Chapter Eight: His Highness and the Mysterious Young Boy
I was now welcoming the second night of my stay after coming to this mansion.
Sensing me entering the room, Nolan, sitting on the small bed, proceeded to unfold a bunch of letters. He casually spread them, which didn’t seem to be more than 10, on the bed sheet, showing no signs of budging even as I drew near.
Was this his silent appeal of you will sleep on the big bed tonight for me?
I moved back and forth between the space of two beds and eventually gave up and moved to the bigger bed. I flipped the quilt, which was covered with a pale green-colored sheet, and nervously climbed onto the bed.
When I glanced at Nolan, he shifted his gaze that was just staring at me back to the letters. I guess he must have been watching my unsure demeanor in between the two bed all along. I felt pretty embarrassed realizing that fact.
Almost all of the letters Nolan brought out had majestic-looking wax seals with apparent signs of being roughly opened. It was the cards and writing paper inside that were now messily spread on the bed.
As if he understood the meaning behind my gaze, he spoke as he dropped his gaze back to the letters again, “All of them are party invitations from nearby aristocrats.”
“There are so many invitations… Are you going?”
“No. I don’t have that much free time for now.”
I was relieved somehow. I laid down on the bed before moving my eyes to look at Nolan. He tied up the letters and then tossed them into the dustbin. I felt a bit sorry seeing him throw those away so lightly.
—I wonder if Nolan’s also going to sleep earlier? I exhaled and closed my eyes while thinking about it.
Creak! Hearing the bed make a sound, I opened my eyes. What surprised me was Nolan climbing on the opposite side I was lying on. I looked at him with a stunned gaze as he smoothly slipped into another quilt on the same bed. It was a big bed, so even after we both laid down on it, there was still quite a bit of space left.
I felt so shocked by the development that I had to physically stop my urge to jump off the bed.
When I stared intensely at Nolan, who was lying down next to me with a bated breath, I heard rustling sounds of clothes as he raised his upper body on his elbows. He tilted his body towards me and looked at my face— My breathing came to a halt.
Nolan gently kissed me on my forehead and distanced himself from me. He put his head back on the pillow and extinguished the source of light on his side. “Good night.”
Only then was I able to start breathing again. After a short pause, I replied back.
Nolan’s lips were no longer on my forehead, yet my forehead still carried the scorching sensation.
In the morning, I woke up as I sensed Nolan getting up from the bed. After fixing my disordered hair quickly, I greeted Nolan with a modest smile.
One part of his platinum blonde hair looked like a shrub due to bed hair. However, I didn’t know if it’s because he had just woken up or if there’s another reason, even his bed hair looked like one of the most advanced and trendy hairstyles… Just because his face was just that good looking. I’m so envious.
When we took a seat for breakfast together, Olivia looked strangely delighted. She blushed hard for no reason after repeated saying, “Kyaaa…!! Kyaaa! Kyaaa!!!”
With her smiling face as if she had something to say, she deliberately gazed at me for a good few seconds. “Madam, please put some honey on the bread. It’s the most effective method to heal your fatigue!”
After saying “I will bring the honey jar!” she quickly went to the kitchen in high spirits. She had obviously misunderstood something.
The days on Dahl Island from then were, although filled with tension, were quite simple. I spent almost all my time on household chores, and with the company of the forever cheerful Olivia in the mansion, even the never-ending tasks felt like a breeze. She had pulled me once a day outside and taught me about this and that of the island. For me, she looked like the mother of the entire Dahl Island.
Nolan often went out together with Ricardo for long periods of time.
At those times, he would frequently leave the mansion early in the morning. However, I couldn’t bring myself to ask where he was going as I saw him off at the entrance. It was because even Ricardo, who usually looked amiable, would appear to be shrouded in a tense atmosphere, so it became harder for me to ask.
At one point, I firmly tried to ask him when the two returned in the evening looking tired. “Did you go outside the island today?”
But I quickly regretted it, rebuking myself that maybe I had asked something uncalled for. Nolan and Ricardo looked into each other’s eyes for a moment as an awkward silence followed the interim. “Yeah, I went out for something related to work. I’m really sorry to leave you all alone.”
Nolan’s tone when he answered me was so calm, but it didn’t lower my concern as he didn’t look at my face when he did. Besides, it was challenging to ask anymore when he said it was due to work. But was it really because of the work…?
At those times, noticing that he was hiding something from me that he couldn’t speak about, I felt like the chasmic distance between our hearts would never be filled up, even though we were already living in the same mansion and sleeping on the same bed.
The area around the count’s mansion, which didn’t have any gardener, was overflowing with lush weeds. It was bound to happen with no one managing them. They looked so unsightly that I finally decided to take the matter into my hands. Nolan had gone to the town of Dahl Island while Olivia was busy with another chore.
