Chapter 16: Lord Lagerfeld
That night, I thought about the future while staring at the pitch-black ceiling.
――― Even if I’m going to flirt with him, how do I go about doing it…?
At times like this, not having any love experience backfires.
I don’t understand how women flirt with men who can charm both women and children.
The first thing that comes to mind is lure him into a hidden corner and push him down, but rather than being overkill, it’s too difficult.
He might hit me if I make the wrong move, and I don’t think that Orpheus would follow me into a place hidden from view in the first place.
――― How about I be moderate at first and invite him on a walk?
It wasn’t because it was embarrassing to suddenly take bold actions or because I didn’t have the courage.
In my case, just inviting him on a walk should be revolting.
I have never invited Orpheus to anything.
Even at the time when we’d just married, and our relationship was good.
I was trying on my own to become the ideal wife of a distinguished family until we got to this situation.
I didn’t say selfish things, I didn’t act domineering, I didn’t waste money nor gamble. I desperately tried to accomplish the tasks I had been given behind closed doors and spend my days quietly.
I wanted to be an ideal wife because I strongly wanted Orpheus to recognise me.
I thought it was inappropriate of a wife to demand something from her husband, to burden him because of that, to take his precious time and spoil his mood. So, I devoted myself to being unselfish.
Now I’m always burdening him. He has to waste his time reprimanding me and solving the problems I’d caused. I continue to spoil his mood. All my efforts have come to nothing…
Apart from that, I’m sure the calm Orpheus would be anxious or confused if his wife, who has been acting nasty for the past half a year suddenly started acting in a baffling way.
――― Anyway, first is a walk.
Then, I’ll see his reaction, and if it looks like things are going well, then I’ll invite him to tea.
Then, I’ll increase the time we spend together and gradually stick to him. Of course, I’ll continue to play the selfish, arrogant, and foolish Countess Rosenstein during this time.
Orpheus would probably grow distrustful of me and get irritated at me.
What’s more, if I go crazy from jealousy and hurt his precious Diana, ――― of course, not physically, but mentally, ――― then he might divorce me on the same day.
I feel bad for the lovers who have to suffer, but they should think of this as a test to strengthen their bonds.
Trials are a part of love.
After everything is over, they’ll have a honeymoon where no one will interrupt them.
I closed my eyes when I finished thinking. I felt as if my body was sinking, and I lost consciousness straight away.
For about a week after that, Orpheus was hardly home because he had to deal with a problem that had occurred at the fief and was mostly at the royal palace.
I couldn’t try out my new method, so I went out like usual, went to evening parties and tea parties, watched plays, went shopping on Otto Street, and spent my days as Countess Rosenstein.
That day, it was cloudy since morning, and it looked like it could start raining at any moment, so I refrained from going out and quietly spent time in my room in the Rosenstein mansion.
The only things I can do inside is embroider or read a book. I didn’t feel like embroidering, so I borrowed some books from the library.
I’d dismissed Claire and Renee and spent time quietly in my dimly lit room.
Orpheus wasn’t at home since he had stayed at the royal palace since last night.
Apparently, there was a problem at the royal palace as well and not just his fief.
Three days ago, when I happened to pass him in the corridor, he looked tired.
Even at the best times, his face is pale, and I worried that he would collapse like this.
If allowed, I would run up to him and say some encouraging things to him, but even if I didn’t do this, his precious Diana would, so I stayed where I was.
A single word from her is more effective than a thousand of my words.
The tiredness that weighs down his body should be blown away just by looking at her smile, which was like a sunflower.
Even if I smile the same way, it wouldn’t be much help.
A sigh resounded in the silent room.
Looking out the window, it seemed to have stopped raining, but the sky was covered with heavy clouds, and it looked like it was only a matter of time before it started raining again.
I turned my gaze back to the book and read.
I turned the pages while feeling as if time was flowing slowly.
I’m reading a famous classic comedy, and it was an excellent book for getting rid of my depressed feelings.
I read the book and admired the exquisite wording of the sentences and smiled at the strange behaviour of the characters.
I heard a knock at the door when I turned over a new page and smelled the old paper and ink.
――― I wonder if Claire had thoughtfully made me some tea.
I took out the pocket watch from my pocket and saw that it was two o’clock in the afternoon.
It’s still too early for tea, I thought as I answered, “Come in.”
“I’m sorry for interrupting you while you’re resting,” it wasn’t Claire who had appeared while saying that, but the butler, Juris.
I blinked several times, then said nastily, “Well, rare things just keep happening right now.”
I glanced up then looked back at the book. I lifted the corner of my lips.
“But this is weird. I’m sure I told Orpheus not to send that messenger again. Did Orpheus not listen to what I said, or are you breaking your master’s order…? Well, I don’t even need to say this. It’s the former, isn’t it? You always fulfil his orders. You’re just like a dog.”
