How to Tame My Beastly Husband — Chapter 34. Best Decision
This chapter has been re-worked by Regan
Annette said nothing. Diana was standing in front of her, her face eager for a response. She knew very well that Annette had been the stronger candidate for Crown Princess, so bringing it up and mentioning Celestine was sheer malice.
If she had said that to Annette before her regression, Annette would have been very hurt.
As it was, she only sighed inwardly. Diana had been her childhood friend, but now she was Celestine’s best friend. The fluctuating web of relationships between people could sometimes be very ironic.
But all this had happened five years ago. None of it hurt anymore, and she could laugh Diana off. Unless it had been Celestine herself, who Annette suspected had been the one to frame her with false charges, none of it mattered.
“Oh, really?” Annette asked, smiling. “Do you know if there was a blue diamond among those gifts, by any chance? I really wanted to see that one myself, I hope she wears it for her coronation.”
“Well…I don’t know…”
Annette seemed purely interested in the tiara itself, rather than what it symbolized. Diana trembled, her disappointment clear on her face. But Annette only went on the offensive, wrapping her hands around Raphael’s strong arm.
“Honey,” she said, tilting her head to look up at him affectionately. “I think I’d rather have a blue diamond, what do you think? Would it look good on me?”
Raphael just looked down at her silently, and Annette broke out in a cold sweat. For a moment, she thought he would be on her side, because they had had a nice night together. Had she gotten ahead of herself? It would be terrible to be humiliated in front of Diana.
Annette bit her lips as he tugged his arm free of her hands, and her heart sank. Just as she thought, he had no intention of involving himself in a troublesome quarrel between two women. But then he gently wrapped an arm around her shoulders instead, embracing her.
“If it makes you happy, you can empty the safe. Buy a blue diamond and anything else you want.”
“Oh, my,” exclaimed Diana, hearing that deep, murmuring voice, and covered her mouth. It was strange and thrilling to see a man being so openly affectionate with his wife. But Raphael wasn’t done.
“But I think a pink diamond would be better,” he said, lowering his head and caressing her face. “It would go better with your pretty pink eyes.”
And then he smiled and brushed his lips against each eyelid. The tender affection would have melted the heart of anyone who saw it, and encouraged Annette to finish her enemy.
“Thank you, Raphael,” she said. “Agreeing to marry you was the best decision I ever made.”
A woman who had never made a decision of her own since she was born, laughed like a flower as she lied. Both she and Raphael knew it was a lie, but Lady Diana did not. As Celestine’s best friend, she had just wanted to taunt Annette, only to become the joke herself.
“It’s a little late, Lady McClaire. We ought to be going, will you be all right by yourself?”
With one arm around Raphael’s waist, Annette smilingly offered this jab to Diana, who was not even engaged. Diana easily fell in love, but unfortunately the object of her affections never reciprocated. That was at least part of the reason why she had never been involved in any scandals.
“Of course I’m all right,” she said, her voice rising as Annette struck her in her weak spot. “This whole market belongs to my family. Do you know how well iron products are selling these days? Business is going so well, I only just finished now, and was on my way home!”
“Oh, I see. I envy your work ethic.”
Annette, the daughter of the richest family in Deltium, offered a trilling laugh, and Diana clenched her fists, trembling with anger. And Raphael joined the fun for a second time, the perfect icing on the cake.
“Now that you mention it, one of my wedding gifts was an iron mine. The income has been quite good these days. Annette, how would you like it if I put it in your name? Buy all the diamonds you want, whether they’re blue or pink.”
How extraordinary! Diana’s mouth was hanging open. Now that the smelting process had been perfected, there was an outcry for iron products, and the nobles with iron mines and mining rights were making money hand over fist.
And he was going to give all of it to Annette?
Diana was humiliated, and so jealous. Not long ago, iron had not been used much in the Empire, as it was so difficult to refine. But with the new methods recently discovered, every part of daily life now seemed to require it in some way. Based on the iron tableware Annette had seen at the restaurant, even they had picked up on the trend.
