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“Posture practice. Didn’t I ask you to finish it by today?”
My mouth was slightly open as I looked up at Ian. I did. There was definitely a story behind that.
Just before I left, that handsome guy smashed the locked room with his sword and gave me homework yesterday.
I’m learning how to maintain basic posture with the help of Dame Joan until the day after tomorrow.
“You forgot.” Ian scoffed as he observed my expression.
I replied back quickly.
“I don’t think that’s true. Because I can tell by looking at your posture.”
Ian’s interrogation sounded surprisingly sweet at this moment. Ian seemed to have called me for only one reason. In other words, he didn’t call me up to interrogate me about Rizello.
‘I survived! I survived!’
Only then would I be willing to speak with you and answer your questions. I smiled softly as I looked up at Ian. Ian’s expression hardened.
“What is it? Your smile.”
“I usually have a smiley face. Continue speaking.”
“…Get into position.”
Ian winked slyly at Lucian, who quickly brought me a wooden sword.
Is this man always willing to train this poor sheep anytime, anywhere? What was the purpose of bringing a wooden sword to your office?
I snatched up the wooden sword Lucian had given me as I swallowed those questions. I really did practice posture, despite Ian’s suspicions. I couldn’t ignore the homework from the person who smashed the lock with one sword like a toy.
Dame Joan complimented me on my posture, which was good enough after half an hour of practice. Ian gave me a long, thoughtful look as I recalled the stance that Dame Joan had taught.
Silence followed for a moment. There was a stinging sensation in his gaze toward me. Sweat slowly dripped from the hand wielding the wooden sword. It was the moment I opened my mouth first because I couldn’t take it any longer.
“I know you practiced.”
In an instant, my face became bright red.
“Yes, I practiced really hard.”
“But I feel like it falters whatever things are stacked on it since there aren’t any basics at all.”
Ian’s subsequent self-talk made me shudder. In the eyes of someone who has mastered the sword, I’m just a beginner, no, I’m a chicken, a worm!
I was about to say something, but Ian got up first.
“I can’t help it. Lay down over there.”
I blinked my eyes blankly and looked in the direction Ian was pointing. There was a couch there.
“Relax and lie down. Today, you’re going to perfect the basics.”
Why do I have to lie there when I’m going to finish the basics…?
Even though I was terrified, I couldn’t help myself and walked over to the sofa. I took off my shoes and lay on the couch, the tension was palpable, as if I were laying in a CT scanner.
“Just let your hair down and relax.”
Ian said this as he stood next to the sofa, his gaze falling on me. Hey. Would you be able to de-stress in this situation?
It felt very awkward to lay idly on the couch in someone else’s office. I was just making fun of my own mouth.
“That, hmm. The sofa is very soft and comfortable.”
“I’m going to put my hands on your stomach for a moment.”
Ian spoke calmly, even as I jerked my head around in embarrassment.
A large palm wrapped around my stomach a few moments later. I’ve thought about it before, but this feels a little weird.
“Take a deep breath in. Let your breath come in here.”
A low voice descended above my head as I took a deep breath as he instructed.
“You are doing well. Well done.” Ian complimented me.
I blinked as this was such an unusual occurrence. Perhaps this was the first time I was praised by Ian.
“Take a deep breath and exhale once more. Slowly.”
I repeated the deep breathing techniques as Ian had instructed. I felt a little more subtle lying on the comfy couch, listening to the low-pitched voice tickle my ears. I’m starting to feel drowsy.
Unconsciously, I opened my mouth.
“The wedding is just around the corner.”
“Inhale once more. I see what you mean. Are you nervous?”
“Huu…Well. Actually, I still don’t feel like it’s real.” I confessed as I exhaled.
Every day I would choose glamorous wedding dresses and jewelry, but it still didn’t feel real. It’s hard for me to believe that I’m about to get married. It didn’t come easily to me, even if it was a phony one-year marriage.
“By the way, Sir Ian.”
“What is it?”
The question was asked in a forthright and cold tone. This kind of person will become my husband in a few days. As I was lamenting, I took a deep breath and exhaled.
“I heard this while attending Lady Cordelia’s regular social gathering.”
“What is the wedding culture of the Rehart Empire?”
Ian’s brow furrowed, as if perplexed.
“That’s what Lady Cordelia said. It is a culture devoid of dignity, as well as a bad custom that must be erased. What kind of culture would it be if everyone spoke of it in this way?”
It didn’t appear to be an ordinary culture based on everyone’s reactions to that point. It was necessary to know in advance in order to avoid panic at the scene.
