< — The Ducal Couple — > (9)
TN: Many of you guys were actually on point last chapter in your deductions. I have a 10 page (4 and a half down, 5 and a half to go) research paper to write so see you guys next week (maybe) ʕ ಡ ﹏ ಡ ʔ
Hugo felt like ice cold water had been poured on his head. No, it was a much clammier feeling, as though his body had been bound and the inside and outside of his body was filled with rancid filth.
‘I feel dirty.’
Apart from those words, there was no other words to describe it. It was not just simple annoyance but the really annoying discomfort you feel when you pull your feet out after stepping in mud and there is mud all the way to your ankle.
No, it was a bit different from that. It was akin to thinking he had caught the enemy off-guard but ended up meeting them as they already knew beforehand and were waiting for him.
No, not like that either. He earnestly and anxiously tried to capture what exactly the feeling he was going through was but he couldn’t deduce an answer.
Her clear eyes were starting to look at him with a little suspicion. Hugo needed some more time to think.
“Are flowers that good?” (Hugo)
“Rather than being happy about the flowers, I’m happier that you sent me a gift.”
Her expression was bright and purely full of joy. It seemed as though she had accepted the meaning of the present as simply a present but he didn’t dare to openly ask.
Then she would know that the present was not something he had sent and because she simply knew it as a present, she would be disappointed.
“I’m glad you liked it.”
Hugo hid his restless mind and on the surface, he responded very calmly but inwardly he harbored a minor grudge with Jerome. Out of all the possible presents, why did it have to be rose flowers?
Although they were many other kind of flowers there, all Hugo could see were the rose flowers. Hugo lowered his body and easily took her up in his arms. Lucia let out a scream due to his sudden actions.
He sat on the table, placed her on his lap, wrapped his two arms around her firmly and propped his chin on her shoulder.
“Your Grace…?” (Lucia)
“Just wait a moment.”
After she’d struggled a little then gave up, Hugo started to think. Feeling the temperature of the small body in arms gradually getting warmer, he calmly explored his memory.
‘Yellow. Right. It was a yellow rose.’
At first, just seeing the red flowers he was flustered and surprised but after the moment of surprise passed, he began to think rationally. No matter how much he looked, there was no sight of anything yellow.
There was no sight of the yellow rose that he’d sent to women to signify their parting. He instantly felt relieved.
Initially, he had no idea that those women would be receiving yellow roses. He had simply ordered Jerome to handle the matter adequately by himself but he never inquired about how it was handled.
But then, one day, a woman who had received a yellow rose came to find him and threw a bunch of yellow roses at him. Even though they had only met up a few times, she was a woman he’d thought to have had quite the personality.
After that incident, Hugo got to know that there was a flower known as the yellow rose. To him, once it was colorful, they were all the same flowers, but the yellow rose was one flower he was aware of.
He never asked Jerome why amongst all flowers he sent yellow roses but it seemed meaningful so he asked Jerome to keep doing what he was doing.
‘Does she know it is supposed to be a yellow rose?’
No matter how much he thought about it and sorted through the conversation they had while signing the contract…
There was nothing specified about the rose (1). But, looking at her reaction, she didn’t seem to take the roses sent today in that sense.
And the farewell gift was a bunch of roses. Since this huge pile of flowers wasn’t it, he arrived at the conclusion that clearly, he had defined it differently (2).
Now that he’d solved one problem, he once again recalled him memories of the contract day. The conditions he’d put forth that day were the two documents. And then there were two additional conditions.
Freedom in his private life and to never fall in love with him.
‘You crazy bastard’*
Why did he add such a useless condition? He originally would not use a condition in a contract if the situation was one where it could not be documented. What happened was the result of her sounding him out and then confronting him.
Freedom in his private life was not really a problem. There was no need for him to marry a normal wife and then fix his eyes on another woman. That would be too troublesome. Sometimes he could play around and then with the flip of a hand, suddenly change his mind but anyways he was a man who open about his contradictions.
[I will never fall in love with your Grace.]
The problem was with this. His thoughts flipped back and forth, he felt as though his heart had been hit with a strong force and his breath was caught in his throat.
Moreover, her oath was covered by two shields (3). She had declared to him: ‘I will never give you my heart and if by any chance I do, please send me a rose.’
And he had initially thought that it was a condition advantageous to himself and gladly agreed.
‘You stupid fucker.’*
He’d disliked himself originally but it was closer to disgust, he’d never thought of himself as a fool. In fact, he was very confident about the ability of his body and his brain but that confidence was slowly cracking.
“Whew, it’s hot.”
