A Tale Of One Lady And Two Men - Chapter 2
Translator and Editor: Yonnee and Nabi
Nadia thought she’d be able to become a more upright and quiet woman because of how her family treated her, though no matter how much she tried to be indifferent, she could still hear malicious whispers following her everywhere.
They always said that she must not show her love too much, that there was nothing uglier than a child who ran and cried all the time. They said that men would tire easily of a woman, so she should be coy and should not give in so quickly in bed because he would leave once he got what he wanted.
It was difficult for Nadia to judge whether these were true because there was no one who was truly candid with her, and she had no experience.
By the wall, a clock chimed two o’clock as one girl asked ‘What should I do with my tongue?’ At that, Nadia set her teacup down on the table with a resounding clack and stood up. The atmosphere between the young women, which had become hot and heady in broad daylight, suddenly cooled as if ice-cold water were splashed on them.
“I shall get up first. I hope you have a pleasant chat.”
With the corners of her lips trembling as she forced herself to smile, Nadia got up from her seat and left the table while hoping that her cheeks weren’t too red. She did not speak out to the rest of the young women negatively, but three or four of them followed her exit, perhaps feeling uncomfortable.
Nadia got on her carriage with the help of her maid after she said her goodbyes.
The steady staccato of the horse’s gait helped calm her down, but she couldn’t help biting her lip. There was an unbearable curiosity plaguing her.
After hesitating for a long time, Nadia ordered Suzanne, the maid who was attending to her today, to tell the carriage driver to go to the shopping district.
She had never felt so restless before. She thought that it might have been better if she just asked a while ago, just to satiate her curiosity, although she just bit her lips and stopped pondering about it.
She didn’t want to make any mistakes. So, she was going to buy a book to distract herself.
She got off the carriage near a bookstore that she usually frequented and went inside to look around. As Nadia looked between the bookshelves, thinking that she should have worn a hat or a veil, she easily found what she was looking for.
As she bought collections of poetry and tomes of philosophical books that she had no intention of buying in the first place, she brought them all home and carried them over a desk.
There was one particular book that stood out. Among the dull-covered books was one that had a fairly colorful cover. It was a romance book that came out today.
Nadia was stunned by her own actions. She went as far as pretending not to care at the bookstore, yet running straight back to the book to pick it up. She hesitated a great deal, but her temptation was far too powerful.
As she opened the book, Nadia instantly fell in love with it.
Before long, trips to the bookstore became a frequent occurrence. There was a long line of maids and knights that would desperately try to stop Nadia from going out and buying books, although the number of servants who protested soon trickled down.
The maids who first tried to stop her eventually gave up as they couldn’t do anything against her stubbornness.
Nadia hurried as she donned the usual plain dress and hat. She knew that it was dangerous for a woman to walk around alone, but her heart fluttered at the possibility that someone might catch her reading this kind of literature.
She bought one book at first, then she would bring that book back to resell it, then buy another book. Nadia didn’t mean to do this for a long time, just… until her curiosity simmered down. Then, she’d be able to quit any time.
She disposed of the book she had and bought two books from a writer she quite liked, thinking this was going to be the last time.
As usual, she became happy about the thought of going back home to read them. Just like the gossip she heard that day, reading things like that made her dream that someday, she’d get to experience things that would make her ears go hot, too.
As she rushed down an alley to catch a carriage, Nadia fell down after she bumped into someone as she rounded the corner. The book she was holding got flung to the ground as she hit her bottom on the pavement.
“You’ll have to open those eyes, Miss.”
Terrified of the man before her, Nadia’s imagination flared up as she saw the man’s huge build. At that moment, she regretted not listening to the maids and knights.
She slowly rose to her feet, trying not to show her apprehension. She realized that there was a wound on her palm when she felt a stinging sensation as she shook off the dirt from her. She must have gotten it when she tried to catch her fall.
“I apologize, I was in a hurry, so…since it’s not a big deal, then goodbye.”
And so, she tried to sneak past the man in that alley, hoping that he was content with her apology. However, against her expectations, the man’s hand harshly snatched up her arm, and Nadia couldn’t help but let out a small scream.
“You’re going? After you hit me?”
“I didn’t do it on purpose. And…”
Nadia trembled like a leaf. She had to be careful not to accidentally bite off her own tongue for all the fright she felt.
