“If Lady wants to continue your studies, you can.”
“…Please call me Rosalyn.”
Jerome couldn’t resist the urge to confess his feelings right away when he saw her flushed cheeks, who hadn’t even tasted alcohol.
“Rosalyn, what a beautiful name.”
“Rosalyn, have you ever thought that universal gravitation might exist between people?”
Rosalyn tilted her head when the man, who was a doctor of humanities but also well-versed in science, asked about the very basic laws of physics.
“Yes, of course, it is. Because universal gravitation is the physical attraction that exists between all objects with mass.”
“I think Rosalyn’s gravitational force is greater than the moon.”
Rosalyn was speechless at the strange words.
‘Did he just say that I’m fat?’
Because gravity was proportional to mass, however, Rosalyn wasn’t fat. She was skinny. She gave the doctor a look of bewilderment, and he continued by gently curving his lips.
“I keep getting attracted to Rosalyn.”
The next moment, her face heated up as soon as she realized that it was a flirtation, not an insult. Oh my god. He was the first man to flirt with scientific theories.
Rosalyn, who suppressed her pounding heart, opened her words with a more firm tone.
“Dr. Winston, I’ll pretend I didn’t hear you…”
“Then, I will confess whenever I see you with different theories and laws each time.”
“Doctor, I am the one who will marry your brother. I thought the doctor was good for today, but this is immoral…”
The man suddenly pulled over next to a dark wall and turned to Rosalyn.
“What are you doing?”
“Rosalyn, don’t deny it. I know you are attracted to me, too.”
He pointed to the geology book Rosalyn had on her lap. It was the book she had borrowed from Winston on her last visit. Occasionally she would call him with a question though all of them were childish excuses.
“Doctor, these feelings pass like a cold.”
“If it’s a cold named Rosalyn, I want to suffer it for the rest of my life.”
Jerome decided to push forward even more aggressively when Rosalyn admitted her feelings, comparing them to a cold.
“Since you are telling the truth, I am telling you the truth. Leon Winston will never see you as a woman.”
“…How can you be sure of that?”
“This is a secret no one knows, but I will only tell Rosalyn. My older brother is a pitiful human being who is still in love with his first love, who briefly passed by ten or so years ago.”
Jerome did not give up despite the unwavering reply.
“Do you want to be a supporting character in a third-rate melodrama starring Leon Winston and an unknown woman? You can have your own cinematic love, so why waste your life like that?”
“…There’s no way I won’t get caught.”
As Rosalyn’s heart began to shake, Jerome whispered, leaning closer to him.
“I know my brother well. He’s the kind of person who, knowing our relationship, will think it’s all right because he had passed on a burdensome duty, rather than feeling betrayed. Do you want to spend your whole life staring at a man who considers you a burdensome duty?”
He slowly reached Rosalyn’s cheek.
“A man who sees you as a stone and a man who cherishes you as a diamond. The answer is obvious. The answer is in your heart, not in your head.”
Rosalyn turned her head just as the fingertips were about to touch her flushed cheeks.
“Don’t you feel remorse for doing this to your brother’s wife-to-be?”
Jerome smiled wide at the mention of remorse. Had his older brother heard this, he would have laughed just as well.
“Winston is born with greed where conscience should be.”
He then lowered his head, gripping his pitiful face for having a useless conscience.
“…And I want you.”
Rosalyn knew she could shake him off, but she did nothing. The moment his lips parted, all she did was close her eyes. He didn’t give her a chance to feel guilty for the first bad thing she’d ever done in her life.
When Jerome’s glasses hit Rosalyn’s face, the two burst into a shy laugh.
“Is this your first time?”
She took off his glasses and whispered as the confident man blushed inappropriately and nodded his head.
“It’s my first time, too.”
The lips parted again.
The two shared a kiss for a long time as if exploring an unknown field before separating. After kissing, what kind of words should they say and what kind of expression should they make? Rosalyn was clueless. She awkwardly looked away, but Jerome spoke first.
“It’s sweeter than 3.14.”
