T/N: Sasha is actually a guy (I think)! sorry for the mistranslation (to be fair, authors usually don’t use pronouns so up until now I was confused.)
“Does it hurt a lot?”
As they were talking, Alec and Lauren locked eyes briefly.
Lauren quickly averted her gaze as if caught peeking at something.
On Alec’s neck, just below his collarbone, a large snake’s head was tattooed. Usually, beastmen didn’t like to reveal their true identities, so why did this man with the snake-shapeshifting ability have such a large tattoo engraved on his back and neck?
Alec continued to gently open Lauren’s lips that were trying to close and applied the ice pack.
As he held the ice, the painful area began to feel somewhat better. She wanted to ask where he had obtained this ice, but her mouth was open, making it difficult to speak.
“Every day you make tea for guests, but you can’t even drink hot tea yourself. Don’t close your mouth. Ah…”
Alec gently parted Lauren’s lips that were trying to close and continued the ice pack.
The part that had been stinging felt a little better with the ice. She wanted to ask where he got this ice, but her mouth was open, making it difficult to speak.
“It’s okay now.”
Lauren made an inaccurate noise while looking up at Alec. Alec smiled crookedly, staring intently at Lauren’s red tongue.
“It’s okay. I’ll endure to the end.”
This ointment works well in the mouth. Alec said that, but in his mind, he was thinking about something else. The urge to try something else on those lips immediately caused blood to rush to his lower body again.
When a bulge appeared in the middle of his pants, Lauren’s face turned bright red.
“What are you thinking?!”
“It’s proof that I’m a healthy man. If you’re concerned about this, then are you okay now?”
“I thought so.”
Alec withdrew his hand from the ice and bent down, meeting Lauren eye-to-eye as he sat in the chair. And then, their lips met in an instant.
Hmm. The hot breath exhaled from their lips stopped just before touching. It was a momentary gesture of seeking permission. As soon as Lauren’s lips reflexively parted, the snake sneakily explored the sweet interior.
The kiss lasted long. The bitter scent of coffee lingered in their mouths. Lauren, who usually didn’t drink coffee, found it quite sweet and accepted it.
Alec’s weight pressed against her, forcing Lauren’s head to fall back.
Lauren’s mind went blank as Alec greedily swallowed even her breaths.
When Lauren reached out her hand to push Alec away, his firm chest muscles met her palm. His body didn’t budge at all, but rather eagerly welcomed her as he squirmed under Lauren’s touch.
Alec placed his hand over Lauren’s and moved it down his body. Lauren’s shoulders trembled. Every time she felt the elasticity of his muscles on her palm, her legs involuntarily twitched.
Taking advantage of that opportunity, Alec’s pheromones flowed and steadily climbed up Lauren’s body. Despite her efforts to clean herself diligently, Alec’s scent clung to every corner of Lauren’s skin. Lauren’s body willingly accepted the possessiveness of the male marking her as his female.
‘At this rate, I’m going to lose my job here.’
You can’t flirt with a man in the sacred workplace. Just as Lauren was about to pull herself away.
Someone urgently knocked on the locked door of the tea house. It was Alec’s aide, Sasha.
“Hey, Alec! You need to come out quickly.”
Sasha’s tone was more urgent than usual. Alec, who reluctantly parted his lips, shouted in a low voice toward the entrance.
“Don’t disturb me.”
“I don’t want to bother you either, but an important client arrived earlier than expected.”
By the way, why are there so many threatening pheromones released in front of the shop? If a werewolf passed through here, they would have fled with their tails tucked. Sasha fanned himself, dispersing the intense pheromones and shivering.
“Just who is that client anyway?”
“It’s your clan, Alec.”
Alec, who had been pressing against Lauren, stopped moving. He slowly rose to his feet and glared at the entrance.
The word ‘clan’ might be cozy to some, but to Alec, it was sharper than a dagger.
“Ugh, I can feel your gaze all the way here―”
Sasha spoke with a grumbling voice and knocked on the door again, urging Alec to come out quickly.
“God damn it.”
Alec gritted his teeth as he wiped his thumb across Lauren’s saliva-slicked lips. He looked down at her with a meaningful glance before kissing her lightly on the forehead.
“Unfortunately, I have to leave now. We’ll see each other later.”
Alec left the teahouse without even putting on his shirt. Sasha tried to wave at Lauren through the slightly open door, but Alec, who saw it with displeasure, slammed the entrance, so Sasha couldn’t get a good look at Lauren.
Suddenly left alone, Lauren stared down at the breakfast Alec had prepared and then gazed out of the window.
The time before dawn was unusually dark. Alec had disappeared into that darkness, walking away.
At a construction site where railroad tracks were being expanded.
Sweating laborers were diligently operating heavy machinery.
“This way, Paulo! Help me with the hammering here!”
“I got it. I’ll be right there!”
Paulo is a beastman, a shepherd who had recently joined the construction team. Among the dogs, he excelled in hunting, so he was confident in physical work.
Getting a job at the construction site after working as a mercenary was purely for the money. He had heard rumors that the Black Snake Company was hiring beastmen on good terms, but he never imagined the pay would be better than risking his life.
