“Well, I wonder.”
“…I feel like you’re close. You seem like you would have a lot of friends…”
He was mistaken, firmly so. What kind of friend could I have in such a remote place? Yet, seeing his favorable view of me, I chose not to deny his words. With a subtle smile, I observed as the prince’s head dropped in disappointment.
“Wh-where is Isaka Kingdom?” he stuttered, seeking answers I couldn’t possibly possess.
“I don’t know the details either.”
How could I possibly know about a fictional kingdom from a novel? Turning my back to the prince, I settled myself down.
“But more importantly, you should hurry and get dressed. If you’re more comfortable being completely naked, then there’s nothing I can do, but…”
“T-that’s not the case. I- I am aware of shame.”
His words brought forth another smile from me, a smile that went unnoticed as I opened the book before me. The illustration of Raymond, which had once captured my attention, now seemed insignificant compared to the presence of the handsome man standing behind me—a man who was unaware of his own charm, with his self-esteem hanging precariously low, making his personality the embodiment of timidity.
“Are you done getting dressed?”
“W-wait a moment.”
I gave the prince ample time to compose himself, but he stuttered. By then, I had turned around once more. I saw the prince’s delicate hand frozen against his chest, struggling to fasten the front of his shirt with strings.
“I told you to wait… why…”
“But you’re taking too long. What’s wrong? Can I help you?”
“Ah, no. I d-don’t want that.”
“You say you don’t want it, but why are you lowering your hand?”
He attempted to speak sharply, but his actions betrayed his feelings. I walked gently, drawing nearer to the bed. The prince shifted his gaze anxiously, clearly uncomfortable in this vulnerable position.
Below his prominent adam’s apple, his smooth chest lay exposed. It seemes that he had tried his best to tie the string, as his skin bore red marks in several places. Seeing his skin, it reminded me of the word, ‘porcelain skin’.
I extended my hand toward the prince’s seemingly flawless chest.
“…This is your fault. You chose such complicated clothes for me.”
“Ah, indeed. I take full responsibility for that.”
“Ah, no, I didn’t mean…” The prince retorted in a small voice.
His skin brushed against the tip of my fingers, its warmth and softness impossible to ignore. I tried to divert my attention from that sensation, focusing instead on the untied strings on either side.
Tying a string in a crisscrossing X shape was not challenging, but due to the prince’s nervousness, I found myself fumbling with the knot multiple times. And there, below the bewitching silver eyelashes, I caught glimpses of his captivating purple eyes, observant and watchful of my every movement.
“See, Your Highness. Watch and learn. You just need to make a circular shape like this and loop the nearby string around it.”
“It’s… difficult,” the prince murmured, his anxiety infecting me and causing my words to stumble.
To steady myself, I took a deep breath and swallowed, feeling the dryness in my throat.
“But you should at least know how to do this much on your own.”
“I guess… Ah, I get it.”
“No, it’s fine. I’ll just tie it for you from now on. After all, even nobles didn’t do anything with their own hands, so there’s no need for you to bother learning. I exist solely to serve your needs.”
As I lifted my gaze, I noticed the prince’s plump lower lip pouting, and his eyes, which had been fixed on my hands, now met mine directly. I found myself captivated, drawn into the depths of his gaze.
Could such perfection truly exist in this world? In that moment, I felt as though I understood the true meaning of being spellbound by someone.
However, as always, the prince quickly averted his gaze, covering his mouth and nose with his large hands. He blinked slowly, resembling a figure in a painting, and emitted a soft cough, as if his throat were constricted.
“Yes. Would you like to see it once again?”
“I-I’m done… Ple-please leave.”
“Oh my. When you turned into a puppy, you always snuggled up to me.”
“Don’t… Don’t tease me. I’ll turn into a beast again if I’m angry.”
That would be unacceptable. My room was not as spacious as the prince’s bedroom. If he were to revert to his monstrous form, my bed would be destroyed, and my cherished collection of romance novels could be torn to shreds.
For a moment, I remembered about yesterday’s bewildering encounter and shook my head. By the way, when and why does the prince transform into a puppy or a beast? It would be great to know in advance.
“Alright, I understand. I’m sorry. Honestly, I was really scared yesterday. Your teeth were right in front of my face. Oh, but your fur was so beautiful. Soft and warm.”
“You… you said you were scared.”
“I couldn’t help it. It was my first time seeing you like that. But I’ll try to get used to it.”
“If you were… scared,” The prince tilted his head, furrowing his brows and hesitating, his lips moving hesitantly. With his limited experience in speaking, I decided to patiently await his words. After a while, the prince, looking uncomfortable in his newly acquired shirt, clenched his fists tightly and finally continued, “why… why do you keep saying that? I-I’m scary. Someone like you… I’ve never seen before.”
“Oh, really? I’ve also never seen someone as beautiful, handsome, and capable as you, Your Highness… Oh, dear, are you crying?”
Read ahead here.