Chapter 5

***

 

Whose child is it?

 

It was the first thing that filled her mind before the celebration.

 

It had already been six months since Margaret’s husband, Viscount Fisher, died.

 

Considering the time, her stomach should be big already.

 

Margaret, however, had a flat stomach.

 

“I know what people will think of me, but the child is innocent.”

 

“…”

 

“No matter what, I’m going to give birth.”

 

Margaret looked at Rivianna with wet eyes.

 

Rivianna’s lips only moved a little, still unsure of what to say.

 

The child to be born was innocent, but this was different.

 

Margaret was suspected of killing her husband.

 

Having a baby in this situation was like buying and stirring up suspicion.

 

“…Who’s the father?” (Riv)

 

“That’s….” (Margaret)

 

“Is he someone you can’t tell?” (Riv)

 

“You know. My position.” (Margaret)

 

“You’re going to have the baby no matter what your position is. Then you have to take responsibility for it accordingly.” (Riv)

 

‘You, and the father.’

 

Rivianna’s voice was unknowingly tense.

 

Margaret shrank at Rivianna’s scowl.

 

“If you need my help, you’ll have to tell me the man’s name.” (Riv)

 

“Is he someone I know?” (Riv)

 

“That’s….” (Margaret)

 

Margaret hesitated, then quickly nodded.

 

Tears were welling up in her eyes.

 

Rivianna felt so sorry for her, looking so desperate.

 

But for once, she couldn’t hold her and comfort her.

 

Children’s problems were not something that could be passed so simply.

 

She was reminded of her own young daughter at that moment.

 

“The Duke of Pierre.” (Margaret)

 

“…Who did you just say?” (Riv)

 

“The Duke of Pierre. He is the father of my child.” (Margaret)

 

“What…” (Riv)

 

“I’m sorry!” (Margaret)

 

Margaret hurriedly knelt down in front of Rivianna.

 

Her hands were trembling as she gripped the hem of her skirt.

 

“I’ve been in love with His Highness for a very long time!” (Margaret)

 

“What?” (Riv)

 

“I didn’t mean it from the start! He was your fiancé, and there was no way I could interfere with that! But.. It happened….” (Margaret)

 

“…”

 

Rivianna staggered back, but she couldn’t properly back away from the hand that had grabbed her. She let out a slow breath, recalling the face of the man she tried to forget.

 

She felt like she was hit hard on the head.

 

“I thought you had forgotten. You know how much I loved my husband, but he was gone too, and when the Duke came back, I must have gone crazy.” (Margaret)

 

Margaret wailed and pleaded.

 

But Rivianna couldn’t say anything.

 

She could only watch her skirt crumple helplessly in Margaret’s hands.

 

“But it wasn’t that our feelings were back and forth, it’s just we were lonely.”(Margaret)

 

“Lonely?” (Riv)

 

“Because I couldn’t forget him, and he couldn’t forget you.” (Margaret)

 

As the skirt was pulled taut, her body staggered in the recoil.

 

No, maybe it was something else that staggered.

 

She hurriedly covered her mouth in a panic.

 

“He still loves you. Even though I knew that, I wanted to be with him even just one night. I wanted to keep it as a memory, but……” (Margaret)

 

“Are you saying that now?” (Riv)

 

“I’m sorry. I swear. I didn’t have that intention from the start! It was late at night and I was drunk……..”  (Margaret)

 

It couldn’t be.

 

The man Rivianna knew was not like that. Reflecting on that fact reflexively, she chuckled bitterly.

 

It was a skit from being convinced that he wasn’t that kind of person.

 

Even that day, she never doubted him, and that led to the gruesome death of her family.

 

It wasn’t that he wasn’t such a person after all.

 

She just wanted to believe it. She closed her eyes tightly and opened them again.

 

Margaret was still kneeling in front of her.

 

“That’s not an excuse.” (Riv)

 

There was nothing more to hear.

 

Rivianna reached out to push Margaret’s hand away, but the hand, which was so powerful, did not know to pull back immediately.

 

Instead, it just hung on to her insistently.

 

“I know it’s shameful of me to say this, since I owe you so much. But you are the only one who can help me now.” (Margaret)

 

“…”

 

“I’m begging you. Just give me your word, please.” (Margaret)

 

“…”

 

“Protect my child at any moment.” (Margaret)

 

Rivianna didn’t respond to Margaret’s plea until the end. 

 

But she knew.

 

She couldn’t turn her back on a friend who cried sadly while clinging to her.

 

*** 

 

“What are you thinking about?”

 

“No, nothing.”

 

No matter how distracted she was, it was a mistake to lose her mind at the party.

 

She pretended not to know the curious faces and took a sip of wine. She could clearly see what everyone was thinking in their heads, but no one was brave enough to say it out loud. 

 

That was when it happened.

 

Suddenly, the surroundings were noisy.

 

 “What’s going on all of a sudden?”

 

“Did something bad happen?”

 

“Maybe we have a special guest.”

 

A meaningful smile that spread across the Duchess of Popul’s lips.

 

When Rivianna saw a man entering the ballroom with everyone’s attention, she only thought that she had been beaten.

 

It was a deliberate invitation.

 

Everyone was very much looking forward to when Duke Pierre and Rivianna would see each other, but there was no room left, so they made the meeting themselves.

 

However, that was not a big problem.

 

In the first place, the party hall was large, and unless one of them dared to approach the other first, they would not speak to each other.

 

“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you.”

 

“…”

 

If it wasn’t for the man who approached her without hesitation.

 

She clenched her mouth shut at the gaze that was looking down at her.

 

The man she saw up close was nothing like the one she remembered, but the gaze of the monolid eyes was still so dark that she couldn’t distinguish the pupils.

