As Melchor’s expression hardened, Heinz pounded the desk with tears streaming down his face.
“Imagine that you just said what I said!” he exclaimed.
“Certainly,” replied Melchor. “If the ambidextrous type becomes the basic type, it will be more convenient since one won’t have to order them individually.”
Heinz was overjoyed and gave him a round of applause. “Yes, that’s it!” he exclaimed.
At this moment, Melchor learned how to communicate and empathize with others. Heinz was deeply moved, like a teacher who had successfully taught the word “water” to a blind, deaf, and speechless child for the first time.
“This is it,” he thought to himself. “The reward of education!”
With tears still in his eyes, Heinz was moved by the experience. However, Melchor, who had no interest in his colleague’s emotions, did not ask why. Fortunately, Heinz managed to pass without being caught for the crime of deceiving his superior.
On that particular day, Melchor was able to leave work early thanks to Heinz’s advice.
“If you use what you have learned and quickly learn it, won’t it become second nature to you?” he had suggested, albeit with the motive of clocking out early.
Despite Melchor’s lack of interest in Heinz’s psychological ploys, he silently took his advice on board.
When Melchor arrived at Roseline’s door, he paused before knocking, making sure not to enter unannounced.
“Come in,” Roseline called out in response.
As soon as Melchor entered the room, Roseline stood up from behind her desk, where she had been writing cards. Although it appeared that Roseline was writing invitations, Melchor’s thoughts were instantly derailed upon seeing her face, and he forgot to ask about the cards.
“You’re here early,” Roseline remarked.
“Mm,” Melchor responded absentmindedly.
Roseline was wearing her usual stylish indoor clothing, pale emerald-colored loungewear that suited her impeccably. Melchor couldn’t help but gaze at her with satisfaction, as Roseline was always perfectly put together. Eventually, Melchor’s excitement subsided, and he realized why he had come. It was time to get down to business.
Melchor remembered Heinz’s advice to ask about Roseline’s daily life first. Approaching her, he leaned in slightly to be at her eye level, but it only made her uncomfortable. From Roseline’s perspective, he had always looked down on her, so the sudden proximity felt overwhelming. She couldn’t help but notice the intensity of his eyes.
“Roseline, have you had dinner?” he asked.
Feeling hesitant, Roseline tried to hold her ground. She didn’t want to show any signs of fear or submission to Melchor, who had always treated her with arrogance.
“Yes, I have,” she replied.
“What did you eat?”
“A lamb stew,” she said, wondering why he would ask when he could just ask the cook.
Heinz had warned Melchor that his conversations tended to end too quickly with short answers. So, Melchor tried to think of a follow-up question to keep the conversation going. He remembered Heinz’s advice to ask “how” instead of “what” to encourage a longer response.
“How did you eat it?” he asked.
Roseline furrowed her eyebrows, not understanding why he would ask such a question. But Heinz had also told Melchor that abruptly ending a conversation was disrespectful, so she tried to give him an answer.
“I scooped it up with a spoon and ate it,” she said.
Melchor pressed further, hoping to get a longer response from her.
“How did you swallow it?” he asked.
Feeling confused and embarrassed, Roseline answered, “I chewed it and swallowed it.”
Melchor’s persistence made Roseline increasingly uncomfortable. She wondered why he was asking such odd questions. But he didn’t give up.
“How did it feel?” he asked.
Roseline couldn’t take it anymore. Melchor’s behavior was getting more and more intrusive. She shut her mouth in frustration, feeling trapped.
“Answer me, Roseline. I want to hear your answer,” he demanded.
Melchor leaned forward, his expression earnest as he spoke.
“Would you mind sharing with me how the stew tasted? Not because I’m ordering you to, but because I genuinely want to hear your answer.”
Roseline’s eyes narrowed in suspicion, but she couldn’t deny the sincerity in Melchor’s voice.
“Why do you want to hear that?”
Melchor paused for a moment before responding, aware of his usual aversion to small talk.
“Well, we’re a couple, aren’t we? And isn’t it important for us to have conversations, even about the little things?”
Roseline’s wary look softened slightly at Melchor’s words. “I suppose that’s true.”
“It feels like the stew is going down your throat, um. It was warm,” Melchor prompted gently.
Roseline hesitated before answering, feeling self-conscious about discussing something so trivial.
“Soft and… no, maybe it was a bit sticky?”
Melchor leaned in even closer, his curiosity piqued. “And after swallowing, what did you do?”
Roseline felt her cheeks flush in embarrassment as she recalled the routine action she hadn’t been conscious of before.
“Ugh. Licking the inside of my mouth with my tongue, the remaining taste…”
“Why are you telling me this story?” Roseline asked, feeling increasingly self-conscious under Melchor’s attentive gaze.
Melchor shook his head, his eyes softening.
“I’m not making you do it. I just want to hear it. If it makes you uncomfortable, you don’t have to.”
Roseline nodded, grateful for Melchor’s understanding. Despite her initial suspicion, she found herself feeling more connected to him through their small conversation about the taste of the stew.
Melchor had never been one to speak without a reason, so letting Roseline know she didn’t have to answer his question about how she ate her food would be genuine. However, the question left Roseline feeling embarrassed, and she couldn’t help but wonder why Melchor was so curious about such a trivial matter.
As she pondered over his question, a memory from the previous night’s conversation resurfaced. Melchor had hesitantly confided in her, saying that he was not “normal.” At the time, she didn’t fully understand what he meant, but now it seemed clear to her that he was referring to his sexual orientation.
Roseline had heard of people who get pleasure from watching others eat or listening to them talk because they have abnormal sexual desires. Such people were often labeled as perverts. It dawned on her that Melchor might fall into this category, and he had refused to marry Princess Annestrothe to avoid any potential complications with the imperial family.
Despite the revelation, Roseline couldn’t bring herself to think poorly of Melchor. She reasoned that his preference for food-related delusions was relatively harmless compared to other types of perverse behavior.
Her defense of Melchor, however, proved futile as she realized the potential consequences of being associated with a pervert, regardless of how harmless their particular perversion was.
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