After the incident with the Royal Court Administration settled down, Bridget was finally able to return to her normal life.
For the time being, there was no follow-up audit. As a result, Bridget would get up as per usual every day and eat dinner at home. She also got a chance to read through her pile of books.
One day, Bridget got up as usual and was on her way to work. It only took about 20 minutes to walk between home and the Audit Office, so Bridget would always walk to work.
The seasons were changing and the sun was starting to set earlier and earlier. It was still quite early in the day, but the sky was starting to get dark.
As I walked down the streets lined with government agencies, I came to a tree-lined street with few people on it. The trees were starting to change colors and they looked beautiful.
What shall we do on our next vacation? The roses that Ray is growing separate from the medicinal herbs are about to bloom. Will we be able to see them this weekend?
Bridget was walking leisurely when she suddenly realized that someone was following her. She had a bad feeling about it.
It’s not the sound of hard-soled footsteps like those worn by people who worked. The pace was almost as fast as Bridget’s, but she felt like it was getting closer.
Is it my imagination? When Bridget turned around fearfully, her eyes met with a man who was about 10 meters behind her. There was no one else around.
He was dressed all in black, but not in any department’s uniform. He had his right hand in his jacket pocket and his left hand was covered with a black glove. He had a stubble that seemed to still be growing and his eyes were staring straight at Bridget.
I’m going to be attacked.
Bridget thought intuitively. She then threw the bag she was carrying and ran as fast as she could. She entered a walkway that split off from the middle of the tree-lined street. If she got past the walkway, she would be in a residential area.
The man started running at the same time Bridget started running. All that Bridget could hear was her ragged breathing, and she was too afraid to speak.
I could hear the strong footsteps stepping on fallen leaves from behind, just like my own footsteps.
I waved my arms and ran with all my might.
My heart was beating like it was about to crack and I could feel it pulsing in my ears.
My breathing became labored and my throat hurt.
I couldn’t hear my own gasping breath coming from my own throat.
I felt like I was going to throw up and tears started to come out my eyes, when the man grabbed my arm. As Bridget turned around, the man shouted,
“Hey! Don’t run away! You’re a woman, just stay still!”
The man pulled something out of his jacket. It gleamed in the evening sun. A blade.
Involuntarily, I grabbed the ring on my chest with my other hand.
Ray, help me!
The moment the man swung the blade, I shut my eyes. At the same time, the ring in my hand went cold.
There was a high-pitched sound. When Bridget opened her eyes thinly, the man was looking at the blade with a quizzical look on his face. The tip was chipped.
Again, as the man swung the blade, the wind blew hard. The ring became even colder.
Bridget shrank back and was wrapped in something softly.
“What do you need from my wife?”
The voice of the person I wanted to hear came from above me. I was hugged by strong arms and wrapped in his usual black robe.
Bridget was sincerely relieved and tears came to her eyes.
“What the hell, man, get out of my way!”
“It looks like you don’t know who I am. I’ll show you.”
As Bridget peeked through the gaps in the black robe, Ray held out his hand to the man and muttered something.
The blade the man was holding rusted away in a matter of minutes.
The blade, which had been glistening, dulled and became cloudy and reddish-brown, and when the man screamed in surprise at the sudden change in the blade, it snapped off the handle and fell to the ground.
The terrified man sat up hunched over in place.
“Are you hurt?”
Ray peered at Bridget.
Bridget took her hands that were hugging herself and wrapped them around Ray’s hard back and hugged him.
“…no. Thank you so much for helping me.”
Ray also hugged Bridget back.
“I told you I’m good at transition magic. I’m glad I made it in time.”
The man was one of the members of the Royal Court Administration who was punished by the issue surrounding Lynx.
He said that the Royal Court Administration and Lynx had worked so well together, but Bridget’s involvement in the audit had ruined their relationship.
There were times when people resented me for auditing them, but this was the first time that I was ever in harm’s way. It was a good thing that the situation was handled in a way that didn’t expose Mimi and the others.
Bridget came home from the interrogation and after a late dinner and a quick hot bath, she went into the bedroom to find Ray relaxing in bed with a book.
“How did you know I was in danger?”
I asked Ray as I hurriedly got into bed.
“The ring was designed to trigger defensive magic when you were physically attacked. I know when defensive magic is activated.”
Did the blade tip chip when the man swung the blade due to defensive magic?
“You must be tired. Get some rest.”
Ray tried to build the magic wall, and I stopped him.
“I was so scared…, if you don’t mind, would you be willing to sleep holding hands today without the wall…?”
Ray rolled his eyes, a little surprised, then his expression became soft.
They moved their pillows closer than usual and both layed down.
Ray took Bridget’s hand and wrapped it around his. It felt different from my own, a man’s hand. It felt bony, but also warm and protective.
Bridget was thrilled, but also very relieved. At the same time, she was aware of the emotions exuding from her heart and was convinced.
”I’ve fallen in love with him.”
Ray was calm, kind, gave me comforting and positive words when I was down, and helped me when I was in danger. It’s natural to like someone like that.
But the second part of this contract marriage was “If either of us found someone we loved, we must leave.”
Bridget wondered if this would also apply to Ray, but in the first place, Ray kept his distance from women who liked him.
It occurred to her that this would naturally apply to Bridget, and she was terribly disappointed. She realized she would have to breach the contract.
The moment you find yourself in love with him, it’s over.
In any case, I can’t stay in this marriage. It’s too unfaithful and painful to spend time in his vicinity with an unrequited love.
If I told Ray of my feelings, he would probably be creeped out or dislike me. It’s shameful, but it’s less damaging to me if I offer to end the contract with someone I love.
The thought of leaving this house and being alone again brought tears to my eyes.
I fell asleep with people waiting for me at home, waiting for me to return, sitting around the table with people and feeling their warmth. It was a time of luxury that had passed by.
It was fun and I was happy. I’m sad to leave Ray.
When I leave this house, I should go back to my quarters. I never intended to get married in the first place anyway.
I’m thankful that I was allowed to have a good time and even fall in love. My parents will leave me alone for a while.
“…What? You want to breach the contract?”
A few days after the knife incident, I was approached by Bridget to talk to her about something important before bedtime. I wondered what was going on, but she suddenly offered to breach the contract.
“…Yes. Thank you for your help during this short period of time. I’ll move my stuff slowly on my days off…”
“Wait, wait a minute. What do you mean that you want to breach the contract?
Ray interrupted Bridget in a hurry. I can’t get my head around the suddenness of the story.
“…I found someone I like. It aligns with the second term in our contract.”
Ray was astonished.
It was only a few days ago that they slept hand in hand together after the knife incident, and a little over a month ago that they went on their honeymoon.
She seemed a little down after the knife incident, but I thought it was due to the shock of the incident.
It didn’t ever occur to me that it was because she had found someone that she loved.
“I’ll be staying at my quarters tomorrow, so I’m sorry, but could you please let Connie and the others know, Ray?”
Bridget quickly crawled into bed before Ray could question her back.
Ray also went to bed confused, but he couldn’t get an ounce of sleep.