Sponsored chapter by Nila. Thank you 💖
*Ooh, we might see the male lead? soon…..
I don’t know how she accepted my words, but the nanny’s complexion immediately turned pale.
“No, your body is not completely healed yet, so I will stay by your side. I will go back to work the day after tomorrow. Then please take a good night’s rest.”
The nanny hurried out of the room as if to flee.
I looked at the spot where she had left for a while and soon lay down in bed.
After a while, Annie came back with a tub of cold water and a towel. Everything I had said earlier in front of the nanny was just an excuse, my body had healed quickly and I did not need to be nursed.
“I want to be alone. Leave.”
“Are you alright?”
“I’m fine now. So you won’t need to take care of me from now on.”
Annie went out and I lied under the covers.
The early spring air coming in through the slightly opened window was still cold. But thanks to Annie’s leaving lots of wood in the fireplace, the room was warm and the large bed was cozy.
And the spacious, luxurious room felt more peaceful than the day before, though it was still a bit unfamiliar. Today I made enemies with more than half of Roxana’s people. The people around Claire would blindly support her and love her no matter what she did.
However, those who were by Roxana’s side had so far acted unattached, receiving only favors and not knowing how to appreciate them.
There was no way they could have had any favorable feelings towards me since I had shown them blatant hostility and applied pressure on them.
There was no way to know in advance what consequences my actions today, which made enemies of those beside me, would have later.
But now I felt better, knowing that I didn’t have to have to be self-conscious and do anything that would hurt me anymore.
My heart felt even lighter now that I had sorted out my surroundings, but I felt lonely again when I was left alone.
I slowly closed my eyes and opened them, looking at the ceiling. Each time I closed my eyes, the memory of my first day falling into this world came to mind. Claire was under the protection of the Crown Prince, and the people around her sided with her. The infantile glances of my enemies towards me, and their taunting laughter, their sympathetic voices, and….
None of it was pleasant to think of. But that person who reached out towards me from the terrace that day……
“Who on earth was he…. …?”
The white skin, black hair, and red eyes looked particularly pale under the moonlight. It was strange to think of a beautiful face with white, black, and red blending together so harmoniously.
It was a face that would certainly be hard to forget once you saw it, but it was not someone Roxana remembered.
‘That means she was not acquainted with him.’
I thought about it for a while and couldn’t come up with his identity. I couldn’t even think of his name, but the thought of seeing him again made it seem like a return to the social scene wouldn’t be too bad.
The night dawned.
The mansion was noisier than the day before, but I ate, rested, and slept better than I expected. I ate three proper meals a day, and snacks as well. When I was bored, I went to the study and read a few books.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that Duke’s study was a collection of only all kinds of boring things, but the Duchess’s study seemed to have a mixture of books from different genres that made it easier to read.
I looked around the study and took out books to read, but when even that became tiresome or cramped, I went outside for a walk.
Though it was only to look around the gardens and empty rooms in the Duke’s residence.
The Duke’s residence was much larger than I expected, and there were many things to see.
The rose garden and the glasshouse with colorful roses in full bloom made the time fly by.
It was hard to tell.
All in all, life was peaceful and satisfying.
I had a very comfortable time.
There was no clashing with the servants.
I hadn’t the slightest intention of appeasing them, and they could say whatever they wanted to me, and I spent the day in and out of the study and garden leisurely, and it wasn’t until after dark that I returned to my room.
I changed my clothes and got ready to go out.
Since I didn’t know how much walking I would have to do, I wore low heeled shoes and a simple dress that would allow me to move around easily, but not as plain as usual.
I’ve also prepared some gold coins, and I’ve kept a drawer full of expensive trinkets just in case.
There, standing in front of the mirror with my robe and mask on, I looked quite the part. I was certainly dressed differently than usual, and the robe and mask hid my hair and the top of my face, so there was no way anyone I knew would notice me like this.
I nodded with a satisfied look on my face, then took off my mask and put it in my arms. If anyone witnessed me going around to watch the festival, it would be a problem. There would be people who would suspect that the sick lady, who was lying on her sickbed, walked around the city where the festival was being held in an unconcerned manner.
Moreover, if this news were to reach the ears of any member of the Imperial Family, even the Imperial Family would doubt my intentions.
I couldn’t afford to create a problem again before my return to society.
This disguise was necessary to avoid such a scandal.
It must not be so strange, since there would be other people walking around in masks at the festival anyway.
I intended to go to the infamous Upper Room of Hermes today.
It was said that the upper levels of Hermes was not only a place to buy and sell goods, but also a place where all kinds of dangerous transactions take place.
It was known to be brutal and unforgiving if one had a debt and could not repay it or did not pay the promised price, but only the ability and security was certain. What I would buy from them today was not things, but information.
I needed to know how things went before I returned to society, and there were some additional things I wanted to request. No matter how high Roxana’s status was, the social world was not easy.
So if I were to unnecessarily bump into them with nothing, I’m sure the damage to me would be enormous.
