How to Tame My Beastly Husband — Chapter 39. It’s Dangerous
This chapter has been re-worked by Regan
Raphael didn’t understand what he was feeling. But he knew that if Annette chose Ludwig now…he would never be the same.
It was just a political marriage. Annette was a goddamned Bavaria. Why did he feel like this? He wanted to run away. But just as he was about to turn, Annette spoke in a surprisingly sharp voice.
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.
Raphael’s heart sank. Was she so disgusted by their marriage? The ringing in his ears grew louder and he could hardly hear whatever she was saying next.
If you had…tried to…I wouldn’t be so…
Creeping closer, Raphael tried to catch his breath. He had to see this with his own eyes. He had a little worry about being caught as he drew closer, and all his senses were so overwrought, he could barely understand what he was hearing. But then her last words caught his ear.
And if you have any respect for me, please don’t do this again. 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?
The words left Raphael utterly shocked. The inside of his throat tightened. He had never been kind to Annette. He had never trusted her. But still, she was loyal to him. She was making him sound like an attentive, generous husband, the most wonderful man in the world, and it only made him feel like an absolute worm.
Please do not visit me for your personal business again. Excuse me.
And then she turned her back on the most noble, exalted, beloved Prince of Deltium, and came home to him.
It had been enough to make Raphael’s eyes sting. The sight of her confident steps and her straight shoulders had dazzled him. Abandoned behind her, Ludwig looked wretched. Raphael could only keep watching her until she finally disappeared from sight.
The words kept echoing in his mind.
Fortunately, Annette hadn’t caught him following her, and while she had seemed a little suspicious when she returned home, fortunately she had not seemed to know what he had done.
Now, as she slept before him, he stared at her in wonder. This little woman kept provoking the strangest feelings from him.
Was she good for him, or dangerous?
Looking at this beautiful mystery, he couldn’t answer. But he laid down beside her and closed her eyes. The sound of her soft, regular breathing was so warm, and soothing.
* * *
It was a windy day. Perhaps that was why the wonderful scent of the lilacs seemed to fill the house. But even that scent could not compare to the fragrance of Annette’s hair and neck.
Seated on the couch, Annette was looking hard at something when Raphael slipped behind her to catch her from behind, biting and licking the little tips of her ears, revealed through her hair. Trapped in his arms, she shivered, a tinkling, bell-like laugh escaped her.
“That tickles, Raphael.”
“What are you looking at?”
Like a big, curious beast, Raphael angled his head and reached for the thing she had been regarding so seriously. It was an invitation, with letters inscribed with silver on a thin, rustling paper.
“Evening garden party? It looks like it’s being held by the Marquis Eloque.”
“Yes, the gardens at his estate are quite beautiful in summer. Have you ever been there?”
Raphael didn’t like to go to crowded places. The women would flirt with him and look at him with covetous eyes, and the men would glare and insult him behind his back. Since they could not compete with his beauty or his skill, they instead scorned him for his lineage.
Raphael could not endure such insults. His ears were sharp, and when he caught them belittling him, he would lose his temper and turn the whole place upside down, until the rats scattered. But it was also quite upsetting to the host of the event, to make such a fuss, and so Raphael had come to dislike such events on principle.
But it was all right, if the host was Marquis Eloque. That family was politically neutral, and had a long and prestigious history, so their guests were likely to be well-mannered. Annette had planned to make the first public appearance after her marriage at his party. She needed to meet Lady Celestine Keers again, if she hoped to acquit herself of the false charges.
No matter what, Lady Keers was sure to attend.
Marquis Eloque’s wife was also the chairman of Lady Keers’ book club. It was very likely that she would be in attendance at the garden party.
The thought of facing Lady Keers again made her heart pound. She was anxious and afraid, but she was also looking forward to it. It would be the first time they had met since the kidnapping. Would Celestine still be pretending to be the victim?
Raphael didn’t know why Annette looked so somber. Faced with a party invitation, she looked like a bunny that had decided to face down a rattlesnake.
“Are you going?” He asked, with a mingling of curiosity and anxiety. “To the party.”
“Well…yes, I’m thinking about it,” she said frankly as Raphael opened the envelope. Displeasure filled his eyes as he noted the place and time noted on the invitation.
“It starts too late. What if it ends late at night and there are strange people on the street when you’re coming home? And it’s outside, won’t you be cold? Will the Marquis take responsibility if you catch a chill?”
Annette blinked. Why was he suddenly so concerned about this party? Summer garden parties were almost always held in the evening, since it was too hot during the day.
“It’s summer now, so it shouldn’t be too cold at night. And since it’s an evening party, it should end before nine. It will be fine.”
The answer was reasonable, but it wasn’t what Raphael wanted to hear. His dark eyebrows descended and he bit at her ears, as if in complaint.
“It’s too dangerous for you. You might get sick again and I don’t like you traveling at night. Parties at night, they’re so dangerous…”
“…you don’t want me to go?”
Annette turned her head to look up at him. The garden party was the perfect place for her debut as the Marchioness Carnesis, and it was highly likely that Lady Keers would be there, who was otherwise busy preparing for her coronation. It was a rare opportunity.
But it seemed if she wanted to go, she was going to have to fight Raphael for it. Imagining the argument to come, Annette’s face fell.
“No, that’s not what I meant,” Raphael said, his voice rising in sudden alarm, and Annette shrank back in surprise. It frightened her to be wrapped in his arms when he was angry. And seeing this, Raphael only frowned more ferociously.
What is wrong with me these days?
He knew he was being too clingy. Today he had done nothing but hover around her, seeking opportunities to talk to her, and then stole away her mail like a spoiled child. It was unacceptable.
But it was her fault. The things he had overheard her saying kept echoing in his mind, and since she had praised him as a good husband, he really wanted to be one. But trying made him feel like a fool. Even after seeing her wary eyes, he couldn’t stop. Raphael tried to soften his voice.
“I mean…it’s dangerous,” he said gently. “So I’ll come with you.”
“You’ll…come with me?” Annette couldn’t believe her ears. In two lifetimes, she and Raphael had never attended a party together. Their relationship had been that terrible.
But it wasn’t only that. Annette had been afraid to go out. Though her father had suppressed any gossip about her scandal, there was no such thing as a perfect secret. She had been afraid that people would smile to her face and sneer behind her back. She had rarely left the house.
“Why, you don’t want me to go?” Raphael’s eyebrows lifted at her silence. In their previous life, he would have sarcastically asked if she was ashamed of her bastard husband. But he had heard her defend him several times now, so it was different. He thought she wouldn’t be ashamed of him.
But of course he couldn’t just come out and say this. He was prompting her to tell him she wanted him to come. Annette shook her head and laughed.
“Of course not. It would be wonderful to go to the party with you. I would be really happy.”
Raphael flinched and turned his face away, feeling it redden. Sometimes it seemed Annette could read his mind, and knew exactly what he needed to hear.