Chapter 24 – Never Too Late (2)
Amethyst blinked. “Oh my, isn’t this a surprise from Alec who never has any time to spare?”
He ignored her tart reply and instead led her toward the mansion’s west tower by the waist. They climbed the winding stone steps without stopping for a break.
“Are we there yet?” Amethyst wheezed. “I can’t breathe…ha…ha.”
“This is why you need to get more exercise,” Alexcent said. “Just a little further, we’re almost there.”
He felt the telltale prickle of someone staring daggers into his back but chose to ignore it. Led by the touch of a strange man for the first time, Amethyst didn’t contradict Alexcent’s criticism and simply followed his lead.
Finally, they reached the top. The clear sky opened up above her as she stepped out, a cool breeze tugging at her hair and clothes. This was the highest point in the mansion. From up here they could look out and take in the entire Sehar Empire in a single glance.
“Oh my goodness,” she said, rushing to the safety wall to get a better look. “Why haven’t you brought me up here before? It’s so beautiful! Is that the royal palace? I’d know that architecture anywhere. Wow, look there! There’s a huge lake right in the middle of the city. Can we go and visit it next time?”
Even the amazing scenery couldn’t stop her from noticing that Alexcent hadn’t said a word. She turned to look at him, some of the excitement fading from her face. He seemed uncomfortable. Seeing someone usually so upright and outspoken look nervous made her nervous too. When their eyes met, Alexcent cleared his throat. He approached her stiffly, then took her small, delicate hands in his much larger ones.
Amethyst held her breath as he brushed his thumb along the backs of each of her fingers. He slid a warm band of metal around the ring finger of her left hand. A pale pink diamond cut into a teardrop, framed by smaller, clear diamonds. An engagement ring.
She looked up at him, wide-eyed.
Alexcent hesitated, then spoke. “This may be an arranged marriage between us, but it is still a marriage. I’m sure you don’t want to get married without a proper proposal. You shouldn’t be denied that.”
He took a deep breath, hoping its never too late to do this.
“Lady Amethyst Lohikin, will you marry me?”
Amethyst’s heart raced. This was the first time anyone had ever proposed to her. Even in the other world, she’d never been proposed to. Once she’d reached a suitable age here, the arrangements had been made. Despite her hesitation, there had been no reason to refuse. The elders had decided and agreed on the marriage, which was how she ended up engaged without proposal.
But Alexcent was doing his best to make her feel honored and respected for her choice. He wanted to care for her as though she was his chosen bride, not just his arranged one. Her heart ached, but she couldn’t show it. This man really was as dangerous as he appeared.
“…Yes,” she said after a moment. “Yes. I’m so touched… This is the first time I’ve ever received such a sweet proposal.” She felt her throat tighten and lowered her head.
“I’ll do a better job next time,” he said, then kissed her.
Her lips parted with surprise and she felt Alexcent’s tongue slip into her mouth. It had never occurred to her that someone else’s tongue could feel so soft, and she liked the sensation of it sliding, pushing against her own. Her breath stuttered, short, and her mind went blank.
Alexcent even sucked. She drew back a fraction to catch her breath for a second, but soon their lips were together again, their tongues intertwined. He sucked roughly on her lips, bruising the pliant flesh. In response, Amethyst found herself wrapping her arms around his neck and accepting his kiss wholeheartedly.
Amethyst was in the drawing room, pondering over the minute details of the wedding plans.
‘Huh? Madam?’ She lifted her head at the unfamiliar title. Pon, who had been introduced to her as the house butler, stood beside her.
“Me?” she asked.
“Yes.” Pon nodded. “You will soon be the lady of the house, after all.”
While that was true, being called “Madam” was something that would take some getting used to. It was like something you would hear in a historical drama or an old folktale. She straightened up.
“What is it?”
“I came to give you these documents. You must review them and give your approval.”
Pon handed her a wad of paper as thick as a dictionary. On closer inspection, there were several stacks of paper in the whole. She glanced from the documents up at the butler, confused.
“What…is all this?”
Pon cleared his throat. “The first is regarding the operational costs and details for the main residence. The second pertains to the operational expenses for the annex. The third, the position and task force budget for you, Madam. The fourth-”
“Wait!” Amethyst cried. “Hold on!”
“Yes, Madam,” Pon said crisply.
“Are you telling me…” She looked at the enormous stack of paper. “That all of this is going to be my job?”
“Yes, these will be your duty to oversee from now on.”
“Who did it before me?”
“I took care of the main household, while Dajal oversaw the annex. Since the position of lady of the house has been vacant for so long, a new position and work promotion expenses have been set up-”
Amethyst threw up her hands to stop him before he could launch into another long explanation. “Then continue like it was before. Pon, you can continue looking after the main household expenses, and Dajal can look after the annex.”