Irene’s eyes flickered here and there. She awkwardly rubbed the nape of her neck and spoke.
“Ah, I rolled down the stairs.”
It was one of the most common excuses that a person would use if someone discovered the abuse they were experiencing.
Considering how naturally she made an excuse without hesitation, it also meant that she was exposed to violence frequently.
Moreover, since Irene had left the Amber mansion and was going to sleep at the Chamberlain mansion tonight, he could roughly guess what was going on.
He knew a considerable amount about the Amber family. He even knew that Claudia had paid off all of the Amber family’s debts.
Since they were close friends, he just lightly glossed over that issue and moved on from it.
Felix looked at Irene’s puffy and bruised cheek and felt his anger continuously rise out of nowhere.
Even when the stray cat he often saw appeared with an unknown wound, his anger would flare up and boil inside him.
Furthermore, Irene was a benefactor of the family who rescued Claudia from the endless cycle of helplessness.
Felix had been afraid of hurting her in the case that he inadvertently treated her rashly, so he didn’t even talk to her properly, and he merely just watched her from afar.
It didn’t matter if she didn’t allow him to approach her. There was nothing to be disappointed about since he hadn’t hoped for anything when he considered the idea of taming her.
It wasn’t bad just to watch her eat delicious foods, be happy, and chatter. Felix just wanted to give her this and that. He wished to tame her in that manner.
It was only now that Felix realized that he knew nothing about Irene’s situation.
He felt like he finally discovered why she was infinitely kind to women but built up a wall whenever she met a man like him. Someone made it like that.
Felix struggled to contain his emotions.
“I’ll heal you.”
“No, this much can be treated with potions.”
Irene continued on and told him that her family was poor, so it wasn’t easy to obtain any potions.
In the past, she would have had no choice but to wait for several days until the swelling and bruises disappeared and healed, but now she was extremely lucky and had this method available.
“In the past, you must have rolled down the stairs often.”
“…I’m a little clumsy.”
When he pointed out the loophole in her words, she added another ridiculous excuse.
Clumsy? Even though he, himself, didn’t have many conversations with her, from what he had heard from Claudia, she was on the ‘smart’ side.
Above all, he had never heard of a cat rolling down the stairs.
The cat was unusually talkative today. It seemed like a wounded wild animal desperately trying to hide its pain.
Come to think of it, the more injured a cat, the stronger it would reject human touch.
If this happened often, he worried about where she would go every time she got hurt. At this rate, he would want to bring the stray cat home.
“My magic is certainly more effective than the potion.”
For the first time since meeting Irene, Felix spoke in a firm voice.
However, Irene’s body hardened, and her eyes widened as if she was very startled. He felt guilty, so he quickly returned to his polite tone and whispered soothingly.
“It breaks my heart to see Lady Amber injured. Would you please allow me to heal you?”
Irene then nibbled on her lip and seemed to hesitate for a while before she responded.
“Well, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s healed.”
Truthfully, it was actually a gamble. If Felix wanted to tame her steadily, it would have been better to place a potion in her hands.
But, for some reason, he didn’t want to do that.
After coaxing Irene, who kept stepping back multiple times, Felix finally persuaded her to let him touch her injury.
Felix gently stroked Irene’s swollen cheek with his fingers.
Even though it was just a slight brush, Irene furrowed her brows as if she tasted something bitter.
A burst of white light emerged from Felix’s hand, and the bruise immediately healed.
He lightly touched her soft cheek on impulse, pretending to check that it healed properly.
Her eyes slightly closed, and she tilted her head.
Irene curiously pressed her smooth cheek as if it was fascinating. As she pressed down on her cheek, her lips opened again in a triangular shape.
It seemed like she was confirming that there was no pain when pressed.
It was just a trivial act. It wasn’t even worth observing it carefully.
It perplexed him, but Felix always followed Irene’s every move with his own eyes.
Just because he continuously compared her to a cat, it didn’t make her a real cat.
Perhaps it was similar to how one would endlessly observe cute animals with all their attention and gaze.
Suddenly, he had the urge to pinch that cheek. However, this nonsensical impulse was merely just a thought.
“Thank you. You’re so kind.”
If it had been swollen and bruised, he would never have seen it.
Irene smiled brightly, and the dimples that Felix previously had no choice but to look at from afar appeared on both cheeks.
She smiled for the first time.
Her close-up smile was different from when he had watched from a distance.
Felix felt as if that impression was being engraved into his heart.
* * *
Aside from the fact that the cat casually intervened in his daily life, the days continued as usual.
By the time he got into a habit of wearing glasses, he learned more about Irene’s circumstances.
It wasn’t just a family with debt. She almost got sold to Carlisle, the city of chaos, by her own father’s hand. It was hard to believe even after hearing it with his own ears.
He was familiar with the stories of the miserable and horrendous fate of those who ended up in the city of chaos. His heart pounded at the thought that if Claudia had been one step behind, such a thing might have happened to Irene.
Viscount Amber, who had no sense of responsibility to protect his family, was not worthy of having family by his side.
Step by step, he devised a plan to bring Irene into the Chamberlain family. He couldn’t let her become accustomed to violence like this.
First of all, her brother, Liam Amber, who was exposed to a dangerous situation like Irene, escaped to the Academy through Claudia.
They tried to temporarily evacuate Irene to the Academy through a direct proposal by Hugo, the head of the Chamberlains, but it was declined.
She responded that it was more than enough to allow her younger brother to study. She didn’t mean to cause so much trouble for the Chamberlains.
He heard from Claudia that Irene had a lot of knowledge.
Although she wouldn’t even know the basic principles for some topics, she was better than an expert for others. It was peculiar that she had a lot of miscellaneous knowledge.
From that alone, it was clear that it wasn’t because she had no desire to learn. Instead, it seemed like she was willingly giving it up for her younger brother.
Thanks to this, it became a little complex. They couldn’t bring her to the Chamberlains without any reason, and now he was more worried about Irene since she was left alone at home without her younger brother.
Then Claudia said something ridiculous.
“I’ll confess. I want us to live together forever.”
He wondered what she meant back then, but he really didn’t expect her to confess in front of everyone in the banquet hall.
Although he knew beforehand that she would occasionally have quirky and impulsive tendencies, he couldn’t believe he missed that scene. It was regrettable that he couldn’t attend the banquet due to personal reasons.
‘But in that case…’
The three men who were madly obsessed with Claudia wouldn’t have stayed still.
Felix promptly headed straight for the Amber residence. As expected, the assassins soon arrived at the scene.
He didn’t want to wake up the sensitive slumbering cat, so he took care of everything neatly and then brought her to the Chamberlains.
She wouldn’t get hurt anymore. He was just so relieved.
The fact that he could now take care of her without hesitation and Irene couldn’t refuse his help contributed to his joy.
He also learned that Irene preferred grapefruit tarts more than macarons. And among all the sweets, candy was the worse.
But when did it start?
“You know what? Even if you turn into a demon, I’ll hug you to hell.”
Maybe it was from that day.
No, it was from way before then.
Those painfully beautiful and endearing words that she said merely made him greedy to the point where he was no longer satisfied by just watching her.
He thought he was getting wet from a light drizzle, but his whole life was actually now filled with her.
Long before Felix could properly tame the cat, he realized that he was the one who had been helplessly tamed by it.
* * *
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