Chapter 23.
Please Come Back To Me

“Thank you for the meal, Madam.”


“You’re welcome, Marianne.
Then, you should go up and rest.”




Marianne couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable even as she climbed the stairs.
For some reason, the back of her head kept being tugged.
She unconsciously shook her head, as if to shake off her ominous thoughts.


“……No way, there must be something.”


Her face was once again painted with anxiety as she sat on the desk.
This time, her gaze fell upon the yellow paper.
It was a written report.


The case was closed, and there was no doubt.
The culprit has been found out, and she only had to finish the report.


However, Marianne somehow couldn’t continue to write the report anymore.
The innocent face crept back to her mind, it was when she stared at him.
She also remembered that face burst into tears out of fear.


He was a young boy who didn’t know anything.


Was it fair to hold a strange child responsible for all this? No, before that, was he really the perpetrator? Did she miss anything?


She struggled to find the answer to the question, but she still couldn’t find it.
She might not even know if there was actually no answer.


Back then when she studied law, Marianne thought the world was divided into black and white.
The good man is rewarded, and the bad man is supposed to be punished.
Reward virtue and punish vice, that was how Marianne viewed the world.


However, there was a gray area in crime that she actually encountered on the scene.
Guilty and innocence, the gray area that existed somewhere in between.


When her thoughts grew even deeper.




Madam Liszt called her downstairs.
Marianne put down her cheap pen and walked to the door.


“Come down for a second!”


“Yes, Madam.”


Though her mind was in disarray, she wasn’t so bold as to ignore Madam Liszt’s call.


Having raised three sons, she was an iron woman whose hands were ahead of her words.
If she did something wrong, her back could have been gone.


“What is it……”


Marianne, who was about to ask Madam, stood motionless in her spot.
Madam Liszt was talking to the man standing on the porch when she felt Marianne’s presence.


“You have a visitor.
His name is……”




His name slipped out from Marianne’s mouth, not from Madam Liszt’s.
The old lady clapped her hands with a bright smile.


“That’s right, Kristoff.”


Kristoff, who had treated the old lady politely, turned to Marianne.
Madam Liszt already seemed to be enamored with him.


“Oh, he looks exactly like the young gentleman who came here.
When I saw him last night, I thought he opened the door and walked in.
I was surprised because I thought he was coming from the afterlife to pick me up.”


“Last night……?”


Marianne frowned and asked back in a questioning voice.
An ominous feeling inside her rose again.
Madam Liszt still replied with a casual tone.


“Don’t you remember it? This young gentleman carried you on his back here last night, Marianne.”




Marianne involuntarily clenched her eyes shut tightly.
Why didn’t her hunch turn out to be wrong instead? Sense of shame and embarrassment flared up.


“What are you doing here?”


Marianne was too engulfed in her shame that she didn’t even notice she spoke colder than she meant to.
She seemed to have overreacted to hide her bursting shame.




For a moment, there was a glint of hurt in Kristoff’s eyes.
Those eyes, as though the sea during the night where nobody could tell the end of it.
Those dark eyes shook wildly, as if following the wind.


Marianne was embarrassed again.


Kristoff, was hurt? That couldn’t be.


She clasped her innocent dress to hold back from showing any emotion.
Soon after, he recovered his usual indifferent expression and held out his hand which had been kept on his back.


“Oh, dear.”


Madam Liszt squealed out a low exclamation.
He had a bouquet of flowers in his hand.
The dainty blue flowers were compiled together.


“This is for you.”




At that, Marianne forgot that she was wearing a mask and widened her eyes.
She asked in a greatly surprised voice.


“There’s no way that you…… brought it for me, isn’t it Kristoff?”


Kristoff raised his eyebrows lightly.
As though saying who else would have bought this?


“Choosing flowers was harder than I thought.
I have to figure out what flowers you like.”


Yes, that was a very unfamiliar experience for him.
He thought about Marianne the entire time he was selecting the flowers and hoped that she would be pleased by his choice.


After that, he came to realize how insincere the gifts he had given her were until then.
A bouquet of flowers and jewelry that were picked up by Oliver moderately.


Marianne’s face that showed a wry smile whilst receiving it also came to his mind.
He thought she didn’t like flowers at that time.
Or, he thought that she didn’t like jewelry.


However, it wasn’t the case.
She knew all along it was the gift that Oliver had chosen for him.


“…….It’s Jacob’s Ladder flowers.”


Marianne clasped her lips.
The calm voice crept out of her ear.
Kristoff looked at her blankly and nodded.


“Yes, I think that’s how they call it.”


Marianne slowly brought her gaze up.
Her eyes met Kristoff’s.
He extended his arms a little more as though asking her to receive it.


“Come back to me.”


The meaning of Jacob’s Ladder flower slipped out of her mouth.


One of Kristoff’s eyebrows twitched.
Kristoff seemed embarrassed having his true intention revealed, asked while turning his gaze away, which was unlike him at all.


“Aren’t you fond of Jacob’s Ladder?”




“That flower has a better meaning than the snapdragon flower.”


