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“Well, it’s okay for a day or so. I’ve worn it well so far.”

“What do you mean, fluff?”

Lucas asked, his tone tinged with displeasure at the conversation he didn’t understand. Michael turned to his uncle and said in a cheerful voice.

“You didn’t know, uncle?”

“Ah, that…”

Lila saw his expression quirk up one side of his mouth and rushed to answer.

“Lila, just in case, I’ve got something for you… Great.”


Michael pulled a small box out of his pocket.

“Here. I was going to give it to you as a surprise before we left, but I’ll give it to you now.”

Lila carefully opened the gold-trimmed box. Inside was a ring wrapped in purple velvet.

The ring glowed in the dark, carved from a single barrel of the same magic stone as the mint-colored earrings Lucas wore.

“Michael, this is…”

The ring sparkled in the morning light.

“It’s a subspace ring. I’ve crafted some magic tools in it that I think you might need. For example, a magic tool that can be used instead of the fluff and a magic tool that prevents face recognition properly?”

“…Really, you’re amazing.”

Lila clasped her hands together and gushed.

“You’re a genius, Michae. I can’t believe you thought to make a tool like this, and even more amazing that you perfected it again, genius Michael!”

Lila knew Michael was a wizard, but she couldn’t help herself.

She jumped out of her seat and ran to him, hugging him tightly.

She rubbed his cheek and mumbled.

“I don’t think you need to go to the academy, just stay here with me!”

Michael blushed and laughed at her selfishness, but his words were different.

“It’s not quite there yet. It’s hard enough to make you look like a different face, but it’s magic that makes you inrecognizable, so take it out when you have a spare moment. You can take care of yourself, of course, but you don’t like showing your face. I love your face.”

Stretching out his short arms to hold her close, he stroked her hair and leaned his cheek against hers.

He didn’t want to lose this cozy embrace, and if she had a reason for her reluctance, he would protect it.

Unlike the two of them, Lucas was grim.


Crossing his legs lazily, Lucas let out a croaky laugh, his low-set eyes cold.

Lucas was annoyed that his nephew had beaten him to the ring, but more than that, he couldn’t help but feel a simmering jealousy.

While he found himself cheering and rejoicing in their affection, underneath it all was a fierce, burning jealousy, an obsession with her.

He wasn’t even sure which were his true feelings. He didn’t know where it came from, but he couldn’t help it.

The mere sight of his companion holding someone else was enough to make him feel uncomfortable and angry.

He tried to control himself, his expression cold and expressionless as his old habits returned.

* * *

“Well, then, I’ll be off.”

At the entrance to the mansion, all the servants were outside, including Vincent and Owen.

As they were all seeing Michael off, Lila asked with tears in her eyes.

“I want you to use the cosmetics I gave you every day, remember the new ones I told you about? You can use them if you want to, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to.”

Michael nodded helplessly as Lila spoke of pore primer, concealer, and foundation.

“Okay, okay. Don’t cry.”

“Heuk, don’t forget the stretching I told you about. If you do it consistently, it will definitely help you grow.”

Michael nodded, remembering the exercises she’d taught him the night he’d slept with her.

“And you have to think of me while you play with the blocks, and no cucumbers, and you have to eat your meat and vegetables together, okay?”

“Okay, Lila.”


Lucas stepped out, unable to see her, who kept talking to him in front of the carriage.

“You’d better get going, Michael.”

“Okay, Uncle.”

Lucas looked down at his nephew for a moment as he replied dutifully, then turned to face Henry.

“He is the heir to Montefeltra. You shall risk your life to help him.”


Henry replied at the top of his lungs, nervous at the look in Lucas’s eyes.

“Well, I’ll be back.”

Michael said, releasing his grip on Lila’s hand. Tears welled up in Lila’s eyes as she watched the round head climb into the carriage.

She knew she would see him when school was out, but her heart was empty. Michael was special to her.

He was the first friend to know her secret, and he showed her so much affection.

She wondered if that was why she felt so empty. She didn’t mean to cry, but she wanted to tell him goodbye.

As she watched the carriage pull away, Lila pulled out a handkerchief. Dabbing at her makeup to remove it, Lucas wrapped it around her shoulders as she wiped away her tears.

“Let’s go inside.”

Lucas said, making eye contact with Lila, who looked up at him questioningly as he spoke through clenched teeth.

“I need you to talk to me, deeply.”

