How to Tame My Beastly Husband — Chapter 16. Wedding Gift
This chapter has been re-worked by Regan, we have picked up the novel from chapter 64
Annette struggled to hide her embarrassment. She knew better than anyone else that Raphael was not gay. It was ridiculous. Every time Raphael got a hold of her, he would only release her after he had ridden her to exhaustion.
“No, Claire,” Annette quickly replied, vividly remembering. “My husband…likes women.”
“Are you sure? How do you kno…oh.”
Claire stopped in the middle of the thoughtless question. It was a silly thing to ask. Of course they had slept together after they married.
I’ve spent so much time swinging a sword, my brain has gone rusty.
Claire had had no intention of inquiring into her sister-in-law’s s3x life, and was very embarrassed, rumpling up her short hair awkwardly. But then she remembered another thing she had meant to ask.
“So, does he know, Annette? That nothing happened between you and the Crown Prince?”
Annette’s cheeks turned pink as she remembered their first night, and the shock in Raphael’s face when he realized the truth. It made her laugh a little, and Claire breathed a sigh of relief.
“Of course he must know! Is there any girl as loyal and kind as you? If your husband was silly enough to punish you for those vile rumors, I’d have to call him out in a duel.”
Claire’s eyes were sincere, and Annette quickly dissuaded her from any such action, in a cold sweat. Though Raphael had a poor character, he was a brilliant and talented man, able to earn a title as Marquis with the genius of his sword. And though Annette loved Claire, she was sure that if the two fought, Raphael would definitely win.
Calming herself, Claire lowered her deep blue eyelashes. Her lips were pink even without cosmetic, and moved to ask a sharper question.
“That coachman who framed you, Ivan, was it? Has anyone learned who was behind it yet?”
“Well, it’s probably not that easy…”
Ivan was a name that made Annette’s heart race every time she heard it. Because of his false charge, Annette had not become the Crown Princess. Claire bit at her lips.
“Honestly, all this was his fault,” she said angrily. “How dare he charge you with something so terrible?”
“I know,” Annette said calmly. In her last life, any reference to this story had made her feel so bitter, as if her heart was crumbling, and heat flushed through her body. But perhaps because of her regression, she was able to be a little more objective.
The accusation of giving myself to the prince looks cute in comparison.
That was nothing compared to the real charge against Annette.
In the kingdom, there was an anachronistic custom of always having more than one candidate for Crown Princess. It was purely a formality, and Annette’s contender at the time had been Lady Celestine Keers, daughter of Marquis Keers. Her family was far too weak to be any competition for Anne, and more importantly, Ludwig had liked Anne more. It was obvious to everyone that she would be the Crown Princess, and one day, Queen.
But the world was a strange place.
One day, as Celestine was returning from meeting the prince, she suddenly went missing, and everything turned upside down. She had been kidnapped by some ruffian on her way home.
Fortunately, she had returned safely within a day, but the problem was the person who had kidnapped her. It was Annette’s coachman, Ivan. When he was interrogated, he pretended to resist for a short time, but soon accused Annette of having planned all of it.
“It’s not fair!” He said. “I was just following the Lady Annette’s orders! How could a man like me dare to disobey a noblewoman’s orders? I just did what I was told to do, please have mercy on a lowly wretch!”
His acting skills were actually pretty amazing. He had cried so desperately that even Annette wondered if she might have somehow actually done it. Was it convincing enough to persuade others?
Her downfall was even more complete. To her shock, Ivan had co-opted a number of royal servants as his accomplices. Annette knew them, she had seen them many times going in and out of the palace. Together, they had all testified against her, stating confidently that Lady Bavaria had done this.
Because of this, Annette was painted as a terrible, evil woman, blinded by jealousy, who had tried to kidnap and kill her rival. The Marquis of Keers was furious, and had insisted that she be punished. But the power of the Duke of Bavaria was so great that he had managed to settle it all quietly. Even the king himself had sided with Bavaria, and ordered them to suppress the scandal.
And then he had married her off to Raphael.
Annette sighed. She hadn’t thought of those painful memories for some time. Ivan was her personal coachman, and had driven for her for nearly ten years. She wanted to ask why he had done it, but it was impossible.
“I don’t know who’s behind it,” she said slowly to Claire. “There’s no way to know if Ivan is even dead or alive. Someone smuggled him out of the royal prison. Maybe he has already been killed, to keep him quiet.”
Claire had also guessed that he might be dead. Even if he had planned it on his own, he likely wouldn’t have been allowed to live. It was fortunate. The accusation against her was not known to anyone else. Only the people directly involved in the incident knew about it.
Well, it had also worked out nicely for Celestine. Since she had only been missing a day, no one had noted her absence. But if they learned of it, what would those gossips say? There was sure to be malicious speculation about her. Even if she became queen, she would be walking a thorny path, after that.
