Lucia

 
 
 

Lucia Chapter 15



Chapter 15 The Ducal Couple (3)
translated by: iseuli
edited by: libramuse + lili

One Morning.

Lucia observed the morning sunlight shining through and into her bedroom. She blinked several times to chase away her drowsiness. Using her hands, she brought herself upright.

Fatigue attacked every part of her body. She had grown used to waking up feeling tired. For the past month, Hugo had been visiting her bedroom every night, pouncing on her like a wild animal.

The explosive pleasures she shared with him drained a lot of her stamina. There was never a time that he would finish quickly; he would only stop after Lucia fainted from exhaustion.

She was kept awake together with him all night long. Each day, she would spend her day nodding off due to drowsiness, and when she managed to gather a bit of strength, night would arrive. Then he would lead her onto the bed for a night-long event. While she idled her days away, a whole month had passed within the blink of an eye.

By now, her body was getting used to these night long events and she was able to get up earlier while not feeling as fatigued. The first week, she was only able to rise by late afternoon.

Of course Lucia would never admit to him that her own stamina had gotten better. If she did, he would pounce on her with more fearsome strength than now. She wanted to stop spending her days in bed. It was so embarrassing to face all the servants tending to her.

Yesterday, he had been more persistent than usual. It felt like she could still feel him tightly thrusting into her. If she truly abhorred doing this, all she had to do was refuse. He wasn't one to rape her just because she refused. Honestly, it was tiresome but it was also nice.

Gratifying sex and many sensual orgasms causes fatigue, but it also brought forth a fulfilling feeling. He expertly rolled her left and right while pleasuring every corner of her body with his tongue. She wasn't able to compare him with any other man nor will she ever have the chance to in the future, but she understood that he was quite skilled at this.

He pleasured her on bed, off the bed, even on top of tables and sofas. Every day he pleasured her in a new ways while supporting her body in various positions. Although the nights were long, she could not feel any aversion to the sensual activities between a man and woman.

At first, she was shocked and thought of him as nothing but a beast. However eventually, she found herself climbing on top of him while bouncing her own hips up and down. Within just a month, he had taught Lucia the joys of sexual pleasure.

She pulled on a rope to call the maids. She washed and changed her clothes. Lucia observed her reflection with strange eyes. The maids behind her had their eyes facing the floor with shy eyes.

Lucia had worn a dress with a low cut neck-line and it revealed many rosy kiss marks. It looked like she had some kind of skin disease. The weather was growing hotter day by day but she had to cover herself up completely. Lucia sighed heavily and spoke.

"… I can't go out like this. Bring me something else. A dress that will completely cover my neck."

"Yes, madam."

The maids moved around busily. Lucia no longer felt embarrassed, she was shameless at this point. If anyone were to be in her situation every morning for a whole month, they would feel the same.

They were newlyweds, it's to be expected. But, it seems everyone around her was surprised that the duke would visit her every night. All the servants had been friendly to start with, but now everyone was serving her in cold sweat. She realized there was nothing more powerful than having a husband's love.

Late morning, Lucia enjoyed tea time on a simple table under the shade at the castle garden. This had been one of her daily tasks.

'What a desolate garden …'

The castle garden was vast and it was filled with nothing but year-round perennials. There wasn't a single flower in sight. One could not witness a speck of orange during autumn. The garden remained in the exact same condition even during winter. This style required less maintenance, but claiming it to be a garden was quite laughable.

'Shall I renovate the garden …?'

Other than Duke of Taran and his son, she was the only other person in the Taran family – the duchess. The duchess was usually the one to take charge in the designs of the castle interiors as well as the garden.

'There's not much else to do …'

Throughout Lucia's stay, she didn't have anything to do. She didn't learn flower arranging to pass the time like other noble women do nor did she have any particular hobbies. She didn't find joy in luxuries such as jewelry and accessories neither so there was no reason for her to shop for them. Every day, she read books for several hours and the remaining time was spent drinking tea and taking light walks.

'I really … feel like a good for nothing.'

One who doesn't work, doesn't deserve to eat. In Lucia's dream, she had lived by these words. When she was the Count's wife she had the job of partaking in parties and make connections with those in high society. On the contrary, if Hugo were to know this, he would have been confused. 'How can you have nothing to do?' In his opinion, though she still had a long way to go, she was fulfilling her role as the duchess very well.

