< — Meeting People — > (3)
Translated by: Miss Ruby
Edited by: ShadowDog
The effects of the alcohol simmered down quickly. Lucia came out of the break room. As she walked along the hallway, a handmaid approached her with hurried steps and bowed her head.
“His Grace the Duke sent this servant out of worry that the Duchess’ absence was long.”
It had only been 30 minutes since she left to rest. Lucia felt embarrassed because she thought that the people around would see his actions as unusual, that he couldn’t wait and sent a handmaid for her.
“Go ahead and tell him that I’m on my way.”
The maid bowed and quickly went back the way she came from.
“Master always looks for Milady.”
The maid who was following her added.
“Are you poking fun at me?”
“No, Milady. I wouldn’t dare. I say so because it looks good. If I get married later, I want to live like Master and Milady.”
Lucia didn’t mind hearing the maid’s flattery mixed with envy. She wondered if they looked that good in other people’s eyes and felt a little elated. Her relationship with him these days was definitely good.
Even though she had less time to see his face compared to when they were in the north, they had gotten closer. She tried to consider what exactly was different from when they were in the north but there was nothing specific she could point to. But strangely, anything he said would sound so sweet.
Lucia was walking in high spirits but as soon as she saw a group of men that were conversing some distance away, she paused her footsteps.
The maid who was following after her called out, “Milady?”
Lucia squeezed the shawl in her hand as though it were a shield. She regulated her breathing and began to walk again. When she drew close enough to verify the face, she sucked in her breath. She hoped she could just pass by.
After a couple of steps, one of the men discovered Lucia and his eyes shone with greed. Goosebumps rose all over her body.
“Ooh. Are you not the Duchess? I am more than glad for the opportunity to greet such a beautiful personage.”
Lucia couldn’t ignore the over-dramatic greeting of the man. The Duchess being rude at her first official social debut would only become the target of gossip. She was forced to stop and look at the face of the sickening man. She focused on controlling her gaze so that her expression would not distort.
The man was barely taller than Lucia. He had a tubby figure with a stomach like a pregnant woman’s and his greasy face was thickly covered with greed. His grinning mouth was filled with servility. His cunning eyes showed his anxiety to sponge off someone in power one way or the other. It was Lucia’s husband in her dream, the man that she didn’t even want to see in her dreams(1). Count Matin.
“I am the head of the Matin family and successor to the Count title, Horio Matin. Alas. I saw you from afar earlier but now that I’m closer, your beauty shines even more. I have great respect for His Grace, the Duke of Taran. It is a great honor to be able give my greetings the Great Duke of Taran’s wife.”
Count Matin wagged his tongue and rubbed his palms together like a mean merchant.
Lucia could identify her current feelings. Disgust. And fear. In her dream, Count Matin was a wall of despair. Her marriage life was darkness. Nevertheless, the reason why Lucia had been able to endure was because ironically, she had married without knowing anything. If she had known even a little bit about how a normal marriage was, she wouldn’t have lived so resigned and in suspense. If the memory of her dream was a nightmare then her marriage now was an illusion she didn’t want to break.
So when she came across the Count of Matin, her back broke out in terror like her illusions were broken. Lucia rarely had dark feelings towards others. She was the type to shake off slightly saddening or uncomfortable things. However, with the Count of Matin, she hated him terribly. Which was why she ate mugwort, brought infertility upon herself, and found her husband to propose. All of it was a struggle to get away from the shadow that Count Matin cast on her.
‘This man…was he always so small?’
Lucia was prepared to face the Count of Matin at any time. Even though she had become a Duchess, there was a faint fear at the bottom of her heart. However, the Count Matin that she faced in reality was so crummy. He was a dwarf compared her husband whose build outclassed knights.
Her anxiety faded away as she remember his broad chest and his firm embrace. If he were to give this man one kick, he would fly far away. Somehow, the man in front of her seemed very pathetic and her fear gradually faded away.
“Duchess. Would you please give me a chance to give my greetings to His Grace the Duke? There are very distinguished people at his side so a worthless person like myself may not enter his eyes but I am prepared to become the hands and feet of His Grace the Duke. If you just give me the chance, I will never forget this grace.”
Often times, Lucia couldn’t understand the Count of Matin’s abnormal obsession with power. The Matin family had a territory of its own, the family history ran deep, he had enough to live and be satisfied with his current circumstances.
‘He is still the same. Indeed, people don’t change easily.’ (Lucia)
The Count of Matin had wandered back and forth as if his feet were on fire but he was an empty grain that both the Crown Prince and the opposite side didn’t really want. Indeed, he made no difference to either side. Whether it was his power, wealth, or his own capability, they didn’t amount to much.
Count Matin didn’t want to admit it but he was at the end of his wits. No matter how hard he flung his body out of the water, he couldn’t get to the other pond he wanted.
“This is our first meeting but you are being rude. If you have business with His Grace the Duke, talk to him directly.”
Lucia spoke with a serious look on her face. Even if she was the Duchess, her opposing tone to an elder noble Count on their first meeting was rude. Lucia did not want the man to ever talk to her again. She hated to even see his shadow.
Her terrible fate with this person no longer existed in reality. So she purposefully spoke in a rude manner.
Lucia could see embarrassment and annoyance flash in Count Matin’s dark eyes. In her dream, Lucia would tremble in fear every time the Count’s eyes became like this. It was the day when her insides twisted and his viciousness came out.
Lucia straightened her waist. She hoped to look arrogant and she walked past him. Her heart was little nervous but she felt extremely delighted, like something pressing down on her chest had been lifted.
Lucia bit her lips because she felt like she was going to laugh. She realized that from now on, she was truly free from the nightmare in her dream.
‘Even if I slap him for no reason, he can’t do anything to me.’
Behind Lucia was the Duke of Taran. A reliable husband that held her up as though he would protect her from all the storms in life. He may not be invincible, but he had enough power to get rid of such trash. The person she was in the dream, the person that shook in fear of that man no longer existed.
1. I was gonna say Lucia’s dream husband…but that just sounds like the complete opposite meaning.
2. Crummy: She means he’s of poor quality. Bottom of the barrel.
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