We're in a Contract Marriage, But I've Imprinted - Chapter 49
I tried to hand the pouch back to him, but Alex dodged it and sneered.
“Hah, just take it, will you? It’s a done deal.”
I bristled with anger. I was no match for him in terms of power or physical strength, so I felt frustrated. I was upset. I found out more clearly after going out today.
My freedom had been continuously oppressed this whole time.
That’s why I was even more reluctant to take the money of those who oppressed my freedom. I shouted as I tossed the pocket down the ground in anger.
“I’m not taking it!”
“How dare you raise your voice!”
Then Alex raised his hand. I closed my eyes and bowed my head. I instinctively took a position to protect myself from pain as much as possible, but nothing happened.
When I slowly opened my eyes, silver light filled my eyes.
“Who are you! Who are you to hit my daughter-in-law!”
Nicola shouted as she stood in front of me.
“What is this again?”
Nicola did not back down even after seeing Alex chanting fiercely. Rather, she raised her head proudly and said.
“I am Ian’s mother. Who are you?”
“You don’t even have the right to be the Duchy’s guest…”
Mentioning Ian’s name surely worked. Alex wasn’t as stubborn with Nicola as I was. I didn’t know if it was because of Nicola’s loud voice, but the butler jumped in, out of breath.
“Sir Alex! You aren’t allowed here!”
“I wondered where you were… Dinner preparations have been finished. Come, please go to the dining hall. The Young Lord and Lady Monica are waiting for you.”
“…Monica would prefer that I don’t go anyway.”
“Still, you cannot stay here. Please come quickly.”
As Henry was adamant, Alex briefly clicked his tongue and glared at me. He said, pointing to the pouch on the floor with his eye.
“Don’t say anything and just take it. You’ll soon get kicked out anyway, so just think of it as a bonus. Don’t be annoying.”
“…I won’t take it. Bring it with you.”
“Hey! Take your pride elsewhere. You’re a mere bastard child, so tell me—how will you survive in the future? Don’t regret it later after showing off that non-existing pride, take it.”
Henry tried to stop Alex, but Alex didn’t back down. He pointed to the ground with his finger and said.
“Everything is all over the place because of you alone. You are the one who is raising a matter that will end if you just take the money.”
“Wait. What situation?”
Then Nicole intervened. She saw the pouch on the floor and immediately picked it up. Nicola asked Alex as she immediately opened the pouch to see what was inside.
“Is this money for this child?”
“Why would you intervene?”
“Because it’s my daughter-in-law’s business.”
“I don’t know the reason you gave this money, but is your family having a difficult time?”
Nicola checked the pouch, tightened the rope again, and tossed it at Alex. Alex reflexively took the pouch with a reddened face.
Nicola said as she put her arms around me.
“I don’t know what it’s for. Still, she’s going to give birth to the heir of the Duchy, so I think you’re giving far too little money? Isn’t that right, Henry?”
When Nicola placed the Duchy at stake, Henry had no choice but to agree with her. Even if this guest was someone Ian treated as a friend, the Ducal household that he was serving was more important to Henry.
“It is. You’re right, Lady Nicola.”
Besides, I remembered him being usually nice to Nicola. I was so angry that my body was trembling, but as these two people voiced out their opinions, they were giving me strength.
Why couldn’t I deal with it as smartly as Nicola had? I felt regret and shame, but I said what I had to say.
“I am not taking this. Bring it with you.”
Alex scowled, but he no longer had anything to retort. He muttered something inaudible and left.
Henry quickly followed him.
“Will you stop by my annex for a moment?”
“…Yes, thank you.”
“Hmm, looks like you haven’t had dinner yet…”
“Alright then. Have a meal with me. They’re also holding a dinner in the main building, so what is there to be said about us? How about that?”
She was usually sensitive and emotional, but she was so cool today. I felt reassured by the way she said everything she had to say to Alex, who had been bullying me for so long.
Would Mother have done this for me if she was still alive?
I still missed Mother, but I was just curious. There were many things Mother never told me. I couldn’t be sure if it was for my sake, not for Mother.
But from now on, I have to find out.
For me, and for the child to be born.
* * *
While Alex faced Melissa, Monica spent that time alone with Ian. She was happy that Ian had accepted her again, just like before. Although she had been through some unsavory things lately.
“Ian, let’s eat together often.”
“…I’m a bit busy these days.”
As Ian entered the dining room and drank an aperitif, he thought of Melissa, who he had seen earlier. Her face, wearing makeup that she didn’t usually wear. The image strangely kept flickering in front of his eyes.
It wasn’t clear whether it was because he liked it or because he didn’t like it, or if it was his own feelings.
When Ian uttered just her name alone, she closed her lips and said nothing. He had a habit of calling someone’s name instead of saying ‘no’ outright. The undertone of him wanting the other person to shut up was clear nevertheless.
“Tsk, where did Brother go?”
Monica grunted and raised her wine glass. Meanwhile, the food started coming out one after another. The chief handmaid she hadn’t seen in a long time came to greet her.
“I’m finally seeing your face again. I think you’ve gotten a little thin?”
“Ohoho, people tend to lose weight when getting older. But I’m glad that Lady Monica is worried about me.”
Ian watched the conversation between Monica and the chief handmaid and drank his wine. He thought it was right to dismiss that the chief handmaid had behaved disrespectfully towards Melissa.
But on the other hand, he thought it was not right to throw away the chief handmaid who had devoted herself for so long because of someone who would stay in the Duchy for only a short while.
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