Neirin felt like she messed the opportunity to become close to Vincent the moment she open her mouth and revealed this matter to him. There was a clear look of hesitation, confusion, and fear over her eyes that seemed to gradually fade the longer the silence remained between them.

She hoped and mulled over the right words on how to tell the news to him hoping that he won be devastated. However, in contrast to what she expected, this child, a seventeen year old Man did not have any emotions when it comes to the news of his fathers up coming death. As though for him, it looked like death was a common thing.

Right, for people like them, for the nobles, death was sometimes labeled as opportunities and an end of someones suffering. Or perhaps, was it because of the wounds in their past that seemed to refuse to heal? It was complicated. Neirin understood that. As the awkward silence engulf them, Neirins mind went back to the days after her seventeenth birthday.

That was the time she started to steal and live her life in the slums where her state of life highly dependent on how much she can earn in one day. Most of the days, she starved herself to death for she refused to steal if her target wasn a noble blood or a bastard.

In that place where their morality can be question, she kept her principles in check thinking that if ever she got out of that situation, she won be tied of her thoughts and any guilty lingering feelings.

”Vincent? ” Neirin asked thinking that the silence was already too long. She need some confirmation from him, a hint of emotion. But, Vincent only gave her a stare. His purple eyes glimmered because of the sunsets rays but his face looked too nonchalant. He seemed like a statue staring at the void.

Was he this heartless?

Neirin pitied him deep inside her heart. For a child who was barely an adult, he had always kept his emotions in check for he never grew in a place full of security and love. He was in constant battle raising his guard not wanting to be dragged down by his petty emotions for this person was meant to be a duke.

A noble.

After a few seconds, with no words coming from him, Neirin continued. ”I do not want you dwell on your suspicions so Ill tell you the matters that your father and I had talked about. ” Neirin observed his reaction.

”The duke only have a month to live, ” Neirin started.

She dragged on her words waiting for his reply but just as expected he did not have any. Moving her gaze, she looked down on her fingers resting on her lap. She played with them trying to release the tension and pressure of Vincents stare.

The fire on the fire place continued to burn fiercely and quietly just like Vincent who looked like a predator restraining himself. Neirin wasn scared of this lonely child. What she was concern of was his lack of emotions. She feared of him losing himself for he had been restricting himself for almost half of his life and he was barely a man who doesn know what his future will be.

He seem to be complicated.

”Once he died, the title of the duke will be passed to me. ”

It happened in an instant.

Neirin who was simply playing with her fingers immediately found her neck being crushed between Vincents hands. He was strangling her. She coughed. Her eyes widen thinking of her death. With her instinct, she tried to pulled Vincents hands off of her neck but he was strong and she was a fragile woman.

”V-V-V Vincent, ” she barely can even speak. ”Hear me out. ” Her eyes started to tear up. She looked up. Vincents distorted and terrified facial expression reflected on her eyes. In her mind, she remembered the time when this child had cried for her. But this time, the emotions she saw on his eyes were rage and confusion.

Neirin understood that there might be bigger questions behind those gaze but her life mattered more than what she can interpret now. She just came back from being dead and she wanted to use this life for her purpose.

Her atonement and for the sake of this child in front of her.

”Vincent! ” She struggled to speak, nevertheless, she persisted. She wanted to use her feet to kick him but he was position in front of her pinning her down through her neck and her legs were in no way immovable.

”It will be temporarily! Here me out! This was decided for your sake! ” Out of her desperation, she shouted amidst of her aching throat, shortness of breath, and coughs.

It seemed that it worked for just like a hypnotized doll, Vincent snapped out of his senses blinking. He immediately drew out his hands as he begun to breathe heavily. His chest bobbed up and down as his expression turned terrified and afraid. His hands trembled. He immediately draw his hands back trying to gain his sense of reason.

Neirin coughed trying to stabilized herself. She immediately touched her neck thinking that it would definitely leave a mark but she did not dwell o those. Her mind was occupied of Vincents facial expression that looked too hurt as though he was a child not knowing how to return home.

Just as she was able to breath freely, she heard a heavy voice concealed of the anger, anxiousness and confusion. ”What did you say? ” he asked. Neirin swallowed. Her chest heaving up and down despite of that, she gave him a reply for he deserves to know and he needed to decide soon.

