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[After receiving a call from the Blanchett Family, Count Roem and Catherine practically ran to the Blanchett’s residence.
“Chloe, what is going on… Huh.”
On their way back to the Roem’s residence, Count Roem let out a sigh. The sudden visit of his youngest daughter was embarrassing for him.
“Father, Chloe is currently reflecting on herself. Aren’t you, Chloe?”
Catherine tried to soothe their father’s anger. She tapped Chloe’s shoes with her foot to give a signal.
“Right, please forgive her just this once. You know that she’s usually not like this at all, don’t you?”
“Tsk. I’ll forgive you because you feel guilty, but you’re grounded for the time being.”
Catherine held her chest in relief when their father let it slip without getting too angry at her sister. Then, she spared Chloe a concerned glance.
“I don’t think Chloe’s recent illness has healed. She should meet with the doctor again.”
“Yes, we can arrange that.”
Chloe nodded at her family’s concerns before turning away. She could still see Blanchett’s residence from the carriage window as it became farther and farther away.
Gerard didn’t even glance at her until she left. Chloe forced her gaze away after searching for him again.
That was it. It was time to let Gerard go.
He was someone whom she couldn’t be happy with. Holding him by her side would only make both of them miserable.
It was enough for her to see Gerard alive and well after she returned to the past. She could give up on him now.
No, she wanted to give up. She had no strength left to love him now.
Chloe burst into tears right at that moment. She was so hurt despite the reasons she gave herself. Her heart was aching as if a part of her heart had been ripped out forcefully.
“Chloe, what happened? Does it hurt a lot?”
Catherine, who was sitting from across Chloe, was surprised and moved to the seat beside her youngest sister.
“Sister, I’m in so much pain…”
“Oh, no. Father, please tell the coachman to go faster!”
Catherine pulled Chloe into her arms and stroked her head carefully. Chloe cried sorrowfully in her sister’s arms.
It was the last tear that Chloe shed for Gerard. She gave up on her unrequited love for her old crush along with that last tear.
However, she couldn’t let go of one thing. He couldn’t give up on her son, who was different from Gerard.
“I need to meet Abel…”
Ironically, it was her determination to find Abel that served as her strength to carry on with life. If it weren’t for him, she would have let go of everything.
‘Yes, this is just the repetition of the past.’
The only hope she had was repeating the past to find Abel.
‘…It won’t be hard at all. I can do it.’
As soon as Chloe arrived at the Roem’s residence and made up her mind, she sent a letter of apology to Gerard. She explained that she had such a vivid dream when suffering from fever, which led to her acting so impudently.]
However, it wasn’t Chloe, but Gerard, who was actually repeating the past.
[The day Leila introduced them to each other. Gerard acted more callously than he had ever been to her.
“Pleased to meet you again, young Lady Roem. May you remain peaceful in the arms of the Empire. I’m Gerard Blanchett.”
He greeted her with a polite smile.
“May you remain peaceful in the arms of the Empire. I’m Chloe…”
Chloe almost said her last name ‘Blanchett’ by mistake. A tinge of unrefined sorrow washed over her. She took a short breath before continuing her words.
“I’m Chloe Roem.”
Gerard watched her with curiosity when she took a pause for a moment when introducing herself. However, he turned his head away quickly. As if he didn’t want to meet her blue eyes.
Chloe couldn’t help but let out a chuckle at Gerard’s subtle movement. Just as in the past, it was obvious that he didn’t like Chloe.]
Thick teardrops dropped from Gerard’s green eyes.
He couldn’t believe that Chloe knew what he thought of her at their first meeting. He simply thought that he was able to hide his emotions well.
“Ha, not anymore.”
He was overwhelmed by her blue eyes. Even when he was in a bad mood, he would be comforted after looking into those calm eyes, and he became anxious when they frowned, even for a moment.
“Not now, Chloe…”
He loved her eyes very much. Not just her eyes, but also her soft brown hair, her lips when she smiled softly, as well as her wise and easy-going personality.
The fact that she didn’t like sports, cried a lot, and pretended a lot. Everything.
“I just love you for that.”
He didn’t love for any other reason. For Gerard Blanchett, loving Chloe needed no reason.
However, his love could no longer reach Chloe. That fact seemed to claw at his heart. He had no choice but to swallow his dry saliva along with the painful feeling.
Gerard realized it once and for all. If he ever put off saying something, he may not ever be able to say it. He had to continuously express it if he did love her.
Time did not last forever, nor did it wait for anyone. Gerard, stuck between the past and the future, realized it in his pain.
From then, Gerard had to repeat their youth. And in each moment, he had to feel exactly what Chloe was feeling.
At first, Gerard was more wary of Chloe than he used to be in the past. It wasn’t easy to be friendly to a girl who suddenly visited out of the blue and cried in front of him.
