Chapter 1. The fiancé is back
She must be talking about Cecily. But why is she in the parlor? I never call her.
“Philen, no, did the Duke bring her there?”
“No… I heard Master sent her first to greet the guests.”
It was the mansion’s hostess’s job to greet the guests, not a mistress’s job. But he gave that role to Cecily.
It was absurd. I didn’t know what to say. No, did I have anything to say? I wasn’t the hostess of the mansion either. I was just acting as a hostess under Philen’s tacit permission.
Thinking so, I felt bitter as I thought that my situation and Cecily’s were the same.
“My lady, what should we do?”
“There’s nothing we can do. If the Duke tells her to do that, she’ll follow it.”
“Ugh.” Misa was frustrated with my answer. She shook her head and went outside.
The frustration was the same for me. I wanted to ask Philen what on earth he was thinking, but I couldn’t because I was afraid that a terrible answer would come back.
You’re really stupid, Leila.
And like a fool, after putting the documents in the safe, I followed Misa to the parlor.
Philen was already in the parlor.
If I had been alone with Cecily, it would have been awkward, so I felt relieved seeing him here, but at the same time, I felt uncomfortable.
Like a thorn stuck in my throat. “You are here, Duke.”
“Lady Thebesa is here, too.”
After a hard greeting with Philen, my eyes spontaneously turned to Cecily next to him. Should I also say hello to Cecily?
I thought it would be better to do it because there’s a lot of eyes, but I was hesitating because I didn’t want to.
“Hello, Lady Thebesa.”
Cecily greeted me first in a friendly manner. I was greeted and it was not polite to ignore it.
I tried to take it easy, but when I saw the clothes Cecily was wearing, I belatedly opened my eyes wide.
If my memory wasn’t wrong, the clothes Cecily was wearing right now were the maternity clothes that the predecessor Duchess gave me as a gift.
It’s been nearly a decade, but when I closed my eyes, I still clearly remembered what happened when I received that maternity clothes.
“To give you this, who hasn’t been married yet, I feel so excited, but what can I do? I want to quickly see you wear it.”
The Duchess smiled shyly like a girl and gave me that clothes as a gift.
She said she received the maternity clothes from the Duchess of Seonseondae. She said she wanted to do something like this when she had a daughter-in-law.
“A daughter who resembles you would be very pretty, Leila. If that’s the case, I hope my hair looks like you.”
She said she wanted to see me wearing those clothes before prenatal. She said she wanted to see my baby and gave me that clothes as a gift.
But why is she wearing it? Clothes that I have never worn.
Someday, if I had children the way the predecessor Duchess hoped, the clothes I kept in silence…
“…how come you’re wearing it?” I asked as I was crying in my heart.
Cecily looked at Philen with frightened eyes.
“I told her to wear it.” Philen stepped forward, hiding Cecily behind his back. “So don’t say anything to her, Lady Thebesa.”
Hang in there, Leila. There’s a lot of eyes here. There are not only maids and servants, but also outsiders, so you have to put up with it.
There was nothing good to show them that there was a conflict between him and me, but I couldn’t do it even though I knew I had to stop here.
“Then, what should I say to the Duke?”
It was because the emotions that I had kept so far exploded.
“You’re overreacting to a single piece of clothing.”
Philen frowned as if he didn’t understand my reaction.
“Besides, it’s a maternity clothes that the Lady doesn’t need. Wouldn’t it be better for those who need it to wear it than to leave it unattended?”
“Who said I left those clothes unattended?”
No way. I valued it more than any other clothes and kept it in a box in my dressing room. The evidence was that clothes that were nearly 10 years was still intact without any damage.
“No? Cecily found it in a box unattended.”
“I put it in the box, that’s right… wait, she found it? Not a maid, but her?”
“Do you have any problems?”
Looking at that stupid question, Philen seemed to have no idea what the problem was. Well, I wouldn’t have asked that if I knew.
“The dressing room is my private space.” I pointed out his mistake with a prickly eyebrow.
“No matter how the Duke is the owner of the mansion, it is against the law to let anyone into my private space without my permission.”
Even if a servant or a maid had come in, I would have been in a bad mood, but I mean that woman…
I felt even worse. My stomach boiled at the thought of her going through my clothes and jewelry box.
