Chapter 21

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The handkerchief she had given him was from when they were engaged, before their marriage, and it had become quite worn since he always took it with him when he went out, especially on hunting trips. Despite having other handkerchiefs, Garcia stubbornly used that one out of habit.

 

She thought it was time to replace it. The thought of her handkerchief, which she had painstakingly embroidered stitch by stitch, being tucked into his coat pocket pleased her. Smooth silk, delicate embroidery, and white roses seemed to complement her husband, who possessed silver hair.

 

The first time Ana was invited to the Tudor estate’s garden and met the young master of the Tudor family, she was inwardly amazed. It was the first time she had seen someone who fit so seamlessly into his surroundings, into everything that made him.

 

In a world where all nobles naturally enjoyed their born status, the sight of the man standing against the backdrop of a vast garden blooming with white roses, his quiet silver hair, his back, and his dignified stillness was overwhelming. Everything was meticulous and perfect, with the flawless lines of his back, shoulders, neatly cuffed sleeves, and the nape of his neck. Not as though artificially made, but as if he was born that way, elegant.

 

Though the moment was brief because he turned around upon hearing her footsteps, that scene left a lasting impression on Ana. The man who presided over this vast mansion and family, the centuries-old white roses, and his natural nobility. Along with his sun-like golden eyes, everything about Garcia silently swept over her like the complete light of the sun.

 

Considering how particular her father, Count Dupont, was in choosing a son-in-law, it was no surprise he favored him. Indeed, Garcia lived up to his reputation, and their first meeting was serene and without any problems. On the way back, watching the twilight turn golden in the carriage, Ana wondered. What kind of woman would be suitable to stand beside him?

 

Even to a girl whose heart had been shattered and was only just beginning to recover, he seemed too good to be true.

 

If it were only the things he owned and enjoyed, perhaps she wouldn’t have been moved. Having grown up with plenty, Ana found no great thrill in such things.

 

What Ana saw in Garcia’s perfection was a young man who earnestly gave his all, born with a heavy burden he accepted as natural and would continue to bear. Did he know that he was at an age where he should have been carefree with friends or interested in beautiful ladies, causing his parents to worry about a misstep or two?

 

Ana’s three brothers, around Garcia’s age or older, were not as mature. Perhaps only Edward, the eldest, came close.

 

Garcia was calmer and more composed than any noble Ana had met, yet why did she sense such intensity in his quiet demeanor? But it was undeniable.

 

At least to Ana. Suppose he had been aware of his efforts and had considered himself remarkable for them. It might have been different in that case, but Garcia’s perfection was too natural and ingrained in him to notice. It was a completeness refined piece by piece by himself.

 

Garcia hadn’t done anything out of the ordinary for Ana, but someone like Garcia inherently influenced those around him, knowingly or not.

 

After becoming engaged to Garcia, Ana became calmer, her thoughts and perspectives matured, and she grew stricter with herself. She always found herself lacking compared to him. Over time, she had become one of the most dignified ladies in society, unrivaled among young wives of her age. But she didn’t think of herself as remarkable. After all, she shared a bed with someone far more extraordinary.

 

She completed one bud of the white rose. Ana touched its smooth, pearl-like surface and smiled with satisfaction. It was turning out quite nicely. Just a bit more, and she could give it to Garcia before he went hunting. The time for his monthly excursion into the forest was approaching. She’d finish it before then.

 

While Ana smiled proudly, her maid, An, cautiously approached her and spoke softly. “Madam. Umm…

 

“What is it?”

 

“Lady Eliza has come to visit.”

 

Ana looked at the maid, who bowed her head in silence but soon politely asked her to bring the guest in and stood up. The reason for Ana’s surprise was simple. It wasn’t strange for Eliza to visit the Tudor house, but it wasn’t expected either. Given Eliza’s character, it made sense.

 

Eliza was Garcia’s eldest sister. With a gentle voice and always graceful like a white horse or swan, she lacked the presence between her outspoken brother and the conspicuous, spirited younger sister, Charlotte.

 

Even though Garcia himself wasn’t particularly talkative, he had a quiet charisma that commanded respect and overshadowed others.

 

“It’s been a long time… Anais.”

 

Indeed, Ana thought again, her husband was unlike any of his blood relatives. Sitting quietly in the parlor, Eliza stood up quietly. She was a well-maintained noblewoman, fair and neatly presented in a way befitting her famous lineage, though her expression and eyes seemed to dim her beauty more than her ordinary looks. Ana occasionally wondered if Eliza’s reticence hid some unhappy memories or circumstances.

 

The late marquis, Lord William, was stern and strict but generous with his children. It was rare for noble fathers to be affectionate, but Ana noticed his evident care and concern for his son. He was equally generous with his daughters in terms of support and inheritance.

 

Ana had never met the late marchioness, but considering the well-raised children and elders of the Tudor family, she must have been a remarkable lady. Nonetheless, Ana didn’t know much about her sister-in-law. She smiled as warmly and welcomingly as possible.

 

“Eliza! It’s good to see you. Please have a seat. Was your journey here comfortable?”

 

An unexpected visit without prior notice was considered rude, even among relatives. Eliza knew this, and seeing Ana welcome her without any remark of disapproval, she sighed in relief. It seemed she had been nervous.

 

In truth, Ana had been willing to accommodate most requests and demands from Garcia’s siblings, within reason, even before their marriage. Not so much because she was kind-hearted, but because they were young and, like Ana, lacked a mother’s care, so she felt it was her duty as their sister-in-law. Besides, they were Garcia’s few remaining blood relatives.

 

“Thank you.”

 

As Ana served warm tea, Eliza whispered her gratitude softly. Seeing her complexion improve slightly from the tension, Ana smiled gently.

 

“Of course. We’re family.”

 

At her kind words, Eliza twitched her shoulders and looked at Ana earnestly, then murmured almost like a sigh. “Anaïs, you really have a good heart.”

 

Eliza seldom expressed her thoughts directly. Or rather, she was always short on words. Although anyone could say such polite phrases, Ana sensed sincerity and looked back at Eliza. She seemed thinner and more haggard than the last time Ana saw her. Without realizing it, Ana’s voice softened further.

 

“Eliza sees the good in me because you’re kind-hearted. Garcia’s family is my family.”

 

“…”

 

“Eliza, are you unwell? You don’t look well.”

 

Eliza, who was married and had her own family, still appeared young to Ana. In fact, despite being a year older than Ana, she seemed younger. Even the more assertive younger sister, Charlotte, didn’t concern Ana as much as this quiet sister-in-law did.

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