How to Tame My Beastly Husband — Chapter 38. Her Family
This chapter has been re-worked by Regan
Cold-faced, Annette looked at Ludwig with clear, determined eyes. Her smooth rebuttal had stabbed him to the heart.
“If you didn’t want me to get married, why did you run away? You have enough power that you could have done something behind the scenes if you wanted to stop the marriage. If you had at least tried to fight the charges against me, I wouldn’t be so angry now.”
He said he loved her, and yet he had not even noticed the bandage on the hand he clutched. Even Railin, her business partner, had noticed it. For ten years, Ludwig had only wailed and complained about his pain, and all that time, Annette had listened and comforted him. Had he forgotten that she could feel pain, after all this time?
“I have feelings too, Your Highness,” she said, suppressing the surge of her emotions. “If you had really wanted to marry me, you should have done something. So please face your own cowardice and let me go. I have a new life to live, and I want to start fresh.”
Too late, Ludwig realized how immature he had been. But the Annette in his memory always had a gentle smile as she listened to his worries and anxieties. He had taken her for granted, and now this stranger was before him, with cool eyes and an indifferent face. She had not even batted an eye when he was gasping with pain.
“I did my best,” he said desperately. “You don’t know how many times I begged my father to stop it. I told him I couldn’t be without you. But he wouldn’t listen–”
“No, Your Highness.” Annette coldly cut him off. For her, all of this had happened five years ago, and she had thought she had put it all behind her. But now her voice wavered. “I think it would be more accurate to say it wasn’t the best you could do, but it was enough for appearances. If you want to save someone from drowning, don’t you throw them a rope, or swim out to help them? You say you did your best, but all you did was stand and shout from the shore. Isn’t that true?”
This was the man she had expected to marry since childhood. They had been well-matched back then; all they had was each other. And the betrayal she felt when he abandoned her was so bitter, she could taste the blood.
She had known very well that Ludwig was weak against his father. But no matter what, she had never expected him to give her up so easily. She never thought he would be so quick to turn away from her. Ludwig easily accepted his new fiancée. He had only made a few weak protests, and then pretended to give in, as if he couldn’t win.
But Annette wasn’t angry with him. Not because of his high rank, but simply because nothing would change even if she did get angry with him. Ludwig was weak and indecisive by nature. There was no point in being angry with such a person for not being on her side. All it would do was exhaust her.
So Annette endured it. It was meaningless to hold onto her anger, so she had let it pass in silence. But today, Ludwig’s eruption of feelings combined with his betrayal had prodded it to the surface. Strangely, it made her feel relieved, rather than sick.
“And if you have any respect for me, please don’t do this again,” she said, completing the cut to remove him from her life. “Never talk about my husband like that. Raphael is a good man, and he willingly accepted me as his wife despite my bad situation. Now he is my family. No one may criticize my family before me. Do you understand?”
Ludwig was speechless.
Annette’s attitude was so shocking and so painful, it numbed him to his fingers. The woman he had thought was closer to him than anyone else in the world was now separated from him forever. It broke his heart. Fresh tears rolled down his pale cheeks.
She was right. He really was a coward. He had taken her for granted, and now he had lost her forever. No matter how many tears he shed, they could never go back to the way they had been. The realization made him feel as if he had fallen into a swamp.
“I would be grateful if you could generously forgive my rudeness today,” she said in farewell, as he looked at her blankly, despairing. “Please do not visit me for your personal business again. Excuse me.”
And with that, she turned around. It was actually very disrespectful to show one’s back to a member of the royal family without permission, but today, she wanted to do something blasphemous. After all, he was the one that had done nothing to help her when she was falsely accused, and left her to fall alone.
And still, it broke her heart to see him like that, his face twisted and weeping. They had been together for so long, she had sometimes treated him like her family. His father’s refusal to acknowledge him had always made him sad. Annette had wanted nothing more than to stay beside him to cheer him up.
But he was the one who had let go of her hand first. Lightly, she walked away from him, like a butterfly fluttering away from a flower. Ludwig could not dare now to chase after her or force her.
