Aymon made the suggestion for Belinda’s sake, though not unaffected by his own impulses. Belinda smiled bitterly at the words.
Nordi quizzically tried to catch the attention of the girl, seemingly rooted to the ground.
Belinda quietly replied to Aymon.
“It’s all right. No need to kill anyone.”
She managed a stable tone. As she ran her hand through Aymon’s fur, she slowly calmed down.
It’s a relief I have Aymon.
“I wanted to stay here tonight. Give me your largest room, please.”
She said, slightly lifting her chin.
She’d get used to seeing his face. She’d admit, after seeing it for herself, that he was nothing compared to his past self.
“How many days are you planning to stay?”
Despite the much younger woman’s arrogant tone, Nordi smiled, rubbing his hands together.
He looked at her quiet yet confident eyes and clear complexion, common indicators of a wealthy upbringing. Although she wore plain clothes, she couldn’t hide her aura of elegance. Obviously, she was just an immature aristocrat girl traveling by.
He had to be as servile as possible.
Belinda handed over a few silver coins.
“I don’t know how long I’ll stay, but take this for today. You can keep the change.”
Nordi bowed deeply at the sight of the money, far exceeding the cost of a night’s board.
The absence of an escort driver outside the door made him even happier. He delighted in the thought of draining every last cent from the clueless girl.
“I’ll show you to your room, then. Come with me.”
Belinda followed him without much hesitation, listening to his useless ramblings about the Daffodil Festival and the local lord’s kindness as they walked down the dark hallway.
The simple fact that she was still with Nordi kept her tense.
That longstanding fear in her heart was very persistent, she felt better about it now, but back in the field, she couldn’t shake it off.
Still, she’d get used to it in a few days.
And then she’d be able to laugh at herself for struggling so much with a foolish fear of such an insignificant man.
「Breedee, are you sure you don’t want me to cut off his arms or his legs?」
Before she knew it, Aymon had wrapped around her shoulders.
Aymon bit a strand of her hair, not satisfied with the lack of an answer.
There were many things he could do right then, and many things he wanted to do.
He could bite him on the neck, and then he’d bleed. Aymon hated the smell of human blood, but if that made Belinda happy, he’d make sure there were pools of the innkeeper’s blood on the hallway floor daily.
Well, she didn’t want that.
Aymon rubbed against Belinda’s neck instead of continuing to think about his impulses.
Soft skin… A sweet smell… Even the blood in her thin veins was fragrant.
He slowly exhaled.
Belinda smiled, shrugging her shoulders, and Aymon’s expression hardened. He was trying to suppress his instincts, but they were only getting more urgent.
Instead, he burrowed under her arm, not to comfort her, but to try and calm himself down.
He closed his eyes and drew in a breath. His heart that had felt like a volcano threatening to erupt gradually calmed down.
Aymon was reminded of the smell of the man who was constantly turning around to say something to Belinda.
Well, as long as Breedee doesn’t know.
Aymon smiled as he imagined something.
“You’ll be staying in the best room we have at the inn, as you requested.”
Nordi said as he led them to the spacious third-floor room with views of the whole village.
Belinda recognized it – the room they always gave to wealthy-looking guests.
On the adjoining terrace, someone was watering the flowers. She turned around and headed towards them, wiping her hands on an apron.
It was Nordi’s wife, Mrs. Ribera.
Belinda observed her as she neared. She never beat or abused her, but she didn’t stop Nordi from doing it, either. Mrs. Ribera’s stone-cold gaze remained a vivid memory for Belinda.
“Are you a guest? The vases on the third floor are empty, I’ll go fill them up now.”
She said in a cheerful voice.
Belinda silently nodded.
“Do you have any preferences for flowers?”
Mrs. Rivera pressed on. Belinda, awkwardly trying to avoid eye contact, looked up again.
She was about to tell her not to worry about the flowers, but…
Mrs. Ribera’s eyes filled with surprise. So that’s why she looked familiar!
She looked at Belinda’s face more closely. Strange feelings had been settling in. Surprise. Shock. Suspicion. She didn’t know what to say.
But the moment Belinda looked at her, all her doubts hardened into conviction.
Nordi whipped around as soon as the word left her mouth.
He was dumbfounded.
Belinda? Belinda, the poor, shabby girl who used to work in the inn? He looked at her, astonished.
But soon a malicious smile set in.
He saw it now. The sparkling grey eyes and golden hair gave her away, even though there was little else left of her past appearance.
Yep. Belinda, without a doubt.
“It’s you, isn’t it? Oh my God, what are you doing here? Are you moving back?”
Mrs. Ribera asked. No wonder that voice sounded so unpleasant.
The child who used to work at the inn was back, all grown up, but she didn’t like the way she arrogantly came in, pretending to be a regular customer.
Nordi straightened up.
It was Belinda, an aristocrat, no, who’d made him think she was one.
He didn’t know where she came from or how she got here, but as soon as he realized that he was facing a filthy homeless orphan, his whole attitude changed.
How dare she live off him for so long, then come back pretending to be an aristocrat?
Even though she never said she was one, Nordi felt wronged.
“Belinda. It’s you.”
He laughed. Now he was indistinguishable from the person Belinda once knew.
Belinda pursed her lips and turned away. There was a strange tension in the air.
Nordi never got smaller – he just hid from who she thought he was.
He grabbed her forearm.
“After you disappeared, there were some rumors that you were sold to traffickers. You got sold to a rich nobleman and properly loved, didn’t you?”
“You must have been thrown out again if you’re back here.”
“But you still have enough pride to come in here with your head held high.”
Nordi kept on talking, gaining no reaction from Belinda.
Her expression gradually calmed down, along with Aymon’s.
This was exactly why Aymon hated humans. Everyone said that animals were always cruel to the weak and submissive to the powerful, but the truth was that none of them could come near human cruelty.
He wanted to pounce right that moment.
Breedee told me not to.
Aymon held onto that religiously – if Belinda told him not to do something, he wouldn’t. And she wanted him to be a nice house cat. For now.
Belinda took a big breath and stepped closer to Nordi.
She got the opportunity to look at him more closely, with his smug know-it-all expression. He was the one who inflicted all that misery on her, alright. Now she felt like she was facing him properly.
“Just show me to my room. I’m tired.”
Ignoring her, Nordi came closer with a grin.
“I know exactly what happened to you. Some aristocrat kicked you out, right? And now you want to keep on bragging about it.”
“Then you had no choice but to come here because you don’t have any connections or any other place to go. You’re too proud to sell your body, and now you’ve come right back like a runaway dog.”
Belinda listened with a stiff face before finally smiling.
She was grateful for Nordi’s behavior. Now that he was acting like that, she could do whatever she wanted.
He crossed his arms and continued in an arrogant tone.
“Aren’t I right? If you didn’t get kicked out, you’d have an escort instead of just hanging around by yourself.”
He was ignorant, but not completely stupid – or at least, so he thought. He smiled, convinced that he’d understood the situation.
Belinda strode towards him, about to do something no one expected of her.
Her palm left a red mark on the man’s face.
“Oh my God!”
Mrs. Ribera cried out from behind her.
Nordi was surprised to feel the hand against his face.
What’s going on?
He didn’t quite grasp the situation.
What nonsense is this?!
His surprise made him slow to react. Just when the anger took over him, Belinda swiftly kicked him in the shin.
Aymon looked on, interested in the debacle, as Nordi stumbled back and screamed.