༺ First Name (1) ༻
The next day, at Renee’s accommodation.
Theresa blinked and glanced at Renee, who looked exhausted.
“You look quite tired.”
“Ah, I couldn’t sleep well…”
She looked awful. There were dark circles under her eyes; she sighed as if she were troubled by something.
However, even her usual unfading beauty appeared dim. Theresa, who found this situation funny, soon burst into laughter and said.
“So, did you find the answer to the riddle?”
Flinch. Renee’s body shook.
Again, she began to emanate a pink aura.
After the rising aura enveloped Renee’s entire body, she nodded her head.
A quivering tone with a tinge of shyness.
Renee pursed her lips, carefully choosing what to say next, then took a deep breath and continued her grumbling response.
“I did find the answer, but…”
“… I don’t get it.”
Renee’s moaning figure reflected in Theresa’s eyes. Renee groaned and hesitated for a long time, then closed her eyes tightly and began blurting out words.
“Ugh… I don’t know why I have this feeling. There wasn’t any particular incident that made it happen, and there wasn’t any other reason, but all of a sudden…”
Her words were all over the place, which made it seem like she was spouting gibberish.
Seeing Renee blurting out words rapidly, wondering what to do, Theresa thought, ‘Isn’t she adorable?’ inwardly.
The translucent hue radiating from the girl, who became confused upon realizing her first love, was Theresa’s favorite color.
“You don’t necessarily need a reason.”
Theresa replied laughingly. When Renee raised her head, Theresa continued speaking with a smile on her face.
“Isn’t there an answer to the riddle? It’s an emotion born without a reason, yet many still belatedly try to find the reason behind it. That emotion is called love.”
Renee’s face turned red.
Her face became that way on its own, the moment she heard the word ‘love.’
It was because hearing that word directly made her belly tingle. The word she couldn’t even dare to utter due to feeling ashamed.
“I can assure you of this. No matter what reason Lady Saint’s heart tries to seek, it will never be able to define love. Love doesn’t ask for a reason. It just wants to be called love.”
She continued speaking as such.
It was an epiphany that Theresa had gained throughout her life, living under the name of the Apostle of Love.
“Love is just love. The emotion that makes you look at someone without even realizing. The feeling that compels you to try finding yourself in their eyes. That’s what that heart-wrenching feeling is. That’s how parents look at their children.”
Renee shook her head again upon hearing her words.
“Love wears so many layers. It’s akin to a capricious child. Sometimes he is curious, sometimes he yearns, and sometimes he resents. So, it’s an emotion that’s easily misunderstood because it’s difficult for you to be certain what it is.”
Theresa’s words pierced Renee, who kept trying to deny that, to her core.
“But, at the end of the day, it’s still love. Every layer that tries to cover it needs to be torn apart. Love is an emotion that can’t be defined by any word other than love itself.”
Words that revealed her ignorant self, who was looking away in shame.
“Don’t try to seek reasons. All Lady Saint has to do is to just accept the feelings engraved in your heart as they are.”
Renee wondered what kind of layers did her feelings of love wear.
Curiosity about why he revered her so much.
A yearning for him, who was much more mature than herself yet only a few years older than her.
A resentment against those unconscious actions that made her suffer.
When she thought about it. Her feeling of love was wearing many layers.
In the end, all of that was love.
Renee felt a sensation of heat spreading throughout her body.
The heat was so intense that she wondered if she would be cooked to death like this
How could she calm it down? Why was her heart pounding at a time like this? It was beating faster than ever before as it channeled heat throughout her body.
Seeing Renee, who had turned redder than an apple, Theresa finished her speech with a giggle.
“It’s a natural phenomenon. Lady Saint is a human too, so no need to be shy.”
Renee stuttered as she barely uttered a word.
Her head wobbled.
A truly ridiculous figure.
Yet, to Theresa, she looked more beautiful than ever.
“Thank you for your hard work.”
Vera’s voice. Renee felt her heart beat wildly upon hearing his deep voice.
“How was today’s lesson?”
What did I do? What did I learn from Lady Theresa?
She couldn’t think well because of the feverish heat. No matter how she tried to remember, nothing came to mind.
In fact, she couldn’t think of anything because she didn’t actually learn anything today, but Renee, whose mind was haunted by the thought, ‘I have to answer Vera,’ didn’t realize.
So, the reply she spouted was yet another foolish answer.
“I learned something good!”
Shortly after Renee answered, she closed her eyes tightly and asked herself.
What nonsense am I saying? What if Vera thinks of me as strange at this rate?
While Renee was cursing herself inwardly, Vera, who was looking at Renee, nodded and answered in his usual tone.
In fact, no matter what Renee reply would have been, Vera’s answer would have remained the same.
Renee was Vera’s faith and his truth, so no matter her answer, Vera would never think of her as strange.
Immediately after answering, Vera continued to think that, even as he looked at Renee’s reddened complexion.
“Are the lessons hard?”
He was just worried.
