The Gap Between You and Me - Chapter 9
“Or are you doing it on purpose? Does this make your body warmer or something like that?”
Edwin looked at Herietta and laughed. It didn’t suit him; he spoke like a gigolo. Herietta couldn’t think properly. The one in her memory and the one in front of her eyes overlapped, and her mind was all mixed up. It felt like being slapped in the face by a monster.
The hand that had been resting on Herietta’s face gradually went down. His hands, which had reached the edge of her chest, were clenched and stopped in front of her dress.
“By the way, you’ll have to use a very strong drug to get my mind moving. I’m sorry, but you’re not my taste.”
He tilted his head at an angle and rolled his eyes down to look at her. One of the corners of his lips went up. It was dazzlingly attractive and sensational.
“It doesn’t matter because they will all look the same when you’re drunk.”
He fiddled with the laces that held the front of the dress tightly and then fumbled around as if he were about to untie them. Ziipp. She felt her breathing loosen when the string holding her corset together unfastened. And thanks to that very alien feeling, Herietta was able to come to her senses.
Herietta pushed Edwin away as hard as she could. The gap between the two widened.
“You, what, what are you trying to do to me now?”
Herietta stared at Edwin, her eyes wide open in disbelief.
“What… What the hell are you going to do?”
She tried to argue again, but her throat choked and she couldn’t finish her sentence. She was so shocked that she couldn’t even cry. This is a nightmare, she seriously thought.
* * *
Edwin stood a little away from Herrietta and stared at her. Her hands, which fastened back the loose front sash, were trembling uncomfortably. Her eyes, which had a warm light like the sunlight of the spring day, fluttered like a shipwreck swept by a storm.
Edwin’s expression, which had only been so cold, looked disturbed. Just as there are different kinds of people, different reactions can come out in the same situation. But what is this? Her reaction was something he had never expected.
She might be acting, Edwin thought. But he immediately questioned his thoughts. Is she really acting when she is trembling this badly? He frowned.
“You don’t want to subdue me.”
He said. However, he said it in a slightly softer voice than before.
“You don’t want to see myself succumbing at your feet in such a wretched manner that I can no longer be uglier.”
“What did you say? Me, you?”
As Herietta let out her breath, she cut him off.
“Are you crazy? What kind of pleasure would I get from seeing you bowing down to someone like that!”
“I don’t want to see that, even if you pay me millions!”
As terrifying it is to imagine, she trembled like an aspen tree and felt a chill run down her spine. It was a strong reaction. So much so that she thought she might pass out again.
It was an unexpected development. Although he had an indifferent expression on the outside, Edwin was confused on the inside. Wasn’t she a great actress? If she puts her mind to it, she can deceive even him and get over it.
No, that’s not it. She’s not lying now. The instinct that had been with him since birth whispered in his ear.
But it didn’t make sense. Herietta knew his past. And, as the Marquis Macnaught said, no one in Philioche should have known his true identity. He had already done all the pre-checks, didn’t he say that? He was sent to this unheard-of country village for that reason alone.
Even if he thought about it two or three times, the circumstances did not line up. So, of course, he had no choice but to be suspicious.
“Hey, why are you like this?”
Herietta asked sarcastically.
“Why, why are you, when you’re so much nobler than anyone else?”
It wasn’t a criticism, it was a look of pity. Edwin’s expression darkened at that.
Yeah. Why did this happen?
He asked himself. He was no longer the same. The life he had lived for the past year had gnawed at him both on the outside and the inside. The twenty years of life he had lived up to that point did nothing to help him survive that year.
It is said that you can estimate a water’s depth, but you cannot estimate the depth of the human mind. There is a saying that white is black and black is white, but to Edwin, white is white, and black is only black.
My happiness is the unhappiness of others, and my unhappiness is the happiness of others.
Edwin had recently felt that those words were true. The people who smiled softly and had good smiles when he was the heir of the duke family, turned one hundred and eighty degrees the moment he became a slave and was anxious to plunge his head into the mud before anyone else. It is said this was how nature works, but this was more than that. The sudden downfall of someone who was originally born stronger than them was sweeter and more addictive than any other alcohol in the world.
[‘Let’s take a look at you.’]
