The Gap Between You and Me - Chapter 8
* * *
After that, a strange atmosphere flowed between Herietta and Edwin. Herietta avoided meeting him as much as possible, and he searched for traces of her. It was like they were playing hide-and-seek without agreeing to play.
Of course, that did not mean that Herietta completely ignored Edwin. She avoided him only whenever he looked around for her. Otherwise, her eyes followed him from a distance, as she had always done.
How many days have passed like that? Mail had arrived from Lavant. It was Lilian’s reply that Herietta had been waiting so eagerly for. She was full of impatience as she quickly opened the envelope.
The letter that began with the phrase, “Dear Herietta” was now familiar. Herietta’s eyes moved from side to side following the words on the letter. The initial content did not seem so different from the letters she had sent Herietta before. Lilian revealed that her parents had asked her to look after Herietta and were looking forward to the day she comes to Lavant.
Herietta’s eyes moved even faster. As she read the middle part of the letter, the word ‘Redford’ caught her eye. After that, it seemed like a typhoon had hit. Her eyes fluttered as she read the letter. As her gaze went down, her hands holding the letter began to tremble more and more.
After reading the letter, Herietta murmured as she lowered the hand holding the letter. She looked into the distant space as if she had lost her mind.
“This cannot be true.”
A blank smile escaped her slightly gaping lips. Surrounded by the shock, she unknowingly gave strength to her hand. The soft letter was crumpled so easily that it crumbled. Before long, it left her hand.
A few words could be seen on the letter that had fallen to the floor.
‘Treason’, ‘Destruction’, and ‘Extermination’. Horrible words that gave her chills just looking at them.
* * *
Because it was summer, the yellow gold calliopsis flowers were in full bloom. It has strong vitality and is easy to grow, making it a flower that decorates many people’s gardens in summer. The unique scent of callipsis was carried in the breeze and spread softly.
Hiding behind the entrance to the garden, Herietta looked around cautiously. Apparently, she had seen Edwin heading here through the second-floor window a while ago. However, no matter how much she looked, the garden was empty, and Edwin could not be found.
‘Did you go somewhere else?’
She leaned her body forward for one last time, looking at the garden, then someone suddenly grabbed her shoulder from behind. Startled, she took a short breath and hurriedly looked behind. And there stood the object she had been looking so hard for.
“Who are you looking for?”
Edwin asked. However, while he was asking some questions, it seemed that he already knew the answer. Herietta stroked her chest to calm her fluttering heart. She was terribly embarrassed because she never thought she would run into him this way.
“Oh, no. I just happened to pass by… I thought I wanted to go out to the garden for a while….”
“Is that so?”
He didn’t ask any questions, despite the most suspicious answer. He lowered his hand that he had placed on her shoulder.
“Sorry. It looked like you’re going to fall forward.”
“Oh, it’s okay.”
There was a strange atmosphere that could not be described in words. Herietta avoided Edwin’s gaze. Still, she could tell that he was watching her.
Herrietta rolled her eyes with her gaze down. It was weird. While he showed a respectful and gracious demeanor toward her, he also exuded intimidation towards her for unknown reasons at the same time. Moreover, even though he seemed to take her word with ease on the surface, for some reason, she couldn’t shake the feeling that she was playing into his palm.
Alarm bells were going off inside her. Herietta was still here, but before something went wrong, she decided that she had to get out of the place early.
“Keep, keep working. I will get going.”
“Maybe it’s just me.”
As she rushes past Edwin and tries to leave the place, he grabs her arm. Her body was turned halfway towards him by the sudden force. Thanks to this, he and she naturally formed a face-to-face posture. He looked into her eyes.
“Do you happen to know me?”
“I asked if you knew me.”
He asked again. Perhaps because of his slow tone, it sounded threatening somehow. Her mouth was dry at the tension.
“I, I don’t know.”
Before she could think any further, the lie came out first. Edwin narrowed his eyes.
“Yes, that’s right!”
Herietta raised her voice involuntarily in a sense of crisis that seemed to have driven her into a corner. She struggled to get her arm out of Edwin’s grip. But it didn’t budge as his grip was so tight as if it were made of cast iron.
“Let me go!”
“Let go of my hand!”
As Herietta shrieked at him, Edwin released her. There was no notice that he would let her go, so she almost fell on her behind. As she stumbled heavily backwards, she managed to keep her balance. Her body swayed to and fro, and a few strands of her hair that had been pulled up and secured with pins flew down in front of her.
She didn’t know what she looked like in Edwin’s eyes now.
‘This is going to be troublesome.’
Herietta lifted her head and saw him standing in front of her. As expected, unlike her, he was breathing calmly.
After all, it’s always been like this. This is a perfect one-way direction. She had him in her heart, but he didn’t even give her a glance. She carefully nurtured her affection for him, even though she was sometimes frustrated, but he didn’t even know she existed in this world.
He didn’t ask her to do those things, she had started it on her own. But even though she was aware that the Edwin in her mind was different from the real thing, she couldn’t help but feel a small tingle somewhere inside her heart.
‘Come to think of it, he’s just a slave now, just as Hugo said.’
The more she felt the plight of her own situation, the greater the desire to dig into Edwin’s indifferent face grew in Herietta’s mind. She wanted to make him react by any means.
“What do you want to know?”
There was no time to think twice. She asked provocatively.
“Did you want to know if I knew you were originally a nobleman, or, to be precise, someone from the Redford family? What would you do to me if I did?”
As the word ‘Redford’ came out of her mouth, Edwin’s face, which looked like it was covered with a mask, stiffened. His eyes opened wide. It looked as if someone had poured cold water over him. A moment later, his well-groomed lips twisted into a frown.
“As expected, you knew.”
His voice got lower. On the contrary, the energy surrounding him rose sharply.
Herietta trembled in surprise. She had chills as she did in the middle of winter when she went out in thin clothes. The atmosphere was unusual. She soon realized she had made a mistake, but it was already too late.
“How did you find out? I heard that people here are very slow to the social flow of the outside world, so I expected that no one would know about me.”
He asked with a dry smile.
“Did someone tell you something beforehand?”
“Does everyone else know?”
At Edwin’s question, Herietta shook her head vigorously. She wanted to say no, but her voice didn’t come out because his fierce gaze seemed like he was about to catch her and kill her.
“I didn’t completely believe it anyway. But… Still, why do you make fun of people like this?”
He smiled coldly as he mumbled something. His tone was either angry or pessimistic.
“I thought you were worn out, but I have no idea what you are up to this time.”
“What… what am I up to?”
Herietta, who had managed to regain her voice, asked. But instead of answering her, Edwin took one step closer to her.
He was exuding a menacing force as he inched closer to her, and he did not try to hide it. Herietta instinctively stepped back. But the hard wall behind her back blocked her movement.
“Do you want me to crawl like a dog?”
Herietta’s eyes widened as the unexpected words came out of his mouth.
“Or is it that you want to dr*g me to satisfy your s*xual desires?”
‘Dr*g? S*xual desire?’
Herietta was speechless at the words that came out of his mouth. What was she hearing now? Her mind went blank. She was so shocked that she wondered if she had heard him wrong.
Seeing the frozen Herrietta without saying anything, Edwin moved closer to her. It was close enough to reach her with outstretched arms. He held one hand against the wall and with the other hand he lifted her head up, which was frozen in place.
Blue eyes that were as blue as the deep, cold sea met auburn eyes that trembled anxiously.
“What are you pretending to be so nervous about?”