Chapter 8

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“Duke, did you not even think once that my husband’s behavior was strange?”

 

Enoch was silent for a moment as Ines’s question was exactly what he had thought.

 

‘It was definitely strange.’

 

The fact that Ryan had nothing to do with painting as a child.

 

And from marriage to suddenly starting to become famous.

 

If Ines had painted on his behalf, all the puzzles fit together.

 

Meanwhile, Ines glanced at Enoch, who was in trouble.

 

‘Okay, that’s enough.’

 

She couldn’t tell everything from the beginning. 

 

Doubts had already been provoked, and now it was time to give him time to think.

 

‘The Duke of Sussex has a rational personality.’ 

 

So the more he thought about it, the more he would come to realize that the current situation was suspicious.

 

Ines took a step back and smiled.

 

 “I’ll give you the picture, so take a closer look.”

 

Then she slightly lifted the hem of her dress and did a curtsy.

 

“Then I’ll be waiting for your further contact, Duke of Sussex,”

 

After saying those words, Ines turned around lightly.

 

Enoch, who was looking at her distant back, called Ines.

 

“Countess Brierton.”

 

“Yes?”

 

“Take it.”

 

Enoch pulled something out of his pocket and held it out to her.

 

Ines, who had taken it suddenly, had a surprised face.

 

It was a luxurious handkerchief with delicate embroidered corners.

 

Enoch continued to speak indifferently.

 

 “You got graphite on your hands. Wipe it off before going in.”

 

“…”

 

Ines choked up for a moment.

 

Enoch, who had never had anything to do with her until now, noticed that her hand was covered in graphite and handed her a handkerchief.

 

Ryan, who gained fame for Ines’ paintings, never, never once…

 

‘No one had been this considerate before.’ 

 

Ines, who was biting her lips gently, smiled faintly.

 

“Thank you.”

 

“It was nothing. Oh by the way, Countess Brierton.”

 

“Yes?” Ines looked at Enoch with a puzzled face.

 

Enoch suddenly asked a question.

 

“Does the Countess subscribe to Elton Magazine?”

 

It was a bit of an odd question.

 

Ines, who blinked both eyes, answered quickly.

 

“Yes, I read it every day.”

 

“Good.”

 

Enoch nodded and continued to speak quietly.

 

“For the next week, I ask you to carefully look at the advertisements on Elton’s page.”

 

“Yes? What do you mean?”

 

Ines was bewildered, but the two had been alone for too long to answer the question. If anyone saw the two of them together, things could get a bit annoying.

 

“Then, Sir, I will go in first.”

 

”Yes.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

 Ines, who asked for permission, quickly headed towards the banquet hall. Meanwhile, Enoch was captured by a strange feeling.

 

‘……that expression just now.’

 

The expression of Ines as she bowed and said thanks when he handed the handkerchief. Somehow it seemed very sad.

 

‘Why did the Countess have such an expression?’

 

Minor facial expressions that he normally wouldn’t have paid much attention to kept cluttering his mind. Perhaps that was why Enoch couldn’t take his eyes off Ines, who was getting farther away.

 

***

 

As soon as Ines entered the banquet hall, Ryan came to her.

 

 “Ines, are you kidding me now?”

 

Ryan, who glanced around, lowered his voice and became very annoyed.

 

“I mean, do I have to stand in the banquet hall stupidly because I don’t have a partner?”

 

“…”

 

Ines stared at Ryan. Although she had been gone for quite some time, Ryan was only considering his own face.

 

‘If I was in Ryan’s position, I would have asked why Ryan was away first.’

 

‘No, I would have looked for where Ryan was in the first place and worried about his well-being…’

 

… Ines realized once again that the magnitude of their feelings for each other was so different.

 

Ines, who was biting her lip, answered indifferently.

 

“I had a headache, so I came outstretched to get some air.”

 

She said so just in case Ryan was worried.

 

“Do you have a headache? Ha…”

 

Ryan just clicked his tongue as if he was stunned.

