The Sleepless Night of the Maid - chapter 22
Incredibly stunned, her body shook uncontrollably. Only then did Eva realize what he meant by dealing with it.
Todd. The man who left an outrageous mark by the force of grabbing Eva by the wrist.
Ruth noticed it while kissing the back of her hand. There was someone in this residence who disturbed her. One could tell that if it was not the Baronet, then it must be his son. Whichever one of them, his words meant that he would step in and settle it. It was evident that his sentiment was out of good intention, but her heart felt tight.
“N-no. I’m fine so you don’t need to do that.”
Eva quickly moved her mouth, refusing. It felt like the Ruth in front of her wasn’t the one she knew. Only briefly, it was the first time she felt dread by the pressure emitted from him.
“It’s not as good as it used to be in Bale Castle, but it’s also not worse. The Baronet has a poor circumstance, so I’m just helping him. Their family has ups and downs, but they’re not bad people. My coming-of-age is around the corner, so it’ll improve my situation.”
Gibberish. She didn’t even understand what she was talking about. She just thought she had to dismiss the subject so that way Ruth wouldn’t interfere. Because ‘helping’ and ‘taking care of it’ didn’t sound like half-empty words. Just in case of an unimaginable thing, she was mindful of talking about something horrendous.
After she finished talking, Eva drifted her eyes up to Ruth. His face was mellow and as collected as ever while looking at her. As if the pressure was just an illusion, the way he stared was tender.
As Eva got embarrassed for nothing and clammed her mouth tight, a brief smile crept across his feature.
“Is that so? I understand.”
Ruth immediately accepted without digging further, as if he knew inside Eva’s mind.
He turned around again and began to walk. Eva also kept pace with him without saying a word. As her bewildering mind calmed down, she suddenly became suspicious.
“But may I ask why you want to help me?”
He said he didn’t trust people and was not the type of person who showed kindness to just anyone. She couldn’t comprehend why he wanted to express a great deal of kindness to someone he just met. Even if he was the Crown Prince, their relationship was already over and they had no physical or emotional interaction before that.
“I’m not sure. Let’s just say I felt sympathy.”
Ruth averted his face with a vague answer. She waited for the next words to come, but no more answers were given. Moments later, he changed the subject and asked her another question.
“Have you ever visited the Bale Castle ever since you left?”
“No. It’s too far…”
“Don’t you miss it?”
Eva smiled bitterly and hung her head. True it was far, but on the other hand, she didn’t have the courage to go, so she turned away from there. It wasn’t her home anymore, that was why she was afraid if she stopped by and looked around, memories would flood in and break her heart.
Nevertheless, she always missed Bale Castle. She remembered wandering through the huge hallways, cloisters, and empty rooms. She sat on the handrail and slid there, then on the way down, she was caught by her nanny and got scolded. If she climbed up along spiral stairs up to the rooftop, the scenery of Bale River and the Crocs Fields downtown area awaited her by a first glance.
Above all, the place that came to her mind most often was when she said goodbye to her father. It was a place full of her family’s love and memories.
“If you have time, go to the moonlight garden behind the castle at night.”
“Moonlight garden?” Ruth asked, staring at Eva as a curiosity adorned his face.
“It’s a small garden with a fountain. It’s beautiful during the day, even more so at night, when the moon is visible.”
As Eva relived the place, her voice was filled with joy. Eva began explaining in a slightly excited voice how it was built and what had happened there.
She talked for a while, but she got no response. It registered at her in that moment that she had said far too much and cast a glance at Ruth. He stopped with his eyes still fixed on Eva. Her eyes blinked, confused as he took a step back, faintly tugging up the corners of his mouth.
“My apologies, but could you wait here for a minute?”
“It won’t take long. I’ll be back soon.”
Before Eva could finish her words, he whirled around in haste and fled, leaving her behind in the dark and far away from the residence.
What just happened?
Now left alone, her shoulders quivered as she looked at the spot where Ruth had stood. Now by herself, various thoughts came one after another. Maybe he was getting bored because she talked a lot. Or maybe she made a slip of the tongue that she didn’t realize and hurt his feelings. She didn’t cross the line, so there must be a reason. She couldn’t help but feel this way.
He said he’d be back soon, but no signs of him came yet. The darkness began to weigh heavily on Eva and the noises of the night now sounded frightening. She felt abandoned, alone in a cold, desolate location.
As she was contemplating whether to go back, she heard horse hooves from afar.
Shortly afterwards, huge and darker than the night, Ruth’s horse appeared before her. Ruth, who stopped his horse in front of her, leaned forward and offered her a hand.
“Let’s go to Bale Castle.” Softly, his eyes crinkled and smiled, declaring an unexpected suggestion.
Caught off guard, Eva’s eyes went wide as she asked. She couldn’t follow the track of his mind. Bringing a horse out of the blue and going to the castle without giving a reason why.
Instead of an answer, he pointed his index finger at the sky. The blended deep blue and black sky, filled with silvery moon as the stars spread across it.
“I heard it’s beautiful under a moonlit night.”