Chapter 3


On the floor was a puzzle. A pure, white-colored jigsaw puzzle. 


The puzzle, large and white enough to be tired of just seeing it, was surprisingly on the verge of completion.




A pleasant voice spread gently through the silence. Dahlia lifted her head at the unexpected, placid voice.


As if waiting, the person intently looking at the puzzle that only his nape was seen to the onlooker, slowly turned his eyes up to look at Dahlia. His face filled her view. Her green eyes unhurriedly seemed to only contain this person’s face at this moment. 


As soon as her eyes took notice of the boy’s face, her eyes which were originally large on their own became so round that they could not grow any larger. 


“It’s a puzzle called the ‘White Night’.”


…Isaac Eufgenschult.


The ghost in the annex, the cursed illegitimate child born to a courtesan, and the duke’s son.


The moment she faced this infamous figure, Dahlia realized that all those nicknames became irrelevant.


Smooth flowing black hair. The black eyes that showed innocence on the pure white face that looked as if it had never been exposed to sunlight were slowly blinking and looking at Dahlia.


This, this face…


“You are lucky. I’ve been working on this for two days and I’m just about to finish it.”


The boy showed the puzzle piece he had in his hand and gently blinked his eyes.


Dahlia, who looked at him as if possessed, instinctively nodded and replied absent-mindedly.

“I see.” 


Then, a pale smile slowly spread over the calm face that was looking at Dahlia.


…No, no.


This is why he was called a ghost.


Dahlia, who muttered inwardly, looked at him with eyes wide open.


The reason the Young Master was called the ghost of the annex was not that he was rejected by his family as the illegitimate son of a duke, nor was it because he was confined to the annex because of his ugly appearance like the rumors, only being able to roam at night.


It’s like this… because of his shocking appearance.


It was because of the atmosphere that was too lifeless and colorless, like a person just about to disappear, they almost seem transparent.


“The book?”


Isaac, who placed the last piece of the puzzle in its right place, turned his head again and threw a patient gaze at her. Dahlia, who was dazed with her mouth open, suddenly came to her senses and handed the package she was holding in her arms to the boy.


The paper wrapped around the object was peeled off with a rustling sound. Dahlia smiled awkwardly and talked to him to deal with the awkward atmosphere.


“I thought it was unusually heavy for such a small package… As expected, it was a book.”


“Didn’t you know?”


“Yes. I was just told to deliver it. I thought it was a book, but I wasn’t sure… Uh…”


Dahlia opened her eyes wide and stared at the untied package.


The book was revealed to be a sequel to an adventure novel she had read once. That book, she was very curious about what happened in it, but she wasn’t able to buy it at all because she didn’t have the money.


Dahlia’s face looking at the book was bright. So Isaac who was opening the package stopped his hand and tilted his head slightly to the side.


“Why are you looking like that? Are you interested in this?”


“Oh… no. No?”


Contrary to the way she waved her hand saying she was not, her gaze was still fixated on the book. An ambiguous smile crept up on Isaac’s face as he looked at Dahlia.


“Do you know how to read?”


Dahlia licked her lips and nodded slowly. Isaac’s eyes widened slightly at her unexpected reaction.


This is a well-off mansion so they send their children to school to teach the alphabet, but most of the maids who work in these mansions often don’t know how to read and write.


For this reason, it was very rare for a maid to show interest in books. Dahlia read his thoughts from his gaze and recalled an awkward smile.


“That’s because there was a bookstore alley near where I lived. When books are left for a long time, they smell musty. So bookstore owners sometimes take them out to the street to bask in the sun to get rid of the smell and there were a lot of children’s books there.”


“Did you learn to read there?”


“No, that’s not it.”


It was such a rare scene in which countless books are piled up, you can’t even imagine it. The moment she remembered the memory, a smile crept around Dalia’s mouth.


“My sister wanted to know what’s inside those books and she requested me to read them to her. I wanted to do that for her so I learned it by myself.”


Isaac, who was quietly looking at Dahlia, mirrored her smile on his face and opened his mouth.


“It’s great to learn to read by yourself. Your parents would be proud.”


Isaac muttered in a soft tone, but Dahlia muttered something and shut her mouth. As he looked up at Dahlia with his puzzled face, he exclaimed.

“Oh no,” he said belatedly.


“I see. Your parents… I didn’t know. If I was rude, I apologize.”


“Oh, no! Young Master, it’s okay.”


Dahlia waved her hand in amazement at the gentle apology.


Even though he lived separately in a detached house, he was a member of the family of the Duke, a descendant of Eufgenschult. How could such a great man bow his head to a trivial person like her?


Thinking that he was a really strange young master, Dalia wiggled her fingers. Isaac, who was watching the finger movement with his head tilted, opened his mouth with a faint smile.


“What is your name?”


“Dahlia. I’m Dahlia Beroch.”


Dahlia Beroch. 


Isaac quietly recited her name and moved his eyes to Dahlia’s face. The smile that appeared on his lips seemed to deepen a little.


“You seem to like books… It’s a bit embarrassing and lacking to call this an apology, but you can borrow any of the books here if you want.”


His white, delicate fingers scanned the bookshelves that lined the wall. 


