“Because we’re a couple.”
The wind blew through the open window. The summer night breeze was damp and gentle, driving away the tropical night.
The sounds of grasshoppers chirping rang through the air.
Aristine looked down at Tarkan, her hands intertwined with him.
The only woman I have a special relationship with, is you.
His golden eyes were appealing to her.
“But you said there was someone on our first night.”
For some reason, the words that left her mouth sounded like she was grumbling.
That wasn’t right. She should be saying ‘I see’ and ending it there. It shouldn’t matter whether he had a lover or not.
…were these words stuck in her heart like this?
“You’re the only one.”
Tarkan squeezed her hand tight.
“Why did you say there was?”
“That..,” Tarkan’s face looked awkward, unlike his usual self, “I thought saying that would allow me to block unnecessary emotions in advance.”
Hearing that, Aristine felt her stomach twist.
‘He said that because he was afraid I might love him?’
Aristine pressed her lips together.
Despite thinking it didn’t matter to her whether he had a lover or not, she felt even more upset after hearing that he lied for such a reason.
‘I wanted to exclude all romance from this marriage too, okay?’
Which is why she asked him to be business partners in this political marriage from the beginning.
In the first place, her desire was freedom so there was no way she could love Tarkan.
Tarkan looked at her complexion and spoke nervously, “Because I just didn’t know you that well.”
He didn’t know what type of person Aristine was.
He only thought she was a unique woman. She was so absurd, stubborn, bad at listening, misunderstood a lot, and other things.
He didn’t know she would be so loveable.
Tarkan was stunned by the thought that popped up in his head.
To call her loveable…
Was that how he was looking at her?
His golden eyes stared at Aristine, trembling with confusion.
Her face, which was looking down at him, looked mysterious under the haze of the candlelight.
Her smooth cheeks were arced in a gentle curve, and her lips, which were slightly pursed with dissatisfaction, looked fuller than usual.
Her long, silver hair was tinged a yellowish red because of the light, and it swayed softly with the breeze.
Above all, her eyes were looking straight at him.
Her purple eyes, like the dawning sky, shone like stars even in this dimly lit room.
Tarkan’s heart began to pound. He stared at Aristine in a daze.
Everything about Aristine was loveable.
He didn’t know when it began but the moment he realized it, she was so lovely that he couldn’t bear it.
And once he realized it, he didn’t know what to do.
Before he could even begin accepting his feelings, Aristine opened her mouth, “Then why are you telling me the truth now?”
If even the sight of her grumbling looked cute, maybe there was really something possessing his eyes.
“To a woman who bothers you.”
When she added those words, Tarkan flinched and gently pulled her arm.
Their bodies, which were slightly apart as they held hands, became closer.
The skirt of Aristine’s dress rubbed against Tarkan’s firm thighs.
The transparent curtain was blown by the wind and caressed their shadows.
“Aristine,” Tarkan’s voice was low, “You bother me.”
At those words, Aristine bit her lips heavily.
Why did those words hurt so much?
She had heard things said to her that were far worser than that.
Was it because she thought she was a good partner but found out that Tarkan didn’t consider her as such?
Because of that?
“When you don’t rely on me, I get annoyed,” Tarkan said quietly.
Aristine’s mouth opened slightly, then she closed it.
Tarkan’s forehead creased and he looked up at her with a serious look on his face.
“Same goes for when you tell someone else important things first before you tell me.”
“I get anxious when you come back late, and I feel angry when you’re sick.”
“When you draw a hard line and tell me not to cross it—.”
As he spoke, his hand left Aristine’s hand and slowly moved up. His large hand moved up her exposed arm, brushed against her neck and cupped her face.
“It really bothers me.”
He whispered into her ear, his hand cupping her cheek.
His hot breath brushed past her skin, giving Aristine goosebumps.
She turned her head slightly and looked at Tarkan. His high nose-bridge brushed against her cheek and their eyes met.
Her breath warmed his skin and his breath covered her skin.
Aristine felt her breath getting sharper for some reason. Or was it his breath that was becoming steeper?
She had no idea.
Her brain felt so hot that she couldn’t think right.
“I have no lover. Nor am I having an affair.”
“Even if it’s an arranged marriage, our marriage is real.”
His long eyelashes fell over his eyes as he looked down at Aristine.
“So we are a real couple.”
Aristine belatedly realized what he was talking about.
《Well, you know…we are not really a couple.》
That was what she said to him.
《Indeed, true couples can form out of a political marriage. However.》
《You have a lover that you cannot do without. 》
That was what she said when he told her ‘I am your husband’ and asked her to rely on him more.
Seeing Aristine remain silent, Tarkan felt restless and whispered, “Aristine, you are really my wife.”
His thumb stroked Aristine’s chin. And slowly swept over her lips.
“My one and only.”
He sounded more like he was asking for permission, rather than making a declaration so Aristine nodded unconsciously.
Tarkan didn’t smile.
But Aristine felt his expression right now was more beautiful than any other expression she’d ever seen on his face.
“And I am really your one and only husband.”
There was a voice in the corner of her mind telling her to think about when she’ll get a divorce and push him away instead of doing this.
But that voice was muffled, like it was shouting under water, so it didn’t really reach her.
It felt good just staring into Tarkan’s eyes like this.
His sparkling golden eyes were just like the sun.
In the dark and humid palace with no sunlight, he wrapped her in his arms and didn’t let go.