"Madam."

While she wondered whether to start heading in, Jerome interrupted her thoughts. Jerome handed a single envelope to Lucia. Inside, she found a document. She scanned through the sheet of paper with furrowed brows.

"… It's the management of household accounts."

"Yes, Madam. It took some time to draw up a new budget because we never managed it before today."

All noble women who were married had to manage their own household allowances. In the royal palace, the queens and consorts were given allowances for overlooking and managing all the court ladies. Noble women were responsible for managing household living necessities such as the interior design of the house, hiring servants, and organizing parties for various social events.

"Originally, the budget didn't include employment of servants and basic castle maintenance. This is the new regulated budget plan so that you will be able to control all the different aspects."

"The newly calculated budget plan …? How much of this money am I allowed to use? Isn't this money to be applied solely for employment wages and maintenance?"

"There will be gradual changes in the future. Madam, you will be the one who has the responsibility in making decisions on how this money will be spent. As long as it is within the budget, it is up to you how you spend this money."

This place really had become Lucia's very own private property. The amount of money was huge. She could barely count all the zeros that followed the first digit. This budget was extravagant, but Jerome had spoken of this budget as a mere trifling afterthought. As expected for a ducal household, their income is in another level than others.

'So now my life as a leech comes to an end …'

Now that she had been given a job, she had to show satisfactory results. As the prestige of the title of a noble increased, so did their amount of work. It was basic knowledge that the lady of the house was responsible for maintaining the harmony of the household. More importantly, they held the responsibility to support their husbands in the world of nobility.

'Let's start from the garden …'

She didn't have much knowledge on gardening. She had never taken care of a garden back in her dream when she was married to Count Matin. It took a lot of money to maintain a garden and Count Matin didn't wish to waste his money on such things.

When she expressed her intentions, Jerome immediately organized a plan and relayed any of his own tips to her.

This would be the end of her draining mindless days. Today, Lucia ate her dinner alone. Although the ducal couple ate breakfast and lunch on their own time, they usually took the time to eat dinner together. On this day, he had business outside and returned home far past dinner time.

Lucia read books in the private study, took a bath, and dried her wet hair in her bedroom. Usually her maids tended to her, but at this hour was the time he usually frequented her bed chambers.

Click, his grace entered her room by letting himself in. After he had chased away all his attendants, he welcomed himself into her room while wearing a single bath robe. This was also the case for Lucia. She had tied her bathrobe tightly and looked very proper, but underneath she wasn't wearing anything at all. At first, she felt odd, but now this felt natural for her.

He approached Lucia who was in front of her vanity mirror and gave her a back hug while kissing the back of her neck. Lucia closed her eyes while feeling his lips that on her nape. Her body felt faint. Was this what happiness is suppose to feel like? She felt a creeping fear that she would never be able to forget this moment and would live the rest of her life feeling lonely.

"I asked Jerome to deliver you something, did you receive it?"

"Yes. I decided … I wanted to revamp the castle garden."

"The garden?"

"I saw there were no flowers, was that your intentions? Is it okay for me to redesign the garden?"

"The lady of the house had always been in charge of the garden. Do as you please."

"We have to hire a landscape gardener and create a plan before doing anything. We will need to hire a large labor force in the beginning so the castle could become crowded. I don't know if that would irritate you."

Hugo knew nothing about the garden. In the first place, he had no interest in it at all. It was Jerome who thought it looked too pitiful for the garden to be so barren and filled it with vegetation that would need minimal care during all four seasons. He already understood that it would take a lot of labor and money to revamp the garden.

"Is the budget I set aside for you, not enough?"

Hugo took it upon himself to understand Lucia's intentions of bringing up this topic.

"Huh?"

She was shocked. She didn't need more money at all.

"Increasing the budget a significant amount is a bit troublesome. This year's budget was already drafted and your budget for this year was created by taking away money from the provisional budget. But, I will be sure to consider it next year."

The overall budget would be decided by the head of the family. Many times, nobles would go out of their way to ensure a specific percentage of the family budget before marriage. If the married couple are in love, it was correct for the wife to receive a heftier amount than the norm. On the other hand, when a man wishes to divorce his wife, the first thing he would do is try to scrape down his wife's budget as much as he could.

This year's budget division was already decided upon, so he had set aside the largest amount he could manage with what was left over. He already had plans to increase her allowance budget next year.

