Elise couldn’t shake the feeling of unease that had settled over her as she lay in her bed. Today was the day she was leaving the castle, and the thought filled her with a mix of regret and fear.
She had been searching for a way out for the past three months, and when the opportunity presented itself three days ago, she knew she had to take it. But as she lay there, staring at the ceiling, memories of the man who had become her husband flooded her mind.
His strong, muscular arms wrapped around her as he slept, holding her tight in a vice-like embrace. She had been intimidated by his towering, muscular build at first, but now she was used to the suffocating weight of his body on top of hers. Even the thought of leaving him made her stomach twist with a feeling she couldn’t quite place.
She had lain there, motionless, throughout the dawn as he slept, her body tangled up with his. Last night had been rougher than usual, and a small, muffled smile crossed her lips as she remembered the way he had taken her. It had been a long time since they had been together like that, and the memory brought a sense of longing with it.
“It’s been a long time,” she whispered to herself. “It feels like forever since the full moon was around.”
Elise couldn’t help but think back on the past few months, the days that had flown by in a blur. There had been a time when his refusal to touch her had driven her to the brink of frustration, but now, after a proper night together, she had acted as if nothing was wrong. Their relationship had been strained at first, as he struggled to get her to accept him and she resisted his advances.
But he had been skilled, and her body had eventually been tamed. For the past three months, he had shown her that the human body was capable of enduring more pleasure than she could have ever imagined, and she had learned to make sounds of pleasure from her mouth. Even last night, as the pleasure coursed through her body like a bolt of lightning, she had moaned like a beast.
Now, she was used to Rezette Kyrstan, and the thought of leaving him was tearing her apart.
But now, she would never see him again.
For a moment, Elise’s heart was torn as she remembered the way he had gently tickled the tip of her nose and the words he had spoken at the beginning of their ridiculous contract marriage.
“It’s just a contract marriage. We’ll use each other by agreement.” His low, indifferent voice had been a harsh reminder of the reality of their relationship. They had used each other effectively, and if she had to guess, she would say that she had gotten the better end of the deal.
But despite all of her efforts, Elise had ultimately failed to fulfill the terms of their contract. She placed a hand on her still-flat belly, a mixture of emptiness and relief washing over her. She had had a check-up with a doctor a week ago and had been told that it would be difficult for her husband’s seed to take root in her weak womb. It wasn’t that she was a poor match for him, but rather that her body was not strong enough to bear his child.
“I will give birth to your child.” She had made the ridiculous promise without even knowing if it was possible.
Elise was well aware that her husband was not a man who would forgive easily. According to the terms of their contract, he would report her failure to Emperor Van Yela tomorrow, just half a year after their marriage. The enraged emperor would surely order her execution and send her head to the Ugel, a barbarian kingdom.
So when the opportunity presented itself, Elise knew she had to run. She gently pushed her false husband’s arm off of her waist and slipped out of his embrace, grateful for his deep sleep that made it easy for her to escape. Besides, he was particularly exhausted today, as it was only last night that he returned from a campaign.
Elise couldn’t help but feel a twinge of guilt as she looked at her husband’s sleeping figure. He was a cold man, but there had been moments when he had shown her unexpected kindness, confusing her even more. She had always felt a sense of regret when it came to him, and as she ran her fingers over his chiseled nose and full lips, she couldn’t help but feel a flutter of emptiness in her heart.
She remembered that he had never kissed her on the lips, not even on their wedding day. He would claim her body every night with a roughness that left her aching and sore, but he had never crossed that line, as if he had drawn a boundary that he refused to cross. He was a wise man, and Elise struggled to push down the emotions that were boiling up inside of her.
“Thank you,” she whispered, before quickly raising herself from the bed and getting dressed. She barely held back a moan as she stood up, her body aching and the inside of her thighs sore from the previous night’s activities. She had no time to wash herself before leaving, so she hastily wiped between her legs with a clean cloth before heading out of the room.
Her maid, Yvette Sa, was waiting for her outside and helped her get dressed. “You must go now, My Lady,” Yvette urged. “It is said that an envoy from the imperial family entered the border of Kyrstan last night.”
Elise’s heart skipped a beat at the news. It was only a matter of time before the envoy discovered her lies and reported back to Emperor Van Yela. She had to leave now, before it was too late.
“Okay. Let’s go right now.” Elise nodded, her heart heavy with guilt and sadness as she placed a note she had prepared for her husband on the side table. Without looking back, she quietly left the room, the contract marriage that had begun as a blatant lie coming to an end.
She didn’t know what the future held for her, but she knew that she had to leave this place and the man she had come to care for, even if it meant breaking her heart. She couldn’t bear the thought of facing the consequences of her lies, and so she walked away, not knowing where her journey would take her.