Elise couldn’t bear to release herself from the tight embrace. A presence seemed to press against her skin, sending shivers down her spine. Ivetsa had once told her that it was a clear sign of a man’s arousal, even if he didn’t have any romantic feelings.
“Do desire and feelings always go hand in hand?” Elise had asked Ivetsa, seeking to understand.
The answer had surprised her. “Not necessarily, Your Highness. Desire can exist even without emotional attachment.”
Initially, Elise was taken aback, unsure of how to react to this revelation. But after experiencing it a couple of times, she realized these moments were opportunities she couldn’t ignore.
‘Should I lead him into the bedroom like this?!’ Elise wondered, feeling a mix of excitement and hesitation.
Trying to push him away, she found him resolute, unmoving like a steadfast tree. He sighed softly, urging her to listen to what he had to say.
“I didn’t mean to avoid you. My knight duties have kept me occupied during the evenings,” Rezette explained.
“But Ruben said you find time to spar with the other knights. Can’t you spare some time for our promise? Time-wise, it should be similar, right?”
“Similar?” Rezette looked at her, a blend of surprise and amusement in his eyes. He narrowed his gaze briefly, then returned to his usual indifferent demeanor as their eyes met again.
“Well, it’s not quite the same,” he muttered, struggling to explain.
“You keep doing this…” Elise expressed her frustration.
“Sparing with the knights is part of my duty. It’s different from this,” he clarified.
Now Elise understood why he reacted this way. Whenever there were many things to address, but it felt bothersome or tedious to explain, he would choose to close himself off and hide his emotions like that. It seemed easier for him to end the conversation and let her think what she wanted. Every time he acted like this, Elise found him puzzling. Were all men so difficult to understand?
A transparent drop of water welled up precariously in her golden eyes.
“…Am I bothersome to you?” she asked, her voice quivering.
“It’s not like that,” he replied.
“Is it that my promise with you is not your ‘duty’?”
“Don’t call me that. Why do you address me as ‘Your Highness’ when you won’t even obey my orders? Is it just about maintaining formalities?”
Elise’s tears threatened to spill over, and Rezette found himself torn between conflicting emotions. Part of him was drawn selfishly to her beauty, desiring to witness more of her vulnerable side. Yet, another part, like the day he plunged a dagger into his own body, urged him to stop such extreme actions. Elise’s voice trembled as she began to sob.
“Do you really find me pretty?” she asked.
“Of course, you are,” he replied.
“No matter who you ask, you’ll get the same answer.”
“What others think of me isn’t that important. It’s about your taste,” Elise retorted with frustration. “I don’t want to act shamelessly in front of a man who doesn’t even like me. I know some people would do anything to please someone they like, but isn’t it different when it’s me?”
The discussion about tastes was amusing. Would she really be so infatuated as to be obsessed like this?
But then, her attention was caught by the man standing before her. He tilted his head slightly, seemingly contemplating what to do. The sunlight streamed in from the window, casting a slanted line across his face.
With a nose that appeared sculpted by the gods, a resolute mouth exuding silent authority, and a sharply defined jawline emanating masculinity, her gaze moved from one captivating feature to another. Reflected in his sapphire-blue eyes, she saw herself exposed, with high saturation like sapphires.
Every time she looked at him, he seemed like a perfectly chiseled statue. His exquisite looks, impeccably toned muscles, and strong presence overwhelmed anyone who beheld him.
In the end, Elise failed to find any flaws in him, and her melancholy only deepened. Elise sighed in resignation. Enough, she thought, I should give up. She bit her lip and turned her head, hoping to avoid him.
“…I’ll go in now. Lady Pettinson said the seamstress would come in the afternoon…”
“You won’t escape from me that easily,” he remarked.
Confused, Elise asked, “What do you mean?”
“I mean, I’m aware of my preferences.”
Suddenly, a strong arm enveloped her waist, and Rezette locked eyes with her as he patted her back gently.
“The seamstress will be handled. You need not worry about anyone touching your body without my permission in the future.”