‘But… which one is the room he’s staying in? Is it the left one? Or the right one?’
After thinking hard like that, I realized how useless my thoughts were when I came out of the room.
Because the room which I was staying in was the last room from the stairs, there was only one room that I could say as ‘next room’.
I was standing in front of the next room door, took a deep breath, and reached out my hand to knock on the door.
The sound of knocking the door should have brought a response, but it was quite inside.
‘Is he already sleeping?’
If that was the case then I had no choice but to go back.
Because there’s no way I could wake up a sleeping person.
It was the moment when I turned to return to the room where I was staying, but there was a sound of the door opening.
Caleb appeared with his voice which sounded puzzled.
At the same time, my body became stiff.
It has been stated that when we are truly surprised, our heads and minds become white.
That, I suppose, is what occurred to me right now.
I stared blankly at Caleb.
His silver hair was wet and lay gently on his face, whether he had washed it or not. His shirt’s tip of the collar was likewise soaking wet.
If it had only that much, I wouldn’t be so embarrassed.
I found my gaze unconsciously trying to look down.
However, there I could see it at first glance.
I mean, Caleb’s abs.
I could see his firm chest and abs through the open shirt, because he only buttoned the half of the bottom of his shirt.
As he was usually neat and tidy, I found it embarrassing seeing him in his disheveled state.
“Why did you come to see me?”
It was Caleb’s voice that made me regain my sense.
“I-I’d like to thank you.”
“To thank me, does that mean……”
“I heard you’ve saved me, Duke. That’s why I knocked on the door but there was no response, so I thought you were sleeping but then you came out like this. Did I wake you up?”
“No. I just finished washing up.”
‘Oh my!’ I thought to myself as I heard Caleb’s response.
It was evident that he was just washed up, even if he didn’t say it. I can’t believe I just asked him if I woke him up.
Shame came upon my foolish behavior.
To the point where I want to hide if there’s a rat hole.
“……more than that, did you come at this hour just to tell me that?”
“I asked if you came in this hour just to thank me.”
Caleb’s voice, asking so, was even lower than his usual tone.
Not only his voice, but his gaze also seemed to sink low.
‘Is he angry?’
Well, of course he would be angry.
Who would come at this hour just to say thank you?
I had a belated regret.
I realized at this point that the only motive I came to visit Caleb at this hour was to fulfill my ego. I was just thinking about myself.
“I apologize. I thought that it would be better if I thanked you faster. I apologize I’ve bothering you.”
I should have thought a little more before deciding. Because I was supposed to go back to the theater and I thought there would be no chance for me to thank him except this time that I was in a hurry……
Caleb didn’t say anything.
He only looked at me, which I didn’t know what his gaze meant at all, then lowered his eyes and exhaled deeply.
Then he looked at me.
“I understand how you feel. So you’d better go back to your room now.”
“……Yes. I will do that. I am sorry.”
“You don’t have to be sorry.”
How could that be?
To someone who was upset because of me.
“This will never happen again. Then, good night and have a nice rest.”
It was when I was about to turn around.
At his voice calling my name, I stopped and looked at Caleb.
“I say this just in case, but I hope you don’t think that I am upset because of you. It is not because of you.”
I was taken aback by his gaze, which seemed to penetrate right through me.
“Really? I thought my actions were disturbing and made you feel bad, Duke.”
“It’s not like that. What makes me feel bad is……”
Caleb’s voice was still low.
After clapping his lips several times, he shook his head as if he had given up trying to say something.
“No. It is not because of you. It is because of myself so please do not be concerned about it.”
“Because of yourself? What do you mean, Duke?”
“I apologize. It is hard for me to tell you that.”
There’s no way I could roughly understand what Caleb felt.
I meant…… what’s there for him to be angry at himself?
“Is it because you gave me artificial respiration?”
For a moment, Caleb’s body shuddered.
Not only that, he even turned his gaze away, avoiding me.
‘I guess that’s true.’’
In fact, it was easy to infer considering Caleb’s character.
Because he was such a man who proposed to me before, saying that he would take responsibility for putting his mouth on my body to get rid of the poison when I was poisoned by Rykel.
So he must have felt guilty for similar reasons this time.
‘On the other hand, I……’
I only focused on the fact that my lips and Caleb’s touched, imagining it alone, and even touched my own lips in excitement.
I couldn’t believe I only thought about the licentiousness when the other person blamed himself like that.
When I understand Caleb’s situation, I feel sorry for him.
“Please do not be concerned about it, Duke. As I said before, that was just for treatment. You don’t have to think deeply or blame yourself.”
