Chapter 2

***

 

“What do you mean a woman?”

 

Bake’s eyes twitched slightly.

 

Fortunately, he didn’t seem too upset.

 

Instead, he just smiled in vain, like someone who had heard a ridiculous story.

 

Rivianna was able to muster up a little more courage.

 

She opened the drawer of her dressing table and took out the earrings.

 

“I found this.”

 

“This is…”

 

“Marial said you gave it to me as a gift, but I don’t remember receiving it.”

 

“Did you feel bad because of this?”

 

Bake laughed as he took the earrings in my hand.

 

Rivianna frowned and glared at Bake.

 

“Don’t laugh, I want you to explain this issue properly. Is this something I should be concerned about?”

 

“No, not at all.”

 

“Are you sure?”

 

“The earrings were a gift from one of my business partners. They asked me to give them to you.”

 

“Then why didn’t you give them to me?”

 

“It’s not your taste. So I thought I’d just take the jewel and make a new one, but it disappeared. I just asked the servants to find it, and here it is. I guess Mariel took it.”

 

Rivianna looked at the earrings from Bake’s hand.

 

The earrings were still sparkling at that moment.

 

“Are you sure?”

 

“Why would I lie to you?”

 

Bake laughed.

 

Rivianna was still frowning.

 

“It’s okay to have a mistress, but not illegitimate children. You know what I mean, don’t you?”

 

“You mean it’s okay for me to have other women as long as I don’t have children with her?”

 

The look that met her eyes made her throat burn.

 

But Rivianna kept her expression deliberately nonchalant.

 

“I don’t care, as long as my rights and Mariel’s future are protected.” (Riv)

 

“Doesn’t matter? Are you serious?” (Bake)

 

“Yes, I’m fine. That’s how everyone lives anyway.” (Riv)

 

“You really don’t care if I do that?” (Bake)

 

“….”

 

“Rivianna.” (Bake)

 

“No…” (Riv)

 

Rivianna couldn’t overcome her husband’s gaze and drooped her shoulders.

 

She tried to pretend it was okay, but she couldn’t.

 

“I’m glad you’re mad at me.” (Bake)

 

Bake opened his arms and hugged Rivianna.

 

She tried to push him away, but she was held helplessly.

 

“Why are you laughing when I’m angry?”( Riv)

 

“Because you’re jealous.” (Bake)

 

“Is that good?” (Riv)

 

“Jealousy has to come from the heart, doesn’t it? I’m happy about that fact. If you are jealous, it must mean that you have a heart for me.” (Bake)

 

“…”

 

Rivianna stared up at him, her eyes finally relaxed.

 

She wanted to believe him more than continue to doubt him.

 

Up until now, Bake has been a good husband to her and a good father to Mariel. 

 

“You didn’t want to marry me, did you?” (Bake)

 

“…”

 

“If that incident hadn’t happened, so many things would be different. If that were the case, I wouldn’t be the one standing beside you now.” (Bake)

 

“Please don’t.”

 

Rivianna touched the back of Bake’s hand in a terribly accusing manner.

 

He chuckled as he realized he had made a mistake.

 

“I’m sorry. I guess I was a little insensitive.” (Bake)

 

Bake sighed briefly.

 

Then, after a moment’s pondering, he finally opened his mouth.

 

“I know how pathetic for a man who would say something like that. I also know that you are not that kind of person. But ………..” (Bake)

 

“What are you trying to say?” (Riv)

 

“There are rumors that the Duke of Pierre is coming back.” (Bake)

 

Bake’s face was dark as he stepped back.

 

“Is that’s why you drank?”

 

“…”

 

“Bake.”

 

“…I’m sorry.” (Bake)

 

Bake lowered his head.

 

‘It seemed I wasn’t the only one who was anxious.’

 

Rivianna reached out and touched his limp shoulder.

 

“The past is just the past.” (Riv)

 

“….”

 

“It’s not what happened before that matters, it’s the now.” (Riv)

 

She swept Bake’s cheek gently, “Like the fact that you’re my husband and I’m your wife.”

 

Bake hesitated, then quickly dropped his gaze.