Just as I was leveled myself to the ground and was about to start pulling out the weeds, Ricardo noticed me. His expression took a different color and brought out a lawnmower, probably from the shed. He began to mow the weeds with terrific momentum, with a smile lighter than the wind. Ricardo pushed the lawnmower while I gathered the cut weed in one place with quick hands.
Marco, who noticed us at some point, also began to help out in our work. Although he was only pulling the weeds with his working gloves, he was just as fast as a lawnmower. “Marco-san is quite powerful, isn’t he?”
“Yes! Because I’m all muscle even till my brain!”
I was at a loss for words when he cheerfully declared so.
The garden was quite vast, so by the time we weeded out about half of it, all of us were thoroughly exhausted and decided to take a break. My dress had lots of weeds and unknown kernels stuck to its hem and cuffs. At first I thought those kernels were worms and screamed out while frantically waving the hem of my dress in a frenzy. It was only after Ricardo calmed me down and said to look carefully that I realized they weren’t worms. However, those kernels had fine prickles, so after sticking to my clothes, it became pretty hard to remove even as I tried to dust or brush them off roughly.
Anyway, after cleaning the garden to some extent, we returned to the mansion for lunch. I turned to the entrance with Ricardo as Marco went to put the lawnmower back. While rubbing my waist, which was screaming in pain, I looked up, and thereupon, I noticed a small silhouette peering towards us.
A boy, around four or five years old, was looking at us from approximately 50 steps away.
Ricardo and I looked at each other with the same question in mind; since had that boy been standing there?
He was standing there silently, without showing any signs of moving. I couldn’t see the shadow of anyone who might be his guardian, even after running my gaze around the boy’s vicinity. Ricardo And I moved toward the boy almost at the same time. He looked up at us with a stiff expression as if putting up a strong front, but despite that, he didn’t show any signs of escaping.
When I reached the boy and crouched to look at him on the same eye level, he retreated one step back. His soft blonde hair shook in the wind, probably reflecting his restless heart. As his brown-colored eyes looked up at me with uneasiness, I asked him, “I… Where did I come from? Where’s your mother?”
“…She said to wait here.”
“So you’re waiting for your mother here?” The young man nodded.
Ricardo and I looked at each other again. Why was this young boy waiting for his mother in front of someone else’s house?
Ricardo scratched his head and asked the boy, “How long did your mother say to wait here?”
“I don’t know.”
“…Are you from somewhere on this island?”
“I don’t know.”
“Did you know where your mother went to?”
“I don’t know.”
It seemed like he didn’t know anything. Given the situation, we were even more clueless that he was… When I realized that both I and Ricardo were scratching our heads. The fact was that no matter how rural this island was, leaving such a little boy on the roadside was still dangerous. That being said, we might not be able to meet his parents even if we brought him to the mansion either.
Just as I was stumped at what to do, Ricardo pointed at the bag the little boy was carrying. “Can you show me your bag? Maybe, there might be something written about your family.”
A cloth bag was hanging diagonally on the shoulder of the little boy. Receiving the boy’s silent consent, Ricardo extended his hand in a gentle manner as to not frighten him and opened the cover. I saw small wooden toys, withered flowers, and a rounded towel from the aperture.
A brown envelope was stuck in a small gap. Ricardo took out the envelope and, after receiving the boy’s approval, opened it. It contained a paper that Ricardo read in silence.
“Ridiculous…” The Ricardo’s expression, just as he had finished reading the letter, suddenly turned pale. Ricardo, who usually had a gentle expression, now had a stiff look.
“Let me read it too, Ricardo-san.”
When I tried to look into it, Ricardo hesitated for some reason. “Madam, there might be some kind of misunderstanding, so please don’t completely believe in it.”
Looking at Ricardo acting suspiciously as he said what looked like an excuse, I took— or more precisely, snatched it from his hand.
It was a short letter written in black ink.
Please forgive me for my sudden impoliteness.
This boy’s name is Peter. He’s now a 5-year-old old.
He’s your child.
Please look after him for a while.
I will definitely come back for him someday.]
My head turned blank.
I read the short letter over and over again.
…What does this mean? No, I didn’t even need to be at a loss for words. The written content was actually very short. This young boy was Nolan’s child, or so it had been written. And he’s going to be staying here for a while.
When I somehow looked up from the letter and gazed at Ricardo’s hand, I noticed a name written behind the envelope… Alex Gason, a female name.
I somehow managed to suppress the coldness that rushed over my body and tried to ask the boy kindly, “Is your mother someone called Alex?”
The boy, with a pool of tears accumulating at the corners of his eyes, nodded in a cute manner.
Like him, I also felt like crying.