She twisted her body in his arms. As the strength in his arms disappeared, she pushed away from him with both hands and released her upper body. As the cool air hit her skin, she let out a small breath. He dropped his gaze and was stared dazedly at Lucia who was flushed slightly red from the heat.
‘This woman does not love me.’
[If that’s so, then I’m thankful.]
In the past, that was how he thought towards women. A woman’s love is annoying. They would give him their heart which he didn’t want then buzz around asking him to reciprocate. The love they had for him was ultimately based on what he had. Those women loved his power and his wealth.
They all loved the Duke Hugo not the Hugh who didn’t have anything to his name. And to him, of course Lucia was the same.
The person she wanted was himself as the Duke. But gradually that conviction of his was growing blurry. She hadn’t shown any interest in his power and wealth.
But he couldn’t know yet. They hadn’t been married for that long. Some people can hide their original motives for tens of years. That is what his rationality kept telling him but why does his sensibility keep telling him that something is different about her?
‘Do I hope for her to cling to me…? Like other women? Why?’
It was a mystery that he was completely unable to solve.
‘And if she ends up clinging to me… what am I to do?’
If that occurred then it could be a breach of the contract. But… if the contract conditions could not be kept then what about it?
His pupils momentarily twinkled. Their contract had a very fatal loophole. First, undocumented contracts cannot assert legal effects.
Secondly, the contract did not mention any specific details about destroying or renouncing the contract when the conditions were not met. He didn’t see anything about a divorce.
He had initially said that with the intention of blocking the annoying divorce process but thinking about it now, it was a clever foresight.
‘A rose? What about it? What if I don’t send roses forever? And so what if send some again?’
He had been staring at her for a while so her gaze grew increasingly questioning. His red pupils stared deeply into her amber eyes.
She was his wife. She was his woman, and no one would dare argue that with him. From the moment she signed that marriage certificate, she was entirely bound to him.
‘This woman is mine.’
The conclusion he arrived at made him very satisfied. Love or whatever it was ultimately didn’t matter. She would never be able to escape from his hands. Possessiveness and obsession with her had begun to sprout from within his heart.
“Did the meeting not go well?”
Lucia couldn’t place her finger on it but something about him was different from usual.
Because he was such a remarkable person, she couldn’t imagine there being a problem that he was troubled with but the north was a vast land and he was the lord over many people, on the contrary, if no problems occurred then that would be strange.
Truthfully, Lucia was a bit sulky towards him.** Rather than letting his servant handle the gift, it was better to not have given it at all. However based on what Jerome had strongly asserted, Hugo had thought about the gift itself and her heart was slightly inclined to believing that.
And, at the tea party today, the noblewomen were concerned about the young and seemingly innocent Duchess and gave her some words of advice.
[Men are simple beings. There is no need to think to complex about it. Even if you are gifted a single flower, embrace him and thank him like there is no gift more precious in world, and if there is any passion, that passion will overflow.]
[You have to act like you love the gifts for them to keep coming in. And from time to time say things like ‘my husband has done well, wasn’t it hard?’ you will find that he will be extremely soothed.]
She had learnt how to keep a hold on her husband while they lived together but what could she do with that?
As they smiled and chatted, the noblewomen gave similar advices while Lucia sat there quietly and diligently piled the advices in her head.
Until she had run to his arms and embraced him, there had been no intention to follow the advice of the noblewomen. In that moment, she was purely just happy to see him.
However, in that moment, the advice came to mind and the situation was simply perfect. So Lucia put aside the complicated circumstances surrounding the gift of flowers and actively expressed her gratitude.
“The meeting had no issues. You said you liked the present, right?” (Hugo)
As his gaze on her was very intense, Lucia hesitantly tried to come down from his knees but his arms closed around her waist.
“If you like it then you should return the favor.”
‘Really, this man is completely shameless’.
He definitely knew that the gift was not something he sent yet he didn’t seem to be conscience—stricken.
She considered spilling the beans but then Jerome would be scolded, she didn’t want to start up trouble for nothing so she let it pass.
“What would you like?” (Lucia)
“Is anything possible if I want it?”
“If it is something within my capacity to do, then yes.”
As he leaned in and whispered something into her ear, Lucia’s face grew red and heated up.
“It’ll be over soon.”
His lips drew close to her lips and their lips met.
“It’s almost time for dinner.” (Lucia)
“I’ll finish before then.”
Lucia continued to resist the little kisses he showered on her.
“I don’t believe you.”
“You say that so easily. Since when did my credibility become so little?”
“Why don’t you try placing your hands on your chest and thinking about it?”
