“Did you know? A young husband cannot live without his wife.” Noah uttered with a sulking appearance. “So, why would you leave me alone until this late at night?”
“What are you—seriously?”
Noah kissed her forehead this time and said, “You should’ve asked me to go with you.”
Adele was startled and wanted to evade, but he was faster. Wrapping his arms around her waist, he turned his attention towards the ladies who were watching and greeted them. The women were then unable to hide the grin on their faces.
“Now that my wife has agreed to go home with me, my heart is content. Please excuse us, Ms. Selena, we shall take our leave first.”
“Ah? Yes!” she hastily answered.
Noah smiled courteously.
“Apologies again, I was unable to bring a gift for such a joyous occasion. Anyhow, congratulations on your marriage.”
Preparing a gift for a person you are formally visiting is the polite thing to do amongst the nobility, this is especially so when said person is about to be wedded. For Noah, his abrupt appearance could be categorized as rude, but given his status, it was definitely excusable. Furthermore, it was considered an informal visit, so him not bringing a gift was understandable.
Selena waved her hands. “No, milord! It is fine!”
“But fret not, I will offer you my protection instead.” he slowly expressed. “Marquis Kesenon is my direct junior. If he ever acts unreasonably towards you, please tell me.”
“He would have to pay the price of offending a close friend of my wife’s.” Noah raised a red corner of his lips and patted Adele’s shoulder. Embarrassed, she secretly pinched his back to make him stop speaking, but to no avail. He simply shrugged his shoulders.
Seeing his lofty behavior, Selena had no choice but to nod her head with an ecstatic expression, just like ladies around her.
As soon as the duchess was whisked away by her husband, all of the women present let out a sigh filled with admiration.
Except, for the Countess Arsene.
“Why did you come? That was embarrassing…”
“Are you ashamed of me, milady?”
Inside the carriage, a pair of duke and duchess was bickering.
Well, in actuality, it really was just Noah who kept on stoking Adele’s anger—just like how a pampered young husband would act.
“What if there are rumors?” She shook her head, thinking about the extent of the gossip that would spread tomorrow.
Alas, this husband of hers was really troublesome!
“Rumors? What kind?”
“That you… you… ”
That the almighty duke of Astria is the kind of man who was so obsessed with his wife that even in public, he stuck to her like glue, uncaring of other people’s.
Adele was unable to continue, but Noah grinned as he guessed her thoughts.
“One way or another, rumors are still going to circulate, darling.” Then he leaned closer to her and whispered, “Because you attended a ladies’ night tea.”
He smirked deviously, “So tell me, what did you talk about with the other ladies, hm?”
Adele blinked, not really comprehending. “W-what do you mean?”
Realization dawned on him. His dear wife didn’t spend that much time together with other ladies of her age during her earlier years. It was only recently she began mingling with them again.
Hence, he told her, “You might’ve been unaware, but night tea was originally made for girls to talk about naughty things.”
He tilted his head to the side. “Talking about your husband’s bed skills, your sexual experiences, your… preferences. Something along those lines.”
“Oh my! So that’s why they—” Adele suddenly remembered the ladies who had subtly persuaded her to talk about her relationship with Noah.
“So,” the corners of his lips quirked upwards, “did you brag about how good your husband is?”
“What?! I-I never talked about that!”
As Adele turned her red face, Noah eyed her meaningfully. “Then, did you hear about other men?”
Adele’s limpid eyes glanced at him innocently.
“About how badly everyone else is performing, except for me.”
“…I think you came too early for me to hear…” She pouted as she spoke. Noah grinned as he gazed at her affectionately, then he kissed the corner of her lips.
“Tsk, what a pity. You won’t know how wonderful your husband is compared to other men.” his face quickly turned smug. “There’s no one else like me, after all…”
His hand trailed downwards.
“Why woul—wait! What do you think you’re doing?!”
“I was just stroking it.” came his solemn reply.
“Keep your hands to yourself.” Adele eyed him dubiously and still decided to warn him, “Don’t go any further.”
“But I’m getting hard, how can I relax?”
Adele then turned her head to look at her husband.
That damnable smirk again.
And why is he so relaxed?
Adele remembered seeing Selena’s fiancée just before night tea started.
Perhaps it was because he was still young or perhaps it was really his innate nature, but Adele noticed how his face would blush from embarrassment whenever ladies would stare at him.
Switching her thoughts from him to the man before her, she thought to herself, ‘Has this person ever been like that?’.
Noah sensed her scrutinizing stare and poked her in the cheek with his nose. “What are you thinking about that you can still be distracted in front of me?”
She answered in a heartbeat.
“I’m thinking of what you were like when you were seventeen.”
“Surely, you weren’t as grumpy back then as you are right now?” Adele glanced at him in wonder and curiosity, “I should probably ask the butler then.”
Hearing her soft murmurs, Noah chuckled bitterly.
“The butler doesn’t know.”
“Hm? Then… I’ll ask the other servants. There would certainly be some maids who have worked here for a long time.”
“No one here will know.” he smiled, “I was on the battlefield back then.”
“The only ones who know are my colleagues, and right now, all of them are dead. So, the only person you can ask… is me.” Noah spoke so steadily, but Adele felt that she had made a mistake by bringing it up and took his hand.
As soon as she snuggled him into her arms for a hug, Noah whispered that everything was fine. Adele shook her head and rested her chin against his head. When he felt her comforting warmth, Noah let out a breath of satisfaction.
He had never dreamed that he would come to claim this woman as his wife. He smiled caustically as recalled those days when he had been strolling aimlessly amidst the corpse-stricken battlefield.
Lost in thought, he unknowingly voiced out a word.
The peace of the night was shattered. A scream which seems to be from far away reached his ears. Noah belatedly realized it was coming from his wife…