All he could do was nothing, just as he had done the day she was accused.
Ludwig watched her retreating back as she left him behind. He remained until his last tear fell and dried on his cheek.
* * *
“Honey, I’m home.”
When she returned to the mansion, Annette immediately ran into Raphael, who was loitering by the front door. Out of habit, she smiled and greeted him affectionately, but Raphael’s broad shoulders jerked as if he were startled, and he turned toward her with an oddly awkward motion.
“Oh, you’re here.” At the sight of her, his expression became strange. Raphael was looking at her, but couldn’t seem to make eye contact, and all of it made him feel very clumsy. He had never been terribly self-conscious, and had no idea how to cope with it.
Why was he being like this? Annette wondered. He looked as if he had something to say, but his lips were pressed firmly together.
“What’s wrong, Raphael?” She asked, tilting her head. “Is there something on my face?”
“No. You must be tired, so go up and rest.”
And still avoiding her eye, he bolted upstairs.
Left alone in the foyer, Annette watched his fleeing back with puzzled eyes. Could it be that he knew somehow that she had run into Ludwig again? But if that were the case, he wouldn’t be behaving oddly, he would have been angry with her. And he was not one to contain his displeasure.
Good thing. He must not know.
Relieved, she promised herself to be more careful in the future. In her previous life, the accusations against her had left her a little unstable, and she had developed an aversion to society. She had rarely gone out, and her poor health had only made it more difficult to socialize with others.
That also meant she had never met Prince Ludwig after she had been married in her previous life, and she was very anxious that she had encountered him now. What might result from these small changes in the future?
Annette was very worried. She should have taken Railin’s advice.
Really, he was a very intelligent man, with impressive instincts. No matter how important a figure in the underworld, it was something to hear him dismiss the Crown Prince of Deltium as a nuisance. Despite his ostentatious appearance, he was a man of great capability.
Next time, she would heed his warning. Suddenly very tired, she trudged up to her bedroom. She had finally been allowed to say everything she had held against Ludwig in her heart, and she felt both relieved and exhausted.
After a warm bath, she fell instantly into a deep sleep. So she once again didn’t notice when Raphael slipped into her bed.
You really do sleep as if you are dead.
Lying down beside her, he pillowed his head on his arm and looked at the sleeping Annette. He had seen her like this countless times, but oddly he never got tired of looking at her.
“I’m your family…?” He whispered, looking at her with a strange, almost bewildered expression.
Earlier that day, he had questioned Annette’s maid Mary, and ascertained her general whereabouts. Of course, Annette had not confided her exact destination to anyone, but with Raphael’s beastly instincts, he had successfully tracked her down.
And fortune had smiled on Annette today. Raphael had not seen the Guild of Secrets. He had arrived late to the scene, searching the general area he had heard about from the maid. When he found Annette, she had already left the guild.
But there was another man with her. None other than Crown Prince Ludwig.
What the fuck is this?
At first, Raphael had misunderstood, and thought she was secretly meeting the prince in spite of all her promises. The moment he saw her facing the other man, all the blood in his body had turned cold. But their conversation was hardly that of a tryst.
Tell me, Annette. Do you think the same? Is Raphael more capable than I? Is that why you’re being so cold, and pushing me away? I am not even a man in your eyes, compared to the great Raphael Carnesis!
Raphael had been instantly relieved. Annette wasn’t unfaithful to him after all; rather, she was rejecting the clingy Ludwig. And Raphael had no idea why this made him so happy.
But the scene wasn’t over. Raphael’s eyes narrowed as he waited for her reaction. It made him anxious that he couldn’t see her expression as she stared at Ludwig.
Why wasn’t she saying anything? Raphael’s heart was beating strangely in his chest and there was a ringing in his ears. Neither symptom was familiar to the Sword Master.
Should he just leave?
He was too afraid to listen to her reply. What if she had changed her mind? What if everything she had told him was a lie? What if she hadn’t meant it when she said it was better to marry him than to be a princess? What if she abandoned him and chose Ludwig, who was a real aristocrat, of pure blood?