Iron is profitable now…that’s interesting.
Annette blinked, amazed at the thought. She would have to learn more about Raphael’s iron mine. Not because she cared about it for herself, but maybe that was what interested her father.
Lost in her thoughts, she hardly felt Raphael embracingly her lovingly, though she flushed as he kissed the top of her small head. Quickly, she said goodbye to Diana, who was eying them enviously.
“My wife is tired, so we’ll take our leave, Lady McClaire. Please excuse us.”
Humiliated, Diana turned away, though she couldn’t help looking back at the couple as they departed. They looked just like a couple from a painting, with their arms wrapped around each other’s shoulders and waists, walking to their carriage together. Seeing the tall and powerful Raphael bending down for the slender Annette would make any observer blush.
You’ll see, I’ll find a fiancé this year!
With this resolution in mind, Diana marched away, her eyes tearing at the thought that even if she considered her family’s ironware business, she could never be completely satisfied. If their iron merchandise sold well, it just meant more profit for Marquis Carnesis’s iron mine, and more diamonds for Annette.
It made her so jealous, she shed tears from her heart. Even if Annette wasn’t going to be Crown Princess anymore, it didn’t matter. She had a sexy and loving husband, and that made Diana envy her ten times more than Celestine. Seeing Annette walk away arm-in-arm with her husband was far worse than watching Celestine receive wedding gifts from the royal family.
Meanwhile, Annette settled in the carriage with a sigh of relief.
“That…thank you very much for that, Raphael,” she said carefully, blushing with embarrassment. “For being on my side.”
The expression of such deep gratitude made Raphael feel inexplicably awkward. He had instantly disliked Diana, who was acting like such a fox. Even with Annette’s husband standing right there, she had still indirectly asked Annette, isn’t it such a shame that you couldn’t marry another man? It was like thousands of needles pricking him. He had wanted to prove that Annette’s marriage to him was not a misfortune. That was all.
But he couldn’t be honest about this childish impulse. He was a very stubborn man, and he always spoke frankly.
“If you’re grateful, then make sure your hand heals well,” he said, a blunt reply to her thanks. He didn’t remember how her hand had been injured, but he knew it was probably his fault. Every time he saw that bandaged hand, he felt guilty. He would have preferred it if his own hand had been injured instead.
“I will get better soon,” Annette replied, with a beaming smile. “Thank you for today.”
There had been a bit of a bump in the middle of the day, but her first outing with Raphael had gone so much better than she had expected. They had visited Robert’s grave, and she had not even known who he was in her previous life. They had had a meal together, drank together, and though she hated Diana’s interruption, she had been able to flick her away, thanks to Raphael’s help.
Now that she thought of it, Diana hadn’t seemed to know anything about the false charges against Annette.
Remembering Diana’s expression and the tone of her voice, Annette knew that if she had known about those accusations, Diana would have taunted her about them immediately. It was amazing, considering that Diana was Celestine’s best friend, that the matter had been so thoroughly hushed up. Although Annette did not like the Bavaria family very much herself, she had to admit they defended their own.
As Annette was lost in these thoughts, the carriage rolled quietly home. The town they had visited was not that far away, so they arrived quickly at the mansion. Before she went to her room, Annette paused beside Raphael in the hallway.
“Good night, Raphael. I really enjoyed going out with you.”
He nodded without speaking, and she was familiar enough with his ways not to take offense. But as she turned away, she heard his low voice behind her.
As she glanced back, she could see him standing stiffly in the darkened corridor, his white face turned up to her. His skin did not tan even after all those hours of training in the sun, and he looked as immaculate as a marble statue. His red lips moved, hesitating, and then he asked a question Annette would never have expected.
“That…what you said. Was it true?”
“What do you mean?”
“That, you don’t regret…”
He couldn’t bring himself to ask her directly, was marrying me really the best decision you ever made?
Annette, who had never dreamed he could ask such a question, opened her eyes wide.