“Marquis Lagerfeld is here,” Juris said in a monotone.
I stopped turning the page and froze in my position.
“… What did you say?”
“Marquis Lagerfeld is here.”
I knew that Juris was staring at me, but I couldn’t stop my face from stiffening.
My stomach sank as if I swallowed a heavy stone, and the tip of my hands and feet went cold.
――― So, he’s finally here?
I hadn’t heard any news from him since I got married, but I thought it was about time for him to come.
It wasn’t odd for him to eventually hear the rumours even though he lived in a rural area away from the capital.
He probably couldn’t sit still once he heard of the rumours.
He probably didn’t make an appointment and chose a time when Orpheus wouldn’t be home on purpose.
“So?” My voice trembled.
I tried my best to put up a front, but I couldn’t help but be upset.
“He wants to meet you, Madam. I refused him by saying that Lord Orpheus is out, but he said he at least wanted to see and talk to you.”
“Is he in the parlour?”
“Yes. He’s waiting for you.”
I slowly got up and looked at my reflection in the dresser.
I was in casual clothes. I didn’t have any makeup on, and my hair was simply tied back. That man probably doesn’t care about how I look.
It’s a waste of time and effort to get ready now, and I don’t have to get ready for that man.
“Okay.” I remained expressionless and answered as if I was groaning.
He might take me back to the Lagerfeld house after we meet.
Not for divorce, but for re-education…
If he visited when Orpheus isn’t here, then it’s highly likely, and that man is quite capable of doing something like kidnapping.
No matter how much I resist and shout, Claire is the only servant who would help me.
But Claire will be stopped by the other servants, and I will end up back at the Lagerfeld house.
I would have to endure whips and violence for several months, and it would end if I act obedient and show regret and remorse…
“It’s okay,” I muttered without letting my voice out. I imagined that person’s beautiful smile.
I’m different from that time.
I won’t simply do as he wishes.
“Tell him that I’ll be there soon.”
What expression did Juris have on his face at that time? I didn’t know because I was glaring at the gloomy woman in the mirror.
He said without emotions, “Understood,” and left the room.
“Oh, Ophelia. I was tired of waiting.”
As soon as I entered the room, a stout middle-aged man stood up from one of the chairs that were placed in the middle of the room.
“It’s been a long time. Have you been in good health?” That voice was as sweet as melted candy, and his expression was of a father who was happy that he was seeing his beloved daughter again, but the glint in his eyes was a death glare.
Just imagining how much anger and hatred was swirling inside him… made me break out in a cold sweat.
――― But I also thought I deserved it.
Marquis Lagerfeld. Rudolph Heinz von Lagerfeld.
It was the first time I’ve met the father who oppressed me after a year and three months.
He’s still a pig dressed in noble clothing. He wore fine clothes over his soft and flabby body and had a ring with a big jewel on his finger.
I think he’s gotten fatter since the last time I’ve seen him.
Was he cursed with health negligence? I feel like his vibrant blonde hair had faded and was thinner.
“It’s been a while, Father. I’m glad you look healthy.” I replied in a tone that stated that I didn’t think that at all, and the glint in his eyes grew stronger. It was like he’d passed the point of anger and was going to go crazy.
――― He won’t let me get away with this.
I looked at his expression and had that dangerous thought.
I don’t think he’s foolish enough to get violent at his daughter’s husband’s house, but once Juris is gone, and we’re alone, he’ll probably give me an earful.
Even if he doesn’t hit or kick me, I’m sure he’ll slap me once.
He could say that he was just scolding his stupid daughter if he just does that.
“Juris leave the door open,” I said to Juris who was about to leave.
If he can be heard, then this man won’t utter abuse loudly.
However, after he glared at me in disapproval, he changed completely and smiled at Juris.
“Honestly, she’s a troubled girl. Do you hate being alone with your father that much? Do you think you’re going to be scolded?”
“Mas-… Father, that’s…”
“Well, I do have a few things I want to say to you, but I want to talk to you privately. You think so too, right? Ophelia. We don’t have to worry about anyone, like in the old days… So, Mr Heiman. Please close the door.”
――― His outward appearance of acting pleasant hasn’t changed either.
I called Juris’s name as my mouth twitched.
――― I’m begging you, please don’t close it. Listen to me.
However, Juris ignored my pleading glance. He bowed, “Understood,” and closed the door as he left.
I sighed in gloom.
I can’t say that Juris is a traitor.
This is probably the thing called karma.
The bad wife of his master and a gentleman who acts calm and gentle.
Whose order should be followed… In this case, anyone would choose the latter.
After all, the gentleman is a gentle father who came all the way from afar just to get a glance at his daughter.
It’s only human to want to listen to the father instead of the selfish daughter.
――― Because they don’t know the relationship between this man and me.
“I came all this way to see you… honestly, you don’t even show me any courtesy. Victoria is that adorable but compared to her, you’re gloomy… I can see why Lord Rosenstein hates you.”
