HAPPILY EVER AFTER(8)
<< This is the design for His Grace the Duke’s brooch. If Your Grace is satisfied with the attached design, please make a commission to our jeweler. >>
The attached design depicted a lion’s head with two red gems as its eyes. Like the letter stated, it was a design for the Duke of Taran who represented the Taran family.
Lucia’s heart pounded in her chest as she stared at the familiar brooch design. It brought memories from her dream for the first time in a long while.
Lucia had lived with the mentally unsound old woman for half a year, then her identity became the old woman’s daughter, Lucy, around when she held the old lady’s funeral. A long time had passed since the old woman’s daughter was reported missing, so her daughter’s records were erased due to it being ruled as a death.
When Lucia reported the old woman’s death, she also notified them to withdraw the ruling of the daughter’s death. And at the same time, she requested that an altercation be made to her name because it was recorded incorrectly. The similarity between the names, Lucy and Lucia, allowed for the name change to proceed smoothly.
Using the excuse that her hair had turned white due to an illness, Lucia was given permission to dye her hair black. And so, she succeeded in remaking her identity into a new Lucia, with amber eyes and dark hair.
In order to make a living, she had to work. Lucia didn’t want to spend the rest of her life in the old lady’s old and isolated home. Even as she feared that someone might be tracking her down, she got a job in a small workshop. And perhaps the workshop’s old mistress noticed Lucia working diligently because half a year later, she said to her:
[I plan on scraping this workshop and moving eastward. Do you have any money saved? I’m thinking of handing it over to you.]
So for the first time in a long while, Lucia visited the cemetery that led to the secret tunnel of the Count Matin residence. She went at dawn, and she made sure there was no one was in sight, several times. It had been a long time, but fortunately, the jewelry box she’d hidden was just as she had left it.
After returning to her place, Lucia checked the jewelry box to verify its contents and discovered an ornament that she was seeing for the first time. It was a man’s brooch in the shape of a lion’s head. She thought about it, over and over again but she couldn’t figure out the source of the item. So eventually, Lucia sold everything in the jewelry box, but she couldn’t sell the brooch.
‘Are the designs the same?’
She couldn’t be sure because the one in her hand was just a design pattern. Lucia stared at the design for a while, seized with a strange feeling, then she drew up a letter of commission.
* * *
“Milady. The young Miss’ guests are about to leave.”
“Oh, is that so? It’s already gotten so late.”
Lucia stood up, leaving the organization that she was doing alone for the time being. There weren’t that many letters left anyway. As Evangeline got older, she grew more interested in playing with her friends than being with her mom, so Lucia’s days were relatively relaxed.
“Jerome, how is Roxy doing?”
Lucia asked about Jerome’s daughter, whose one year old birthday had recently passed. The girl had suddenly gotten a fever last night, so the doctor came to see her several times throughout the night.
“When I saw her around lunch, her fever looked like it had gone down a lot.”
“Haven’t you gone since you saw her at lunch?”
Seeing that Jerome wasn’t replying, Lucia clicked her tongue. Even after marriage, Jerome’s inflexible nature remained the same. The place wasn’t even far. The building right next door was Jerome’s newlywed home. Even though it had been a while, Lucia was still amazed by the fact that Jerome dated somebody and got married.
Jerome’s wife, Olga, used to be a newly hired maid in the ducal residence. And she was a woman whom Lucia had a connection with in her dream. When Lucia ran the workshop, Olga was a very sincere and sociable worker she had.
Jerome had been receiving employment applications constantly because of the maids who kept quitting and when Lucia made a short visit to his office, she found a familiar face on one of the applications. So Lucia recommended Olga. And about a year after Olga was hired, Jerome and Olga came together to see her and told her they would be getting married.
Lucia had absolutely no idea that the two of them were even dating, so she was surprised to hear that Olga was pregnant and when she saw Jerome standing with his head bowed, she had burst into laughter.
The empty outbuilding was completely clean and revamped into a home for the two of them to live in. And nowadays, Olga was ridiculously busy with raising her two children, so she rarely came to the main house.
“Jerome, it will be very hard on Olga to take care of two children when one of them is even sick. Stop here today and go home.”
Lucia left the receiving room to see her daughter’s guest off.
* * *
“I shall be returning as of now. I appreciate your kindness in accommodating me again today.”
Prince Ethan, who gave his goodbyes in a mature manner.
“Today was fun. See you tomorrow.”
And the mischievous Jude, whose cheekiness was just like his brother, Chris.
“Thank you for your kind consideration, Duchess.”
Seeing the proud and prim young princess Selena, Lucia smiled pleasantly. They were all lovely children.
“Lady Eve, let’s play together again tomorrow.”
“Oh my, Lady Selena. I wanted to say that first.”
“Like I thought, we definitely have something connecting us.”
“It’s because we’re cultured ladies.”
Even though they were imitating noblewomen, the two girl’s unique childish voices were unnatural, making it obvious that their conversation was imitating something they had heard somewhere.
Lucia desperately tried to hold back her laughter so she wouldn’t hurt the two girls’ feelings. Lately, the two girls were very fascinated by acting as noblewomen, so they would have odd conversations with a weird tone.
The way Ethan looked at his sister made it clear he found her acting ridiculous and his snort was quite loud. Selena glared fiercely at Ethan. Then she hmphed and whispered loudly in Evangeline’s ear.
“Lady Eve. A cultured lady should be most careful of idiots like this one.”
“What? Hey! Selena!”
“Look at that. How uncultured.”
Ethan fumed but held back when Evangeline’s gaze fell on him. If they were at the palace, he would have grabbed his naughty sister’s hair. Ever since Selena began to speak well, Ethan was slowly realizing that he could never out-speak his sister.
As she watched Ethan sulk with an offended expression, Evangeline smiled sweetly.
“Lady Selena, Sir. Ethan is not an idiot. He is the elder brother of the cultured Lady Selena, is he not? Lady Selena’s elder brother can’t be someone like that.”
Ethan’s expression was awkward as his ears flushed red.
Selena knew that her elder brother was the type to torment her once they got back to the palace because he was angry, so she was in favor of making him feel better and replied primly.
“Hnn, well, that’s true.”
“Hooh. What of me? How am I?”
Jude butted in. Seeing Jude’s eyes filled with expectation, Evangeline thought for a moment then she said:
“Jude is a good person. You’re nice.”
“Hehe. Then, will you marry me later, Eve?”
Lucia’s eyes opened wide and she watched the children’s conversation with rabid interest. Evangeline tilted her head and fell into thought. Lucia, the other children, and even the surround servants, held their breaths as they waited for the girl’s answer.
“The two young masters have returned.”
When a maid came in and reported this, Evangeline screamed ‘Elder brother!’ and ran out, her face gleaming with happiness. Selena, who had been acting like a noble lady, tossed that aside and ran after her at full speed.