“I couldn’t help it.” Philen made excuses with an annoying expression. “Cecily had to greet the guests, but she didn’t have anything else to wear. The clothes she had are too shabby, and the ready-made dresses don’t fit her.”
“Then you should have come and asked me to lend her my clothes.”
“I couldn’t talk to the Lady because you were in a meeting.”
It was a lame excuse. Even during the meeting, if there was anything to say, I could always answer it. I’m sure he didn’t think to ask me for permission from the start. It was so ridiculous to make such an excuse.
When I stared at him, Philen sighed. “Therefore, if the Lady had ordered Cecily’s clothes earlier, this wouldn’t have happened.”
What are you saying now…
“Are you saying it’s my fault that this happened?”
“If you look at it, it is. I wouldn’t have done that if the Lady had taken care of her in advance.”
I was dumbfounded that no words came out. I didn’t do anything because I didn’t know what to say. I was just swallowing the air and looking at Philen with bewildered eyes when I heard a whimper somewhere.
“So, I’m sorry.”
It was Cecily.
She dyed the tip of her nose red and wiped her moist eyes with the back of her hand.
“This is because of me…”
Her face looked pretty because she was originally beautiful.
“This wouldn’t have happened if I only had clothes… I’m really sorry.”
She seemed pitiful to me, seeing her shoulders drooping, crying, and apologizing repeatedly. But in the eyes of other people, would it be excessive?
Not only outsiders, but also maids and servants looked at Cecily with pitiful eyes, and once in a while, their gaze towards me was cold.
There was a flurry of eyes saying that it was too harsh just because of a piece of clothing.
“Ha.” Vain laughter came out.
I could make excuses, but I didn’t want to because I felt so pathetic
Philen wiped Cecily’s tears directly with his handkerchief.
“You don’t have to be sorry. You didn’t do anything wrong.”
“Even if you do it.” Philen consoled Cecily in a friendly voice like I wasn’t here.
Before coming here, I thought Cecily was a stranger, but it seemed that the stranger was me.
No laughter came out anymore. My situation here felt so stupid.
“I’ll go back to my room.”
“Yes?” Misa was surprised at my words and looked at me. “But My Lady, you have to see what you’ll wear at the banquet…”
“I’ll see them later. Bring them to my office once it’s done.”
If I stayed here longer, I would be angry. I didn’t think I would see anything good.
I came out of the parlor as if I were running away.
My fight with Philen in the parlor spread throughout the estate.
“Duke Williot is terribly in love with the new mistress. I heard she had Duke Williot’s baby.”
“That must have upset the young lady. She was cruel to her and didn’t give her any clothes.”
“Humph. Of course. Even if it’s me, I wouldn’t have given my clothes to the mistress.”
“Then what’s gonna happen to our young lady? Are they two breaking up their marriage?”
“Well, I don’t think so. The nobles are good at separating their home business and the mistress.”
…was the rumor circulating in the estate now.
I was prepared for the rumors from the time I argued with Philen in front of outsiders, but I didn’t feel comfortable listening to it.
In the midst of these rumors, the fact that I had to leave the estate and go to the capital with Philen and that woman made me feel even more uncomfortable. Even the things I hadn’t finished yet had also been hampered.
I wanted to finish it all, but I couldn’t to not attend the celebration party for the new emperor’s coronation, so I had no choice but to get on the carriage heading to the capital.
I rode the carriage alone, while Philen and Cecily rode the carriage together.
The servants looked at me with sad eyes, but I didn’t care. On the contrary, I was okay with it. It was more difficult to ride a carriage with her all the way to the capital. It’s much better to get sympathetic gazes.
Misa wanted to go with me, but she stayed in the estate because she had to manage the mansion on my behalf. Instead, Sarah was the one who went with me.
It took about four days by carriage from the Duke’s estate to the capital.
In the meantime, it was four days in total until the break time by stopping by the village in the middle.
When I was moving, I sat still. I slept enough at the inn, but my first carriage trip since I was born was harder than I thought.
“Phil, eat this.”
…no, there was something harder for me than the carriage trip.
It was Cecily and Philen.
Cecily fed Philen the strawberries, and Philen ate them with a happy smile.