Ch. 53 …I’ve Fallen (1)
Elena and Carlisle finished their meal then left the restaurant. She felt a chill on her skin as she stepped from the warm building into the cool night, and took a deep breath and savored the fresh air. Unlike when they first arrived here, Carlisle’s men were nowhere to be seen. However, she could still perceive them with her sharp senses.
Carlisle opened the carriage door and helped Elena in as usual. He had turned very quiet after Elena had thrown the fork at the dart board. There was an unreadable expression on his face, as if the chaos of his thoughts left him unable to speak.
However, Elena pretended not to know how Carlisle felt. She was the protector, not the one to be protected. Regardless of his feelings, it didn’t change the meaning of the word. If there was an arrow that flew at him at this moment, Elena would throw herself in front of him without any hesitation. There would be absolutely no confusion regarding that.
Elena silently stepped inside the carriage.
A horse whinnied hotly into the air. Her heart yearned to run on horseback on a cool night like this, not sit inside some stuffy carriage. However, she had dedicated herself to the role of a noblewoman and had to suppress her desires.
Elena glanced at the horse with longing eyes and then turn her eyes back to the carriage.
Carlisle shut the carriage door without saying anything, then strode away from Elena.
She was about to ask about his mysterious behavior when he replied with a nonchalant look.
“Don’t you want to ride?”
“Oh, I thought about it for a moment, but…”
“Then say so. You speak well, but sometimes you express yourself strangely.”
“Just tell me what you want to do, not what you have to do.”
It was a shocking statement for Elena, who herself had a strong sense of responsibility. What she wanted most was to save her family, even if that meant abstaining from everything else.
“I’m fine. No matter how late it is, I can’t be seen out in the open with you.”
Their identities were hidden while they were in the carriage, but out in the open on horseback was different. Carlisle and Elena could not ride together to the mansion this way.
Carlisle ignored her and barked an order into empty air.
“Bring my horse.”
Then, amazingly, someone appeared from the forest, holding the reins to a massive black horse, larger than any normal horse. Elena could tell that it was a fine steed.
Carlisle mounted the horse with practiced ease then held his hand out to Elena.
“I’ve heard enough about why you don’t want to reveal our relationship. I promise I will never let your identity be revealed, so take my hand.”
Elena hesitated. She was strongly against doing anything unnecessary.
Carlisle sensed her uncertainty.
“My arm hurts, quickly.”
Carlisle astride a large horse wasn’t exactly the fairytale picture of a prince on a white steed. But he had a much more dangerous allure. His thin, slanted eyes pierced Elena, and his pitch black hair and tall nose reflected the moonlight.
Her head hadn’t decided what to do with his proposal yet. But despite the complicated thoughts racing through her mind…
She took his offered hand. While she had faith in his promise that they would be unseen, it was also true that she longed to be on horseback again. There was no reason to reject Carlisle’s offer to do what she desired. However, she didn’t want a burden for nothing.
Carlisle, however, had no such thoughts at all, and smiled faintly as soon as Elena’s hand was in his.
Carlisle pulled her up, and Elena settled in front of him. The long skirt of her dress made sitting a little uncomfortable, but she loved this wide open view that could only be seen from atop a horse.
The horse began to walk forward. Suddenly she felt something warm around her shoulders, and when she turned her head she saw that Carlisle had taken off his coat jacket and placed it around her.
“I’m alright. It’s not cold–”
“Keep yourself covered, though. Just in case someone sees you.”
The coat certainly wasn’t covering her face, but it was slightly better than exposing her full dress. She had started to refuse, but found that he had a point.
“Yes, then…thank you.”
Carlisle seemed to have anticipated her answer. He spoke after he confirmed that Elena was warmly clad in his coat.
Carlisle snapped the reins, and the horse began to gallop at a faster speed. Elena smiled as the cool breeze whipped past her cheeks and ears.
“Aren’t you scared?”
“Not at all. I want to go faster.”
“As you command.”
He urged the horse to go faster and faster. The freshness of the air seemed to cleanse her body. She felt more gloriously alive than before. She didn’t know how long it had been since she last hurtled freely through a dark forest road.
Carlisle could not see Elena’s flushed face, but could hear her small gasps of happiness she unintentionally let out. Elena savored the cool breeze like she did when she was a knight.