Chapter 22.
I’ll Do My Best To Befuddle You

Ian murmured, “I haven’t had lunch either……” while drooling at the sight of food, but no one listened to him.


In the midst of the romantic atmosphere, Nicholas secretly turned his gaze away, meanwhile Maxim and Florian opened their eyes, trying to dig into the relationship between them.


Marianne involuntarily bit her lips.
Her heart was pounding.
It seemed that she was intoxicated.
The alcohol she gulped down in one go felt like spreading throughout the blood vessels.


Otherwise, she couldn’t have been this drunk.
The heat in her body couldn’t have risen this high.




She silently threw a glare at Kristoff.
Kristoff, who received a resentful look, frowned with a confused look.
Then, he scratched the tip of his eyebrows with his index finger.


“Did you not like sandwiches?”


His voice wasn’t laced with much confidence.
Marianne took the remaining alcohol to her mouth instead of taking a bite of the sandwich.


“So, what’s your relationship?”


Maxim asked subtly, as if trying to sound him out.
Florian pretended to be interested, and Ian looked surprised, 


“What? What do you mean by relationship?” He asked.


“What kind of officer are you?”


Maxim, who looked at the thoughtless Ian and clicked his tongue, then directed his gaze at Kristoff again.
Ian, who heard the scolding, pouted his lips, sulking.


However, Kristoff had no intention of answering.
Instead of answering, he scanned the unfamiliar atmosphere of the place with his eyes.
The bar where commoners chatted loudly after work.




“Come on, come on, don’t be like that.
Ian, go get some more alcohol.”


“What? Me? The youngest member of the team is over there……”


Ian, who was pointing at Marianne, stood up quietly after receiving Kristoff’s chilling stare.


The murmuring of the gossiping senior, the newcomers, and rookies were drowned by the rough voices of men and couldn’t be heard properly.


“However, I guess Sir Kristoff doesn’t like drinking.”


Florian said in a nervous voice.
He didn’t mean to sound vexed.
It was just something to his tone that was originally sharp.


“I drink.”


Instead of answering, Kristoff stared at his glass.
The brown liquid didn’t shrink because he didn’t even take a single sip.


He didn’t hate alcohol.
However, he just hated the moment when his sanity disappeared due to alcohol.


Florian, who had given up hearing words coming out from his mouth, snatched a new glass from Ian’s hand.
The alcohol went around the table.


Kristoff was very bored with this.
Flushed face, a conversation full of the smell of alcohol, and a loud noise came from all over the place.
Everything was not his cup of tea.


However, there was Marianne here.
That fact alone meant a lot to him.
She realized it too late.




The moment Kristoff gently uttered a curse.




There was something heavy pressed on his left arm.
Kristoff, who casually turned his head, stiffened in his spot.


Marianne’s forehead was pressed on his shoulder.




A groan of pain slipped out through her teeth.
At the same time, there was a strong smell of alcohol from her.


Kristoff couldn’t even breathe much.
He was being careful as if this moment would break even with a little movement.
His left shoulder bore a faint heat.


He didn’t know whether it was because they met after a long time or because Marianne was intoxicated.
However, it was clear that she was distracted by his scent.




Kristoff called her in a low, somewhat patient tone.
The moment he grabbed her by the shoulder.


“No, Kristoff.”


She shook her head.
Soon, the expression walked away from Kristoff’s face.
He reflected on her voice, which wasn’t said with a cold and stiff expression.


Kristoff, who slowly closed his eyes and opened them again, clenched his fist.
Marianne grabbed him by the arm with her hands.


“Don’t tell me to let go.”






Kristoff involuntarily opened his mouth slightly.
He looked dazed, as if he had been hit on the head with a blunt tool.


Marianne’s somewhat sweet voice lingered in his ears.
She clung to Kristoff as if she thought he was going to slap her hands off.


“No, I won’t go, Kristoff.”


“I wouldn’t let you go, Marianne.”


Kristoff slowly raised his hand to caress her cheek.
The warmth transferred on his palm was hotter than usual.


Everywhere his fingers touched, she felt a burning warmth.


“You’re drunk.”


“No, I’m not drunk.”


Marianne shook her head like a stubborn child.
A faint laugh slipped out through his teeth.
It was his first time seeing Marianne drunk.


Was she the type of person who acted childish when she was drunk?


“Every drunkard in the world would always say they’re not drunk.”


His voice was basked in friendliness.
As if coaxing a child.


“I told you, I’m not drunk at all.”


Marianne murmured, as if she had been wrongfully accused.
Her eyes were drowsy as if she were about to fall asleep at any moment.
Her eyelids kept covering her blue eyes.


Kristoff tucked her hair behind her ears.
Marianne rubbed her cheek against his palm.


The movement seemed very secretive despite it not being a big deal.
As if he saw something he wasn’t supposed to.


“All right, get up.
We’ll go back now.”


Kristoff got up first.
Setting one of his knees bent in front of her, he carried Marianne on his back without difficulty.
Her arms and legs sagged limply.


