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13 Romantic Boat Ride

 TILLY was amazed by the boat that Kiho rented (Damian wasn't able to reserve a boat due to what happened a while ago).

[This is not a boat- this is a floating garden dock!]

There was a sofa and a table in the middle of the dock. It was surrounded by four wooden pillars decorated with sheer curtains. The dock also had grass and flowers on it. It was beautiful, but also excessive.

Actually, there were normal boats for rent. But Kiho asked for the biggest and the most comfortable one. The captain also chose the floating garden dock because it had a ceiling drape. Maybe he thought the drapes would do a better job in protecting her from the sunlight instead of a mere parasol.

"How do you feel, Tilly?" Kiho asked when they were sitting side by side on the sofa. The food that he bought was already served on the table when they got there. "Is your temperature back to normal?"

"Yes. Thank you for asking," Tilly said. When the boat started to move, she flinched. "How is this thing moving, Kiho?"

She couldn't hear an engine and they weren't rowing the boat!

Kiho pointed at the columns around them. "Those things were made of spirit woods. The magic in each pillar is programmed to move around pre-designated areas in the river. In that way, we won't bump into another boat. And after the time limit, this boat is going to return by the dock on its own."

Ah, right. They rented the boat for only an hour. That was the maximum time the owner allowed the visitors to use the boats.

"Are you scared, Tilly?"

"No, I was just surprised," she said. "It's been quite long since the last time I rode a boat."

"Do you want me to stop the boat until you're comfortable?"

"Can you do that?" she asked out of curiosity. [I thought the destination of each boat is already determined...]

Kiho nodded before he responded to her question. "I can freeze the lake to stop our boat from moving. My Mana is stronger than the magic here."

She blinked in surprise while waiting for him to say that he was joking. But he remained silent while looking at her with an innocent look on his handsome face. "Wait, you're serious?"

He nodded. "Yes. I'll freeze the river if you want me to."

"You can't do that," she said in a stern voice, then motioned the other (ordinary) boats around them. "We're not the only people who wanted to enjoy a good boat ride here."

"You're my priority," he said. "And it's not like they're going to get hurt or die if I freeze the river."

[But that would give them another reason to fear or hate you.]

"I'm fine," she reassured him, then changed the topic right away. "Ah, I'm curious about something, Kiho. Do you know about my Mana?"

He nodded before he explained. "Duke Prescott told me about your Mana. He also asked to help you cool down if needed. I believe that my ability to control ice is one of the reasons why your father chose me as his son-in-law."

Oh, she didn't think about that in her previous life.

All she thought was her father wanted glory for their household. It never crossed her mind that the duke entrusted her to a man who could help her stabilize her Mana.

She was touched.

[I should be kinder to my father.]

"I never liked my Mana," Kiho confessed that kind of surprised her. After all, he wasn't this open to her in her previous life. "But now that I know that it can save and protect you, I feel grateful to be born with this magical ability."

Aww... her chest suddenly felt warm and the reason had nothing to do with her Mana.

She couldn't remember why she never fell in love with Kiho in the past. Was it because he was never this sweet to her? Well, she wasn't that kind to him so it was inevitable that they got estranged along the way.

[What changed now?]

"Kiho, what do you think of me before we met?"

"Can I be honest?"

"Yes, please."

"His Majesty often said that you were a beauty but I really didn't care about that," the captain said hesitantly. But when she nodded as an encouragement, he continued. "Actually, I heard a lot of bad rumors about you. They said you were a spoiled princess and you throw tantrums when things don't go your way. I also heard that you were a sheltered child so I thought you'd die if I leave you in a mountain for a few minutes."

That meant he thought she was ignorant and didn't know the harsh reality of life.

She wasn't offended because she knew what kind of person she was before she got reincarnated. The rumors Kiho heard were true so she didn't mind his assumptions about her.

"I'm the type of person that treats others the way they treat me," the captain said. "I was prepared to keep my distance with you if you turned out to be the person I thought you were."

Ohh... now she got what changed between them in this lifetime!

In her previous life, she turned out to be the person that Kiho heard from the rumors. So right from the start, he had put his guard up around her.

But when they met this time, she was very different from the Lady Prescott in his mind. Because of that, he allowed himself to get close to her.

And of course, the way she treated him now also mattered.

[We're no longer the persons we used to be in my previous life.]

"How about now?" Tilly asked out of curiosity. "What do you think of me, Kiho?"

"I think I can spend my life with you."

He said that very straightforwardly in a very sincere voice.

She almost had a heart attack from giddiness.

[Let's not put malice on his words yet.]

"That's... interesting," she said. Argh, she wanted to slap herself for her stupid response but what could she do? She couldn't think straight from the excitement she felt so she decided to change the topic again. "Anyway, what kind of punishment would you give Damian?"

He looked quite taken aback when she brought another discussion out of the blue. But a few moments later, he seemed to fall into a deep thought.

"I'm thinking of sending him back to our base and make him train again as a squire for a month," the captain said carefully. "I thought he was already suited to be a knight but I guess I was wrong. After all, he's still a child."

[Demotion, huh?]

"Kiho, can I have a say on that matter?"

"Of course," he answered right away. "I'm listening."

"I think a lighter punishment will do since I wasn't hurt anyway," she said. "I suggest you just cut his salary for a month."

He paused for a while as if he was contemplating. Then, he slowly nodded his head. "That's a good idea. I'll do that."

"Thank you, good sir."

"I should be the one thanking you, Tilly," he said. "Thank you for protecting me from your fellow nobles."

When she felt the gratitude in his tone, her heart tightened.

[I should have done that in my previous life.]

In the past, she'd remain quiet whenever the nobles would make fun of Kiho. And she knew that he was aware that she never stood up for him. But despite knowing that, the captain never upbraided her.

[He didn���t love me then but he was still good to me. I can't imagine how he would treat me if he falls in love with me in this lifetime.]

"I'll always protect you, Kiho," Tilly promised him. This time, she would. "I'm strong, too."

Kiho seemed to find her ~adorable~ because for the first time since they met in that lifetime, he finally gave her a full-blown smile. The kind of smile that showed his complete set of white teeth and the dimples below the corners of his lips.

[He's so beautiful.]

And he just took her breath away.

"My lady, may I?" he asked while extending his hand to her.

She didn't know what he had in mind but she gave his hand to him almost immediately.

Kiho brought her hand to his lips without breaking their eye contact. Then, he gently placed a chaste kiss on her knuckles. "I vow my eternal devotion to you and only you, Lady Matilda 'Tilly' Prescott."

To say that she was surprised would be an understatement.

The vow that Kiho used was the vow that the knights of Moonchester Empire make to their beloved.

He never made that vow to her in her previous life.

She wouldn't lie: she knew that the captain was starting to have feelings for her. Of course, that made her happy. After all, she also wanted to fall in love with him.

But now that everything was smoothly sailing, fear started to creep in her heart.

Yes, Kiho might be interested in her for now. But how long was he going to have feelings for her? Would he abandon her once he met Lucina Morganna? What if she fell hard for a man who was bound to fall out love with her because of another woman?

She knew in her heart that she wasn't the same person as before so she had a chance to be with Kiho as his real wife. But she also believed in destiny. What if Kiho and Lucina were fated soul mates that couldn't be torn apart?

[Let's not think about it for now. My priority for now is to meet Winter again and be a good mother to him this time.]

"Thank you for the vow, Kiho," Tilly said with a smile even though her heart felt heavy at the moment. "I'll also devote myself to you."

[At least until Lucina Morganna takes you away- if that was meant to happen again.]

***

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