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After the Emperor and his wife returned safely, Gerard headed back to the hunting ground. However, on his way, he was informed that Lord Burtman and Sir Russell had been found.
At that, Gerard turned around and headed for the Imperial Palace. Anton said he would clean up the hunting ground, so there was no need for him to return. He received another message as soon as he arrived at the Imperial Palace.
[My Lord, His Grace the Grand Duke of Anata has just arrived at the Blanchett’s Residence. He wishes to visit the Imperial Palace where the Grand Duchess currently is. What should we do?]
The letter from the butler was filled with a sense of urgency.
The Grand Duke, who was supposed to arrive in the Capital in the evening when the banquet would be held, arrived much earlier than expected. Gerard shook his head slightly, but he also understood what the Grand Duke was thinking.
He headed to his family’s private lounge with the intention of writing a reply to the butler to escort the Grand Duke to the Imperial Palace.
However, he spotted a familiar face catching one of the servants in the hall as soon as he turned the corner.
‘He must’ve been in a hurry.’
It was Frederick de Anata. It seemed that he rushed to the palace impatiently.
“Take me to the Blanchett’s private lounge, not Anata’s.”
“Oh, yes. Your Grace…”
The young servant was trembling at the overwhelming presence of the Grand Duke. He was so caught up in his commanding demeanor that he didn’t even pay attention to such a pitiful gesture from the servant.
“The Eternal Lord of the land of Anata.”
Gerard intentionally greeted him formally while getting between the servant and the Grand Duke of Anata.
“I’ll lead him, so you can go.”
He sent the servant away before turning to the Grand Duke.
“You arrived earlier than I thought.”
The Grand Duke’s eyes narrowed as he replied. He must have rushed all the way here.
“I’m on the way to the private lounge of my family, so we should go together.”
“Please lead the way.”
Gerard led the Grand Duke by walking slightly ahead of him.
However, they felt a weird atmosphere when entering the hallway. The hallway was unusually quiet and there were no servants or maids around.
Gerard, who was more sensitive than others, could hear faint voices from time to time. He couldn’t hear the exact conversation, but he could sense the unusual atmosphere.
He stopped for a moment and then quickened his pace. Frederick did the same.
A shout could clearly be heard when they almost reached the private lounge of the Blanchett Family.
“I would have married Gerard instead!”
Gerard heard Leila’s remark clearly. He gritted his teeth for a moment before glancing at Frederick, who was behind him.
‘Did he hear that? And what kind of face is he making…?’
Gerard stared at Frederick for a moment. The man’s expression remained neutral, so he continued forward.
Gerard approached the door and was about to knock.
“Get out! Now!”
However, Chloe’s sharp voice was immediately heard from the inside which made him open the door without knocking. He wasn’t going to let Leila do any harm to his wife.
However, the scene in front of him was completely different from what he expected.
Leila, who was soaked, and Chloe, who was holding a teacup in her hand. At first glance, it was clear that Chloe had poured tea on Leila.
“What is happening…”
The Grand Duke of Anata, who was standing beside Gerard, heaved out a sigh.
However, Gerard’s eyes were only fixated on Chloe, not the Grand Duke of Anata or the messy-looking Leila.
He could see the trembling hand of his wife holding the glass and the way she bit her lip in a pitiful way so gently. He was about to approach his wife slowly.
At that moment, Chloe’s hand lost its strength and the glass fell on the floor.
She was probably startled by the breaking sound of the glass because her body shook and she raised her head. At that moment, Chloe and Gerard’s eyes finally met.
Gerard felt more sorry for Chloe’s eyes, which were filled with tears, than Leila, who was covered with tea.
However, Chloe ran out of the private lounge.
Gerard tried to chase Chloe. However, he couldn’t help but stop short when he heard the Grand Duke’s question.
“How do you want me to interpret this situation?”
He honestly didn’t know what the Grand Duke of Anata was thinking, asking him that. Was he trying to hold Chloe responsible for her actions without hearing Leila’s explanation, or did he feel sorry after hearing everything?
“…Can’t you just interpret the current situation as you see fit, Your Grace?”
Gerard replied in a cold, subdued voice.
“However, the Blanchett family won’t let this disrespect go. I’m going to hold Her Grace accountable for insulting both me and my wife.”
Gerard gritted his teeth in anger while saying so.
-If I’d known that I would lose both of you, I wouldn’t have brought you together. I would’ve married Gerard instead!
While he was worried about Chloe, who had heard such a ridiculous remark, on the other hand, he was angry at Leila because she couldn’t figure out what should be said and what should not.
“I hope I will never… see your face again, Your Grace the Grand Duchess.”
He left the lounge after spitting a cold remark at Leila, who remained frozen in place with a dazed look. He thought it was more important to go after his wife, who ran out than talking with the arrogant Grand Duchess.
Chloe ran thoughtlessly. Although her pace started to slow down when she ran out of breath, she didn’t stop.
She escaped from the building. The rain fell on her face, but she couldn’t stop her pace.
“My Lady! You’re getting rained on!”
The attendant of the Imperial Palace tried to catch Chloe, but she shook off all the hands that were trying to hold her. She didn’t care about people’s eyes on her because of her rising emotions.
She felt miserable and upset, and she didn’t want to stay in the Imperial Palace any longer. She had to go back. She wanted to go home.
