How to Tame My Beastly Husband — Chapter 13. Strange Noises
This chapter has been re-worked by Regan, we have picked up the novel from chapter 64
Looking down at her, Raphael’s face was especially cold. Framed with his flowing black hair, he had a harsh beauty, as if he were not a real person. But the hands touching her were trembling slightly, as if embarrassed to reveal the emotion he had hidden behind that mask.
A strange suspicion drifted through her, a hunch that she couldn’t articulate. If she let him see her weakness now, Raphael would listen to her. Her lips parted to confirm it.
“It hurts, Raphael…”
The hand pressing on her forehead lost its strength, and his angry face turned to her teary eyes. He tried to spit out another snide insult, but nothing would come. It took a few seconds to summon another rebuke.
“Of course it will hurt. You’ve torn the skin on your forehead.”
The empty words weren’t very comforting, but the barbs usually in that cruel voice were missing. Encouraged, Annette reached for the hem of his shirt. Crumpled in her palm, it was warm with the heat radiating from his body.
His eyes naturally went to that hand, and both of them realized together that there was blood on her hand. Quickly, she yanked it back. His shirt was dark, so it probably wouldn’t show any stains, but Raphael probably wouldn’t like getting blood on his clothes.
“Sorry,” she said, abstracted. “I’m just a little dizzy…”
He had to bend to hear her words, and for a second, Annette thought he was trying to shake off her hand. But suddenly he caught her behind her knees and lifted her up, and headed for the mansion with long strides.
She was startled by his kindness. Her feet left the ground and her vision blurred at sudden vertigo. For a second, she clutched at his shoulder, and then remembered the blood on her hand and yanked it back. Now she had stained his clothing twice.
“I’m sorry, Raphael, I got blood on your clothes…”
She was sorry for so many things today. Raphael did not reply to her apology, only moved faster. When he glanced down at the wound, he could see her blonde hair was soaked with blood, and here she was, worrying about his shirt. He was dumbfounded.
And the body swaying in his arms felt unnaturally light. She was soft, slender, smelled so shockingly good, and was so weak that even this small wound wrung his heart with pity. Anyone would have felt the same.
Raphael didn’t know what to do with such a fragile person. He was worried he might break her. Heading for the mansion as fast as he could, he flung the front door open and strode up to the second floor, cradling her carefully. Gently, he laid her down on the sofa in the sitting area of her bedroom.
“Thank you, Raphael…” Her voice was faint. Her face was pale. Raphael turned his back and left without a word, and the cool wind of his departure caressed her cheek. Annette closed her eyes at the familiar sight of that retreating back.
A short time later, three maids rushed in to look at her. Raphael must have sent them.
Quickly, they wipe away the drying blood with a soft cloth soaked in warm water, then applied a clotting powder to the wound and bandaged it. After making her drink some water, they laid Annette in her bed.
“Sleep a little, madam. You lost a lot of blood and ought to rest.”
Already exhausted, Annette gave a weak nod. It was still afternoon, and the sun was high in the sky, but she didn’t have the energy to open her eyes. Annette fell into a deep sleep.
* * *
That night, the moon was especially bright.
Annette woke from her sleep and slipped out of her snow-white bed. She still felt a little dizzy from her accident, but she was in much better shape after so much sleep. Since she had fallen asleep in the afternoon, at first she thought it was morning.
I’m thirsty, she thought blankly. And maybe it was because she was still a little dizzy with blood loss, but even though she was usually afraid of the dark and did not go anywhere alone at night, suddenly she had the courage to go out. The bright moonlight was enough to give her a little courage. Carefully, she stepped out into the hall with a lit lamp in her hand. She would just get a drink of warm water and then go back to bed.
She could hear the wind howling outside the closed windows of the hall, and Annette shivered at the frightening sound. The wind had been gusting since that morning, and it seemed like it would rain tomorrow. Her feet were carrying her downstairs automatically when she suddenly stopped.
That was Raphael’s voice, blending with the howl of the wind. Their rooms were on the same floor, though far apart at opposite ends of the hall.
The way to his room through the darkness of the corridor was frightening, but Annette decided to be brave. Raphael had helped her today, and she was worried about him. Lifting her lamp, she took a step forward. She would just check to make sure he was okay.
Raphael loved to drink. He especially loved to drink at night. Maybe he was sick, or suffering from alcohol poisoning. She had heard of people that had choked on their own vomit. What if that happened to him? She was worried for him.
