He is staring at me, Katherine thought. She felt it on her skin. His gaze was burning into her, but it wasn't a pleasurable kind of heat. More like he was furious but held it inside. At least his anger didn't seem to be directed at her. Couldn't he turn his gaze away then? Why stare at her if his mind wasn't even there?
Since she had already healed Froseti's injury and now only helped him produce more blood, she didn't need to concentrate so hard anymore. That was when her mind went haywire. She really wanted to know what was going on behind that stern looking forehead.
"Stop staring", she grumbled finally. "You are irritating me."
He blinked, then his eyes moved away. No apology. Not even an explanation. Did he really think he could stroll in here with her dying pet and she'd just let him go?
"Explain. What happened to Froseti?", she demanded. He had to know something about it. The only way for Froseti to appear in the capital again when it had vanished on her journey here, was with outside help. Someone had taken it. She didn't want to suspect Nathaniel, even though he bought it here.
"What does it look like?" His answer was helpful as ever, the tone sharp. But then he surprised her by actually giving some information. "I will take care of her."
His brows were locked together. So, his rage was directed at that person. But the terminus was a bit suspicious. "Her? You know who it was? Tell me!"
He looked at her. On another day, he would've been amused by her temper but right now it was irking him to start a fight. However, he was too proud to act so childish. "So demanding. Where did you leave you manners tonight?"
"With my nonexistent sleep.", she grumbled. She didn't believe that Nathaniel was the cause for Froseti's injuries, but he still kept so many secrets from her. Why wouldn't he tell her who it was? It looked suspiciously like he was protecting this person. However, she didn't want to make a mistake based on her guesses. Maybe she was overthinking. "So?"
Instead of an answer, he scrutinized her slowly. His eyelids drooped as he saw her smooth tights barely covered by the thin red fabric. With that one gaze, the atmosphere changed. He exuded a familiar danger that tingled on her skin. Involuntarily, Katherine held her breath as his voice turned velvety like a devils. "Delicious. Let me taste..."
An electric current ran down her spine. Suddenly, the room felt too small. He leaned forward, his breath brushing over the sensitive skin of her neck. Instinctively, she backed off, her heart pounding in her chest.
"Nathaniel... " She forgot what she wanted to say. Somewhere in her head, she knew that he might only be trying to distract her, but it worked well. Her back hit the headboard, his face only centimeters away from hers, the red eyes narrowed on her lips.
"Squeak!" Unexpectedly, Froseti stirred awake, in panic. His body still remembered the horrendous pain it went through. The black rabbit's eyes were turning erratically, his body trembling. Instantly, Katherine turned on her doctor-mode, slipped away from Nathaniel, and cradled Froseti in her arms. "Shh, it's okay, you're save now."
When Froseti calmed down, Nathaniel had backed off a bit, the tension vanished like it was an illusion. A gloved hand covered half of his face, rubbing it as he turned away with a sigh. He looked like he regretted what he just did.
Katherine got even more irritated. And since it was in the middle of the night and she didn't get enough sleep, her temper flared up.
"How are you always so moody?! In one moment you are cold and angry and then you turn so - so -" Blushing, she couldn't find the words and instead made a frustrated sound, slamming one hand on the bed while the other secured Froseti in her arms. She knew that was not the important point right now. "Anyway, stop avoiding and tell me what you are hiding! I know you know something!"
His back to her, he said: "I know nothing. It's not final. This is more dangerous than you think. You should get your head straight and concentrate on your responsibilities. Leave everything else to me."
Katherine narrowed her eyes. As if she would just leave it at this. What did he take her for? "Hazel, leave us alone for a moment." Though the maid had been silent the whole time and she was like family to Katherine, she felt like this conversation would not lead anywhere as long as Hazel was in the room. Nathaniel wouldn't just forget her. Not if it involved secrets, that is. Obviously flirting wasn't a problem. The thought that Hazel had seen her cornered by Nathaniel turned her ears all red from embarrassment. Her fearless image had been shaken! Damn him!
"I don't think this is necessary.", he now said coldly and stood up. "You just need to do what I tell you and keep your head low. Besides, it is not appropriate for a man to be alone with a lady in a bedroom unless they are married."
"Said the one who stormed in here in the first place. Is what you did just now still counted as appropriate? I never thought you were such a hypocrite.", Katherine shot back. She had enough of him blocking her out of everything. This time, Froseti was wounded. Who would it be next time? She didn't want to see him hurt. The secrets had to stop. Though she wasn't sure if she could handle him alone, it was the only chance to find out what was happening. "Hazel, please."
Her eyes lowered and neck completely red, Hazel set down the candle on a nearby table. She felt like she witnessed something undue, but she had fought against her urge to run out because she didn't want to let her lady alone with a man who proved he could turn into a beast at any time.
She was still shaken at how fast the transformation had taken place. She had even covered her eyes when he started to lean in, afraid that it would be improper to look. And now there was the elegant earl again, acting as if nothing had happened. Hazel swore to herself to never stay alone in the same room with him again. He was dangerous, in more than one way. Would her lady really be safe with him?
Feeling fearful but still obliged to remind her, Hazel opened her mouth. Though she was thankful for her maid's thoughtfulness, Katherine stopped her with firm nod. She didn't believe Nathaniel would hurt her. Not physically, anyway.
Frowning worriedly, Hazel nonetheless complied. She closed the door behind her. With only the two of them left, the air in the room seemed to stagnate. Nathaniel stared down at her from above and crossed his arms. His eyes were piercing. "Now, what?"
Why should I always be the one who needs to comply?, Katherine thought and stood up to meet him head on. Taking a deep breath, she forced herself to remain calm, though she wanted nothing more than to smack his stubborn head with the vase on her bedside table. "Now you will stop treating me like a child! You bought me here to help, didn't you? Then let me help. Tell me who it is."
"No." He looked away. His brows were furrowed, but his tone remained firm and aloof. "I didn't bring you for that."
"Stop lying", Katherine hissed back. How could he still deny it? "What else would you bring me here for? To be a portable healing device? Is that why you won't involve me? I can't believe you! How can you be such a blockhead!"
Finally, anger ignited in the eyes behind the icy mask. But it was far from enough to cloud his reasoning. "See - that's exactly the problem. You're way too hot-headed. How can I seriously involve you if you threaten to burst at any moment just because you can't stand something? I didn't bring you here to lose your head. And that is exactly what's going to happen if you meddle with the wrong people! Being my healing device is already dangerous enough for you. Keep out of it!"
Katherine took a step towards him. "You want to tell me you aren't emotionally involved? What is it with you and this woman? Don't tell me there is nothing. I have eyes, you know! The woman who hurt Froseti, she means something to you!"