Chapter 9

“Thank you for your concern.”

 

Her stiff expression and the talk about the family were the unmistakable pressure from a mother-in-law about having an heir. However, Ana read the true concern in her gentle gaze and soft words.

 

Madam Denian was elegant yet sharp in high society, so she was often misunderstood as strict. But she genuinely cared for and cherished Garcia, the head of the family, Ana’s sole companion as well.

 

Deep down, Ana tended to heed and follow her advice, though she never admitted it openly.

 

In fact, Madam Denian’s recommendation for them to have children was more of a warning, considering the current talk and atmosphere within the family.

 

The Tudor family had been firmly under Garcia’s control for a long time. However, many relatives still wanted to meddle, especially since there was no heir yet and the head of the family was young. Following her advice to have an heir was the quickest and most certain way to suppress any backtalk. Once there was an heir, there would be no reason for interference.

 

As Garcia said, the Tudors are a difficult family to protect, given their history and magnitude.

 

“This time, the lemons from our estate ripened well. Try them in your tea. It will taste good.”

 

Oh, thank you.”

 

Ana smiled, receiving a small, delicately packed jar, undoubtedly hand-prepared by the madam herself. Ever since they got engaged, Madam Denian, concerned about Ana’s frequent minor illnesses, sent various herbs and teas every year that were good for headaches.

 

Considering her cold hands and feet, this fruit tea must have been selected with only the ripest fruits.

 

She expressed her gratitude again to the madam, whose eyes were warm but whose expression was impassive. Ana envied Garcia. If someone like her had been by her side, she wouldn’t have even felt her mother’s absence.

 

Madam Denian, touching Ana’s hand, furrowed her brow slightly. “You’ve lost weight. Is the head of the family away even though you’re unwell?”

 

“Don’t be upset, Madam. He was with me all day yesterday.” She replied gently to the disapproving tone. It wasn’t just empty talk. It was true. Despite his busy schedule, Garcia personally took care of his wife.

 

Madam Denian sighed.” I’m worried about your frail health.” “

 

“Only Madam and Garcia treat me as if I’m frail.”

 

Garcia tended to be overprotective about her health, viewing her as fragile. Come to think of it, it made sense. He had seen her suffer from motion sickness during carriage rides and developed a mild fever and migraines from stress. However, she wasn’t that weak. It was just that she often showed her vulnerable side to him.

 

“It’s still not good. Have a child soon while you’re young. It will be better for you. That way, your body will recover quicker, and you will have less to worry about. You’re young, and the relationship between the two of you is good, so what’s wrong with that? It will also shut those greedy old folks up.”

 

Eventually returning to her nagging, Madsam Denian sighed again and looked down, apologizing if her words were rude. Ana shook her head. Having an heir was the duty of the head and mistress of the family. She was just stating the obvious. Ana had also been thinking that it was time to put in more effort.

 

After a moment’s thought, she spoke. “Is there a lot of talk within the family? Garcia never tells me such things.”

 

Garcia never made his wife worry about unnecessary things more than he had to. Thanks to this, she settled in smoothly when she first entered the family and didn’t face any hostility.

 

With a head of the family who did not tolerate interference in his authority and showed absolute support to his wife, even the influential madams treated the young mistress cautiously. Ana was eternally grateful for this, but it also meant that no one spoke ill to her, leading to unintended consequences.

 

It was as if Garcia had built a glass wall around Ana, keeping her distant from troublesome matters, and drawing an invisible line between her and the family members and in-laws.

 

Even Garcia’s sisters seemed to be cautious around her from the beginning. Charlotte, the youngest sister-in-law, known for her strong personality, was no exception.

 

“Are you the one marrying our brother?”

 

When she first met Charlotte in the bride’s waiting room on her wedding day, Charlotte scrutinized Ana and then muttered. “I was just curious… what kind of person you are.” Then she left without saying more.

 

Ana couldn’t understand the emotion reflected in her pumpkin-colored eyes, the only feature she shared with Garcia.

 

Ana tried to get closer by having tea time occasionally with her sisters-in-law. Still, Eliza, the eldest, was overly obedient to her brother’s wife, and Charlotte, seeming uncomfortable, and would leave abruptly. Eventually, both of them got married, making their meetings even rarer.

 

Eliza was of age, but Charlotte’s marriage was relatively early. At nineteen, she could have enjoyed more time at home before marrying.

 

Considering Garcia’s personality, it was surprising, but Ana assumed Charlotte must have been deeply in love with her future husband.

 

Madam Denian paused for a moment. “Everything follows the head’s will, after all. Even if there are complaints, they can’t find fault and turn to other things. They are foolish people who don’t know anything.  They should know better than to bother Anais…”

 

She trailed off, then stopped speaking. She shook her head as if she had said something unnecessary and placed her wrinkled hand over Ana.

 

“I shouldn’t have said that. The patriarch is always there for his wife, so there is nothing to worry about. The same goes for the child. What matters most is that you two are happy. I think I worried unnecessarily.”

 

“Madam.”

 

“I am grateful that you have brought happiness to him. That’s all that matters to me.”

Ana knew she was speaking from the heart. Madam Denian had expressed the same sentiment several times before, to the girl engaged to a man like a son to her, to the newlywed bride, and even when she was still an inexperienced marchioness.

 

But wasn’t it natural for a man as perfect as Garcia to have an elegant and capable wife? She wasn’t doing anything extraordinary. Spending just one day with Garcia would make that clear.

 

But she smiled and nodded. “Thank you.”

 

After Madam Denian left, Ana pondered seriously how to discuss the issue of an heir with Garcia. But they didn’t avoid sharing a bed except for the necessary days, so she shook her head, not wanting to add unnecessary pressure.

 

She didn’t want to burden someone already carrying a heavy load with responsibility and duty in their marital bed. Their intimate relationship, while not fiery with passion, was their own secret language and connection in the bedroom. It was their most intimate time.

 

When she looked into his deep eyes gazing at her while they were intertwined, she felt closer to her husband than ever. She didn’t want to dampen that atmosphere unless absolutely necessary.

 

Lost in thought, she noticed the fruit Madam Denian had left.

 

“An, bring some hot water.”

 

She put the fruit tea in the hot water, enjoyed the warm aroma, and took a sip. The sweet and fragrant taste lingered in her throat, spreading warmth throughout her body.

 

Ana sipped the tea continuously, processing the piled-up documents, then glanced at the new letters and invitations brought by An. She carefully examined the letters of well-being from her family and the party invitations, and then her hand paused.

 

The Exhibition of the Sun’s Painter, Siguin Noel.

 

She remembered hearing yesterday from the art dealer that his work sold for a high price at an auction. Winning the Academy Salon and auctions were the best ways to make a painter’s name known, so it was fair to say he was now on the rise.  

 

With the right sponsorship, recommendations, and columns from esteemed critics… While Ana was contemplating Siguin’s path to success, she suddenly let out a bitter laugh. What was this? Did I at least belatedly get mental compensation?

 

But she sincerely wished him happiness, that he would forget the past and soar as a great artist. He had enough talent and merit for that, both in the past and now.

 

The date of the exhibition was 15 days later. Ana paused as she read the words on the invitation.

 

Notes

N/A

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