Lucia's allowed monetary budget was not because she was the duchess. Noble wives would not easily reveal their own personal monetary information due to pride, but if they heard how much Lucia received they would have a hard time believing such a story.

"That's not it. I didn't bring this up for that reason. There are already a lot of people in the castle. I was afraid if I brought in too many people, you would become irritated. I wanted to make sure … renovating the garden wouldn't get in your way …"

"Hundreds of people already travel in and out of Roam. It's not like you will increase the labor force by several thousand folds. It doesn't matter that you bring in a few more. The garden had always been overlooked by the duchess. It doesn't matter if you chop down all the trees or make a huge pond. Do as you wish. You don't need my permission to do such things."

"… I'm not sure between the things I have total freedom and the things I need permission for. What are the limitations to what I can do?"

Lucia stared at him with confused eyes. At this moment, he lifted her up like a princess and laid her onto the bed. While returning her gaze, he softly supported her chin.

"How far do you want to go?"

This was an opportunity. Lucia wasn't dense. This was the exact same situation as when a King would ask their bedside partners, 'What would you like to have?' for love play.

A satisfied man would become lenient and with a bit of coquettish skill, the female would be able to gain much benefits. Most females behaved in this way.

Hugo waited expectantly, wondering what words would come out from her mouth. Her skills were on another level. Up until now, she had never requested anything from him. He had made up his mind that he would agree to anything as long as it was within his power. It would be best if it was something that could be bought with money. Women who were power hungry were no fun.

"I'm asking you because I don't know myself. As you've seen already … nobody had ever taught me any basics nor have I had an opportunity to learn such things. I don't know what a duchess should or should not do. I want to learn."

Lucia had emptied herself of greed from the beginning. No matter how insignificant her greed may appear to be in the beginning, with time that greed would only grow larger. There was no guarantee that she would be showered with wealth the rest of her life just because she was a duchess. As for anything related to money, she didn't wish for a cent more than what she already had. Additionally, she didn't have a single interest with political power.

"A teacher …"

He paused while stroking his chin lost in thought for a moment. This was an unexpected request, one that he should have realized and done for her in the beginning. There were no adults in the Taran family who could become her mentor. Additionally, she never had relatives to guild her as a child either. Of course she could not learn.

"I'll look into it for you."

"Thank you."

A bright smile spread upon Lucia's face. While watching her smile, his own lips unconsciously quirked up. Her smile were always so pure like a child's. She wasn't smiling to seduce him, but whenever he saw her smile his lower half would throb with heat. It was the same at this moment.

He tried his best to distract himself with other government related topics,. but he drew a blank in his mind while attempting to refocus. He remembered all the documents in his personal office waiting for him and was finally able to calm down a little. These days, he felt like a wild animal unable to restrain their natural instincts.

He waited for her to continue speaking but only found silence, so he spoke first.

"And?"

"Huh?"

"Anything else?"

Lucia's eyes grew round, paused for a moment and responded with a negative. He narrowed his eyes slightly while observing her. 'Was she stupid? Doesn't she have any greed? Maybe she is just trying to be sly?'

Thus, Hugo could not believe that Lucia truly didn't wish for anything. Whether the other party was a male or female, many took a step back to advance another three steps.

She looked innocent now, but in a few moments she would be cuddled next to him while chattering her wishes into his ears. Whether it would be related to his powers or money, it was always the case. Up until now, there was nobody he knew who didn't harbor such intentions.

"Is it very tiresome to renovate the garden?"

"I'm not sure because I haven't started yet. I won't be personally planting all the flowers so … it probably won't be too bad."

"The garden. Must you renovate it?"

"I thought you didn't care about the garden."

"I don't care about the garden, I'm worried about you. Don't waste your energy on it. If you have so much energy then you should use it on me."

As his arms wrapped around her hips, Lucia's looked down shyly with flushed cheeks.

"… How do you expect me to expend more energy than now? I feel so embarrassed sleeping into the afternoon everyday."

"What are you embarrassed about? You should be proud."

"… Why should I be proud?"

"You should be proud of your husband's stamina -"

Lucia clamped his mouth shut with her hand and glared as her cheeks gradually glowed redder. He retaliated by licking the palm of her hand, causing her to immediately pull back. However, he caught her hand before she could escape and playfully licked her fingers. His tender kisses caused a strange sensation to climb up her shoulders making Lucia shudder.

