༺ Moment ༻
The next morning in the hotel bedroom.
Renee tossed and turned as she wrapped herself in a tight blanket.
She let out a goofy laugh in that state.
It was because yesterday’s memory kept replaying in her mind.
— I… like you.
Her hand reached out for the pillow.
— Very much, Saint.
And ripped it.
— …Will you accept it?
She grabbed the blanket.
— I’ll make sure to do better next time.
And ripped it.
Next, she grabbed the bedsheet.
She clenched it firmly with both hands as the next line came across her head.
She also tore the sheets apart.
Renee’s body temperature spiked up, and the corner of her lips curled up as if she was grinning from ear-to-ear.
In a devastated room, Renee ripped everything she could find before taking a deep breath.
She braced herself for the line that would cause the most damage out of all the ones that came to her mind.
Her whole body trembled and her lips puckered as she tried to evoke the feeling and memories from that day.
— …Please refrain from calling me an inexperienced blockhead in the future.
There was a loud ‘pow’ sound.
It was not a metaphor to say that Renee had ‘steam rising from her head’ or ‘ having her heart burst’ from the complex feelings.
There was a genuine ‘pow!’ sound.
Renee, who couldn’t contain her bursting happiness, tore off the cotton from the quilt and flung it away.
The bed started to shake as Renee stomped on it.
‘It’s not a dream!’
Even after she woke up and thought of it with a clear mind, it was still reality.
She and Vera had truly become lovers.
That meant they had developed into a relationship where their hearts and goals were in sync.
How could she not be happy?
How could she not be overwhelmed?
Renee stroked the ring on her left hand’s finger as she found herself unable to stay still in the face of a reality that was sweeter than any dream.
Anyone who didn’t know Renee might doubt her competence as a Saint because of how dumb she looked with her bright red face and wide grin.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, the ‘people’ watching ‘this’ scene were aware of Renee’s personality quirks.
In front of the door, Jenny secretly watched Renee go berserk and whispered in Aisha’s ears with a frightened face.
“I-Is she sick?”
Aisha shook her head at the look on Jenny’s face, then patted her on the shoulder.
“Get used to it,” she said before leaving the room.
The puzzled Jenny looked alternatively between Aisha’s disappearing back and Renee in the bedroom. Soon, she closed her eyes tightly and ran after Aisha.
Hela, the only one left in the room, had her arms crossed and her chin resting on her hand while she pondered.
‘Should I come back later…?’
Renee would hang herself out of shame if she entered right now, right?
She was troubled by such thoughts, deliberating for quite a while.
It was almost time for lunch, but Renee had no intention of getting up.
Hela could tell what happened just by looking at the ring that Renee was rubbing on her cheeks. So it should be fine to let her fully enjoy this moment, yet leaving her to starve like this didn’t seem right either.
After a long deliberation, Hela finally came to a conclusion.
“Saint, it’s time to eat.”
Let’s feed her first and think later.
Renee’s body sprang up like a freshly caught fish.
Her face was muddled with confusion as she turned her head in the direction of Hela’s voice.
She reacted, belatedly realizing that there was someone else in the room.
In a flash, an awkward silence hung over the room. Then, Hela opened her mouth.
“Jenny and Aisha went ahead first.”
Her embarrassment heightened at the thought that Hela wasn’t the only one who witnessed her outburst.
Renee, who up until now had been happy that it was a reality, suddenly had this wish.
‘A dream… please let it be a dream…’
She wished someone would tell her that she had just woken up and that this was all a dream.
Of course, it was just her wishful thinking.
With his heart racing, Vera made his way to Renee’s bedroom.
One noticeable difference was the constant smile on Vera’s face, something not usually seen on his stiff expression.
Miller freaked out, and the twin retched in disgust at his face, but it didn’t bother Vera a bit.
It was because there was something more important to Vera than any of that.
Why, you ask? As the trendy noble youngsters would say, today was his first day with Renee… no, was it the second day?
In other words, Vera’s first relationship officially started today.
“Have you come?”
Hela, who had already arrived and waited outside the door, lowered her head.
Vera gave her a nod and asked in a gentler voice than usual.
“What about the Saint?”
Hela’s eyes turned to the empty air.
“…She needs more time to get ready. She told me to send you to the restaurant first when you came.”
There was a slight confusion on his face.
…He reacted that way because he didn’t know that Renee was trembling in shame inside the bedroom.
Vera glanced at the door and Hela alternately for a moment before giving a knowing nod.
When Vera finished speaking and was about to turn around, Hela uttered another word.
Vera stopped walking.
He turned his head stiffly toward Hela.
As she met Vera’s gaze, Hela thought to herself.
She thought she should practice one of the things that her father, Norn, taught her.
— A subordinate who supports their superior through good and bad times will always be favored.
Not missing these important moments was one of the most crucial parts of socializing.
Hela raised her thumb up while her eyes sparkled.
“I wish you two a wonderful love.”