That person who once claimed to be an old friend of his father. But when he saw Edwin held captive with a rope, he didn’t help, he just giggled sarcastically.
[‘Well. I mean, look at what happened to your father’s head; he used to hold his head high in the sky.’]
Edwin saw where he was pointing and closed his eyes at the terrible sight. But he couldn’t stop the demonic laughter from ringing in his ears. That was the beginning. It had nothing to do with his own will.
Under the name of treason, everything changed overnight. Everyone with the last name of Redford was annihilated, and only Edwin survived.
There were two reasons. The first is that when this happened, he was out on the outskirts, not the capital, so it was unlikely that he was directly involved. And the second was because of the various achievements he made for the country.
But Edwin knew. The king’s final decision to keep him alive was influenced by the Crown Prince, whom he had known for a long time.
‘Should you go that far? If you go that far, the history of the Redford family will be over.’
The son of whom had ordered to slaughter every Redford, pathetically persuaded Edwin who begged to kill himself.
‘Think carefully. What he, your father, would have wished for you to choose at this moment.’
Edwin didn’t know the answer to that. Even at the moment when he was deprived of his nobility, his surname of Redford was taken away and he was given a new life where he was only known by the number 11542 instead of the name he had shared all his life with; he did not know whether he had chosen the right path.
It was a hellish time. It was such a terrible time that he wondered how a person could fall to the bottom like this. Countless enemies that were invisible when he was living in Redford, rushed to him, who had become a slave.
The mental fatigue and physical pain were at least tolerable.
[‘How I have been looking forward to the day you come into my hands.’]
What he couldn’t stand was the humiliation, the shame, and the destruction of his ego. They wanted to punish him who was inferior to even beasts dozens of times a day, and they wanted to kill him. Yet he survived.
[‘You must survive. Survive, and live by apologizing for this indelible sin that your family committed to the royal family. That’s the only thing you can do for your family.’]
The crown prince’s last words kept coming to mind. He didn’t know if what the Crown Prince was saying was right or wrong. Still, the words floated through his mind like a curse.
The days he endured became a month, and a month became a year. And over the years he slowly crumbled and ripped apart. The man who reigned at the top of the world suddenly got stuck in a dirty gutter and had to look up from the bottom of the world.
At first, he despised and hated those who made fun of him, but now he was not convinced. Was it they who did the wrong thing, or was it him who had fallen so horribly and accepted it?
If their purpose was to lose himself in this way, they had already achieved the goal, he laughed. He laughed at himself, saying that sooner or later he wouldn’t even remember what he was like in the past.
And it happened. He really did forget about how he was in the past.
“Sir Edwin. I met you at a ball in Lavant.”
The woman with clear eyes confessed.
“That day, you shined brighter than anyone else in the ballroom. No, you were the most brilliant person I’ve ever met in my life. Looking at you, I realized that a person can be so strong, beautiful, noble, and unique at the same time. Even if the stars in the night sky were to come down to the ground for a short time, it wouldn’t be as wonderful as you, I thought.”
“I followed your trail, not forgetting that unique experience. Who knew that just seeing it once would enchant me for so long. But it was worth it to me at the time. And no one will be able to refute it.”
As she recalled the events of that day, there was longing in her eyes. Her voice was soft as she spoke.
“I only found out a few days ago through my aunt in Lavant that a lot has happened in your life. As you said, Philioche is very insensitive to the flow and change of the outside world. Until you showed up, I thought you were doing well in the capital.”
Herietta said calmly. At the same time, Edwin’s chest plummeted. If what she said was true, it was highly likely that all of this was coincidental, not planned. Then she probably didn’t approach him deliberately to achieve any purpose.
He rolled his eyes. After arriving at the mansion, he remembered her actions, where she hung around him and continued to do him favors. At no point did she ever show any sign of trying to satisfy her self-interest.
Edwin then thought about what he had done to Herietta a little while ago. The moment he thought that even the last faith he had left behind had been broken, he let go of his unstable sanity. Now it was just what it was. In desperation, he didn’t think about it and acted like a madman at his own will.
The vulgar, lewd words he said to Herietta, and the rude touch he had given her. And because of that, her face was in despair while falling into a crucible of shock. He remembered it all in such detail that it hurt. His throat was dry with shame.