Louisa was scheduled to arrive next.
She was very upset. At first, she thought she was going to the banquet hall, but Maria led her down the wrong hallway.
She never doubted Maria for even a moment, so it wasn’t until she entered the main building that she realized how things had gotten strange.
If they’re headed down this direction, they’d only be going to the rooms mostly used by Erich for work.
It was not a place where outsiders would come and go like the reception room. There was no way that Marquis Belf would be here, as it was a place that even Louisa herself could not enter without good reason.
“Where are we going? You said that my brother was looking for me?!”
Louisa’s shouts only echoed through the hallway.
At that moment, Maria reached forward and held onto Louisa’s arm. It was as if she was preventing her from escaping.
There was another woman there who’s dressed as a maid, someone Louisa had never seen before. She held onto Louisa’s other arm to keep her stationary.
Then, they both pulled her as if they were dragging her away and headed for the office.
“What the hell is this!”
Louisa cried as she was pushed into the office.
When she saw Erich, Marquis Belf and Josias inside the office, she closed her mouth shut. She shook her head once in dizziness, and straightened her crumpled sleeve.
“What’s going on? You’re calling someone out like this, yet you’re dragging them away as if you’re kidnapping them?!”
Louisa shouted confidently. It wasn’t that she didn’t notice the unsettling atmosphere in the office, but she was so self-centered that she never once thought that anything could go wrong for her.
Erich looked at her with a cold gaze.
“Tell me. What exactly were you going to do to my fiancé today along with these two men?”
Only then did Louisa stiffened up.
“No, listen. You’re under the wrong impression here—I don’t mean to inflict any irreparable blows to the point that it would become a scandal, rather it’s just to avoid damaging the honor of you both in the public eye.”
Louisa was out of breath. She wasn’t good at hiding her inner thoughts, and she hardly had any skill in improvisation. Her face had turned bright red.
“What are you talking about? What exactly have I done?”
But wordlessly, an aide standing half a step behind Erich took out four letters and put them on the table in front of Marquis Belf.
Marquis Belf drew in a breath. Those were the letters he had just instructed to send to his servants. The recipients were each different men, and they were ‘signed’ by Claire.
Forged signatures, forged handwriting. The content was a reply to the man who begged for a tryst.
[ That man’s only redeeming factor is the strength and power that comes with the name Klausener. Otherwise, who would like such a selfish man like him? The only one who remains on my mind is you. On the day of the party, I shall prove it at the garden. ]
The sentences written therein contained heavy sexual connotations.
“H-How could this…?”
Marquis Belf was shocked. He himself recognized the forged handwriting. As a matter of fact, it was him who ordered those fake letters to be passed through many different hands just to make sure that the exact source could be concealed.
The only ones who knew about this were Nora—the one who devised the scheme—his son Josias, Louisa and himself.
When in the world did these letters get stolen?
“Did you think you would succeed in doing this in my house?”
“What do you mean? Doing what?”
“You were going to give her a glass of drug-laced wine and drag her away to set up a tryst, all the while making sure that the guests will witness it, right? You could have just made it look like she was having an affair, but you were actually planning to instigate more than that.”
Erich spoke in an exceedingly cold voice.
He was a man who rarely showed his emotion. Not just happiness and joy, but also anger and sadness. That was also why he was called the noblest of men in the Rommel aristocracy.
But even though he was speaking calmly now, it was different from usual. A shadow was cast over his deep blue eyes, and it seemed like he could coldly cut people with just his gaze.
“N-No, I didn’t do anything!”
Frightened, Louisa clutched the hem of her skirt, unaware that the decorative chain was breaking. Marquis Belf also hastily made an excuse.
“Y-You’ve misunderstood, Duke!”
“Have I? Then the witness must have heard it wrong.”
After Erich finished speaking, Maria lowered her head.
She looked flustered all day today, but right now, the maid had a calm and very composed face.
“You… You betrayed me?!”
“It is not a betrayal, Mother. From the beginning, Maria followed my orders and served you well.”
Louisa asked back, utterly baffled. And it was only belatedly that she understood the meaning behind Erich’s words. She flopped down on the spot as though she had lost all her energy.
Erich looked at that figure with a cold face.
“Surprised, Mother? Did you truly think I was just leaving you alone to your own devices?”
“No no… It’s not like that!”
Louisa shouted in a tearful voice.
“Have you… Have you been doubting me? You planted a spy on me?”
“It was for the sake of protecting you, Mother. Just in case—just like today.”
Erich said quietly.
“If what you planned for today had actually happened, both Mother and the Belf Marquisate would have been completely eradicated from this land.”
It was difficult to discern even a hint of anger amidst the calm and composed tone in which he spoke. Erich was just infinitely cold.
But this was undoubtedly more frightening than sheer anger. Even as Erich was speaking with perfect neutrality and utter austerity, everyone could feel that he would follow through with each and every word he was speaking now.
“I have already warned you twice not to get involved with my wife-to-be. Why do you still insist on scheming like this?”
“I-It’s possible that she sent it…”
“Mother. Do you see Claire as an idiot who would bring her illicit paramour right into her fiancé’s house to prove her ‘sincerity’?”
Erich cast a contemptuous gaze at Louisa.
Louisa gripped her chest. She couldn’t breathe properly as tears welled up in her eyes, and she couldn’t speak a single word as her chest felt terribly suffocated.
“Why do you trust only that woman?”
Louisa was sad and angry.
She had stayed with Erich longer. He was the second man she loved in the world. After her husband died, she relied on him like a husband.
So of course Erich must feel the same. Because there was no woman who had been by his side longer, no woman who could care for him more than her.
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Comments for chapter "Chapter 71"
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