Suddenly, a memory from three years ago came to my mind.
He asked me abruptly as I signed the marriage contract and sighed.
[By the way, how long are you going to call me that? Will you continue to do so even after marriage?]
[ Then, what should I call the Duke?]
He answered my cautious question as if it was quite obvious.
[Call me Aslan.]
Thump thump, my heart was beating fast.
Touched by his friendly voice, something tingling spread all over my body.
Aslan, Aslan Tordell.
I’ve said his name many times in my mind, but I never thought I could say it out loud.
I wasn’t able to believe that only I can call his name this being this close and affectionate.
I held my trembling hands together and asked in a tense voice.
[Still… Is it really okay?]
Aslan burst out laughing as if my reaction was funny.
Then he said in a very nonchalant voice.
[That’s how others won’t notice, The fact that we were not married by love at first sight, as is known.]
Oh, I see.
His rational explanation calmed me down a little bit.
Hearing his rational explanation, my heart, which was beating like crazy, calmed down a bit.
He had a good reason for giving me the permission to say his name.
I was mistaken for a moment, thinking of the romantic aspect.
Still, “Aslan.” My heart was still pounding happily.
Although I was allowed to call his name due to the circumstances , even that was good.
It was nice to be able to say his name confidently anywhere, without having to mumble in a quiet room.
It was good that our relationship seemed special to others, and somehow it was good that he seemed to have given me this opportunity.
It was nice to see Aslan’s face replying “yes” to my call and his voice was full of laughter.
As the time spent with Aslan increased, the expectations that I had been working hard to bury grew little by little.
It was because I learned that no one but a few of his closest aides had been given the permission to call his name.
The fact that I belong to those few people gave me a false hope.
It was a vain hope that maybe I was a little special to him.
By the way.
“Aslan-sama is very kind.”
Rosalyn’s words woke me up.
The speciality I valued like a jewel was nothing.
It was all in my imagination.
My heart felt as if someone had poured cold water on it.
The sound of someone calling me brought me back to my senses.
‘… … What were we talking about?’
I quickly replayed the previous conversation.
I tried to remember her last words.
[Aslan is really kind.]
It is natural thing to say that he is friendly, but why does it sound so painful to me just because it came out of her mouth?
I responded with a grin as I struggled to endure the pain of my throbbing heart.
“Yes, that is correct.
He really is sweet.”
That kindness saved me and killed me.
To hide the corners of my trembling mouth, I deliberately covered my mouth with my hand and pretended to cough.
As I showed off my not-so-great performance, Rosalyn asked worriedly.
“Are you unwell?”
“Yes, a little.”
“Oh! What do I do? I’ll call the doctor right away!”
Rosalyn, who was watching me worriedly , moved as if to call the maids.
I quickly stopped her.
“You don’t have to.
After I rest for a while, I will be fine.”
“But Aslan-sama said that his wife is weak and that she should be given special attention.”
…… Aslan said that
I couldn’t answer for a moment, and I bit the inside of my mouth.
It was true that I was weak.
I was born small and weak, so I had frequent minor illness since young age.
Growing up, I suffered from harsh things, and my body became weaker.
Because of that, there were many times when I lost consciousness and fell ill for no reason during the three years I spent here.
So, Rosalyn, who will be staying with me in the mansion in the future, should know my constitution in advance so that she won’t be embarrassed if anything happens later.
That’s probably why Aslan told her about my health.
I know that, but why? Suddenly my heart pounded.
Was it because I found out that the two of them were already even talking to each other?
“I’m really okay.”
I pretended nothing was wrong and said in a gentle tone.
“I don’t know what Aslan was talking about, but I’m not that weak.
But, as Miss Rosalyn knows, he’s so sweet that he cares about me as if I’m getting really sick even when I’m a little bit unwell.”
Looking into Rosalyn’s round eyes, I bit my lip again.
Like a fool why did I say this?
As if to show her the relationship between me and Aslan, I was ashamed of myself for bringing out my childish words.
“So you don’t have to worry about it.
I’m really fine.
So, don’t worry about me, and go chat with the ladies freely.”
After I finished my words quickly, as if making an excuse, i was out of breath.
As if I had been running for a long time, I was trying to catch my breath, but suddenly the ladies who were watching us from behind were concerned.
Are you whispering under the rustling fan? My eyes trembled at the thought of their chattering conversation, and I quickly replied.
“Then I’ll see you later.”
As I walked away from the drawing room, the sound of laughter clung to my back.
Are you laughing at me because I look funny to you all for running away?
A sense of shame came as if to bite me at the thought that suddenly came to mind.
I wasn’t this kind of person.
Although the gloomy environment oppressed me, I still lived a firm life.
I didn’t care about other people’s eyes, and I didn’t wonder what others thought of me.
But how did I end up like this?
I was humbled by myself, filled with a sense of entitlement, who now gets hurt by thinking that people who are laughing without meaning were laughing at me.
Even if not, I am infinitely insufficient to stand by Aslan’s side.
I was also sad because I thought that there was really nothing for me to offer now.
Three years ago, I appeared in society like a comet and received everyone’s attention.
It was because I was the fiancé of Aslan Tordell.
Born and raised as the only heir to the historic Tordell family, he possessed an admirable good-looking appearance, having enough wealth and power in both hands.
Aslan, who is always imbued with nobility and elegance, was the object of admiration to the people.
People who knew him tried to gain his favor.
The men wanted to be his friends.
Women dreamed of being his lover, and furthermore, becoming his wife.
Aslan was the best groom who was admired by ladies of marriageable age, but that did not mean that married women and widows did not want him.
The subtle or explicit seductions of many women were always directed towards him.
Despite such great popularity, Aslan did not circulate any thoughts.
There are many women who admire him unilaterally, but it has never been said that he was deeply entangled with him.
Some men even laughed at Aslan for being a flower on a noble cliff.
Aslan’s relationship with women was so clean that rumors spread that he might like men.
It must have been a shock to hear that he was suddenly getting married, but even the identity of the woman who would be his bride was surprising.
Nor a princess from a wealthy duke family who had long been rumored to have admired him, neither a princess from a neighboring country who had been constantly flirting with him, but the daughter of a count whom no one has even heard of.
Moreover, their marriage did not proceed in a ‘normal’ way.
The bride’s family, that is, the Larestine family, protested against Aslan for arbitrarily taking their daughter to the Tordell mansion even though they did not allow the marriage.
They persistently demanded that Helena Larestine be returned to their arms.
They even planned to put Aslan on trial, saying that he kidnapped their daughter by his own will to marry her and that the parents did not allow him.
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