Incredibly embarrassed, Lucia used all her strength to wiggle out of his grasp, but she couldn't budge an inch. As if he had the sweetest lollipop in his hand, he lovingly kissed and licked Lucia's fingers.

Lucia became breathless watching him take in her fingers into his mouth. Hugo's red eyes were locked onto Lucia as he observed her every reaction. Lucia felt an electric shock and squirmed while slightly biting her lips.

"Hugh … stop …"

It was embarrassing that she had such sensitive fingers that caused her body to react this way. As soon as Lucia felt the grip around her hand loosen, she pulled away. She tried to escape from him and turned her body, but he was faster. He wrapped his arm around her hips and pulled her into a hug.

Lucia laid her head against his chest as he embraced her. His hand that was on her hips slid up under her gown onto her bare back. Her skin tingled as his fingers traced her back while his other hand squeezed her breasts. He caressed her without holding back causing her to feel embarrassed.

She looked up and met his red eyes. Though his eyes were scarlet, they reflected an icy coldness. He could easily read Lucia and catch her embarrassment and nervousness just by observing her eyes. On the other hand, he didn't feel shy in displaying his desires of her. She felt suffocated being under his gaze so she could never hold his gaze for long.

As soon as Lucia lowered her gaze to avoid him, Hugo gripped her breast a little harder. Her body reacted with a bit of a shock.

She was different from all the women he had been with all this time. It had been very boring. They had screamed as if they had been dying, move their hips in a technical way while flirtatiously giggling. Compared to all his past women, she was reacted half heartedly and in a dull manner.

However, it's not to say that it's a wrong way to behave at all. Every women in this world doesn't need to have the best technical skills. If it were to be true, that would be strange. It was strange how much his body burned like an adolescent boy who had just awoken to their sexual desires. He thirsted for her body so bad.

He continued to massage her soft breast, then after awhile he slid the same hand down to her hips, then massaged the part by her inner legs. Her body trembled slightly in his hold. The tips of his fingers glistened with a slippery substance.

He smugly chuckled. This was what drove him crazy. He only massaged her body slightly but she was already this wet.

The slippery substance that is formed by the woman's body is one of the most important aspects to sex between a man and a woman. All this time that Hugo held Lucia, he had never needed to use extra aphrodisiacs. Her insides were moist like a flowing stream. This smooth feeling could not be compared to when he he needed the aid of extra lubricants.

Upon a kiss, her eyes would become blurred. Just a simple touch and her body would tremble. This past month, her body had become slightly accustomed to him but there were no drastic overall changes. She remained shy like her first time, yet her body reacted hungrily like she thirsted for the body of a man. His member was now several degrees larger and throbbing, he furrowed his brows while holding himself back. He was at his limit.

He lifted her body upright while positioning his leg beneath her buttocks while letting her body float in the air just above where he could thrust up into her. He watched her eyes grow round and penetrated into her weak body just like that.

"Hk!"

He didn't need to work hard for her insides to swallow his member. He liked to kiss and fondle her body before forcing himself into her, but from time to time he liked to thrust himself in without warning – like today as well. Lucia's breath became faster from his sudden attack. He didn't give her time to adjust and began pounding into her.

"Hk! Ah! Ahh! Hh!"

He pounded hard, then lightly. His firm member thrusted into her. The strength behind his pounding caused her body to shake like a weak doll while her voice squeaked out constantly. Whenever he thrusted into the deepest parts of her body a painful yet refreshing feeling dominated her body.

Although her vision blurred, she could see his muscles spasm from stimulation and her chest felt hot. At this moment, she thought how beautiful a man's body was and that it really couldn't compare to any woman's body.

Her pumpkin colored eyes grew hazy as if she was drunk. He gazed upon Lucia who was drunk off sexual euphoria, admiring her. He felt his member throb with heat causing it to grow a degree larger, while her insides squeezed him harder than before.

He licked his drying lips and continued to thrust into her erotic body. Her body was the finest. He couldn't express his true feelings into words. Her insides always threw his sanity off the window.

He let her sit on top of him while he squeezed her buttocks with his hands and pounded into her without holding back. The sound of flesh slapping against one another could be heard while her body continued to shake up and down. He bit onto her breasts that were bouncing up and down, hitting her sensitive nipples and leaving her to mewl while her neck tilted backwards.

