“What do you think matters most to a person who has just been fired?” asked Alan.
“Finding another job?” said Siana.
“Exactly,” said Alan.
“You offered him a job?” asked Alan.
“Yeah,” he said, “I offered him a job as a butler at another villa I was given. Not here, obviously.”
“I see,” said Siana, “Why was he fired in the first place? Seeing a butler being fired is such a rare occurrence.”
“Anthony went around saying that the viscount was after you,” said Alan, “That was why he was fired.”
“Is it a good idea to hire a butler like him?” asked Siana. She knew that Anthony had helped them, and she was grateful for it but for a butler, his words and his loyalty was of the utmost importance. A butler always had to be careful of his words because he would have sensitive information about the household, he worked in. Siana could not hide her displeasure at Anthony.
“That’s why I put him in the villa,” said Alan, “Even if he runs his mouth there, it won’t do anyone any harm. Besides, he saved us at court. And he has helped me before.”
“Anthony? How did he help you before?” asked Siana, confused.
“Do you remember when I first came to propose to you?”
“I can never forget that.”
“Well,” said Alan, “I had planned to go to the capital a few weeks later. There were rules regarding my curse, so I had to follow the protocols. But I wanted to know where you were, so I sent a subordinate out, in my place.”
“Then you met Anthony?” asked Siana.
“Not that we met, really,” said Alan, “I dropped by a bar and overheard someone say that a man was going around telling people that Viscount North was after you for his new marriage. That was how I found out about him.”
“Don’t tell me… you came ahead of time just because of that,” said Siana. “To propose to me.”
“It is true,” said Alan, “I didn’t know if you had married someone already, someone better than me until then. But I thought you might get married to that vile viscount because you had no choice.”
Siana opened her mouth and closed it again. She was at a loss for words. She looked at Alan instead.
“I was really frantic and afraid that I might lose you to someone like him,” said Alan, “I didn’t want you to be in his hands.” Alan’s voice faltered.
Siana could feel the emotions in his words as he spoke, fear, horror, anger and other emotions enveloped in his words. She remembered him being so distressed when he came to meet her. He had seemed frantic. It was because of me…
An indescribable emotion rose in her. She bit her lower lip. “but everything is okay now,” said Alan, “Everything is alright, and you are here, by my side. So, I feel spectacular.”
“What if I am not okay with it?” asked Siana.
“You may be fine with everything,” said Siana, “But I am not.”
Alan was befuddled by her reaction. He looked into her eyes. Siana had no intention of quieting down so she continued to speak, “I have said this countless times before. Don’t try to do everything on your own. If ever something like this happens, you tell me honestly. Just as I seek your help every time, I have a problem, you must rely on me when you need to, as well.”
“I already did that last time…”
“That’s not what I am talking about!” barked Siana, angrily. She pushed his hands away that was trying to hold her close.
At her rejection, Alan dropped his hands and looked down. Siana winced. “Now that you brought it up, I have something to say,” said Alan, “Can I ask you to do it?”
“What is it?” she asked.
“Promise me first that you will agree,” he said.
“promise you without even knowing what it is?” said Siana.
“Yeah,” said Alan, “And if you don’t listen to me, you have to do whatever I tell you to do.”
“That means I have to agree with it regardless of my promise to you,” said Siana.
Alan looked frustrated that Siana was making sense. “You think I am some idiot?” he asked.
She was speechless at his retort. He was always doing this, spinning his words around to confuse her like the first night they had shared together.
“Just say it,” said Siana, “Then I will think about whether or not I agree to it.”
“Can’t you just agree?” asked Alan, “Have I ever done anything to harm you or put you in an uncomfortable position?”
Siana suddenly thought about herself naked in bed with him. She was absolutely sure that Alan wouldn’t do anything to harm her ever, but she was worried he would come up with some condition to sleep with her again. She felt uncomfortable but she looked over at him and noticed his seriousness. He wouldn’t ask her something so absurd with such a serious look on his face, she thought.
