Chapter 79

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[Notes: Prepare tissues or read alone because it’s an aww-worthy chapter!]

Cedric held Artizea and rode the horse. He left the rest to his subordinate.

When he arrived at the mayor’s residence, the mayor couple and employees who were waiting rushed out.

“Your Grace, I’m glad that you’re safe! The Grand Duchess too…”

“Where is the bedroom?”

The mayor hurried ahead and opened the door himself.

Cedric climbed the stairs quickly, not handing Artizea over to the hands of the maids.

“Remove the blockade of the port, and let the stronghold know that the Grand Duchess is safe. Raise the beacon to release the alert.”

“Yes!”

The bedroom, which had been preheated before the start of the operation, was warm enough.

Cedric put Artizea down on the armchair.

Artizea, who had lost her energy, hung on the comfort of the chair.

The cold and exhaustion of her physical strength completely left her body. She warmed up for a while at Cadriol’s quarters. However, for more than a day, her body suffered from bone-chilling cold in the cabin and had no more energy.

In the midst of the fight, she was too agitated and did not notice.

However, when she came to her senses, her tension was relieved, so she no longer had any strength in her body.

The mayor’s wife said.

“Leave the work to us. You must be tired, too….”

“It’s okay, go back.”

Cedric said without looking back at her.

The mayor’s wife read the vortex of emotions deep under his voice. She hurriedly knelt down on one of her knees and bowed.

She then drove the maids away and closed the door.

Thud!

Cedric took off the steel gauntlet and threw it. The cloak and sword were also randomly stripped and thrown on the floor.

Snow-soaked boots stained the carpet. Perhaps the black spot is not just mud.

“Your Grace…”

He dragged Artizea’s armchair to the front of the fireplace.

Artizea could smell the dust and faint blood on his body.

“How, this far… how are you here?”

“How? Then, after hearing the news that you were kidnapped, do you think I was hunting in peace?”

“No, that’s not it, the stronghold…”

It is not unusual for the defense of the stronghold to be broken.

Since she fainted, Artizea didn’t know everything about what was going on.

However, it was easy to guess that someone in the stronghold would have informed the secret passage to Cadriol.

In addition, the guards searched them and found no swords and smoke bombs.

It was also evident that casualties were incurred in the battle a little while ago; even in Evron’s stronghold, people would have died and injured.

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The biggest problem was that the trust of the Grand Duke would have been broken.

Artizea bit her lower lip. She felt responsible.

That wasn’t directly Artizea’s responsibility. Because she was not involved in the defense of the stronghold.

However, it was undeniable that the underlying reason was with her.

If Artizea hadn’t been in the stronghold, Cadriol wouldn’t have come this far.

Cedric touched the armrest of the armchair.

As if she was trapped in the armchair, Artizea withdrew her body.

“Is that more important to you?”

“What?”

“Do you have anything else to say to me?”

Artizea hesitated.

She couldn’t think well. She was both mentally and physically exhausted, and Cedric was too close.

When Cedric appeared, she thought her heart stopped.

She thought she could convince Cadriol. But it wasn’t that she didn’t care.

She wasn’t afraid of death. She was already dead once.

But she didn’t want to die without seeing Cedric again. Now that she’s living like a human for the first time, she didn’t want to leave this life.

Even if she hadn’t died, if she had been taken to the South Sea.

[You’ve always had Grand Duke Evron in your heart, so it’s not unusual to do that.]

Cadriol said so.

Artizea denied that word. But his words were nailed to her chest.

When he said he would make her forget everything, her heart was shaken for a moment.

But she was happy Cedric came to the rescue, can she say that? What he lost was too great for that.

Cedric looked down at her.

Artizea saw a burning fire in his dark eyes. She saw herself trembling in it.

She had tears in her eyes, then it trickled down.

“Tia.”

“I’m sorry.”

Artizea chose to apologize.

The anger and frustration he felt was fully understandable.

It would have been difficult for him to run directly to this place through the snow and cold. Since the stronghold was breached, the aftermath would not have been small.

But Cedric prioritized her over that. He came to rescue her.

But she told him to let the enemy go.

If she knows she’s sorry, she shouldn’t shed tears. She did not deserve to be as sad as he deserves to be happy.

However, the body, which reached its limit, did not listen.

It always has been.

It was easier to convince Cadriol. When talking about a great country, she could be rational.

She could protect herself even if Cadriol threatened her with a knife under her neck.

Even now. If Cedric asked her coldly why she told him to let Cadriol go, she could mix up dozens of subtle excuses.

