It Was A Wrong Marriage From The Beginning - Chapter 3
“Do not ever take me to a place like that again. I never agreed to anything about the investments, Father.”
Ana said firmly, causing John’s expression to change again.
“Ana, Lily Street isn’t just for those purposes. And you’re misunderstanding things. The marquis isn’t as immoral as the rumors say.”
John stepped forward, kneeling on the floor and taking Ana’s hands in his. Then, with a face full of love that Ana had seen countless times since she was a child, he spoke affectionately.
“As your father, I raised you this way, and though I may have been a bit rough, it was all for your sake…”
“My father tied me up and put a gag in my mouth. Like a dog or a horse. Does that seem a little rough to you?”
Ana pushed away John’s hand with contempt, then pointed to the door.
“Leave! Don’t ever step foot into my room again. Until you find Mr. Machi and reclaim the Evercline estate’s assets, I forbid you from entering the mansion!”
John quickly got up, attempting to assert his authority as a father.
“Ana! How could you do this to me?”
But Ana was not to be underestimated either.
“How could you do this to me, Father? If dear Mother up in heaven knew, she would surely be heartbroken and appalled. Aren’t you ashamed to face her?”
As soon as the mention of her mother came up, it seemed John had nothing left to say. He stomped his foot and abruptly turned, storming out of the room.
Ana heaved a sigh of relief, and Lucy approached hesitantly.
“My lady, are you serious?”
“Yes. Go and tell Henry to make sure my father can’t enter the mansion from now on.”
Lucy rushed off to find the butler. Left alone, Ana sank into a chair, resting her head against the backrest and using her hands to shield her eyes.
‘I should’ve done this sooner.’
Her heart ached, so much that she felt like crying. Despite being her stepfather, John had raised her with more care and love than if she were his biological daughter. But as of yesterday, he had shattered their relationship. Ana couldn’t help but feel a growing resentment towards him.
Ana let out another sigh and then stared blankly into the air, recalling the memories from the day before that she had momentarily buried.
With the announcement that he had come to take his bride, Raiden had Ana board his carriage. John could only stand by, unable to muster any resistance, and watched them closely. After giving John one last cold look, Raiden closed the carriage door without a word and set off.
[Then, I suppose I’m asking now. So, Ana, where shall we go?]
In the dimly lit carriage, Raiden raised the corners of his mouth. Ana, who had been frozen in disbelief until then, began to tremble as she saw that smile.
Her head felt heavy and her eyes burned. Perhaps it was because so much had happened in such a short period.
She had nearly been sold off to the marquis, barely escaped from Lily Street, and now she had finally reunited with Raiden, whom she had long-missed…
Overwhelmed with emotions, she buried her face in her hands and sobbed. Seeing her like this, Raiden awkwardly mumbled, “Oh…” He then pulled her into a tight embrace against his chest.
The refreshing scent of grass that always surrounded him mingled with the acrid smell of tobacco. Ana sobbed uncontrollably, as if her body were made of water, tears streaming down.
While holding her, Raiden soothed her in a soft voice. As he did, he gently held her hand and traced the tender bruise on her wrist caused by the rope.
Ana felt a conflicting mix of resentment and joy towards him.
‘So many things I want to ask…’
Why he abandoned her, whether he truly returned forever, what being his bride meant.
‘Does he still remember our promise…’
There were so many questions that needed immediate answers. However, her body had reached its limit, refusing to carry on with consciousness any longer. Her vision blurred and her mind drifted away. A large, cold hand came close and covered her eyes as a soft whisper reached her.
[Rest now, Ana.]
Ana weakly protested and clutched the front of his shirt tightly. She was afraid he would disappear again.
As if understanding her feelings, he spoke with a soft and gentle voice.
[It’s alright. We will meet again soon.]
Really? Will they truly meet again? Is it really…? With that thought, Ana drifted into the world of unconsciousness.
The sound of a polite knock on the door was followed by Lucy cautiously peering into the room.
She hurriedly approached and stood by Ana’s side, speaking in a hushed tone.
“The count and his men have just left the estate. Mr. Henry confirmed and even locked the front gate himself, so don’t worry too much.”
“…They didn’t leave quietly, did they?”
Ana’s concerned question prompted a quick response from Lucy.