Holding the lamp, she carefully made her way to his room, and when she reached the door, she could hear the faint sounds of metal ringing from inside, and the muffled sounds of shouts and sobs. They were sounds she had never heard from his bedroom at any hour. Startled, Annette quickly knocked on the door.
“Raphael, are you all right? It’s Annette.”
There was no answer. Annette kept knocking on the door and even kicked it, but he didn’t answer. Inside, there was a faint groan from the door, so he was definitely inside.
“Raphael, are you sick? I’m sorry, but I’m coming in.”
Bravely, she pushed the door open and stepped inside. Unlike her with her fear of the dark, Raphael did not leave any lights on. Fortunately, the moon was bright enough to make out the interior of the large bedroom.
Turning, she searched for Raphael. He wasn’t on the sofa or the bed, and for a moment she wondered if she’d heard wrong. If it weren’t for a strange noise coming from a corner of the room, she might have turned and left.
A strange scraping sound, like metal being dragged over stone, came to her ears. Annette whirled toward that corner, hidden in the shadows of the bed. That eerie noise was coming from there. Her hand shook with fear, but she plucked up her courage and walked toward it, lifting her lamp.
Fortunately, she knew the man in the corner very well. Raphael was bare-chested, as he usually did not wear a shirt when he slept, and though she was glad to see the familiar silhouette, Annette hesitated to approach him. There was something wrong.
He was the most distinguished swordsman in the kingdom, and had always been hypersensitive to his surroundings. But right now, he didn’t seem to have noticed her presence. There was a longsword in his hand, and he was swinging it at the wall, his eyes unfocused. Every time his sword struck the wall, the blade dragged down it, making that creepy rasping noise.
“What are you doing? Oh, my goodness! Are you all right?” Annette asked, shaking. He didn’t seem to understand her. His blue eyes were half-closed and cloudy, his face expressionless, though somehow he was still beautiful. The moment she saw his eyes, Annette understood.
He was sleepwalking.
She felt as if someone were suffocating her. She had been married to him for five years in her previous life, and never suspected he had this condition. No wonder he refused to sleep in her bed. After having sex with her, he would always go back to his own room, as if their business was concluded. That cold withdrawal had hurt her feelings very much.
But now that she thought about it, a proud man like Raphael would have hated for her to see him like this. Annette’s hand rose automatically to her heart, and a tear slipped down her cheek.
Raphael was sobbing. He swung his sword at the wall again, and though it was hard to see in the dark, it didn’t seem like this had happened only once or twice. The walls lit by the moonlight were covered with slices from his sword, and his forehead was streaming with a cold sweat.
What do I do?
Annette hesitated. She couldn’t leave him like this. If she ignored him, he might do this all night long, trapped in his endless nightmare. As soon as she thought that, she couldn’t stop herself.
“Raphael…” Cautiously, she reached out, wrapping her fingers around the hilt of the sword. Raphael’s eyes drifted down to her, bleak. He looked so confused, she wasn’t sure if he had come back to his senses or not. In her softest voice, she kept speaking. “Stop that and come with me, Raphael. Raphael, hello? This way. Hold my hand and follow me.”
Fortunately, he followed her as she led him to the sofa. She tried to take his sword away from him as he sat down, but he clung to it, refusing to let it go. His eyes trembled as he looked at her.
“Is that you, Robert? You’re not supposed to be here, you…you’re meant to be on the front line…defense, the battle…” His glazed eyes did not recognize her. “No, no…are you really alive? I knew it, that’s right, you must be, I knew it…”
She was embarrassed to hear the nonsense pouring from him. In his mind, he had returned to old battlefields he had left years ago, to a hell of blood and death and screaming.
King Selgratis had a number of illegitimate children. When he was born, Raphael was nothing special. But he was a genius with a sword, and had confidently proven his abilities in war. That was why King Selgratis had recognized Raphael as his son, and bestowed a title on him. Even among the oldest aristocratic families, Raphael had no peers, and though he was criticized by nobles who valued pedigree, he always held his head proudly and projected arrogance.
And behind that mask was a traumatized soldier, who had not yet escaped the battlefield.
“Where is the enemy? They…ah, I hear them screaming, it’s so loud, Robert…I’ll kill them all…”
His eyebrows knotted painfully. His grip tightened, and he nearly cut her arm as he suddenly raised his sword, saved only by her fluttering sleeves. Fortunately, there was no blood.
What should I do?