‘If I know a little bit about it beforehand, I can defend myself to some extent.’
The festival, which was said to be particularly grand this year, was one of the things that I was curious about, but there was actually another reason.
I couldn’t tell Stephen about it because it was a job I wanted to request personally.
I would like to know the identity and name of the only person who tried to help me that day at the banquet.
I didn’t know him, but he certainly seemed to know me.
I had been wondering since last night if there was something that I missed. Of course, this was just my own personal curiosity.
However, if it became known that I was looking for a beautiful man when I was already engaged, there would be a lot of talk.
Even if my intentions were really simple curiosity stemming from innocence, how many people would believe my words?
It would surely be easier if I left this job to Stephen, but it would get into the ears of the Duke.
I didn’t want that to happen.
If the Duke was cold and uncomfortable with Roxana and she didn’t know what was in his heart, then I felt the same.
I wanted to avoid being involved with him as much as I could.
I took one last look in the mirror, swiped the dust off my robe and grabbed my hat.
I was walking down the stairs and across the first floor hallway leading to the front door. I came upon Stephen coming out of his room, still holding his papers.
“Miss, the way you’re dressed …?”
Stephen looked at me with his eyes wide open. His gaze was full of surprises. I was embarrassed and replied calmly, avoiding his gaze.
“I’d like to go out, if that’s alright with you?”
“Not that it’s a bad idea, but ………. Where in the world do you want to go dressed like that?”
Stephan looked over at me with a sour look on his face.
“I’m going to a festival.”
The furrow between Stephen’s brows deepened at my answer. He looked at me silently, but then sighed.
“Why are you suddenly doing something you never did before? You used to say that you didn’t like festivals because they were too chaotic. Besides, that outfit…”
“It’s okay to do this once in a while. And since this festival is going to be especially big, it’s not a bad idea to go at least once.”
“If that’s what you really want to do, then so be it. But where are your escorts? You weren’t planning to go out alone this late at night, were you?”
Even with my words, Stephen’s expression did not return to normal, but became increasingly grim.
“After this year’s festival, I would never be able to walk around freely like this again if I were to marry the Crown Prince next year, but it’s a shame to think that this is the last time.”
Stephen’s face suddenly distorted.
He looked unchanged, but I could see his emotions in his eyes. He seemed to be feeling sorry for me. I just thought of an excuse and said it without thinking much. Looking into his eyes, which wavered helplessly, I felt sorry and silently avoided his gaze.
“I’m off then.”
In any case, it seemed that he wouldn’t keep me now, so I decided to leave. If he regretted not stopping me, I would be gone by then, so there would be nothing to be done.
With that thought in mind, I stepped out, but was soon grabbed by Stephen.
I looked with perplexed eyes at the white glove that had grabbed my wrist. Then the hand that grabbed me immediately fell off. But his gaze was still fixed on me.
Stephen called me with a more serious face than usual.
Perhaps it was the lights, but his face looked even more tragic today, and I tensed inwardly.
Stephen, the butler, did not have the authority to stop me from going out, but the Duke, Roxana’s biological father and the patriarch of the Lillian family, could. And Stephen, as the Duke’s confidant, was obligated to report this to him and inform him when I caused an accident or acted in a way that lowered the Duke’s prestige.
‘Can’t you just let it go? Don’t tell the Duke.’
I prepared for the worst in my mind and held my breath. But the next words that came out of Stephen’s mouth were not at all what I had expected.
“Have a safe trip.”
It was too unexpected to come from Stephen’s mouth.
I mumbled absentmindedly and nodded before quickly withdrawing.
“All right. I’m off.”
Just as I was about to rush out, Stephen spoke again.
“But you can’t go alone. During the festival it’s more dangerous than usual, and even more so now that it’s late. I’ll tell the knights.”
But that’s not entirely true. During the festival, the security forces strengthened their patrols several times, so the city should be safer than usual.
I didn’t expect him to give me a straightforward ride since I had already been found out, but escorts?
It was no different than putting me under surveillance.
I wanted to say that I don’t need it because it’s inconvenient and a hindrance, but the look on his face as he passed on the words was too determined for me to refuse.
Stephen’s face softened as I nodded my head in reply. Since our face-to-face conversation earlier, his demeanor had changed quite a bit. It was not a bad change.
I didn’t hate this relationship now.
There were times when being hated by others didn’t hurt much.
But it was better to know that there was at least one person who cared about me than to have everyone hate me.
“Now, please wait in the carriage for a moment.”
Stephen disappeared somewhere. I obeyed his words and went outside and climbed onto the waiting carriage. Then, within five minutes, four knights with robes over their uniforms appeared and greeted me.
I gave a small nod as I made eye contact with them through the window of the carriage. As I greeted them, they immediately went to the back of the carriage and mounted their horses. Eventually, the horseman gave one big shake of the reins and the carriage departed. I looked at the mansion in the distance for a moment, then soon closed the curtains and my eyes.