Chapter 2

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‘But isn’t he a commoner?’

At the time, Chloe didn’t even realize that what she said was incredibly rude.
That’s how mesmerized she was by Eric’s appearance.
He shone brightly compared to the men she’d seen, even the royal family.

She couldn’t think of another man, a noble or otherwise, who could exceed his looks.
As her eyes naturally gravitated towards his direction, she’d never been able to take her eyes off him since.

She was instantly raptured, so besotted by him.
The whole world turned into a wonderful flower bed.

At that moment, it felt like she and Eric were the only people in the world.

That’s why Chloe thought—

‘Oh, I fell in love with him at first sight.’

But back then, he was still a commoner.
And Chloe was a daughter of a powerful Duke.

No matter how high his grades were and how accomplished he became at the Academy, he was still a person from the bourgeoisie, and it was clear that the gap between them would never be bridged.

So she could only watch him from afar until she graduated.

She forgot about him after that.
No—she had to forget him, so she pushed Eric out of her mind.

But in the end, she was going to get married to him.
Regardless of the money or noble title involved, Chloe was very happy that she somehow found her way back to him.

On their first night, Chloe prepared her frantic heart.
However, as soon as Eric arrived, her hopes were shattered.

He was in the same room as Chloe, but he didn’t touch her at all.
He didn’t even look at her.

He ignored her completely.

From then on, he just sat at a desk, did some paperwork, put together his machinery that Chloe didn’t even know he brought with him, then worked all night… It wasn’t what she expected at all.

’Are you going to keep working?’

Chloe couldn’t stand the humiliation and finally spoke up and said things like ‘I’ve never heard of a first night like this’ and ‘How could you do this to me’ laced with resentment.

What was it that Eric replied? Ahh, that’s right.

’Is there anything between us that we need to do?’

With a cold, detached tone, that was the only thing he said.

With those words alone, he was saying that he was there only because she was bought along with the noble title bestowed upon him—that she married for money, and they had nothing to do with each other.
And there will never be anything between them.

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In retrospect, she should have started hating him from then on.
She should have.
But she was already drunk on the feeling of reuniting with her first love.
And she couldn’t escape that feeling.

She loved Eric even though he was so heartless.

She hoped that, one day, he’d look at her and love her the way she was as long as she continued loving him all throughout their time together… She had those hopes.

Then, five years passed by.

After a long time…

She realized that she was wrong.

Because she was wrong, just like right now,

“What do you need?”

It was that cold tone of his again.

Chloe smiled bitterly and held her hands together.

“I was wondering if you had a good time at the opening ceremony.
I apologize, I should have gone with you…”

“There’s no reason for you to be there.”

As always, his sharp words stabbed into Chloe’s heart.

She bit her lower lip.

“…That’s why I prepared dinner for us.
It’s been a long time since we had a meal together, so I was wondering if we could spend a bit of time with each other.”

Chloe had been dressed up for hours before this, and so when she took a step forward, her shiny silver hair cascaded behind her, and her blue eyes sparkled.

“I guess you have too much time on your hands.”

However, Eric continued to be cold as always.
After looking at how Chloe was dressed with an apathetic gaze, he shook his head.

“I just dropped by to leave my suitcase.
I’m going out again before the snow piles up… and I have to go to the capital.”

“The capital? You have to go?”

Instead of answering, Eric looked down on Chloe with his indifferent eyes.

Eyes that didn’t look at her.

Eyes that hid his thoughts thoroughly.

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Every time she looked into those eyes, Chloe was always left heartbroken.

“Then, will you be coming back next week?”

Chloe added in a desperate voice.

“It’s my birthday next month.”

Then, Eric just sighed.

“Is your birthday important?”

“It’s important to me.”

Haa. Eric sighed again.

“Brother-in-law visited yesterday, too.”

As Chloe could guess, in other words, it meant her brother visited to collect money again.

