Since the moment he had searched the empty office and the concealed stairs, his judgment had been clouded, and now he had to confront the truth.
“I understand what you want, Your Highness, but…” Rezette began to respond, his voice tinged with a chilling edge.
She was about to protest, but he interrupted her with unwavering resolve. “I have never mentioned it before, but I detest acts that are merely driven by carnal desires like beasts,” he explained firmly.
Elise was taken aback, confusion and surprise etched on her face. “What…?” she faltered.
His gaze softened, but his stance remained unwavering. “Especially engaging with someone I don’t even know, without any emotional connection.”
Elise’s lips trembled as she spoke, her mind lost in a whirlwind of emotions. “Then why did you act that way at the inn last time…?” Her voice was quivering, desperately seeking an explanation.
Rezette met her gaze, refusing to look away. “I didn’t do anything to you, did I? I let you go without touching you,” he replied, a hint of defiance in his words.
Her mind reeled, trying to make sense of his contradictory behavior. If he had no intention of truly being intimate with her, why had he displayed such an explicit passion at the inn? And those words he spoke, urging her to “get used to what’s mine” – were they just empty promises?
The dizziness overwhelmed her, and she felt a disconnection between her body and mind. It was clear that for Rezette, there were distinct principles he adhered to, but she couldn’t fathom why he had entered into a contract with her in the first place if his intentions were so conflicted.
“I heard that the members of the council explain how a dragon is conceived and born. I was born that way, too,” he divulged, his words heavy with a history that weighed on him.
Elise’s realization dawned, and her response was a mere whisper, “Ah….”
“A monster conceived out of fear, devouring its mother when born,” he continued, exposing the disturbing truth of his origins.
The revelation was chilling, and she could feel the weight of the burden he carried. “Those who, once blinded by lust, care nothing about what lies beneath and just plunge in like beasts. I’m not far from that kind either. That’s why I try to keep my distance even more,” he admitted, laying bare his inner struggles.
Elise realized that while Rezette might have provided the court physician with detailed information about the nature of dragons, each word he spoke was an unadulterated truth.
“Surely you don’t want to embrace someone like me.”
Elise hesitated for a moment before conceding, “…That, that’s right.”
His cold rejection sent a shiver down her spine, and silent whimpers escaped her trembling lips. The frustration within her was overwhelming, but his references to their past encounters rendered her speechless. Vulnerable and sensing the looming danger, she instinctively huddled her delicate shoulders, seeking some semblance of protection.
Rezette bit his tongue in frustration, torn between his conflicting emotions. Seeing Elise so visibly shaken, he couldn’t bring himself to push her any further. He knew he was testing her boundaries, yet he found it difficult to suppress his concern for her well-being.
Since their arrival in Rotiara, worries had plagued him incessantly. Elise’s pointed words had struck a chord, for he couldn’t indefinitely evade the obligations the contract bore, particularly when his own signature was inked upon it. He grappled with the predicament of how to navigate this complex connection with the young woman before him.
As if compelled by some unspoken force, Rezette’s hand moved to touch her long hair, its softness and warmth under his fingertips offering a momentary comfort. But he knew that avoiding her face wasn’t the answer, for his feelings weren’t as easily cooled as he had hoped.
Everything related to Elizabeth Aseica became a problem.
Having promised Elise a comfortable life in Rotiara, Rezette couldn’t simply keep her confined to the secluded high bedroom. Yet, he couldn’t allow her to roam freely either, for her beauty was like a beacon, drawing unwelcome attention from all corners. Men’s whispers and maids’ gossip followed her every step, and the more he pondered the situation, the more anger he felt.
His concern for her well-being seemed genuine, but lurking beneath, he wondered if it was merely an excuse to keep her close. Rebecca Petisson’s words haunted him: “It might be better to treat her like a precious collectible.”
Elise’s golden eyes glimmered with a mix of emotions as she shook her head, avoiding his touch. Her beauty remained as captivating as ever, and Rezette couldn’t help but marvel at the delicate patterns of her silver-gray eyebrows.
He gently cupped her cheek, lifting her face to meet his gaze. Beauty was not a sin, but the breathtaking allure she possessed had a magnetic quality that seemed almost sinful. The desire to possess her, to claim her as his own, had been stirring within him ever since he first caught a glimpse of her in the Argan Palace three years ago.
His fingertips traced the delicate contour of her cheek, and he couldn’t help but notice her flinch, as if ticklish. Elise’s sensitive ears seemed to react to the tender touch, and Rezette found himself quietly amused by his own curiosity.
This extraordinary woman played with his head and heart in separate ways, and her mesmerizing appearance left no one to blame but her enchanting allure. She could throw a fit, demanding why he didn’t hold her, all the while possessing such a captivating face. It was impossible for any man not to be captivated by her, and the frustrating situation only deepened.
But there was something comforting in the knowledge that he was the sole recipient of this side of her. The thought provided a measure of relief amidst the complex emotions swirling within him.
A precious collectible… It’s not entirely wrong.
And slowly, the answer began to crystallize within him.
He yearned to possess this radiant gem, to have her for himself, to bask in her beauty, at least for a time. He wanted to cherish her with utmost care, ensuring no mistakes that could lead to any harm. The thought of damaging such a resplendent beauty even once was a painful notion he couldn’t bear.
And so, with a soft sigh, Rezette reached a decision.