“The gatekeeper said they did make a fuss, but nothing serious happened.”
“Right. And you made it clear they should never be let back in until I give the order?”
“Yes. I made sure of it.”
“Thank you for your efforts.”
Feeling drained, Ana closed her eyes again.
“Tell Henry… to hurry the search for Mr. Machi. Money is no issue, no matter how much it costs.”
“Will it be affordable with your allowance, my lady?”
Lucy asked, sounding concerned. Since Ana had entrusted the management of all her assets to John and received a fixed allowance, her question was reasonable.
“Well, about that…”
Ana opened her eyes and slowly got up, making her way to the wardrobe, with Lucy following closely behind. Ana opened the wardrobe and began selecting clothes to wear while thinking to herself.
‘I’ve kept it a secret from the staff to avoid creating an ominous atmosphere around the mansion…’
But she decided that she needed to let Lucy in on the situation.
Ana pulled out a dress and handed it to Lucy before continuing.
“I think I’ll need to use some of my mother’s inheritance.”
Lucy was taken aback and clapped her hands in surprise.
“No, my lady! You planned to take that out when you got married.”
Ana was caught off guard by her strong opposition, and Lucy seemed to realize something as she quickly raised her head.
“If you need money, why not ask Baron Raven for help?”
“…That’s not possible.”
Ana closed the wardrobe door with a thud, stepped behind a privacy screen, and began changing. Lucy approached to help her dress and tilted her head curiously.
“Why not? He is your fiancé after all, my lady.”
As Ana started to put her arms through the sleeves, she hesitated, clamping her lips shut, and focused on getting dressed.
‘Edward… seems a bit awkward for some reason.’
Sitting in front of her vanity, Ana recalled the stormy events of the past days. Lucy gently combed her hair while observing Ana’s reactions. Unable to keep it to herself, Ana finally spoke as she looked at her reflection in the mirror.
“Around two weeks ago, I attended Countess Haimel’s tea time…”
“Yes, I remember! I dressed you up in that lovely silk dress.”
Lucy interjected with a grin. Since the incident when she was nearly thrown out by the former housekeeper Lisa, Lucy had developed a liking for him and his family since Edward’s help allowed her to stay at the estate.
Ana hesitated, not quite sure how to explain to Lucy, who was full of expectations.
“During the event… some of the guests brought up a particular rumor.”
“What kind of rumor?”
Lucy’s eyes widened, eagerly awaiting Ana’s next words, thinking it might be some juicy gossip from the social circles. Ana swallowed nervously and muttered grimly.
“The Evercline family… was rumored to have fallen into financial ruin.”
Lucy blinked several times, seemingly thinking she might have misheard, before tilting her head. Ana let out a deep sigh.
“It wasn’t just one or two people. The wives and daughters, they were smiling at me and chatting away as if hinting at something… The world seemed dark before my eyes, my hands were trembling so much that even the teacup I was holding was shaking.”
Ana realized that they probably twisted that into some gossip now that she thought about it. The friends of the Countess Haimel were always frustrated that they couldn’t undermine her openly.
“My lady, are you serious…?”
Lucy’s large eyes widened even further, as if they might overflow with concern now that she realized the gravity of the situation. Ana reached out and comfortingly stroked Lucy’s thick, brown hair and nodded her head.
“I immediately left and went to find the estate manager. But he wasn’t there, or rather, his office had already been locked for a while.”
“Why, why would it be locked?”
Lucy’s face was now flushed like a rose, much like how Countess Haimel loved to apply a very precious rose powder to her cheeks. Ana withheld an answer, then continued.
“After that, I went to the bank and tried to open our family’s vault. All of the property deeds were gone, vanished.”
Lucy covered her mouth with both hands in shock.
“You’re surprised already? There’s much more to come, Lucy.”
Ana calmly held up her tea cup and took a sip of the crimson tea. Lucy seemed frozen, no hint of movement even in her breathing.
‘If you’re this shocked, imagine how I was feeling.’
Setting the cup down, Ana resumed her story.
“I rushed over to the bank’s manager and asked him straight up how much of our family’s savings remained.”
Suddenly, a laugh escaped her.
“He checked, then looked quite embarrassed. He said there was nothing left. Not a single gold coin or even a penny.”
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