Chapter 13


This kiss, mixed with tears, tasted salty.
I tried to push him away, but in the end, my hands were no match for him.
He had no consideration at all with the kiss, and he was starting to hurt me.

The moment his lips finally left mine, I stumbled, collapsing once nothing was supporting me anymore.

While gasping for air, I looked up, but his cold gaze looked back at me.
In that gaze without any warmth… it’s like I could feel my heart breaking.
After all this time, did I dare wish for something futile once again?

“Tell me how it feels to kiss a man you don’t even like, Miss Everett.”


Theodore’s cruel words pierced my ears as I stood up helplessly.
I felt resentful about his own misconception towards me, but I soon lost this sentiment.
I was someone who didn’t deserve to blame him.

“Will you be alright with anything? Can you do more than that? Will you be able to use the same bed as me every night just like that?”

Theodore grabbed my forearm and asked sarcastically.
I was still looking for words—any words at all—to resolve this misunderstanding, but I was left dazed as though I’d been hit on the head.

No matter how much this situation was, how could he say this? Did he have to insult me like this?

“You… You don’t know…”

Words that I wasn’t even thinking about spilled out of my mouth.
My whole body trembled as he insulted me.
Theodore grabbed my chin again.


At that moment, I didn’t realize but I had roughly shoved his hand away and slapped him.

With his head turned to the side, his cheek quickly turned red.
Even after being slapped, he was just standing still, and it was me who stumbled away.
The hand that I swung with all my might tingled at the palm.

The room was engulfed by a frosty silence.
But then, laughter leaked through his lips.
His eyes soon looked back at me again, and his ice-cold hatred was evident.

I unconsciously hugged my upper body with both my arms.
As he glared at me, Theodore sarcastically spoke in a cynical voice.

“Even so, you must have your pride.”


“Certainly, there’s no way that the Young Lady of Everett would want to be together with me sincerely.
I apologize for being presumptuous.”

He stared at me for a long time, perhaps for as long as he could tolerate, then he turned around.


Staring blankly at the place where he left, I soon staggered and sat down on the floor by the bed.
I don’t know what just happened… It felt like I had been in the middle of a nightmare.
As I folded into myself on the cold surface of which its chill was seeping into me, a sob soon left my lips.

A cry that didn’t seem to be mine permeated the room.
My body trembled uncontrollably.
It was pain, it was sorrow, it was terror and it was loneliness that filled me to the core, however, I would not be able to seek solace from anyone.
It was something that I couldn’t tell even Charlotte.

I was so weak and pathetic whenever I faced Theodore…


All of these feelings were those that I had to keep to myself.
Like swallowing a thorn.
Even if I try to pretend that it wasn’t there, even if I try to throw it away, would I be rid of it? Would it be that easy? What should I do now?

Rather, I wish I were like my father, like a monster.

If I was a monster that no one could love…

‘Then it wouldn’t be this painful.’

That delusion was shallow, that hope was weak, and yet the truth was clear and this despair was immense.
Perhaps I secretly hoped.
That I could be saved by someone if I fell in love with them.

It was a mistake to presume—that Theodore Valentino might come to understand me if he finds out the truth about me.
That he might save me…

I didn’t even know that all he felt about me was repugnance.

How laughable it was that I expected something and tried to cling to him.

‘I’m not Duke Everett’s biological child… Truthfully, I’m different from them.
Will Theodore even believe this?’

I buried my face on both palms.
Tears still kept flowing.
If it was enough for a lake, I felt like I would drown forever.
This sorrow made me wish for my own demise.
Why me, why me of all people…

I was overcome with the urge to rip out and crush the heart that was shaking so painfully inside me.
Even if I struggled and shouted, begging for this pain to stop, my heart continued to stay there.

Why did I have to have feelings for Theodore Valentino.
I lived like an old tree that had dried up and died, but why did it have to be him for whom I felt such a clear emotion.
No matter what, it should have been someone else.


As I raised my head, I suddenly saw light permeating through my fingers.
The sun was already rising, but I couldn’t feel its warmth.

I had shed tears and looked out the window blankly for a long time.
…It felt like a lie that the day had begun anew.

Knock, knock—

I heard a knock from outside the door, but without responding, I went under the sheets and immersed myself in the deep darkness.

The sun would not rise during my day.
Perhaps, forever.


* * *


Since then, Theodore’s attitude became much colder and much sharper than before.

Even if I just looked at him once, he would throw a harsh remark at me, and every time this happened, I could only respond by shrinking into myself.

I became more and more afraid of him.
Truthfully, I didn’t even know that I was afraid of my feelings for him.
Those emotions made me weak.
In front of him, I was significantly weak, and I was easily hurt by just a glimpse of his scathing glare.

I hated myself so much that I wanted to tear apart, to break, to destroy myself.
But just as before, I didn’t even have the courage to take my own life.
I also couldn’t run away from here.
At a time when the Valentino household was still weak, if I were to run away, I don’t know what my father or Owen would do to Valentino while using me as an excuse.

And so, I was stuck in a dilemma.
There were knives everywhere—I couldn’t go anywhere.
It was best to just curl up right here where I was.

But one day, I struggled to pluck up my courage and spoke to him.

“Duke, I have something to tell you…”

“I’m busy.”

“It will take only a moment.”

“What is it? Don’t waste my time and just say it outright.”

His exasperated gaze automatically made my shoulders curl up, but I finally managed to utter the words that I’ve been practicing with all my heart.

“I’m different from my father and brothers.
I… I didn’t want this marriage.
I mean, I didn’t want to get married to you in order to harm the Valentino family, it was only because of my father’s coercion.
I just want to help the Valentino family and you…”

However, the words that spilled out of my lips were like gibberish.
I thought I knew how I would arrange the story, of which the context in itself was already difficult to grasp, but of course, such a chance was not given.