I remembered my depressing past.
The days where he made me act like a servant and oppressed me.
I worked from morning till night, slept in the storage room, and didn’t get enough to eat either.
No one stood by the side of the daughter, who he had taken in for revenge, and I endured my pain alone.
My heart eventually became paralysed, and the pain dulled.
“Well, whatever. There’s nothing to be done if that’s what you wish for… Look up, Ophelia.”
――― Ah, but…
Orpheus rescued me.
He saved me from the days when I felt like I was crawling on mud, and from the pain, I had to endure.
He was kind to me when no one turned back to look at me.
He gave me a brief moment of happiness and peace.
He taught me love.
“I told you to lift your face! This blockhead…!” He snarled.
The man walked towards me with rough footsteps and grabbed me by the collar.
He was tall, so he lifted me up, and I was standing on my tiptoes.
I finally lifted my face. The man’s face was flushed with anger, and his thick lips trembled as if he had ague.
“The disgrace of this fool…! How dare you mess around?! What’s with that rumour?!”
He must have been annoyed that I didn’t follow his order because he quickly flew into a fit of rage.
I didn’t want to see the ugly face in front of me, so I pretended to be afraid and closed my eyes.
My body was violently shaking back and forth, but I closed my eyes and imagined the beautiful smile of my beloved person like I always did when things were hard.
“Don’t you know your place?! You’re smearing mud on the Lagerfeld name, on my name, this trash! Did you forget the debt you owe me for raising you?!”
――― It’s okay. There’s nothing to be afraid of.
I can do anything.
I’ll show him.
“If you have an excuse, then tell me!”
“I don’t have any. Father.”
I opened my eyes and acted like Countess Rosenstein. I laughed fearlessly as if it was nothing.
There’s nothing to be afraid of.
Cuss as much as you want and hit me until you’re satisfied.
But still, I won’t yield.
“What are you complaining about? My marriage is an unhappy one just like you wanted. I’m steadily heading towards my path of ruin. What the hell are you complaining about? You wanted to see me in despair, didn’t you? At this rate, it’ll be soon. Maybe I won’t despair. Maybe I’ll be laughing from the bottom of my heart.”
He swung his arm, which was like a log, and immediately after, I felt a strong impact on my left cheek.
It made the same sound as if I collided into some hard item, my vision spun, and I hit the floor.
“Stop fucking around! What’s with that rebellious attitude?! What’s with the way you’re talking?! Who are you talking to!?”
After the scorching heat, the pain comes a little later.
My vision flashed, and my pulse became violent.
I’ve been beaten many times when I was with the Lagerfeld family, but I’ve never been hit this strongly before.
The man was still shouting, but I was stunned because the impact had been too great.
“Are you listening!?”
The man kicked my shoulder as if he didn’t like my attitude.
I was suddenly attacked while I was stunned, so I couldn’t stop him. I toppled over and hit my elbow severely.
“Do you know how ungrateful you are?! Who do you have to thank for not becoming an orphan!? Who do you have to thank for living like this?! Who do you have to thank for having a clean body and not having to fall into prostitution?! Answer!”
I could put up with whatever he said when I was at that house, but it was different now.
I heard something snap in my head and I was screaming because of the burning rage.
“It would have been better if you died on the roadside!”
I grabbed the hand that was clutching my chest. If he’s not going to let go, then I won’t go easy on him. I dug my nails into his hand.
“If I’m going to live with those thoughts, then it would have been better if I followed after mother! It would have been better if I died! What do you mean who do I have to thank? You treated me like trash and sold me off in the end!”
“I’m not your property! I’m also not your slave! But still, I endured it for six years and served you! I didn’t rebel even when I was beaten, kicked, or cussed! I even became your political tool!”
I pitied him at first.
I sympathised with this man for being a pathetic man who couldn’t be with the woman he loved and began to hate her because of grief.
I believed in this man as my father when he first took me in, and I silently endured his random outbursts of anger.
It was also something that I had to do to live.
I lost my mother, who was my only family. I was sad and lonely and just wanted someone by my side, no matter who they were.
I believed that he would love me once he regained his sanity.
Sometimes, while intoxicated by my unhappy self, I would continue my silly dreams, like my mother’s favourite novel for young girls…
『I won’t let you be happy. I’ll make you suffer more than I have.』
However, that dream was smashed a long time ago.
I don’t feel sorry for this man anymore.
――― I have nothing to do with this man, or Victoria or the Lagerfeld family.
“So, I won’t do what you say anymore! I will live by my own will!” I screamed.
I glared at the man as if I was intimidating him and vented the first thing that came to mind.
“You, shameless, ungrateful…!”
He swung his arm again, and his soft and flabby fist was coming towards me.
――― I won’t groan no matter how painful it is.
I clenched my teeth and closed my eyes tightly to prepare for the impact.