Vera, who couldn’t even fathom Renee’s heart, became worried when he saw Renee’s abnormal behavior.
From a distance, they looked ridiculous.
Even today, the two were walking alongside each other while thinking something different.
Three days was enough time for Renee to acknowledge her feelings.
Renee held hands with Vera and walked through the flowerbed, and continued to think with her head down.
What does Vera think of me?
That’s what she thought.
She didn’t mean the way he treated her on the outside.
She was concerned about something deeper, his inner feelings. She was wondering about the hidden feelings that he didn’t reveal yet.
Does Vera also love her? She never thought of that, not for a single moment.
Renee knew. The feeling Vera harbored for her wasn’t one of love. She couldn’t help but notice it because it was blatantly obvious.
Vera’s feelings for her were too vivid to define it as ‘love,’ too short to label it as ‘like.’ His feelings towards her were more close to reverence, if she had to put into words.
A virtuous attitude, the always calm tone, and even now, the silent and protective actions were testaments to that.
Squeeze. Renee felt her heart getting squeezed.
Her heart kept pounding for him, yet the other person didn’t feel that way for her.
Renee’s first love was a needlessly honest man, who didn’t have a speck of selfishness.
You can be a little bit selfish.
Renee, who thought as such, belatedly realized that they were just one step apart and gasped.
“Ah, it’s nothing.”
Tremble. Her shoulders trembled.
Heat began to surge over her body again.
In her mumbling lips, the unvoiced question, ‘What do you think of me?’ lingered.
The reason why she didn’t ask was because she was afraid that the answer would be too painful for her to bear.
It was because she was already aware of the answer, but didn’t want to hear it through Vera’s mouth.
Renee didn’t want to lose the warmth in her hands.
It was fine, even if it stayed as a mere delusion.
Wasn’t it fine to imagine that Vera also felt the same way?
Tap. Following the tapping sound of the cane, the sound of footsteps resounded.
Renee felt the insides of her belly tingle and walked forward along with that beat.
Again, she fell into deep thought.
… No, this time around, a delusion flashed through her mind.
What would have happened if I didn’t lose my vision?
Renee drew herself next to the face she once swept with her hands as she recalled the face she had drawn in her head.
She drew two people smiling at each other.
She knew it wasn’t real, yet she still chose to draw such a scene.
In the scene, both she and Vera were laughing together. There, she wasn’t the Saint.
Vera held her hands and spoke.
Flinch!! Renee’s body shook.
The reaction caused by her delusion was too dangerous.
Shortly after, Renee’s grip around Vera’s hand tightened as her body naturally stiffened.
Vera tilted his head as he looked at Renee, suddenly clasping his hand.
The reaction he saw every time they went on a walk. By now, that reaction had become pretty familiar.
He wondered if there was a problem. However, whenever he asked her about it, she would always reply, ‘It’s nothing.’ So, Vera didn’t call out to Renee this time around, and just quietly chose to examine her complexion.
It was really fortunate for Renee.
She would have twisted her body in shame if she realized that she reacted strangely in front of Vera again.
Renee wasn’t even aware how she was reacting right now, and while she was trying to shake off these thoughts, a realization dawned on her.
Although I can’t see Vera.
‘J-Just hearing him call my name…’
Maybe I can do it.
It was a pretty tempting thought.
It’s not like I’m asking for anything difficult, it’s just a name.
I think Vera will do it because I’m the one asking.
Didn’t Vera call me ‘Ms. Renee’ while we were in the village?
From there, she needs to push it a bit further and ask him to not add ‘Miss’ while addressing her.
Renee, who resolved herself as such, pursed her lips for a moment and continued on her trail of thoughts. She then closed her eyes tightly and blurted out the following words.
Stiffen. She was speechless.
She was about to ask for a favor on the spur of the moment, but the thought of how to do that came to her mind belatedly.
Renee began sweating profusely while thinking about it. On the other hand, Vera patiently waited for Renee.
Renee only opened her mouth once again after walking half a lap around the flower bed in such a silent state.
“… Ah! Come to think of it, maybe we are being too formal! Since we will continue to see each other, I think it will be better for us to address each other in a more familiar way! That’s what I think!”
Unconsciously, she imitated a charlatan in order to convince Vera.
After momentarily thinking that something might be wrong, she continued speaking in a hurry.
“Do-don’t you think so? We will ke-ke-keep seeing each other in the future! Since we’re going to be together, wouldn’t it be better to close the distance a little? Like, for example, calling each other by our first names!”
It was a sudden start.
She tried to speak logically, but she couldn’t think of any excuses, so she forcefully pushed forth.
Badump. Badump. Renee’s heart began to beat erratically as feelings of anticipation and excitement brimmed within her.
Renee kept her ears wide open and tilted her head slightly towards Vera as she eagerly waited for his answer.
Vera’s answer only came after five more steps.
“… Please reconsider it. I apologize, but I can’t accept this.”
His reply was a blatant rejection.
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