Rosalyn, who blinked at the unfamiliar words again, suddenly realized the meaning and clapped her hands.
She forgot the awkwardness in an instant and laughed out loud. Jerome asked with eager eyes at the only woman who understood and laughed at his joke.
“Can I see you tomorrow, Rosalyn?”
Rosalyn nodded her head willingly.
“Call me Rosie.”
Three in the morning. When everyone was asleep, though the orderly who had to keep an eye on Grace was unable to sleep.
In the morning, there was a sound of chatter in the hallway. The soldier guarding the door and the soldier standing guard from beyond the corner could not bear the boredom and stayed up all night chatting.
As usual today, indistinct voices began to be heard outside the door, and Grace got up from the bed. When she put her eyes to the keyhole of the iron door, the chair the soldier on duty was supposed to be sitting on was empty. He must have been behind a corner not seen here.
Grace muffled her footsteps and headed for the bathroom. Three of the cheap vertical panels on the inside wall were removed to reveal a grayish concrete wall.
There was a large hole at her feet.
People say that when people are desperate, they show superhuman strength. What she thought would take another month, she did in four days.
Grace set the panel aside and crouched down. Even the rebars that had been entangled like a net were neatly cut out, and the hole was large enough for her to pass through with her shoulder correctly aligned easily.
Beyond this wall was a warehouse. Grace slowly pushed the basket that had covered the other side with her hand and put her hand and head into the hole.
Compared to the humiliation she had suffered in the past, crawling on the floor like an animal was not even an axis of humiliation. Crumpling her shoulders and barely pulling her out of the warehouse, her body got stuck in the hole.
Grace twisted her upper body and grumbled in his head.
‘This useless flesh is holding me back.’
She deliberately lost weight to make it easier to escape, but her chest was the same even though everything else had lost weight.
‘I can’t even cut it off.’
Grace twitched the corner of her mouth at the sudden strange thought.
‘I’m sure he’ll like it if I leave him a piece of my breast.’
After putting her weight on her chest and twisting her body dozens of times, She was able to pass. Before she could catch a breath, Grace twisted her hips and stood up against the wall.
Beyond the keyhole, the dimly lit hallway was still empty. She can only hear mumbling voices from somewhere.
She grabbed the doorknob and turned it slightly. Grace, who peered through the crack in the slowly opening door and then only her head out to look around, double-checked that no one was there and quickly went out into the hallway.
As soon as she quietly closed the door, she walked cautiously with only her toes, and the place Grace headed was a dead end.
The laundry chute. It was her only way out.
She opened the entrance door that looked like a door, squeezed herself into the cramped space next to the basket, and closed the door. Grace started preparing to pass through the next gate, relying on the faint light leaking in from the crack in the floor.
As she took off the shoes she was wearing on her bare feet and tied them with laces, and hung them around her neck, she didn’t forget to tuck them inside her cardigan so that it wouldn’t make any noise from bumping into it.
It wasn’t enough to tie her hair up with the straps and roll up her sleeves up to her shoulders, and when she was ready, Grace rolled up her skirt and tucked it into her bloomers before stepping over the basket full of laundry.
As she crouched over the basket, she stretched out her hand into the darkness where she couldn’t even see her own hand, and the cold iron plate touched her hand. The laundry chute was quite wide.
A grown man could not pass, but a thin woman could easily pass.
Feeling the place to determine its size, Grace slowly stood up.
How long had it been since she started climbing up the chute with her body pressed against the cold invisible wall in a chair-like posture?
‘When will the first floor come out?’
Grace was gradually losing strength. It took a long time to climb carefully so as not to advertise that she was escaping to the building where the iron plate that went all the way to the top floor had sounded. In addition, her legs were quivering because he had been harassing her until late at night today as well.
‘…Just a little more, a little more.’
In addition, the smoothly welded pipe, without a single nail or bump to prevent falling laundry from getting caught, was slippery.
‘This is your last chance, Grace. If you fail now, you will be locked up forever.’
It was when she gritted her teeth and groped for the smooth iron plate.
Her wet feet slipped in a cold sweat.
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