Chapter 57: As If Showing Their True Selves

“Alright, alright. Enough with the embarrassing talk. Let’s go. Elza, you’re quite drunk too.”

Starchis grabbed Rose, who had her arms crossed, and pulled her along.

As he exerted force, she let out a soft “Ah” and was easily led away.

When everyone is this drunk, nothing good can come of it.

All one can hope for is that they don’t make any mistakes.

Starchis thought the atmosphere might turn sour since Rose directly rejected the trio’s request to take them home.

“We’re leaving. It was fun. See you during rehab, Lily Noona.”

“Ch-Chis... When... When will I see you next...?”

Even in her drunken state, Luss knew she couldn’t hold onto him any longer.

Still, she couldn’t let it end like this.

If she let this moment slip away, she might not see him until his hand healed.

“If you want to set up a meeting, send a letter to my place. I’m really leaving now!”

Waving his hand, Starchis left as if something urgent had come up.

Beside him, Elza clung to him with a look of pure happiness.

The three women stood in front of the restaurant, staring at the two as they disappeared.

They were envious of Elza from start to finish.


Then, Vienna, overwhelmed by her emotions and the alcohol, let the tears she had been holding back flow.

She had thought drinking would make her feel better, but her mood had plummeted.

Even her plan to outdrink Elza had failed.

No matter how much she drank, Elza drank just as well without any significant change,

and instead, she used her tipsiness as an excuse to be even more affectionate with Starchis.

In the end, Starchis even volunteered to be her knight in shining armor...

And finally, he left her, struggling with her drunkenness.

‘Does he not worry about me anymore?’


Whether it was her heart healing or not, the sharp pain she had been numb to for a while tormented her again.

Starchis had become more distant since getting a girlfriend.

In the past, he would have helped her unconditionally when she was struggling.

Vienna recalled the earlier situation.


-‘I don’t want to.’


He wasn’t the one who became cold.

Starchis had tried to take her home.

It was all because of the lascivious woman next to him that he couldn’t.

She had lucked into the spot beside him and kept interfering.

“Sob... You... Elza... I’ll get you...!”

Wiping away the tears streaming down her arms,Vienna fueled her animosity towards her.

-Thud... Thud...

Lily, staggering, started walking home.

The wounded women didn’t even have the energy to say goodbye to each other.

She walked, brushing away the red hair stuck to her lips.

Today, like always, she looked forward to the next time.

Even though she was filled with a sense of defeat and sadness every time she saw Starchis, she never gave up.

Unlike the other women, she had a chance.

Helping him with his rehabilitation gave her continuous opportunities.

Because of that thought, she was able to recover first.

The wind blew and messed up her neatly arranged hair.

...Lily realized.

Her side felt cold.

‘Elza must be warm...’

It would be warm.

If he was beside her.


A cool breeze blew.

Elza clung even closer to Starchis.

The warmth he provided was comforting.

“...Miss Rose. You can stop pretending now.”

They had already walked to a place where the other party members couldn’t see them.

There was no need to continue this charade.

“It’s because I’m cold...”

Rose didn’t want to let go for some reason.

Although she might have more chances to see him in the future and could pretend to be his girlfriend again if she insisted, she still didn’t want to end this moment.

Starchis had always given his side to those who said they were cold.

Vienna, Luss, Lily... there was no reason it couldn’t be Rose.

But it wasn’t easy with the two bulky figures following them closely.

As Starchis glanced at the direction where he felt their gaze, the two figures approached them.

“...Miss, could you please explain now?”

“Let go of the mister’s arm, miss. The master won’t like this.”

“I’m drunk, okay?! Do you think it’s fine if I fall?!”

Rose snapped at Pippin and Brook.

Her every word made the bodyguards stomp their feet in frustration.

“I’ll explain later..! For now, just walk away so I can talk with my friend.”

“Miss, please listen to the bodyguards. It’s time to go home.”

“...You promised to grant my wish. I’m thinking about my wish right now.”

Saying this, Rose clung even tighter to Starchis’ arm.

Brook and Pippin’s gaze shifted from Rose to Starchis.

Even though they hadn’t known each other long, they could tell what the other was thinking just by looking at their eyes.

It was the bond of people who had been tormented by women.

‘Just give me a little more time. I’ll calm her down and send her home.’

Starchis signaled with his eyes and a nod.

‘...Please hurry, sir. It’s already past her curfew.’

The two bodyguards gestured like mimes and then fell back, giving them some space.

“Move further away!! We can still hear you!”

Rose called out to the trailing bodyguards.

Brook and Pippin, looking crestfallen, increased the distance.

“...So, Miss. What is your wish?”

Seeing the bodyguards move further away, Rose wore a satisfied expression as Starchis asked her.

Rose rolled her eyes and then spoke.