He wondered what Hela meant, but he soon realized she was congratulating him on his relationship with Renee and then blushed slightly.
How should I respond to that?
What should I say here?
He continued to mull over it and finally came up with an answer.
Vera answered with his gaze pinned to the ceiling.
An inexplicable awkwardness began to permeate the hallway.
It was like that…
Despite having known each other for four years… Vera and Hela still felt awkward in each other’s presence.
Thanks to the unintentional delay, Renee only began to eat after the others had left.
Renee thought it was rather a relief.
She was so ashamed right now, and what if she ended up looking dumb once she faced Vera directly?
Now that they were lovers, she wanted to show off more of her mature charm.
Renee thought back to what her eternal adviser, Annie, told her before she left the Academy.
— Saint! Please keep this in mind! Dating is not the end, but the beginning! You should be more nervous than before dating! What? Are you saying that since you’re dating, you can cling to him even more now? Oh no, come on! Are you asking if you shouldn’t do anything after dating? Hm? Just a peck! A kiss! You’re going to cuddle and do all sorts of things… Huh? You want to see his face turn red? What if I told you that you can’t do that? Play hard to get! You need to drive Sir Vera crazy by playing hard to get! You should drive Sir Vera crazy, not the other way around!
To sum up what Annie was shouting at the top of her lungs…
‘Play hard to get!’
Don’t give up fighting to get the upper hand.
If you’re in a relationship, you should strive harder to gain the upper hand.
Learn to bend them to your will.
It was very helpful advice.
Renee kept repeating, ‘play hard to get!’ in her mind and finished her meal.
Then, headed to the back garden where Vera was.
In the cold wind, a warm voice emerged to dispel the surrounding cold air.
Renee suddenly felt her heart clench and tightened the grip on her cane.
“D-Did you sleep well?”
She greeted him as she normally would, but with an awkward smile.
However, for Renee and Vera, it was not the same old greeting.
Vera felt his heart tighten when he saw Renee walking toward him in the middle of the snowfield, her back to the mansion.
Renee stood in a world full of white.
It was hard to tell the difference between her and the snowfield, but Vera didn’t feel that way at all.
No, he was feeling the exact opposite of that.
Renee was the only one with color in this world.
She brought colors into the world.
The snowfield was dazzling because of Renee’s existence.
The cold air clashed against his own heat before it came into contact with him.
He vividly recalled the sound of wind penetrating into his ears, the sensation of a cold and refreshing smell seeping into his lungs, and the tingle on his dry mouth as a result of nervousness.
The lovestruck Renee showed Vera such a world.
Vera inadvertently took a step ahead and stood before Renee.
He reached out his hand and took Renee’s hand from Hela.
After Hela bowed small and moved away from the two, Vera uttered.
“How was your meal?”
“It was delicious… How did Vera find it?”
“I felt the same way. Perhaps it’s because this place was designed to cater to the wealthy, but it felt like the ingredients left nothing more to be desired.”
Even though they were just chatting as usual, it sounded like the world’s most romantic love poem at the same time.
Renee, who was about to say something, suddenly lowered her head.
Her head went blank due to her inability to control her racing heart.
The conversation they were having wasn’t any different, and yet, holding hands like this felt so embarrassing and forbidding.
Renee couldn’t figure out why, so she simply took a step closer to Vera and buried her head in Vera’s chest.
She tossed away the words ‘play hard to get’ Annie had been begging so fervently for and added.
Vera, who paused at her words for a while, soon responded in a soft whisper.
“…Yes, it’s indeed a good morning.”
Just as Renee said, today was the best morning he ever had in his life.
It was a sequence of magical moments.
There was no other way to describe it.
Renee felt like she was walking through a desert with the sun beating down on her the whole time they strolled the garden together.
She kept feeling hot despite the chilly air surrounding her skin, and she felt suffocated even though her clothes were fluttering in the wind.
Renee began to wonder, ‘Is it really a desert?’ as they walked because she couldn’t see in front of them.
However, Renee kept her thoughts to herself.
“…You can stay close to me if you’re cold.”
It was because using the cold as an excuse would benefit her right now.
Renee tightened her grip on his arm and clung closer to him.
She bowed her head and said with a flushed face.
“I’m sorry. It must be hard to walk like this.”
Vera ignored the tone that didn’t sound like she was sorry at all and replied.
“It’s okay. It’ll be bad if you catch a cold.”
He didn’t even bother to say that they could just go inside.
They both knew that their current actions were not reasonable.
However, they both didn’t feel bad about it at all.
Since letting go of rationality was the only way to fully experience this moment, they kept walking, deeming it more important than any of those trivial matters.
Meanwhile, in a place not far from where the two were walking…
Annalise watched them from the mansion’s window while being held in Jenny’s arms and commented.
[Kiddo, you’re supposed to watch and ‘roast the fuck’ out of them.]
They were words full of anger.
Jenny flicked Annalise’s head and replied.
Then, she lifted her head and looked at the two.
An innocent desire was contained in the young girl’s sparkly eyes.