36. The Third Prince is Too Dazzling! I Can’t Look at Him Directly!
Chapter Thirty-Six: A Promise of ‘Safe, Ease and Worry-Free’
Preparing for the door’s opening, I avert my eyes to the floor. At this point, it’s a standard countermeasure against his dazzlingness.
“You are… wearing a most dreadful face, milord. What is the meaning of this?”
Dreadful face? The ladies laughed a lot about it when we left him all alone and dejected in that room. I wonder if he is still making that face. Even so, Merlia’s tone towards Gil is icy and curt.
“I came to… apologize. For exposing Lina to danger and not arriving in time… I am deeply sorry. I don’t have any excuses.”
Hmm… What a laudable attitude… I don’t really want him to feel too bad, though. Regardless, he did come running to the rescue. For a prideful guy like Gil to speak like this and in such a voice, I suddenly feel kinda sorry for him.
“I also must apologize for my subordinate’s negligence… Thanks to your efforts, the danger didn’t result in the worst possible outcome, and I am truly grateful to you, but it’s still inexcusable on our part.”
Nobody shows the slightest sign of wanting to interrupt Gil’s monolog. The room’s atmosphere is pressing.
“I will endeavor to make sure something like this never happens again. Most of all, I am disgusted with my own fecklessness.”
At this point, I’d like to say, “It’s okay. It’s enough already.” But the heavy atmosphere makes me feel really uncomfortable even to peep at anything.
“And that is why…”
“I-I… can’t hold it any longer!”
Merlia suddenly starts to laugh elegantly but without reservations, and the other ladies also burst into laughter. The surrounding atmosphere suddenly turns over its head with these young ladies’ laughter, but I find myself dumbfounded. What was the aim of that charade of theirs just a minute ago?
“Lord Gilbert, we had forgiven you already before you came here. Right, Lady Lina? However! Glenn Artaud! It is your turn to face the music!”
Wait, is Glenn here too? I don’t feel his presence in the slightest. He sure is sneaky even like that. I can’t raise my face and look because of Mister Dazzling here, but taking a side look at Merlia, she has a hand on her hip, with the other one in the air, her index finger intensely pointing at him.
Gil calls him in a low voice. After a brief silence, Glenn opens his mouth.
“I am sorry.”
G-Glenn apologized! My mind is as shocked as if a lightning strike had struck me down.
“You, what is it exactly you are sorry about?”
“I… gave in to the temptation of fulfilling my long-standing resentment, and I made a mistake thinking I could control everything. Evidently, there are limitations to the human bait approach… Ouch!”
“Know when to stop talking!”
A dull sound followed by Gil’s reproach in a low voice. Did Gil hit Glenn? No, from the sound of it, it was more like a kick!? Ah, I wanna see it so badly! It’s inconvenient to rely only on sound! I have never wanted to have my glasses at hand so much as I do right now. Or could someone narrate the unfolding events for me, please!?
“Lady Randall, I deeply apologize for my reckless behavior and words… I’ll be careful from now on.”
“You’re a haughty one, aren’t you?”
Merlia is relentless even after Glen apologized twice. A brief silence falls upon the room. Wait… can it be that the proud Glenn is bowing down!? Oh, I wanna see it! But I can’t see! Someone bring me my glasses, please!
“Well, I don’t know if some words and a gesture can forgive your transgressions. Lady Lina, what do you think? Should we carry out the retaliation we previously discussed?”
“N-no, that’s fine… no need, really.”
Somehow, Gil and the ladies’ actions just now changed my feelings the other way. Had they not shown their outrage, I might be possessed with rage and done something to Glenn that I would rather not put in words. But I’ve been saved by everyone’s display of emotions. The only thing I will be forever dissatisfied with is not being able to see Sir Glenn’s humiliated visage right now! I bet he’s still looking terrible. But even good things can’t last forever, I guess.
“May I… request you leave Lina and me alone? If it’s alright with you, Lina?”
Gil sounds dejected. He really sounds like he doesn’t feel at the top of his game.
“If Lady Lina is okay with it, we have no intention of advising her against it. For now, that is! This once!”
I can still remember how taken Merlina was with Gil at first, yet she bares fangs at him with such a salty attitude. Even I shrink, hearing her words just now.
“Then, don’t forget your promise, Lady Lina.”
“I’m looking forward to your report!”
“Your honest feelings, in full honesty, right?”
“Do your best, Lady Lina!”
Everyone heads to the door while sending me words of encouragement.
