How to Tame My Beastly Husband — Chapter 25. New Path
This chapter has been re-worked by Regan, we have picked up the novel from chapter 64
Raphael was genuinely curious what was going on in her head. She was so small and dazzling, he couldn’t help looking at her, frowning. But his face only made her anxious. Maybe he hadn’t slept well last night.
“If you would like, why don’t you have a cup of tea with me?” She suggested, as calmly as she could, even though she knew he would probably coldly refuse. “It’s herbal tea, it’s good for headaches and fatigue…”
As expected, Raphael shrugged silently and moved away. Her shoulders slumped.
“What are you doing?” He asked harshly, without looking back. “Let’s have tea.”
Her eyes widened and she stared for a moment at his broad back as Raphael strode toward the sofa where she had been sitting and sat down.
Why am I doing this? Raphael wondered, confused by his own impulses. She was the daughter of the man he hated. He couldn’t understand why he felt guilty for coming home drunk and hurting her feelings. He would have tea with her, as a husband’s duty, and then leave as soon as he could.
Unaware of Raphael’s internal conflict, Annette poured him tea, beaming. She was just happy to spend a little time with him without quarreling, and hopefully ask if he knew what her father wanted from him.
A fragrant tea flowed from the spout of a pretty antique teapot, and the herbal scent made Raphael feel refreshed. Relaxing, he enjoyed the warm tea, and glanced casually at Annette as she reached for her book.
“You seem to enjoy reading,” he said, remembering when he had spotted her reading in the garden before.
“Yes. Well, I don’t like it that much…it’s just there aren’t many things I can do indoors,” she said, with a soft smile. “You know ladies are supposed to have white skin in Deltium, right? That’s why I don’t go out in the sun much, ever since I was young. Every time I went outside, everyone would worry about my skin getting tanned, or me falling and hurting myself. They made such a fuss, I couldn’t go out much.”
Raphael’s eyes went over her gently. The slender limbs, the snow-white skin, and that delicate face made her look like a luxurious porcelain doll, made by a master. But when she talked about her childhood with such a sad face, she was clearly a living person.
It must be tiring, trying to live up to the Bavaria family’s expectations, Raphael thought, and then hardened his expression. No matter what her life in the Bavaria mansion had been like, she would never have known what it was like to starve, or freeze in the cold. The thought of his own past and all its filth and misery made his jaw tighten. Those were the things he had suffered because of his low birth, but the prideful Raphael would never admit the hurt, even if died.
King Selgratis had done his best to conceal Raphael’s origins, so at least nothing was known about his mother. If that became public, all the nobles who despised him would have jumped at the chance to rip him apart.
His teeth clenched, sharpening the angles of his jaw.
“I don’t like white skin. It looks sickly,” he spat, attacking her to shake off this wretched feeling.
“Oh…is that so?” Annette said, her gentle eyes lowering. Her head bowed, looking surreptitiously as her pale arms. Raphael felt a pang.
Why did he keep saying things like this? Somehow, he always made things worse. Angry with himself, Raphael clicked his tongue and looked away. Seeing her unhappy face made him feel guilty.
“Then, if I got a little tan…” Annette’s hand reached for him to get his attention. Her eyes were shy and uncertain. “…then would you like me? A little bit?”
Those rose-pink eyes looked up at him, thickly fringed with golden eyelashes. His heart thumped at the innocently provocative question.
“Stop talking nonsense.”
With no memory of what he had said last night, he had no idea how much his I hate you bothered her. Or that she had summoned all her courage to face him again, even though she knew she would only be hurt again.
But the sight of her quivering eyes sent a chill through his heart. He hated to admit it, but it felt like fear. He had a strange foreboding that one day he would fall at the feet of this small woman.
“I’ve had enough tea, I’ll be going,” he said, rising from his seat and shaking off her hand, turning his back as if he were eager to escape.
Though she had expected it, it did still hurt. Left alone in the empty room, Annette lowered her eyes dejectedly. Her pale, pure white hand hung in the air, and she slumped back into her chair.
The steam was still rising from his teacup, as if to mock her. Finally, she accepted the painful reality.
“I guess we can’t…Raphael…hates me.”
She felt sorry for him. He had no choice but to marry her to compensate for his blood, and then gotten caught up in all the speculation about why she was not becoming Crown Princess. From his point of view, it must have been a miserable marriage, too. His own in-laws despised him on one hand and tried to shake him down with the other. That must be why he looked at her so hatefully.
If he had been a bad man, she could have just hated him, as much as she had when she didn’t know anything. Her reflection in her teacup wavered, smiling and crying at the same time. His nature was not that bad. The harsh world had made him a beast.
But she could remember being bedridden and abandoned, with only Raphael beside her until she died. He might not have loved her, but he had been faithful to the end.
No, he wasn’t the problem. The problem was the enemies that constantly tormented him, provoking his temper. No one believed in him, and many of them used Annette as a weapon against him.
He would be happier without her.
After quietly thinking for a long time, she rose slowly from her seat. It would take a lot of work, but she would have to make a new path for herself.
* * *
The beauty with luscious purple hair cascading down her back tapped the table with her fingertips. Her white skin, provocative feline eyes, and a little mole by her mouth were enchanting. But the beauty was not a woman, but a man.
His ruby-red eyes moved gently over Annette as she sat across from him. Though she had covered her face with a veil, she could not deceive him. He knew instantly that she was a very precious person.
“Hmm…” Railin, the head of the Secret Guild, an organization of smugglers, cleared his throat with a few polite coughs. “You’re looking for a reliable job overseas?” He asked softly. “Have you thought about which kingdom you want to go to?”
“Yes. The Kingdom of Osland would be good, if possible. I’ve heard it’s a pleasant place to live,” Annette replied calmly. Osland was known for being safe, with a reliable legal system. She hadn’t completely made up her mind yet, but it didn’t hurt to investigate. Annette was a thorough person. She liked to be prepared.
“Osland…it’s a good place, though the border crossing is tricky, but not impossible. What can you do?” Railin asked, his eyes curving with a beautiful smile. “I will need to know your skills to find employment for you.”
It was an offensive question to an aristocrat, implying there was no proof she could do anything without that status. But Annette showed no offense.
“I can read and write four languages,” she said calmly. “Deltium, the Continental Official Language, the Imperial tongue of Chapelle, and the Oslandian language. I could do translation or ghost writing.”
Annette offered this boldly, with no consideration for her handwriting. It wasn’t pretty, but it wasn’t uncomfortable to read. Annette was firmly convinced that her handwriting was legible. But maybe it was better to lead with her strengths.
“I’m also good at embroidery, I can do flat embroidery, three-dimensional, Hardanger, cutwork, and smocking. I heard Osland’s fashions are to a high standard, aren’t they? And, um, I’m also familiar with management, and accounting. It would be nice to begin at a higher level, if anyone would be willing to hire me there, of course.”
“Huh.” Railin stared at her, lifting his chin. He couldn’t see the face behind the veil, but he found this mysterious woman very attractive. Unlike most extravagant noblewomen, he thought she might be quite clever.