Chapter 23

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Philen’s unexpected action made my heart pounding as the storm had passed. 

 

I was glad it worked out, otherwise, he would be a laughing stock among people for a long time.

 

Not only Philen, but also me who was beside him.

 

It was terrifying just to think about it.

 

Once again, I swept my chest relieved that I had made it through safely.

 

But, on the other hand, Philen looked displeased.

 

“What’s wrong, Duke?”

 

“…no, nothing.”

 

Who would believe you if you said no with that face? 

 

I was curious, but it seemed like he didn’t want to talk about it, so I didn’t ask deeply.

 

Then Philen’s face became a little more discontented.

 

His sour look continued throughout the party.

 

The other nobles looked at us strangely, so I stabbed him in the side to tell him to take care of his expression, but it didn’t work.

 

It was the same in the carriage on the way home from the banquet.

 

As he looked out the window with the words ‘I’m sulking’ all over his body, I had no choice but to ask him again.

 

“What on earth is the matter with you?”

 

As soon as I spoke, Philen asked back as if he had been waiting.

 

“Why didn’t you tell me beforehand?”

 

That’s what he said.

 

I didn’t know what he meant, so I just stared at him, and Philen added.

 

“Why didn’t you tell me beforehand that there was such a custom?”

 

Custom? 

 

Ah, was he talking about not holding another ceremony when there’s a great ceremony in the Imperial Palace?

 

From his appearance earlier, I thought he knew.

 

Ridiculous. Why did he act on his own and then question me? 

 

This time, as I stared at him dumbfoundedly, Philen put deep wrinkles on his forehead.

 

“Did you want to see me humiliated by the Emperor?”

 

What on earth is going on in your head to be able to think like that?

 

I really wanted to look into his head.

 

“There’s no way I would want that.”

 

“Then why didn’t you tell me beforehand?”

 

“Did you give me a chance to talk?”

 

When I answered back as if it was ridiculous, Philen said in a muffled voice, as if he had just remembered that he hadn’t done so.

 

“But, it would be better if you told me in advance.”

 

“How could I know what you’re going to do, when you’re going to do it, and tell you in advance? I’m sorry, but I can’t foretell.”

 

Then, I kept my mouth shut when I was about to say that I never thought he would have forgotten such basic common sense.

 

If I told him that far, that proud Philen would definitely run amok.

 

Even now, when I pointed out his mistakes, he kept his mouth shut and had a sour look on his face.

 

He knew what he had done was wrong, but he didn’t want to admit it because of his pride.

 

Seriously, his pride was unnecessarily strong.

 

Well, it was natural for his pride to be so strong as he lived his life as the son of the duke, the pinnacle of the nobility, but at this time, it was a little frustrating.

 

The thought of living with him in the future made me suffocated and darkened my eyes.

 

I, am I really okay with this?

 

I had this question, but the answer was set.

 

Even if it wasn’t okay, I had to endure it unconditionally.

 

If it’s not for this position, I would be a worthless count lady.

 

If so, it would be a more difficult ordeal than it was now, so I had to endure it somehow.

 

There had been no conversation between us since then. It was such a heavy silence. But it wasn’t burdensome at all. It was rather pleasant. Because I was more tired of arguing with him.

 

Soon after, the carriage arrived at the mansion. Philen opened the door with his own hands before the coachman opened it.

 

“Phil!”

 

Cecily greeted Philen passionately. 

 

Philen smiled as if he had never been sullen, and hugged Cecily tightly.

 

It was the appearance of a sweet lover no matter who looked at it.

 

Even with Cecily, it was clear that Philen loved her. And he was going to get her out of the mansion once she had the baby? 

 

Nonsense.

 

Did Philen think I was an ignorant fool to believe such a blatant lie? Or did he ignore me?

 

I thought it would be the latter rather than the former, and I felt bitter. The question, ‘Am I okay with this?’, had deepened a bit.

 

I entered the mansion with a slight frown.

 

Sarah followed me after glancing at Philen and Cecily, who still had a sweet atmosphere, with displeased eyes. 

 

As soon as I got back to my room, I changed my clothes and sat down at my desk.

 

Even though it looked like eating and idling, participating in a party was physically and mentally exhausting.

 

I wanted to get a good rest, but I couldn’t because I had too much work to do. 

 

Other than that, I had to quickly review the documents related to the rainy season and send them to the estate.

 

So I worked hard without taking a break.

 

It was the same the next day.

 

I was too busy to eat, so I stayed in my room, looked at the documents, and roughly settled my meal with a sandwich.

 

The only time I went outside was to see off Philen attending the party. The next day’s party, which only men participate in, was held during the day, so Philen left the mansion a little past noon.