 

“Yes, it’s been a long time. Duke Pierre.”

 

She didn’t want to be involved as much as possible, but now that she was the center of attention, she couldn’t avoid it.

 

Leaving her seat here would be even more ridiculous.

 

Rather than panic, she chose to greet him calmly.

 

Duke Pierre stared at her, then quickly and slowly opened his mouth.

 

“Can you give me a moment of your time?”

 

“I’m sorry, my lord…”

 

“It’s not hard.”

 

She gave strength to her hand that gripped Bake’s arm.

 

Ironically, Bake was jealous of Duke Pierre.

 

She chuckled at the fact, but pretended not to know and turned her gaze toward Duke Pierre. 

 

The scandal was disgusting, and she was determined to ask everything, but it seemed that this amount of revenge would be acceptable.

 

Above all else, she had a story she wanted to share secretly.

 

***

 

They moved to a different location, the terrace.

 

The terrace was separated from the party venue by a door, but the perimeter was open except for the railing, and there were quite a few eyes watching over them.

 

This made the space less secretive, less misunderstood.

 

She was no longer the shameless young lady, and she understood what everyone’s expectations were of her.

 

She also knew that it was better to have a watchful eye, even if it was restrictive, than to leave any unnecessary room for scandal.

 

Of course, I also knew that people on the terrace on the other side of the house and the garden could see her, but couldn’t not hear her.

 

“How have you been?” (Duke)

 

“I guess it’ll be the same as hello.” (Riv)

 

“…”

 

“Don’t you know? We’re not on the best of terms.” (Riv)

 

Since it was just the two of them now, there was no need to imitate the elegant aristocrat wife.

 

She did not hide her hostility and wrinkled her brow as she stared at the man. She could clearly see the long stretch of scar on his neck .

 

 “It’s an old scar.” (Duke)

 

Perhaps sensing her gaze, Duke Pierre spoke briefly, and it was then that she hastily averted her gaze.

 

It was rude to stare too hard, no matter how much so.

 

“I’m sorry.” (Riv)

 

“No, it’s fine.” (Duke)

 

“…”

 

“…”

 

The silence lasted a long time after those short words.

 

Rivianna bit her lips and clenched her fists.

 

Even though it was an open space, it was never good to be alone with someone for too long.

 

The more time they spent together, the more things would irritate Bake, but also the more people would be interested.

 

It was better to simply talk about the main topic and organize the conversation.

 

“I’m having a baby, I heard it’s been a little over a month.” (Duke)

 

“…”

 

For a moment, Duke Pierre’s brows narrowed.

 

But it was only a subtle change, and he still had a blank expression on his face.

 

“I don’t know whether it’s unfortunate or fortunate, but the doctor says it’s very healthy. If he does well like that, he will be born safely.” (Duke)

 

“…So what are you trying to say?” (Riv)

 

“What do you mean?” (Duke)

 

“Well, you’re not wishing me a blessing.” (*don’t know who’s talking here)

 

The Duke suddenly approached her closer and closer.

 

She frowned at the hard railing against her back as she reflexively tried to step back.

 

The terrace was narrow, so there was nowhere to run.

 

Then, in the end, she had no choice but to give up running away.

 

She took a quick deep breath and straightened her back.

 

It was a moment of realization.

 

The reason they used to be able to talk so intimately was because he was a gentle lover who whispered his love to her.

 

And the fact that there was no consideration that could be desired from the man now that the lover’s face has been peeled off.

 

She stared vindictively into his dark eyes.

 

There were blood vessels in the whites of the man’s eyes that contrasted with the black eyes.

 

“You don’t have to worry if  you think I couldn’t forget the young lady.” (Duke)

 

“…”

 

“No matter how far I’m from the bottom, I haven’t forgotten how to be a human being.” (Duke)

 

There was anger in his voice.

 

Rivianna took another deep breath, then spoke next.

 

“The story would be much easier if you knew the ways of humanity.” (Riv)

 

“…”

 

“…because you can feed, clothe, and raise your children according to your reasons.” (Riv)

 

Duke Pierre’s jaws tightened. He was trying to hold back his anger.

 

“I don’t know why you have to do this.” (Duke)

 

“Because you’re going to be a parent now.” (Riv)

 

Margaret said she wouldn’t tell, but it wasn’t a matter of hiding.

 

Because no matter how protective Rivianna was of Margaret and the child, it would never compare to a real parent.

 

Every child born needs a parent.

 

That was the decision Rivianna made after a long time of thinking about it.

 

“Ha, you are…….”

 

Duke Pierre covered his face roughly.

 

He swept his face several times nervously and stared at Rivianna.

 

She leaned her head back, feeling herself shrinking under his sharp gaze, which was like a well-honed sword.

 

“As expected, you don’t want it. That’s understandable. The situation is not good, and I’m sure you’re worried about the scandal.” (Riv)

 

“….”

 

“But if you ignore what I say, you’ll regret it.” (Riv)

 

Aside from the rest, she could only assure him of those words. Duke Pierre will know when he became a parent.

 

How beautifully his child would grow up, day by day, and how special it would be to live vicariously through him.

 

She thought she could never love anyone again, but the moment she met Mariel, she fell in love all over again.

 

She couldn’t imagine a day without her anymore.

 

“You won’t regret it.”

 

“That’s something you’ll have to see now.”

 

“…”

 

Rivianna tried her best to keep her expression. 

 

If she said she didn’t hate him, she’d be lying. He killed her parents and was her enemy.

 

But for now, she decided to forget that fact.

 

Besides, the pounding in her heart was still there.

 

Notes

N/A

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