He was not Kristoff Schneider, the best lawyer in the capital at that moment.
He was just a fool who frayed his nerves on Marianne’s every move.
He forgot that fact for a moment.


Kristoff straightened his crossed legs and his back.
A glint of conspicuousness suddenly flashed through his eyes.


“Marianne, do you know how much it costs me to work on a case?”




“It doesn’t look like they can afford me.
Don’t tell me you want me to do free volunteer work?”


Marianne looked down blankly.
She knew better than anyone else that her request was shameless.


Kristoff’s voice became sweet as though coaxing a mere child.


“And what if I lose? What if my career got ruined even when we do it with good intentions? No matter how high my reputation is, it only takes a moment to fall, Marianne.
This is clearly a battle where the prosecutor takes the upper hand.
I’ll be a laughing stock to them.”


“……I’m sorry.
Just pretend you didn’t hear it.”


“So what are you going to do for me?”




Marianne slowly raised her head at his sudden remark.
Kristoff was looking at her with a deep gaze.
As if a beast hunting its prey.


“If I take that risk and defend Pauk, what are you going to do for me, Marianne?”




There was a glimmer of hope on Marianne’s face.
But it did not remain long before it turned into disappointment.


She was obstinately quiet.
Kristoff didn’t say anything either.
Heavy silence dawned upon them.


It wasn’t long before Marianne finally moved her lips first.
The winner of this silent battle was Kristoff.
His lips formed a smirk.


“As long as you don’t demand that I come back again.”




“So, I can do anything for you except coming back.”


“All right.”


Kristoff nodded readily.
Marianne surprisingly seemed pleased enough with the agreement.
She finally came to a realization that she had fallen into Kristoff’s trap.


He slowly cornered Marianne as though hunting a fox.
Leaving only one place to escape.
Marianne walked gracefully into the trap he had dug.
He didn’t mean to tell Marianne to come back.
He coveted something else.


Revealing that he caught her in his ulterior motives through his expression, Kristoff drew a subtle smirk by pulling up the corners of his mouth.
Perhaps, if Marianne was a little composed, she would never have been caught in his trap.
After all, she was smart and wise.


Scheme and compassion.


Marianne, encroached by her humane emotions, didn’t know what he was up to and seemed quite pleased.
Kristoff looked at his deep subdued eyes and whispered softly.


“Spare me your day.”




Marianne couldn’t answer hastily.
That day.
As though she was quite fearing what would unfold on the day he requested for and what he would earn from her.


Kristoff knew why she was having a hard time.
He added furthermore, acting as a lawyer making his final defense.


“I don’t know if it will help you to come to a decision, but let me tell you, it’s never a losing trade with me.
I’m a much more competent lawyer than you think, Marianne.”


At that moment.




Marianne burst into laughter at his confident attitude.


Her eyes widened, and her lips curled up gently.
A low laugh came out like a wave and broke out in his ears.




At the same time, Kristoff’s face was bare of any expression.
He looked at her smile with a strange gaze as if seeing something unusual.


Was Marianne the person who laughed that way? She looked so ethereal to the point where the surrounding scenery immediately escaped out of his sight.


Kristoff, who was used to seeing her quiet smile, realized at that moment what he had taken away from her.


Marianne Kloze.


He had taken that side of her from herself.


Back in college, Marianne was a woman who easily burst into laughter.
She got angry and shed tears as easily as turning over her palm.
She was always present at the scene of an accident where people gathered in a circle.


However, at some point, he didn’t see her showing her feelings anymore.
He got used to her masking her expression just like Kristoff.


D*mn it.


Strong enough to stick out the bones.
Kristoff clenched his lower jaw as though enduring the rising emotion.
His face stiffened.
He slowly clenched his hands.


Marianne, who realized that she just laughed, bit her lips in blank dismay after seeing Kristoff’s expression.


He managed to smack his lips.
A very small voice slipped out through his lips, which was unlike him at all.


“Yes, maybe this is the time we need.”


Faint whispers could barely be caught by Marianne’s ear.
She cast a questioning glance to him, but Kristoff took the cup of coffee to his mouth instead of answering.


The bitter smile on his lips went down through his throat along with the bitter coffee.


“You’ve always been wiser than me.
You’re right again this time, Marianne.”


It was when Marianne seemed more curious of him than ever before.


“I’m sorry to interrupt, sir and madam.”


The manager approached them with an embarrassed look on his face.
Kristoff’s gaze shifted very slowly in an agonizing way toward him.
As if he expressed his visibly unpleasant feeling upon the man’s interruption between their time.


Every time he did so, Marianne thought of a predator.
A predator who cornered its prey slowly, not a mere small animal that runs away quickly.
He was someone at the top of the food chain.


The manager, who flinched at the sight, spoke up while trying hard to mutter his most polite speech.


“I sincerely apologize, but our staff seems to have guided you to the reserved seats.
We won’t charge you for the coffee, so I’d appreciate it if you could leave the seats.”


Though his attitude was nothing short of politeness, it was a clear spurn.
Marianne swept her eyes around the place.
The hall was only about half full.
There were vacant seats everywhere.

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