PDM Chapter 4
“It’s a misunderstanding. This is where I work…”
“Have you seen Countess Harden and Duke Harace together?”
At that moment, a shrill voice rang. It was the voices of ladies looking around the dresses in other areas. Kyle turned his gaze to where he could hear the sound.
“Contrary to the rumors, she seems to be thinking of remarrying, isn’t she?”
Among them was a sharp voice towards the Countess of Harden. The voices of the noble ladies got closer and soon came near the dressing room. Kyle briefly clicked his tongue, then pulled back the curtains and stepped into the dressing room.
For a moment, surprised, I stuck to the wall like a rat in a corner to avoid Kyle. I leaned my back against the wall and looked up at him, relying on the sliver of light to see him. The voices of the ladies resounded through the red curtain.
“The two seem a little too friendly to be just friends…”
“Oh, I’m not the only one who felt this?”
The ladies spoke about their doubts about the relationship between the Countess and Duke. Kyle frowned and continued to focus on the conversation, and it felt like I was invisible to him.
“Is it possible? I feel sorry for the lonely countess, but what a shame that she refused to remarry.”
“The Duke is also a close friend of Count Harden.”
Then, the ladies laughed. Kyle and I knew it was gossip disguised as sympathy.
Kyle peered through the curtain with sullen eyes, but he didn’t step out and just watched. Maybe because he knew it would be additional gossip fodder for the ladies.
Feeling strange, I kept my mouth south. But, on the other hand, this might be the only time I could spy on his face.
Kyle smirked as he fixed his eyes on the curtain. Then, seemingly bored, he turned his gaze away and looked at me, who was busy staring at him.
I shrugged and looked away as if I had been caught stealing.
Kyle’s eyes glowed as he stared at me, and it was not long before he spoke, “Does the proposed contract still stand?”
“What are you…”
I looked up at the words that didn’t fit the situation.
“I have no intention of spending more than I should, nor do I want to be involved with the Carenas. One sponsorship is enough.”
Duke? As if possessed, I blinked my eyes as I listened to the soft voice. He seemed to give a concise and clear answer for me, who didn’t understand.
“Marriage, let’s do it.”
With his eyes fixed on me, Kyle grabbed the end of the curtain. A blindingly intense light illuminated him and hit his face. Then, with the curtains drawn, the whole dressing room witnessed the scene of a man and a woman facing each other in close proximity.
The light blinded me, but I was so surprised I couldn’t even blink.
“O-Oh my God… He’s…”
The sound of the startled ladies swallowing their breath pierced my ears.
With the smirk still on his face, Kyle moved closer to me. Then, his voice full of sarcasm, he whispered, “What a relief.”
“A marriage with a clear purpose.”
In the unbelievable situation, my fingertips trembled, and my face became pale. Even if Kyle’s eyes were full of contempt, for me, this was a chance. I clenched my fists until my hands turned white and grabbed onto the chance that had come into my grasp.
Because this was the only way I could be by his side.
“I have nothing to take with me.”
Smiling bitterly, I looked around the desolate room where only an old bed stayed. It’s time to say goodbye here.
The attic, shining from the sliver of sunlight entering the window, was the only space in this house where I could avoid my father’s eyes.
It took me by surprise when Kyle had accepted the offer, and adding the stunned gazes of the ladies on me, I ran away from the boutique and went home.
The next day, I would’ve thought it was all a dream if not for the carriage the bore the Harace emblem arriving at the mansion.
I smiled self-consciously and approached the table in the center. With trembling hands, I ran my fingers on the table along the grain of the wood. Soon, it was time for the carriage to arrive.
“I have to go.”
I smiled softly and shook my hands. Finally, I had to say my last goodbyes to my father.
I came to my senses when liquid was splashed onto my face. Father threw the alcohol he was drinking on me.
The smell of alcohol filled my nose, and my dress, drenched, clung heavily to my body. The ends of my hair were just as wet.
I just told my father I’d be getting married, and thus, severing ties with my father, but he turned red as if he had been humiliated and got angry.
“So, this is like when your brother left me and ran away, isn’t it?” Father’s bitter rambling resonated through the house.
Father stumbled and hiccuped his way to the table and poured gin into an empty glass. Even if he collapsed, it wouldn’t be new.
Father wasn’t like this at first. I could remember the times when my father laughed and stroked my hair. He would hold me in his arms and say, “You’re so pretty.”
My mother jumped in to save my brother from drowning, and while he lived, she didn’t. From then on, Father became addicted to alcohol and began to resent my brother.
“No, no. You look like your mother,” Father shook his head with a sullen, gloomy laugh, and then tilted the glass to his lips.
As I raised my gaze and stared at the scene indifferently, my father’s eyes suddenly pierced me like an arrow.
He threw the gin he was drinking on my face again. I wiped it off with the back of my hand and shrugged it off.
My father’s eyes rose sharply. “A woman with no sense of grace.”
Father slammed his glass on the table and stood up from his seat with a screech to leave.
Before he could leave, I said, “He said he’d sponsor you.”
“What?” Father frowned and asked back sharply.
“He said he’d sponsor you.”
Father’s eyes widened, and soon enough, he was grinning. A gleam flashed in his drunken eyes.
“W-who is your fiancé!”
For a moment, I didn’t answer. Soon, Kyle would sponsor Father, and Father would know who I’d marry even if I didn’t want him to know.
But I didn’t want to tell him, so I chose to shut up. I didn’t want to say his name in front of my father.
In front of him who’s too busy to fill his own pockets rather than care about his daughter’s happiness.
“Who is it!” Father shouted. He looked ready to attack.
“Only this time.”
“My cash cow disappears when he takes you! Then he should give me that amount of money!”
Father sneered at me with disgust. Like a habit, I clenched my hand with the other. Even though I was no longer young, I still clammed up in front of my father.
“Promise me.” I slowly lifted my gaze and looked at him.
It’s been a long time since I made eye contact with my father. He looked shaggy and unkempt and seemed to oose a musky odor.
“You won’t appear in front of me and that person.”
Then I’d promise to support you.
When I spoke, the spark in my father’s eyes scared me. My fingers trembled as I waited, but Father suddenly opened his eyes gently.
I thought he would throw another drink at me. But, instead, Father showed a rare smile. “How about this? Let me meet him.”
“I beg your pardon?”
I narrowed my eyes at him. There was an unknown joy on his face.
“I will meet him–”
“No, you shouldn’t meet him.”
Father glared, his breathing labored, ready to burst with anger.
“Father, I beg of you.”
Feeling worse, I closed my eyes. I didn’t want to see Father’s face, but something else crossed my mind.
I’d been supporting Father for my brother. I had hoped my older brother would come back, and so I waited patiently, doing my best to keep a place where he could come back. But brother didn’t return, so I no longer had a reason to stay.
“Please don’t appear in front of me anymore.” I clenched my fists until my hands turned white, and my eyes burned with unshed tears.
My father pointed at me with his finger as if he was upset, and took a step back.