How to Tame My Beastly Husband — Chapter 18. My Princess is Only You
This chapter has been re-worked by Regan, we have picked up the novel from chapter 64
For a moment, she wondered what he was apologizing for. To Ludwig, all these things had happened only weeks before, but for Annette, it had been years. Perhaps that was why she could look at him mildly, as if all of it had happened to someone else.
“I, Annette…I’m so, so sorry. I couldn’t send you…a wedding present.”
“It’s all right, Your Highness.”
This wasn’t just empty reassurance. It really was all right. If Ludwig, her ex-fiancé, had sent her a wedding gift, it would have been disastrous. But even in this situation, that was the best he could say: I’m sorry I couldn’t give you a wedding present.
Unlike her past self, Annette thought this weakness was pathetic.
He bit his lips when he saw the obvious criticism in her pink eyes. His character was as delicate as his face, and he hesitated a long time, searching for something to say before he finally buried his face in his hands and confessed it all, letting everything burst forth from his heart.
“No, actually I’m not sorry. I didn’t want to send a gift to congratulate you on getting married. I didn’t send one on purpose. I know I should apologize, but honestly, I don’t regret you. I’ve been hoping to see you so much, and I…I’ve always been sorry for everything, Annette.”
He didn’t sound regretful as he buried his face deeper in his hands, and at this point, it was hard to tell what he was sorry for. All she could see was the reddening tips of his ears peeking through his long silver hair.
“What on earth should I do?” He whispered bitterly. “For me, my only princess is you, Annette.”
“Your Highness…” Annette silently lowered her eyes at this confession. It felt as if something hot was boiling at her throat, and it wasn’t because she was moved. She was fighting to contain her fury.
You did nothing when I was accused.
And because of that, she had been removed from contention for Crown Princess, and Celestine became his new fiancée. Of course, Ludwig had been uneasy throughout the process, and even offered the appeal that Annette was the one he loved, but that was the extent of his effort. He had never been able to stand up against King Selgratis, and under pressure from his father, Ludwig had stepped back and watched as she was married off to Raphael.
And now he pretended regrets, and said that his only princess was her.
Annette was speechless. If five years hadn’t passed, she might have shaken him by his collar, blinded by rage. Though of course if she had done that, she would have been carted off to Palace Dungeon Cell 503, for the crime of assaulting the body of a royal.
Annette swallowed her long-simmering anger, controlling herself. With a sweet smile, she jabbed at the sore spot.
“Oh, Your Highness, don’t say that. You have Lady Keers now, don’t you? She would be so sad if she heard that when she likes you so much.”
Celestine did like Ludwig, to the point that she had cheerfully dragged Annette through the mud to become Crown Princess. Well, now that was their family affair. And Annette’s false cheer made his ears turn scarlet. He couldn’t even lift his head, and buried his face behind his hands.
“I’m sorry…” He said, in between painful sobs. “I’m really sorry, Annette. But I can’t really love Lady Keers.”
“But she’s your fiancée now. You have to learn to get along with her.”
“But Lady Keers…she’s so different from you. She’s so nervous and sensitive, I can’t imagine a future with her. Just being with her makes me tired.”
Those words were puzzling. Was Lady Keers really so sensitive? When she and Annette had often met as the two candidates, she had seemed relatively calm, and had always been quite fond of Ludwig. There was no way she would be nervous around him.
But then, maybe Annette didn’t know Lady Keers that well. If Celestine was the one that drove Annette out and took the crown with her own conniving, it wouldn’t be strange if her true character began to emerge after her victory. If she could plot against Annette like that, she might actually be a vicious woman.
But whatever the truth was, now wasn’t the time to rush into anything. At Annette’s silence, Ludwig’s heart sank, and the words tumbled from his lips in gasps.
“I’m sorry, Annette. I’m sorry, because I’m…this kind of man, I’m…so sorry for you.”
With his face hidden in his hands, all she could hear from his ascetic figure was the harsh breathing, harder and faster. He was gasping between sobs, too weak for this much stress, and mildly panicking.
Annette was used to these episodes. When he was having an episode, it only poured fuel on the fire if the persons nearby reacted with embarrassment.
“Your Highness, it’s all right,” she replied, her voice gentle and humming, softly musical. “It’s all in the past. I have never resented you. Both of us have done all we could, so all that is left to accept things and make the best of them. So please don’t worry.”
This answer might have seemed facile, but this sort of low, constant reassurance was one of the best ways to bring him around. His breathing slowly eased as he listened to her speak, and when she saw it was working, Annette tactfully shifted the subject.
“Shall we talk about something more pleasant? I’ve heard that in the Chappelle Empire, there are enormous stretches of wheat fields, with no end in sight. If it’s windy in the summer, they say the fields look like rolling green waves. As the grains rub against one another, there’s a fresh smell like grass that fills the air. One day I would like to go there and nap, and listen to the larks singing. Do you think their music is as beautiful as the songs Your Highness plays on the lute?”
Her voice was sweet and calm, a quiet tone that was very pleasant. The noise of his gasping subsided as he listened.
Patiently, Annette waited for him to calm. Though Ludwig was the Crown Prince of Deltium, his disposition was more inclined to an artist than an autocrat. His path had been decided since birth, but it was a painful destiny, completely unsuited to his aptitudes. That more than anything else was the reason for his occasional episodes.
Ludwig especially liked to play the lute. He could play beautifully, but was rarely allowed to do so. King Selgratis disapproved of this pastime. The king hoped that his only legitimate son would be more ambitious, more like…Raphael. King Selgratis was a harsh father and often pushed Ludwig to his limits. He did not hesitate to compare Ludwig to Raphael, out loud.
Raphael made Ludwig very anxious.
Knowing all this, Annette looked at Ludwig with pity as he lifted his head, revealing reddened eyes.
“Other than you, who else understands me, Annette? And now I must marry another woman, who’s not you, and I…don’t want to. I don’t think I can bear it.”
At the nervous admission, his eyes looked at Annette. He was a tall man, towering over her small head as he looked down on her.
“I always thought the Crown Princess’s tiara would suit your blonde hair. There is a very beautiful red ruby in the front, it would have shined so bright from your hair, and that ruby would have accentuated your eyes…I had been so looking forward to the day when I could put that crown on your head myself.”
He smiled wistfully. His fingertips hovered in the air, as if he had been about to touch her light hair. But he had no right to touch her now. She was the wife of another man, and that man was his half-brother, Raphael.
Annette looked at him silently. It had not been a bitter break-up, and she felt sorry for him. He was safe because he was Crown Prince, but he was unhappy because of it. He was a man who should have been a fourth or fifth prince, with a leisurely life far from the troubles of the throne.
“Annette.” Ludwig rose from his seat and knelt before her, bowing his head as he lifted the hem of her skirt and pressed it to his lips. His silvery eyelashes were wet with tears. “I’m sorry. Even though I believed your innocence, I couldn’t go against my father’s will. I know I was a coward, but I…I can’t live without you. Only you, Annette Bavaria. It should only be you.”
He whispered the words, looking at her imploringly. She was so shocked, she jumped out of her seat. The only reason she had accepted his request to talk was to have a final goodbye, but this was only making things worse.
“Your Highness, please don’t do this. I am Raphael’s wife,” she began quickly, and then froze stiff. Her eyes fell on the gift box that had tumbled onto the floor beside Ludwig. It must have fallen when she rose from the couch.
The fragile wrapping had survived one fall. But twice was too much, and it had flung forth its contents as if in protest. The horrible gift that could make even a gay man want his wife was…
A leather choker and a whip.