“Let’s walk a bit more, Starchis. Let’s talk a bit longer.”

“You should go home now.”

“Oh! Are you going to be this formal? We’re friends, aren’t we?”

“That’s why I’m worried. You’ve had quite a bit to drink.”

“It’s fine. I can hold my liquor. And I told you to speak informally to me!”

“How can I do that?”

“...You do it just fine with Vienna and Luss.”

“I started speaking informally with them after knowing them for a while.”

“Can’t you do the same with me?”

“Is that your wish?”

“...No, it’s not.”

She had a vague idea of how she wanted to use her wish.

But she was hesitating, unsure if she should say it or not.

Perhaps it was the alcohol, but Rose found him increasingly attractive.

She was aware that her feelings for him were growing at an unusual rate.

However, it wasn’t something she could control.

Maybe it was because he was her first friend, or perhaps it was because he was the first man who acted like a lover to her, but her heart kept pounding.

She was beginning to understand what it meant when they said physical contact builds a bond between people.

Today, Rose had spent the entire day with him.

She had linked arms with him, rested her head on his shoulder, and he had even caressed her lips.

He had patted her head, calling her cute.

None of it felt unpleasant.

On the contrary, she wished for more.

There wasn’t a single false statement in the novels.

The closer the bodies, the closer the hearts.

“Then tell me your wish.”

Starchis urged her.

“Umm... just a little longer!”

Rose said with a beaming smile, trying to hide her racing heart.

She felt the texture of his arm.

An arm that seemed sturdy enough to hold someone in place.

A hand that seemed capable of grasping and crushing something.

Rose swallowed hard.

“Um... Miss, let’s go this way for now.”


In his haste to get her home, Starchis turned abruptly.

The sudden movement nearly made the intoxicated Rose trip.

“Oh! Are you okay?”

“Yes!... Yes, I’m fine...”

Rose’s heart started pounding again.

His rough demeanor.

“I’m sorry. I was in a hurry... This is a shortcut. It might be a bit secluded, but with me and the bodyguards here, don’t worry, okay?”

“Yes... yes. I’ll just follow you, Starchis...”

Starchis glanced at the bodyguards behind them.

They nodded, seemingly agreeing with the shortcut.

As they entered the alley, the magical lights that illuminated the path disappeared, making it darker.

The sounds of rats and cats scurrying away at their approach echoed around them.

Rose tightened her grip on Starchis’ arm again.

He was reassuring.

Sensing her tension, Starchis spoke to comfort her.

He knew the path well and knew it wasn’t particularly dangerous, but for someone new, it could be scary.

“Don’t be nervous. Oh, see that over there?”


At the tip of Starchis’ finger, there was a potato rolling on the ground.

“Those things. I used to eat those when I was a kid.”

“What?? You ate that?”

It was a dirty, half-rotten potato.

Under the moonlight, it looked that bad.

Holding it might reveal an even worse condition.

“Now you know why I don’t like potatoes? Haha.”

Starchis could feel Rose relax.

Distracting her with a different topic always worked.

“...It must have been tough for you...”

“I told you, everyone has their own hardships. Didn’t you have a tough time growing up, Miss Rose?”


Rose thought back to her childhood.

She knew her father had worked tirelessly for her, but... she had been lonely.

“A bit... I was lonely.”

Even the animals she saw outside her window seemed to have friends, but she had none.

No matter how hard she tried to befriend the maids, bodyguards, or servants, they always found her difficult to approach.

No matter how comfortably she tried to treat them, they couldn’t treat her the same way.

At first, she resented them for not changing despite her genuine efforts, but as she grew older, she understood they had no choice.

She was a noble, after all.

So she tried to befriend other nobles.

When she received an invitation to a social gathering, Rose was ecstatic.

Hian didn’t like the idea of her mingling with other nobles, but he couldn’t keep her locked away.

“I tried hard, but it didn’t work out well.”

The nobles she met to make friends were always wearing masks.

She wanted true friends, but among nobles, it wasn’t that simple.

Even if she wanted to get close, seeing their masks left her feeling uneasy.

Eventually, Rose ended up wearing a mask herself.

She looked up at Starchis again.

‘...Could I take off my mask in front of this person?’

An impulse she had never felt before arose.

“That must have been tough.”

“Oh! But now, looking back, I was whining over nothing... I must have been raised like a flower in a greenhouse. Hehe...”

“No, loneliness is very hard to endure. You must have had a rough time.”

Maybe it was the alcohol, but his comforting words made her feel emotional.

She could understand why those beautiful women liked him.

Rose realized something now: the feelings she had for him were not those of friendship.

They were something more intimate.

She found herself leaning on him more and more.

To hide her sudden emotion, Rose spoke in a brighter voice.

“It’s okay! Instead, I became close to books. I read a lot of theoretical books and novels...”

