CROWNS FOR TITLES

A MONTH TO LIVE

How old was she when her parents left her? Neirin was ten at that time. Despite of the time difference, the memories in her mind was still clear.

In the cold orphanage where she constantly hope that they will come back, she grew every year with her age constantly going up until her height and body turned matured.

They never came.

As a child growing in an orphanage, she had a dream of leaving there for she knew that her fate and future would never be the way she planned if she continue staying there. She had dreams of course, but it would require her great efforts to achieve them.

By the time she turned 17, she left the orphanage and continue to juggle on fate hoping that she can find a suitable job for her besides being a thief. Three years after, she was here in the Halstead duchy and her future to become the temporary duchess seemed to be very bright.

Back in her previous life, she thought of exploiting everything this family has and removing Vincent but then, she was too selfish and dragged herself to death. Everything she was receiving right now will only be temporary.

after dying once, Neirin already knew that she can let herself be greedy. This position was suited for Vincent nothing more. She was only a tool and a shield but she was willing to go great efforts to atone her sins for that child.

Her previous life was disgusting. She tried to exploit everything and tried to rob Vincent the riches he deserves. Of course her greediness resulted to her own death. And despite of that, Vincent cried for her. That child did not want her to die despite of them being enemies.

So, she insisted once again, ”Even if you are going to die, it would be better to say goodbyes and your farewells to him and make him understand. ”

”Hell understand. Hes a man. ” The duke was quite firm. Neirin scoffed. It was a good thing that she can control her eyes not to roll. She was obviously not agreeing with the dukes logic. Most especially she can understand men logic and their toxic attachment for their masculinity.

”Even if hes a man he is a human with emotions. He needed to feel and he needed to validate his emotions. He can just deal with everything because the world expect him to be because hes a man, your grace. He is your son. He has the right to know the conditions, even the cause of death of his father. ”

A heavy silence lingered between them. The dukes eyes were quite sharp. It made Neirin felt all the chills crawling on her back. Neirin squared her shoulders even more. She was quite firm too. Too stubborn for her standing and Neirin wasn going to stop.

”Or perhaps you
e scared? ” The duke heaved his breath closing his eyes. He looked like he was carrying something heavy for a long time that he cannot put down.

”I know that you are acting as his sister now but I would like you to not cross your boundaries. This is a matter between my son and I. I already decided about my future. ”

In the end, she was put down to her place.

Still, she wasn going to lose hope. This was just a small favor she was willing to do for the family who saved her. With her firm decision, she finished the tea with a different thought in mind. Neirin she put down the cup on the table. ”If that is your wish then so be it, your grace. Still, my thoughts would remain the same. ”

The duke was looking at her with a heavy expression. She knew that his feelings were simple but it was also complicated. For a man that seemed so strong like a tower, he was quite lonely.

Neirin give a gentle smile before nodding. ”As it is you look tired right now, Ill be dismissing myself. Let us talk tomorrow, my lord. Perhaps, youll be rational by then. ”

”How stubborn, ” the duke commented. A small smile formed his lips. If a person was seeing him right now they would have doubt that this man was the duke who ruled all the criminals over the court of miracles.

”I did a great job choosing you to be by his side. At least that would put me at ease. ”

”Its never too late to tell what you wanted to tell to him in your remaining days. I only hope that youll leave this world without any more regrets for I know you
e tired. ”

The duke did not say anymore words as though he was in deep thought. Neirin used this chance to leave the office quietly. Her eyes a bit stinging but with his firm decision, she knew he would be stubborn until the end for he was a man.

Walking towards the hallway of the mansion, the snow started to fall giving a different emotions to every people who see it. Neirin stop in daze witnessing the white glow it has falling from the gray sky.

It looked quite lonely and melancholy.

In her previous time, she often find herself watching the nature. She loved the snow and the vast blue sky. Every time she felt the gushes of winds it made her feel like she was free. Neirin was already told not to cross her boundaries but if she let this thing happen without doing anything, she knew shell also regret this in the future.

Feeling as though she was on a heavy mission, her chest felt heavy. Swallowing, she turned towards a different direction passing every portrait and decorations of the mansion until she was in front of a black double doors.

It was the door of Vincents room.

Vincent was laying on the bed. His eyes closed feeling the warm warmth coming from the fire place as his hair was cascading down over his eyes. He was sleep deprived for how many days already . Still, despite of being tired he wasn able to fall asleep

Curtains were opened letting a little bit of light seep through the windows and enter the room. The fire place was burning slowly and fiercely inside the room. His mind full of thoughts and was quite loud. He wanted to rest and he doesn know if this developments would be helpful to him.