 

“…… me, you know, I was jealous of the woman who never existed.” (Riv)

 

“You just admitted with your mouth that you were jealous, didn’t you?” (Bake)

 

“I know there are so many jokes between noble couples that it’s strange that there’s no mistress, but we’re still a couple.” (Riv)

 

“…”

 

“If you had another woman, I would naturally be angry and feel unpleasant.” (Riv)

 

Rivianna naturally laid her hand on the back of Bake’s hand.

 

“I never thought that you would be the first to say the word jealous.” (Bake)

 

“Then what did you expect me to say?” (Riv)

 

“You’re the most rational person I’ve ever known.” (Bake)

 

“I try hard to appear that way.” (Riv)

 

She didn’t want to repeat the same mistake.

 

She swallowed the words that didn’t seem to be inevitable, then closed her eyes quietly, and opened them again.

 

When she opened her eyes, Bake was still staring at her.

 

“I don’t like to talk about my feelings because I think emotions are people’s shame and weakness.” (Riv) 

 

“We lived together for a while now, but I didn’t know that.” (Bake)

 

“Still, I’m fine.” (Riv)

 

“…”

 

“You’re the only person I don’t feel weird exposing my shame to.” (Riv)

 

It took an amazing amount of courage to bring this up, but it was okay.

 

Rivianna hugged Bake, smiled deliberately in the awkward air.

 

“I know we haven’t had the smoothest marriage, but we’ve probably done better than any other couple, and I can’t even imagine my life without you anymore.” (Riv)

 

“Rivianna……”

 

“I’m ashamed to say these words, but marrying you has been the greatest blessing of my life.” (Riv)

 

Bake’s arms tightened around her.

 

Rivianna took a slow deep breath in the even narrower distance.

 

Bake’s rather fast-paced heartbeat was telling her how he felt.

 

That was enough.

 

He was a man who had been consistent in the past and would continue to be that way. 

 

“We’ve been married for ten years now, why do you think I care so little? In that time, I’ve lived as your wife and you’ve lived as my husband. It must be strange not to have a heart.” (Riv)

 

“Rivianna, you have no idea how happy I am right now.” (Bake)

 

“If I knew you would be like this, I would have done more for you.” (Bake)

 

‘Have I been so cold hearted?’

 

Rivianna frowned as she looked back at her actions.

 

When she looked at her husband, whom she loved like a child, she wondered if she had ever lived her life without expressing her emotions.

 

“…Thank you, Rivianna. I’ll do better from now on.” (Bake)

 

 “You’re doing well enough even now.” (Riv)

 

She whispered into Bake’s ear and closed her eyes.

 

It was a marriage they had no choice but to make to suit their interests. 

 

She didn’t remember loving each other passionately.

 

But ten years of marriage was not a short time. 

 

There was a trust that had been built between them for a long time.

 

****

 

“I see you like those earrings very much. You’ve been wearing them for a long time.”

 

“I think they look great on me.”

 

Rivianna kept smiling and drank her tea.

 

On her earlobes were a pair of earrings that Bake had given her the other day, newly processed.

 

“Where did you get them? I think I’ve seen it before.”

 

Margaret’s eyes lit up.

 

She couldn’t take her eyes off Rivianna’s earrings.

 

“I didn’t buy them.”

 

“You didn’t?”

 

“Do you remember the earrings Mariel picked up last time?”

 

“Oh, those.”

 

“It’s a gift from Bake’s business partner, but it’s not my favorite design, so he used the jewelry and made a new one. I don’t like long earrings, so I guess he was being considerate.”

 

Rivianna spoke as she touched the earrings.

 

“I really like it now.”

 

“Then it’s a relief.” (Margaret)

 

“….relieved?” (Riv)

 

“I know you’re married, but I’m still worried about you…”  (Margaret)

 

“Did you think Bake cheated on me?” (Riv)

 

“I’m sorry if I misunderstood you! However, it’s just that you didn’t look too good at the time.” (Margaret)

 

It looked like Margaret was going to start crying as soon.

 

Rivianna quietly handed the handkerchief to Margaret.