She glanced at Starchis and swallowed hard.

She subtly shared a secret with him.

It was the reason she was curious about him.

“...Ah! Starchis, do you know you actually resemble my favorite novel’s male lead?”

“Really? Haha... Do I? In what way?”

“Your physical description, the atmosphere you exude... You have a kind of intimidating presence.”

“Hmm... Could it be because I’m a gatherer?”

“Yes, maybe that’s why.”

“What’s the book’s title?”

Rose hesitated for a moment.

Starchis stopped in the alley, matching her pause.

“...Do you want to know?”


A cold wind blew through the alley.

Rose asked with a voice that suggested she wanted to tell him.

Feeling a bit mischievous, Starchis decided to tease her.

“Hmm... No, I’m not very close to books.”

He expected a playful response, but Rose let out a big sigh of relief, as if she was glad herself.


“What? I was just kidding. Tell me, what’s the book?”


Rose stiffened again.

Then she stumbled slightly over her feet.

“Oh, be careful.”

Starchis stood firm, helping her regain her balance.

“We’re almost there; you shouldn’t fall now.”

He pointed somewhere with his hand.

Suddenly, the end of the alley was in sight.

When Rose looked in the direction his hand pointed, she saw a familiar scene.

From there, it was just a short distance to her home.

It was time to say goodbye.

“Sir Hian might be angry. It’s quite late.”

“It’s alright. My dad is strict, but he doesn’t get angry easily.”

“You must have a good relationship.”

“I don’t know. He’s always putting restrictions on me. What about you, Starchis, with your parents...oh.”

For a moment, Starchis’ face twisted with emotion.

Rose, speaking without thinking, suddenly realized her mistake.

He had said that without his brother, he might have died.

He had told her he survived his childhood by scavenging potatoes from the streets.

This implied that his parents either passed away early or there were other complications.

In any case, his parents were not around during his childhood.

It was a sensitive topic.

Rose tried to find something to say to fix the situation, but it was already too late.

His reaction made it clear that it wasn’t just that his parents had passed away early—there were more personal circumstances involved.

In an instant, Starchis withdrew into his own world.

Memories of his parents from his childhood resurfaced.

Unintentionally, he emanated a tremendous aura of intimidation.

Rose felt a tingling sensation on her skin.

Her legs trembled, and her strength left her hands.

But at the same time, her cheeks flushed, and her heart pounded.


Suddenly, Starchis snapped back to reality.

In front of him was Rose, flushed and frightened.

“Oh..! I’m sorry... But I don’t think I can talk about my parents...”

Despite his attempts to calm her down, Rose’s legs continued to shake.

“I’m sorry... but could you... could you hug me? I’m really scared...”

“I’m so sorry! I’m sorry!”

Starchis gently embraced her, trying to rectify his mistake.

He patted her back, soothing her racing heart.

But the more he comforted her, the harder Rose’s heart pounded.

A man who was dangerous but safe for her.

Scary, but kind to her.

He was just like the hero in her novel in every way.

Her maid’s words echoed in her mind.

-‘Don’t go out of your way to ask if he’s like the man in your novel. Just wait and see if he shows those qualities. Understand?’

‘He did show them.’

She said to herself.

She could no longer hold back.

While still in his arms, she spoke.

“...Starchis, I’ve decided on my wish.”

Rose cast off all her masks, even the final one that shielded her face.

She felt a sense of liberation.

She felt alive.

Her heart pounded, feeling as though it might burst as she prepared to reveal her secret to him.

Starchis held her shoulders and gently moved her out of his embrace.

“...What is your wish?”

She had spent a long time stressed, reading various novels.

They were all entertaining but none were particularly remarkable.

Just enough to pass the time.

Because of this, she often complained to her maid about how bored she was, and one day, the maid handed her a book she hadn’t seen before.

It was a book her father would never allow in his study.

The cover was pink, like her hair, and it was an unusual book.

That book changed her entire perception.

Blunt expressions, provocative descriptions.

The heroine, whose situation resembled hers, and the merciless male protagonist.

She liked seeing the heroine becoming happier through the male protagonist.

The book made Rose’s heart race constantly.

Her favorite novel’s title.

‘The Submissive Elf Princess.’

Rose swallowed hard again.

She had shed all her masks, but she was still embarrassed.

She never thought she’d ask anyone to fulfill her desire.

She had been content to leave it as a fantasy in a novel.

But now the opportunity had come.

No, it wasn’t just an opportunity—she couldn’t hold back anymore.

Even if it was because she was drunk, it didn’t matter.

After feeling his intimidating presence once, she couldn’t go back.

“This... it’s a strange request, but...”

Shyly, but with a hint of fear, Rose stood on tiptoe and whispered in Starchis’ ear, afraid someone might hear.

“...Can you call me a bitch?”

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