After blinking my blurry vision a few times, I wondered if I was seeing things because I was in pain. I thought I saw a cold dagger for a moment, but soon, a gentle smile spread across Diello’s face.
“Their plan failed, but in the end, I somehow gained control over fire and met Krua. So, I’m a little less resentful.”
It was clear that ‘they’ referred to the Duke and Duchess.
Their plan failed, but he gained control over fire? They didn’t just throw him into the fire to give him control over fire, did they? Was there another purpose?
His words didn’t quite add up.
Regardless, I didn’t want to dig deeper into his memories. Even if he spoke calmly, it was an incident where parents, who were the world to their child, threw their child into a pit of fire. It was obvious abuse. There was no need to bring it up again.
He whispered, “Get some rest,” and covered my eyes with his hand, but I forced them open. I had something I had to ask him.
Even in my hazy state, the image of him suffering in the sea was vivid.
“…But if you hated getting into the water, why were you in the pool…?”
Not the sea this time, but the pool.
Diello smiled faintly at my additional remark.
“The water there must have been imbued with my magic as well.”
The sea was vast, but the water in the pool was less than a drop in the bucket compared to that. Naturally, the water in the pool would have been more saturated with magic.
“By any chance, if you touch water imbued with my magic, does it… affect your body negatively?”
I asked, scrutinizing him.
“I’m fine, for now.”
…So, he wasn’t fine earlier.
When I was momentarily at a loss for words, Diello gently caressed the back of my hand.
I couldn’t say anything for a moment at his words. His sparkling eyes showed that he wasn’t lying.
When you touch water…
Diello hesitated for a moment before answering my question.
So, it was as if he had immersed his body in electrified water. His words made me shudder slightly.
“…Is it excruciatingly painful?”
“The stronger the magic, the more it hurts.”
Diello finally said.
So, he endured that pain and stayed by my side for hours? I could understand why Vielle, who had pulled Diello away with a shocked face, had reacted that way. She must have been more surprised that he had immersed himself in water saturated with my magic than the fact that he had abandoned his duties.
“Why did you do that?”
He must have been enduring the pain while we were together in the pool. The image of his face in the sea was so vivid that, before I knew it, my voice sounded accusatory.
“…It must be because I’m leaving soon, right?”
I was leaving soon, so he wanted to do everything I wanted? The words I had been holding back inadvertently slipped out. No, maybe there was something else I really wanted to ask. Nonetheless, I was struggling just to keep my burning eyes from tearing up.
When I asked him that, Diello immediately shook his head.
Since that wasn’t the reason, I tried to sit up. Again, Diello gently pushed me back down onto the bed.
He covered me with the blanket as he whispered.
“Because I don’t want you to leave.”
His eyes met mine as he said that. They were the same vivid blue eyes as always. This time, however, was no sign of his power going berserk. He meant it sincerely.
“I want you to stay here.”
If she did that, he could do anything she wanted, no matter how painful it would be.
That was why…
“Don’t leave, Krua.”
His arm slipped between my neck and shoulder as he spoke in a trembling voice. The bed creaked slightly under his weight. And the moment I realized the sound, he was on top of me.
He kissed my forehead and looked down at me from a very close distance. My surroundings instantly went dark. I didn’t know if my vision had blurred or if the firelight imbued with his power had dimmed.
Diello was all I could see.
I let out a short breath. He was too close.
The moment I opened my mouth to call his name, he gently kissed me.
He wrapped his arms around the back of my neck and collapsed on top of me.
As if the sanity holding him up had suddenly vanished, his arm, now limp, barely supported my side. He gently captured my upper lip and dug deeply into me. If it weren’t for the single blanket he’d covered me with, his heat would’ve truly engulfed my entire body.
That was how it felt.
From his breath, frantically seeking my lips and from the gaze that wouldn’t leave me. Still, even as he forced his way between my legs with his knees, he never once lifted the single blanket covering me.
I didn’t know how long the kiss, a mixture of warmth and heat, lasted. All the breath I had was the one he gave me, and his voice reached my hazy mind.
“Just stay like this.”
Please, just stay like this.
“Diello, this is…”
I thought I could hear the sound of him gripping the bedsheets tightly by my ear. He was closer, hotter than usual.
