Chapter 44 – I Want to Work (1)
After I finished gathering my thoughts, I inadvertently found myself glancing at the clock. Checking the time, I decided to conclude my meal.
“Your Highness, have you already finished?” Jean asked. “You’ve barely eaten anything…”
“I’m sorry. The food looks delicious, but I’m not really hungry right now. Please tell the chef that I enjoyed the meal. Don’t worry, I don’t have any issues with my digestive system. Ah, and I’ll tell you if I get hungry later,” I added.
“Okay, I understand. Shall I call Marina for you?”
“No, you don’t have to. I’m planning on paying a visit to the Archduke.”
“As you command, Your Highness.”
Forgoing his own dismissal, and perhaps worried about the state of my health, Jean waited diligently by my side until I chose to vacate my seat. As I exited the dining room, I took the time to brace myself before heading off. It was time to address the source of all my concerns.
Kyle’s office was silent when I arrived. As per usual, he sat upon the sofa. Bearing in mind my intention to treat him, I positioned myself accordingly beside him.
Cleaning his wounds was by no means an unfamiliar process to me by now, but I couldn’t shake the impulse that something was wrong. Kyle’s shoulder may have completely healed, but it’s been four days since I’ve started coming to his office to tend to him. That was a longer length of time than I had initially planned, and it was all thanks to Kyle’s ever-growing array of ailments.
Yesterday, it was his leg. The day before that it was his arm, and now, today, he’d injured his fingers. I was absolutely dumbfounded. I never would’ve expected that Kyle would be clumsy enough to hurt himself everyday.
What on earth are you up to?
I couldn’t eat properly because of him. Intending to discuss this, I was the first to break the silence that surrounded us, still poised to continue healing.
“…Excuse me, Archduke. May I ask how you got hurt this time?”
“I nicked myself while reading a book.”
Kyle was obviously lying. How could reading a book tear into his flesh deep enough to expose the bones beneath?
After Kyle supplied his answer, I chose not to press any further, and we fell back into silence, the world outside easing itself into darkness. There were still some things that I remained apprehensive about, however, such as Kyle overworking himself or purposely weakening his body. The way he leveled his intense gaze upon me every session, as if he sought to look straight within me, never failed to burden me as well.
Of course, Kyle had refrained from pulling me as close as he once did that first day, but that did little to assuage my unease, uncertain as I was. I didn’t know how, or when, he might act if he ever decided to pull that same stunt again.
More importantly, I think I know why Kyle is doing this.
I had a strong theory for that. To test it, I opened my mouth again.
“Archduke, I have something to discuss with you.”
“What is it? Tell me.”
“I… I want to work.”
“Yes. Come to think of it, I haven’t done much of what’s required of me as the lady of the house. I’ll make sure to work hard from now on, so please stop getting hurt. I’d like to do more than just heal.”
I expressed everything I wanted to say to him. It was my way of reminding him about my position, a means protesting this whole setup and urging him to allow me the opportunity to adopt other tasks.
And also my way of ensuring he doesn’t purposely hurt himself on a daily basis just so I’d have to heal him.
It wasn’t an unreasonable request, so then why did Kyle’s expression turn bad?
“Riddel Spencer. I guess you like talking nonsense, huh?”
“Of course not. I prefer to tell the truth.”
“You don’t have to work. You can if you want, but you don’t have to.”
Should I be thankful for the sentiment or should I be offended that his expectations of me were so low? Either way, it was embarrassing.
Maybe I’ve got the wrong idea… I want to ask him a question.
“Then why do you keep getting hurt?”
Reading Kyle’s expression, I expected him to spout something scathing or biting in response.
“Do you hate it when I’m hurt?”
Huh? I wasn’t expecting that question, and it surprised me. What happened to that caustic retort I prepared myself to hear?
“Of course I hate it,” I immediately answered. It came out without a second thought. It would’ve been great if Kyle gave me a nice, convenient answer like, ‘Okay, I’ll stay out of harm’s way. I promise I’ll be careful,’ but I knew the odds of that happening were slim to none.
It’s fine, though. Now I have an excuse I can use to help persuade Kyle.
I immediately prepared something to say. Seeing if it would work out for me, I spoke out once more.
“Now that things have turned out like this, I’ll be honest and just tell you everything that I wanted to say. In truth, I don’t want you to get hurt anymore. I’m worried about your health, especially given that we’ll need to get married soon.”