 

For some reason, Cecily didn’t show up, but I didn’t question it much. I was busy with other things right now, so there was no time for me to pay attention to Cecily.

 

I went back to my room and while I was working frantically, I heard a knock.

 

“Come in.”

 

In the mansion without Philen, the only people who would come to visit me were the servants, so I naturally spoke informally.

 

“Are you busy, Lady Thebesa?”

 

Unexpectedly, it was Cecily who came.

 

I couldn’t believe she’s coming to me. 

 

When an unexpected person appeared, I stopped what I was doing and looked at her.

 

Behind Cecily, I saw Sarah stamping her feet helplessly. 

 

When our eyes met, Sarah burst into tears. She kept apologizing with gestures, saying she was sorry for being unable to stop Cecily.

 

It was annoying that Cecily came, but I didn’t blame or resent Sarah. Because this was something she couldn’t stop.

 

How could a maid dare to stop a woman who had her master’s child?

 

“Get out of here, Sarah.”

 

“My Lady, the tea…”

 

“I don’t need it.”

 

I had no intention of having tea and chatting with Cecily.

 

After Sarah left, I turned over the document and asked Cecily.

 

“What’s the matter?”

 

“You seem very busy.”

 

“Can’t you see?”

 

My words came out bluntly, as she was a very unpleasant person to deal with.

 

“I don’t know what’s going on, but as you can see, I’m busy. Will you come back another time?”

 

It was empty words. I didn’t want Cecily to visit me anymore. So I hoped that there would be no face-to-face conversations, and I didn’t want to hear any news from her.

  

“It’ll only take a minute.” 

 

If someone made it so obvious that they didn’t like me, I would feel bad and just leave. But Cecily didn’t do that, instead, she sat down on the sofa with a soft smile.

 

Who allowed her to sit down? I didn’t even give her permission to sit down. 

 

My eyebrows frowned on their own.

 

I was going to say something to Cecily, but when I saw her belly, I held it in. 

 

The fact that she was pregnant served as a shield against the criticism of everything she did. There were also times when Philen overprotected her.

 

“I have something to tell you, would you like to sit here?”

 

That’s why she could lift her chin so high and spoke to me in a commanding tone.

 

I didn’t like her actions, her expressions, and everything she said.

 

So, I looked at the document again and answered.

 

“I told you, I’m busy. If you have something to tell me, come next time.”

 

“Don’t you have time to talk for a minute?”

 

“Yes. I don’t.”

 

It was true, and even if there was, I had no intention of using it for her.

 

“Then just listen to me.”

 

Are you still going to say what you want to say?

 

I pressed my twitching eyebrows and looked at Cecily. 

 

If she didn’t go out on her own, I could ask the servant to drag her out. But I couldn’t because I was sure Philen would say something later.

 

“What is it about?”

 

It seemed like it would be best to just listen to what she wanted to say and send her out quickly.

 

When I expressed my willingness to listen, Cecily clapped her hands in delight.

 

“I heard from Phil that we’re going back to the estate next week, is that true?”

 

“Yes, that’s true.”

 

“Are you going out before then?”

 

Why are you asking about my schedule all of a sudden? Don’t tell me, do you want to go out together?

 

If that’s the case, I would send her out without listening anymore, but it wasn’t.

 

“There is something I want the Lady to buy for me.”

 

Instead, Cecily spat out more ridiculous words. 

 

I asked Cecily in a bewildered tone.

 

“You want me to buy something for you?”

 

“Yes. I want you to buy me some clothes for my child to wear. Toys too.”

 

It’s already ridiculous to say in a commanding tone that you want me to buy something for you, and you want me to buy your child’s stuff?

 

The ridiculousness made me speechless. 

 

Bewildered, I stared blankly at her, not knowing that the ink on the quill was staining the document.

 

Cecily then asked, tilting her head.

 

“Why are you looking at me like that?”

 

“…you don’t know what you’ve done wrong?”

 

“I don’t know.”

 

Ttug–

 

The quill is completely broken. 

 

So when the document was covered with ink, I sighed and threw the broken quill into the trash can.

 

“Why do I have to do that?”

 

“Because the Lady will be this child’s foster mother.”

 

Cecily replied as if I was asking what was so obvious.

 

“A mother should do that for her child, right?”

 

I hated to admit it, but it was true.

 

Philen said that Cecily’s child would be registered in the family register. So, as long as I married Philen, I would become her child’s mother.

 

Even if I didn’t want to.

 

Just like Countess Thebesa did.

 

“I want to go by myself, but as you can see, I can’t stand for long these days because of my big belly.”

 

Cecily gently swept her belly and continued.

 

“If I had been in the royal palace, the ladies-in-waiting would have taken care of me. But since I’m not, I’m asking the Lady, who has a similar status as the ladies-in-waiting.”