“What culture are you talking about?”
“I don’t know either. As you know, I am not from the Rehart Empire.”
“What exactly do you mean by culture devoid of dignity? What exactly are you referring to……”
Ian, who had been speaking up until that point, stopped abruptly.
I tilted my head and looked up at Ian, confused. Like a stone statue, he had a frozen expression on his face.
“Sir Ian. What’s wrong with you? You remembered it. Right?”
Ian remained silent. His only change is that his face becomes paler. I was scared.
‘What kind of culture in the hell is that!’
“What’s wrong with you? Please tell me, too. Okay? That’s how I can get ready.”
“…That’s. That, culture.”
“It is a bad custom that needs to be abolished.”
I thought of something right!
Apart from being scared, Ian’s reaction raised my curiosity even more.
“You don’t have to know. I’ll take care of it.”
‘What is it that you’re supposed to take care of?’
“It’s a famous tradition that everyone knows about, but can we leave it out at will?”
“I’m going to make it like that.” Ian said with a determined expression on his face.
Then he looked down at his hand, which was resting on my stomach, and yanked it out quickly, as if he had been burned. As if he’s now conscious of the touch.
“…It’s best if you finish practicing breathing with Dame Joan. It’s gotten a lot better.”
I stared at Ian, who was strangely acting as if he wanted to keep his distance from me. His fair face, which seemed colder, was unusually red, making him appear more charming than usual.
What is it?
“What kind of culture is that, anyway?”
“Are you agitated right now?”
“I am not. Because it has nothing to do with us anyway. More than that, now that we have the basics, let’s move on to practice.”
Ian said, as if making excuses, when I turned around with a surprised expression.
“We don’t have much time.”
The ‘actual battle’ that Ian spoke of was not swordsmanship.
I was holding hands with Ian in a waltz position in the middle of his spacious office. Ian’s body was strangely stiff, unlike the last time when he placed his hands on my stomach without hesitation. His appearance shows that he had never been this close to a woman.
“Do you know how to waltz?”
“Um, a little bit?”
I nodded, recalling what I had learned in gym class a couple of times.
“There won’t be any difficult moves.”
Surprisingly, Ian led me smoothly. I wondered how a man who seemed to have never held hands with a woman was so good at this. Was it the basic knowledge of the imperial family?
But there was a problem.
Ian’s movements leading me were flawlessly perfect. However, there was one thing that did not work.
‘Even if my expression looks like a stone, I will look at you more lovingly than you are, my soon-to-be husband.’
Ian’s eyes were too stiff when he looked down at me. Ian was still a person who didn’t look at me with loving eyes before we talked about wedding culture. But he became more rigid after we talked about it.
I couldn’t tell if I was his wife, whom he couldn’t help but love, or a business partner he had met today, whom he was dancing with.
“That. Sir Ian.”
I couldn’t take it any longer and opened my mouth.
“You’re looking at me in a businesslike manner.”
It’s been a month since I fell into this world and pretended to be Ian’s fake lover. From my observation, the people of this world are obsessed with love gossip. They all have big ears and are hawk-eyed when it comes to gossip. Ian’s stiff gaze would undoubtedly be caught in a split second.
“You can’t do that. You have to look at me properly.”
“…Do I have to look at you properly?”
Why are you doing this to me? Why are you like someone who doesn’t know anything?
His act of monopolizing me was great when he met Rashid at the library. Even when interrogating Count Paras, he acted as if he had a lot of smoke coming out of his eyes, as if he was worried about me.
‘You have potential.’
“First, wrap your hand around my waist more properly.”
As I wrapped Ian’s hand around my waist even tighter, as if he was touching something dangerous, Ian’s body suddenly stiffened.
“And look down at me, and lower your eyes a little.”
Ian didn’t answer, but he seemed to be trying to do what I said.
The fact that his face was flawless just by lowering his eyes was perfect thanks to his long lashes.
“You have to keep looking at me. Blink your eyes from time to time.”
Ian appeared to be doing his best to carry out my instructions. Blue eyes like the sea looked down at me quietly. I stopped breathing for a moment.
It was strange. We were just looking at each other, but we couldn’t move as if we were trapped.
An alarm sounded in my mind. There was a gap in our eye-to-eye session that was filled with blank space. I tried to open my mouth forcefully, but it wasn’t as easy as I had hoped. What is this all of a sudden?
I tried closing my eyes, but that didn’t work either. I couldn’t turn away from Ian’s gaze, as if closing my eyes would be disastrous.