His protective tendencies had escalated to an extreme degree. Were it not for the active season, he might have never strayed far from Eugene’s side, his watchful eyes never leaving her for a moment. Instead, he had explicitly entrusted the role of vigilant guardian to others. The moment Eugene so much as cleared her throat, physicians would swarm to her side in an instant.
There was a time when she attempted to spare them the inconvenience by refraining from summoning the physicians. But on that particular day, palace attendants had been summoned before the king, resulting in a stern rebuke that left them in tears. From then on, she had obediently followed the instructions offered by those surrounding her.
As a loud bang echoed in the distance, Eugene couldn’t help but smile, her eyes following the azure smoke as it unfurled across the sky. She knew that a report of her encounter with the physicians would reach her husband as soon as he returned.
Moving to the sofa, she settled in and waited for Kasser to return.
Anticipating Kasser’s imminent arrival, Eugene’s ears perked up as she heard the telltale sound of a cough outside.
“Your Majesty, His Highness is here,” a voice announced.
“Please, let him in,” she replied.
The door swung open, granting entry to Kasser. The two maids who had been patiently waiting inside made a discreet exit before the door clicked shut once more. Without hesitation, Kasser took a seat beside Eugene on the sofa.
Eugene extended her arms towards him, and Kasser gave her a brief, reassuring look before enfolding her in his embrace. Her laughter bubbled up as she felt the slightly damp touch of his hair against her fingertips. After a hunting excursion, Kasser never failed to take a bath before visiting Eugene. Some days, he even indulged in multiple baths.
“Are you feeling alright?” Kasser inquired.
Eugene responded with a playful retort, “If you’ve already heard it from the physicians, why ask? It’s a common symptom among expectant mothers, and it’s not the first time it’s happened.”
Kasser’s gaze drifted down to Eugene’s growing belly. As her pregnancy had progressed, she had taken to wearing loose-fitting attire, generously tailored around the waist. These roomy garments did a fair job of concealing her protruding belly when she stood, but it was distinctly evident when she was seated.
Gently, he laid his palm upon her belly, and Eugene always found his expression quite endearing during these moments. It was as though he was simultaneously both awed and nervous, his reactions a mixture of wonder and uncertainty.
“This little one seems to be giving you quite a journey,” Kasser murmured.
Eugene smiled in response. “It’s not too bad. The physicians and Marianne assure me the baby is quite gentle.”
Kasser’s brow furrowed with concern. “You’re having difficulty eating, frequent stomachaches, and back pain. How will you manage if it gets worse?”
“That’s a valid point,” Eugene admitted. “Our son is certainly putting me through a lot.”
Observing Kasser’s expression, Eugene couldn’t help but stifle a laugh. Every time he used the phrase “our son,” he subtly conveyed his affection. While he felt deep concern and empathy for Eugene’s pregnancy-related struggles, he couldn’t help the warm smile that crept onto his face whenever he thought about the little one growing inside her.
Eugene found Kasser’s newfound demeanor utterly intriguing. He wasn’t typically one to openly express his emotions, so she hadn’t anticipated just how delighted he would be about the pregnancy. Apart from her initial pretense, the subject of their baby had never been broached.
“Do you genuinely like the prospect of being a father?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well… I had this notion that you were seeking an heir out of duty. It’s not that I ever doubted your qualifications as a father or anything like that.”
Her inquiry was lighthearted, but to her astonishment, Kasser fell into deep thought, his countenance serious. While his hand continued to gently caress her belly, he spoke with a sincerity that moved her.
“I find happiness in the fact that you are the mother of our child. Our child will be fortunate to receive an abundance of maternal love as they grow. When they look back on their early years, they will be filled with cherished memories.”
There was no trace of envy in Kasser’s voice or expression as he pondered the unique childhood that their son would have, different from his own. Eugene was deeply moved by his joy and contentment as he envisioned their child’s happy upbringing.
Oh, how I adore this man, she thought, her heart brimming with affection.
“You see, darling,” she whispered to her unborn child, her hand tenderly placed on her belly. “This person is your father, and you’ll grow to respect and adore him more than anyone else in the world.”
Eugene seized Kasser’s face with both hands, swiftly planting a brief yet emphatic kiss on his lips, momentarily startling him. A joyful laughter bubbled from her, and she couldn’t resist another kiss. The second kiss’s conclusion only gave way to a swift counterattack.
Their lips met in a passionate, intense embrace, delving deeper than Eugene’s initial kiss. His mouth wholly encompassed hers, drawing her in with a gentle yet firm pull on the nape, their tongues twining and dancing in an intimate, heated exchange.
Kasser’s ability to switch seamlessly from casual conversation to intense passion often caught Eugene by surprise. It was one of the many reasons she felt utterly at ease in his presence. The ease that dissolved any tension between a man and a woman wasn’t their only advantage, though. Strangely, she now felt an exhilarating hunger for the man who had been so comforting only moments ago.
Since revealing her pregnancy, she had been cautious, fearing that she might damage or let her joy slip through her fingers if she held it too tightly. But now, a persistent desire coursed through her. Perhaps it was because all they could do was kiss, but it was a kiss filled with passion and an insatiable craving.