At my sudden question, Duke-Sama gazes at me in surprise.
The moment the words left my mouth, I instantly regretted them.
What did I just do! What did I just ask him….! Duke-Sama hasn’t even told me aloud that he likes me…..
“On second thought, please forget I said anything,” I say feeling belatedly flustered.
“Oh Would you really like to know” Duke-Sama asks, his eyes glittering at me mischievously.
Urgh, that overly self-confident, pompous persona is just so….
I’m perfectly fine not receiving an answer.”
Duke-Sama slowly closes the distance between us.
Why is he coming closer! This room is already so tiny that there’s nowhere for me to escape.
As he draws towards me, I find myself taking quick steps backward, but all too soon I find cool glass bumping into my back.
The window is right behind me, thwarting further attempts at a retreat.
……Calm yourself, Alicia.
Regardless of the situation, you need to retain your wits about you.
Dignity and confidence.
I can’t very well call myself a villainess if I can’t manage at least that much.
I repeat the words in my head a few times like a mantra, trying to regain my composure.
Unfortunately, I still find myself losing to the tremendous pressure that Duke-Sama is giving off.
…No, I can’t back down.
Such actions are unbefitting of a true villainess.
If I lose my nerve here, my previous efforts will all be in vain.
I have to do something! I cannot allow myself to lose to this man!
With those encouraging thoughts, I straighten my spine and steel my nerves.
But in that same instant, Duke-Sama finally finishes closing the distance between us, swiftly cutting off all means of escape.
His arms reach out and he presses his palms firmly on the window on either side of me, fencing me in.
……Isn’t this that popular move from my past life A kabedon A wall-slam I never realized how closely it brings two people together.
At this distance, I’m sure he must hear my heart hammering in my chest.
Hang in there, Alicia.
Just breathe normally.
Don’t let yourself lose to mere proximity.
Somehow, I manage to school my features into an unruffled mask as I look up at him.
…..Impossibly, I feel like he’s even more gorgeous from this angle.
Reality really is ridiculously unfair.
How can a man have such flawless skin….. He’ll leave all the women in this world crying in defeat.
As I continue to stare fixedly at his face, I notice a slight pink tinge creeping up over his cheeks.
Huh I don’t believe it.
I never thought I’d see the day that this devilish man would blush like this… Am I dreaming
“Don’t stare so hard at me like that.”
“If you dislike it, shall I cover my eyes with my hand” I say, a slight smirk playing at the corners of my mouth.
An embarrassed, slightly flustered expression crosses his face.
Have I managed to turn the tables successfully in my favor
A lock of Duke-Sama’s beautiful, glossy, sea-blue hair falls into his eyes.
“Your hair really is pretty,” I note as I brush the strand back.
From this position, I have to stretch my hand up quite high in order to reach…..
But even with this uncomfortable stance, I can’t help but admire his hair’s silky smooth texture from between my fingertips.
And above all, it smells so good.
Just how is he taking care if it for his hair to be this nice
As I think that, I continue stroking his hair as I please, but then suddenly Duke-Sama is holding my face in his hands.
“Whaa are ou doin’” I try to ask, but the words come out garbled.
He seems to be squishing my cheeks into quite an unbecoming, embarrassing appearance.
If someone were to somehow see me like this, I’d have to kiss my dreams of becoming a villainess goodbye.
I stop playing with his hair and grab onto his wrists, trying to pull his hands away from my face, but they don’t budge.
What remarkable strength!
Duke-Sama sighs slightly.
……What is that supposed to mean
“I want to just lock you away,” Duke-Sama murmurs, leaning his forehead against mine.
And from that position, our eyes meet as he stares directly into me.
Lock me away….. This is the first time in my life that anyone has said such provocative words to me.
If he wasn’t such a handsome man, women would probably maul him for saying such awful words.
Or at least have him arrested…..
But as things are, that would never happen.
The power of beauty really is disarming.
Could this be his true self Whether it was in the game or in this reality, I’ve never seen him let these sorts of thoughts leak through before.
Forget the words though….
Just having his face so close to mine like this makes me feel like my heart is going to explode.
There is a beastly glint in his eyes as they stare steadily into mine.
I feel like I’ll be eaten alive.
I need to do something about this overwhelming atmosphere.
I don’t think my heart can take much more of this.
Leaning my head back slightly, I don’t stop to think.
I swing it forward full force…..
Oww! I carefully make sure not to exclaim out loud, but inside I cry out as much as I want.
Duke-Sama’s eyes are wide with shock as he just stares at me.
Whether from surprise or the force of the blow I’m not sure, but I succeeded in creating some distance between us.
He had stumbled back a step and he’s now leaning heavily back on the desk behind him, though his gaze is still trained on me.
….As it turns out, head-butting a person really hurts.
I’m sure there must be a huge red mark on my forehead from that.