He slid his hand up to support her back which was drenched with sweat. Lucia wrapped her arms around his neck and let him pound his engorged member into her as much as he wanted while she tried her best to to regulate her erratic breathing. Whenever he thrusted up from below she felt a hot sensation fill her body.

He untangled her arms from his neck and lifted her from below to flip her body around. She was positioned to sit on his lap while her back leaned against his chest. He was able to thrust up with much ease and power while Lucia yelped and gasped much louder.

"Hk! Uk! Ah! Hugh! Un!"

When Lucia let his name slip from her lips, he bit her ear lobe and started to suck on them.

"More. Cry harder."

"Hk … ung!"

He gripped onto her breast while supporting her back with his chest and bit down on her neck. She screamed from the pain and sensual pleasure. His tongue smoothly licked on the sore spot of her neck. She felt her body float up for a moment and soon she was laid flat on the bed while her butt was positioned upright in the air. Without any warning, he thrusted into her.

"Ah!"

He pummeled into her from behind with vigor. Whenever their sweaty skin made contact it reverberated with a lewd wet sound. Lucia gripped onto the bed sheets and tightly closed her eyes feeling her insides sing every time he thrusted into her. Her head, which rested sideways, rubbed against the sheets as he pounded into her.

"Uk … Hugh … aau …"

Whenever she called his name, rather than his lower half, it felt like his heart was being squeezed to death. The painful pleasure overtook his body and he closed his eyes. He held onto her arm to steady her body while he continued to thrust inside of her.

The thrusting motion from behind hit deeper. It was straining for her because he didn't give her a moment to rest. Regardless of her fatigue, her body continued to burn with pleasure.

"Hk!"

Pleasure flooded into her. A strong wave of orgasmic pleasure spasmed across her whole body while her insides squeezed and sucked in his thrusting member. He momentarily paused his movement, letting her breathe. But he didn't assume anything.

He pulled out his member and flipped her limp body around so that she could lay on her back. His body rode on top of Lucia's and entered into her at once.

"Uuk!!"

Her insides had become very sensitive and her body spasmed. He smashed her lips against hers. He massaged the inside of her mouth while tangling together with her tongue. The short but deep kiss ended and he moved his hips in a circular motion, prodding into various places while Lucia's body gladly slurped in his member with great joy.

"Haa … hha …"

Hugo brushed back the hair that was stuck on her sweaty forehead. He licked her flushed cheeks tasting the slightly salty and sweet taste of her body.

As if he was slowly paddling a boat, he spun his hips with steady breaths. Lucia's lips were swollen red and parted slightly, he took this chance to kiss her. It seems all these past few months of teaching did not go to waste as she took the initiative to tightly wrap her legs around his hips while she moved her own hips along with his movements.

Different than before, he moved in the slowest possible way. Her insides had become hypersensitive and the slightest movements caused her body to throb. Lucia's breath grew raspy as she gazed toward him.

His eyes were slightly warped in meeting her gaze. He grasped her swelling breasts while squeezing her nipples. He enjoyed making Lucia's body jerk and tremble.

"Do you find this place comfortable?"

"… Huh?"

"This place. Have you gotten comfortable yet?"

"Yes."

He would ask her questions occasionally so as to hear her voice from time to time. It wasn't that she feared him or felt distrust towards him but, she never took the initiative to come closer to him. This part was starting to bother him a little.

"It will be troublesome if you get too comfortable. When we finish all the jobs of the dukedom we have to return to the capital."

The capital.

It awoke Lucia from her sensual haze. Her body that was burning up chilled down at once.

Next year, the emperor will die and the crown prince will accede onto the throne. The Crown Prince and the Duke of Taran had maintained close ties. It was a strong partnership rather than one of loyalty and subordination.

When the Crown Prince accedes, the Duke of Taran must obey all commands. That would be the end of the regular peaceful days.

She assumed she would meet the Duke of Taran's original wife by then as well. It had been known that the Duke of Taran had a contractual marriage, but he had never personally confirmed the rumors.

It could be that Lucia had misunderstood and all the rumors were false. Maybe the two people were deeply in love. Lucia always kept in mind that she was in debt to them. She dreaded that she might have forced a precious love apart.