Caught in the act of turning on her heel with a look that revealed the grumpiness she’d been holding in, Lila stumbled up to the third floor.

Expecting to go to her room, she turned to Lucas, who was entering on the right instead of the left.

“Are you going to the Duke’s room?”

Lucas glanced at her, her voice choked with tears, and answered briefly.


It was then that Lila, sensing that something was wrong with him, stopped her steps, widening her eyes.

“Why are you like that?”

“What’s wrong with me?”

“It’s a bit strange…”


“Hmm… You look a bit angry.”


Lucas raised one eyebrow and turned on his heel. Once inside, he headed straight for the bedroom.

Finally, Lila realized what was happening and spoke up.

“I told you we needed to talk!”

Lila, who was blushing just from entering the bedroom, grabbed his arm, but Lucas was unyielding.

He lifted her lightly and set her down on the bed. No, it was more like a light toss.


Lila’s eyes widened at the sight of him handling her like a feather.

Swooping over her, Lucas was wordlessly removing his shirt.

“Hey, what’s wrong with you all of a sudden!”

Lila exclaimed, covering her own front. Lucas felt like someone was manipulating him.

He easily lost his cool when it came to her. He wasn’t normally like this. He wasn’t impulsive, more of a planner and a doer.

“I don’t know, either. Why am I doing this.”

A firm finger pressed against his lips, and he rolled his eyes to look at her fingers.

The mint-colored ring his nephew had given her sat neatly on the index finger of her right hand.

Lucas’s eyes sparked at the sight of it, and he couldn’t really figure out why it offended him.

He just shouted. The words someone whispered to him sounded like a shout to him.

Don’t lose your companion.

She’s yours. Don’t make that mistake again.

She’s yours. She was always yours.

Lucas unconsciously released the scent. It was something he had never done before. He wanted to set the scent free, to bind her.

Like a bird in a cage.

He wanted to trap her in his scent like that.

Lowering his face slowly, he brushed his lips lightly across hers. Slowly, meticulously, as if to impregnate her with his scent.

His lowered chocolate-colored lashes slowly lifted. He looked into her cobalt-colored eyes and spoke.

“Cry for me.”

A side, lightly touching her lips, then falling away, he spoke again.

“Cry only for me.”

He sucked lightly on her earlobe, released it, and licked it deeply. Then he spoke again.

“Only for me.”

Lucas smiled lecherously as he released her. He closed his eyes, taking in her sweet scent as it grew stronger.

He savored her scent like he was savoring a cup of tea, searching deep within.

He left her own mark on her as he savagely drove her loose, loose place.

He wanted to breathe her scent in, to trap it inside of him.

No, he wanted to trap her.

Somewhere where only he could see her.

Like a beautiful bird in a cage of his own making.


Lila gulped out a familiar breath and clung to him, the affection in his groping hands making his heart ache.

He waited. For a very long time.

For her to come back to him.

* * *

Lucas frowned at the sound of loud breathing and opened his eyes. A harsh snort swept across his face.

“What was that?”

He opened his eyes in discomfort. Then he saw something gray blocking his vision. It tickled his skin and he brushed it away with the back of his hand.

“Are you awake?”

A booming voice called out, accompanied by a strong snort. Lucas’s expression turned fierce in an instant at the sound of the voice.

“What are you?”

“You mean me?”

Brushing away the fur blocking his vision, Lucas looked around. Surely Lila should be at his side, but she was nowhere to be seen.

As soon as he realized that, his eyes flipped open.

“What have you done with my wife!”

Feverish and annoyed by the furry thing that kept getting in his way, Lucas strained his hands, ready to grab and rip at whatever he could see.

Then his body jerked forward. Rolling off the ground and landing with a thud as if something intangible had pushed him, Lucas looked up quickly to assess the situation.

And then he stiffened like a man at a loss for words at the enormity of the entity he now faced.

“I’m sure your wife is sleeping soundly by your side.”

In a belated answer to his question, the elusive giant yawned.

“You have slept for a very long time, and yet you are still sleepy.”

Emerald eyes peered down at Lucas.

They were transparent, emitting a deep green glow that was not human in texture. His glossy gray fur was long and luxuriant, and his lightly flicked tail stirred up a gust of wind.

Resting its head on its massive forepaws, the wolf was as tall as a mountain.

He turned his line of sight.

He saw Lila lying beside him, sleeping soundly, and breathed a deep sigh of relief.

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