It Was A Wrong Marriage From The Beginning - Chapter 1
Today, Aliana’s second most beloved person in the world betrayed her and sold her out.
Thump, thump, thump!
Aliana was trapped in a moving carriage, pounding on its door with her fists relentlessly.
However, the carriage made of sturdy blackwood was far too strong for her feeble attempts to leave a scratch. Aliana gasped for breath as she looked around. Inside the velvet-wrapped carriage, there was no tool visible that could break the door, naturally.
‘How could this happen!’
Ana’s frustration got the best of her as she forcefully slammed her hand against the window frame. Her delicate hand quickly turned red, but she didn’t notice the pain.
Just a while ago, John, Count of Evercline, had urged her to accompany him to meet an investor. Despite the late hour and the investor’s unfavorable reputation as the Marquis of Nomen, Ana declined.
But John insisted, saying the meeting place was a crowded salon, and more importantly, unless she came in person, Marquis Nomen would reconsider the investment. Since they were in dire need of the investment, Ana had no choice but to follow John in the end.
“Am I being imprisoned?”
As soon as Ana sat in the carriage, John locked the door from outside. Then, he turned his head and hurriedly disappeared into a dim alley. Startled, Ana pounded on the door and yelled, but no one paid any attention.
Ana was terrified.
‘Is he really intending to offer me to Marquis Nomen?’
Marquis Nomen had a reputation for his perverse behavior and consuming his wives’ flesh as a nighttime snack, earning him the nickname of a cannibalistic noble who had devoured six of his wives.
Although he held substantial wealth in the eastern part of the empire, with such dark rumors surrounding him, it was hard to imagine anyone willing to marry him…
Come to think of it, Marquis Nomen had once proposed a marriage through John. Ana naturally refused, and since he backed away without resistance, she thought it was all over. But then…
‘If he hadn’t given up, what if he temporarily backed off due to my strong resistance, aiming for an opportunity?’
Chills ran down Ana’s spine when she considered the possibility that she might become his seventh wife. She began to hit the window lock frantically. Her knuckles and fingers were a mess, but she continued to pound on the window with the determination to break it.
The seemingly sturdy lock made a creaking sound and finally gave way with a metallic clink. Ana hastily opened the carriage window.
In the moonless dark night, all that was visible was an expanse of desolate wilderness, making her feel as if she had entered hell. However, as she regained her composure and looked closely, she could see that the carriage was heading toward an area with a dim, hazy light.
‘Where am I?’
Sticking her upper body out of the window, Ana grabbed her frazzled hair against the wind and stared intently at the approaching area. Due to the jolting vibrations, she couldn’t see clearly, but she could recognize the brightest sign.
‘Snow Lily… Oh goodness.’
A single flower blossomed alone in the pitch-black emptiness, a white lily painted on one side of a building’s wall like snow.
Excluding newborn babies, everyone in the empire knew of it—Lily Street, the only pleasure district in the capital.
‘You’re going to expose me in a place like this?’
Humiliation overwhelmed her, and her trembling hands clung to the carriage window. She felt like throwing herself out of the window. If she were to scrape her face against the sharp stones on the ground, would the perverted marquis give up on her if she became too disfigured for him to look at?
‘But then… he wouldn’t recognize me either.’
The light in front of her blurred into a hazy glow. She blinked, letting tears fall, and the Snow Lily became clear again. Ana clenched her chest and swallowed the rising turmoil.
They were getting closer to their destination. Ana forced herself to calm down, lifted her head, and stared at the moonless, dark sky.
The color black always reminded her of someone she missed. However, she shook her head to clear those thoughts.
‘Pull yourself together, Aliana. The only one who can save you is yourself!’
Her eyes, as blue as the sea, sharpened with determination.
After all, the person Aliana loved most in the world had abandoned her and left five years ago.
As soon as the carriage reached the alley, the door swung open with a creak. The assailant widened his eyes upon seeing the broken window. The fact that the delicate noble lady put up a fight even after sticking her tongue out in disdain momentarily caught his attention.
Nonetheless, he reached out his dirty hands and dragged Ana out of the carriage. Ana struggled with all her might, but her opponent was a former thug paid by John. The frail woman had no chance against him.
“Let go of me!”
