I pursed my lips and then opened my mouth to stop holding back.
"I don’t want you to have children with other women…"
"Of course. I promise."
"But if you really want to have a baby, don’t hold back, just tell me."
"I understand. I’ll make sure of it. And of course, My Lady."
I gave a small nod. I was only concerned about him, but there might be times when I would want one too.
"I have an acquaintance with a couple who were not blessed with children and adopted several. You should visit them and talk to them then. They are very close friends."
I nodded deeply.
It didn’t mean that my anxiety was gone. But he told me that I didn’t have to worry about it alone.
Even now, I could support him.
I should have discussed this with him from the beginning. After all, I should have listened to the advice of my elders.
"Thank you, Stanley."
"Thank you, too."
Stanley gently brushed his fingers through my bangs, hiding my expression.
"Finally, you smiled."
I felt my body tense up. It’s that feeling again. Tension spread throughout my body from the hair he touched.
My heart was racing. It’s just Stanley touching my hair.
I’ve been around him since I was a little girl. He held my hand, picked me up, kissed me on the cheek. I didn’t feel this way at the time, but why?
It was not uncomfortable at all, even though my heart was in such pain.
"Why… does it make my heart ache when you touch me, but it makes me so happy?"
I asked, looking into his feverish eyes.
"Is this what love is, Stanley?"
His lips, right there, moved. I wanted to touch him. Maybe this was love after all.
A large palm cupped my cheek. His breath touched my lips, and I’m sure my breath touched his.
Just before I was about to close my eyes, the warmth on my cheeks suddenly disappeared.
I lifted my eyelids and looked up at Stanley, who stood up.
Without saying a word, he went back to the chair across from me, drank his coffee, which was probably already cold, in one gulp, and then took a deep, serious breath.
I sat back in my chair and propped my elbows up on the desk to look into his face, which refused to make eye contact.
"You know, Stanley. I’m aware that I’m not very familiar with romantic relationships between men and women, but… I think you might have been in the mood for a kiss."
He said firmly, and then he swept his gaze. It seemed that he was much more upset than he looked.
"You’re not even engaged to be married yet."
"Did you ever want to?"
There was no denial from Stanley, who gasped for breath. I guess that’s what it meant.
The edge of his mouth lifted in a grin.
"This is the first time I’ve ever heard of… Lord Stanley having such illicit feelings for a young lady of a different status who is not even engaged yet."
Stanley’s face twitched in inverse proportion to the depth of my smile.
"…You are back to your usual self, My Lady."
"So, you wouldn’t do it?"
"No one’s watching."
"That’s not the point."
"You’re the one who got rid of them. Aishe and the others are gossiping about it now. They’re gossiping about you. They’re saying, "Mr. Arliss, you’re really good at this"."
In fact, they may be listening in on the other side of the door. They might have heard Stanley’s unusual shouting. Or my whining.
"I won’t tell my father."
"I’m not going to…"
"Well, that’s too bad."
I tried to make it sound like I wanted to.
Stanley, who seemed to have noticed, blushed just a little, his lips pursed into a pout. It was a face I had never seen before when I thought he was the perfect man that everyone admired.
As I leaned my elbows on the desk to look up at him, Stanley’s gaze wavered uncomfortably from side to side.
"I’d better get back to work."
"Oh, well, too bad."
Stanley stood up, put his hand on his chest, took a deep breath, and finally looked down at me with his normal face.
"I’ll be back when I have more time."
"All right. I’ll wait."
Stanley’s back disappeared behind the door, his head bowed as if nothing had happened, but I was sure his mind was in turmoil.
I looked back at my hand and popped a freshly baked cookie into my mouth.
What a mood I’m in. I felt like I could fly right now, but I also felt like I wanted to bury myself in a hole. I wanted to scream, and I wanted someone to hear me.
While I was quietly eating my cookies, I heard a small knock on the door. It was Aishe who came in.
I saw her expression and immediately recognized it.
"Would you like me to get you another one?"
"No, thank you."
I stared at her face, and her smile twitched.
"You’ve been spying on me."
"Well, I don’t know what you’re talking about…"
She was just trying to keep it clean.
I pointed to the chair Stanley was sitting in earlier. She looked at me again, cowering in her chair, and then lifted the corner of her mouth to show me.
"Hey, don’t you think a kiss would be nice?
I was about to shout something, but Aishe cut me off. She looked around and moved to stand right next to me, holding a chair, and then put her head to me.
"I think a kiss would be nice, don’t you?"
She says in a whispered, confidential way.
"Isn’t that right?"
We looked at each other and chuckled.
Then, in the hours leading up to dinner, a few other maids would gather and I would be told by them what kissing was like.