Adrian Reese lurched awake in a strange room, panting.
She’d had another nightmare.
And he always appeared in her nightmares.
“You have such a cute face.” His unpleasant touch had tenderly stroked her cheeks and ears without her consent.
“You look cute when you’re scared.” His lewd gaze had swept across her body hungrily.
“Don’t act up.
Where would you go, anyway.” His arms had snaked across her to hug her waist, and he’d sneered at her as she struggled to get away from him.
Then he’d kissed her.
“If you keep screaming, you’ll only get more bruises!” His fists had rained blows on her helpless body.
“Ugh… Ugh.” Adrian covered her mouth with her hands, and sank to the ground.
Tears leaked from her eyes.
She couldn’t stop remembering what had happened to her only a few hours before.
She’d spent the entire night trying to avoid him, but Gareth had ordered her to attend to him, and to follow him to the garden.
Thanks to the princess’ warning, she’d taken the antidote to the azalea flower every morning, and constantly made excuses to stay away from the young duke.
But her efforts had been for nothing.
She hadn’t been able to stay away from the banquet.
Once Gareth had forced her to follow him to the garden, the guards had been gone from their posts.
Blow after blow continued to batter her prone body.
She had a sudden thought.
Maybe this wasn’t so bad after all.
Wouldn’t it be possible for her to die by continuing to resist
But in the end, it proved to be too much, and she could no longer resist.
Her body went limp, and she couldn’t move.
She was barely conscious.
His groping hands didn’t leave her body for a long while after.
And what had happened next…
“Have you woken up”
An elegant voice rang through the room.
Adrian quickly wiped away her tears, and raised her head.
Her swollen eyes made it hard to see, but the girl’s long, golden hair instantly caught her attention.
“Your Highness the Princess.”
The moment Adrian saw the girl, she remembered the rest of what had happened.
A luxurious fabric wrapped around her exhausted body.
A worried, soothing touch.
Of all the people who’d been watching her, Apollonia had been the only one who’d seemed concerned about her.
“I don’t think you’ve had enough rest yet.”
“Where am I”
It’s where I reside.”
“He returned to his mansion.
He won’t punish you, but you’ll have to be careful from now on.”
“Did he get punished for what he did to me” she asked.
“Officially, nothing happened, so he hasn’t been charged.
The only thing he might be charged for would be breaking into my brother’s garden, and making a scene at my party.”
Adrian’s eyes welled with tears.
“I must’ve made the garden dirty.
“You are his maid.
I don’t know if something could happen to your family, but there is no one in the imperial family who will charge him for his sins.”
Apollonia spoke coldly, but her voice was filled with anger toward Gareth and the imperial family.
“Do I have to go back”
At Adrian’s question, Apollonia raised an eyebrow.
“That’s quite an honest question.”
“I don’t want to go back.”
Apollonia bit her lip, and didn’t respond.
She appeared to be deep in thought.
Adrian recalled the first day she’d met Apollonia.
Apollonia had been standing in front of the Emperor’s palace, nursing her swollen cheek.
She was different from anyone else Adrian had ever known.
She wasn’t the type of person who treated people with unrelenting sympathy, nor the type who tried to take advantage of someone’s weaknesses.
She wouldn’t ignore a person in need.
Though seemingly indifferent, she was genuinely concerned about Adrian.
She showed Adrian the kindness no one but her father had ever shown her.
And what about her wisdom and cunning – being able to read Adrian’s face, and knowing Gareth’s plan
Adrian couldn’t believe that she’d never heard any rumors about Apollonia.
And now, Adrian met her again.
It wasn’t a coincidence that Adrian was still alive, and had been taken to Apollonia’s palace.
She was sure it was all part of the princess’s plan.
Just when she’d needed her most, Apollonia had been there for her.
Adrian realized what she wanted.
She wanted to stay next to Apollonia.