Chapter 1. I was abandoned by my family
Leticia was spending a peaceful afternoon, basking in the warm sunshine as usual when she heard the rumbling of a carriage outside. As the sound got closer, she realized that its destination was here.
When she went outside, Leticia saw the carriage had the crest of the Imperial family. The emperor’s messenger stepped out of the carriage, and approached with a large package.
“It’s a gift prepared for you by His Imperial Majesty.”
As Leticia was wondering about the sudden present, she belatedly recalled a memory of the past.
[I’ll send you a congratulatory gift when you get married.]
‘I guess it’s that present.’
In reality, she’d completely forgotten. She carefully opened the gift while thinking about whether she deserved to receive it.
It was a diamond statue of a pair of birds that symbolizes harmony between a couple. There was also a letter inside the box that read, ‘I wish you peace and happiness in the future.’
“Can you wait a moment?”
Leticia asked for understanding from the messenger, and quickly returned to the mansion to write a reply. She wrote that she was honored to receive such a valuable gift, and said that she’d visit in person to express her gratitude.
After the messenger received her reply letter and left in the carriage, Leticia checked the gift once again.
‘Come to think of it, it’s my birthday soon.’
Maybe it was because she’d been so happy lately, time seemed to fly by.
‘How did I spend my last birthday?’
Leticia searched her most recent memories, then smiled bitterly. She realized that she’d never even heard the words ‘Happy Birthday’ during the time with her family, let alone received a gift.
‘At that time, I thought everything was a luxury.’
Now, she had expectations that she would at least receive congratulatory messages.
Perhaps if they didn’t know when her birthday was, they’d have no choice but to congratulate her in person. She felt a little shy and embarrassed about telling them that it was her birthday, but she was greedy to hear ‘happy birthday’ from the people precious to her.
She was about to tell them it was birthday like she wanted, but strangely everyone was busy and left their seats after they told her they would talk about it later. However, in the evening, everyone went back to their rooms with a tired look. So, she was unable to tell them that it was her birthday soon.
In the end, Leticia tried to hide her disappointment as she laid down on the table a day before her birthday.
“Why are you so down?”
“Is it that obvious?”
She’d tried to hide it, but it seemed it was revealed.
Leticia raised her head slightly off the table, lowered her gaze, and told Keena.
“It’s my birthday tomorrow.”
In a weak voice she told Keena that it was her birthday the next day. Keena easily heard her, and said with a purposefully bright smile.
“Then I should prepare a birthday present for you.”
“No, you just have to congratulate me.”
“I don’t care how much it costs, I’m going to get you a present since it’s your birthday.”
Leticia tried to stop her, but Keena just shook her head, so Leticia just smiled wryly.
“I’m grateful for anything that you give me.”
“You can look forward to it, Leticia.”
For a moment, she didn’t understand what she was saying, so Leticia tilted her head to the side. As soon as their eyes met, the corners of Keena’s mouth slowly lifted up, and Leticia’s face immediately began to redden.
“You’re going to give me a weird gift again!”
“Strange gift? Oh, that one.”
Keena, who had a confused look for a moment, belatedly remembered and shrugged. It seemed that Leticia was referring to what she’d given as a wedding gift.
“I wasn’t even thinking about that kind of gift.”
“I’m serious. Why? Do you want me to give you another one?”
“Are you crazy?”
Leticia freaked out,and grabbed Keena’s arm, who looked like she was going to buy it right away. However, Keena made a sly face, and cheekily said.
“You liked it.”
She couldn’t refute it, so Leticia covered her face with both hands. She didn’t know why her job was to always be embarrassed.
“Anyways, other than that, something more normal… No, I’m not saying it was abnormal, but anyways.”
Leticia, who was very embarrassed, couldn’t figure out what to say while she was speaking.
Fortunately, Keena understood what Leticia was trying to say, and leaned back in her chair with a bored expression.
“What do you mean boring?”
“I want to prepare a perfect present for you, just like your wedding gift.”
“Give me a normal gift!”
Leticia was already worried about what kind of gift Keena would surprise her with this time. She could tell her not to, but Keena would pretend not to hear her.
The moment she tried to say something to her.
“What gift? Is this because of the gift I gave you before?”
A small shadow fell over Leticia’s head. When she raised her head, Elle was standing next to her, her eyes twinkling with curiosity.
Leticia couldn’t hide her embarrassment, even though she was just talking about gifts.
Keena was alternating looking at Leticia, who was at a loss for words, and Elle, who was curious. Keena then smiled mischievously.
“We’re talking about the wedding gift I gave before.”
“Really? What gift did you give her?”
As soon as Keena was about to say something, Leticia covered her mouth with a pale face. When Elle looked at her strangely, Leticia shook her head urgently.
“Oh, it was nothing.”
“Why? I’m curious.”
“It’s really nothing. I just received some clothes. Just clothes.”
Elle tilted her head in confusion. She was wondering why she was acting so strangely when it was just clothing.
Keena escaped from Leticia while she was troubled about how to answer. She rolled her eyes and said.
“It was a nightgown, and you can see through it…”
“Haha, what are you talking about?”
Leticia smiled awkwardly, and tapped Keena on the back. However, Keena pretended not to notice and told Elle.
“She really liked my present.”
“What gift did you give her?”
“Secret. I think she’ll like my birthday present best.”
Elle opened her eyes wide, and looked at Leticia, who was giving Keena a look that said she wanted to speak to her in private.
“Yes, tomorrow is my birthday.”
“Oh, I didn’t know. If you’d told me in advance, I would’ve prepared something.”
Elle drooped her shoulders in disappointment. Keena squinted at her exaggerated acting.
‘What? You already knew.’
Leticia, on the other hand, didn’t notice anything and just held Elle’s hand tightly.