Every time they were in bed, he would say ‘Just one more time’, or ‘this is the last time.’ And because she didn’t believe he would trick her, she would once again be deceived. He didn’t care about any of her complaints.
He gave a small heave and lifted her from her thighs, his hands above her skirt. The position of her legs were changed to spread around his thighs as she was firmly perched on him.
Their position sat them face to face, her legs were as though they were wrapped around his waist and her neck was dyed red as she looked at him.
If not for clothes being in the way, there was practically no difference from their position when they had intercourse. She could already feel his excited male part which meant that he was really planning on doing it here.
“What if someone comes?”
“My butler is not someone without tact. I am sure if we don’t come out after a while, he will handle it himself.”
‘That’s even more embarrassing!’
Lucia bit her lips and didn’t know what to do. One of his hands had already slipped under her skirt and was groping around inside. His other hand was nestled on her back, pulling her in as he bit her earlobe lightly and licked it.
“At first, I wanted to do it in the garden but when I thought about it, with the weather being as it is, there will be a lot of insects. If you faint while we’re doing it, that would be difficult. Wait no. That wouldn’t matter. Even when there are no bugs, you occasionally—”
“…If you say one more word, I will bite off your lips.”
He chuckled and replied playfully, “Yes, Your Grace.”
He kissed around her eyes as she glared at him bashfully. He swallowed her red lips and breathed in her sweet fragrance. He started moving to make good use of the time she had given to him, however he didn’t keep his promise about when he would finish.
Dinner time had already passed when they were done so they ate a very late dinner.
As Jerome brought some afternoon tea to his office, placed it on the desk and turned to leave, Hugo spoke.
“From now on…”
Jerome stopped walking, turned around and walked back to the desk to listen to his master’s words.
“I don’t care about other flowers but no more roses. Do as you see fit but I do not want to see any more of that particular flower.”
Jerome did not fully understand what his master wanted but he replied that he would take care of it. He wondered if yesterday, her Grace had been offended or hurt by the present that he had sent.
But looking at the mood between the both of them today, it didn’t seem like that. As Jerome was thinking about roses, a memory suddenly rose to the forefront of his mind.
“Your Grace, the other day, Her Grace asked me if I had sent a yellow rose.”
Hugo’s hand that was signing a document instantly stopped moving, causing the ink from the pen to drop and spread under the paper. Hugo frowned slightly and pushed the document away.
“Her Grace asked me if she was right about Lady Lawrence being the last person to receive a rose and… I answered positively.”
On the night of the victory party, she had witnessed, first-hand, the sight of him breaking it off with Sophia Lawrence. He had forgotten.
Rather than saying he had forgotten, it was more accurate to say that he didn’t feel the need to worry about it. Hugo could somewhat get a glimpse of why she saw him as an unscrupulous and shameless villain.
“Is there something else?”
Hugo’s voice grew a little sharper. Maybe because of the mood, Jerome didn’t study his master’s face or he would have seen his master’s visible discomfort.
“Her Grace asked why the last person to receive a rose was not the Countess of Falcon and I answered that Your Grace has not given the order.”
Hugo had a cool expression on the outside but the hand holding the pen gripped it tighter.
‘If you answer that way, what am I supposed to do?!’
Hugo swallowed back the words he wanted to scream. It was moments like this where his always capable butler was instantly reduced to a tactless fool.
“Send it. The rose.”
“Is Your Grace talking about the Countess of Falcon?”
“Send it today. Right now.”
“Yes, your Grace. Oh, and another thing—”
“Why are there so many things?”
Hugo mumbled gloomily. He had only stopped Jerome from leaving to say one thing but it seemed like Jerome had taken this opportunity to pour out one thing after the other.
“This is something Her Grace’s primary doctor said. She requests for you to restrain yourself in visiting Her Grace’s bed…”
“What? Why does the doctor care about that?”
“She said it is because of Her Grace’s health and that once every five days, Her Grace needs to rest.”
The health of the wife; it was the emergence of a tough task that Hugo couldn’t resist at all. His wife was small and weak.
Truthfully, Lucia was not that fragile, but in his head, it was fixed as a huge deal if she were to fall ill. And for more than one month, he’d had his way with her without pause.
Though, if he could really do it for more than one round then at least it wouldn’t be unfair.
Once every five days.
Hugo became depressed.
- He means there was nothing said specifically about a yellow rose. She just said send me a rose.
- If this sentence feels off to you, sorry. I can’t really get what he’s trying to say. But from what I’m hearing, basically he’s saying that if she doesn’t think this pile of roses is the, you know ‘go away rose’, he interpreted what she said differently.
- The condition are the shields.
* He is totally cursing himself out if you couldn’t tell.