This wasn’t like him.
He shouldn’t be digging this close. My head was spinning, and I couldn’t tell if this was a dream or reality.
As I thought that, Diello whispered.
“If you’re surprised, if it feels strange, then it’s all a dream, Krua.”
I could vividly feel the sensation of his lips moving.
As soon as I managed to catch my breath, he kissed me again. I could see his eyes, hidden beneath long eyelashes. His murky, shadowy pupils stared deeply into me. The eyes that always held a gentle smile seemed slightly distorted.
He pulled me in, holding me tightly by the neck and body as if he were telling me not to go anywhere else.
“If you don’t like it, you can push me away, Krua.”
He whispered to me, barely catching his breath.
“If you don’t want to. Or even if you’re just hesitating.”
Then, he pleaded.
“Just stay like this.”
Don’t think about anything. Leave your body to him. Don’t think about anything complicated.
“Do whatever you want while I take what I want.”
As he said that, he whispered in my ear, his voice low.
A strange sensation ran through my body, starting from my ear. Before I knew it, I gripped the bedsheets tightly in my hands. But only for a moment. I didn’t know when he found my hand, but his hand slipped under the blanket and gently grasped mine.
“Even if I become a foolish lord who falls for the Alors family’s schemes…”
He laughed, his forehead against mine after a deep kiss.
It was a murky laugh.
“I wish you were here, Krua.”
Was it because my mind was hazy? Was it because I was short of breath? Or was it because he filled my entire field of vision?
Thump, thump, thump…
My heart pounded wildly. The more I looked into his eyes, the faster and stronger it beat.
…This couldn’t be happening.
I shouldn’t be falling for this man.
“Don’t think it’s wrong.”
He cupped my cheek.
“Forget about the plan, about rational thinking.”
If the wise Krua kept telling herself, it was wrong…
Diello kissed me again. His hand caressed the back of my neck, hot like flowing lava, both chilling and alluring. It felt like I was being possessed by a dream demon.
“Say you’ve fallen for the mad Diello Argenta.”
He wanted to muddle her wise mind.
He wanted to become a fool who had endlessly tempted her… that she had no choice but to mercifully extend her hand.
The corner of his eyes crinkled, and a playful smile spread.
* * *
When I opened my eyes properly, I was in the mansion’s bedroom. I couldn’t quite remember how I’d gotten back.
No, on the way here…
I thought I heard my name.
No, it was different than his usual tone.
I was trying to recall something beyond my senses.
“Are you awake?”
As soon as our eyes met, an urgent question came to mind. Vielle answered neatly before I could even ask.
“The Kin mercenary guild and Shadow Distribution have been completely restored. You don’t have to worry anymore.”
My heart, which had been pounding without my knowledge, calmed down somewhat after hearing the story.
“Was I lying down for a long time?”
I asked as I got up from my seat.
No, I tried to get up.
I had only moved my arm a little, but muscle pain from every corner of my body pierced through my entire body. It felt like something was hitting the muscles all over my body, and it was full of a stinging, pulling sensation.
“Yes, you were unconscious the whole time. It will still be difficult for you to move. Shall I give you a massage?”
The surprised Vielle came over and supported me.
I barely nodded my head. I exhaled as I felt pain, even during that brief moment of nodding. My body was much more sore than on a day when I had done some exercise. My whole body was so stiff that it couldn’t even be compared to when I collapsed after using my water ability last time.
“Nias says that your body was surprised because you released your power too suddenly and forcefully.”
Vielle told me after giving the order to bring fragrant oil.
As expected, it was a side effect that appeared after using my ability strongly. The side effects were different for each person, if what Nias said was true.
“So, if I just relieve that, the muscle pain will go away?”
It meant that there was some hope. Vielle nodded silently at my words.
“Yes, since it was caused by power being released and clumping up, it will be a little difficult with a regular massage.”
That was when I was about to continue speaking.
Along with a cautious voice, maids carrying fragrant oil, towels, and other things entered the room. I was used to this sight since I had received massages before.
“…What are you doing over there?”
There was someone standing behind the maids who definitely shouldn’t be there. It was none other than…
“I’ve been caught.”
Despite being caught, Diello looked somehow confident.