How much did he take this time? Ten thousand pounds? A hundred thousand? A million?

Chloe was sure that Eric gave it.

At this, her heart dropped and her hands trembled.

Then, she quickly lifted her gaze, only to see that Eric was walking up the stairs already.

“Madam! It’s dangerous, please don’t run!”

Chloe ran after Eric, who had already reached the second floor.

All the windows of the hallway on the second floor were wide open, and cold wind filled the air.
Her nose and ears quickly turned red and her eyes teared up because of the coldness.

The wind ruffled her silver hair, but because she was brought up with an aristocrat’s demeanor, her expression did not show this at all.
Like a warrior fighting against the wind, she showed a more tenacious spirit.

“Dar…”

Because she ran so suddenly, she was out of breath.
But Chloe quickly composed herself because her high self-esteem wouldn’t allow herself to show any signs of her illness in front of so many people.
She raised her chin higher.

“Darling.”

Chloe pulled on Eric’s cuffs.

“That’s enough.”

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Her hands were trembling.
She quickly retracted her hand, hoping he didn’t see it.

“I’ve told you several times.
You don’t have to give my family any more money.
It’s my brother’s fault anyway, so let him find his own solution.
Please?”

Before she could even finish what she was saying, Eric sighed deeply once more.

“If I do what you say, then I’ll be a heartless, commoner husband of a Duke’s daughter who has no money.”

Eric narrowed his eyes and raised a hand to push back his hair.

“Don’t worry about the money.
It’s not something you have to be involved in as a wife.”

Not something to be involved in… Wasn’t the household’s finances something that should be managed by the madam of the family?

How far was he going to isolate her? Chloe raised her head against the cold air.

“Then what should I do to have the right to be involved?”

Moisture filled Chloe’s blue eyes.

“I want to be of help to you, too.”

Eric looked down insensitively at Chloe.
As always, it was painfully clear how much he didn’t love her.

“There’s nothing you can do for me.”

The emotion that dominated his voice was boredom.
Eric was tired of their conversation now.

As soon as Chloe realized this, she laughed in vain.

“That’s right.
I… I’ve done nothing all my life, and now I’m going to die without having done anything.”

She only had two years left to live at most.

She lifted her gaze again to look at Eric squarely.
It was an earnest gaze, as if this was the last time.

“Darling.”

There was a hint of grief in her tone.

“I’m sick.”

She slowly opened her lips and put strength into every syllable she spoke.

“I’m really, really sick.”

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A gust of the cold winter air surged between them.
It was such a strong gust that the airships floating in the sky faltered.
Chloe was shaken by the wind, but Eric wasn’t.
Chloe was the only one affected.

“Can’t you come home more often? That’s all I wish for.”

Her heart ached more than her body.

As long as he’d be by her side, then she could endure all the pain that was plaguing her body.
As long as he was there, then this awful loneliness would go away.

So she wanted to see him more.

“Just because you’ll see me doesn’t mean you’ll get better.”

“…Darling.”

“I’ll bring a doctor from the capital and send him to you.
That would be enough.”

Chloe looked up.

Again, his eyes expressed nothing but lukewarm disinterest.

She suddenly felt heat on her cheeks.
What the hell was she hoping that this man would say.

She dropped her gaze, chewing herself up in indignation.

“Go in.
The wind is cold.”

Chloe stared blankly at Eric’s back as he left without another word.

She knew.
Of course she did.

This marriage was without any love from the very beginning.

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But no, it wasn’t that there was no love, it was only that one side had it and the other didn’t.

“…I should really… stop here now.”

Her empty voice was washed away by the cold winter wind.

——
tl/n:
I don’t usually leave notes to react to chapters but uuuuuuuugggghhhh this is so painful, I just can’t stand the husband!! But in any case, I’m looking forward to his (currently very punchable) face twist up in pain when he starts to regret everything (and I also want to see more of the novel’s setting because I’m excited this is a steampunk world~)

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