As he was trying to understand the reason of his father, there was also annoyance and irritation as he kept remembering the face of his supposed to be elder sister now. Just like that, he suddenly has a sibling after living for seventeen years and she was older. She looked too mature as though her eyes have plans and schemes that would threaten him.

Vincent clicked his tongue opening his eyes. His gaze landed on the window as he watched the snow fall and piled on the ground. Soon enough, when time passed, it will be summer again. He will leave this mansion again to study. Would his position be threaten?

”Vincent? Are you there? Can we talk for a moment? ” He heard a knock. The voice was familiar. He already has an idea whose it was from. He doesn want to open the door nor want to talk to someone but there was a certain urge inside him that was telling he needed to at least hear her.

Standing up he pursed his lips. His hair was disarray but he did not bother fixing it. Vincent Opened the door. Right in that instant, he came across a blue pair of eyes looking at him with a sweet smile. He felt goosebumps crawling over him. Inching closer, Vincent frowned smelling a sweet scent coming from her. He felt irritated even more.

Vincent tilted his head a little to the right wondering. He did not bothered trying to mask his annoyed expression. ”Why are you here? ” he asked.

His voice was not polite but it wasn disrespectful also. Neirin brushed it off as though she was already used to it. Her blue eyes met Vincents purple one. There seemed an unspoken tension between them.

One was wary of the their intention while the other one simply doesn care. For a person who knew that future, Neirin was sure that Vincent won ever harm her.

”As you and I will become family soon, I am thinking of telling you few things you need to know. ”

Vincent smiled sarcastically after giving a scoffed. ”How come an outside like you knew more information that I have? ”

Neirin wasn offended. She gave a shrugged. Her eyes were still bright not losing its determination. ”It just went that way. I know you do not want to talk to me but I have information regarding the duke that I think I should share with you. ”

”Heh, ” Vincent gave a low chuckle. Sharp eyes seemed to be scrutinizing Neirins face right now. He was clearly looking down at Neirin.

Neirin realized that both of the son and the father had so many resemblance to each other. He continued saying, ”a dog shouldn bite its owner. Are you going to betray father now? ” That was supposed to be a question but for Neirin, she felt like he was already accusing her of treason.

She chuckled in her thought. She wasn bothered at all. The most impossible thing she could do was betray them for she already done it once in her previous life time and she knew perfectly well what consequences waiting for her. She wasn a fool wholl do her mistake twice.

Heaving her breath, Neirin who had been living with Vincent both on her past life and now. ”You can insult me all you want but it would be better for you to hear my words. You won lose anything just to hear me. ”

Vincent stared at her for a while before opening his door widely and moving out of the way. ”Then please, ” he motioned his hand point inside. ”Be my guest. ”

Neirin took several steps forward passing Vincents figure who was still holding the door. Neirins eyes traveled all over the room. Black and white interiors and the fresh smell of sweet flowers and the cold winds of winter. She quite missed everything in this room.

”Please take a sit on the sofa, dear sister. ” He was using a sarcastic tone to address her. Neirin did not mind. She just shrugged it off as though a child was giving out a tantrum.

Neirin gracefully moved taking a seat to the sofa near the fire place. There were refreshment placed on the coffee table but it has gone cold. Vincent dragged another chair to face Neirin. Crossing his right leg over his left he asked.

His stare was intimidating.

”Then may I please ask what my dear sister came here for? ”

All of his sarcasm was brushing of Neirins words but she just ignored it. In her mind he was considering her words for she doesn know how to start and tell him that his father was dying. Should she just tell directly or should she moved through words and find the right timing to do so?

Neirin considered few options like, ”Uhmm, his grace yes right your father, hes dying. ” Or like, ”Isn it a great weather? But it wasn really that great since the duke had told me that hes dying. The duke is sick. Hes dying. ”

Juggling her thoughts, she had realized that there was no better way on telling the news. How can she be ready when she was speaking a certain fact and truth that his father was dying? Furthermore, she was just an outsider. Someone who was only introduced yesterday! The more Neirin thought about it, the more she felt like it wasn really her job to deal with this but she was already here. The bat was already out. Vincent was already waiting for her next words.

But she already decided to tell him. She doesn want to have any regrets or sort of. she was immersed by it only to break her trance when Vincents purple eyes seemed to be piercing through her eyes down to her soul. He was demanding. He was acting as though he doesn want to be in the same room as hers.

” Pray do tell what was your important information about my father. I do not have all the time in the world. I am tired. ”

Heaving her breath, Neirin gave up. ”His grace, ” She started.

”Right, my father. He will also be your father now, ” Vincent cut her off. Neirin felt offended.

Neirin glared. ”Your father, Duke Sebastian Halstead is dying. ”

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