“I thought about it, Annette,” said Claire, lowering her voice as she set down her teacup. Her clever eyes narrowed with suspicion. “Couldn’t all this have been arranged by Celestine Keers herself?”
Annette almost laughed aloud. Yes, she was suspicious of Celestine too. Celestine had lost nothing in this case. The kidnappers didn’t harm a single hair on her head, and since the scandal had been so thoroughly hushed, her honor was also undamaged. And in the end, she became the prince’s fiancée, which would never have been possible before, given her family’s low status.
But Annette lost everything. After she had spent her life being rigorously prepared to become Queen, she was dropped into a pit and forgotten. And then those rumors about Ludwig had circulated, and people like Raphael believed them, and criticized her harshly.
It’s so unfair.
It only cemented her determination to prove her innocence this time, at all costs. Claire reached out to hug her, comforting.
“Don’t worry, Annette. It doesn’t matter who’s behind it, I’ll find out who accused you of all those things. If they tried to break your future, isn’t it only fair to break their limbs?”
Claire smiled ferociously, baring her teeth. And though Annette planned to catch the conspirators herself, she silently hugged Claire back. Claire had always treated her like her own sister, and it was a relief to have someone who believed Annette was innocent.
I wish that one day, Raphael would believe me, too.
In her last life, she had never gotten along with him, so she had no idea what he really thought. The only time they had spoken was to fight and criticize each other. It wasn’t until she was dying of her illness that Raphael had softened, and by then, it was too late.
But he’s still better than Ludwig.
Annette’s cheeks reddened.
She was surprised to think such a thing. Maybe she and Raphael had been married for too long. She was starting to have thoughts she would never have had in her last life.
Crown Prince Ludwig was a handsome man too, though it was a delicate beauty, and Raphael was so sensual and masculine that any woman with eyes would use them to look twice. Even Annette, who knew his filthy temper very well, would sometimes become nervous around him, and her heart would flutter at the sight of him laughing.
At first, she thought it would be a marriage of tears and troubles, but it wasn’t always bad. And Raphael didn’t abandon her, even when she was bedridden and dying. He had been a very responsible husband, and vastly superior to Ludwig, who had immediately turned his back on her because he would not oppose his father the king.
“So how is elder brother Arjen doing? Is he still addicted to his work?” Annette asked. She needed to stop thinking about her husband, so she asked about someone else’s.
Claire frowned at the mention of her husband.
“Don’t say his name, Annette,” she complained, lifting her eyebrows, more handsome than most men’s. “He hasn’t been home in three weeks. I’ve heard he washes and sleeps in the royal palace’s office, people think he’s homeless.”
Annette laughed at the thought of her older brother. He had been recognized early for his extraordinary intellect, and gone to study at the Academy of the Chapelle Empire. After completing his courses, he had taken a high-ranking post as an official of the Empire. His talent was too exceptional to be limited to Deltium.
Of course, their father Allamand had not been very pleased. Once his studies were over, Arjen was supposed to return and be educated as the successor of the Bavaria family, but even Allamand could not prevail if his opponent was the Chapelle Empire. He hadn’t liked it, but he’d had no choice but to let Arjen go.
That was probably the first thing that didn’t go according to my father’s will.
Annette was very jealous of her older brother. The Empire was much larger than Deltium, and kept Arjen very busy. Annette’s wedding had been so sudden, he couldn’t get away in time. Unlike Claire, the valiant Knight Commander, Arjen was a weak and nervous sort of man, even if he was handsome, meant for an office. Claire and Arjen balanced each other nicely, compensating for each other’s shortcomings.
Or so Annette thought. Could she and Raphael ever become that kind of couple?
If it had been her last life, she would have shaken her head and said absolutely not. But now she wasn’t so sure. Raphael had changed nearly as much as she had. It was truly amazing.
Wrapped in her thoughts, Annette didn’t notice Claire glancing at her before producing a small box wrapped in rustling golden paper. Annette blinked, and Claire smiled, brightly expectant.
“Ta-da! It’s a late wedding present, Annette. I know it’s not the marriage you wanted, but I hope you live well and happily. That is my sincere wish for you.”
Holding her hand, Claire smiled with all the affection of a real sister. Claire’s family was filled with a lot of rugged men, and she thought Annette was the cutest and prettiest creature in the world. Annette smiled happily and picked up the present.
“Thank you, Claire! But what’s in here? It’s very light.”
Claire suddenly smiled wickedly. Lowering her voice, she whispered as if she were confiding the deadliest secret.
“Don’t be surprised. That’s a…helpful item that will make even a gay man want his wife.”
It was absolutely impossible to not be surprised.