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Chapter 18: Warm Hands

A scream echoed from somewhere.

“Eva! It’s okay!!”

The desperate voice must be Lucas’s.

Who is screaming? The sad voice resonates in the ears.


Slowly opening her eyes, Eva saw the desperate faces of Lucas and Greta peering at her.

It seems like she’s in Lucas’s arms.


Lucas, with a teary face, gently calls Eva’s name.

“Lord Lucas?”

Lucas nodded, and she could see relief and regret in his red eyes.

“…Did I scream?”

Lucas asks softly, “Do you want some water?”

Shaking her head, Lucas gently lays Eva on the bed.

“…Did I scream? I’m sorry for causing trouble. Both Lucas and Greta, please go back to sleep.”

“Understood. Once Eva falls asleep, we’ll return to our rooms. Until then, both Greta and I will be here, so close your eyes and rest assured.”


Softly, Lucas asks, “Will you not be afraid if we hold hands?”


A firm, thick, warm hand holding a sword hilt.

“Lord Lucas is too kind.”

Half-asleep, Eva murmured. She felt comfortable relying on that kindness.

Finding comfort in the warmth transmitted through their hands.

“Lord Lucas, I’ve lost my place to belong.”

She mumbled self-deprecatingly, unsure if her words were a dream or reality, as she drifted back into a peaceful slumber, enveloped in the warmth of the large, warm hand.

A message came from the shadow assigned to Eva.

At that moment, Lucas was in command of the operation.

“There’s a message from the shadow. Count Burke seems to have locked Lady Eva in a room.”

Perhaps sensing the instant surge of killing intent, the knight reporting paled.

Shadows only appear in front of the target when matters of life and death are involved. Even if Eva were under attack, they would only watch.

“Rikos! Kion!”

“Yes, right here.”

Calling his two trusted aides.

“How’s the situation with the operation?”

“Yes, we received the final report just a moment ago, confirming the successful completion of all operations.”

“Understood. I’m heading to the royal palace now. Bring anyone who is available to accompany me. Inform them to operate discreetly, as we can’t make this public yet. I’ll leave the command here to Kion until the withdrawal.”


Kion replied.

“Rikos, come with me. We’re going to Eva’s place. Can you keep up?”

“Of course.”

With that, Lucas took off, and Rikos followed. The two quickly disappeared into the dark night.

Lucas and Rikos, following the scent of Eva’s blood, arrived at the rose garden of the royal palace. Count Burke, with blood flowing from his nose and disheveled hair, was shouting towards a massive tangle of rose branches.

“Come out!! You dared to mock me. I won’t forgive you!”

Even as he tried to remove the entwined rose branches, the sharp thorns prevented him from touching them.

(What is that mass? Is it formed by the extending rose branches?)

The scent of Eva’s blood wafted from within that mass. There was no doubt that Eva was inside.


Having Rikos restrain the shouting count, Lucas approached the mass and called out.

“It’s me, Lucas. Eva, can you hear me?”

“Lord Lucas?”

“Eva, you’re in there, right?”


Weak but audible, Eva’s voice reached him, bringing relief to his chest.

Sending a messenger to his older brother and instructing them to restrain the noisy Count Burke, Lucas returned to Eva and spoke.

Branches are rapidly shrinking. In an instant, the rose garden returned to its normal appearance, as if nothing had happened.

While surprised by the freely retracting rose branches, Lucas felt his heart stop when he saw Eva, her dress stained with several blood spots.

“Eva, are you injured? I can smell blood.”

He can imagine what happened by listening to the report from the shadows and Eva’s condition.

Seeing Eva, with tears streaming from her blue eyes and a pale face, Lucas felt the urge to embrace her but hesitated, afraid of scaring her.

Putting his jacket over her shoulders, he obtained permission to touch Eva before lifting her up to take her to the room.

When Eva nodded, giving permission to touch her, Lucas felt so happy that he was on the verge of tears and was surprised by the emotions he had.

“I thought I would never see you again, so I’m happy to meet Lord Lucas.”

Eva, lifted in his arms, seemed to have reached her limit. She looked up at Lucas one last time, softly smiling, and then lost consciousness.

Lucas’s heart trembled at Eva’s words.

The sweet scent of blood, the red-swollen cheeks, the swollen eyelids, and the limp figure in his arms all made Lucas’s heart tumultuous.

Anger towards Count Burke and Marquis Stahl, anger towards himself for not being able to protect her, and the conflicting desire to hold her forever were raging within Lucas. Eva’s words almost made him lose control.

Gently cradling Eva as if he were holding something fragile, Lucas hugged her as she lost consciousness.

She mentioned her mouth being cut…

Sorry, Eva. This is a healing act.

After uttering words that were unclear whether they were an apology or an excuse in his mind, Lucas planted a deep kiss on Eva’s lips.

“Brother, there’s something to discuss.”

When Lucas entered Raymond’s room, Raymond, still working at his desk, looked up.

“You’re back. How’s Eva-chan?”

“She was examined by the court physician. Bruises on her body should heal in a few days, but the wounds in her heart seem deep.”

When he saw the distinct marks of Count Burke’s fingers left on her arm, Lucas did his best to hide the rising anger from Eva.

After completing the report and post-mission tasks for the day, Lucas went to check on Eva’s condition in her room once again. As he finished a meeting with Greta and was about to leave the room, a mournful scream echoed.

Turning around, Lucas saw Eva, who should have been lying in bed asleep, sitting up, shaking, and crying out. Despite Lucas rushing to her and trying to speak to her, it seemed like none of his words reached her.

Instinctively, Lucas embraced Eva, continuously reassuring her by whispering in her ear that everything would be okay. After a while, when Eva calmed down and drifted back to sleep, Greta insisted on staying by her side for the night due to concern.

Instructing Greta to bandage the bruise on Eva’s wrist, Lucas had a specific question for Raymond and went to visit him.

“I see… I want to wrap up this matter under our control as soon as possible. Tifris’ methods are too lenient. I left the interrogation for tonight, but starting tomorrow morning, our country’s knights will take over. Will you participate in the interrogation, Lucas?”

“…No, I’ll leave it to the person who is good at it. If I go, I might kill him before he receives his sentence.”

“Haha, I see. It will be tough for Eva-chan, but we need to explain the situation. Once the interrogation is over tomorrow, you’ll likely have to talk to Eva-chan along with the King of Tifris.”

“I’ll leave the interrogation methods to older brother. In return, can I explain the situation to Eva before my brother and the King of Tifris meet her?”

“Ah, that’s fine. It might help Eva-chan to hear it from you before meeting with me and the King of Tifris.”

“Also… does older brother know anything about the necklace Eva has?”

“Ah, the heirloom of Elizabeth, isn’t it? It seems that tonight, the rose branches protected Eva-chan. Surely, that’s when her power awakened.”

“Her power awakened?”

“Yeah, I’m sure that stone recognized Eva-chan as the legitimate successor at that moment.”

Raymond smiled and gestured for Lucas to sit on the sofa.




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