However, as Chloe kept maintaining a calm and sensible appearance, he gradually let down his guard. Thus, Gerard and Chloe also attended the Imperial Princess’ birthday banquet as partners.
[When Leila and Frederick disappeared, the vestige of leisure in Gerard to stay around for a while disappeared in a blink of an eye. Gerard and Chloe’s eyes met when he quickly scanned the room.
Chloe knew he wanted to go find them right away. Once again, the cowardly Gerard Blanchett couldn’t even speak, but conveyed it through his gaze.
“Do you want to go, sir?”
Chloe asked while raising the corner of her lips.
“Please feel free to go.”
Once again, she sent Gerard out of her own will. However, she didn’t say that she would wait like she did in the past.
She would never wait for Gerard Blanchett again.]
“Sh*t, no way. No, you can’t… Don’t leave Chloe alone!”
Gerard cursed as he clenched his fists. He didn’t realize it, but his mouth was hanging open as time passed by.
[Just like what happened in the past, people’s murmurs rang in her ears.
“So, it’s like that. The Marquis of Blanchett left the young Lady of Roem for the young Lady of Stein…”
“Are you sure the young Lady of Roem has a crush on Sir Blanchett?”
“I feel pitiful towards the young Lady of Roem. I’m not sure if I would want to be the substitute for the young Lady of Stein.”
Chloe wanted to chuckle upon hearing the group’s murmurs. The young ladies and young masters there assessed the situation accurately.
She would’ve denied it if it was her past self, but she admitted it now.
‘Yes, I am a substitute.’
Chloe flashed a smile at the groups. Her heart was already too exhausted and couldn’t afford to be angry anymore upon the remarks that she had heard for nine years.]
“No, it’s not like that.”
Gerard repeatedly denied her thoughts about the situation.
He wondered why his wife continued to care about Leila even after hearing those remarks. He managed to take care of people who mocked them as a couple in his own way, but it seemed that his wife had heard such things for a long time from people whom he failed to take care of.
“I never thought about you that way, Chloe… Don’t listen to them, yes?”
Gerard looked at Chloe’s side profile as he begged.
Indeed, he’d never considered Chloe a substitute for Leila. Chloe was someone he dared not to think of as a substitute for anyone.
Chloe’s slender shoulders, standing alone in the ballroom, kept catching others’ attention. He couldn’t even assume how much weight she had been carrying on her own which left a bitter taste in his mouth.
However, the book didn’t let him linger.
The page was turned and it was shown that he sought advice from Chloe.
[“Young Lady Roem, what should I do?”
“Sir, wouldn’t it be meaningful if you figure it out on your own?”
Chloe answered, lifting her teacup.
“No, Leila won’t meet me.”]
Gerard gritted his teeth. He wanted to kill himself in the past for seeking advice regarding Leila from Chloe.
He didn’t want his wife to hear everything. He wanted to cover his wife’s ears or cover the b*st*rd’s mouth which had spoken carelessly.
However, Chloe remained calm, which was a stark contrast to his chaotic presence. She simply listened to whatever he said with a graceful smile.
Her heart was drying up inside.
Chloe couldn’t feel hurt anymore when Gerard used or pushed her away. Her expectations of him were decreasing day by day.
However, despite Chloe’s calm demeanor, they grew closer. Chloe tried to act as much as she used to do in the past, and Gerard in the book was Gerard in the past.
Gerard noticed one thing when assessing the situation from a third-party perspective.
He despised blue eyes, quiet and inconspicuous personalities. She was a typical young lady from a noble family.
Someone who had nothing that could pique his interest.
And despite that, he was drawn to her.
Gerard recalled conversations he had with Leila in the past.
–What do you think of Chloe?
-What about her?
-I thought you liked her, too, or didn’t you? You don’t like having anyone else around when we have tea time, but you didn’t say anything when she joined us.
-Did you ask her to join us because of that?
-No, I asked her because I wanted you to get close. I think it would be good if my precious friends can get to know each other as well.
-Phew, it’s just… she’s not boisterous.
-So she’s not bad?
-Yes, she’s not bad.
However, despite saying she wasn’t bad to be around, he became quite gentle towards Chloe. As if he wanted to be seen in a good light.
From accepting Chloe Roem to join their tea time to buying a cloth for her when her skirt was torn during the Empire anniversary festival, giving compliments to the paintings that she worked on, taking her to the painting studio when she seemed upset, and not cancelling tea time when Leila was absent.
It wasn’t like him.
‘From the beginning. It wasn’t like I had an ulterior motive from the beginning.’
However, contrary to how Gerard felt about Chloe in the book or what Gerard assumed from the book, Chloe was preparing to leave.
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