“Alright,” said Siana, “I promise. So, what is it?”
“Nothing special,” said Alan, “I just want to hear you say something for me”
“Oh, what is it?” she asked.
“What you said earlier in the courtroom today,” he said, “I want to hear it again.”
“What…,” She wondered what se had said and then remembered her confession in the courtroom.
“You want me to say it right now?” asked Siana, “Again?”
“Yeah,” said Alan, smiling.
“Just once, Sia,” said Alan, “Please say it like you did that time.”
“Wait… that time I…”
“You didn’t want to?” he asked.
His face had a questioning look on it. Siana didn’t want to disappoint him. “I meant what I said,” she said.
“Then say it again,” he said.
“Okay, okay,” she said, “I will say it.”
Alan’s face lit up and he grinned. Well, in any case, I was going to confess to him, thought Siana, doesn’t matter if I do it now or later.
She looked at him. Her lips trembled as they didn’t open. But she realized that if she didn’t say it now, she would regret it for the rest of her life. She heaved a long sigh and opened her mouth to utter the words. The words had been in her mind for the billionth time, but it still felt awkward to utter them aloud.
“I love you,” she said it softly. She wasn’t sure if he had heard her, so she said it one more time. “Alan, I love you.”
“Yeah,” said Alan.
That jolted Siana back to the present. Yeah?! He was just going to say ‘yeah’? Really? She felt embarrassed. She had expected him to say it back too but the fact that he didn’t, felt like a disappointing shock.
Siana didn’t say anything. She was trying to understand what happened, but he didn’t respond after that. His silence troubled her. She looked over at him and he burst out laughing in the end.
His laughter had no end. It gradually got louder. Siana, who had no idea why he was acting this way, stared at him. She frowned as she realized why he was acting this way. She couldn’t understand what was funny. Alan had always teased her, but never in a serious situation like this.
Siana glared at him. Alan stopped laughing and finally realized the seriousness of the situation. “I am sorry,” he said, “Are you mad at me?”
“Of course, I am mad at you!” shot Siana, “Do I look like a clown to you? It took me a lot of courage to say that you are just laughing at it.”
She got even angrier after saying it and fidgeted with her hands. Alan apologized again. “I am sorry Sia,” he said, “Every time I ever confessed to you, you wouldn’t answer me. So, I would get really upset later.”
Siana gritted her teeth. He had said that he loved her so many times, but his confession had always been greeted with silence from her side. She had worried about it, she had felt guilty about it. But she had never laughed at him.
“But how could you laugh at me like that?” she asked.
“I wasn’t laughing at you precisely,” he said, “I apologize.
Siana sighed and let it go. If I wasn’t feeling guilty, I would never have forgiven you, Siana said inwardly. Siana could have held onto this and made him suffer for it but she would be the one feeling guilty, so she let it go.
“I will let you go off easy just this once,” said Siana, “Next time, I won’t. I am serious!”
“Alright,” he said with a smile, “Thank you, Sia.”
“Whatever,” she said, “Just answer me.”
“Answer you?” asked Alan.
“I just said I love you,” said Siana, “What’s your answer to that?” Siana asked, raising her index finger at him. At that, Alan lowered his head and placed a kiss on her lips. The feel of his lips on hers made her widen her eyes.
“Did you ask for a kiss?”
“I did not!”
“Really? I thought you did since you waved your finger in my face.”
The moment she opened her mouth to reprimand him for it, he took her face in his hands. “I love you, Sia,” he said. Siana forgot whatever she had wanted to say and gazed up at him. He always pretended to not know what she was talking about, but this time, she wasn’t annoyed or angry.
“I love you, too,” she whispered back, looking into his eyes.
Alan smiled warmly and lowered his head for another kiss. This time, Siana did not push him away. She wrapped her arms around his neck and met his lips. It was a kiss full of passion, warmth and sweetness like the spring sun shining upon them.