“Why had the Proud's carriage appeared outside our Honeywell Manor?”
Arms folded, Rose glared at the Proud family's carriage as it pulled up on the central porch of the manor.
The coachman watched the Honeywell family butler run out of the manor as he descended from his seat.
“Why is the butler so flustered? No way, does Elliot have…”
What nonsense! Since our engagement date was set, Elliot has never come to our manor first.
I was the one who always had to initiate it.
She strained her eyes to stare at the figure exiting the carriage.
The man stepped out of his carriage with his back slightly bent, and Rose watched as he gracefully straightened as he stood in the morning's sunlight.
His blue hair, shining in the morning air, gave off the illusion of the sea.
Rose was troubled.
“My brother hasn't come back yet.”
Since the Proud and Honeywell families shared the same job at the Imperial Palace, Rose wondered if Elliot had visited regarding work with Wells.
But the situation did not make sense to Rose.
Her brother and the Duke of Proud were not particularly close.
There was no reason for them to invite each other to their residencies.
If there was business to discuss between the two, it would be conducted at the Imperial Palace.
The dukes refused to bring their work home.
“Well, there's no way he would be looking for me this early in the morning.”
Convinced, Rose peered at her past-life murderer with a frown.
She watched as he raised his head towards the window she hid behind.
Panic-stricken, she quickly dove out of sight.
Maybe it was a coincidence, but if Rose had not reacted fast enough, they might have accidentally made eye contact.
It's okay because brother isn't here, the butler will have to send Duke Proud off.”
She lowered herself, cautious not to be seen through the window, as she scurried to her bed on unsteady feet.
I haven't woken up yet.
Yes, I'm still dreaming and can't entertain guests.
She self-righteously hypnotized herself as she climbed onto her bed.
“Lady Rose, are you awake?”
Anne's voice came through the gaps in the door.
Rose licked her lips nervously; she had barely stopped herself from answering subconsciously.
Go to bed, Rose.
The young lady hugged her pillow tightly, covering her head under her blankets.
She shut her eyes and carefully listened to the sounds outside the door.
As she held her breath and focused, the faint noise of Anne walking away reached her ears.
I can finally breathe!
“Brother! Come quickly.
Save me from this h*ll.
You have to help me, brother.”
Maybe it was due to her lack of sleep last night as she worried about her brother, but Rose felt herself slowly slipping off into a deep sleep.
In the end, she was unable to bear the overwhelming fatigue and stress, thus falling asleep.
The world around her was dark.
In the distance, a reddish light flashed on and off, and Rose found it difficult to determine what it looked like.
Rose thought it was like those colorful lights that burned like fireworks in the endless night sky during the summer festival.
Only after it flashed repeatedly did the darkness around it creeps in as it faded.
She searched around, unable to find the light.
Where am I? What was I doing before? Is this still the Tristan Empire?
She tried to call out but found that no sound left her lips, nor did her body follow her command.
The longer she stayed in that dark void, the faster she felt her mind slip away.
When she felt most vulnerable, the light appeared once more.
It was different from the red light that had lit up earlier.
It was warm and cozy and made Rose want to reach it at any cost.
As she barely managed to move her sluggish body, she slowly traveled closer to the light and its warmth.
I want to curl up against it.
Her progress was slow, but as Rose felt an urge pushing her forward, she refused to give up.
On her back, she felt a comforting push urging her forward.
Quietly, Rose entrusted herself to it.
It was just a dream.
I never knew I could fall asleep while pretending to be asleep.
It hadn't been more than a few days since her rebirth, and Rose still had trouble falling asleep at night.
She would be constantly plagued with those vivid, nightmarish memories.
After all, who could live peacefully after experiencing their own traumatic death and being the only one to relive their path to it again?
Frowning, she removed her sore arms from under her pillow and stretched.
In the midst of her sleepy state, with her eyes partly closed and her body stretched out, she felt the presence of someone near her.
He's sitting on my bed?
Though Anne was close to her, she was still a staff member, and she would never sit on her mistress' bed.
Brother?! Have you come back?
She tried to force her eyes open, eager to see her beloved brother.
Her bedroom, shrouded in darkness with the curtains drawn, hid the figure of the second person.
Rose could, at best, vaguely make out the outline of him sitting at the foot of her bed.
It's hard to see.
She tried to concentrate until she could finally see who was in her room.
Elliot Proud was sitting on her bed, laughing at the voice calling for him.
Calling my name over and over again, Rose.”
His hand reached out for her and neatened her disheveled hair.
The duke's hands, ever since he started to wield a sword and up to her death, had always remained rough with callouses.
His fingers brushed through her hair, exactly the same way they did when he brushed the snow from it on that cold winter night as untainted white snow fell from above, right before that hand pushed her off the cliff.
An unrelenting hand gently pushed her off the cliff's edge.
Rose shuddered violently and frantically shoved Elliot's hand away.
She grabbed the blankets, desperate to cover herself and hide from him.
She watched his movements vigilantly.
“Why are you in my room? Who gave you permission to come in? I never allowed you to enter!”
If Rose were a small cat, her fur would be puffed up as she hissed at the duke.
Despite her sharp words and cranky eyes, Elliot showed no embarrassment.
