Despite his reluctance, Jayden continued, his face saying he was only doing this because I had asked.
“The character of yours is still annoying, but reading this chapter, I felt a twinge of pity. I shall grant you a corner of my bed, so come here.”
That struck like lightning, igniting a memory in my mind.
‘That’s right, he was supposed to be secretly in love with Aila!’
I had forgotten this minor detail amidst the strong image of him as the villainous Charlotte’s brother.
Jayden Lindsay. On reflection, he wasn’t evil enough to be called a villain, but he was a character who stirred a peculiar discomfort among the readers.
Although Jayden detested his sister, throughout the novel, he defended Charlotte, often concealing or downplaying her misdeeds.
It was a natural move in a way. As long as Charlotte was part of the Lindsay family, he couldn’t just abandon her, considering his duty to protect the family’s reputation.
Jayden, within the pages, must have had his own struggles between his wayward sister and the honor of the Lindsay name.
‘I can understand it to some extent, but…’
But let’s be honest, to any reader rooting for Aila, the female lead, he was simply a bad guy.
That’s why there were so many comments cursing Jayden. I myself had left a few.
However, in the latter part of the novel, a small twist occurs when Charlotte is disowned by the family.
Representing the Lindsay family, Jayden conveys a deep apology to Aila, and after accepting the family’s remorse, she part ways with him.
But then, through Jayden’s perspective, we start to see his true feelings which he had kept hidden until now.
In fact, through constantly being associated with Aila because of Charlotte, Jayden had grown fond of her kind and assertive nature.
But this was a feeling he could never confess.
To Aila, Jayden was always the brother of her perpetrator, an accomplice who, even though he had shown remorse, had defended Charlotte.
Moreover, by that point, Aila had already confirmed her love for Cedric and moved on with him.
‘Wishing you every happiness for a long time.’
In the end, Jayden exits the stage quietly, secretly wishing happiness for the woman he loves, leaving her smiling blissfully beside Cedric.
The readers’ reaction to this chapter was mixed.
There were readers who still disliked Jayden for defending Charlotte and those who looked at him with sympathy, thinking he must’ve been in a lot of pain too.
And naturally, I fell into the latter group.
“Ugh! Jayden! I had no idea you felt that way! Ah, you foolish man!”
Unrequited love, one-sided love, relationships that can’t come to fruition, affections that are never reciprocated – these were the themes I went absolutely crazy for in romance novels.
It was this taste that always led me to favor the sub-male leads over the perfectly fine main ones.
Jayden’s wistful monologue was enough to stir my heart, and I found myself giving a little piece of it to him.
‘So this is what it’s come to…’
I watched Jayden, who was anxiously waiting to see what would become of him, with a sense of defeat.
I swallowed the frustration I wanted to hurl at my past self.
‘Human! Don’t leave such comments just because you have given your heart to someone in a moment of pity!’
It was so preposterous I was almost at a loss for words.
Of course, it’s true I felt pity for Jayden when I first learned of his secret.
But why had I only now remembered this story element that I’d buried in the back of my memory until today?
‘Because I’ve given away my heart to many characters.’
It’s a bit embarrassing to admit, but let’s just say… I was an ‘easy’ reader.
I had over thirty works that I called my “life’s favorite works,” and the characters I referred to as my “babies” were too numerous to count.
To such a Casanova of readers like me, Jayden was just a fleeting touch of emotion.
In fact, the very next chapter continued with the charm offensive of three other sub-male leads, and I quickly erased Jayden from my thoughts.
Moreover, the narrative of Jayden’s feelings for Aila ended there, and he didn’t even make an appearance afterward.
I thought I only left those cheeky ‘bed’ comments for the sub-male leads; I hadn’t even considered Jayden as a possibility.
Jayden hardly fit the bill of a sub-male lead in many respects, and if anything, he was more strongly identified as Charlotte’s brother.
Knowing the truth, I could now understand the odd behaviors he’d shown me all this time.
“So this was the reason you’ve been so inexplicably kind to me.”
Jayden let out an awkward laugh.
“You see… I had to ask for such an odd favor, I just wanted to build up some goodwill any way I could. Seems I might have overdone it a bit.”
