The process for the bath was pretty much the same as usual, except that Leah clung to me more. I gently held her in my arms and did my best to not look at Veirya, who was in front of me with her perfect and sensual body right in sight; else, Leah would definitely feel something in this direction.
Leah was currently standing on my thighs. Despite there being a thin layer of water between us, I could still feel her small feet on my thighs. Her smooth and supple skin on my skin caused me to become numb.
Leah had her hands placed on my shoulders as she cheerfully treaded in the water, thereby stepping on my thigh. Besides the ticklish sensation coming from my thigh, I could also feel the water splashing into my leg.
‘I seriously wish Leah would stop treading in water…’
Veirya’s ankle rubbed against my adductors. She didn’t signal anything or notice anything. She was probably ignorant about this sort of thing, which was why I didn’t feel that I was in a position to mention anything.
That was when Veirya, who was scrubbing herself with a sponge, suddenly spoke up, “What do you think about what I previously said?”
At first, I couldn’t discern who she was speaking to right away. I looked at her, feeling somewhat surprised. Veirya looked at me and seriously elaborated, “I’m talking about. What I previously mentioned. The matter about being a husband.”
Veirya wore a very serious expression. She wasn’t joking.
‘If it was somebody else who said that, I’d consider it their joke, but I know that Veirya is absolutely serious. The issue is that this serious joke is impossible to play along with.’
I blankly looked at her. I was slightly stupefied.
‘What’s this supposed to be considered? Is this Veirya’a proposal or what…? It doesn’t seem to be a proposal; neither does it seem to be a discussion of some sort, so what is it…? How am I supposed to answer? What does she hope my answer to be? What does Leah want my answer to be?’
“Wait, wait, wait. Veirya, do you understand what that means?” I gulped my saliva. I looked at Veirya while feeling slightly panicked. I did my best to calm my mind down to allow myself to think of what to say next. I looked at her and explained, “A marriage isn’t something you just casually speak of. It affects your entire life. Veirya, marriage isn’t a joke.”
Veriya looked at me with a serious look. She replied, “It doesn’t matter to me.”
“I… I still can’t accept it.”
I looked at Veirya.
Though she initiated the proposal, and it should be something very exciting for me, she doesn’t know what the significance of marriage is. Furthermore, once she does find out what it means, she probably won’t comment. She’ll probably just continue living in peace, I’d assume.
‘But that counts as being tricked, right? Taking advantage of another’s ignorance is a form of trickery. Though I lie and take advantage of incorrect information et cetera to obtain what I want, I have never cheated anybody. What’s more, when I look into Veirya’s eyes, I can’t bring myself to trick her. I don’t want to trick her into marrying me. What’s this sort of thinking considered? Do I not bear to lie to her, or can’t I get over my conscience’s hurdle?’
‘Perhaps it’s because I’m unaware of my own feelings. I’m not sure if I truly love Veirya or not. I’ve never been in love, so I don’t know what my true feelings are. Is it really a good idea for Veirya and I to get together this way? Moreover, can Leah accept it?’
Veirya shook her head, “I don’t mind. There’s no difference to me.”
Leah looked at me. She nervously grabbed my hair, and then exclaimed, “Papa, what are you two talking about?! What are you two discussing?!”
“No, Veirya. If the marriage can’t bring about a blissful change to somebody’s life through marrying them, it’s a fraud.” I solemnly shook my head. I looked at Veirya and continued, “Marriage is a very important matter. If we don’t sincerely love each other, then that makes it a lie fraught with ill-will.”
Veirya placed down the sponge in her hand and suddenly raised her leg to step onto my chest, thereby preventing me from running. She seriously asked, “What. Is love? What exactly. Is love? Queen Sisi once said that what she wanted was love, but I couldn’t comprehend it. What exactly is. This thing called love? Why was my father unwilling to leave when he was on the brink of death? Because he loved that woman? What exactly is love? Are my feelings for Leah considered love?”
Leah looked at Veirya; Leah was flustered and at a loss. She appeared to perceive that Veirya’s love was too burdensome for her to bear. Veirya firmly pressed her foot to my chest, thereby firmly planting me to the bathtub. She stared at me with an absolutely serious look. She seemed to really want to know the answer to her question.
I replied honestly, “I don’t know, either. Everybody has a different way of interpreting it. Humans are capable of comprehending what love is. Veirya, love is a human instinct. Nobody can understand what love is defined as, but you will learn what it is with time.”
Veirya looked at me with a hint of slight disbelief, but she didn’t voice it. Instead, she silently moved her foot off my chest. Panicked, Leah looked at the spot Veirya just had her foot on. She quickly rubbed it with her small hand.
Needless to say, I felt it was quite soothing…
“So, you refuse, then.”
Veirya stood up from the water and picked up the towel by the side. I looked at her perfect body. I honestly started to regret my decision, since there was no man who could resist against that sexy body of hers. She looked at me and stepped out of the tub without any expression as per usual. She then went to one side to get dressed.
With Leah in my arms, I scrubbed her body. Leah stood in front of me and generously allowed me to scrub her body. At the same time, she looked at Veirya with a tinge of displeasure. Veirya stopped speaking after talking about that stuff. She went to sit at the dining table after she got dressed.
Veirya probably just wanted to get Leah to call her ‘Mom’.
Leah grabbed my arm. She looked at me and coquettishly said, “Papa, I’m a little tired now. How about we head up to sleep?”
Usually, I’d take Leah up to sleep now, but this time, I had a random feeling of reluctance and sympathy for Veirya when I looked at her sitting at the table. Veirya’s expression remained the same; her gaze was void of emotion. She just sat there looking at the lines on the table in silence. She didn’t make a single sound. As a matter of fact, not even her breathing could be heard. She just silently sat there and listened to the slowly crackling flame behind her.
I wasn’t sure if it was because the flame was too loud or what, but I felt that the view of Veirya’s back made her look particularly lonely and empty. Her emotionless eyes looked evidently deep to the point that no light could be seen in them.
‘What… am I thinking about? Why do I… feel that Veirya is lonely?’
‘But does Veirya truly feel that she’s very lonely?”