She was light.


However, he was happy.
Her weight felt as it was when he brought Marianne into his arms.
It was a hundred times better than grabbing an empty fist.


Kristoff, who exhaled a satisfying breath, rose from his position with a relaxed movement.
And he scanned the faces of those sitting at the table one by one.


“As you can see, Marianne will get back first because she’s drunk.”




The shocking silence hanging over them.
The four men froze and their faces turned white with glasses in their hands.
Their blank eyes busily bounced between Kristoff and Marianne.


Their multicolored pupils widened to the limit.
As if they didn’t believe what they saw.


However, Kristoff didn’t care.
Those were not his concern.
Kristoff’s only interest was the woman on his back.


As if he had just remembered, he turned his head again and said, “Oh.” His wry eyes turned on them.


“Every organization has a way to survive for a long time.”




“By watching their mouths.”


Contrary to his soft voice, his eyes were freezing cold.
Ian lowered his head in a hurry because he was afraid to make eye contact with him.
Gulp, he swallowed dryly.


“Moreover, for the sake of the lady’s feelings, you’d better not tell Marianne what happened today.
Marianne is on the shy side even after all this.”


He warned them lightly as if talking about the weather before striding out quickly.
Without looking back, Kristoff walked straight out of the shabby bar.


The door shut behind him.




He paused for a moment.
Darkness covered the sky, and the disturbance on the back sounded distant as if it could be heard from faraway.
It felt as if there were only two of them in the world, him and Marianne.




Then, she called his name.
A brief yet intense euphoric sensation ran down his spine.
It felt like going to the past.
Back when she loved him.


He closed his eyes tightly only to get them opened again.
A raspy voice came out of his teeth.


“Yes, Marianne.”


Kristoff began to slow down his step.
He didn’t want to rush.
He wanted this moment to last forever.




“Yes, Marianne.”


“Why do you keep befuddling me? Don’t do that.”


His raspy voice as the aftereffect of alcohol filled with a slight tremor.
It sounded like she was crying, washed up in sorrow.
Or perhaps it was resentment.


Kristoff swallowed the rising emotions and clenched his lower jaw.
He asked back in a low voice after swallowing dryly.


“Are you befuddled because of me, Marianne?”




Swallowing a shallow groan, she remained quiet for a while.
It wasn’t until she took too long to think that she fell asleep as her breath tickled his back.


“It’s hard.
Waiting for you because you never look back…… it’s making me tired now.”


This time, Kristoff was silent.
His Adam’s apple bobbed up and down.
The eyes that resembled the darkness of the night were clearly distorted.
As if enduring a bitter pain.


After he inhaled quietly, he managed to part his lips to speak.
The voice that left his throat seemed to be squeezed forcefully.


“It’s all right, Marianne.
You don’t have to wait for me now.”




“I’m waiting for you now.”




“I’m waiting for you now, Marianne.”


Kristoff repeated the same thing over and over again, as if to tell her.
There was no reply from Marianne.


Kristoff  was at a loss for words.
It was only then that he began to feel nervous.
She must have been disappointed in him, his lips dried up from anxiety.


Why didn’t she say anything? Did she now hate waiting for him? Does she not want to see him anymore?


Then what was he supposed to do?


The moment he just opened his mouth.



He could hear the sound of her breathing from behind him.
In the meantime, she seemed to have fallen asleep.
Kristoff involuntarily let out a sigh of relief.




He walked slowly, feeling the warmth behind his back.
His own long shadow followed him.
The cool spring breeze swept through his head.
This was the perfect moment.


He suddenly opened his mouth whilst walking quietly.


“If you’re befuddled, I’ll do my best to befuddle you, Marianne.”


That was how desperate he was.
He was desperate enough that when Marianne had a small gap, he would squeeze in somehow.


“You should be prepared, too.”


His voice cracked upon the empty night sky.




He heard a dog barking somewhere.
When one barked, all the local dogs began to bark as well.


Kristoff walked a long way to see if they would disturb Marianne’s sweet sleep.
It wasn’t boring for him.
It wasn’t even hard.


He was thrilled to learn that her feelings weren’t completely closed.
He still had a chance.


And Kristoff was ready to seize the opportunity.
He has never missed a single opportunity given to him.




Marianne wasn’t lazy despite it being a holiday morning.
That habit of Lady Schneider still took hold of her.


She got up early, got dressed, and had breakfast with Madam Liszt.
Her hangover made her head feel like a mess, but she didn’t lose her graceful smile.


“Sometimes, you remind me of myself when I was young, Marianne.
There were no maidens who could catch up to me in terms of gracefulness.
There were more than one or two men who dated me.”




Marianne put down her spoon and laughed at Madam Liszt’s humor.
The corner of her smile projected a hint of awkwardness.
This was because there was a shadow of anxiety in the corner of her mind.


She knew the cause of it.
She didn’t remember what happened yesterday.
Her last memory was doing a drinking contest with Maxim.
And at some point, the rest of the memories after had completely disappeared.

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