He calmly retracted the hand slapped by Rose and leaned back.
“Is it wrong for me to enter my fiancée's room?”
“No! I don't understand that word.
And we haven't even eaten together, much less entered each other's room.
Please get out!”
Rose pulled the blanket tighter around her frame.
She was still wearing her sleepwear.
In front of Elliot.
It was already an embarrassing moment to be caught wearing sleepwear in front of outsiders, much less the man who killed her.
“I came because I have something to give to you.”
Elliot looked away as though he had finally become aware of her clothing choice.
“When it comes to the engagement, I have already said all there is to say, Elliot.
I have nothing more to say to you.”
Her soon-to-be ex-fiancé hummed, crossing his legs and leaning his chin on his palms.
His stance was obvious.
He wasn't going to leave.
“When was the last time we met, Rose?”
Immediately, Rose, who was ready to complain, became mute.
Her mind almost mechanically followed her previous actions and counted the days since she last saw him.
I went to the Proud manor to see you.”
The day after she returned to her past.
The day Rose declared that she was going to his manor to break off their engagement.
That was the last time the two had met.
Stubbornly, Honeywell's young lady did not want to dwell on whether her answer was incorrect or not.
“Ah, that's correct, Rose.
Then when was the last time we went out together?”
“…A month ago?”
I hate this.
Why do I remember these details?
Why is Elliot questioning me suddenly?
She tried to read his expressionless face.
I can't find anything besides him having no intention to leave.
Rose resigned herself to her fate when she heard him muttering softly.
She would wait him out.
“It's been a month.
It's a good period for something exciting to happen.”
“What do you mean?”
Elliot slowly lowered his head and stared at her with his blue eyes.
Yearning and hatred intertwined in her heart.
Those were the blue eyes she'd fallen in love with.
Now, they made her stomach churn.
But there was no way Elliot would know her thoughts.
He would ignore them even if he could.
“More than a month ago, you were anxious to see me for even a little longer, Rose.
Just being in the same space as I would cause you to scream with joy and stick to my side.”
He knew everything!
Rose's mouth opened in surprise, and before she died, she would feel sorry for herself.
She used to pour her heart out to Elliot, never really knowing what he felt in return.
Perhaps, if she hadn't returned to her past in time, then Rose Honeywell of this world would have been betrayed and killed off again.
The young lady gritted her teeth and forced spiteful words from her lips.
“I don't know why I fell so deeply for you! It's like an endless loop; we're always talking about this topic between us.
I proposed breaking up the marriage first, so I'll take responsibility and finish it.
If you're concerned about the dignity of Duke Proud, I'll write it over as if it's my fault.”
Would he then back down if I took the fall?
Rose planned to attend every banquet and cause as many scandals as she could, just so Elliot would have no choice but to accept the breakup.
No matter who I meet, each of them will be compared to Elliot.
Have there been any invitations recently? I don't remember.
I've been confined to the manor.
I should go and check soon.
From her memories, there should be two banquets to celebrate.
The debutante ball for young ladies and lords and the end-of-year celebration banquet at the Imperial Palace.
Both of those already have their main characters for the event; it would be difficult should Rose to try to get attention.
She chewed her lower lips and pondered.
Brother may have received many invitations, and there should be many people who would want to be invited to the Duke of Honeywell's Manor.
Rose recalled that her coming-of-age celebration was lavishly held in their family's manor.
Rose, who had been shy in her past life, danced with Wells first and then ran away to her room.
Thus, her debutante ball turned into a party hosted for the guests.
There had been a banquet held in the Imperial Palace for the coming-of-age ceremony.
Rose had briefly attended the beginning, hid in the private lounge, and then returned home.
I need to adjust my plans; I can't just flirt and get into scandals with multiple men.
Her first step was to receive an invitation.
She would work out the rest of the details later.
Further thoughts of breaking her engagement were interrupted as the sound of several carriages was heard from outside.
My savior has arrived!
Rose tossed the covers aside and jumped off her bed.
Her bed was soft; suddenly jumping caused Rose to stumble as she moved.
When Elliot reached out to stabilize her, Rose shook his hand off and left the room.
Brother! My brother is here! Oh brother, you're alive!
Rose ran down the hallway in her nightgown, which, though it was winter wear, compared to her daily outer clothes, was extremely thin and barely blocked out the cold.
Within seconds, Rose felt the chill in the air, reminding her of her last moments being chased by the Proud Knights through the snow.
She forced the memories away and added strength to her legs.
What does Brother look like now? The last image I have of my brother was when he was seriously injured.
I can't wait to see him again.
Breathing heavily, Rose raced down the stairs, two steps at a time.
As she reached the last step, her eyes trained on her brother, Wells, as he entered the manor with the butler.
Tears welled in her eyes at the sight of her brother unharmed.
Rose froze, her heart racing with emotion.
Behind the two, a girl wearing a fur coat followed with a curious expression.
Wells and the butler weren't the only people entering the manor.
Light brown hair, sparkling emerald-green eyes, and an innocent face.
Her figure overlapped those of her past life.
Despair settled in Rose's chest as she watched Ilya look around the manor with admiration.
[TL/N: Honestly, if something was pushing my back while I was lost in the darkness, I would freak out and try to fight it off, not follow it.]
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