“That’s not a reason for why I should marry you. If I have to marry, It won’t matter who my partner is.”
“But will any other person do the same?”
Caught off-guard, Kyle shut his mouth. Certainly, Kyle wouldn’t mind who his partner is but the person who will be the Duchess would.
Is there anything more miserable and treacherous than having the person you marry to have someone else in his heart?
And if the wife knew it was Countess Harden, it could become dangerous for her(Countess) as well.
I took a deep breath and relaxed my stiff face.
“Your Grace, I have nowhere to go.”
Kyle’s cold eyes scanned me from foot to head. He chuckled at me with murky eyes. It was a face for the eyes to appreciate.
“I don’t have a home anymore.”
“What does that mean?”
“I lost touch with my brother, and my father is addicted to gambling. There’s nothing left in the family. Soon, As long as someone gives him money, he would even sell me.”
“Just get to the point.”
I take a long breath.
“Be my place to run to. And I’ll help Your Grace to hide his feelings.”
I’ll be your shade. As I said my words, his misty, turbid eyes glanced up and down. Soon after, he twisted his lips in a sarcastic smile.
“Nevertheless…I’ll do it”
“I thought you loved me.”
Though his tone was sarcastic, his words were true.
I didn’t get caught, I slowly raised my eyes to look at him.
“You must be under a lot of pressure since you’re at an age when you should be getting married.”
rumoursCountess chose to stay with the Harden family rather than remarry. I won’t dwell on it and just stay silent.”
“I don’t think it’s a bad deal.”
My suggestion means that it’s okay not to do all your Obligations and duties if you can’t. He opened his mouth wearily as if he had finished thinking.
“The only purpose is a haven?”
At Kyle’s question, I blinked and panicked. Is the reason that I need shelter and a shield not enough as to why I would want to marry Kyle.
Biting her lips, I escaped the crisis by giving the first reason I could think of.
“No, there’s one more thing. My father, most likely, will not let me, the head of the family, rest. If you give me financial support, he would probably let me go easily.”
Thank god. Rather than asking for nothing, making material demands will relinquish his doubts.
Kyle covered his mouth with his hand and looked at me carefully. Under his sharp gaze, my fingertips felt numb. His eyes scanned me as if trying to figure out what kind of person I was.
After a long time, Kyle gave a cold look and burst into laughter with a gap in his beautiful hands. He seemed to have found the situation hilarious.
“I was expecting a pretty interesting story, but it is cliché”
“I don’t know where you heard those false rumours, but you better be careful.”
“If I hear about a scandal, I’ll think you’re the source.”
In the end, this is how it ends. I knew it wouldn’t work. I chewed my lips and pressed my palm with my other hand. It was an act of self-blame.
Kyle stared at me indifferently and raised his eyebrows in an attractive manner. He looked at me with a lack of interest while talking to me.
“Why, that’s right, isn’t it?”
“If it’s interesting enough, people would even listen to dogs barking.”
Kyle’s monotonous voice seemed to pierce my chest with a dagger. I lowered my gaze and stared at his feet. Maybe this was the last time I could see Kyle, but I had no confidence to endure his grim face.
“That’s enough, Go back”
I gathered all my remaining courage and looked him in the eyes. As Kyle continued to look at me with ennui*I kept my eyes wide open to stop myself from crying.
My father was always under the influence of alcohol. It’s always been that way for as long as I can remember. Sometimes, he would hit my brother, but not me. The reason being that I had brown hair and eyes that resembled my mother.
When my father went out, he always returned drunk—with ragged clothes, caved in cheeks, and hollowed eyes. It was no longer possible to distinguish whether he was a commoner or a nobleman by his appearance alone.
We managed to pay off Father’s debts by selling the estate and mansions owned by the family. After all of the employees were dismissed, all of the housework fell on me.
From then on, there was nothing I didn’t do for a living, and the job I received the most for was sewing.
With the introduction of Lady Zeveron, I became acquainted with the Madame of a famous boutique in the capital. She would send me the fabric, and I would work by sewing jewellery and buttons on it; I didn’t have to talk to anyone or waste my emotions, so it was a good fit for me. My skills were good, so I was able to get a lot of work through Madame’s word of mouth.
It was because of this that I was able to attend the funeral. The first clothes I worked on were the funeral clothes of a baroness, a vassal of the Count Harden family.
When I was anxious that something might go wrong with the clothes I made. The boutique owner told the baroness, who then suggested we attend the funeral together since I was also a noblewoman.
Initially, I felt uneasy about attending, but the baroness assured me and mentioned that it was a day for all people of the Empire to mourn for the knights who died in the war.
Looking back, I shouldn’t have gone there.
For the first time in my life, I had yearned for something so much.
My brother always wondered why I was never greedy. He used to say he’d never met a child like me who didn’t desire anything in life. He told me he pitied me because he thought it was because I grew up too early.
I felt I could answer that now. ‘No, brother. It’s not that I’m not greedy, but because I didn’t find what I wanted enough to be greedy.’
And I wanted to tell him. For the first time, I finally had something I wanted. No, not something. Someone. A man.
I came to my senses when I accidentally pricked my finger while sewing absentmindedly. The sharp needle’s tip scratched my knuckles. When I saw the blood pooling through the torn skin, I naturally took it to my mouth.
I had gotten used to sewing and wounds were rare, but recently, mistakes were frequent. Maybe after that day, I had been out of my mind. I removed my hand from my mouth and looked down at the sewing on my thigh despondently.
“I knew, beforehand, it wouldn’t work.”
Even though I knew it, I gathered all the courage I had. It was my first and last chance.
Over the past year, the days of cherishing Kyle had continued. I yearned for him, unable to sew, eat or sleep.
Every night something hot rose in my heart. It was more painful because there was no way to approach someone who didn’t even know my name, let alone my face.
Every time I looked in the mirror, I felt that our paths would never cross again.
Every time I realized the difference in our status and that I couldn’t dare to reach him. I resented my situation.
The only thing I could do was help the florist pick the freshest flowers and carefully package them when the florist sent them to the Duke of Herace. Even though I knew that they were for the Countess of Harden.
How can I get to him? Even when I tried to think, I couldn’t get an answer. I thought I would die from all these thoughts.
And then, one day,
‘The delivery man can’t come, I think I’ll have to go myself.’
At the florist’s words, my heart jumped out. Even before thinking words came out of my mouth.
“I-I can go!”
As I was preparing the flowers I was going to deliver to the Duke, I thought to myself that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If I missed this opportunity, I might never see him again.
I thought I should do just about anything I can. Even if that makes him despise me and turn a blind eye to me.
The reason I asked him for the signing of a contract without revealing my feelings was simple.
It was because it was clear that if I approached Kyle with such emotions, He would have lost interest and driven me away.
He was postponing his marriage even though his beloved woman was in the spotlight. There were rumours that he did not interact with any family, causing people to question him, sometimes even saying that he liked men.
When he appeared in public at the Emperor’s call, he always faced straight ahead with an unsmiling face.
He didn’t even take a look at the ladies who were staring at him in awe. That alone was enough to tell me how unwavering his heart was.
So I proposed a contract marriage.
I thought it wouldn’t matter as long as I could stay by Kyle’s side. No, I wasn’t that pure if I dug inside myself.
I had a shallow hope that as time passed and Kyle’s unwavering heart weakened and wore out, he would look at me, who had always been by his side.
“Even that was of no use now.”
I spat out in an insipid voice and turned my gaze to stare at the pile of work on my desk. I have no time to indulge in self-pity or contemplation over this.
ennui*-a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement.