Having imprinted a mark on Elise’s neck, Rezette abstained from further intimacy. Mornings would find him fleetingly visiting the bedroom, vanishing like a specter before Elise could fully awaken.
Yesterday, however, marked a change. Elise descended to his office and stationed herself there the entire day. Curiously, Rezette offered no resistance. Instead, he adorned the table before her with an array of delectable desserts: cherry compote, wine-infused pear tart reminiscent of festival sights, clover sugar preserves, and cheesecake kissed by elderflower and rosewater. The creations readily attainable were presented in the wake of the accomplished chef’s return, his countenance reflecting satisfaction.
I tried to create the atmosphere like back then when there’s a chance, but to miss the opportunity over a cake…
To temper the fervent emotions and savor the moment, she attacked the desserts with gusto. Later, she ascended to dine, headed straight to bed, only to awaken for another breakfast. To stretch the truth a tad, her days now seemed centered around consuming like an insatiable piglet.
But, as a result, a plumpness had returned to her cheeks. The once-pale Parisian hue had been restored, as if the rains of time had washed away the pallor of yesteryears.
Recently, Elise had been basking in a streak of vibrant health, experiencing days of undeniable vitality. There were no disqualifications, no impediments. She found herself musing, “Should I just pounce on him when he arrives tomorrow morning?” It seemed as if all she had to do was release the reins and cross that final threshold.
Lost in these contemplations, Elise exhaled a profound sigh and paused. Her mind had begun to wander unnecessarily. Doubts crept in. “What if I did and end up being thrown out?” she pondered aloud.
Ivetsa chimed in, “Who on earth would do such a thing?”
Elise was ready to respond when a sudden jolt of surprise disrupted her intentions. Heavy footfalls drew closer—an impending presence that sent a ripple of concern through her. Oh no.
“Who would dare throw out Your Highness?” Rezette’s voice, initially assured, faltered as he approached the bedroom. His words hung suspended, swallowed back.
Before him, seated before a grand mirror, sat the woman in question, her eyes registering astonishment as they met his. Silver curls framed her figure, partially veiling her. The mirror revealed even the angles hidden from his vantage point, creating an oddly charged silence within the room.
Momentarily disoriented, Rezette’s gaze shifted awkwardly aside. “Surely, this isn’t your form of protest?” he asked, his voice tinged with a reddening embarrassment.
Even as her cheeks flushed from the unforeseen ambush, Elise found herself confounded. Protest? Her? She reacted defensively, “Absolutely not. It’s not like you intentionally barged in while I was in the midst of this, right?”
“I never said that.”
“Your words are spot-on. I didn’t undress for the purpose of displaying myself to you…”
Elise’s sentence hung in the air, a sudden realization interrupting her thoughts. The puzzle she had been mulling over suddenly unraveled. Hadn’t he come here on his own accord? A perfect chance, indeed.
With a determined motion, Elise adjusted her chemise and rose from her seat. Flustered ears sought refuge behind a curtain of hair. “So, are you here to verify?” she inquired.
Rezette, puzzled, queried, “What do you mean?”
“You mentioned it to me last time.”
As Elise drew nearer, Rezette executed an exaggerated gesture, evading her advance entirely. Suppressing her rising frustration, Elise grasped his forearm. “This is the opportune moment to check.”
Rezette struggled to maintain eye contact, avoiding lowering his gaze below her shoulders. “I don’t necessarily need a direct confirmation. Your medical records arrive daily, Your Highness.”
“Does my weight make an appearance in those records too?”
The response, casual with a touch of irony, left her feeling deflated. Elise’s lip found itself caught between her teeth.
“You’re really being mean.”
Her vexation, more a weary resignation that refused to manifest as tears, painted her face in telling hues. Without a spoken word, a light summer shawl settled upon Elise’s shoulders as she turned away. Following suit, tender arms enfolded her, warming her back and shoulders.
For a moment, Elise held her breath, and then it was released slowly, like the soft exhale of a breeze. “This, you know, doesn’t exactly comfort me.”
This situation typically left her befuddled by the man who presently held her from behind. He could be maddeningly inconsistent. A delicate peck found its way to the nape of Elise’s neck.
“I get it,” he replied.
“But still, don’t be mad.”
“Why shouldn’t I be mad? It’s as if it doesn’t even faze you whether I’m angry or not.”
“I’ll be gone for a while.”
Ah, yes. Elise recognized the pattern. Affection seemed to surface in him only when he had regretful news for her. She inhaled deeply, mastering her emotions.
“Can I know the reason?”
“My cycle usually returns once every four months.”
Cycle? About to inquire about what kind of cycle he meant, realization dawned upon Elise. The term clicked into place—his words referred to the time when the dragon’s cycle took place.