Chapter 1. I like you, Prince
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‘I’ve gone crazy trying to put the two of them together!’
April ran straight down the corridor. After sluggishly telling the attendant to bring the carriage, she returned to the mansion preoccupied.
When she came back, the maid asked her if she was all right, she smiled and said, “I’m fine, I want to be alone,” after which she locked the door to her room.
The first thing she did was to bring out a large trunk. She was going to leave the house.
She had no plan, no idea what she needed, but she had to leave now.
She couldn’t just let things flow as the Countess’ plan.
As April was frantically packing, shoving handkerchiefs and such into the luggage, she suddenly found a prayer book in a corner of her room.
At that moment, her Uncle’s words struck her.
“You don’t even know how much you owe me for not sending the poor orphanage and taking you in!”
“Yes, let’s go to the monastery.”
She was vague, but once she had a goal, she moved even faster. April closed the trunk, not knowing what she had put in it, and put on her jacket which was hanging on the wall.
There was no one in the hallway.
She left the house at a fast speed, grateful for the little luck God gave her.
She grabbed her bag and ran to the main street where she caught a carriage.
The horseman nodded with a bitter face as if he had roughly grasped the situation when the lady in a fine dress shouted, “monastery!”
April sat in the carriage, gasping for breath.
She felt dizzy and her chest began to ache like it was going to burst. April clenched her chest and bent over.
What could be causing her so much pain?
April kept her forehead on her lap.
Is it to wed that old man to carry his child? Or is it…?
“It must be hard for you to look at me. We are so much alike, my brother….”
For the first time, she couldn’t argue with those words.
April called out the name she’d been holding back all day.
It was as earnest as if it were the only prayer she had ever been given.
‘Yes, that’s how I’ll live from now on.’
April slowly raised her head and made up her mind.
To enter the monastery and pray for Prince Lochlan’s peace. For all eternity, even if she had to devote her entire life to it.
The thought of a different life choked her from breathing, but somehow…..
She felt alive.
All of April’s plans had gone down the drain in less than a few hours.
When the maid noticed that April had disappeared, she followed her, memorized the carriage’s number and told the Count.
Count Campbell visited April before she even completed all her admission papers to the monastery and took her back to the mansion.
“How dare you do such a childish thing!”
He pushed April into the room and hit her several times in the cheek. Her skin broke and red blood ran down from between her lips.
Surprisingly, April did not feel any pain.
Her father and mother died one after the other, and even her only fiancé left her.
She tried to escape, to find the only way to survive, but now even that was impossible.
She felt as if she was dead. Maybe that was why she couldn’t feel pain.
“Thanks to you, I have to donate more money to the monastery! So people don’t suspect your impulsive behavior!”
The angry uncle shouted more vehemently, to which April responded in a calm tone, staring at him.
“Even if you don’t do that, everyone will talk.”
“A father sells his daughter to the old marquis for money.”
His large hand struck April again on her cheek. He hit with such force that her head spun, but again she felt no pain.
April felt funny.
Now that she thought about it, she had nothing more to lose, so why was she afraid of a father who has no affection?
The Count glared at April and lit a cigarette. With an exhale, white smoke came out.
“If you marry the Marquis, you will have a long history and countless assets. You know that keeping your chastity for a dead prince is of no use to you.”
He brought up the subject of Lochlan, probably to hurt her and make her give in to him.
But she didn’t even feel hurt anymore, so the Count’s words had no effect on her.
April looked at the portraits of her father and grandfather on the wall and quietly opened her mouth.
“Yes, I know. My father and grandfather won’t ever forgive you.”
He dropped the cigarette he was smoking in a frightened manner, and black smoke rose and disappeared for a moment from the top of the expensive sofa.
April smiled faintly.
There were things she had learned while surviving in this mansion over the past few years.
The Count had a fierce sense of inferiority to his respectable father and brother.
It was probably the reason why he had bullied the young April.
He quickly lost his reason and raised his hand again. April glared at him with maddening eyes.
But the voice of Countess Campbell, which came just in time, loosened the tension.
She walked over to April and gently hugged her shoulders. It was like someone who truly cared for her with all her heart.
“Don’t hit her like that.”
“It’s only proper discipline.”
“I understand. But she only has this face.”
She took a handkerchief from her pocket and wiped April’s lips.
“She can’t see the Marquis like this. He seems to like her very much.”
“The Marquis likes her?”
“Of course. You ran into him in the corridor, right?”
April, remembering that disastrous encounter, had no answer.
“Is the Marquis going to propose?”
“If April proves to be healthy enough to have children…so…”
“All right, I’ll stop disciplining her. No one wants to buy damaged goods.”
He shoved the cigarette onto April’s luggage, then left the room with nervous steps.
Once the Count was far enough, the Countess stood up, releasing the arm surrounding April.
“..Well done for now.”
April thought she was going to say something bad, but to her surprise what came out of her mouth was a compliment.
“I was really worried when you showed tears. But the Marquis was very kind.”
“You have made good use of my advice to take advantage of common pain. You have a talent for intriguing men, you know. Indeed, so much so that even a prince of the country latched onto you.”
The Countess raised April’s chin.
“I can’t believe my daughter is a Marchioness.”
April screamed through clenched teeth, feeling disgusted.
“I’m not your daughter. No mother would ever sell her daughter in the first place!”
“Do you think that a potential husband with such requirements is commonplace? I saw today that Isabelle Wollin was blatantly trying to seduce him.”