Dahlia, who was moving her gaze to follow his fingers, turned to look at him in surprise, but the boy’s expression was calm.


“It’s been a while since I’ve read them all anyway, so they’re useless to me. It would be better for someone to read them and have use for them.”


“I appreciate your words, but these are expensive books. It would be rude for someone like me to borrow any of it…” 


She refused with words and hand gestures, but she couldn’t hide her longing expression.


There were many ways to escape from reality, but none of them were as harmless as reading. Is it because of that? Dahlia loved reading.


The feeling of being immersed in a story of the distant past or someone’s imaginary world was so freeing and enjoyable that words cannot describe it. As long as she opened a book, Dahlia could become a princess in a distant desert country or an admiral who commands the sea, rather than an orphan in a poor mansion.


She read and reread all the books in the poverty house until the edges were all worn-out and tattered. And sometimes when old, worn-out books that had no commercial value came in bulks, she would roll her feet and rejoice. With what she was able to learn, she was able to teach her younger brothers and assist the headteacher.


“Thank you very much, but it’s okay. It’s really okay…”


Dahlia’s words slowly faded as she looked on blankly at the bookshelf.


He will lend her any book. She could not tear her eyes away from the bookshelf, even though she knew that it was a pity to not be able to read them if it was not for her lowly status and that it was insulting in the first place that she even ever dreamed of it.


Isaac who was still watching her stood and took three to four books out of the bookshelf. And finally, the sequel to the novel that Dahlia wanted to see.


Afterward, he put them all in her arms.


“I’m telling you. Take it. Don’t refuse.”


Dahlia looked down at the pile of books in bewilderment while she was overcome with delightedness for the heaviness that had fallen into her arms.


“This is… the book I just brought. The master should read it first.” 


“You seem to want to read it first, so I’ll give it up. Don’t feel pressured because I’ll still lend you more when you finish reading them.”


Their gazes on each other intertwined.


Unlike his thin body, Isaac was tall enough to stand next to Dahlia. With Dahlia in his eyes, his eyes bent very slightly as he softly smiled.


“Come again, Dahlia.”


The moment she heard the whisper that felt like a spell for a moment, the fleeting smile had already passed by the young boy’s face.


With a squeaking, faint sound of the door, Dahlia withdrew from the room.


Silence came again to the place where the stranger had come and gone. As usual, the only sounds heard from and about the annex are the small chirping of the birds, the roaring wind, and the occasional howling of the forest.


Isaac, who was looking at the door with an expressionless face, shifted his gaze and looked down at the completed puzzle.


There was a faint smile now on his pretty face. The expression, unexpectedly, contained pleasure, not boredom.


He started it thinking it would be fun, but the 5,000-piece puzzle only proved to be just another boredom added to his boring daily life. 


It’s always the same every day, the same routine.


He thought today would just pass by, but an unexpected person appeared and caused a stir. Instead of a calm smile, an awkward smile spread over Isaac’s face. It was both a familiar but completely different smile.


“Young Master.”


The man who came in without a knock was Hoover, the only servant of the annex and Isaac’s only loyal subordinate. When Isaac threw his eyes at him as if to ask what’s wrong, Hoover looked around the room with his eyes.


“Is everything okay?”


“Yeah, it’s nothing.”


“I asked people not to send anyone anymore. I’m really sorry. I’ll warn the maid.”


“No, it’s fine.”


Isaac swept his hand on the back of his neck and turned his head back to the window. The familiar landscape filled his eyes.


“She’s quite unique. She doesn’t seem to know about the rumors. When all the others meet me, they all tremble or just avoid me, but the girl looked straight into my eyes.”


The filth of the bloodline, the disgrace of the duke, the ghost of the annex.


All these other names that all refer to him were already more familiar to him than his real name. Gazes of displeasure and reluctance, gestures hesitating to come closer. All of them… were no different from the air he breathes to Isaac.


Determining what’s good or not is something that anyone who has ever known happiness can do. You must experience love and hate simultaneously to know the difference, but for Isaac who has been treated as a stranger since birth, the life of being rejected was just expected. It’s his daily routine. It’s all he’s ever known.


Therefore, a maid named Dahlia should have easily just looked at him and immediately cast an unpleasant gaze. Because everyone was like that. 


That was just what is right.


But what happened?


The moment she faced him, he could not forget the way her green eyes, which contained the freshness of early spring, grew in surprise in his mind.


Soon after, the glistening eyes that reflected Isaac’s image permeated his heart and he possessed emotions he had never felt before.


As Isaac had a dull distinction between emotions, he did not know whether those emotions were awe and admiration. However, he could feel that the green eyes contained something bright and positive.


“She said she likes books.”


Strange anticipation filled his gaze as he regarded the forest. The little boy slowly lowered his head and averted his gaze to the white puzzle lying on the floor.


He subtly wanted to indulge in building the puzzle again. Regardless of it breaking up what he has put together, Isaac put his hand under the puzzle with his palm facing up.


“I hope to see you again”.


As his hands crushed it snappily, the closely intertwined puzzle quickly collapsed. 


Crumpling the finished puzzle, Isaac smiled softly.