< — Disagreement — > (5)
As her breathtaking realizations came to an end, Lucia turned to him and smiled.
Hugo felt his annoyance and irritation dissipate the instant he saw her smile.
It was like the refreshment from waking up in the morning after a good night’s sleep. Hugo finally woke up from his folly.
What he was afraid of wasn’t her existence, it was his heart wavering. Simply imagining never seeing her smile again made him feel like he couldn’t breathe.
‘I told you so’, his heart seemed to mock him.
“Look at this, won’t this flower be blooming soon? I think it will fully bloom in a few days.”
Hugo was momentarily tongue-tied when she began to speak to him as though nothing had happened.
“…I see.” (Hugo)
Her refreshed expression made him feel miserable. Unlike his fretful self, she had her usual peaceful expression.
“I heard you have been busy. Did you come out to get some air?” (Lucia)
“Mmm… the busy stuff is almost done but something came up so I will have to leave for a while.”
Lucia’s face changed for an instant then she gave another sweet smile.
“How long will it take? Will you be gone for a long time?” (Lucia)
“I do not know the exact details so it could be a while. Why are you alone? Where is your maid?” (Hugo)
“I sent her on an errand. Since it stopped raining, I thought of having a cup of tea here. If it’s okay, would you like to join me?”
He just had some tea a while ago but he didn’t refuse her.
After a while, a couple of maids arrived, bringing with them a folding table and a tea basket. The table was placed at a suitable location and the two of them opposite each other.
“I was worried since it’s rarely dry nowadays, but I am glad that the rain stopped mid-day.” (Lucia)
“What have you been doing?” (Hugo)
“Just the same stuff as usual. Take care of the garden and reading books. How strange. You are talking as though we haven’t seen each other in a long time. It was just a few days.”
Was it just a few days? Hugo felt like it was a very long time, but to her, it was just a few days.
He found her spiritedness admirable and at the same time, felt remorseful. He reached out to caress her soft cheek. Her tender skin gave him the illusion that he would leave marks if he exerted even a little more strength.
She was weak. Yet this frail existence threatened him so strongly.
“…That day, I made a mistake and I want to apologize to you. It wasn’t my intention to treat you as an unfaithful woman.”
“What I meant was…offsprings are rare in the Taran family. Getting pregnant will be difficult… and I didn’t want you to get disappointed after hoping for a child.”
His excuse did not really touch Lucia’s heart. After all, if offsprings were rare, then it would be more convincing for his attitude to be supporting her pregnancy rather than rejecting it.
But when she saw how he was carefully contemplating his words, a laugh escaped from her mouth.
She tried to laugh but tears fell down from her eyes. The wounds she had received at that time no longer hurt. She had already forgiven him. It was his tender words and gentle caresses made her heart ache with happiness.
Looking at the tears flowing down her cheeks, Hugo wasn’t sure what to do and stood up. He walked around the table, towards her, and wrapped his arms around her.
“I’m sorry. I was wrong.” (Hugo)
His embrace and scent that she had been missing made her feel like she had gone from hell to heaven in an instant.
‘We can go back… to how we were before.’
To how they were the last few months. It was fine even if their relationship was a castle of sand and no one knew when it would collapse. When one couldn’t see the waves, one would assume everything was okay. Nothing was resolved, but it was fine to think about later things, later.
Her heart felt like it had overcome the heavens and was rather calm. Once she accepted her changing heart and wasn’t anxious about it, she felt at peace. Her heaven and hell depended on how she made up her mind.
‘He…at the very least, he treats me with love.’
She didn’t know how he treated his past lovers but she decided to think that she was a little more special. It was not because of conceit but because she had to plant that much confidence in herself, in order to stand firm and love him.
‘And, I have an advantage.’
She was his legitimate wife. It was a justification that none of his past lovers had ever had.
‘I won’t cling to you. I also won’t subdue myself to please you.’
She wouldn’t have such a miserable love.
She won’t beg for his love.
She won’t play the virtuous wife, obeying everything he says unconditionally.
She would only do as much as she could, loving him with all of her might but only just enough that she wouldn’t start hating him.
It made her wonder if he had ever received love from a woman that did not cling to him.
The thought that maybe she could make him flustered was amusing.
‘It is fine even if it takes a lifetime. If someday, you tell me that you love me, I won’t feel like my life has been in vain.’
If she lived like this for one year, five years, even ten years, perhaps she could slowly influence him. Even a little drizzle can become something scary.
Lucia slightly lifted her head from within his embrace.
“You said you were wrong, right?” (Lucia)
“Huh? Yea.” (Hugo)
“I will forgive you but I have two conditions.”
“Conditions? What are they?”
He had an expression that said he didn’t like the word itself.
“The first is… a kiss of reconciliation.”
His eyes widened slightly then curved smilingly. As his face drew closer, Lucia closed her eyes. Their lips touched lightly at first, and with the second touch of their lips, he took her into his mouth.
He suckled and swallowed her tender lips countless times in his mouth. His tongue slipped through the cracks of her mouth, gently and carefully stroking the innards of her mouth, pushing deeper and stimulating her.
The long, sweet kiss that was neither light nor passionate but breathtaking finally came to an end. He opened his mouth to speak, their lips almost touching each other.
“The second is?”
It seemed like he would kiss her again so Lucia held him back and turned away slightly.
“I am modifying the contract. No matter how much I think about it, the ‘freedom in your private life part’, rubs me the wrong way. That is practically telling me you are going to be cheating. Please do not go making lovers without my knowledge.”
He was taken aback and couldn’t help but stare at her for a bit, then he spoke in a slightly crestfallen tone.
“…I won’t make any.”
He felt a little offended. After he married, he hadn’t even looked at other women but unfortunately, he couldn’t refute his track record of being a malicious playboy.
“Additionally, if you get tired or disgusted of me and want to leave me for another woman, please tell me first. I do not wish to hear it from another person’s mouth.”
Hugo stared at her for a while then muttered bitterly.
“I forgot for a moment that in your head, I am a pretty terrible guy.”
It was a mysterious feeling to be marked as a bad guy rather than a nice guy by the woman he loved but again, he couldn’t refute it.
“I can’t give any excuses.”
He mumbled and grabbed her hand, kissing it.
“As you wish.”
He straightened his upper body and spoke to the maid that had been fretfully standing at the side for a while.
“What is it?”
“Sir Elliot has asked me to pass on his words; he is ready and waiting for the order to depart.”
Hugo finally realized his feelings towards her but he couldn’t change anything right now. He was still unable to promise her anything.
There were also many things that he couldn’t reveal to her. He needed more time to decide between what to and what not to reveal to her.
The hunt this time should give him the time he needed to decide.
“You do not need to see me off. You may return.”
“…Yes. Please return safely.”
Watching his back as he walked away, Lucia’s heart throbbed and she clutched her chest tightly.
She hoped desperately, that he would never leave her like this someday.
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