< — Love, Understanding and Family — > (3)
Lucia entered the central tower and found Damian lingering around the same spot then she approached him.
“You look splendid, Damian.”
Damian was dressed in a small sized adult-like tailcoat size and looked like the perfect little gentleman. Lucia wished father and son would wear tailcoats, standing side by side as she held them in each arms and entered the party venue.
The ladies wouldn’t be able to take their eyes off them. Just imagining it made her smile happily.
“It’s a bit…stifling.” (Damian)
“You’ll get used to it soon. The guests have arrived, let’s go.”
Damian stood still and did not move as though he’d been nailed to the ground.
“Lucia, no matter how I think about this, I…”
“Damian, from now on, you’ll have to stand in front of a lot of people. Today is just the beginning. There is no need to feel pressured, if anyone misbehaves around you, just tell me. I’ll teach them a lesson.”
Damian stared blankly in response and Lucia put her hand on her waist.
“You don’t believe me? All right. I’ll tell your father instead. He’s a scary person so he’ll teach them a good lesson.”
A little smile floated onto the boy’s lips.
Lucia reached out, grabbing Damian’s hand and pulling at it. Damian flinched at the sudden contact. He gazed at the hand holding his and obediently followed, walking along. It was a soft and warm hand.
His gaze slowly moved from her hands to arms to her back. There was no light coming off of her but his eyes felt dazzled. He was dazed by her brightness and couldn’t move his eyes away.
When the hostess of the party, the Duchess appeared, the noise gradually subsided and the venue became quiet.
Lucia glanced through the ladies of various ages sitting in gorgeous and colorful attires and announced the start of the party with a greeting.
“I would like to extend my thanks to all of you who were willing to attend today. It is my first time having so many people in one place so there might be some immaturity but I hope we can all have a good time.”
Amongst the ladies attending today, the ones that were older and more influential than Lucia, bowed their head slightly.
“And, there is someone I would like to introduce to you all today. Damian, come on out.”
Damian who was hidden from people’s sight, walked up and stood beside Lucia at her call.
“You are all well aware of him. In the future, the Young Lord will be the master of Taran after the Duke. He’s still young but I wanted him to give his greetings so I called for him.”
Most of them could not hide their confusion at the boy’s appearance. After a moment of silence, the crowd stirred. The confused ones were mainly the singles or young wives while the expressions of the older wives stiffened.
In the midst of this, one person placed down their teacup heavily, making a loud noise. It was the Countess of Wales.
Her expression was cold and she lowered her hand to her knees, her mouth tightly shut. People’s gazes traveled over to the Countess.
The Countess’ expression did not reveal any displeasure. She just remained silent and expressionless. As the Countess’ silence grew longer and longer, the expression of people around gradually stiffened.
* * *
Around the time when the garden party started, Hugo was working on documents in his office. When Jerome came in with tea at his usual time, Hugo questioned him.
“Is the party going well?”
“Yes, I heard almost all the guests have arrived.”
“Anyone that was invited and didn’t show?”
The act of receiving an invitation and being absent without previous communication was an insult to the organizer. Unless one was without fear, they wouldn’t do such a thing but because she’d said she would introduce Damian, Hugo was somewhat concerned.
“Apart from two people who informed me of their absence due to health issues and two others who sent word that they would be arriving slightly late, they are all in attendance.”
Hugo nodded and shifted his eyes back to the paperwork on his desk.
Suddenly, the name ‘Lucia’ popped up in his head again. He would forget the name for a moment then it would pop up in his head again, the name just kept hovering around his head.
He was curious but he didn’t want to ask her, it would be too embarrassing to ask her directly. After all, it had come to mind that perhaps it was just a nickname that the both of them shared between themselves.
Last night, he couldn’t have his wife. Because of the garden party, she had to get up early and made promise not to touch her at all so he really only hugged her and slept. She slept sweetly, not caring about him who was too heated up to sleep. Without any power or energy, what bait could he throw to catch her?
“By any chance, have you heard of the name, ‘Lucia’?”
Hugo was spewing these words bitterly, like a complaint, but when Jerome replied with ‘Yes’, he quickly lifted his head.
“You’ve heard of it? Who is it?”
Jerome tensed up in the face of his master’s unusual reaction. While thinking that there was no way his master didn’t know, he had answered indifferently but his master didn’t seem to know.
‘Oh dear. Milady, why is Master not aware of this?’
Jerome expressed his frustration to the madam inwardly.
“…That…I heard it was Milady’s childhood name.”
His master gave no response to that.
Jerome broke out in cold sweat. His master really did not know. He began to get worried as to whether the two of them would have another serious fight like last time.
“Did my wife tell you directly?”
“No, I chanced upon Lady Milton calling Milady by that name so I asked Milady about it.”
“Okay. You may go.”
After Jerome left, the office was quiet and Hugo sat staring at a paper but none of the words on it were entering his brain.
The daughter of Baron Milton knew, Damian knew, even Jerome knew but he was the only one that didn’t know.
Hugo was shocked yet again. Her heart was still firmly shut and under lock and key. Perhaps it will keep being so in the future.
[I will never love you]
[There’s nothing after it ends.]
He put the pen and paper in his hands down, clasped his head with his hands and let his head drop onto the desk. His chest felt stifled, like there was a huge rock pressing down on it.
It felt like wandering in a desert and the end could not be seen. He found something he wanted for the first time since his brother’s death but it was something he could never get.
Perhaps it was comparable to the desperation of a man dying from hunger as he looked at a fruit that was simply out of reach. Even though he took deep breaths, his clogged up chest did not ease up.
After the death of his brother, his world slowly became colorless. It was boring and meaningless. However, he didn’t know when it began but recently, he hadn’t thought of the world as tiresome.
At some point, his world was full of color and his seemingly stopped heart began beating again. If he were to lose her, his world would die again. As long as she was his wife, she could not leave him.
However, marriage could not bind the heart. No contract in the world could do that. If her heart had not yet been given to another, he could bear it.
However, what if she gave it to someone else? What if she gave her body to him while sharing her heart with another?
He closed his eyes as he hazily sank into the darkness within his mind. The sound of knocking on his door pulled him back into reality.
The one he didn’t want to answer the most, Ashin, hurriedly entered his office.
“Your Grace, urgent report on the outbreak of an epidemic.”
He sighed. How exhausting. He wasn’t even allowed time to get sentimental. The northern land was a very large land so incidents happened without rest.
Just like riding on an old ship with water leakage, when one blocks one of the holes, the water comes in from somewhere else. He barely managed to get his heart that wanted to throw it all way under control and summoned some enthusiasm.
“What epidemic in this weather?”
“Reportedly, dozens of people in the fief complained of the same symptoms and the disease occurred in batches. Since it’s a place that’s only three to four hours away on horse, I didn’t continue monitoring the situation and contacted you.”
Hugo stood up immediately. If it was really epidemic, the consequence of it spreading to Roam would be the worst of worsts.
“I will head out immediately. Have the knights on standby and get physicians that can ride.”
“Understood. Since Sir Philip is opportunely staying in Roam at the moment, shall I request for Sir Philip to get ready?”
“Except that old g… except Philip. Find another doctor.”
Ashin affirmed and withdrew.
Hugo roughly arranged the documents on his desk and after a while, he left his office. After being informed of this news, Jerome quickly brought his master’s white unnamed horse outside and waited for him.
Hugo urgently ordered one of his hurrying knights to find and bring a doctor along, then he departed first with the rest of his knights.
*Thank you guys for commenting!! I look forward to the comments everytime I upload cuz y’all are hilarious and it keeps me going XD.
- I wonder what the old windbag will do next chokes on laughter