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Chapter 51

Isella was nervous about Carynne catching Raymond’s interest. Even as they smiled and laughed when they’re in front of each other, drew portraits and spent time together over tea, they were not friends.

They were competitors for the heart of one man, and also the victim and perpetrator in terms of their family businesses. Isella knew that at the very least.

But why was she forcing Carynne to attend the ceremony? She obviously didn’t want her to be there.

“Is this a request from Mister Verdic?”

The reason why Isella was asking for Carynne’s attendance against her will must be because of her father. He’s the only one who could supersede Isella’s whims.

“No! It’s my request. Be sure to attend my engagement ceremony.”

Isella shook her head and strongly denied it, but Carynne didn’t believe her.

“Haa. I understand.”

Isella narrowed her eyes, waving her folding fan lightly. She laughed inwardly.

“It would be great if Lord Dullan can also attend my engagement ceremony.”

Ah, so that’s what you’re thinking?

Carynne finally understood what she’s getting at. She got it now. This wasn’t Verdic’s idea at all, and at this, Carynne, too, laughed inwardly. This was a trick to keep Carynne away from Raymond.

But what to do?

Carynne replied with an exaggerated shrug.

“Mm, I’m thinking of breaking off my engagement with Dullan.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“It just turned out that way.”

Isella’s nose scrunched up hard. She looked ridiculous.

“B-By chance… Have you found… someone else you love?”

If Carynne were to say, ‘Yes, it’s Sir Raymond,’ she wondered whether Isella would rip out her hair right here. But Carynne hadn’t lost her mind that far just yet.

“Who knows.”

At the vague answer, Isella’s expression hardened with tension.

“You’re truly a bad person, aren’t you?”

“How on earth did you come to this conclu—”

“You broke your promise!”

“Dullan agreed though?”

“Whaaat?”

“We were strangers when our parents decided to promise us to one another. Even now, we haven’t gotten to know each other that much yet.”

Carynne smiled as she told a bold-faced lie.

“Your father will immediately die from….”

If something like that happens, so what? If he’s already dead.

“That won’t happen. But you know, I also want to go out to the city like you. And Miss Isella, didn’t you tell me last time that you’ll definitely take me there? To the opera house in the capital.”

Isella showed just now how much a person’s face could change.

“See you later, Isella. I also need to get ready, you see.”

* * *

The preparations to the décor were completed magnificently.

“I heard you weren’t feeling well,” Raymond asked.

“…Yes. I’m still a little tired.”

Was it alright to lose to Isella once? You never know. Friendship could also be true love, or something like that.

This was on Carynne’s mind as she glanced sideways at Isella. Of course, that wasn’t the case right now.

Carynne made an effort to look more pitiful today. She tightened her corset to make her face look paler, put on a powder that was lighter than the usual, dulled down the color of her lips, and put on a slightly darker shade under her eyes. This was all to create the perfect image of a sick person.

“…But you looked fine in the mo…rning…”

Isella’s reaction was much too funny, and Carynne subsequently leaned back towards Raymond. Naturally, he coughed Carynne.

“Cough, cough.”

“Are you alright?”

Of course, she was only faking her illness. At the other side, Dullan gnashed his teeth while the look in his eyes made him seem like he’s about to throw a fit.

Carynne furtively punched the air at him. Piss off.

Entering the hall with the fief lord in tow, Borwen made a proclamation.

“The Countess has arrived!”

Carynne approached her father and whispered quietly.

“Have you thought about what I said in the letter?”

The fief lord’s face turned as pale as ashes. Uncharacteristically, Carynne clung closer to her father.

“Didn’t you read it?”

“I read it. I’ve also prepared for it… But I don’t understand what you want.”

The fief lord took off his hat and whispered back equally as quietly, waiting for the countess to enter. His fingertips were shaking minutely.

“Why do you want me dead?”

“You really don’t know why?”

