Killian said, setting me down on the bed.
The sheets were clean and soft against my feet, and I felt good.
It’s so easy for me to feel better with just one touch.
I expected Killian to leave the bedroom right away, but he walked over to the table and returned with cushions for the lounge chair and couch.
“If you get bored.”
He said as he dumped the cushions around the bed.
I looked up at Killian, wondering if he was putting the cushions on the floor because of me.
Would I hurt myself if I fell off the bed?
His expression was nonchalant, but his actions were somehow out of character.
“Only in this room, no other.”
With one knee on the carpet, Killian made eye contact with me on the bed.
I know I’m not supposed to be seen, so I’ll do as he says, but why the hell is the crown prince letting me live?
He should have killed the cat on sight.
“Do you understand?”
I could see my reflection, furry and white, like the crystals of a snowflake layered on top of each other.
Its slitted pupils held no warmth, no intent to do anything sinister.
I took a step toward him, wondering if time had suddenly stopped.
After all, I had just crossed into another dimension, so maybe that was to be expected.
“You understand, that’s right.”
Killian said, his eyes narrowing as I approached.
He looked dumbfounded, as if he thought it was ridiculous, but realized there was only one way to confirm it.
I opened my mouth to reply, but closed it.
Instead, I stared at the closed door.
Outside the door, Leno MacMillan, the Minister of Protocol, was waiting for Killian to come out.
Leno MacMillan was the man who had followed Killian to the study after delivering the Emperor’s orders.
But as far as I could tell, he was following Killian in position, but not in action, keeping an eye on the Crown Prince like a grown-up.
‘I’ll just stop by the bedroom for a moment.’
‘Your Majesty ordered you to come immediately. Have you forgotten?’
‘That’s why I said a moment. Did you not hear, Minister of Protocol.’
The returning silence told me that he disapproved of Killian’s attitude.
But it was not for the Minister of Protocol to refute the Crown Prince’s orders again.
Leno was forced to watch the corridor in silence as Killian told him to wait outside the door.
Unable to respond out loud, I leaned my head into his palm in a gesture of understanding.
The warmth of his large hand washed over my cheeks.
At the same time, I saw Killian’s eyes widen.
He looked surprised that I understood.
He jerked his hand away from my head and looked back down at me.
There was tension in his cracked eyes.
I wondered if this was suspicious behavior.
Even if it wasn’t, I didn’t want to make a fool of myself, not when my life depended on being alert in this world.
I padded around the bed on my little paws, like a kitten who had just been pampered.
I didn’t know what would be best, but I didn’t want to be too knowledgeable or too oblivious.
I could hear him chuckle softly.
“What am I thinking?”
Killian stared down at me for a long moment, his face hard, before turning away.
Finally, he walked away.
I thought about staying awake for a moment, but decided against it, afraid that if I fell asleep, I wouldn’t be able to hear the others coming and going.
It must have been a while.
After a while, I glanced at the tightly closed door and then around the room.
Faced with the place I hadn’t even had time to look around earlier, I began to recognize the bedroom.
A row of tall, rectangular glass windows, each with white muslin curtains and navy blackout shades, lined the floor below.
Beyond the starry windows, the blue lake and colorful gardens looked like a painting in progress.
As I stood on the edge of the bed and looked out, I examined the bedroom’s furnishings, couch, and chairs.
In contrast to the colorful exterior, Killian’s bedroom was simple, in a good way, and bland, in a bad way.
I could tell that each piece was made of quality materials, but his room was stripped down to the bare minimum, like a traveler’s room, and it didn’t feel like he lived here.
There were no signs of life.
In the chapter with Lady Gisela’s story, she said that the first time she saw Killian was the day the crown prince returned to the palace for vacation after years away.
That means he was only in the palace a few days before he became an adult…….
I walked around the bed, taking in the view of the room, and then, out of habit, rested my head on the pillow.
There are days in my life when my pillow feels this high.
I tried lying down on my stomach on the sheets for the umpteenth time, but something felt off.
Suddenly, I was reincarnated from a human to a cat, and the world was peaceful regardless of my condition.
I wondered when the crown prince would return from his study.
As if the milk I drank earlier wasn’t enough, I felt hungry and shrunken.
Looking back, I wonder if it’s okay to eat anything after drinking milk and still feel full.
If so, I can try more types of food next time.
Boredom sets in as I spend my time in a room with nothing interesting.
I wish something would appear to break the unbearable silence, even if it was Killian.