A strong force took hold of her chin, breaking her away from her thoughts. He watched her with a dissatisfied expression. He thrusted up smoothly making her lose her breath. He gazed deeply toward Lucia while propping both her legs on top of his shoulders.

"You have the leisure to think of other things right now?"

Hugo growled in a low voice and began thrusting his hips. He wondered what she could be thinking to look so sad, he felt irritated by the idea that it was probably something unrelated to himself. However, he didn't understand why this made him feel irritated nor did he try to understand the reason.

***

A few days later, Hugo spoke while they were eating dinner.

"Tomorrow, the Countess of Corzan will be visiting."

Lucia was thrown back by the sudden announcement.

"Do you have anything planned for tomorrow?"

The nature of someone who sets up plans and then asks if you're free was irritating, but anyway Lucia's day to day had become repetitive so she nodded without complaint.

"Should I prepare anything for our guest?"

She had paused for a moment waiting for more details on tomorrow's event, but he didn't look like he would explain further so Lucia took the initiative to ask.

"She is the mentor you requested for before. Whether you treat her as a guest or not is up to you."

"… Yes."

He was such an unfriendly man. His expression was stoic and his words short. He never said much in the first place, nor does he go out of his way to explain any of his words and reasonings. Still, it was interesting how he would patiently answer every question she asked him.

'I should ask Jerome of the details later.'

Jerome should have information on the Countess of Corzan. Jerome didn't easily reveal information, but he shared short snippets and episodes of the duke. Lucia inquired of Hugo's past before in passing conversations and eventually she collected enough information to understand Hugo's nature.

Her findings — he treated all his subordinates in an equally unfriendly manner. Don't even start, he hates such a thing as explaining himself.

'He'll be irritated if I continue to pester him with questions on this matter.'

She drastically reduced her words around him while bottling her own criticisms inside her heart. Hugo snuck a glance toward Lucia who was drinking her tea calmly without a single expression of uneasiness.

It would be okay if it was just a slight degree more, but he wished her small lips would utter more words. She had chattered quite a bit their first night together, but after he asked her to be quiet and sleep that side of her completely disappeared.

"… Countess of Corzan is the current Earl of Corzan's mother. To be exact, she is the Dowager Countess."

He wished to continue talking so he had no choice but proactively break the ice once again. He began to speak.

"Her title, the Countess of Corzan is an honorary title. The countess is considered the god mother of the high society nobles. At a young age, she lost her husband. Even so, she did not re-marry and continued to protect the Corzan family's earldom by raising her children by herself."

"Ah … what an amazing person."

"Many noble families wish for their children to learn the ways of nobility."

"Is it okay to request for such an amazing person so suddenly like this? She should already have her hands full …"

"There should be no higher honor than being a vassal that obtained the position of a teacher under a ducal household."

The Earl of Corzan was the Duke's subordinate, but that didn't make the Earl's mother his direct subordinate. Yet, Hugo spoke of this in an arrogant manner, leaving her speechless. She continued to watch him and wondered how she was able to meet such an outrageous man. Gradually, her feelings swelled to one of pride.

'It couldn't be … he shouldn't be such a childish person …'

Lucia had been defining him as a perfect adult. Whenever he threw a joke or crept by her side to touch her, she passed it off thinking it was because he was a player.

"I see. Thank you. This was only possible because I am the Duke's wife."

"You're thankful only with your words?"

"… I beg your pardon?"

Hugo waved his hand, Jerome quickly took notice and hurried to leave together with all the maids and footmen.

As soon as the two were able to be alone in the dining hall, he stood up from his seat and approached Lucia who looked to be confused and in shock. He trapped Lucia's movements by placing his hands on the arms of the chair Lucia was seated in and drew closer to her.

"The Countess of Corzan is not easily moved, whether you fly or dance she is a picky one. She is very particular. Whether you try to get involved with her son for three months or ten days, she will not blink once."

"Then how did you convince her?"

"There's no need to know the details, I just put in that much effort for you."

What did he want her to do? From time to time, she couldn't read his mind at all. Did he wanted to be praised, 'You're amazing!'? Does she need to be honored while feeling grateful?

Lucia hesitated for a moment, then she slightly raised her body and lightly pressed her lips onto his. Her answer was nearly correct, but not quite. He stared at Lucia as if he was boring a hole into her forehead, then the corner of his lips quirked up.

"Just this?"