Just in time, a cautious knock sounded.
But Ines did not respond to the sound.
She didn’t even have the energy to react.
After waiting for a long time and no answer came back, a desperate voice called Ines again.
It was Mary.
“Are you okay? You haven’t been out for days already….”
Ever since Ines had been holed up in the atelier in the residence, Mary had been stomping her feet worrying about Ines.
It wasn’t that Ines didn’t know Mary’s nervousness.
“……it’s all right.”
In the end, Ines answered in a hoarse voice.
The voice she heard after a long time was very unfamiliar.
She only answered, but Mary’s voice brightened.
“Oh my God, my lady!”
“It’s okay, you don’t have to worry about me. I just want to spend a little more time alone.”
“Yes, I understand that feeling. But I……”
Mary, who hesitated for a long time, carefully opened her mouth.
“………A guest has come.”
“Yes. The Duke of Sussex has been visiting for several days.”
In an instant, Ines’ eyes widened slightly.
It was a name she had been hiding.
As soon as she thought of him again, her insides tingled like she had swallowed a shard.
“Tell him to go back.”
Ines opened her mouth rather urgently.
“Tell him that I am really sorry. Also,tell him not to come visit me in the future….”
Not to come.
Those words pierce her heart like an awl.
Ines breathed heavily.
‘But this is right.’
Enoch was a person who did not spare any support to discover Ines’s talent and establish her as an artist.
Although his first encounter with Ines was his offer, Enoch thereafter was devoted to her.
For Enoch did not hide his intimacy between him and her.
Rather, he exposed it to the whole world…..
‘Enoch suffered damage because of me.’
Ines closed her eyes tightly.
‘The more the friendship with me is revealed, the more it will harm Enoch’s honor.’
So she got this right.
She preferred to keep her distance from Enoch, at least until Charlotte’s affairs were perfectly sorted out….
“Countess of Brierton.”
For a moment, Ines was startled.
There was no way she couldn’t tell.
‘Why is Enoch here!’
Frightened, Ines involuntarily raised her voice.
“Mary, the Duke of Sussex is not allowed to come to my residence……!”
“You don’t have to blame Mary.”
Once again Enoch’s graceful voice broke into the conversation.
“It’s because I insisted on taking responsibility for everything.”
“…..Your Excellency, Duke of Sussex.”
Ines didn’t know what to do.
Of course, Enoch was also one of the reasons she settled in the Brierton residence.
By intentionally reducing her encounters with Enoch to a minimum, she was trying to prevent even a little bit of people’s gossip about Enoch.
But Enoch openly came to Ines like this……
“Can you open the door for a moment?”
Enoch spoke softly but firmly.
And Ines couldn’t resist those words.
The door that had been closed for a long time opened.
Beyond that, the haggard face of Ines was revealed.
Enoch gritted his teeth.
Ines lowered her eyes to avoid Enoch’s gaze and opened her mouth in a subdued voice.
“You can’t come here like this.”
“If you stay with me….. It will harm Your Excellency’s honor as well.”
Persuading Enoch to do so, Ines gently bit her lip.
‘It ended up like this.’
She didn’t want to put pressure on Enoch in any way.
Because he was the one who saved Ines.
She didn’t want Enoch to regret accepting her offer and holding her hand.
By the way……
‘because of me…….’
No matter how confined to the residence, it was not difficult to guess how the situation outside would turn out.
As the dispute with Ines grew stronger, they would question Enoch’s discernment.
‘That shining person…..What if you end up in the mud with me?’
Just thinking about it made her stomach feel cold, as if she had swallowed a large piece of ice.
Meanwhile, Enoch stared intently at Ines’s darkening face.
“Excuse me for a moment.”
With those words, Enoch strode into the atelier.
The door was closed.
Ines looked up at Enoch with the blank expression on her face like a lost child.
Enoch smiled at her.
“You promised to call me Enoch, not Your Excellency, right?”
Ines lost her words for a moment.
Enoch was still the way she had known him.
Affectionate and calm.
In his blue eyes looking at her, there was not a single sign of him reprimanding her.
On the contrary, Ines was even more guilty.
“… I’m sorry.”
Ines muttered in a thin voice.
Then Enoch tilted his head as if he really didn’t understand.
“What are you sorry about?”
“Because of this controversy, Enoch is also being followed by gossip.”
Ines took a deep breath and quickly continued.
“If it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t have had to listen to those gossips. So, this is something I should apologize for.”
“No, it’s not Ines’ fault.”
Enoch firmly drew the line.
“With documents tampered with and fake signatures created, you are the one who suffers the most.”
“You’re just a victim, so why are you apologizing to me?”
Enoch asked calmly.
Even so, Ines was just guilty.
To the point where it was difficult to even look at Enoch’s face.
“If you hadn’t been with me, Enoch….”
Enoch cut off Ines’s words halfway through.
He spoke calmly.
“I didn’t come all this way to hear an apology from you.”
At those words, Ines stared at Enoch with her wet eyes.
It was her sunken gaze like a rain-soaked bush.
Enoch spoke softly.
“It wasn’t my intention, but I’ve lived my whole life away from people.”
At those words, Ines reflexively stiffened her shoulders.
From the issue of succession to the throne between Edward and Enoch, to the issue of nobles who intervened in the middle and arbitrarily messed with the brothers.
Because he knew all along.
‘A person like that…..Because of me, he endured all sorts of gossip.’
That’s how Ines tried to blame herself once again.
Enoch continued calmly.
“And you, Ines, are the first person I ever felt love for, even though I don’t like people very much.”
Dark green eyes that had been soaked in despair the whole time opened wide.
As if she had been hit in the head by one, towards Ines, who was staring blankly at him.
Enoch spoke clearly.
“I can’t give up on such a person so easily, now can I?”
“My love is not so light.”
At that sincere confession, Ines felt speechless.
At the same time, Enoch’s eyes dimmed slightly.
“I would rather apologize to you.”
“You were struggling alone like this, weren’t you?”
Enoch who said that looked really distressed.
He really felt sorry for Ines…
Ines couldn’t bear to open her mouth.
“Each person has a different way of overcoming hardships, and I thought Ines might need some alone time, so I left it as is.”
A gentle hand caressed Ines’ cheek and straightened the hair that clung to her forehead.
“I don’t think that was the case.”
It’s then that Ines burst out crying.
Because of her, Enoch was also in a situation where he was receiving the attention of people he usually avoided so much.
There was not a single hint of displeasure toward her in Enoch’s manner.
He just genuinely cared about her.
“You really need a helping hand and I couldn’t be with you a little sooner.”
A quiet voice rang out.
“….It’s just that I’m sorry.”
“Why is Enoch apologizing?”
Ines’ eyes burned red.
She stuttered her words, swallowing her cries.
“It’s not Enoch’s job to apologize. I, I am….”
[T/N: child, stop. Just cry in those firm noble arms *ahem*]
Tears that had been falling one by one, burst out like a dam that had been blocked for a long time.
She couldn’t control herself at all.
[T/N: see you in the next chapter 🤧, the novel gods are chopping a lot of onions. ]