Terrified of being brought down onto the cracked and dingy pavement, Ana swung her arm forcefully. The assailant shrugged his shoulders and stepped back. Quickly scanning her surroundings, Ana noticed that about five men were surrounding her, as if waiting for her arrival.
Fuming with anger, Ana bit her lip, and just then, a familiar voice sounded from behind.
“You’ve arrived safely.”
Startled, she swiftly turned around. John was walking briskly along the main road that cut through the center of Lily Street.
Snow-white hair, a well-dressed and robust physique even at this late hour, an appearance that exudes the youthful freshness of a young man despite being in his forties.
Wherever he went, John, the handsome middle-aged man, attracted the attention of many women. He was Ana’s stepfather, raising her alone after her mother’s early passing.
The moment she faced him, the feelings of humiliation and betrayal that she had momentarily forgotten surged back. But in times like these, she couldn’t afford to lose her composure.
“Why did you bring me here? Don’t you realize where this is?”
As Ana tried to speak calmly, John brazenly retorted,
“Ana, when have I ever done anything wrong to you? It’s disappointing how readily you suspect your father.”
Ana felt her head pounding. She clenched her teeth and steadied her voice.
“Have you found Mr. Machi? The estate manager?”
“How cunningly he hid himself, I couldn’t get a hold of him at all.”
John put on a bitter expression, then once again tried to persuade her.
“So, you must capture this investor without fail to ensure our family’s survival. Do you understand the significance of my words?”
“Is this investor really legitimate?”
Ana wrinkled her face with skepticism. Besides the rumors of him eating his wives, there were many other unsavory stories surrounding him.
“Of course! From the eastern port under his ownership, massive shipments pour out every year. It’s undoubtedly a fortune for the empire!”
John looked at his daughter and revealed a yellowed teeth smile.
“All those rumors floating around are just lies. I met him in person, and I’ve never seen such a respectable and kind man. Would I really send my beloved daughter to a monster?”
A sinister smile spread across his face, sending shivers down her spine. John still looked charming on the outside, but his eyes and expression had completely changed, like a person suffering from a severe illness. As if the inside of an apple had rotted away and left a clean surface.
Seeing him so completely deteriorated, a mixture of pity and disbelief washed over her, causing a corner of her heart to contract.
Surrounded by people with no way out, Ana weakly turned her body. As she did, John attached himself next to her and began lavishing praises about Marquis Nomen’s immense wealth, to the point of her mouth going dry. Ana bit her lip and shot a resentful look at John.
‘It’s not over yet. Since it’s come to this, I’ll have no choice but to see the marquis in person and reject him.’
Considering the possibility that John might scold her if he found out, Ana walked slowly, her steps echoing on the moist pavement.
Surprisingly, the streets were deserted. She wondered why the infamous pleasure district was so quiet. However, her curiosity was short-lived. As they turned off the main road, bright orange lights glowed from the windows of the buildings on both sides.
Shadows reflected on the glass showed various disorderly activities. A man climbed over a delicate woman’s body, vigorously pumping his hips, while the woman had her body bent in a ‘ㄱ’ shape, positioned at the right angle for the man’s lower body.
Ana felt like she had fallen into a world of explicit images.
“Who would ever think that important business negotiations might unfold in a place like this.”
Greedily watching the obscene shadow performance, John’s eyes glinted with wickedness. Ana didn’t even want to respond to his nonsensical words and chose to remain silent.
After walking for what felt like a long time, a girl who had been loitering in front of an old stone building noticed them and rushed towards them.
The girl, wearing a faded and tattered dress with frayed edges, glanced at them, or more specifically, at Ana, with sleepy eyes. She bowed slightly and gestured for them to follow her into the building.
The entrance was even narrower than the homes of commoners. The girl ascended the creaky wooden stairs, followed by John, Ana, and a few of his men. The candlesticks on the wall flickered ominously.
They must have walked quite a distance along the corridor, covered with a carpet that was now so dusty that it was hard to distinguish its original color.
Finally, the girl stopped in front of a door with a rusted, red-stained door knob.
Creaak. The door opened. The girl entered hesitantly, lighting the candlesticks on the wall, revealing the dim interior. Luckily, there was no one there. Ana, who had tensed up, found herself letting out an involuntary short breath.
At that moment, John forcefully grabbed her shoulders and neck, pushing her into the room.
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