PDM Chapter 2
“That’s not a reason why I should marry you. Even if I decide to get married, it doesn’t matter who I’d marry.”
“Will the other person feel the same?”
Kyle’s mouth snapped shut, looking caught off guard. Surely Kyle wouldn’t care, but the woman who’d be the future Duchess would.
If that person found out the person they’re marrying had someone else in mind, they’d feel so miserable and betrayed. And if they find out it’s the Countess, the Countess might be in danger, too.
I took a deep breath and tried to relax my face.
“Your Grace, I have nowhere to go.”
Kyle’s cold eyes snapped up to meet mine. He glared at me with a face that said, ‘Let’s hear it, then.’
“I don’t have any safe places I can go to.”
“What do you mean?”
“My brother cut ties with my family, and my father is addicted to gambling. There’s nothing left of the family. He would sell me if they give him money.”
“Get to the point.”
I inhaled and exhaled.
“Please give me a place to run. I will help you hide your heart.”
I’ll be your shield.
As I said more, his misty eyes scanned me up and down as if to take me in. Soon after, he twisted his lip and squirmed.
“I thought you were in love with me,” he sarcastically said, but what he said was true.
I didn’t get caught, but I slowly raised my eyes and looked at him. Then I poured out the words I had prepared, “Since you’re old enough to get married, there must be a lot of pressure around you.”
“The Countess chose to stay with the Harden family than remarry, and I’ll remain silent.”
“I don’t think it’s a bad deal.”
With such a deal, there was no need for him to fulfill his duties as a husband.
He opened his mouth as if he had finished thinking. “Your only purpose is to find a sanctuary?”
At Kyle’s question, I blinked in surprise. Was it not enough reason to want to marry Kyle because she needed shelter and protection?
Biting my lip, I said the first thing that came to mind, “No, there’s one more thing. Father won’t let me go because I’m the head of the family. If you could support him financially, he’d easily let me go.”
It was a relief. Rather than asking for nothing, it would be best to make a material request to eliminate his doubts.
Kyle covered his mouth with his hand and carefully observed me. His sharp gaze made my fingertips tingle.
I wondered how long time had passed. Kyle suddenly dropped his cold look and burst into laughter, his amusement seeping through his hands. He seemed to have found the situation hilarious.
“I was expecting a pretty interesting story, but I’m tired of it.”
“I don’t know where you heard the rumors, but you better be careful.”
“If I hear a scandal, I’ll assume you’re the source.”
In the end, this was how it would end. I chewed my lips and squeezed my hands. I was starting to blame myself.
Kyle stared blankly before arching his brow. It was a look of complete indifference.
“When people are looking for entertainment, they’d even listen to dogs barking,” Kyle’s flat tone seemed to pierce my chest like a dagger.
I lowered my gaze and stared at my feet. I thought this could be the last time I’d see Kyle, but I couldn’t stand seeing such a stern look on his face. Directed at me.
“See yourself out.”
I plucked up the last bit of my courage to look his way. As Kyle continued to look at me with disinterest, I kept my eyes wide open to stop myself from crying.
My father was always drunk. He had always been like that in my memory, even from the days I could barely remember. He would hit my brother sometimes, but not me. The reason was that I had brown hair and eyes like my mother.
When my father went out, he always returned drunk—with ragged clothes, caved in cheeks, and sunken eyes. It had become hard to tell whether he was a commoner or a nobleman by his appearance alone.
We managed to pay off Father’s debt by selling the estate and mansion owned by the family. After all of the employees were dismissed, all of the housework went to me.
From then on, there was nothing I didn’t do to make a living, and the job I received the most was sewing.
Through the introduction of Lady Zeveren, whom I was close with, I became acquainted with Madame, a famous seamstress in the capital. She would send me the fabric, and I would work on beadwork; I didn’t have to talk to anyone or waste my emotions, so it was a good fit for me. My skills were good, so I was able to get a lot of work through word of mouth from Madame.
That’s the only reason I was able to attend the funeral. The first clothes I made were the funeral clothes of a baron, the vassal of the Count of Harden.
I was worried that something might go wrong with the clothes, so the boutique owner told the baron, who then suggested we attend the funeral together since I was also a nobleman.
Initially, I felt uneasy about attending, but the baron assured me and mentioned that it was a day for all people of the Empire to mourn for the fallen knights.
In hindsight, I shouldn’t have gone there.
It was the first time in my life I had ever yearned for something.
My brother always wondered why I wasn’t greedy, and he said he’d never met a child like me who didn’t even desire water. He told me he pitied me because he thought it was because I grew up too early.
Now, I could answer his question. No, brother. It’s not that I’m not greedy; it’s that I haven’t been able to find what I wanted enough to be greedy.
And I wanted to tell him. For the first time, I finally had something I wanted. No, not something. Someone.
I came to my senses when I accidentally pricked my finger after sewing mindlessly. The tip of the sharp needle scratched my knuckle. Seeing blood pooling through the cracks in the torn skin, I took it to my mouth.
I had gotten used to sewing, and it was rare to get injured, but now I was making mistakes. Maybe after that day, I’d gone crazy.
I took my hand off my mouth and looked down at the sewing on my thigh in dismay.
“I knew it wasn’t going to happen.”
Knowing that, I took a leap of faith. Because it was my first and last chance.
Over the past year, the days of cherishing Kyle had continued. I yearned for him, unable to sew, eat or sleep.
Every night, something hot soared from my heart. It was even more painful because there was no way to reach someone who did not even know my face or even my name.
Every time I looked in the mirror, I felt deeply that he and I could never meet.
Each day I acknowledged my situation, I resented it.
All I could do was pick the freshest flowers the florist had planned to send to the Duke of Harace… even though I knew it was headed for the Countess of Harden.
How could I get to him? Even if I thought about it, I thought I would die because I couldn’t find an answer.
Then one day.
‘The delivery man isn’t coming, so I guess I’ll have to go myself.’
At the florist’s words, something swelled in my chest and came out of my mouth before I could even think.
While preparing the flowers I was going to deliver to the Duke, I thought to myself that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If I missed this opportunity, I might never see him again.
I thought I had to do something. Even if it could possibly make him despise me and turn away from me.
The reason I asked him for a different contract without revealing my feelings to him was simple.
If I had approached Kyle with such an emotional motivation, he would have lost interest and driven me away. He kept delaying his marriage despite the fact that he had a woman he loved and was in the spotlight.
Because he did not interact with any other family, he aroused questions from people, and sometimes rumors circulated that he liked men.
When he appeared in public at the Emperor’s call, he always looked straight ahead with a dignified face. He didn’t even flinch at the ladies’ fervent looks, so I could tell by that. How strong his heart was.
So I proposed a contract marriage.
I thought that as long as I could be by Kyle’s side, it wouldn’t matter how.
I had a shallow hope that when time passesd and Kyle’s firm heart weakened and wore out, he would look back at me, who was always by his side.
“There’s no point in this,” I sighed and turned to stare at the pile of work on the desk. I had no more time to indulge in self-pity.