Theodore had just been looking at me, but at that moment, he lost a grip on his control and said this.

“I was wondering what you were going to say… If you’re trying to play a trick, make it more believable, Miss Everett.
But your expression is pretty good.”

Smiling coldly, he turned his back.
As I stared at his distant figure, I felt like I heard something within me shatter.




Theodore often went to the frontlines to close the fissures that frequently ravaged the land.
It would take as short as three days or as long as one or two months.

He was very busy, and it became harder and harder to talk to him.
My feelings then steadily became resigned to the two people that had taken hold of me.

Charlotte was the only one I could talk to openly here in the Valentino Castle, as I was excluded from all family events and alienated in even the most minor cases.

Missus Seymour overlooked the subtle harassment of the servants towards me.
One day, there were dead birds placed around the windowsills of my room, and Charlotte angrily cleaned them all up because everyone else pretended not to know about it.

This happened quite often.
Eventually, I got used to animal carcasses.
Birds, mice, snakes, frogs, sometimes insects.
I was no longer surprised to see the dead.

The people of the Valentino Castle also whispered amongst themselves, saying that I was creepy.
But I wasn’t hurt by something like that.
There was someone else who was capable of hurting me—Theodore Valentino was always the only one who could.




’There’s this ball at the capital…’

‘Do I really need to be there to escort you? Go there by yourself.’




‘I would like to take care of the herbs that have been left in the greenhouse.
They could be used as medicinal herbs, so I would like to distribute them to the people of the territory.

‘But that won’t change my mind about you.
Don’t do useless things.
You’re not Duchess Valentino—you’re Lily Everett.
One day, we’ll have a divorce and you will leave this castle.




‘It was really, truly not me who killed the puppy you were raising…’

‘Then why was the body found in the closet in your room?’

‘I didn’t hide it, it was someone el—’

‘Forget it.
I don’t want to talk about this anymore.’





‘Theo—no, Duke, please help me just once.
Please, you have to stay with me until the banquet ends.

‘What kind of trick is this? Let go of my hand.
I believe your brother is calling for you, so just go.’




I withered away.

What had shaken me the most was the fact that Theodore Valentino would not, under any circumstances, protect me.

This realization shattered all of the expectations and dreams I unconsciously fostered for him.
At the banquet that day, Owen grabbed my wrist and whispered, ‘Lily, you didn’t forget who you are, did you?’

I nodded like a lifeless doll, and in return, Owen smiled satisfactorily.
Then, he added, ‘I’m the one who made you become Lily Everett.
You belong only to me until the day you die.

Lily Everett.

Lily Everett.

Lily Everett…

It was like a commodity’s name.
I wasn’t aware, but surprisingly, it seemed like there were many men who wanted to buy me.
Everyone seemed to be waiting for my divorce with Duke Valentino.
Weighing the pros and cons of me becoming a second wife or a concubine, Owen measured the property and power of the candidates to become my next husband.

Among them was Lennon Chester.
He was the most likely candidate because even before my marriage, he wanted me to be his lover.
He even said that he loved me sincerely.
He kissed the back of my hand and whispered sweet nothings.

‘I love you, Lily.
I want to make you mine as soon as possible.’




I see now.
I didn’t know there would be so many people who didn’t care, as long as I was a shell of a person.
No, perhaps they preferred that I stay that way.
Dolls were light to carry, quiet, and pretty on the outside even as they were empty on the inside.

It was two years ago that my father had been hell-bent on looking for an opportunity to swallow the Valentino family whole.
And he succeeded.
Theodore Valentino had to marry me in order to protect his family and his land.

It was a marriage that neither of us wanted, but my misfortune was not limited to just this one adversity.
Because my heart started yearning for a man who loathed and detested me and my family, I started harboring useless hope for him.

This was my true misfortune.


* * *


A year and a half.
It was a long time, it was a short time.

For him, there was much more of a gap beyond that.
People say that he had been married to Lily for a year and a half, but it seemed like their first meeting was much longer ago.

About two years ago, he could vaguely remember visiting the Everett Castle.
However, this memory was so sparse, like a piece of cheese that a mouse had already nibbled through.
He definitely met someone, but his memory stopped there.

Theodore was convinced that it was a memory containing Lily.

…How did only memories of her disappear?

“I apologize, Milord.
The Madam said that she doesn’t want to meet you…”

Theodore looked up as he heard the maid’s troubled voice.

His head wound was recovering properly, but the doctor told him to take a break just in case, so he was refraining from any taxing activities and was generally taking care of himself.

Theodore closed the book he was holding in his hand and recalled the conversation he had with the chamberlain.

’It was for the sake of the house of Valentino that you married the Madam, Milord.
It was a transaction with the Everett household.’

Everything that the chamberlain had told him was fragmentary.

The only reason that the chamberlain gave was that he couldn’t convey objective truths and fair facts.

Later, he heard from the others and he found out that everyone hated Lily—the Madam of the Valentino household.


Without a word, Theodore stood up.
If he was the one who asked for a meeting, he didn’t know if she would really meet him.
This wouldn’t be easy.

“You said your name’s Charlotte.”

“Yes? Yes…!”

“I don’t remember even your name.
Maybe it’s because you’re close to her.”


“Anyway, I’ll be going to the Duchess’ room.
Guide me there.”

Charlotte’s eyes widened.
She looked like she was about to say something, but she clapped a hand over her mouth and soon bowed her head with an expression of resignation.

“Yes, Your Grace.
I will guide you there.”

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