How to Tame My Beastly Husband — Chapter 31. First Date
This chapter has been re-worked by Regan
Lying on his side, Raphael propped his chin on his hand and gazed at Annette’s sleeping face. Having been tossed around by Raphael so many times, she was sleeping like a log. Unlike Raphael, who had a number of sleep issues, Annette could fall asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow.
Reaching out his hand, he touched her forehead and neck to check her temperature out of habit. There was no fever. It was hard to check her right hand because of the bandage, but judging by her exposed wrist, there was no fresh swelling.
He did regret overexerting her so soon after she had awakened from her fever. He scolded himself for not controlling his desires when he knew that she was small and delicate, and it wasn’t safe to treat her roughly. Next time, he would be more careful with her. Her eyes were still a little swollen from crying, and the sight made his chest ache, as if a small thorn had lodged in his heart.
Raphael’s deep blue eyes slowly moved over her sleeping figure. Even asleep, she was perfectly proper, lying on her back with her hands resting neatly on her stomach. Even unconscious, she had a perfect disposition. It irritated him and made him smile at the same time, and then he realized he was smiling at her and instantly hardened his face.
If he wanted to hold her and toss her around in bed, it was normal for a man to do that with his wife, and then leave without looking back. They were married, and this was just sex, without any feelings involved. So why was he looking down at this sleeping woman’s face and smiling like an idiot?
Raphael swept his hands over his face, rubbing his eyes until they stung, and he still found her face pretty enough to make him swear. The faint tearstains on her cheeks, her swollen lips, the blonde hair trailing over her forehead and cheeks…all of it was so pretty.
What the hell am I doing?
Raphael was very confused.
Even now, if he remembered all the insults her father had offered, it made him grit his teeth in anger. The Duke of Bavaria, the vilest sort of blue-blooded aristocrat, was the worst possible match for the illegitimate Raphael. But why did he find that man’s daughter so damnably beautiful?
Confused and ashamed, he smothered his face in the sheets, groaning.
The sleepy question came from Annette, her eyes half-opened as one hand flopped in his direction, stroking his bare shoulder.
“‘S’all right, Raphael…” she slurred, clearly mostly unconscious. “No one’ll hurt you…I’ll protect you…”
After so much vigorous sex, her voice was a bit hoarse. Raphael frowned down at her as she spoke the inexplicable words, wondering where on earth this was coming from, but Annette was in no condition to explain. Even semiconscious, she repeated the comforting words, as if she had said them many times before.
“You didn’ do anything wrong…don’ be sad…the war is over, so just…sleep…”
Her voice faded. Her small hand slipped off his shoulder. He looked down at her face for a while, puzzled, and then it gradually dawned on him what it meant.
She knew about his fucking sleepwalking.
His eyes darkened. He had thought she had no idea, but now he remembered the morning he found her in his bedroom, and then a few days ago, when he found himself asleep in her bed. She would be a fool if she didn’t know, and she must have lied to protect his pride. She knew he didn’t like other people to know his weaknesses. She had closed her eyes and pretended to know nothing, so he wouldn’t find out.
A dejected sigh escaped. Of all people, that damned Bavaria woman had discovered the weakness he had tried so hard to hide. And it was clear that she pitied him for it.
It was all so fucked up. And though a lash of wounded pride made him briefly see red, it wasn’t enough to make his temper explode. In fact, he felt less pathetic than he would have expected. Looking at her sleeping beside him, so defenseless, he felt no urge to wring that slender neck to hide his secret forever. Instead, he only felt conflicted.
Slipping his arm out from under her, he got up and left his bedroom. He didn’t want to see her face when his thoughts were so complicated. He had thought he had picked up a little trophy called Annette Bavaria, and instead he found he was struggling in her dainty grasp.
The shadow of a beast in torment paced up and down the hallway.
It seemed he was not going to sleep easily tonight, either.
* * *
Even in my second life, the morning sun still rises. And another new day has begun.
Annette had no particular schedule today. After a quick wash and change, she went to read a book in the living room in the sunlight. It was all she could do with her injured hand, but it wasn’t long before she heard a knock at the door. Expecting a maid to come dress her hair, Annette called for her to enter without glancing up.
“Are you busy today?” asked Raphael instead, leaning in the doorway with his arms crossed over his chest, like some scoundrel in the market, though his handsome face went far to redeem him.
Yesterday he wouldn’t even look at her face, and now all of the sudden he appeared to ask her that?
“No, nothing much,” Annette said, blinking in surprise and shaking her head. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. If you don’t mind, I want you to go somewhere with me.”
He offered no hint as to where, to make such a request out of the blue, and Annette was so surprised, she looked up at him with wide eyes. Raphael’s mouth went dry at her expression.
“It’s not that far,” he added lamely.
“Okay…” She stared at him a moment and then smiled brightly. “I’ll go get ready now.”
The fact that she had broken her hand because of him was balanced by his care for her when she was sick, so Annette saw no reason to refuse. It was a rare opportunity to go out with him, and her smile dazzled him. When Annette laughed, it was almost as if she glowed, in his eyes, and Raphael was frozen as a stone for a minute, dazed at the sight.
People didn’t glow, he snapped at himself, and departed at once. It would take her time to get ready anyway, and he needed to pull himself together.
* * *
“Are you going to wake up?”
At the cold voice over her head, Annette opened her eyes. The carriage had stopped. They must have arrived, and she realized she had been dozing against his shoulder. His mood must not be too bad, if he let her lean against him without pushing her away.
Though it was still daytime, it was overcast outside, and the shadows cast over his face made him look dangerous and decadent, like a black-haired devil or incubus come to steal her soul. Taking his hand, Annette stepped down from the carriage and looked around.
“Raphael, where are we?”
But once the vast quantities of white marble in the distance caught her eye, she didn’t really need an answer. The chilly air and stifling silence made her shudder in the eerie atmosphere. Raphael had brought her to a cemetery.
The nobility usually kept their own family cemeteries, so it was the first time Annette had visited a public cemetery. It couldn’t be compared to private memorials, but it was much better maintained than she expected. Maybe it was a place for gentry without property?
“If I had known we were coming here, I would have worn a black dress,” she said, smiling a little awkwardly. It was her first outing with her husband after her regression, and while she hadn’t expected a romantic date, she never thought he would bring her to a cemetery. She glanced down at her light blue gown.
“It’s all right. I didn’t warn you, so how could you know?” Raphael replied, unexpectedly reasonable. He actually found it irritating to see everyone coming here draped in black. Annette glanced at him and then at the quiet graveyard. That still didn’t explain why they had come.
“But what are we doing here?”
Her eyes quivered as she thoughtlessly asked the question. They had come here together, but did he mean for only one person to leave? Thinking of old ghost stories, she nearly broke out in a cold sweat. Having already died once, she found a cemetery very ominous.
Raphael just shrugged, drawing her with him instead of answering. Judging by his expression, he didn’t seem like he meant to bury her here. Annette gulped and followed him nervously.
“Here it is.”
Raphael stopped before a particularly large and expensive-looking tombstone. Annette squinted to read the engraving. It took a moment for her to realize who it was.
“This tombstone is….”