Chapter 1. An Accidental Encounter
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The morning came around. The sound of sparrows chirping, the bright light that pierced her eyelids, telling Nelia that the long night had passed.
Nevertheless, Nelia could not open her eyes easily. Since she was so tired.
‘Oh…… my whole body.’
She thought about taking a day off today. She didn’t think her body would comply with her.
Then came a drooping voice right beside her.
“Nelia……. Does it hurt a lot?”
Nelia barely opened her eyes to look at the man who had made her this miserable.
She wondered just when he woke up and washed up as his sweat-drenched hair looked soft, and he was all dressed up.
“Yes, thanks to a certain someone.”
She came to a realization that the medicine Duke Hart had taken all this time contained an energizer. Back then, she realized how foolish she was to think of him as a homos*xual.
He was so……. insatiable.
“Go ahead. I’ll take a rest today since Your Grace said I could take a day off.”
Nelia buried her face on the pillow again while waving her hand.
“Yes, Nelia. Don’t worry about the maid’s work and take a proper rest.”
The duke landed a kiss on Nelia’s forehead. It seemed that she already got used to his kisses since last night.
Meanwhile, Nelia felt ashamed with the duke. Just how many times did he comfort her with such affectionate kisses already?
Nelia stared sharply at the duke for a moment. The duke quietly dropped his eyes, probably feeling guilty about how he couldn’t control himself yesterday.
“I have deep remorse for not being able to control myself yesterday. I’ll try not to do it again next time.”
He was talking about doing it next time as if it was natural for them to do that again.
Such an unexpected development.
At the duke’s unexpected remark, Nelia’s worries only ran deeper.
‘Now that we had shared such a lewd night, should we get married next?’
She honestly didn’t think that they should get married just because they spent the night together. She couldn’t believe such a momentary impulse would require her to take responsibility that she would carry for the rest of her life.
‘Am I too much of a j*rk…….?’
However, she assumed it would be a bad idea not only for herself, but for Duke Hart as well.
Because that meant they only would have one night-stand.
So, what did the duke mean by saying ‘next time’? Because last night was too good…….. They’re going to do it again next time?
Nelia eventually spat it out since she was unable to discover the answer by herself.
“Your Grace, do you want to do……. something like that with me again, next time?”
The duke seemed to be in shock.
“……. So Nelia doesn’t want to?”
He muttered something like, ‘I tried hard, but it looks like Nelia wasn’t satisfied.’
Then he grabbed Nelia’s hand with a determined expression etched on his face.
“I won’t disappoint you next time……..”
Nelia cut him off, thinking he had gotten the wrong idea.
“What I was trying to say is…… Wasn’t it according to our momentary impulse last night?”
The duke seemed to be in shock once again.
“What do you mean? Last night, I was more lucid than ever.”
“…….So you mean we will have to proceed with this relationship?”
Nellia looked up slightly at the duke.
Last night was definitely tough for her, but it came with an experience that she never had before. In a positive sense, she didn’t regret it even though she thought last night happened out of impulse.
It was hard to make sure to reject him if such a situation were to happen again in the future. However, on the other hand, she wondered if it was right for a man and a woman who weren’t even married in the first place to repeat this kind of stuff.
Nelia looked down at the edge of the blanket in confusion while waiting for the duke to give an answer.
The duke spoke while staring motionlessly at Nelia.
“I definitely want to continue this relationship. Married and then becomes husband and wife.”
“Oh, married and then becomes husband and wife……. Pardon?”
Nelia nodded quietly, then raised her head upon realizing what she just said.
The duke’s eyes were more serious than ever.
“Of course. How can you not get married after sharing such a passionate love together? That kind of person is really a j*rk.”
That means I’m such a j*rk too, right? Nelia had to reflect at herself for a moment.
“You’re right, but……. We have to act prudently regarding marriage.”
The duke probably read her confusion as he dropped his gaze pitifully.
“Nelia, don’t tell me……. You’re going to end it like this and tell me to ignore what happened……..”
Nelia, who was surprised, exclaimed in a haste.
“No, it’s not like that…….!”
“Do you not want to be married to me because of my curse…….? I get it. Having a husband who can turn into a snake……..”
Nelia covered his mouth to prevent him speaking in a voice laced with shame.
“It’s not like that, I was just a little cautious!”
When his lips touched the palm of her hand, Nelia hurriedly took away her hand as it reminded her of the feeling from yesterday.
“Marriage is something that requires permission from our parents.”
Of course, her parents would willingly welcome her decision with open arms if she were to name Duke Hart as her husband.
‘No, come to think of it, it’s the same with Duke Hart.’
Would it be okay if the eldest son of a duke’s family says he will marry a handmaiden who he spent the night with?
Of course, her family has a good reputation, but the dukedom was simply a huge family. The only dukedom in the empire.
Therefore, Duke Hart’s mother would choose over the spouse for the duke with deliberate consideration. If she didn’t like her, she would attempt everything to drift them apart at all costs.
The situation similar to a morning drama was once again portrayed in Nelia’s head.
Nelia spoke quietly to the duke after finishing her thoughts.
“You should ask for permission from your mother, too.”
“My mother doesn’t need to worry about this.”
