Chapter 1. I was abandoned by my family
When the Hunting festival begins, a spectacular banquet is held on the first night. It was meant to reward the knights for their hard work during the daytime hunt, but it was the most anticipated time for everyone because there was a tradition of dancing between lovers who exchanged a white rose and a ribbon.
‘When will she arrive?’
Having arrived first at the banquet hall, Enoch leaned against the wall and waited for Leticia.
A smile spread across his face when he remembered how happy Leticia was when she saw the white rose he gave her.
He was upset for a moment when he heard that someone else wanted to give her a rose, but he was satisfied with the fact that he was the only one who gave Leticia a rose and she had only given him a ribbon.
He couldn’t stop grinning at the thought of meeting up with her again.
Enoch was staring at the entrance waiting for Leticia to arrive when someone approached him.
“Can you spare me a minute?”
It was none other than Count Aster.
Enoch stared at Count Aster for a moment as the man cautiously asked to have a conversation.
He had never had any face-to-face contact with the Count. All he knew about him was that he had a good reputation for making donations of money he earned from his business and that he frequently helped the needy.
As he nodded willingly, Count Aster nodded lightly in gratitude and pointed to some nearby chairs. When he was sure Enoch was seated, he slowly began to speak.
“I understand that Duke Achilles has a pink diamond mine.”
“Yes, I do.”
Enoch didn’t know why the pink diamond mine was suddenly mentioned here. He looked questioningly at Count Aster, who smiled pleasantly and said.
“I want to invest in the mine.”
Even though he knew it wasn’t polite, Enoch kept silent instead of answering.
He couldn’t understand why the Count would want to invest in a failing mine.
Enoch stared at Count Aster’s face for a while, then slowly began to say.
“I’m grateful in my heart, but I don’t think it’s a good idea. We haven’t pulled any good gemstones out in a while.”
It was a shame to push away the good fortune that had rolled in, but Enoch was adamant.
In fact, he couldn’t afford to refuse the investment. Rather he wanted to tip his hat to him in thanks.
But he didn’t want anyone else to be harmed by his father’s greed.
“This may sound unpleasant, but I’m not investing to make a profit.”
“So what made you want to invest?”
In the face of an upright person, Count Aster sighed in embarrassment. No matter how much he looked at it, Enoch wouldn’t back down until he heard his intentions. He had no choice but to confess.
“Can I ask you a question before that?”
“Dear Duke, what is Leticia to you?”
As soon as Leticia’s name came up while talking about an investment, Enoch became wary of Count Aster.
He was cautious about what kind of relationship Count Aster has with Leticia. Seeing him call her name comfortably, he thought it might be a friendly relationship. The Count has a good reputation and seems to have no malice or ambitions.
Enoch was generally self-aware, he had already fully acknowledged his feelings for Leticia.
At first, she looked so vulnerable that he wanted to protect her from getting hurt. He also wanted to see her happier than anyone else.
He was greedy to stand right next to her and make her happy.
He wanted to be the only one.
“I want to keep her until the end and make her happy.”
It sounded cliché, but Count Aster had a smile of satisfaction on his face.
“I heard you’re taking good care of Leticia.”
Enoch now looked at him as if he was wondering why he was saying that.
“She always says I’m her benefactor, but to me she’s my benefactor.”
About ten years ago, Countess Aster was so sickly that she was on the verge of death. The doctor who diagnosed her also hinted that he should prepare for the worst.
When they were living in such despair every day, Leticia was the only person who could offer them warm comfort.
Although she must have been busy taking care of her own family, Leticia always came to visit the Countess every other day. She would talk to her and pray for her recovery. She would bring Countess Aster the marigolds she loved most with her small hands.
[I’m sure she’ll be well soon, Count.]
If that wasn’t enough, she even gave Count Aster words of comfort. It may not seem like much, but every word from this small child has as much power as a warm ray of sunshine.
As if in response, Countess Aster quickly regained her health on the days when Leticia came. Although she often lost her energy and fought against the disease again, Leticia’s sincere words of hope must have been a great source of strength to the Countess.
After so much time had passed, he only recently reunited with Leticia again. He knew that things in the Leroy family had improved. He thought that she would be doing well and be loved by her family, but they excommunicated Leticia. Now when she spoke of the Achilles family she seemed more comfortable and happy, so he thought deeply about how he could help her.
“I want to help the child who helped me get back up during the most difficult time in my life.”
Enoch had been quietly listening to the Count’s story and seemed to be satisfied with his reason. Suddenly he wondered about something and asked.
“Investing in the mine doesn’t really help her, it seems to only help me.”
“Can you think of it as a kind of bribe?”