She thought it was unlikely for Kristoff to notice the meaning of the snapdragon flowers she sent to him.
He wasn’t interested in flower language, but he was more clever and intelligent than anyone else, so he must have figured out the meaning in no time.


However, this kind of response was unexpected.
To see that he responded to the flower language she sent him with another flower.
Such behavior was unlike Kristoff at all.


Therefore, Marianne wasn’t willing to take it.
As though she saw through Kristoff, that she has to go back to him after receiving this bouquet.


Kristoff didn’t withdraw his hand as well and kept being persistent.






She gave Christophe a likable smile.
Madam Liszt suddenly accepted the bouquet of flowers after spending a while watching the two having a strange confrontation.


“Don’t worry, Kristoff.
I’ll put it in a vase and decorate Marianne’s room with them.
Oh, the room surely would be brightened.”


“Thank you, Madam.”


Madam Liszt returned upon seeing Kristoff’s smile, “No need to thank me.” and turned around.
Her cheeks seemingly reddened slightly.


“Where is the vase?”


She disappeared after climbing up the stairs while mumbling to herself.
Marianne sighed shortly at the scene that ended with Kristoff drawing victory.


Come to think of it, this also happened before.
He targeted Marianne’s father first before marrying her.


Kristoff was a strategic man and good at getting her entourage on his side.


Marianne recited the same question once again, eyes still trained on him.


“What are you doing here?”


“Is your head alright? You drank quite a lot yesterday.”




Marianne unconsciously dropped her gaze.
She could feel her nape and cheeks slowly heating up.
However, she pretended to be aloof until the end.
She wasn’t sure if she could pull it off.


“ Yesterday did I……?”


Marianne was about to say something but she shook her head in front of the dark eyes that bore into her.


“No, it’s nothing.”


What’s the point if she knows? That wouldn’t change anything……


“Today is your day off.”


His spontaneous remark made Marianne stop her thoughts and lifted her head.




“Why don’t we have coffee together? I know a teahouse you might like.”


Marianne seemed doubtful, contemplating whether the person in front of her was really Kristoff.
Spending a holiday with him was tantamount to luxury for her.


She couldn’t even imagine going out while being side by side with him unless it was for a business banquet or meeting, not to mention a teahouse.
Faced with a strange situation, she involuntarily couldn’t say anything.


As the silence from her extended, Kristoff hurriedly added his words in fear she might refuse.


“I have something to talk about with you, regarding the case.”

“The case……”


Marianne inadvertently listened closely to his words and tilted her head.
Then, she nodded because she wanted to hear what he had in mind.
She also had something to tell him about the case.


Staring at Kristoff for a brief moment, she soon turned around.


“Wait for me, I’m going to change and come back.”


“……You can take all the time you need to prepare yourself.”


Kristoff finally answered softly, seemingly relieved.
Marianne stopped walking with a wry smile.
A half-personal murmur slipped through her teeth.


“This is the first time.”




“You’re waiting for me.
I’ve always been the one waiting for you.”




Kristoff didn’t answer.
No, it would have been more precise to say he could not.
He inadvertently walked closer at the sight of a faint smile that would disappear at any moment.


He wanted to muster up something.
However, the memories that came to his mind were always the images of him that kept her waiting.


―I have an important meeting.
We’ll talk when I get back.


―Sir Judge Bottenstein called me.
I think I’ll have to cancel our appointment this evening.


―Hold on, Marianne.
There is a case file I have to take a look at right now.


He thought Marianne would always be there.
No matter how late he was, he was so egotistical to think that she would wait for him.


However, she was not.
It was only her kindness and virtue that kept Marianne waiting for him, but it was no longer like that.
Kristoff didn’t realize it until he lost her.


Snapdragon flower.




“It’s all right.”


Kristoff moved up and down slightly, swallowing his burning emotion.
He stared at Marianne with those dark eyes, resembling the scenery of the sea at night.
It was as though a pair of strong hands were covering his mouth.


Between that moment, a low and husky voice came out through his teeth.


“I’ll wait for you this time.
You can keep me waiting as long as I’ve kept you waiting back then, Marianne.”




“You can waste my time as much as you want.”


He realized it too late.




Marianne quickly turned around to swallow her rising emotion.
Otherwise, she felt as though her shaking figure would be caught by him.




She clenched her fists to hide her anger.
She struggled hard to straighten her back and climbed the stairs one by one.


Kristoff didn’t take his eyes off her back.
His mistakes in the past struck him like a huge wave.
He held out his legs so as not to be swept away by the strong current.
There was nothing else he could do.




Returning to her room, Marianne leaned back against the closed door.
Then, she collapsed helplessly after getting out of Kristoff’s sight.


Marianne buried her face in her knees.
Her mindless heart pounded again, and shameless expectation sprouted its new buds again.


“No, Marianne.
Please don’t be like this.”


She alerted herself.
She knew how useless it was for her to feel that way.




Sighing, Marianne stood up and walked toward her closet.
After a while, she smiled bitterly at the sight of her reflection in the mirror.


Low vividly colored purple dress, a bonnet hat, and a ribbon on her neck.
Marianne inadvertently pulled out the best outfit from her shabby closet.


She still wanted to look beautiful for Kristoff.
How foolish.

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