owever, the words that spilled out of my lips were like gibberish.
I thought I knew how I would arrange the story, of which the context in itself was already difficult to grasp, but of course, such a chance was not given.

Theodore had just been looking at me, but at that moment, he lost a grip on his control and said this.

“I was wondering what you were going to say… If you’re trying to play a trick, make it more believable, Miss Everett.
But your expression is pretty good.”

Smiling coldly, he turned his back.
As I stared at his distant figure, I felt like I heard something within me shatter.




Theodore often went to the frontlines to close the fissures that frequently ravaged the land.
It would take as short as three days or as long as one or two months.

He was very busy, and it became harder and harder to talk to him.
My feelings then steadily became resigned to the two people that had taken hold of me.

Charlotte was the only one I could talk to openly here in the Valentino Castle, as I was excluded from all family events and alienated in even the most minor cases.

Missus Seymour overlooked the subtle harassment of the servants towards me.
One day, there were dead birds placed around the windowsills of my room, and Charlotte angrily cleaned them all up because everyone else pretended not to know about it.

This happened quite often.
Eventually, I got used to animal carcasses.
Birds, mice, snakes, frogs, sometimes insects.
I was no longer surprised to see the dead.

The people of the Valentino Castle also whispered amongst themselves, saying that I was creepy.
But I wasn’t hurt by something like that.
There was someone else who was capable of hurting me—Theodore Valentino was always the only one who could.




’There’s this ball at the capital…’

‘Do I really need to be there to escort you? Go there by yourself.’




‘I would like to take care of the herbs that have been left in the greenhouse.
They could be used as medicinal herbs, so I would like to distribute them to the people of the territory.

‘But that won’t change my mind about you.
Don’t do useless things.
You’re not Duchess Valentino—you’re Lily Everett.
One day, we’ll have a divorce and you will leave this castle.



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‘It was really, truly not me who killed the puppy you were raising…’

‘Then why was the body found in the closet in your room?’

‘I didn’t hide it, it was someone el—’

‘Forget it.
I don’t want to talk about this anymore.’





‘Theo—no, Duke, please help me just once.
Please, you have to stay with me until the banquet ends.

‘What kind of trick is this? Let go of my hand.
I believe your brother is calling for you, so just go.’




I withered away.

What had shaken me the most was the fact that Theodore Valentino would not, under any circumstances, protect me.

This realization shattered all of the expectations and dreams I unconsciously fostered for him.
At the banquet that day, Owen grabbed my wrist and whispered, ‘Lily, you didn’t forget who you are, did you?’

I nodded like a lifeless doll, and in return, Owen smiled satisfactorily.
Then, he added, ‘I’m the one who made you become Lily Everett.
You belong only to me until the day you die.

Lily Everett.

Lily Everett.

Lily Everett…

It was like a commodity’s name.
I wasn’t aware, but surprisingly, it seemed like there were many men who wanted to buy me.
Everyone seemed to be waiting for my divorce with Duke Valentino.
Weighing the pros and cons of me becoming a second wife or a concubine, Owen measured the property and power of the candidates to become my next husband.

Among them was Lennon Chester.
He was the most likely candidate because even before my marriage, he wanted me to be his lover.
He even said that he loved me sincerely.
He kissed the back of my hand and whispered sweet nothings.

‘I love you, Lily.
I want to make you mine as soon as possible.’




I see now.
I didn’t know there would be so many people who didn’t care, as long as I was a shell of a person.
No, perhaps they preferred that I stay that way.
Dolls were light to carry, quiet, and pretty on the outside even as they were empty on the inside.

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It was two years ago that my father had been hell-bent on looking for an opportunity to swallow the Valentino family whole.
And he succeeded.
Theodore Valentino had to marry me in order to protect his family and his land.

It was a marriage that neither of us wanted, but my misfortune was not limited to just this one adversity.
Because my heart started yearning for a man who loathed and detested me and my family, I started harboring useless hope for him.

This was my true misfortune.


* * *


A year and a half.
It was a long time, it was a short time.

For him, there was much more of a gap beyond that.
People say that he had been married to Lily for a year and a half, but it seemed like their first meeting was much longer ago.

About two years ago, he could vaguely remember visiting the Everett Castle.
However, this memory was so sparse, like a piece of cheese that a mouse had already nibbled through.
He definitely met someone, but his memory stopped there.

Theodore was convinced that it was a memory containing Lily.

…How did only memories of her disappear?

“I apologize, Milord.
The Madam said that she doesn’t want to meet you…”

Theodore looked up as he heard the maid’s troubled voice.

His head wound was recovering properly, but the doctor told him to take a break just in case, so he was refraining from any taxing activities and was generally taking care of himself.

Theodore closed the book he was holding in his hand and recalled the conversation he had with the chamberlain.

’It was for the sake of the house of Valentino that you married the Madam, Milord.
It was a transaction with the Everett household.’

Everything that the chamberlain had told him was fragmentary.

The only reason that the chamberlain gave was that he couldn’t convey objective truths and fair facts.

Later, he heard from the others and he found out that everyone hated Lily—the Madam of the Valentino household.


Without a word, Theodore stood up.
If he was the one who asked for a meeting, he didn’t know if she would really meet him.
This wouldn’t be easy.

“You said your name’s Charlotte.”

“Yes? Yes…!”

“I don’t remember even your name.
Maybe it’s because you’re close to her.”


“Anyway, I’ll be going to the Duchess’ room.
Guide me there.”

Charlotte’s eyes widened.
She looked like she was about to say something, but she clapped a hand over her mouth and soon bowed her head with an expression of resignation.

“Yes, Your Grace.
I will guide you there.”

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