< — Duchess Vivian — > (4)
His wife handled it well but she had almost gotten humiliated at her first social stage. Because of her husband’s past woman.
‘Why didn’t she tell me?’
She had the right to blame him and get angry at him. However, she didn’t mention it on the day it happened and even until now, she hadn’t mentioned it. That was even scarier. It was impossible to know if her mind had already turned away from him and he was not even worth questioning. Hugo didn’t understand why the situation kept turning terrible.
Still, he thought that his effort these days had made her slightly more yielding. Her attitude toward him was intimate and she smiled more. Because her boisterous and incessantly joyful appearance was beautiful to see, his mood lately had been elated, like he was stepping on clouds.
However, at the thought of her becoming an ice witch again, his mood immediately plummeted. He was struck with sense of shame and groaned.
‘It was really just a momentary greeting in the palace.’
Hugo felt wronged. He was always in the strong position. He had never actually felt the mortified feeling of the weak. Even as a child mercenary slave, he hid his resentment and sharpened his knife at the back, so he didn’t know what it meant to feel wronged and stifled inside. She was teaching him a variety of emotions.
‘I won’t even greet next time. I’ll just act like I don’t know anything.’
When he read the part where she reproachfully said, ‘I know what my husband’s handkerchief is,’ his chest felt prickly. He wondered if his wife had already known that he took the Damian’s handkerchief and just pretended not to know. It was an awkward thought but that sort of thing didn’t matter.
Hugo had thick skin. There was no problem if a father took a little bit of his son’s thing. The extent to which he could justify himself was very far-reaching.
What Hugo was worried about was whether or not she was disappointed in him. When he thought of their passionate nights these past few days, he was struck with hope.
She might not be angry. He hadn’t felt any particular sense of distance. Maybe she regarded the incident at the tea party as a trivial matter and forgot about it. But she was a cruel woman who kept her heart shut to him but allowed him to spend passionate nights with her.
Hugo’s melancholy gradually changed into anger. In this entire situation, there was definitely a ringleader. His anger towards them was ignited and gradually flared up.
‘Count Jordan. Count Alvin.’
Hugo tapped his fingers on the table.
What had these men done wrong? Such rational thoughts did not cross the current Hugo’s mind.
He was mulling over how to punish them. Right now, Hugo had no justification to the touch the Count of Jordan. So, he decided to put it aside for now. He would never forget it. It was simply recorded on his waiting list.
Hugo did not do things like intentionally making up an incident that never happened in order to punish another. In his own way, he found that sort of means cowardly.
However, once he found something that he could pick on, he bit down tenaciously. In the eyes of others, there was no difference between the two methods but Hugo didn’t care about what other people thought. To him, he only had to be unashamed to himself.
Moving onto the Count of Alvin, he was a more difficult target. Although Hugo could crush him if he made up his mind, the Count had sprinkled money all over the place. If he was attacked rashly, there were many people that would rise to his defense. Getting rid of those people in addition would make the issue too big and Kwiz would not really like it.
A good idea flashed into Hugo mind.
‘I can just move him far away.’
If he couldn’t get rid of it, he couldn’t just keep it out of his sight. Hugo heard that the Count of Alvin had tried to enter the tea distribution business several times but failed. He would use that as bait and open a channel in the capital for some business reason. When a person is no longer in one’s sight, interest in them would also goes away. Sofia would naturally be forgotten.
Among the high-end businesses unofficially owned by the Taran family, there was a huge high-end business that only circulated tea on a large scale. Because a majority of its customers were nobles from other countries, it was active in other countries.
Once the Count of Alvin took the bait, he would not only be away from the capital, he would be away from Xenon for a considerable amount of time. In this sense, Hugo would be giving the Count of Alvin a business opportunity. It was not a punishment but a reward.
Hugo didn’t really like this fact but this method was cleaner than making the issue bigger. It was a good thing that the Count of Alvin had excellent business ability so it would only benefit his high-end business.
When Hugo was done thinking about how to handle the issue, his busy brain began to think of what would happen next but he stopped himself. Just because he planned to deal with them didn’t mean that the past did not happen.
‘Should I ask her about it?’
If he asked, what would she say? If she said she didn’t care about his past women, it would make him feel sour in a way. If she said that she was unhappy and didn’t trust him anymore, that was even worse.
In the past, Hugo never had to hold in words that he wanted to say but recently, he had had to worry about his words and keep them to himself. It piled and piled up and he was about to have an pent-up disorder.
While he was caught between a rock and a hard place, a good while passed and soon, ten days had gone by since the tea party took place. In the meantime, Lucia had attended more tea parties. This time, they were really small scale tea parties with an attendance of about ten people.
* * *
Today, Lucia was in a good mood because she had gotten a letter from Damian. During their evening walk, she had chattered in length about what Damian had been up to in the Academy. Although Hugo was already informed of everything in separate report, he acted interested and listened to her, currying to her mood. It was all to grab this particular chance.
“Vivian. I heard a rumor.”
Hugo sat on the bed and carefully asked Lucia who was sitting in front of the mirror on her dresser. Rumors of the incident at the tea party was now widely known throughout the social circle. The fact that afterwards, the Countess of Alvin had locked herself up at home added to the credibility of the rumor. Hugo did not say that he had investigated and simply spoke as if he had heard it about it from the rumors.
“Mm. Yes. There was such a thing.”
Lucia replied like it was nothing. It was as if Hugo’s worry all this time was for naught.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“How can I tell you every trivial thing that happens in the social circle? It’s a women’s issue.”
“…Was it a trivial thing?”
He felt sour indeed.
“It was a trivial thing because I believed in you.”
Hugo’s sinking mood instantly revived.
“Since you know anyways, I will go ahead and ask. Can you tell me who your past women are?”
Hugo broke out in cold sweat.
“Because I need to know who they are to take appropriate measures. I am not trying to find fault with you. Just as I said, it is necessary for me to know who they are.”
“…Alright. I’ll tell Jerome.”
Hugo felt complicated. It wasn’t the worst outcome but it wasn’t a situation he was pleased with. She was so clean to the extent that it was heartless and her emotions did not leak out at all.
In the past, Hugo wished that women would be like her. However, his wife, whom he wished and pleaded would not be like that, was rigid without any gaps. He was the one who was pathetic and struggling to get a piece of his wife’s heart. No matter how much he climbed, he couldn’t see the end of the wall that surrounded her.
Hugo stood up and hugged Lucia from behind. He buried his head in her small shoulder.
“Vivian. I know nothing about this. I have never met that women in private.”
Believe me. Don’t be hurt by it. Don’t close your heart to me. Numerous entreaties swirled around in his head.
“I know. I trust you.”
A short word of trust. Hugo didn’t realize that a simple phrase would make him feel so relieved and reassured. The sense of relief instantly made his restless heart feel at ease. Would receiving trust from another person make his heart feel so complicated? No. It was because the trust was from his woman, not from any other person.
“Of course. You promised me.” (Lucia)
“So…it isn’t that you didn’t tell me because you were angry but because you trusted me so you didn’t care?”
Hugo hugged her tighter, enjoying the feeling of her warmth in his arms. His heart warmed up. This feeling that sometimes felt hopeless and other times, somehow smarting but sweet. This feeling was happiness.
If he didn’t know about it then that was that but now, he couldn’t let go of this sweetness that he had already experienced. He was afraid that he would lose what he had gotten a hold of for the first time since his brother died.