“I don’t want any misunderstandings,” Elise whispered, her eyes locked onto Rezette’s. “But it keeps feeling like it’s going to happen.”
Rezette’s brow furrowed, his gaze intense. “Again, precisely, Elise. It’s hard for me to understand the meaning.”
Elise felt a knot form in her throat, her emotions a turbulent sea she was struggling to navigate. She turned her gaze away, her voice trembling as she continued, “Just because you keep forgetting that what we did was a mutual contract.”
Suppressing her emotions, Elise swallowed hard, as if pushing her feelings down deep within her. She took a deep breath and continued, her words flowing like a river seeking its course.
“The contract was something both of us entered into willingly. If it weren’t for me, you would have had to endure the pressure of being the emperor’s successor for years to come. I don’t want that for you. It’s true that a successor is needed.”
Rezette remained silent, his thoughts hidden behind a mask of contemplation.
“So,” Elise continued, her voice softer now, laced with vulnerability, “I want to do something for you too. It’s not just about me trying to save my own life; I also want to bear your child.”
In the stillness of the night, a glimmer appeared in Rezette’s eyes as he listened to Elise’s heartfelt words. She, lost in her own thoughts, lightly brushed her fingertips against the back of his hand.
“You’re curious too,” she said, her voice barely above a whisper.
Eventually, Rezette let out a sigh, a sound that was almost a bitter laugh. As expected, he realized that what he had captured was nothing sort of a rabbit or a squirrel but undoubtedly a cunning fox.
“You shouldn’t say such things easily,” Rezette cautioned.
It was getting harder by the moment, resisting the allure of this woman. Her eyes, so innocent and pure, held a mysterious power over him. How did she manage to say things that set a man’s heart racing without even trying? Was she born to ensnare souls with her words?
Elise, having thrown out her words, now appeared embarrassed. Her voice softened as she continued, “You said you’d come back soon.”
Rezette nodded, his resolve unwavering. “Yes.”
“Remember that Rotiara without you isn’t a place where I can find rest.”
Silence hung in the air like a fragile thread.
“And don’t get hurt,” she added, her voice carrying a hint of worry.
Elise’s hand moved as if it were about to rest on Rezette’s back. It inched closer, brushed his dorsum briefly, then retreated like a fleeting dream.
“The most revered magician on the continent is dead too,” she whispered. “There’s no guarantee that the transformation won’t happen. A strong power that erupts explosively can also hurt itself. So be careful.”
“Take care,” Rezette replied. He resisted the urge to say more, knowing that if he did, he might succumb to the magnetic pull between them, drawing her closer and sealing their lips in a fiery kiss. Instead, he reached for the hand she had withdrawn earlier and held it firmly.
Elise blushed, her gaze averted, but she didn’t pull her hand away from his grasp.
“When are you leaving?” she inquired.
Rezette hesitated briefly before responding, “In the early morning.”
“Then, can you bid me farewell before you go?” Her request was laced with a hint of longing.
“I will come up,” he assured her, his heart carrying the weight of an invisible chain that bound them together.
The chain, imperceptible to all but Rezette, seemed to grow heavier whenever he was near Elise. Each time it tightened, desire coursed through him like an electric shock. With the impending madness on the horizon, his resistance had become a formidable fortress.
Frustration and suffocation clawed at him relentlessly. Lately, it seemed that all he could do was hold her hand, wrap his arms around her shoulders, or gently touch her waist.
I’m losing control, Rezette thought, his fingers grazing the smooth skin of Elise’s hand as he swallowed a frustrated sigh.
Yet, amidst the torment, there was a silver lining. At least, there would be no need for the bloodshed that had haunted his nightmares. Perhaps, he could also ensure her safety before he left, unlike the last time.
This was unprecedented, a challenge he had never faced before. If he could only endure this period and return, the relentless symptoms would naturally subside. Releasing the pent-up desire that had been building for months might be the key to salvation.
“If anything happens in the castle, send me a letter immediately,” Rezette instructed, his gaze reluctantly leaving the tantalizing sight of Elise’s slender thighs beneath her shawl. He signaled for a maid, and a surprised Ivetsa hurriedly brought a single blanket to wrap Elise tightly.
As promised, Rezette returned to the bedroom early the following morning. In the hazy state between dreams and wakefulness, Elise heard his voice close to her, whispering softly. By the time she woke up again, the sun was already high in the sky, and the study was empty.
It marked the second day since Rezette had left the castle, and the atmosphere was charged with uncertainty.
On this day, with the castle left unattended by its master, an unexpected visitor arrived.