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18 Say Goodbye to Love

 I'm leaving... he spoke the words slowly, enunciating each word with gritted teeth as if it pained him.

Registering his words, the pale golden eyes immediately flashed. But yet... that was it, no other reaction as if his pained words were nothing but a passing breeze.

Kit clenched and unclenched his fists as he looked down to glare at the ground, his expression full of distress and irrepressible anger. It's exactly as he thought, she didn't care...

Ai stared silently from her vanity mirror as she watched Kit's reaction closely, keeping an expressionless face void of emotions.

It's good... it's good that he's leaving...

As much as she wanted to shelter the pure-hearted young boy, she knew in her heart, she was not yet powerful enough. With such unrelenting will of his when it came to her, Kit would sooner or later run into troubles that she could not protect him from. If then, what? She could no longer stand watching someone else getting hurt on her behalf. This life was her redemption and if she has to be the bad guy to keep him safe, she would immediately do so without any regrets.

Sure, she had tried to brush off his feelings for her as a mere childish crush, but in truth, she knew; Kit was more than serious. The look, the stare and the way the boy had been acting around her, she would be a fool not to understand. Yet she was in denial. She didn't want to acknowledge it for once she does, she would have to hurt the boy. But Kit is so earnest and sincere, it made anyone feel uneasy to even think about hurting him.

But yet she could not reciprocate his feelings. For someone that had been through hell for such kind of emotions, the notion of love became a distant foreign subject that she no longer associates with. Of course, if she chose to open her heart again, perhaps she could once more taste the fluttering sensations of love. But what for? Love was what caused her downfall and made her lose everything she held dear. If anyone said Ai was wary of love, that would truly be an understatement.

For that, it would be good if Kit left. After all, she could not provide him with what he wanted and she knew it would be even more painful for him in the future if she doesn't put a stop to it now. Plus, she has plans that would definitely clash with Kit's interest of her; love and marriage were nothing but a bargaining tool for power, she knew firsthand how torturous it would be for him to see her getting together with someone else.

"I'm truly sorry, Kit", she lamented in her heart. If only the circumstances were different, perhaps she could love him. A self-deprecating smile graced her lips, why would heaven be so cruel to make someone fall in love with the likes of her; a cold calculative woman incapable of love. Out of all the eligible young women, he just had to fall for the shrewdest.

Ai didn't know how long she had been merrily going on her pity party mission until a touch on her shoulder woke her up. She blinked and slowly looked up. Kit's grey eyes were looking at her in concern as his hands held her shoulders gently. When did he get so close, she wondered.

"What's wrong?" Kit asked as his eyebrows creased slightly. "You were making a very sad face just now."

Ai immediately sobered up. She really needs to stop zoning out and leaking her emotions like poisonous gas everywhere she goes. She turned her face away slightly, unable to continue staring his earnest expression any longer.

Kit's frown deepened. There was clearly something wrong but she wouldn't even answer him. Gritting his teeth, he unknowingly applied pressure on her shoulders as his rage from before came back in a full force.

"You've changed." Kit gritted out. "Before you would always be close to me. But now you refused to speak to me or even look at me, is it because of my confession?", he pushed indignantly.

Ai winced. The more he spoke, the more force was applied to her shoulders and right now he was gripping rather hard that it would sure to leave a bruise. But yet, she didn't have the heart to reprimand him. Kit must be feeling really miserable right now and if only this could help to alleviate his pain, then she would be more than happy to bear it. Plus, knowing the boy, he would blame himself so hard for accidentally hurting her if he found out.

On the other side, Kit glared at Ai as his frustration grew exponentially larger by her silence. Nothing but a stoic face, it almost felt like there was a thick layer of ice between him and her no matter how close he was trying to get. He wanted to burn, melt and destroy that ice wall that kept him from getting close to her. Blinded by desperation, he made a move to close the gap. But before he could, his whole body immediately froze as a thin needle stuck his neck, blocking his medians, rendering him immobile and not even able to move a finger except the action of breathing.

"What did I say about touching my possession again, Koyozoki?" Hayama asked as he entered the room slowly, pretentiously fanning himself with a paper fan.

"Haya- I mean your highness, what did you do to Kit?" Ai asked with concern as the hands on her shoulders loosened and Kit immediately dropped to the floor like a pile of boneless heap.

Ai immediately caught the falling man, before he could headbutt the ground. Thank god, she caught him in time. She glared, looking up at Hayama.

Hayama smiled coquettishly as he continued to fan himself. "Nothing just gave him a sleeping pill to cool his head off. How are your shoulders?"

Ai didn't answer and tried to carry Kit up to her bed instead. But Kit being considerably larger than her and filled with lean muscles, combined with the pain on her shoulders, she could not lift him up even a bit as she looked up at Hayama helplessly.

"What? You want this prince to help him? Humph, never!" Hayama said haughtily as he turned up his nose in the air.

Ai ignored him and tried to carry Kit once more, but this time her shoulders almost felt like they were gonna break.

"Fine! Fine! But you must let me examine your shoulder later!" Hayama gave in begrudgingly as he took Kit and immediately flung him onto the bed. Good grace! Luckily the bed was soft was there were thick layers of blankets...

After checking on Kit, Ai decided to head to Hozaka Trading. It had been a few days since the annual ball and she had yet to visit the workshop. Plus she felt guilty for ditching Shion at the ball and must apologise to him. Given his calm and respectable temperament, hopefully, Shion won't be too mad at her.

But just before she could even take a step out the door, her body was immediately pulled back by her waist and she was pushed into a chair to get seated.

She scowled at Hayama. What does he want again?...

"Shoulders..." Hayama said.

"It's nothing to make a fuss about. Please excuse me, your highness", Ai made a move to stand up.

Hayama, who was the true king of persistence, could no longer hold back as Ai continued to evade him and thus he immediately reached out to pull down her robes. On her pale delicate shoulders, there were two hideous blue-black bruises that resembled the handprints.

Suddenly, the door was kicked open. "Baby Sis! Big brother is back!"