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LTBE - Chapter 487.1: Inescapable Embrace (1)

In the bathroom, Roel stared at Charlotte’s back and his pupils abruptly contracted. Charlotte also fell silent after posing her question.

Had it been a few months ago, Roel would have been able to answer that question with ease. However, his answer that question had changed ever since his trip to the borders of the Austine Empire.

Lilian was the imperial princess of the Austine Empire whereas Charlotte was the successor to the Rosa Merchant Confederacy; the history of the their respective countries were already enough to put them against each other. On top of that, it was a known fact that Charlotte didn’t get along well with Lilian.

There was no way Charlotte would take this this matter well.

Roel felt a lurching feeling in his chest as his body subconsciously stiffened up. While he was struggling to search for an answer, Charlotte suddenly interjected once more.

“W-wait! Forget it, I changed my mind. You don’t have to answer that question.”

“Charlotte?”

“My apologies. It wasn’t my intention to tie you down. I don’t have the right to. You must have felt uncomfortable at my question.”

“No, that’s not it…”

Roel quickly shook his head to refute Charlotte’s words. While their relationship wasn’t official, their feelings for each other were as true as they could be. He couldn’t even imagine a life without her anymore, let alone being tied down by her.

“Charlotte, I don’t feel uncomfortable at your question. You shouldn’t think too much into it.”

“… Even when I’m acting as if I’m the matriarch here?”

“There’s no need for you to put on an act for that. You’re practically half an owner of our Ascart Fiefdom now. Of every four gold coins earned by our Ascart House, one goes to you.”

Roel thought about the Ascart Fiefdom’s recent financial reports and revealed a helpless smile. Charlotte was momentarily dazed by those words before a smile broke out on her face.

“Indeed. You got careless, darling. You should have known better than to let a third party go unchecked in your fief.”

“… It’s only unchecked because it’s you.”

“!”

Charlotte’s body jolted at Roel’s calm response. She slowly lowered her head before self-consciously wrapping her arm around her body. An indescribable feeling tinged with embarrassment and warmth touched her heart.

Unlike other incompetent fief lords, Roel had a good sense for fief management and commerce. He kept a tight grip on resources that he knew could potentially bring in huge profits, especially during the earlier phase of the fief’s development. He was exceptionally vigilant when it came to dealing with large merchant associations like the Sorofyas’, knowing that an imprudent trade deal could easily undermine the fief’s long-term profitability.

This changed after his meeting with Charlotte.

Shortly after they braved through the perilous Witness State together, Roel started releasing important commercial rights to the Sorofyas. Charlotte thought that this was symbolistic of his trust in the Sorofyas, an indication that he saw them as a true ally. However, that didn’t seem to be the case now.

“You released those rights because of me? Wait a moment, could it be that…” Charlotte asked with widened eyes.

“… Yes. I didn’t want to give my father the room to renege on our engagement,” Roel turned his reddened face away as he replied.

Adrenaline surged through Charlotte’s body, leaving her feeling on cloud nine. She was so excited that she even slightly turned around.

“Why are you turning around?” Roel exclaimed in astonishment.

“Darling, you…”

Charlotte’s deduction was further affirmed when she saw Roel’s embarrassed face. The knowledge that Roel had been in favor of their marriage all along filled her with so much joy that she found herself overwhelmed beyond words.

It was public knowledge that nobles married not for love but to further the interests of their respective houses, as decided by their parents. Roel and Charlotte’s relationship was shaky right from the start as Carter explicitly displayed his support for Nora and Alicia, even going to the extent of sabotaging their first meeting to ensure that nothing happened between them.

Knowing that it was impossible to have a blissful relationship with Roel without his father’s support, Charlotte tried her best to win Carter’s approval. Her sincerity eventually moved him, and he agreed not to interfere in their affairs anymore.

She thought that she had been the only one working hard to advance their relationship, but Roel had also been giving his all for them from another angle.

“While my father appears to be unbothered about the fief’s economy, the truth can’t be farther from that. He understands how important money is when it comes to building up a strong military force,” Roel explained.

While Carter was willing to give Roel the final say in his own marriage, he still had his own set of considerations as to whom he was willing to accept as a daughter-in-law, which was why he had attempted to sabotage Roel and Charlotte’s first meeting. He thought that an engagement with the Sorofyas was dangerous, not just because Roel was already involved with Alicia and Nora but the political implications that came with it as well.

The Sorofyas were an economic powerhouse, after all.

While the Ascart House was hardly wealthy back then, its finances were stable enough to not have to rely on any external help. Its economy was also fairly independent, to the point where it didn’t have to build or maintain strong ties with any of the nearby territories.

This meant that Carter could back out of the engagement whenever he wanted to without suffering much of a backlash.

Thus, Roel made huge investments in the military and public infrastructure, which inevitably resulted in a budget shortfall. This created a need for additional financing, and the Sorofyas’ colossal wealth and technical capability made them the ideal partner to work with.

Charlotte’s involvement in the projects made her a shareholder in many of the Ascart Fiefdom’s critical public infrastructure, which greatly increased her say in the fiefdom. That made it much more difficult for Carter to oppose their relationship.

“Darling, aren’t you afraid of incurring your father’s wrath? Haven’t you considered the possibility that I might betray you?”

“I admit that I had my own selfish intentions, but the Ascart Fiefdom also benefited from the swift economic growth and the bolstering of its military force. This is a good trade-off for the Ascart Fiefdom, especially with the unrest at the eastern border. My father understands that, which is why he doesn’t blame me for it… As for you, you were willing to throw your life aside to save me. What reason do I have to not trust you?”

“Darling!”

Unable to restrain her feelings anymore, Charlotte turned around and tightly hugged Roel. As if to vent her overflowing feelings, she snuggled her head against his chest.

On the other hand, Roel found himself assaulted by her soft flesh pressing against his clothes. He looked down and found himself faced with a top-down view of the elegant curvature of her back. Under this sensory assault, his face instantaneously turned red.

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“Wait, Charlotte! If you suddenly turn around…”

“It’s easier to lather my back like that,” Charlotte raised her head and spoke with a furious blush.

That put Roel in a dilemma.

It was already stimulating enough to have her soft flesh pressing against his body. To ask him to lather her back in this hugging position was simply overestimating his self-control!

The only problem was that Charlotte had no intention of letting him go.

Seeing no other way out of this, he let out a sigh and did as he was told.

His cool fingers came into contact with her warm skin, and the tingling feeling that arose as a result automatically induced a soft moan from Charlotte, much to her embarrassment. Her adorable voice nearly made Roel lose control there and then.

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Knowing that it wouldn’t do to drag this out, Roel hurriedly lathered her back in a fluster before dashing out of the bathroom in a fluster, closing the door shut behind him. In the bathroom, Charlotte looked at the door reluctantly, but she didn’t say a word at all.

Across the door, the two lovers felt their hearts thumping wildly, almost as if they would beat out of their chests.

With that, Charlotte’s bathtime finally came to an end.

StarveCleric's Notes:

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ℭ𝔥𝔢𝔠𝔨 𝔬𝔲𝔱 𝔪𝔶 𝔬𝔱𝔥𝔢𝔯 𝔫𝔬𝔳𝔢𝔩𝔰:
100,000/Hour Professional Stand-in
Library of Heaven's Path
Martial God Asura from Chapter 4320
Written by Bells on Cat Ears (猫耳铃铛). Translated by StarveCleric. Edited by Welmar.