“A bit? More like a lot. If you’d just been honest from the start… No, never mind. We weren’t exactly on the best of terms, were we?”
It was impossible for Jayden to casually ask his nemesis of a sister to let him sleep in her bed. Nobles had their pride, after all.
Not like some brazen Crown Prince I barely know who would dare to barge into my chambers.
Jayden started to stammer, almost in a defensive tone.
“There was a bit of selfishness involved, but my words about seeing you in a different light and wanting to improve our relationship weren’t lies.”
“Yeah, yeah, I get it. Let’s just say that’s true.”
“No, it really is.”
“Well, I find that hard to believe. You’ve glared at me in the corridors from time to time, even long after I was supposed to be reflecting on my mistakes.”
Because of that, I, with my timid heart, had to skulk around to avoid Jayden, sweating bullets.
“When have I ever done that?”
“Pretty much every time you saw me.”
At my words, Jayden furrowed his brow in thought, then let out an “Ah.”
“…That wasn’t me glaring.”
“Then what was it?”
“I was just at a loss for how to talk to you about this terrible curse. It seems I was frowning in contemplation.”
“That was your contemplative face?”
“Yes, in fact, I’ve been wanting to talk to you about it for a month or two, but I kept hesitating and…”
“And here I was, thinking you were glaring at me like you wanted to kill me.”
I never imagined that those threatening looks were actually filled with unspoken worries.
“Glaring like I want to kill you? Was my expression really that fierce?”
“Yeah. Be careful, a couple more ‘contemplations’ and you might start killing people with just your glare.”
“…I apologize. I didn’t mean to cause you any trouble.”
Looking at Jayden’s somewhat crestfallen apology, I couldn’t help but curl the corners of my mouth into a sly smile.
‘What was I so nervous about?’
Contrary to my worries, Jayden didn’t seem to harbor any resentment towards the current me.
And just look at that face. It was clear as day that he was worried sick I might not let him crash in my bed.
Ever since my spirit took over, I’d thought of Jayden as someone higher up the food chain, but it turns out he was the one in need.
“Ah, well, it’s not really a bother~.”
Riding the wave of liberation and a newfound sense of superiority, I casually waved my hand.
“Alright, I’ll grant your request. You can sleep in my bed.”
“But there’s a catch – if you take, you give, right?”
“Of course, I planned to offer my thanks.”
‘Thanks.’ That was indeed a sweet word, but I wasn’t clamoring for it out of sheer greed.
Having a proper exchange would prevent Jayden from harboring unnecessary suspicions about me.
Think about it. Things might be better now, but Charlotte and Jayden were sworn enemies once.
And to let him sleep in my bed for free?
‘That would be highly suspicious!’
So I had to ask for a reward to make my easy acquiescence to his request seem believable.
It’s not about being greedy, not at all.
“Tell me what you desire, and I’ll repay your kindness to the best of my ability.”
“We’ll talk details later, for now, just hit the bed. It’s late.”
Jayden, obedient as a well-trained child, scampered off to bed the moment I gave the order.
But then, as I went to lie down beside him, I saw his expression cloud over.
“If it makes you uncomfortable, sister, you can sleep somewhere else. The curse only demanded that I lay in your bed, not that we have to sleep together…”
“Forget it. If I try going to another room and someone sees me, that’d be a hassle, and the sofa’s too uncomfortable to sleep on.”
Honestly, I didn’t mind sleeping on the sofa, but I didn’t fancy a repeat of the ordeal I had with Reynard.
Believing my excuse, or not bothering to dispute it, Jayden settled down without another word. Well, he tried to.
It was a hesitant call, for reasons unknown. I, already reclined, looked up at Jayden.
Frozen midway into lying down, he was staring intently at a pillow he was about to use.
Responding to my query, Jayden silently prodded the pillow with his fingers before presenting it to me.
“There’s something attached to the pillow.”
It was a single strand of hair, silver and truly beautiful.
“There’s no one in the family, let alone among the servants, with silver hair.”
My heart sank.
“How did this come to be?”
With his gaze fixed on me, Jayden tilted his head slightly, questioning.