 

‘Yeah, I was stupid for expecting it.’

 

Ines, who smirked briefly, asked Ryan.

 

“Then why don’t you have a partner?”

 

“What?” 

 

“You danced with Charlotte for the first dance before. So I thought you would be with Charlotte.”

 

Ryan, who was stabbed in the heart, shut his mouth.

 

No matter how close Charlotte was to Ines, Ryan’s legal wife was Ines. Nevertheless, Ryan always asked Charlotte to dance first.

 

Ines spoke quietly.

 

“You always have a partner named Charlotte, so you didn’t care where I went.”

 

 “… … No, that’s….!”

 

Ryan was furious, as if he had been caught.

 

In fact, it was because Ines’ words were true. A while ago, long after Ines disappeared.

 

Ryan and Charlotte didn’t care about Ines’ whereabouts at all, and they danced to several songs together. But there was a buzzing that grabbed their ears.

 

<By the way, the Countess Brierton hasn’t been around for a while.>

 

<The Count is with Lady Jason.>

 

<Are the husband and wife on good terms?>

 

<They’re always separate.>

 

After hearing the whispers, Charlotte pulled away from Ryan’s side with a slightly embarrassed face.

 

<Count, I’ll see you later.>

 

<Okay.>

 

After breaking up with Charlotte, Ryan started looking for Ines.

 

However, Ines wasn’t there, and the atmosphere around him made me shiver for nothing.

 

Then Ines was back just in time. But what she said to him was unexpected.

 

“I just want to go back, I’m tired.”

 

Ryan openly looked disappointed.

 

“No, already?”

 

Ines stared at Ryan with a strange face.

 

Even though she said that she had a headache and that she wanted to go home to rest because she was tired, he had no worries. 

 

‘You don’t even care.’

 

Ines’s smile grew a little darker.

 

“There is no need to be disappointed. Why don’t you stay by yourself and enjoy the party a little more?” (Ines)

 

“What?”

 

“It’s an important party hosted by the royal family, I’ll understand.”

 

Ryan flinched. It was because he noticed the thorn embedded in Ines’ voice.

 

But.

 

“Okay, go home first and rest.” Ryan forced a smile.

 

“It’s a social life. You understand.”

 

“Yes.”

 

Ines, who took a glimpse of Ryan, left the banquet hall immediately.

 

Ryan looked at her cold back as she left.

 

‘Well, if Ines is angry, should I care?’ Soon, Ryan shrugged inwardly.

 

‘On the way home, I can just get her some flowers.’

 

So, with a pleasant step, Ryan cut into the crowd.

 

***

 

In the carriage back to the townhouse.

 

Ines grabbed her chest and took a short, deep breath.

 

It was because the tension was relieved later when she was alone. 

 

‘I can’t believe I talked with the Duke of Sussex alone.’ 

 

Of course to have her divorce, to recover the paintings she had drawn so far, she desperately needed the Duke’s help.

 

‘Still, I really didn’t think I’d have the courage to approach the Duke.’ 

 

She remembered what Ryan and Charlotte told her every time.

 

<You can’t do that.>

 

<What do you think you can do? Just stay quiet.>

 

That stern, mocking voice.

 

However, Ines managed to persuade the Duke of Sussex on her own. As proof of that, isn’t there this handkerchief?

 

Ines looked down at the handkerchief that Enoch had given her.

 

A white handkerchief stained with graphite. Although it may seem insignificant to others, it was an item with special meaning to her.

 

‘I can do it too.’

 

That Ines had the courage.

 

Evidence proving that she took the first step to regain her own life.

 

‘… Please, the Duke of Sussex needs to accept my proposal.’ 

 

After staring at the handkerchief for a long time, Ines folded it neatly and put it in her bag.

 

Then she looked out the window.

 

The street lights were messed up outside the moving carriage.

 

It was like her broken heart.

 

“Ha…”

 

A long sigh escaped Ines’ lips.