Come to think of it, that is the second time Caleb has saved my life.
‘How can I repay this favor?’
If I simply thank him, it is somehow lacking. Because it’s already the second time he saved me.
“Are you fine with that?”
“I thought you came because you’re angry at me. I did it to save you but I kissed your lips in the process.”
No, I mean, if you say it like that, I am a little embarrassed.
“K-kiss? What do you mean by kiss? It was just slightly touched…… and as you said, you did that to save me. I just wanted to say thank you for saving me.”
“And, uh, do not worry about it. I am fine. I’d be concerned if it were someone else, but it’s fine since it’s you, Duke.”
The ending of the words was my selfishness.
I mean, there would be no chance for me to kiss someone I like.
To be honest, it was such a shame because I had no memory of that moment.
Even if it’s just something he did to save my life.
“Are you saying it’s okay because it’s me?”
“Yes. Because I don’t think you did it with any other intention, Duke.”
Caleb recited in a low voice.
When I heard him reciting it like that, I thought I might say something wrong in my words.
‘What should I do? Should I correct my words?’
However, I can’t think of any other words to say instead.
I could hear Caleb’s voice above my head as I was agonizing.
When I looked up, I saw Caleb’s face, which was more shaded than ever.
Was it because of that?
Caleb’s eyes and the atmosphere surrounding him both were unfamiliar.
I waited for what he had to say, nervously.
Soon, his voice heard, along with some tremor in it.
“You have a tendency to put too much trust in me. That makes me so delighted……”
“On one hand, I am afraid.”
His expression was full of guilt and agony as he spoke slowly, something I had not noticed before hearing it.
For a while, I couldn’t say anything.
Because I needed time to figure out what Caleb meant to me.
But no matter how hard I thought about it, I couldn’t figure out what he was trying to say.
As if clawing the floor, the voice cracked low.
“If you knew what I’m thinking right now, you’ll despise me.”
“I can not believe I despise you…… I would do something like that, Duke.”
I am not sure if it’s you who will despise me instead.
I barely swallowed the words that reached the end of my throat.
Even now, Caleb wouldn’t know that I approached him at the request of the Crown Prince.
“Can you be sure?”
“I mean, can you ensure that I don’t have any other intentions for you?”
Caleb slowly approached me over the doorknob he was holding.
In a normal situation, I would have stood still without giving it any thought.
But, strangely enough, I felt obliged to escape without even realizing it.
Because he felt unfamiliar, even though I was sure he was Caleb I knew.
I felt suffocated by his piercing gaze.
It was a moment when the distance between us was narrow. Without realizing it, I took a step backwards.
However Caleb persisted to approach me, and I took a step back as much as he did.
If Caleb comes a step closer, I’ll take a step back.
He came a step closer again, then I’ll take a step back.
But there was a limit to that play-like act.
My back was touched by a cold wall.
I tried to avoid it, but Caleb had already come close to me.
I had to look up at him from a breathtaking distance.
“Elena, I, everytime I see you.”
Every time Caleb smacked his lips, a heavy breath flowed out.
“Do you know how hard I’ve been trying to hold it in?”
My dark purple hairs fluttered away.
When I looked at the long hair in my sight, I could later realize that Caleb was grabbing my hair.
Then he kissed my hair.
Despite the fact that what he touched was my hair, which had no flesh in it, my entire body got heated as if I had been burned.
As if the hair can feel the sensation.
“Even if I approach you more than this.”
“Can you be sure that you still won’t despise me?”
I could see Caleb look straight at me, over my hair.
I couldn’t avoid his gaze, which felt unfamiliar as I saw it for the first time.
My body became stiff because of the tension.
After choosing a word for a long time, I asked carefully.
“Desire…… is it……?”
In fact, as I was asking it I felt confused. But that was the only meaning I could grasp.
In the deep of the night. An adult woman and a man. In a physical contact. A meaningful story.
I could only interpret it into that, no matter how much I thought about it.
Caleb didn’t say anything.
He only stared at me, breathing slowly.
It was not long before I realized that the meaning was something positive.
At the same time I felt embarrassed.
I was shocked by the fact that Caleb felt any desire for me.
‘No way. But I thought Caleb didn’t like me? So why?’
Ah, hold on. Was there a difference in the way men felt about desire and affection?
I remembered hearing that some men could sleep with any woman they wanted, regardless of their feelings for her.
Of course I knew that Caleb wasn’t one of them.
But I was confused by something I’d never thought about.
In the meantime, Caleb was still looking down at me.