Carynne asked with her eyes wide open. She replied to the fief lord as if she truly couldn’t comprehend his question.

The fief lord looked at Carynne’s expression, which seemed to say, ‘Shouldn’t you die? It’s a matter of course.’ It was difficult for him to imagine what his own face looked like right now. Even his voice was hoarse.

“Yes. I really don’t know.”

Carynne stared dazedly at her father’s face, then stammered back.

“Um, ah, riiight. I’m sorry. I’m being so terribly inappropriate. This is all so familiar to me that I don’t know what it sounds like to others… Ummm, yes… Right.”

She truly looked sorry. She apologized for the inhospitable nature of the letter when what she was asking for was his death. The fief lord tried to brush off the stray thought that came to mind, then he struggled to reply.

“I did all those things for you until now. How are you going to get by without me?”

“I have a few reasons, but… First of all, Father, I don’t need your protection. As I told you before, what I want is not a safe bubble.”

Carynne was a little disappointed that the fief lord seemed to not understand. If she were to kill someone else and he’d cover it up, didn’t he think that the blade would turn and come right back at her? Wasn’t that how people were?

What Carynne wanted was a change to her environment even greater than before. And hadn’t killing Nancy changed this much? After suffering through a long drawn-out illness, the fief lord would die. He’s set to die anyway, so it wasn’t so unreasonable to make him die earlier.

Still, since the time of his death would be moved up, there surely would be changes in response to this. In many ways, he was a safe subject to observe.

And that’s not the only reason.

“More than anything, what I want to see is a confirmation of love.”

Carynne’s face was full of innocence. She looked her age at that moment—it was the face of a child asking a question towards her father out of curiosity, then listening patiently for the answer.

So, the fief lord vacantly stared at that expression and asked back.

“Love?”

“Yes.”

“That, right now—”

You still can’t understand?

However, instead of giving the answer outright, Carynne raised one finger over her lips.

Shh.

“Father, Lady Elva has entered.”

Carynne interrupted him. The fief lord showed an anxious and uncomfortable expression right then, but what was there to do? Right now, compared to explaining the reason why she was demanding her father’s death, work was more important.

Carynne herself found the situation hilarious, so she bit her lower lip and schooled her features. A mocking laugh, a bitter laugh, an explosive laugh. Whatever kind of laughter. Don’t do that. Don’t laugh. Concentrate on work right now.

Lady Elva Fitzgerald. With a face that looked as though it was carved out of marble, she spoke with a full voice and commanded over her husband, and she also had a very impulsive disposition. She imbibed the ambition of a noblewoman, to the point that she also pushed her weak-willed husband into politics. And, she was also excessively fond of gambling.

“It’s been a while, Verdic Evans.”

“Thank you for accepting my request, Lady Elva Fitzgerald.”

With a loud clack, she opened her fan and cast down her gaze. Even if it’s true that the vacation spot she was in until recently was nearby, it was due to Verdic’s pressure that she came here.

She had lost in a gamble a while back, and because of this, she had borrowed a large sum of money from Verdic. This also led to her being forced to arrange a meeting between Verdic and Count Fitzgerald.

“Better take that Verdic down a peg or two later.”

The fief lord whispered quietly.

Verdic’s station was lower than the fief lord, Carynne and Raymond altogether. However, Verdic was the first person that the countess greeted, while Verdic replied to her with only a nod. This didn’t seem to please the fief lord.

“That means something to you, Father?”

Once you’re dead, it all wouldn’t matter—but Carynne didn’t say this out loud.

Raymond was much too close.

“…How resolute.”

The fief lord smiled bitterly.

“Let’s talk more about it later. About why… I have to do that.”

Lady Elva moved on to the fief lord.

Carynne smirked because as soon as Lady Elva walked past Verdic, her expression hardened.

Isn’t a debtor’s position easy, Madam?

It’s the first time Carynne was meeting the madam this early.

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