Meeting a charming woman there was a bonus.
Paulo glanced sideways while hammering. The woman with her long silver hair tied up caught his eye.
‘Even though she’s a woman, she’s incredibly strong. Impressive.’
At that moment, the woman was effortlessly driving a crocodile beastman into the ground. She was truly remarkable.
“Does that woman come to the construction site occasionally?”
Paulo jabbed the ribs of the laborer next to him. The laborer, who was taking a big bite of his sandwich, raised his head.
“She’s crazy. Don’t even pay her any attention.”
“Crazy? Seriously? Does she just beat up anyone like that?”
“That crocodile bastard there just touched her butt.”
The laborer explained why she was called a crazy woman after gulping down water from his bottle.
“She’s a wolf beastman and goes around claiming she’s a god of this kingdom. That’s why she’s called crazy.”
“You mean the dead… wolf spirit?”
“Yeah, even though beastmen and spirits are like heaven and earth apart. Her way of speaking is like an old man’s, so it’s absurd.”
The laborer imitated Lauren’s way of speaking and chuckled.
Paulo shook his head. He couldn’t believe that this dignified and elegant woman was rumored to be insane.
The next time he saw her, he realized that she was just a little unusual. It was probably on the day they celebrated the completion of railway track 17.
“As we celebrate the completion of this project, let us pray to the gods to keep accidents from happening here. The gods will surely watch over the work we’ve done with our sweat!”
It was when the construction foreman was pouring beer into a wooden cup and laughing heartily,
“Sure, I’ll watch over it. I’ll bless you too.”
Lauren said, patting the foreman’s shoulder and offering a kind smile.
Although there was a brief moment of silence, the laborers, who were familiar with Lauren’s reactions, accepted it and began chatting among themselves.
‘What just happened?’
Paulo chuckled as he alternated his gaze between Lauren, who was looking kindly at the laborers, and the laborers clinking their beer glasses.
Lauren and Paulo first spoke to each other at the railroad construction site outside the capital.
Working at the construction site about six times a month, Lauren was known for taking on tasks that even some men found challenging.
“Can you move this over there?”
Wearing work clothes, Lauren lifted a stack of steel bars effortlessly. Her strength was no joke. Paulo stared with his mouth slightly agape as he watched Lauren easily move materials that even he couldn’t handle alone.
“Hey, Paulo! Don’t just stand there. Move aside!”
At that moment, a cart filled with rocks approached from the opposite side. The cart’s wheel barely held on as it rolled, and it lost its balance, spilling the rocks.
Paulo, who realized too late, just stared blankly as the pile of rocks rained down on him.
Then, a steel column suddenly flew and slammed right in front of Paulo. The flying pile of rocks hit the steel, bouncing off to the side, and Paulo was left covered in dust.
“Who on earth…?”
Slowly, Paulo turned his head in the direction from which the steel had flown.
“You don’t seem surprised.”
Lauren wiped the sweat off her forehead and extended her hand to Paulo. Paulo couldn’t respond. That was the day when he clearly witnessed the halo flowing from the back of Lauren’s head.
After that, Paulo continued to work diligently on the site. As a result, he occasionally came across Lauren and was able to continually build their friendship.
But recently, a problem arose. Suddenly, upper-level officials started intruding on the site.
‘They always come on the day when Lauren is working.’
Thanks to them, the quality of the meals distributed at the site improved, but Paulo felt uneasy. Whenever he tried to talk to Lauren, those damn higher-ups would glare at him fiercely, so these days he couldn’t even go near Lauren.
‘I wonder what kind of relationship they have.’
The innocent Lauren wouldn’t have fallen head over heels for the higher-up who’s said to be a womanizer, right? Paulo pondered as he ate his provided lunch and glanced at Lauren.
Lauren was seated in the VIP section with the higher-up and his aide, having their meal.
There were no laborers envious of Lauren for dining with such a distinguished person. That’s how difficult it is to deal with the leader of the Black Snake Company.
The fussy boss had a habit of grabbing meat from his aide’s lunchbox and putting it in Lauren’s lunchbox.
“Hey! That’s my meat! Why do you keep taking my meat, Alec!”
“Because I don’t like seeing you enjoy it. Why?”
The higher-up unreservedly took all the meat from his lunchbox and handed it to Lauren.
“No―I need to eat a protein-based meal.”
“You should bulk up to a certain extent. If you go too far, even the ladies will dislike you, Sasha.
Instead, the higher-up transferred the vegetables from his lunchbox to the aide. The aide seemed to like it, as he giggled foolishly.
“Oh? Am I being a bit excessive now?”
The aide flexed his bulging muscles and raised his chin with a scowling face. Although his expression showed that he did not want to see or evaluate the body of his subordinate, it seemed like he was barely holding back for the loyal aide.
“Then I’ll eat only vegetables for the next few days.”
“Do as you please.”
The higher-up folded his hands and watched Lauren eat. When Lauren finished her meal in one bowl, she briefly revealed a satisfied smile that could even be mistaken for a grandfather, then quickly hid it.