“It’s okay. I’m just happy to be able to spend time with you.”
She said these words from the bottom of her heart, as a soft and gentle smile spread across her face. Faced with Leticia’s smile, Elle grabbed her hand, then glanced at Keena.
“But we still don’t know who’s present you’ll like the most yet.”
At the blatant provocation, Keena burst into laughter. It was just cute that she’d already prepared a gift, and pretended that she didn’t realize it was her birthday.
Later that night, just after midnight.
With a gentle touch to her shoulder, Leticia curled up even more, and pulled her blanket up to her chin. That was when a small laugh reached her ears.
“You’ll be late. Hurry up, and wake up.”
“What’s going on?”
In the end, Leticia was forced to wake up, and tried to rub the sleep out of her eyes. Enoch looked at her as if she was the cutest thing, but continued to urge her.
“First of all, change your clothes and then come out.”
Leticia answered with a slurred pronunciation, and changed into outside clothing. Enoch was waiting for her outside, took hold of her hand, and led her to the dining room.
When they entered the dining room, it was dark since it was the middle of the night. The moment she asked if they should light some candles.
“Happy birthday, sister!”
“Happy birthday, Leticia.”
As the surroundings brightened, congratulations poured out. There were several gift boxes and various luxurious foods on the table. Leticia, who couldn’t hide the surprise and happiness on her face, covered her mouth with both hands.
She was more overwhelmed because she didn’t expect a surprise party. Looking at the gift boxes with a happy face for a while, Leticia stopped in front of the cake
While it was definitely a cake, the icing on top made it look like it was done by a child.
“Did Elle make this?”
She murmured without realizing it, but Enoch’s shoulders trembled next to her. Keena approached Leticia, who was staring at the cake without noticing her.
“Here’s my present.”
“Oh, thank you…”
Leticia, who was trying to say thank you, stopped talking and looked down at Keena’s gift. She was somehow nervous about receiving it.
“If it’s something weird, I won’t forgive you.”
“It’s not weird.”
Keena looked resentful, and told her to open it quickly. Leticia, who was looking suspiciously at her, reluctantly received the gift.
When she opened the gift box with a slightly nervous expression, there was an unexpected gift inside.
“It’s a candle.”
She sighed with relief that the object inside was more ordinary than she’d expected. Keena watched as Leticia picked up the candle and sniffed it, then she asked.
“What do you think?”
“I like it. I think it smells good too.”
“That’s a relief. Actually…”
Keena whispered to Leticia the real use in her ear, so that no one else could hear it. Leticia, who was concentrating on what she was saying, blushed and stared at Keena.
“I’m not keeping it! You use it!”
Leticia forced the candle into Keena’s hands after it was explained that it was used to set the mood at night. Unconcerned, Keena put the candle back in the gift box.
“I bought it for you, but you want me to keep it? Also, I already have one.”
Leticia blinked at her words. She never thought that Keena would have a lover.
“Are you serious?”
“Not yet, that’s why I’m preparing in advance. Everything needs to be planned.”
With a broad grin, Leticia was about to ask who the other person was.
“What’s the gift?”
When Enoch couldn’t stand his curiosity anymore, and pointed towards the gift box, Leticia yelled.
“It’s just a candle! A normal candle!”
“What do you mean normal? Didn’t you hear what I said? At night…”
“Let’s open other gifts.”
Leticia stopped Keena from saying useless things anymore, and checked Elle’s gift this time. Inside the white, round gift box was a sculpture of a boy playing the flute.
“It’s a music box. It’s pretty, right? If you turn the key around, music comes out.”
As Elle explained, calm music played after the key was turned. Elle’s eyes glinted with expectations as she stared at Leticia. She looked at her as if she was asking what birthday present she liked the most.
“Thank you Elle. It’s really the best gift.”
“Don’t mention it.”
As she hugged Leticia with a smile on her face, Elle once again said happy birthday with a happier look. Soon after, she was presented with a beautiful bouquet of flowers that Ian had prepared for her.
But she couldn’t see one thing.
“What about Enoch’s gift? I want to receive one from him the most…”
When Leticia looked down, and spoke as if she was disappointed, Enoch sighed briefly and rubbed the back of his neck. Somehow, it felt like he was feeling awkward because there was no gift.
However, as soon as they heard Leticia, everyone began to hold back their laughter.
“You saw it earlier, Leticia.”
“Your present doesn’t look like a present.”
Leticia looked at the gift boxes again with a confused expression. She checked if there was a gift she didn’t see, but she couldn’t find it no matter how hard she looked.
At that time, Elle hugged Leticia’s shoulder, and said with some frustration.
“No matter what, I wouldn’t make it look like that, sister.”
When Leticia tilted her head slightly, Elle pointed to one particular place instead of answering. Where she pointed was the ugly cake.
Leticia’s eyes widened in surprise, and stared at Enoch. When he felt Leticia’s gaze on him, he found it difficult to face her, so Enoch turned away and hid his face with the back of his hand.
“Did you really make it yourself?”
When Leticia urged him to answer by shaking his arm, Enoch answered in a muffled voice.
“It’s so ugly.”
“Yes, I know it well.”
Even though he’d worked hard to make it, the shape was terrible, so he’d thought a lot about whether to give it to her or not. Still, he prepared it because he knew that she liked handmade gifts, but he now regretted it.
Then he heard a small laugh.
“But I still like it the most.”
Leticia held Enoch’s hand with both of hers and smiled like she was the happiest person in the world. It warmed her heart that a person that didn’t know how to bake made her a cake.
“Thank you so much.”
She hadn’t even eaten the cake yet, but she was already in a sweet mood because this was the first time she’d had a good birthday with the people precious to her.
Her birthday, which was always taken for granted, had finally become a special day for Leticia and a memory she’d carry with her for a long time.