the whereabouts of the queen’s chamber. She would’ve found Jin and then given her some sort of signal to show her who she really was.
And with that, other people sent by Rodrigo would also have no trouble approaching Jin either.
As Eugene spent a restless night thinking about Jin Anika’s plans and what damage it could do, Kasser who was lying next to her was hopelessly kept awake by a single thought…
“But it’s my duty.”
Her words kept bothering him to no end.