That’s awfully sweet of them, but maybe a little too sweet, compared to the extremely salty disposition they are showing to the guys right now. Even I showed some lapses of judgment in this whole mess, so, leaving aside the nastiness that is Glenn, I can’t help but feel sorry for Gil, who must be really ashamed and dejected.
Merlia appears to take no heed of my anguish. Instead, she seems refocused on pursuing the final blow in her vendetta quest, speaking with a chilling low voice.
“Glenn Artaud, come with us a little.”
Having said that, I sense all the ladies exiting the room. Their movement feels threatening somehow. Don’t tell me…
However, my train of thought is interrupted when I hear my name. It marks the end of my thoughts about the scheming chamberlain.
“Can we sit on that sofa?”
What’s with him? He never asked me like this even once before. He always closes in on me uninvited!
Something’s off about Gil’s behavior, I think as I nod to him and we move to the sofa. We sit on its left half, leaving plenty of space on the right side. Gil immediately sits next to me, but he keeps a weird distance without either of our legs or arms touching.
“Is there… something wrong, Gil?”
I feel weirded out by this unprecedented treatment. Unable to see, I reach out with my hand to where I feel Gil’s arm would be and grab onto his sleeve. But I feel his body stiffen, and he pulls back his arm.
What is this? I am very anxious.
“I… I’m sorry.”
What is he apologizing for!? Surely not for the painful scene he suffered at the hands of the ladies just now, but for chickening out when my hand grabbed his sleeve, right? What is happening? He is not like this. I’m scared.
“What, hate me?” I say in my mind before he finishes that sentence. In that case, no, I don’t hate you, Gil. But those words don’t come out of my mouth. I made a promise to my friends, and I know what I have to do. Gird your loins, me!
“Ye-yesterday’s talk about the united front, Gil… please pretend I didn’t say that!”
So I say, putting a lot of strength in my voice. Simultaneously, I again grab Gil’s sleeve with my hand. And once again, he flinches, and I gulp. I want to grab him and shake him in sheer frustration out of this new, anxiety-inducing Chicken Gil, but of course, I’m not going about to make that errant thought into a reality. Like heck I’m gonna let you retreat into your shell! But since I can’t see his face, I’m gonna have to be creative and learn what he is actually feeling and thinking by touch and sound. Otherwise, I’m gonna go crazy out of sheer anxiety.
Although I wait a moment before making any moves, there are no signs of life from Gil. Not very promising. Still, to fulfill my promise to the ladies, I have to continue even if my body trembles under all this tension’s weight. First, I concentrate on consciously calming down my breathing because I realize I am almost hyperventilating.
“Just now… I talked with all my princess candidate friends and realized the truth.”
Ah, my heartbeat is so loud! I feel like it’s gonna drown out my voice. My hand holding onto his sleeve like never letting go and my hand on my knee made into a fist have both started to sweat profusely.
“Even though I realize now that… if I had just been honest with myself, there would have been so many chances to notice.”
I must tell him. I love you. I do not know when I fell in love. If I had had more time to calm down and think about it, maybe I could tell. But right now, I don’t care. I want to ride this momentum of courage and reveal my true feelings for once.
The push that everyone gave me has now ignited into a wild desire to let my heart be known. When a girl realizes she is in love, she may turn into a huntress.
If I let that stupid “I want to be with you just as a common front” thing stand and Gil thinks of me only as that, what will I do if Gil turns his attention to another woman? What if he holds her hand? What if he touches her hair? What if he flashes that wonderfully gentle and boyish smile to her? Now that I am aware of my feelings, I can’t stand being a spectator to such a display.
“Hold on, please!”
I am stopped mid-sentence by Gil’s suddenly loud voice. Being halted right at the crucial moment where I was finally going to unmistakably make my feelings known, I find myself abruptly at a loss. My body freezes with the feeling of having nowhere to go. But I don’t care anymore. I want to confess my love without a second’s delay. Anything will do, so I’m just gonna say it aloud and plain! Please do not interrupt me again!
“I can’t, I won’t! Because I-I… “
A big hand covers my mouth, and the words can’t come out of my lips.
“Please don’t! My heart can’t take it… I don’t want you to say it!”
W-what do you mean? That’s my line, you big oaf! You better be joking. There’s no way you’re leaving here without hearing it live and direct.
I slap the hand covering my mouth with all my strength, and in the same heartbeat, I yell.
“If you say you hate me, I…”
“I’m in love with you!”