An impetuous touch made her turn around as she was going to make her way to the carriage through the cold rain.
Gerard Blanchett. Her husband.
“Why are you… in the rain?”
Gerard stared at Chloe in concern while also getting rained on. He blocked the raindrops from pouring on Chloe’s face with his big hand.
“Let me go.”
However, Chloe shook off her husband’s hand coldly.
“I’m sick and tired of this.”
When she looked at her husband’s face, the sorrow inside her exploded at once.
“I’m tired of everything now! I don’t know why I even have to hear that from her, and I don’t like how I feel anxious about every single thing you do!”
Chloe’s mind was overwhelmed with a surge of self-pity. She couldn’t understand the reason she had to suffer such humiliation and misery because of her husband’s old love.
“I hate you with all of my heart. Why do you always make me feel so miserable…”
She felt all the resentment directed at her husband. She despised Gerard Blanchett so much and hated herself for not letting him go sooner.
“My Lady, you’ll never run into the Grand Duchess of Anata again. I’ll hold her accountable so that she won’t ever dare to say such a thing again.”
Gerard tried to comfort Chloe somehow.
“I’ll do better, Chloe, so please listen to me…”
However, the words only provoked Chloe’s thoughts, which were filled with rage.
“How and what are you going to do better?”
“I will do my best to make you feel better…”
“For you… Is loving me something that you’re trying to do?”
She had enough of it. Her husband’s words of effort sounded as if loving her was something he had to try.
“…Yes, I’ll try.”
The feeling of helplessness engulfed her whole body when her husband admitted that he was, indeed, trying.
“You’d better stop.”
Chloe said and turned away from Gerard. She wanted him to stop.
It was as if they were talking in circles. Their relationship wasn’t moving anywhere. The entire thing was driving her crazy.
“Chloe, what do you mean by… stop?”
“I don’t know. I just want you to stop.”
What did she want him to stop? His constant emotional drain? Their constant bickering? Or their relationship?
Chloe didn’t know what it was, but she wanted it to stop. She walked past Gerard to the carriage.
However, Gerard couldn’t let her go. He blocked her path with his big stride.
“Why? Because I tried?”
Gerard’s face was stiff, shocked by Chloe’s words telling him to stop.
He was just frustrated as she was facing such unanswered questions.
“No one ever says they are trying to love somebody.”
“What is it… the love that you’re talking about? The passion that disappears after 2 or 3 years? The flaring desire that appears and fades in an instant?”
Gerard was feeling both passion and desire for Chloe. However, it wasn’t the type that would disappear one day.
If his short life had taught him anything, it was that nothing would last without effort. Everything that exists in the world would deteriorate if left as it was. A sword would rust quickly if it wasn’t sharpened daily, and the human body would lose its muscles if it wasn’t trained daily.
However, why did she say love shouldn’t be strived for? For him, he had to constantly try to keep his promise so that her love wouldn’t change.
“Chloe, I try with my all my effort to love you! Is that wrong?”
“What if you get tired? That love would end when you do!”
“I’m not tired.”
Gerard said. Tired was the word that was usually only used when doing something he didn’t like. He tried to practice swordsmanship every day, which was something he was good at but wasn’t fond of.
However, loving his wife? There was no way he would be exhausted. Each day that he loved Chloe was filled with happiness.
“But, you know what?”
Chloe said, heaving out a sigh.
“I don’t know if you’re tired, but I am.”
“You don’t even know exactly what I want, but you’re still trying to get your way.”
“I don’t know if you’ve been striving for it for eight years. However, I never wanted you to be so respectful to me or keep your distance from me in the name of cherishing me.”
Come to think of it, Chloe never asked Gerard to speak with honorifics or to be cautious about physical affection. It was Gerard who acted that way because he thought it would please Chloe.
“If you knew Leila was coming, you should’ve told me so we could discuss it together! Did you not want to bother me? That’s just what you think.”
“And you accepted Leila’s stay in the mansion without even discussing it with me beforehand?! Trembling legs? Her relationship with the current Viscount of Stein? Those things must be more important to you than talking with me!”
No, he actually didn’t care about anything else other than his wife.
He simply thought it would be better to take care of the situation first because his wife seemed to have a rough time that day. He had intended to allow Leila to sleep in the Blanchett’s mansion for one night and send her somewhere else the next day.
However, when he received a message from the Grand Duke of Anata, he thought Leila would disappear again if he sent her away. That was the reason he allowed her to stay in the Blanchett mansion in the meantime.
“That’s not it, ha…”
However, it wasn’t easy to explain everything, and he thought it would sound like an excuse this time.
“…Is it okay like that? Is it? You have no intention of actually listening to what I want!”
Chloe bit her lip harshly when her husband didn’t say anything again.
Chloe wanted one thing. She wanted her husband to share his thoughts with her.
“I want to hear your innermost thoughts, not your efforts to take care of it. Is that so difficult to ask?”
It was indeed so. What she wanted was the hardest thing Gerard Blanchett could do. He could do everything else, but the woman he loved specifically asked for the most difficult thing.
“How can you say that out of everything… Chloe.”
Gerard Blanchett, who had been trying so hard to pretend not to know what his wife wanted from him, eventually spoke up.
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