* * *
I wonder how much time has passed.
The sound of a door closing.
My ears perked up in response.
Only after the dusky light of dawn had seeped into the room did the door open.
It was Killian.
He was walking slowly, his form similarly shadowy.
“Ah……. There you are.”
Killian’s voice cut through the air as he stopped in the pale moonlight that seeped through the curtains.
There was something odd about the way he looked in the half-dark shadows.
Was he injured?
The sickly scent of blood stung her nostrils from somewhere deep within his uniform.
“You’ve been quiet.”
But Killian didn’t seem to mind, stripping off his jacket and stalking over to the bed.
Dressed in a white blouse and black pants, he closed his eyes for a moment and exhaled.
The room was silent enough that even a breeze could hear him.
After a few seconds, he opened his eyes and looked down at me.
In his bedroom, the only light was the moonlight, and Killian’s face was streaked with deep shadows.
He put his hand on my back and stroked my hair slowly with his thumb.
I’d often wondered why all the men in the novels had the same expressionless faces.
I’d often wondered if it was some kind of set-up to look cool.
Now I realized that Killian was a chiseled, unmuscled human being.
As if he’d been trained and honed to do so for years.
“I have something for you.”
As if on cue, he fumbled with his shed uniform jacket and opened the inside pocket.
With a rustling sound, he set something down in front of me.
His words made the hairs on my back stand on end, and there before me was Madeleine.
My mouth watered, and then I saw the red, raw marks on the back of his hand as he set it down and returned to his seat.
“I can’t believe you’re eating this.”
He said in a concerned tone and broke off a piece of madeleine and held it up to my mouth.
I gulped it down and looked up at him.
It was more the crown prince’s fault than mine that he had eaten so little, but he didn’t show the slightest sign of hunger.
I glanced at the untouched Madeleine and nudged it with the tip of my nose.
I didn’t want to give it to him with my mouth because I didn’t want to get saliva on it, and I didn’t want to give it to him with my hands because I only had my feet.
Well, I suppose a nose would be less appealing to the recipient.
But I wasn’t about to be called into his father’s study to see someone who had probably been beaten.
She pushed Madeleine until she was near him, then tapped his leg with my front paw.
“Meeeeeeeeeoow. Chop-chop. Meow. Chop-chop.”
Frustrated that she couldn’t speak, she pointed at the madeleine with her head, pretending to eat it.
“Let’s share, now…….”
Killian, who had been watching in disbelief as I pushed the madeleine up to the tip of my nose, looked at me even more incredulously.
I wondered if I had crossed the line.
How dare a mere cat push Madeleine’s nose at the Crown Prince.
Well, just because he’s injured doesn’t mean he’s mentally weak.
Maybe I shouldn’t be so human right now.
I looked up at Killian and kicked the Madeleine back at him.
Looking at Killian’s frozen face, I rolled the madeleine into a ball with my head this time.
I sat down and began to eat the madeleine, ignoring his strange gaze.
I guess that’s what cats are for, being moody as hell.
I heard a heavy sigh from behind me and turned to see Killian heading for the bathroom.
I’m glad he didn’t react too much to my behavior, but seeing him come back hurt made me feel bad for some reason.
I wonder if this happens often.
The original story centered around Emperor Killian, and the occasional flashbacks gave us a good idea of the toll the man had endured.
But seeing it up close and personal was, to say the least, much harder to take.
I slowly crouched down and rested my chin on my front paws, looking at his backside.
Imagining how he must have felt to endure his father’s spanking as a boy, albeit with the physique of an adult, made me realize that it was wrong.
What could I do here?
I held my breath and waited for the bathroom door to open.
I knew I had to stay as quiet as possible, because a wounded man can be sensitive and nervous.
* * *
A nap, unable to overcome the pain, slowly escaped from him.
The intensity of the punishment this time was incomparably more vicious than ever before.
Still, he was surprised that he had managed to fall asleep for even a moment.
With visions of his father punishing him and his entourage, including Mrs. Gisela, seated near him, Killian rolled over onto his other side with a narrowed brow.
If he opened his eyes, the nap that had escaped him would never come back, so he closed them and tried to fight it, but it was already out of his hands.
Killian slowly opened his eyes, giving up on sleep.
In the foggy moonlight, something blurred in his vision.
It was supposed to be the cat…… asleep under his pillow.
A silver-haired figure crouched down in front of him.
It was the back of a woman.