Enoch was about to ask what he meant by the word bribe, but he stopped when he realized the meaning of the Count’s words. He was asking him to take good care of Leticia.
“You know, if I come forward and offer my help, she’ll say no.”
“So I look forward to your kind cooperation.”
Enoch nodded helplessly at the Count’s desperate request to accept his offer.
“Then I will say no more.”
“Thank you, Your Grace.”
“But I want you to keep in mind that you won’t get any profit back on your investment.”
It was called an investment, but technically it was a donation. Nevertheless, Enoch decided to accept Count Aster’s offer because he didn’t want to reject the Count’s sincere feelings for Leticia.
“That’s all I wanted. I hope you don’t feel burdened.”
While laughing together, Enoch spied Leticia entering the banquet hall.He could see someone approaching Leticia first, which made Enoch’s expression harden.
“Then I’ll get up first, Count Aster.”
“Alright, I’ll be right here.”
Count Aster sighed as he looked in wonder at Enoch nervously walking towards the entrance. He was relieved and satisfied because he felt like he had finally done something helpful for Leticia.
‘You’ve met a good man, Leticia.’
Count Aster’s mouth never stopped smiling as he thought of Enoch’s efforts to speak authentically whenever he mentioned Leticia.
‘I’m going to dance with you, right?’
Leticia knew that people who exchanged a white rose and ribbon would dance at the banquet hall, which was a problem.
A nervous Leticia hesitated in front of the entrance to the banquet hall. As she imagined in her head the moment when she held hands with Enoch and they gazed into each other’s eyes, an embarrassed sigh came out.
She managed to straighten out her thoughts and entered the hall.
They seemed to have paid special attention to the Hunting festival this year. The banquet was not just spectacular but luxurious. Dazzling jeweled chandeliers hung from the ceiling of the banquet hall, they shone so brightly it was hard to look at with your eyes. Talented orchestras played their instruments, and nearby the nobles danced gracefully to the music.
‘Is he not here yet?’
Leticia looked around and wondered if she had arrived first. Then she felt the presence of a person behind her.
She turned around happily, but the person approaching was not Enoch as Leticia had been hoping.
“How do you do?”
Leticia smiled awkwardly as she bowed slightly.
She thought he would quickly leave, but the man remained next to Leticia and continued the conversation.
“I’m Hugo Ferdinand.”
“Nice to meet you, Sir Ferdinand. I’m Leticia Leroy. No wait, It’s just Leticia.”
The man introduced himself politely, so Leticia was forced to reveal her name.
The man frowned slightly in thought, then he clapped his hands together.
“Oh! The excommunicated…. I’m sorry, I misspoke.”
“No, it’s true.”
It was uncomfortable to hear, but it was true. So Leticia smiled with a calm face.
“Come to think of it, when will Lord Achilles arrive?”
Leticia glanced towards the entrance. She was thinking it was about time for him to arrive, but she still couldn’t see a shadow of him.
She was about to turn her head away with a disappointed look.
“Have you been waiting long?”
It was a cold and low-pitched voice, but Leticia didn’t notice and turned around with a bright smile.
“There you are.”
Enoch smiled softly at Leticia’s happily smiling face, then he looked at the man.
The gentleman’s shoulders shook subconsciously from the sharp look of jealousy he received.
“I have somewhere I need to be, so I’ll be leaving.”
Watching the awkwardly evasive man leave, Enoch looked discontendly down at Leticia.
“I’m sad that you’re seeking out others when your partner is right here.”
“What do you mean seeking others? I’ve been waiting here this whole time.”
“Unfortunately, I arrived first and have been waiting.”
Leticia didn’t realize that he was already here, she looked up at him with an apologetic look on her face. Enoch reached his hand out to her, without losing the expression on his face.
Leticia glanced at his big hand that was right in front of her, then she slowly reached out to hold it. The look in his eyes told her to explain immediately, and she started to describe what happened.
“He was just asking my name.”
She meant for him to not worry.
However, Enoch’s face turned colder.
“That’s the beginning of interest. Didn’t I ask for your name?”
Leticia opened her eyes wide in shock, while Enoch stared at her.
“Don’t you remember?”
Leticia blinked because she didn’t know what he meant.
[May I ask your name?]
The image of Enoch asking for her name in the soft breeze of the practice field on the day we first met began to form a clear picture in her mind.
‘So you were interested in me?’
At that thought, Leticia could feel her face heating up and her heart started to feel ticklish again. As soon as she tried to gently pull her hand away, Enoch gently wrapped his hand around hers.
“I’m narrow-minded and hold grudges.”
“What? What do you mean?”
Enoch smiled as she blinked up at him.
“It means, I’m going to get revenge. So be prepared.”