They were blue. A pure sky-blue, just like her dress the other day. Mesmerized, she stared at them. These eyes may be cold, but there was some uncertainty, and gentleness hidden in them. Completely different from the domineering viciousness of the earl.
She didn't notice lowering her head while staring at him, until a strand of her hair brushed his cheek. The blonde brows furrowed and he moved his head to the side to dodge it.
With burning cheeks, Katherine backed away. "I'm sorry. I'm treating you just now, so try not to move too much."
The strangely deep gaze moved back to her and he gave a short nod. He didn't seem to be troubled by the pain he most likely felt on his arm.
With half of her concentration focused on her magic, she asked: "What is your name? It feels strange to keep calling you 'patient' in my head, now, that you're awake."
He seemed to be reluctant to answer her, just scrutinizing her hands on his chest silently.
Although he didn't question her, Katherine explained her actions: "I need to touch you to keep my magic working. Really, if I could avoid it, I would."
He looked up at her, annoyance written all over his face. "Why?"
Even his voice was as deep as the earl's, but somehow... softer? Without some of the hard edges.
Get back on track, Katherine! Didn't you already verify he is a different person? He asked why she needed to touch him, right? Was her touch that disgusting? "Well,", she said slowly, not really wanting to disclose her incompetence, "l'm still learning to control my skill."
Would she have been better if she could have used it more frequently in her younger years? Most likely yes.
The patient looked up to the ceiling. "Learn faster."
Katherine stilled. She removed her hands from the patients chest, which made his attention switch to her again. "You know, if you don't want to be healed, you could just say so. I wont impose it to you."
Surprise flickered in those blue orbs. "I thought the earl pays you for doing so. Do you want to break your promise?"
She snorted. "I would never break a promise. However, I don't think he will be pleased to hear how ungrateful you are. Despite his care."
A mocking smile spread on his face, making it sparkle in a dangerous and beautiful way. "Oh, I don't think it will matter to him. He just wants me to be safe and sound, regardless of what I say to you."
Katherine squinted her eyes. So this man did have a relationship with the earl. Merely not the one she thought at first. Their facial structure was too similar for them to not be related somehow. Maybe a brother? "Is that so... I'll make sure to ask him next time."
"Feel free to. Now, if you'd please..." he made a gesture for her to continue. "Just get over with it."
Reluctantly, Katherine placed her hands on his skin again, and felt his muscles harden shortly. "You could at least tell me your name."
His smile diminished. "Don't want to."
Was his name that important? Maybe he was someone of higher position hiding here while recovering. It would make sense. Or maybe... the youngest prince never left the mansion after coming here? Her eyes went wide. They fabricated a departure?
Shortly after, she bit her lower lip. No, that didn't make sense. The whole kingdom would most likely search for him if he went missing. Even she would have heard of that, wouldn't she? Besides, the earl and the prince wouldn't look similar, would they?
Who ever this person may be, he wasn't someone simple. If he didn't want to tell her, she had no choice but to try to find out by herself.
At least she had an inkling now that he was most likely family to the earl, so no rival for her. The earl wasn't gay. This meant she still stood a chance. Only why was he rejecting her then?
If it was just knowing her too shortly it could be handled. But what if he had other reasons? Shaking her head, she decided to first try with her original plan and alter it if she would run into troubles. Overthinking things could lead to making false conclusions.
"How long do you know the earl for?", she asked after a long pause. Due to her afford, little sweat drops were piling up on her slim black brows.
"... my whole live.", the patient answered sincerely. As a relative, this was only normal. She heard a coughing sound behind her, but ignored it.
Now the part about extracting information... "So, do you know what he likes? His favorite color, food, activity? Or places, he likes to visit?"
Just as she thought it was over, the coughing behind her started once again. Maybe Sam should take better care of his health, Katherine thought. He is so old already.
The patient was looking up at her sternly and suspiciously. As if this information was something highly guarded or sorts. "Why should I tell you?"
"Well..." She didn't think asking about a favorite color would need a reason. Showing her sweetest smile, she continued: "Because I'm asking you nicely?"
The whole person froze like a giant ice block. Then, a cold glitter flashed through his eyes. "Take your hands off me. Now."
The command was issued so naturally and coldly that she complied before even realizing it. However, as she took her hands back in a fl.u.s.ter, her legs somehow couldn't handle her weight anymore and gave in.
With a shriek she toppled over and saw how the patient's eyes went wide. He reached out to catch her, but another arm was faster.
"Are you alright, milady?", Sam asked worriedly, holding her elbows to stabilize her.
"Yes, yes!", Katherine nodded like a hen picking grains. The double shock had made her heart jump. "I'm okay now, I'm okay, don't worry."
While Katherine and Sam kept consoling each other, the patient slowly went back into a lying position. Still, his gaze never left Sams hands on the lady's elbows, and a gloomy expression spread on his face. Even after the butler let go of Katherine, the discontent didn't fade.
Why couldn't he be the one to safe the lady? Well, it was obvious. With a dark face he looked down on his pure white hands with the slim, long fingers, and then to the cut on his arm, still slowly bleeding out black substances. What a letdown.
Getting even more angry at it and at himself, who'd caused that disaster, he raised his voice to overpower the others. "OUT! All of you! We'll resume later."
Sam and the butler instantly followed the command, only Katherine glared at him. "Rudeness seems to be a common phenomenon in your family."
With that, she swaggered out of the room.
Strangely, the rebuke didn't bother the patient. Instead he contemplated quietly: Rudeness? Sounds about right! Although you don't even know them. Better pray you never will.
The image of her smile hit him again. It had caused that painful feeling in his chest to break out a second time. To stop it, he'd lashed out at her, thinking it would cease to exist if she just took her hands away. But as Sam held Katherine's arm... the feeling had solidified into a tight knot in his heart area.
Rubbing over his chest, he tried to lessen the pain, but it wouldn't go away fully.
Was it because she was the first person since a decade ago to touch any part of his body beside his hands? Even with clothes on, he never let anyone near enough, in fear of the consequences. She didn't even touch his skin barehanded, but still...
But I can't stop her!, he reminded himself. Her ability was the only possible solution to his problems they found in all these years.