Chapter 24

“We are very glad to see you so soon, Duke.
We just heard that it was a wrong accusation.”
“……..”

Ian’s eyes stared at the Count.
Those emotionless eyes of his, accompanied by his dark skin, were enough to make him look scary.

Flustered, the countess cast a glance at her husband.

The count hurriedly walked towards Ian, releasing his clenched palms.
He addressed his words to her.

“Hmph! Of course, our Duke was innocent…..
Even I would have helped with all my heart.”
“Wha-….Ah, yes.”
“Are you here to take your wife, Duke….?”

Ian nodded, his eyes never leaving the Count’s face.

As a matter of fact, their conversation was not even properly intertwined.

Ian, who was unaware of Laritte being an illegitimate daughter, thought that the Count had sent his daughter to the villa and left her unattended.
He literally thought the Count couple to be her biological parents.

A clear misunderstanding.

The Countess chimed in.

“Then I’ll get Rose right away!”

Only then did Ian’s face brighten up.
It seemed like he had thought his Goddess’ name to be Rose.

The Countess, who had noticed the sign, excitedly spoke up.

“We had already got the news of your arrival from beforehand.
So, I asked the maids to prepare her upstairs.
Please let me show you around, Your Grace.”
“Very well.”

Ian followed after her.

Halfway up the stairs, she glanced down at Ian.

‘Should I apologize for sending Laritte instead of Rose?’

After clearing her throat, she spoke up with a nervous smile.

“Isn’t our pure-blooded child always better than that illegitimate girl?”
“…….?”
“Since the misunderstanding is resolved and everything is back to its own place, Rose should definitely go to the Duke’s side……I was really worried about her.”

Unable to understand any of her words, Ian and Redra exchanged their glances.

Since Ian was almost cut off from the society, he did not know that an illegitimate child was left to rot in that villa instead of Rose.

The Countess kept on talking through their walk and finally, she guided them to a vacant room.

“Please have a seat here, Your Grace.
Rose will be here soon.”

After saying that, the Countess left the place.
Ian leaned against the wall.

“Will you not be sitting down, Captain?”

Redra asked while pulling up a chair.

But he shook his head.

“I can’t.
I’m in a hurry.”

Redra frowned at his words.

‘Hmm, it seems Captain is very eager to meet his bride.’

She thought that Ian never even got the chance to see his bride’s face when he was busy battling in the war.

Of course, Redra wanted him to get united with his wife….

She carefully asked what she had been itching to ask.

“How…..have you been, Captain?”
“It must be a long story, isn’t it?”

Ian remained silent for a while before he recalled his memories.

It started with being betrayed by one of his trusted candidates on the battlefield.

As the story progressed, Redra’s face turned red as anger started building up inside her.

Even Bartolt had trembled when Ian himself whispered to his ears.

Bartolt and Redra.
They were not only the members of the Duke’s knights but also the candidates for becoming a Swordmaster.

“Hah! I knew he was suspicious!…..I should have finished him off when they made you disappear, Captain!”
“Hold your anger, Lady Reikla.
You’re the only one who knows that the Imperial family was behind all of this, except for my Duchess.”

‘My savior.’

It caused his mind to get clouded with the memories of him with her.

His heart was very desperate to see that expressionless yet glowing face of hers.

As soon as he shook off such thoughts…

“……But doesn’t it feel like something is off? What’s so bad about the Duchess staying alone at the villa?”
“Didn’t Count Brumayer receive a couple of money? The money would have been delivered to the Imperial family if he didn’t send Rose to the villa.”
“But if I were him, I would have asked a maid to attend her..…..”

She made a strange yet clear point.

‘Yeah, why did they not do that?’

Meanwhile, Rose came and stood outside the room.
Ian’s face brightened up as her mother walked into the room.

“Come on in, dear.”

It was his first meeting with her since he regained his position as the Duke.

Although they had been apart for just a few hours, it felt like a long time had passed.
His heart began to race…..

The curtains spread open as Rose came in with a shy smile.

Contrary to his expectations, a woman with red hair and freckles on her face came in.
Ian frowned.

In any case, the woman was pretty, and so, he thought it would be polite of him to greet her.
He gave a slight nod.

“Myself, Ian Reinhardt.
What about you, Miss?”
“Oh my.
This is your Rose, Duke.”

His heart, which had begun to race, dropped its beat instantly at her words.

“…….Rose Brumayer?”
“Yes, but now, it’s Rose Reinhardt.
It sounds nice, doesn’t it, Duke?”

Rose’s eyes glittered as she approached him.

‘I thought you were here to express your anger upon changing the bride, but when I listened to mother’s words, it seems like you are only here for me.’

She was in high spirits.

‘You said you were pleased to hear my name, weren’t you?’

“My maid had brought me a herb called Nilga.
A minority tribe in the far south had discovered these golden leaves, which is known to be very rare since it was discovered.”

Rose was excited to explain it.

She had heard that drinking one cup of brewed golden leaves was thought to be a good fortune.
And the Count had managed to have his grasp on it.

However, it was unfortunate that there weren’t any left for the Duke to have it.

She tilted her head in awe.
He was still that strong, handsome man that made her heart pound.

Ian pressed his temple hard.
It felt like he was having the worst nightmare.

“But…… There must be a woman with silvery hair and oceanic blue eyes.”

Rose flinched as he spoke.

‘Are you talking about Laritte? The one whom I just sold off?’

“……Laritte? What about her?”

“Laritte?”
“Yes, she’s my half-sister.”

Redra, who was silently observing the situation, spoke up.

“Just a moment, Captain…….You mean you were able to recover at the villa with the help of a woman who was not Miss Rose, but her sister? How did this happen?”

Surprised, Rose covered her mouth.

‘What does she mean? My Duke had met Laritte?’

When Redra pressed him, Rose was forced to confide in the truth.

‘So he had to hide in his old villa instead of his own.’

However, Ian was very good at deducing based on the clues that were held before him.
Only then did he understand Laritte’s idealism.

“D-Don’t approach me!”

Laritte had directly refused him when he tried to call her Rose.

“Just stay there……..please.”

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She was trembling, even when he only suggested that he wanted to address her by her name.

The memory swiped in before his eyes.

‘She did not want herself to be found out as an illegitimate child.’

Ian knew how illegitimate children were treated in this Empire.
Worse than any other country.

Laritte just wanted to forget that.
She was afraid of his behavior to turn hostile.

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