Chapter 11.1

Elena swiftly pulled her hand away, her palm briefly making contact with Kennard’s chest as she struggled to regain her balance. Both of her arms remained firmly in Kennard’s grasp, his grip on her like unyielding shackles. A mocking smile tugged at Kennard’s lips as he observed Elena’s flustered countenance, which still bore a telltale flush.

“Do you believe you can earn my favor without demonstrating even the slightest competence?” Kennard taunted, while Elena found herself unable to muster the courage to meet his gaze. She grappled with her own helplessness, unable to fathom how to proceed. It was an impossible task to accomplish something she had no recollection of.

No matter how relentlessly Kennard goaded her, Elena remained mute, incapable of uttering a single word. Kennard’s voice remained unwavering, firm as ever. “Your sole responsibility is to carry out my instructions. There is no need for unnecessary actions.”

Elena hesitated before she responded, “But if I merely do nothing and confine myself to the castle, it will not sit well with the other nobles.”

Kennard’s gaze bore into her, his voice tinged with a mixture of annoyance and skepticism. “Are you suggesting you would defy my orders out of fear of the nobles’ opinions?”

Elena met his gaze with unwavering determination, despite her vulnerable position. “It’s not solely a matter of fear. Regardless of my amnesia, I bear no resemblance to a noble in any way. These hands and feet, marked by old scars and calluses, speak of a different life. It doesn’t make sense for someone like me to don elegant gowns, attend receptions, and play the part of a noble lady.”

Kennard regarded her coolly. “And what of it?”

“I can’t fathom why His Highness is showering me with such favor, but I can’t simply rely on his generosity,” Elena said, her voice tinged with uncertainty. Suddenly, searing pain coursed through both of her arms, prompting her to cry out involuntarily.

Kennard’s fingertips bore into her flesh, threatening to break through, and an instinctual response made her glance upwards. Kennard’s gaze bore into her with a piercing intensity. Elena clenched her teeth and bit her lower lip, summoning every ounce of her resolve to endure the pain.

“Your Highness,” Elena gasped, attempting to free herself from Kennard’s unyielding grasp by shrugging her shoulders and stepping back. Kennard, observing her struggle, furrowed his brow and released his grip, granting Elena a moment of respite. She breathed a sigh of relief, attempting to regain her composure.

In a heartbeat, Kennard’s hand shot out and seized Elena’s wrist, pulling her into an embrace with a single swift motion. Elena, suddenly ensconced in Kennard’s strong arms, was taken aback, her lips trembling in surprise.

“Ah!” Kennard lifted her wrist without a hint of mercy. The lace-trimmed, slender sleeves cascaded down to her elbows, revealing her pale, delicate forearms. Unlike the roughness he had displayed moments earlier, his touch on her wrist now exuded a surprising gentleness.

Kennard’s touch ignited a fiery sensation, as though her skin were engulfed in flames. Tiny hairs across her body stood erect, and her scalp tingled with an electric charge, causing shivers to course through Elena’s frame uncontrollably.

Startked, Elena attempted to withdraw her hand, only to find herself ensnared once more by Kennard’s unyielding grip on her wrist. She implored desperately, “Your Highness, please, release me…”

“What do you believe you can achieve with wrists so delicate?” Kennard’s voice remained unwavering as he brushed his thumb lightly over the faintly visible veins on her wrist.

Elena pleaded for her freedom, but it became evident that Kennard had no intention of granting her that reprieve. Instead, he pulled her even closer, cinching her waist against his own. “Your Highness!” Elena, forcibly arched backward, struggled vehemently, pushing against Kennard’s chest with her free hand. She felt like a defenseless prey, entangled in the grip of a relentless predator, as she writhed within Kennard’s embrace.

With the hand encircling her waist, he trailed his fingertips along her waistline with a deliberate slowness. Even through the thick layers of her velvet gown, Kennard’s touch was equally potent, as if he were caressing bare skin through the fabric. A dry lump formed in Elena’s throat as she swallowed hard, the sound reverberating loudly in her ears.

“Didn’t you promise to accept my favor?” Kennard’s voice was a soft, insistent murmur as he leaned in, his gaze locked onto Elena’s wrist beneath long, dark lashes.

His warm breath grazed her skin fleetingly, vanishing like delicate snowflakes. Elena stammered, her eyes fixed on Kennard’s lips, tantalizingly close yet never quite touching her, holding her breath as if the very air had dissipated, her eyelids unmoving, as though time itself had frozen.

“In this castle, there are myriad offerings at your disposal. I won’t stop you if you want to accept my favor. But I’ll decide what favor you’ll accept.”

With a sudden motion, Kennard turned and pressed Elena against a sturdy desk, leaving no room for escape between her and his unwavering presence. Elena, guided by his touch, weakly grasped the desk’s edge, preventing herself from retreating any further.



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