 

Her eyes were already moist.

 

“I’m sorry for making you feel so worried.” (Riv)

 

“No. I just thought you were having a hard time.………” (Margaret)

 

Margaret frowned, biting her lips.

 

Rivianna purposely put on a smile to soothe her.

 

“It was all a misunderstanding.” (Riv)

 

“…But, was it really a misunderstanding?” (Margaret)

 

“Huh?”

 

“I know His Excellency is not that kind of person, but you never know.” (Margaret)

 

“Bake…”

 

“…I heard Count Piran had an illegitimate son.” (Margaret) 

 

The Count of Refuge has given birth to a son outside.”

 

“Count Piran?”

 

Margaret nodded and quickly added.

 

“It was a mistake, according to the Count. Because he didn’t want to hear that he couldn’t fulfill his role as a husband.”

 

“But the Count has three children.”

 

“All three are girls. But now he has a successor. People will look at you differently if you have a reliable successor.”

 

“…”

 

“Everyone is like that. Count Piran was just one of them. The successor is the problem, so what else can he do?”

 

Margaret’s shoulders slumped helplessly.

 

“Bake is not that kind of person.” (Riv)

 

“Count Piran didn’t seem like that kind of person either.” (Margaret)

 

“….”

 

“I don’t want to say something like this either. But after hearing about Count Piran, I keep getting worried. Especially your husband and you…” (Margaret)

 

Margaret lowered her head, unable to continue, and Rivianna bit her lips. There was no need to exchange any more words. 

 

She knew best the words Margaret couldn’t bear to say.

 

Rivianna couldn’t have any more children.

 

***

 

After putting Mariel to sleep, Rivianna walked out of the room.

 

To her surprise, Bake was standing outside, smiling.

 

“Why are you here?”

 

“Mariel couldn’t fall asleep, so I’ve been reading fairy tales to her. You?” (Riv)

 

“I came to see the princess.” (Bake)

 

Bake smiled and held up his hands.

 

He must have come to see Mariel as soon as he got back, he was still in his business attire.

 

“Unfortunately, Marial is sleeping.” (Riv)

 

“I’m a step late. I also bought Mariel’s favorite cake.”

 

Bake smiled and raised the cake box.

 

“Do you want to have a drink with me?” (Bake)

 

“At this hour?” (Riv)

 

“It’s been a while.” (Bake)

 

“…”

 

“Don’t you like it?” (Bake) 

 

Bake asked with a disappointed face.

 

Rivianna agonized for a moment and soon nodded.

 

Normally she would have refused, but due to some recent misunderstandings, she thought it would be a good time to get closer.

 

 

“It’s good. Let’s have a drink.” (Riv)

 

“‘Are you sure?

 

“Yes. I need to talk to Margaret about something. I’ll be right there.”

 

“All right. You have to come quickly.”  (Bake)

 

“Okay. I’ll be right there.” (Riv)

 

“The wait would be sweeter if you give me a kiss, though.” (Bake)

 

Bake lowered his head and met her gaze.

 

He had a familiar scent of soap.

 

“Well, that’s for later.” (Riv)

 

“Why?” (Bake)

 

“This is a hallway. What if someone sees us?” (Riv)

 

“There are no passersby, so who cares?” (Bake)

 

Bake pouted his lips and complained, but Rivianna firmly pushed him away.

 

“But still, what’s wrong is wrong. We have to protect what we have to protect.” (Riv)

 

“All right. I’ll wait.” (Bake)

 

Bake didn’t hide his expression of disappointment, but he backed away nonetheless. And with that, the scent that tickled her nose disappeared.

 

She silently watched her husband’s back as he was moving away, then moved her feet.

 

The annex where Margaret was staying was on the inside. 

 

To meet her, Rivianna had to pass through Mariel’s room.

 

But before she even passed Mariel’s room, her feet stopped shortly after.

 

“….”

 

When she looked back, Bake had already left. 

 

Nevertheless, she stared blankly at the place where he disappeared.

 

Her husband was gone, but she clearly remembered the scent came from him.

 

The moment she realized this fact, her lips became dry.

Notes

N/A

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