Neirin wasn asking for forgiveness in behalf of the duke. Still, there was a deep desire in her heart that seemed to be selfishly talking to her. She wanted Vincent to regain peace after the death of his father.

It might seemed to be uncalled for crossing over boundaries like this but, in order to change the future she knew in which Vincent suffered so much after the lose of his father, this time, shell make a chance for them to at least talk.

”Duke Sebastian is dying Vincent. ” Neirin saw his jaw and hands clenched. Still, he remained seated barely restricting himself.

She continued. ”He have enemies more terrifying than you can think of. They
e out there waiting for him to die and kill you to take this position off you. Your father is more involve in different people in this entire empire and hes afraid that you won be able to defend yourself once he died. Thats why I am here. ” Vincent stared at her. This time, Neirin knew that he was observing her trying to see her flaws and weakness.

”I am tasked to protect you- ”

”Ha, am I that weak for a woman like you to protect me? ” he sneered clearly mocking her. Somewhat he had regained his confidence after calming down. His purple eyes reflected the fire from the fire place. It burned too fiercely but quietly

Neirin ignored his words. She was used to it. What matters now was for Vincent to decide which path hell take after this.

Regaining her confidence, she leaned on the chair and folded her arms over her chest. ”Hes just worried about you. You
e barely an adult, young master. Hes afraid of his own actions tainting your future. ”

”Then why– ” Vincent asked but he was cut off.

Neirin sighed. ” As I told you, your father is involve in different crimes that happened in this empire. Hes not just a duke, ” Neirin said heavily as she looked out the window. The sun was completely set.

Thinking that this was enough for today, she stood up. It would be better to give Vincent a time to think and let him process the news she said today.

”If you wanted to know more about this, I am free tomorrow for high tea after my appointment with the Duke. I am not considering him as a father but an employer who promised me with equal value with my life on the line. ” Neirin said with her hoarse voice. Her neck still hurt from being strangled. She acted quite calm.

”However, just an advice coming from a noisy stranger like me, ” Neirins eyes turned gentle as though she was really his sister giving him advice to matters he do not understand.

”Its better to let yourself be in peace with no regrets before his death. It would be better for you to be selfish and confront him as he too was stubborn and selfish like you. ”

The heavy silence was there again. This time, Neirin wasn bothered by it at all for this treatment will continue for a long time. Vincent doesn trust her yet and he was also wary about her role and presence in this mansion. Without anymore words, Neirin left and Vincent watched her leave.

Once Vincent was left alone, a tear from his left eye streamed down but it only lasted for a while. He stood up and went back to bed just like before. He was now back to being cold and emotionless.

Neirin was worried but she also understand that for a man like him who wasn familiar with any emotions as he grow up, it would be difficult to accept such news. Even though he looked like he was calm and that he doesn give anything care for this matter, Neirin somewhat had a thought that that child was barely keeping himself from breaking down.

As she walked through the hallway passing each decorations and portraits, she finally reached her room in the mansion.

Twisting the knob, her newly appointed lady in waiting, Rianna, was there waiting for her patiently. It was a good thing that Neirin was wearing a turtle neck dress. She was able to hide the mark of her bruises.

”Bring me some ointment and Ice, ” Immediately after entering inside, Neirin gave an order.

Rianna nodded excusing herself. This time, she was now left alone. She propped down on the bed making her bounce a little. She smelled the warm and fresh scent of the sheets somewhat giving her comfort.

After burying her face to the pillow, Neirin turned Looking up where the chandelier and the ceiling where. She counted the designs painted there and the shinning glass of the chandelier trying to distract her heart from aching.

She was deeply concern about Vincent. That child she longed to meet hoping to help him heal a little was still struggling just like how they first met in her previous life. It did not matter to her before, but now, that child has found his way to her heart after crying over her death. He was clumsy showing his own concerns but nevertheless, all of the things he had shown to her, they were all genuinely true.

Closing her eyes, she prayed believing in the god of salvation and grace that saved her before. She prayed with a hope and determination that everything will be better. They all will be.

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