The duke replied as if it wasn’t a big deal.
“She definitely will be if it’s someone like Nelia……”
Then, the door opened without being knocked beforehand. Nelia and Duke Hart’s eyes immediately turned there.
Who would have burst in at such an important timing? No one would dare come into Duke Hart’s room without knocking.
Nelia stared at the door, unaware of the fact that she was in bed with Duke Hart at that very moment.
A middle-aged woman came in no time with a hat full of colorful feathers hung on her head.
“Shilian, the sun is high in the sky and you’re still in your room. What on earth are you up to……. EEKH!”
Shilian…….? Shilian was Duke Hart’s first name.
When the middle-aged woman spotted her on the bed, she hastily covered her eyes.
“Oh, oh my…….. How rude of me.”
Nelia pulled up the blanket and turned to Duke Hart, as if seeking an explanation.
Phew. Duke Hart answered after letting out a deep sigh.
“I’m sorry, Nelia. She’s……. She’s my mother.”
His mother has caught him in the middle of this embarrassing scene? Of all places…….!
Nelia lowered her head as if hiding her red face. She just wanted to hide in a rat hole.
“Nelia, I’m sorry. Please come out.”
The duke apologized one more before getting out of bed. The duchess murmured while still covering the eyes.
“Shilian, I’m sorry. I’m just worried that you’re sleeping until late in the afternoon……..”
The duke didn’t answer and ushered his mother out.
When the door was closed and Nelia was left alone, she gathered the blanket that was about to slip down.
‘What the h*ll……. is going on?’
From last night until now was just like a dream.
She spent a hot night with Duke Hart, and then the duke proposed to her.
‘……Is this a marriage proposal?’
He didn’t officially ask her for her hand in marriage, but it was similar to that.
Moreover, Duke Hart’s mother just barged in and witnessed all of this.
Luckily, she didn’t splash water or slap her cheek while saying something like, ‘Where is my son…….!’
On the contrary, she seemed more dumbfounded than her, as if she was confused, before being dragged away by Duke Hart.
Unlike the quiet room, it seemed that there was a hurricane blowing through Nelia’s head.
Nelia could barely get herself up from the bed. This wasn’t her room, and there were none of her clothes.
She wondered if she should put on her spoiled nightwear again, but she soon found a woman’s dress placed neatly on the table.
She assumed Duke Hart prepared it ahead of time while she was asleep.
He had only gotten three hours to sleep, but he diligently washed up first and even prepared clothes for her.
He has really great stamina.
‘…….I kept recalling it even though it was just yesterday.’
Nelia thought as she washed up quickly and get dressed.
Just then, she heard a knock on the door.
“Lady Nelia, if you are done, I will deliver the breakfast.”
It was hard to call it morning since it was almost lunchtime.
More than that, how come the servant knew she was there?
From their perspective, she must have been simply a handmaiden, but she was embarrassed that they found out she had spent the night with the head of the family.
‘Well, Duke Hart’s mother had discovered her so…… it doesn’t matter.’
Nelia would prefer them to think she’s shameless. Otherwise, she wouldn’t be able to raise her face in this mansion.
Upon granted permission by Nelia, the servant came in with a tray of hot meals.
When she greeted her, the servant bowed her head. And then they disappeared behind the door.
Nelia felt hungry when smelling the savory food. It would be weird if she wasn’t hungry. Considering that she did it yesterday……
Nelia’s head warmed up by the puzzling scene that came to her mind again.
The hand holding the spoon momentarily strengthened for a moment.
“……What should I do?”
She spent the night with the duke, who was supposedly the villain in the original story.
From how he said it, it seemed that he was serious about wanting to marry her……
There was a question rising at the end of her thought.
Is it due to his responsibility…….? Or does he like me?
Nelia halted her thought and frowned.
He likes me?
It’s not easy to fall in love.
The women beside the duke are all distinguished and beautiful. Even just by looking in the mirror, there was the most beautiful face in the world, so it would be weird to not like him.
Of course, she didn’t mean she has less value despite saying so. Nelia had a cute face, and a respectable family.
Even so, the assumption that the duke liked her didn’t really make sense.
‘Even if he likes me…….’
She wasn’t sure if she would be happy to be married to him.
The duke was the villain of this novel. She didn’t know how the book ended because she didn’t get to read it until the end, but it must not have been a happy one.
He got a lot of blood smeared on his hands during the preparations for killing the emperor.
Nelia let out a deeper sigh.
When she recalled the original story, she realized again how insane he was. She forgot it for a while because he was wearing a gentle mask and clung to her like a leech every day.
She suddenly had that kind of thought.
‘Should I stop His Grace from preparing his revenge?’
Duke Hart might have his own reasons, but she wanted to stop the duke if it was a possible thing to do. As she knew it would lead to a bad ending of his own.
The problem is she cannot pretend to know about it [the revenge].
She heard the scratch of the spoon as if on the plate. When Nelia looked down, the plate that contained the stew was already empty.
She seemed to have eaten it all without even realizing it.
Nelia wiped her mouth using the napkin on the side.
‘Let’s think about complicated matters later, and go down for now.’
First of all, it was her first time to greet the duchess properly.