Hate you? W-why would I? You thought I hated you?
“I like you, Gil.”
“I… heard that.”
Gil sighs deeply, and I feel the tension in his arm slowly dissipate. He seems to sink into the sofa.
I slide my hand down his arm to his hand and leave it there, on his. It has turned quite cold. I squeeze his hand, wanting to transmit all my passion and warm feelings onto it. I want to leave no doubt about what I feel.
“Do you understand my confession? I mean that I love you, you know? My heartbeat won’t stop dancing when I’m with you. With you and only you.”
It’s hard putting your feelings in words. I wonder if I said enough and if I said it right. If only he could see my aura, this would be much easier.
“I-I get it. Geez. Why are you so persistent? And your lead-up was terrible. I feel like you shaved off ten years of my life…”
I-is he accepting my feelings? His voice is trembling, and I’m not sure about what he’s saying. If only I could see his aura. I never wanted to know something so much as I do now.
“I-is it… wrong of me to be in love with you?”
“No, that’s not it!”
Despite his full denial, my heart remains filled with uncertainty and anxiousness. I have come to rely on auras so much that I feel I can’t trust someone’s true intentions by their words alone. How can I know if he is telling the truth? I find myself without an answer to that.
“I-I like you, Gil. I don’t know what I should say or how I should behave. I really like you… I don’t want you to think I just wanted a ‘common front’ anymore.”
My hand releases his and slides up his arm to his neck and then to his back until I am fully embracing him. I wish my feelings would flow directly to him through my body.
“I… love you.”
I convey my feelings as strongly as I can in Gil’s ear. I feel I am running out of breath. I never knew the heart could beat more confessing love than doing strenuous exercise. If it keeps bouncing like this inside my chest, I feel it might jump out of my mouth.
This excruciating wait for Gil’s reply is driving me insane. A hot fever is running through my entire body under this extreme tension.
I feel minutes pass as I cling on to him, giving my warmest embrace and breathing deeply, but in truth, maybe only a few moments have passed. Still, I feel it has taken Gil hours to put his arm around my back. I have not been rejected. Suddenly I feel as if an enormous weight has been lifted from my soul.
“I… was afraid that even if I expressed my feelings for you before you noticed them on your own, that you would panic and take some rash action.”
The body warmth I had bottled up inside bursts out from my body’s center towards each of my limbs. I feel my whole body as if burning hot. My head goes numb from the overheating, and I can no longer string together coherent thoughts. In that state, the only thing I understand is that you feel very at ease when hugged by someone you like.
“And I was sure that if you ran away, I wouldn’t be able to recover… I feel really lame right now since I didn’t have your courage to confess my feelings and secure the one you love.”
Gil’s breath tickles as he all but whispers in my ear. He passes my hair between his fingers, and I feel so safe and comfortable that my eyes close. I feel as if passing into dreamland in his embrace.
“I’m really happy I didn’t lose you because of all this. I’m sorry for my fecklessness. I’ll never let something like that happen to you again. You still believe in me even now… Thank you.”
I like Gil’s voice. I’m also fond of the hands stroking me. My arms around his neck begin to stiffen, so I let them drop and gather on Gil’s chest.
“Um, you are relaxing so much in my arms… this is a bit… well, it’s fine today. Hey, are you smiling? Whoa, you are really letting go. I can feel all your weight on me. Um, you’re really bold today, aren’t you, Lina? Honestly… I may end up blushing.”
I feel Gil laughing faintly. The vibration that echoes to my cheeks resting on his chest feels good. I can feel our heartbeats beginning gently to synchronize.
“I also… I love you too, Lina. Hey, no need to look away and hide your emotions from me. I swear that you and you alone… that I w-will l-love you till the end of my life. We’re going to get ourselves into all sorts of trouble, but I want to overcome it together with you. I’ll do everything in my power to make a place for us, where you can be carefree like when you first arrived here, where you can smile like back then. Lina, can I get a nod? I’m saying that I want to spend my future with you because I like you. Because I love you. Lina?”
Snoring sounds ensue.
“W-what!? Did you… fall asleep, Lina!? You’ve got to be joking! W-why y-you! Hey, Lina!”
Snoring sounds intensify by the moment.
“Damn it, Lina. Don’t tell me… don’t tell me you were asleep the whole time… my once in a lifetime love confession… Sleeping so happily… while snoring like a horse. Huh, what on earth… Am I gonna have to say the whole thing from scratch? You’ve gotta be kidding me…”