How to Tame My Beastly Husband — Chapter 99. Tattoo (3)
Translator: Atlas / Editor: Regan
“Why did you get that tattoo on your face, then? You could have gotten it anywhere else on your body,” Raphael pointed out, disgruntled.
“It’s a complicated situation, since I’m a foreigner,” Arjen replied, rubbing the pale purple shadows under his eyes. “I had to prove my courage to the people of the Empire in the most impressive way possible. I thought about getting a snake first, but then I found out the black spider scared them more.”
His expression was tired. Raphael knew that expression well. The face of a soldier, surrounded by enemies in the ruins of an endless war, and only his own tired hand wielding a sword to keep him alive. It seemed that his position had been a greater burden for Arjen than he had expected.
“But the tattoo helped, didn’t it?” Annette asked, smiling up at him to lighten the mood. Arjen smiled back at her.
“It worked excellently. The more superstitious old ones can’t even look me in the eye. They’ve even stopped complaining about my being a foreigner, now that I tattooed their oldest myth on my face.”
Arjen brushed a finger over his cheek, and Claire took his hand in hers, brushing a kiss on the back of his hand.
“Don’t worry, my love,” she said, looking determined. “Whatever obstacle stands in your way, you will break it down and overcome it. I will always be the sharpest sword beside you.”
“Of all the many things I have earned in the Empire, you are my greatest treasure,” Arjen murmured, pulling her to him for a kiss.
Somehow, this sort of behavior seemed contagious, and Raphael had had enough of it. Hurriedly, he pulled Annette from the room and shut the door behind them, so the couple could reunite in whatever way seemed best to them.
“You have offered excellent hospitality,” Annette said, laughing inside at his disapproving frown. “Thank you, my lord.”
“You don’t have to thank me for that.” Her teasing made the corners of his mouth twitch for the first time, and Raphael lifted her into his arms. “But if I behaved myself so well, I must be rewarded. There’s still time before tonight. Let’s go do things only couples do.”
* * *
After their encounter was over, there was only the fleeting aftermath of ple@sure and a vague feeling of emptiness. As the heat that had filled her cooled, Annette had to repress a feeling of loneliness. She slid out of bed on slightly shaky legs to prepare for dinner with Arjen. He had made time for her in spite of his busy schedule.
Sitting down at her dressing table, she looked carefully at her reflection in the mirror. It was strange to see her messy hair, the flush in her white cheeks, and the lipstick smeared lightly around her mouth. All her life, she had always expected to be neat and flawless in her appearance. But somehow, she felt much better now than when she was about to become Crown Princess.
At that moment, large hands caught her chin from behind, tilting her head back so she was looking at his face from below. Even upside down, she could not find any flaw in those features. Raphael kissed her forehead.
“You got up the second we were done,” he said, bluntly accusing. “You have a cold heart.”
Her eyes twitched at those words. But it was good that he always expressed himself immediately when he didn’t like something. Most aristocrats were both flippant and noncommittal, and his directness was refreshing.
But she didn’t want to listen to his complaints any longer. She had to accept that he didn’t trust her.
“You’re going to dine with us, aren’t you? Then you must get ready,” she prompted gently. “Get dressed, Raphael.”
Turning away, she began brushing her tangled blonde hair as he tugged on his trousers, looking satisfied. But as he shrugged into a dress shirt, he suddenly smiled.
“Look at you, scolding me. At first, you were so nervous you were shaking.”