However, now isn’t the time for me to be concerned over such things.
Without losing momentum, I quickly close the distance once again and exact a little revenge for his actions earlier.
With one hand, I grab hold of his face, smooshing in his cheeks.
A satisfied smile crops up on my own face as I take in his ridiculous new look.
Good thing he was already leaning down on that desk.
If he hadn’t been, my hand likely wouldn’t have reached.
“Lock me away Don’t make me laugh.
I had a good reason for agreeing to shut myself away in that little hut for the last two years.
My father didn’t just lock me up! So don’t you dare think that I’m that easy,” I say glaring defiantly up into his face.
Duke-Sama doesn’t try to speak around my grip.
He just narrows his eyes at me and then pulls on my arm.
I hadn’t been expecting that so I don’t resist.
I fall a step forward and them I’m standing within his embrace, Duke-Sama’s unique scent wafting in the air, enveloping me.
…..He really does….
smell so good.
It’s a comfortable, calming scent…..
Or it should be, but somehow my heart isn’t calming down in the slightest right now.
On the contrary, it seems to be dancing a peppy jig all on its own.
I didn’t mean it.
I just lost my reason back there for a moment.”
Duke-Sama’s voice is whisper quiet against my ear.
At my question, I feel his chest move as he heaves a deep sigh.
“I just wanted you to be more aware of how much I’m struggling here.
You drive me crazy sometimes.”
His tone is exasperated, though whether it’s with me or with himself I’m not sure.
Either way, I’m keenly aware of myself stiffening at his words.
And in the ensuing silence, the sound of a heart pounding away is thunderous.
I can’t quite tell if it’s my heart or his that I’m hearing though.
Even if it’s not mine, what does it matter My heart is hammering so hard it hurts.
It feels like it’s going to burst right out of my chest.
“Alicia, you’re not afraid to follow through with your convictions, you’ll spare no effort when it comes to achieving your goals, and you always face the world head on no matter the situation.
You’re intelligent, strong, effortlessly dignified, and almost unbearably beautiful,” after saying all that, Duke-Sama’s voice suddenly trails off.
But just that was enough.
I’m uncomfortably conscious of my body growing hot.
And I’m sure this heat is being conveyed to Duke-Sama as well.
We’re too close for him not to notice.
Not to mention, I’m positive that my face must be the shade of a shiny red apple.
Unbelievably, my heart also seems to be racing even faster now too.
It was already deafening before, but now its beating is roaring out like a jackhammer.
As if that wasn’t enough, at his words, a searing, burning heat squeezed my chest and stole my breath away.
I feel like I’ve been completely undone.
These final words he murmurs with his lips right at my ear.
What a killer line.
Now even my legs feel like pudding.
If I was any other girl, I probably would have swooned straight away.
In order to protect my dignity as a villainess, I’ve somehow remained standing, but even now my legs feel as if they might collapse.
Without saying anything else, Duke-Sama releases me and heads towards the door.
Even though he was the one who made me come here, he’s going to leave first Just like that
Though, I suppose the faster he leaves, the better it is for me.
It’s something to rejoice at! I’m sure I must be flushed from head to toe right now.
That’s not exactly something I’d like for others to see…. Especially not him.
It only took one look at my face for him to smile in smug satisfaction, but mercifully he didn’t say anything.
He just looked at me for a moment and then turned to leave.
Could it be….
that his only motive in dragging me in here was to tease me
The moment the door swings closed behind him, I let my legs buckle, plopping unceremoniously down on the floor.
I no longer have the willpower to force myself to stand anymore.
Thank goodness there was no one else in the room.
After a short time, Gilles comes into the room, glancing down at me on the floor in surprise.
‘Finished reading already’ I get the tiniest urge to ask, but I don’t even have the strength to muster up such a sarcastic remark anymore.
“What’s wrong Duke left the room a couple minutes ago looking happy, but even though I waited, you never came out….” Gilles says peering at my face.
Duke looked happy when he came out I wonder if he purposely said all that at the end knowing the effect that it would have on me.
In the beginning I used to think that he was kind, but in truth he’s been an S this whole time…..
His true colors are finally starting to peek through.
“Your face is red….
but I doubt it’s cause you have a fever, right”
“……Just give me a second to calm down.
Then we can get out of here,” I say by means of an answer, leaning back heavily on the wall next to me from my seat on the floor.
“Sure,” Gilles agrees, giving a small nod of his head.
He walks over to the window and opens it, letting a breeze blow through the room.
The soft and refreshing wind surrounds me, and I can feel myself cooling off.
My heart as well is slowly starting to calm down.
Gilles slides down the wall next to me, sits down, and starts to read again.
Apparently he hasn’t finished the book yet.
Gilles and I sit there in companionable silence for a long while, bathing in the light of the sun, the comfortable breeze still flowing through the open window.