The Gap Between You and Me - Chapter 35
“Even I, who doesn’t know her well, could feel how genuinely she cares for you.”
“… She doesn’t know that there’s no benefit in doing it for me as a slave. It’s because she’s an immature master who doesn’t know much about the world yet.”
Edwin openly criticized Herietta. That was a bit harsh. Vivianne was slightly puzzled and glanced up at him. Upon seeing the expression on his face, she smiled silently.
“Is that so?”
Vivianne already knew that Edwin’s true heart meant the exact opposite.
“… It is now entirely up to Sir Edwin what to do with the information I have given him.”
Vivianne finished her speech with a slightly troubled expression on her face. A feeling of relief as if she had just passed through the great ordeal she was carrying and the feeling of anxiety as if she had acquired a new ordeal that she had never seen before overcame her at the same time.
But now, it was too late to turn back. The die had already been cast, and she would have to step back and wait for the storm to come sooner or later.
After a while, Edwin, who had only listened in silence the whole time, spoke up for the first time.
“… It would not have been so easy to find out.”
His voice was rough and low, like waves crashing against rocks.
“Why are you doing this to me?”
Wasn’t it in vain that there was once a name-only betrothal between us? His eyes seemed to say.
“Well, let’s just call it a meaningless whim.”
“Or let me say it’s my way of saying goodbye.”
The size of the mind is different and the depth of memory is also different. Even if she didn’t want to admit it, she had to admit it. The time has come to let go of the bond of emotion that she couldn’t let go of even though she knew it was useless. Feelings that he, and even herself, didn’t know had started.
Vivianne got up from her seat.
“I should go now, Sir Edwin. I’ve been away too long, so I’ll have to go back before people notice.”
At Vivianne’s words, Edwin also stood up obediently. This could have been their last meeting, but there was no regret.
Edwin thanked Vivianne and put on the mask he had brought. He pretended to kiss her on the back of her hand and moved away to leave.
Vivianne called for Edwin who was about to come out the door and stopped him. Then he turned his head halfway and waited for her next words.
“Just tell me. You … Do you feel something for Miss Herietta?”
Vivianne asked quietly.
A long silence passed between the two. Edwin didn’t open his mouth for a long time, as he couldn’t find the right words to answer. Outwardly, he did not seem to have changed much. But Vivianne thought that his energy had been greatly disturbed.
Eventually, Edwin broke the silence that felt like an eternity, and he answered softly,
“… It’s not like that.”
He lowered his head slightly. He even seemed a bit troubled, as if he had been forced to say something he didn’t want to say. Vivianne looked back at him.
Then, she smiled sadly.
“I hadn’t noticed until now.”
She whispered as if she were talking to herself.
“Now that I see it, you’re really bad at lying.”
The exhalation was longer than the inhalation.
* * *
As expected, the banquet was amazing. Much more than any other banquet Herietta had ever attended. But that wasn’t surprising. Because the host was none other than the famous Marquisate of Richconell.
Herietta was standing in the corner of the ballroom with a glass of red wine. It’s been a while since she picked up the glass, but she hasn’t even drunk half of the wine in it. Originally, she wasn’t a big fan of wine and even less of the bloody dark red wine.
After she left Vivianne’s room, she thought she was half out of her mind. Seeing as she entered the ballroom, the attendant offered her a drink, and she picked up the glass without knowing what it was.
It wasn’t until the attendant went away that she realized that the drink in her hand was red wine. It was a mistake, but it was too late to change the glass.
Herietta glanced at the large clock hanging on the wall. Eight forty. It seems like it’s been a while since she had left Edwin and Vivianne alone to talk, but it had only been a little over twenty minutes.
Time was passing so slowly that even the second hand of the clock seemed to stand still. She let out a deep sigh.
‘Did I make a mistake?’
Herietta gently swirled the glass of wine in her hand, watching the wine swirl into a small circle in it.
‘I want to satisfy my greed for no reason…’
Edwin didn’t want to dig deep into this in the first place. He was the least happy to hear that there was a clue about what happened to his family.
Rather, he seemed confused and uncomfortable with the words. Had he been able to, he might have gotten out of the spot right away.
‘It is the king’s decision.’
She remembered Edwin trying to dismiss everything, saying it was the king’s decision. For that moment, he looked as if he had lost his freedom to think.
Herietta frowned. She thought once, thought twice, and found it strange. As if she ate something wrong, she felt stuffy and bloated. She felt that the king’s character was very shady, even though she had never met him before in her life.
‘How the hell did it happen?’
Just like everyone else, Herietta first thought that the former Duke of Redford had rebelled against power. She thought it was nonsense, but she didn’t want to look further into it.
There are reasons for trying to cover up an incident, and those who violated the power had to pay a harsh price. It was just that, and it was easy to pass it on. They could have lived like a skeleton hidden in a closet, thinking that everything would be okay as long as it was unseen.
‘But in that case, Edwin would have to live a miserable life as a slave for the rest of his life.’
Herietta bit her lower lip.
Is there no other person in the world who does not fit the status of a slave more than that? Right now, she is staying by his side and taking care of his well-being to some extent, but she doesn’t know how long that will be possible. She recalled how exhausted and unstable he looked when she first met him.
‘You have to find a way, Herietta. A decisive way to help him. For him, and also for you.’
If she could help Edwin, she thought she could give her all. As Vivianne said, it didn’t matter if she was in danger. It didn’t matter if he found his place again and naturally moved away from her.
At that moment, an inner voice quietly asked.
‘Really, Herietta? Does it really matter if he gets away from you? Once you’re happy, you don’t mind if he forgets you as it is?’
Herietta’s face contorted. Yes, she couldn’t readily answer the question that popped into her mind. She pretended to be good, pretended to be just, and pretended to be a good person, but her insides weren’t that clean. Possessiveness and jealousy toward Edwin, as well as various other dirty emotions, made her completely black.
A trembling breath escaped between her lips. She wanted to cool the blazing heat quickly. She mindlessly drank the red wine she was holding. The alcohol in the wine made it even more bitter, but she didn’t mind.
‘I need something more to drink.’
Herietta wiped the corner of her mouth with her sleeve and looked around. Just in time, she saw the attendant serving drinks glasses from the other side of the ballroom. Without hesitation, she moved towards the attendant.
On one side of the ballroom, a beautiful song was being played under the direction of the band leader, and the center was full of people who were obsessed with dancing. Herietta walked around the edge of the banquet hall so as not to disturb their good time.
She was about to pass by the door leading to the terrace when the curtain that had been hanging there suddenly pulled back. Suddenly, she turned around at the sudden movement, and at the same time, a man walked out through the rolled-up curtain.
There was someone else on the terrace. He turned his head and giggled, and Herietta was starting to get drunk and her reflexes were dulled.
Without knowing what to do, the two just collided. No matter how small Herietta’s stature was, it could not be compared to that of a strong man. Besides, the other person’s height was about an inch taller than her.
Herietta fell to the floor.
“Ohh, what the hell, how annoying.”
Not as much as she was, but the man also faltered in the recoil.
He muttered violently. He was more busy checking the condition of his clothes than taking care of her as she fell to the floor. He looked worried about whether something got on his clothes due to the crash a while ago.