recalled how she had said, ‘If I pay back all the money that my household borrowed, you can buy one of Monte’s paintings, right?’

His expression became distorted with unpleasantness.
At first glance, it was clear how his deep, empty gaze was now colored with anger.
Daniel watched Eric’s changes.

“You need to stop having that attitude.”


“I believe you should abandon that kind of thinking, that everything could be solved with money.
Especially towards your wife.
The Madam—no, women in general value time spent with them more than money.”

“Absolutely not.”

Eric denied it.

“Women who see me only for money can fill more than ten carriages.”

“You can’t just generalize everyone like that! Have you ever tried your best to calmly express your feelings towards the Madam? That’s the most important thing.
It really is.”

Eric didn’t say anything back.
Daniel and Chloe seemed to be saying the same things.

How exactly did she want him to express himself? Eric really, absolutely couldn’t understand what it meant to show his own feelings.

Did she want him to say nice things? If so, then that was something that he characteristically wouldn’t do.
He was a crooked person from the beginning—that is, from birth—so he didn’t have the capacity to say things nicely.

And no matter how nicely he’d put it, it was evident that this would just be a futile act of veiling reality with an illusion.

Wasn’t it better now that, even if he couldn’t speak nicely, he still managed to achieve great heights? If he had to choose one or the other, then Eric would still prioritize gaining wealth.

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“In the first place,”

Eric spoke as he lit up a cigar.

“If I didn’t have money, do you think Chloe would have married me?”

“I can’t say for certain.”

Daniel was still sure about this.

“But I’d like you to know that your money would not have such a big part in the future of your marriage.”

“Did you hear the conversation I had with Chloe?”

“Unfortunately, yes.”

He seemed to have overheard Chloe mentioning the divorce.
Eric flicked the end of his cigar.

“I don’t intend to divorce her.”

“But the Madam wants it.”

“Even so.
I won’t let it happen.”

A blur of smoke flowed out of his lips.
He smoothed over his already neat collar and inhaled another puff on the cigar.

“No matter what she says, I won’t do it.”


Daniel asked.

“Your Excellency, have you even asked her first? If you don’t want the Madam to divorce you?”

Eric didn’t answer right away.
No, he couldn’t.

He had so many questions for Chloe.
But what did Eric say instead every time? The only explanation he gave whenever turning down the divorce was that there’s no reason for it.

But he knew well enough that this wasn’t enough of an excuse.
Was it because he didn’t want to marry the fourth princess? Well, that was a dubious reason.

So he had to ask himself.
Why was he so against the divorce?

“Is it because you have feelings for the Madam? Is that why you don’t want to get divorced?”

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Eric raised an eyebrow, then he extinguished the cigar, which he hadn’t even smoked more than a few times, on the ashtray.
A sharp gaze headed towards Daniel.

“The most important thing now is that none of the achievements I’ve made thus far would be ruined.”

That’s why he kept striving for more.
He was someone who hated the thought of his own failure.

“My marriage, in its own way, is also an achievement.
There’s no way I don’t know that.”

“That’s right.”

“So, it wouldn’t be good to get divorced.”

Eric lit another cigar.

The dream he had last night kept him thinking.
He remembered.
The one who had laughed the loudest while he was being beaten as a kid—it was Duchess Rolphe.

…Damn it.

He swept a hand over his forehead.

“I can’t afford to be a failure.”


* * *


For the first time in a while, Chloe went out on her own.

Chloe had been stuck indoors with the excuse of wanting to be alone.
But in fact, she didn’t want to be alone.
It’s just that she had to be.

She was terribly sick.

Perhaps what happened at the banquet had come to her as a great shock, or perhaps it was her own body failing her, but she began to suffer even more since that day.
She had yet to regain her strength and be well again.

Every single night, she would fall asleep with her body going through a high fever.
She’d wake up a few times during the night, and every time, she would force herself to stop coughing and hide the sounds by biting her tongue.

She desperately wanted to call the doctor, but she couldn’t.
Her husband wouldn’t like it.
She didn’t want to do anything that her husband would hate.

So, she held it all in.
All the pain, all these hardships.

After a few days like that, Chloe finally felt refreshed once more.
That’s why she went out immediately.

Daniel asked where she was going, but she only said that she was going downtown for a while.

She didn’t reveal her real destination.

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