With a face that could be distorted any moment, as if he doesn’t know what to do.
I didn’t know why Caleb was suddenly doing this or why he came across this situation.
Still, there was one thing I knew for sure.
That Caleb was just at loss.
Perhaps Caleb felt confused as the time he admitted that he fell for Vivian was advanced from the original story.
I bit my lip hard.
In my heart, I wanted to accept Caleb and hold him like this, pretending not to be aware.
However…… I knew that if I did that I would regret it.
For me. And for Caleb.
“Duke, desire is not a bad thing. As a human, it’s natural to have that desire.”
“If you want to do it, please speak up for it. But if you don’t like your opponent, you could step down. You can do that, Duke. And if you want to make such a request, you can ask the woman you like.”
I said the last words with Vivian in mind.
Because I knew that Caleb didn’t like me.
After a brief silence, Caleb asked me.
“…… Is that so?”
It wasn’t until I answered that I realized that I had said something that I would never normally say in my sober mind.
But it didn’t matter.
Since I am going back to the theater soon.
There would be no way for me to meet Caleb unless he came to visit me later or happened to meet me on the street by chance.
I even came to see him in the middle of the night with this thought in mind.
While pulling myself back, I tried to say that it was best for me to go back.
But Caleb spoke faster than I did.
“Then I dare to ask you. Elena, I want to hug you.”
His black eyes, which had darkened a little more than usually, were fixed on me, as if they were penetrating right through me.
Just like the voice which penetrated my ears.
“…… are you serious?”
“I am serious.”
“Duke, do you have any idea what you’re talking about right now? I told you to do it with someone you like……”
“I’m also aware of that.”
In the hallway where there was no one but us, only Caleb’s voice rang calmly.
“I dare hope for you. This is beyond a simple desire, I cherished you deep in my heart.”
The answer, which came without even hesitation, did not bring back any sense of reality, but only increased confusion.
So what Caleb meant was that he really likes me, not just desire?
Normally, the more I repeat something, the more my thoughts should be organized, but now nothing is organized.
My thoughts, on the other hand, remained to crumble.
That shows how shocking Caleb’s answer was.
“I am a little flustered.”
“Do you hate me?”
“That’s not the problem. Duke, you like Lady Vessel, don’t you?”
As I spoke, my voice was trembling uncontrollably.
“That’s why I’m a little flustered to hear that you like me……”
“Can you explain to me why you thought I liked Lady Vessel?”
“I heard from my colleague that you went to see a play with Lady Vessel before. Didn’t you do it because you liked her?”
“I’m sorry, but Lady Vessel and I have never seen a play together. I was thinking of you, so I went to watch a play, when I happened to run across Lady Vessel.”
“Are you saying that it was a coincidence? But didn’t you stay with Lady Vessel after the play……”
“Although I was definitely with Lady Vessel after the play.”
“At that time, Lady Vessel came out without an escort, so I had to accompany her to the security guard post so the guard could escort her back. There was no, even a slightest, other ulterior motive or interest there.
“Really? Do you really don’t have any feelings for her? I mean you might think of her as a lovely person and want to meet her again, don’t you feel something like that?”
“Yes, I don’t.”
His tone, answering me, was firm.
“More than that, I’m curious as to why you saw it as a sign that I had affections for Lady Vessel. If it’s a play, haven’t I seen one with you before?”
“That is true, but that time was a coincidence……”
“The-then what about today, didn’t you tell her that you like her at the banquet hall before?”
“I have never confessed or said that I like her.”
That’s a lie.
“After I step away, I heard you say you like Lady Vessel.”
“I never said that. After you left, all Lady Vessel asked about was your song, and all we talked about was you.”
“if you heard me saying I like something, I must have referred to your song.”
“Then, does that mean that all of that was just my misunderstanding? And you didn’t like Lady Vessel, but me?”
I didn’t know what to say.
It felt as if all of the inner definitive milestones had been destroyed.
“I know it’s hard to believe my confession. You will do so even more because of the past when I said I want to take responsibility for you.”
Caleb added in a solemn tone.
“But I just wanted to take responsibility because it was you. Also, confessing like this is also because the person is you.”
“I swear to you, this is the first time in my whole life that I have had this kind of heart and wished for someone.”
His dark eyes stared at me, filled with sincerity.
It would be an insult to deny him any more than this since he is so sincere.
Because of that, I felt happy.
Caleb likes me.
For real, he likes me.
I felt like I was going crazy because I was so happy that it was hard to even breathe.
But I couldn’t accept Caleb’s feelings.
“……Duke, I have something to confess.”
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