In the early hours of dawn, while everyone else was peacefully asleep and soft breaths filled the air, a pair of sparkling eyes was wide open.
‘I- Is he asleep?’
With just the slightest turn of her head, the bed sheets rustle loudly.
Startled, Charlotte froze and cautiously glanced up. To her relief, there was no sign of him stirring. The person lying next to her continued to sleep soundly.
Sighing with relief, she thought, ‘Ah, good. Now let’s try moving again…!’
She reached out to grab the sheet and attempted to lift her upper body, however, she stopped. Her upper body refused to rise beyond 45 degrees.
No matter how hard she struggled, she couldn’t manage to get up!
‘What’s going on? Why…?’
Frantically searching for the cause, her eyes fell on a muscular arm tightly wrapped around her slender waist. The man’s face, bathed in moonlight, exuded a serene aura. Shadows accentuated the contours of his smooth forehead and sharp nose, giving an air of mystique akin to that of an ancient sculpture.
However, his arms wrapped around Shasha’s waist were terrifyingly tight.
‘He’s asleep! Why is it that I can’t escape him?!’
Twisting her body in various ways to free her tormented waist, Shasha devised a plan. She knew that the man enjoyed it when she sang him a lullaby. If she could lull him into a deeper slumber, his grip would weaken.
Gently patting the monstrous arm, she could feel the muscles gradually losing their strength, just as she had expected. Perhaps his grip was intensified by the wine he had been drinking all night.
‘Great, that’s it!’
With careful precision, Shasha finally managed to free herself from his clutches. In the process, her wig fall off, revealing her long, voluminous hair that cascaded down to her waist. Yet, Shasha paid it no heed as she swiftly made her way out of the luxurious mansion.
In a secret location, she found someone already waiting for her—Ethan, the original male lead and soon-to-be brother-in-law.
“Shasha, come here quickly. Did you get caught?”
“What time is it now? Isn’t it too late?”
“No, it’ll be fine.”
Shasha donned the robe handed to her by Ethan and prepared to mount the horse, however, she suddenly halted her movements. A wave of sentiment washed over her as she contemplated on leaving the Grand Duke’s mansion.
‘At first, I wanted to desperately escape, thinking that those days were long gone…’
Memories of the past flashed through her mind. Running on an acupressure mat, hanging weights on her arms and legs, walking on water where hungry crocodile swarms, training to pass through a burning ring of fire—these thoughts crossed her mind.
‘Hm, escaping is truly the best’
The sentimental feeling evaporated instantly, leaving no trace.
Before riding off into the distance, she cast one final glance at Ethan.
“Thank you for helping me.”
“I hope that when we meet again, I can truly call you my brother-in-law.”
Embracing Ethan, just like when they were young, Shasha eventually mounted the horse.
Clip-clop, clip-clop—the sound of hooves grew fainter as the magnificent and splendid mansion grew farther away.
The times she spent as a trainee, not as the esteemed daughter of a Count, would gradually fade away along with the distant Grand Duke’s mansion.
Shasha was certain of that.
Unbeknownst to her, someone was relentlessly watching her as she grew farther away.
───── ⋆⋅☆⋅⋆ ─────
A deep sigh escaped the lips of the Grand Duke, Raphael Astrid La Ludovica.
She was gone.
For the first time in his life, he desired someone, yet he had to pretend that’s not the case. He was aware that her heart belonged to another man.
In the end…
Seeing the empty space beside him, he couldn’t bring himself to lie back down. Rising from the bed, he pushed his bangs back and retrieved the fallen wig from the floor. As his fingers caressed the soft strands, a sweet sensation coursed through his spine, sending shivers down his back. Like a ravenous beast…
It was the fragrance that ignited his longing for her.
“Darling, enjoy the brief freedom I grant you.”
We will meet again soon.
───── ⋆⋅☆⋅⋆ ─────
TL Note: I think I should clarify a change I made in the translation. So in the raw, the author often use the name Sasha and Charlotte interchangeably in narration, which is kind of weird to me? So in the end, I decided to just stick with Charlotte for narration just for consistency sake.
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