“I’m Campbell. I’m not in that vulgar marriage business.” (April)
April continued to make her point clearly, word for word.
“Oh, really?” (Countess)
The Countess, whom she had expected to be angry and violent, unexpectedly crossed her arms and smiled. April felt anxious.
She was easily angered, but when April saw how calm she was, it seemed that she was up to something.
“If you’re not going to go……”
April tensed as the Countess’ verbiage grew longer.
“I’ll have to send Charlotte. It will be a long engagement, though.”
At the absurd conclusion, April couldn’t help but asked,
“This good marriage cannot be taken away by another person.”
April thought that she must be hearing things wrong. Because Charlotte was the Countess’ biological daughter.
“What makes you think I’d lie about that?” (Countess)
“Charlotte is only eleven years old!” (April)
“You got engaged when you were ten, didn’t you? What’s the problem?” (Countess)
“Oh my god, don’t you love your daughter?” (April)
Countess Campbell smiled. Her face was beautiful, but there was no emotion.
“Of course I love her. Didn’t the Count love Charlotte and make me his wife?” (Countess)
She kept the fake smile on her face and continued to speak slowly.
“Perhaps I will also naturally love a daughter who will let me hold my grandson, the ‘future Marquis. You still have a chance to be loved too, April.” (Countess)
She bent down and placed a brief kiss on April’s forehead.
“It looks like you need some time to think. Don’t you?” (Countess)
Raising her head, she caressed April’s increasingly swollen cheeks.
“It’ll take quite some time to deal with the commotion tonight, so stay calm in your room for the next five days.” (Countess)
“No, I’m not!” (April)
“You’re going to see the Marquis like this? I have to show him how healthy you are.” (Countess)
The words “I will show him” had a strange emphasis on it, but the Countess’ words painted an unpleasantly eerie future.
April seemed to freeze in place, and the Countess finally nodded in satisfaction.
“Yes, you shouldn’t think of running away like you did tonight.” (Countess)
She changed her gentle touch and shook April’s chin firmly.
“Unless, of course, if you want Charlotte to be married off early.” (Countess)
It was not a lie.
April could read the seriousness in the Countess’ demeanor.
She really did intend to present her young child before the Marquis, if it came to that.
Charlotte was only eleven years old. She was far too young and innocent to know such humiliation.
If anything, April loved that sweet child.
She was also the only person April was attached to now that even Lochlan was gone.
“No Charlotte, at least not her….isn’t she your real daughter, why….?” (April)
“She’s my real daughter, she’ll listen to me better. She won’t try to run away like you did.” (Countess)
” … !”
“Do you understand?” (Countess)
The Countess now finally took her hand off April’s chin and stroked hair gently.
“If Charlotte is going to marry the Marquis, it will be because you behaved selfishly.” (Countess)
Since then, April has not been able to step out of her room.
After five days, she had to see the Marquis. But now she was struggling with another problem.
In the meantime, there was Lochlan’s funeral.
She asked the Countess to let her go to the funeral because she was Lochlan’s fiancée, but the Countess wouldn’t allow it.
“There won’t be many nobles attending anyway. Who would mourn a prince who fled from the battlefield?” (Countess)
“Don’t insult him! (April)
“That’s the truth. Anyway, if you don’t go, our reputation will be safe.” (Countess)
April continued to insist on going, and for some reason the Countess nodded lightly.
“Okay, go ahead. That is, if you agree to present Charlotte to the Marquis.” (Countess)
April had no response to that threat.
And the Countess smiled contentedly, then closed the door.
April stared at the tightly closed door and thought that she was trapped in a box.
In a very small box that would not open…. Forever.
Three days passed quickly, and it was the day of the funeral.
April woke up at dawn and dressed herself in all black mourning clothes to show her respect to her fiancé.
No one came to her room to inquire about her today.
Charlotte, as well as the servants.
They just left a minimal amount of food at the door, but no one called out to her.
Perhaps the Countess had given them instructions.
She was afraid that April might use someone to attend the funeral, so she left her thoroughly alone.
Moreover, the servants were taking turns standing under the window of her room.
April sat on her bed feeling miserable and looking up at the sky.
Of course, her box didn’t seem to be opening today either.
April called his name as if she was praying. She wouldn’t get a response and she was desperate.
She could hear the sound of a carriage through the open window, probably the Count going out.
She sighed in frustration, and soon her door was opened without a knock. Surprised, she turned around and saw Charlotte.
The kid ran into the room, grabbed April’s hand and started running.
April, who was caught off guard by how strong the child was, couldn’t help but follow the little girl as they ran together down the upstairs hallway.
Looking back, Charlotte put a finger on her lips, making a ‘shh’ gesture.
She told April to be quiet. ‘What the hell is going on?’
The child finally let go of April when she reached the point where she could see the entrance hall.
With her big eyes, Charlotte pointed at the first floor entrance. After that, she quickly ran back to her room, horrified by the presence of the servant coming toward her room.
April looked at the entrance Charlotte had pointed to.
There was a person who also spotted April and approached the bottom of the red stairs with a distorted face.
It was Dominic.
She could see the Countess’ unhappy face behind him. She probably didn’t even think that the Prince would come and find April.
He hurried up the stairs and stood right in front of April. His chest was shaking with anger.
“Even if everyone insults and turns away from my brother, you shouldn’t be absent from the funeral, should you, April Campbell?”
He commanded in a growling voice as April stood frozen in place.
“Grab my arm.”