“Y-you aren’t hurt and, I a-apologized so—hiiek!”
“So, you’re just gonna leave like that?”
The man leaned into her, and she could clearly see his bloodshot eyes. The unpleasant smell of alcohol pervaded the space between them, which emanated from the man’s shaggy, bearded face.
“What do you mean I wasn’t hurt? You—do you not see this?”
He pointed at a knife wound on his forearm. He was saying that the nearly healed gash was sustained when he had bumped into her.
At that point, Nadia realized this man wouldn’t let her off easily.
“…What do you want from me?”
She stared at the man’s arm with contempt, still, with no other choice, she fished out her purse from her pocket and tossed it to him. The man looked satisfied when he saw a purse full of silver.
Relieved to see that he seemed satisfied, she thought she was lucky that it would end only at this. She held her breath as she waited for the man to leave. Yet, instead of leaving, he reached for Nadia’s hat.
“You have a cute voice. Mind showing me your face?”
“You have no right!”
She yelled sharply and looked around with urgency. She wished that someone would come to show this bastard his place.
And, before long, her wish came true. The moment the drunken man snatched Nadia’s hat recklessly, another person grabbed him by the arm.
Shaking in fright, she forced herself to look up to see who it was that came to her rescue.
The man who appeared suddenly had red hair, and he was taller than her by a head, and by his waist was a large sword.
With refined features that wouldn’t be lacking compared to her older brother, Nigel, his appearance made her heart flutter for a moment, but the large scar on his cheek looked so ferocious that it distracted from his fine looks.
The scar was so ferocious that, for a moment, Nadia imagined how much this man struggled in his daily life.
“Hey, go find someone else to bother.”
“And, who the f*ck are you?”
The drunken man attacked the red-haired man with a fierce glare. Nonetheless, the latter had no intention of backing down easily.
Nadia was relieved that someone had come to help her, but she was still nervous because a fight might break out in front of her. However, the altercation quickly ended with the drunken man’s arm bent in a strange direction.
Scuttling away with his bent arm cradled in another, the drunken man ran out of the alley and swore loudly.
The red-haired man really did save her. It was nothing like what she secretly read every night, with a prince coming to the rescue on a white horse. Though as she stared at him, even with the scar on his cheek, she realized how handsome he was.
Nadia expected him to say polite things, like ‘Are you alright, Miss?’ or ‘That must have scared you.’ But, he just handed over her hat without saying a word. Nevertheless, she wasn’t disappointed—this was fine in its own way.
With a shy smile on her lips, she expressed her gratitude.
“Thank you. If not for you, I—”
“Are you out of your mind?”
Her smile froze. The man picked up the books that she completely forgot about and berated her.
“When a woman like you walks along a back alley like this, you’re practically screaming you want to be preyed upon.”
His strict tone was like a slap to wake her up from a dream. Nadia was taken aback for a moment, though she immediately accepted it. It really had been dangerous.
As she bowed her head slightly, the man sighed, perhaps thinking that she had reflected already.
“I’ll take you back to your carriage. Be careful next time.”
Nadia put her hat back on and nodded. She reached out to take her books back, but…
“I’ll hold these for you.”
“Oh, no, no. I’ll take those. Give them back!”
Trying to get them back quickly backfired as the man glanced at the titles. One of them was Lady and the Knight. Nadia desperately hoped that the man didn’t think wrongly when she saw him smirk.
When they arrived at the carriage port, the man turned around without hesitation. In a frenzy, she was surprised by her own actions when she reached out to grab the hem of his clothes.
“Do you have any more business with me, Miss?”
It was an impulsive action that had no reason behind it, so Nadia struggled for a while, trying to think of something to say. After a while, with her face a deep shade of red, she finally thought of something.
“I…I don’t have anything left to pay for the carriage… I lost all my money to that man earlier. So… if you could lend me some…”
Of all the things she could say, this was the best she could come up with. Nadia wanted to bury herself underground. She couldn’t believe this was the only excuse she could think of just to hold onto him.
The red-haired man laughed at her shyness, yet he was surprisingly willing to lend her some money.
Nadia insisted on paying him back, even when he said she didn’t have to.
From there, she found out that his name was Asheel, and they promised to meet the next day.
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