The Sleepless Night of the Maid - Chapter 28
Eva swallowed her dry saliva and waited for Ruth’s next words.
What was he hesitating to say? ‘If only we were in the past….’?
Eva dwelled for a short moment about what her journey would have been like if they were still together from back then until now.
If they were still engaged like in the past, maybe they could genuinely bless and take care of each other, was that what he was trying to convey? Did he want to say something along the lines of their engagement being still valid?
However, he didn’t continue, contrary to her expectations. He trapped Eva’s gaze with an unreadable expression on his face, squeezing the arm that was holding Eva. Time passed in silence, with their bodies pressed together, as their eyes locked and their breath mingled.
Ruth, who was staring at Eva, raised his hand slowly and cupped her cheek.
“I can understand somehow.”
Another conversation he only understood. Eva asked in a tiny, trembling voice.
“What do you understand?”
The tinkling sound of the running fountain was like music. The warm white light from the Thousand Moon Stone enveloped the two figures.
“That they only need a second to fall in love.”
Was he referring to the legend about the light from the angel and the lamp of a fairy creating magic?
Ruth’s eyes and voice softened. He disputed Eva’s opinion from a while ago. About how she couldn’t understand why her parents fell in love right away when they just met here.
“They drank at the beautiful night view.”
“…” Her breath jagged as he continued. Her heart began to race as if she was dying.
“Or were bewitched by the light from the angel.”
His thumb grazed Eva’s lips little by little. It was heated yet delicate, his touch gentle but rough at the same time.
“The opportunity that has been opened by accident like this.”
His finger pressed her lower lip. As her lips opened slightly, a short hot breath puffed out. Eva couldn’t control her wild heartbeat. She must be a fool if she didn’t know what situation she was in. It was clear what he wanted, with his eyes fixated on her lips.
She couldn’t get the hang of it. They didn’t know each other well and didn’t talk much, so how did it lead to this? Why was it scary and amazing, while also thrilling and full of anticipation?
Ruth glided his hand down her cheek and propped her chin up. As his face inclined forward, the gap between the two closed inch by inch. Even though Eva trembled under the shadow he cast, she didn’t avoid it.
Everything in the background blurred out as Ruth became her only focus. Every sound in the world had disappeared, except for the tiny sound of their breaths. Her circumstances, Cecil’s advice, Pamela’s request, she forgot it all. All she could feel was the air he exhaled. Her eyelids slid down unconsciously.
She didn’t feel the touch that she was expecting. With her eyes slightly open, Eva saw Ruth frozen in place. The pool of his eyes seemed to gleam with fierce conflict, but gradually dimmed before he withdrew from Eva.
“My apologies, I’ve been presumptuous.”
Despite Eva feeling so flustered, she brushed aside her embarrassment and asked why he stopped.
What was his reason for swaying her heart but backing down at the last second?
He hesitated for a moment before opening his mouth.
“A kiss is like an oath to me. And I don’t have the confidence I can keep that oath. It’ll turn into an empty promise. I don’t want to make a false oath with you.”
Eva couldn’t follow what he was saying. Oaths were about promise and commitment. Based on his words, the moment their lips would have met, he would have had a certain goal and resolution in mind.
It was vague and complicated, but she got the gist. If they were kissed, their relationship would be shifted to intimate and he wasn’t sure he could maintain it.
She felt freezing, as if cold water was splashed on her. The words ‘false oath’ repeated inside her head in echoes. It felt like she had been insulted.
With a concerned look, Ruth apologized and retreated. The growth of frail attraction toward Eva was cut off heartlessly. It implied that they shouldn’t get involved more than this any longer.
Eva drew a bitter smile and stepped back. She tried to keep her composure, assuring herself it was a good thing.
If she had kissed him, things would have been complicated in many ways. Because she wouldn’t be able to keep the promise with Cecil. That’s why it was a good thing.
* * *
“I wonder if we arrived too late.”
“It’s okay. Don’t worry too much.”
Eva replied with a faint smile to Ruth’s worried voice. She knew that he was considering her position. She was thankful but didn’t want him to worry about it. They didn’t talk that long, apart from the time they spent at the Bale Castle. It was just the right time for Pamela and Count Holland to get close.
Eva walked into the door with him. Once they got inside, their relationship was completely over. She couldn’t wait to be there.
But when both of them entered the parlor, the Baronet and his wife, Count Holland, as well as Pamela, were seated on the couch in a heavy atmosphere. The moment they saw Eva and Ruth, they jumped up and bowed their heads.
‘What’s going on?’
As Eva was observing them, trying to figure out the situation, a cold voice broke the tense silence.
“You are finally here, Your Highness, the Crown Prince.”
Count Holland revealed Ruth’s true identity with a hostile look on his face.