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But in front of the person she liked, she was always a mess.

Cedric reached out his hand. Artizea reflexively closed her eyes and curled her body.

However, it was not violence, but a careful touch, like touching a thin glass.

Artizea blankly opened her eyes.

Cedric’s face came close.

Their lips touched.

The first kiss was completely different from a good-night greeting.

Artizea held her breath. Cedric swept her hair in one hand and hugged her back with the other.

That hug was also completely different from what it used to be.

“Your Grace, um.”

Her lower lip was lightly bitten by his lips, so Artizea could not speak until the end.

She was struggling. But she couldn’t get out of Cedric’s arms.

Her body temperature soared suddenly. She didn’t know if it was the temperature of her body or the temperature that was transmitted from Cedric’s body.

Her hands and feet were tingling. Hot blood seemed to seep into the veins of her body.

“Your… Grace…”

Artizea strode close to his chest.

She couldn’t tell whether she was hanging because she had no place to support, or whether she was trying to push him out.

“Don’t apologize. I don’t want you to feel sorry for me.”

“Well, then…umm….”

His lips touched hers again. Artizea groaned unknowingly.

“Do you know how I felt when I heard that you were gone?”

Cedric said in a low voice. A hot breath mixed up between the two lips. As it was, he pressed his lips against Artizea’s again. The answer was enough.

“I was running all night in the snow and I thought I couldn’t live with losing you.”

“Your Grace….”

“My stronghold broke down. I also knew that Jordyn had betrayed me, and the trust I believed was an illusion. I was supposed to feel like I’ve lost everything…”

“It’s not an illusion, it’s not.”

“But, I only thought about you. As usual, I chose you over Evron, as if Evron was nothing if you were okay.”

Artizea trembled. It was both because of joy, and because of fear.

Cedric leaned further.

Her heart poured down. Artizea trembled and grabbed Cedric’s hem.

“But you threw yourself to protect me.”

“I didn’t do that. If His Highness Cadriol dies here, ummph.”

Again, their lips overlapped.

Cedric, who stopped her words with a kiss, lifted his lips and said.

“You told me to do that, so I let him live. That’s all my patience is. You don’t have to defend it and you don’t have to tell me why. I don’t want to be messed up in front of you anymore.”

“Your Grace.”

“Don’t call me like that.”

Cedric’s hand swept her hair and wiped the tears from her cheek. His body was in close contact, and everything was too close.

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Artizea put her gaze down. The inside of her eyelids became hot again.

Cedric touched the eyelid with his index finger. Knowing that the tears were welling, he did not tell Artizea not to cry.

“This isn’t right.”

“I think so, too.”

She is still young, and she was married to a guardian.

He was only a contracted marriage partner who had promised protection for only two years. He called her his wife in front of Cadriol, but he wasn’t Artizea’s real husband.

Nevertheless… no, that’s why it seemed to burn her heart even more.

Even Cedric himself didn’t know that his feelings were so deep.

Artizea shook his soul. After almost losing her, he just noticed that there were feelings that melted deep into his stomach.

He wanted to hug her and warm her up. He wanted to touch her tenderly and kiss her.

And just as much, he was angry and sad at her. There was a feeling of resentment and a feeling of hate.

Cedric himself did not know where these feelings came from.

However, even if she shed tears, it was okay if she was doing it in his arms.

He could no longer hold himself back anymore.

“I love you.”

“Ah.….”

Artizea lifted her eyes to look at him and spit out a sigh.

Now Cedric’s voice was like a breathless sound.

“Don’t say you didn’t know. Didn’t you avoid me because you knew?”

Artizea put her gaze down. Cedric’s forehead touched hers. Then, Artizea closed her eyes.

“Tia, I love you.”

“No.”

“Then, say ‘I don’t like it’.”

She couldn’t say that.

She has lived with countless lies, but she couldn’t lie about that.

He whispered with his lips almost over Artizea’s lips.

“I love you.”

Artizea heard the words not by sound but by the touch.

Her touching lips trembled. Ecstatic tremor ran through her back.

She closed her eyes in a daze. It felt as if the floor had collapsed and fallen into hell.

She knew it was a sin.

But just once was fine. She wanted to be loved with all heart and body from someone she adored.

Artizea eventually wrapped her arms around his neck weakly.

Cedric hugged her tightly in his arms and kissed her deeper.

“Don’t think about anything, I’m the only one watching, Tia.”

“…..”

“Do you hate it?”

“No….. Lord Cedric.”

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Artizea replied with a voice that seemed to be fading out.

The fireplace light burned red.

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