loe was lying or not.
So Chloe plastered on her usual smile on purpose and looked back at the duchess.

The duchess became satisfied only upon seeming to have found nothing.
She spoke towards Eric.

“It seems I have not shown a good appearance of myself.
Please do understand.
It is difficult to control my emotions as I grow older.”

“Of course.
And divorce is of a serious matter, so it was inevitable that you get worked up.”

“Lord Eric reads me so well.”

The duchess stroked Eric’s arm once and looked at Chloe.

“Then I would like to talk to my daughter, could we be excused?”

“As you would like.”

Eric spoke as he pointed towards the second floor.

“Andrea will show you the way to your room.
It is not much but rest assured that you will be well taken care of during your stay.”

“I look forward to it.”

The duchess smacked Chloe after answering him.
It meant to follow her.

Though Chloe did not want to get up, as it would also be awkward to refuse her here as well, she was obligated to heave herself up and took heavy steps.

All the while she turned her head to glance at Eric.
He was talking to Daniel as if it did not matter to him whether she followed the duchess or not, and she felt rather disappointed at that.

Though his attitude actually was due to the fact that he knew absolutely nothing at all.

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What would happen if, perhaps, Eric knows about my relationship with my mother?

Would it be any different from now?

‘…Well.’

Chloe mockingly laughed at herself.

Even if anything were to change, it did not matter.
Whatever it was, she was never going to reveal to him about her relationship with her mother.

Till the day she dies.

 

* * *

 

Smack!

The sound of a thin cane lashing out on bare skin rang in the air.

Chloe stifled in a groan as she bit down hard on her lip.
The next pain soon found its way even before the initial one had subsided.
Slap! Chloe shut her eyes tight.

“Did I not tell you clearly? That you are not to thoughtlessly talk back to your mother!”

Slash! One more time.
The duchess wielded the cane without pause.
Chloe’s white calves were coloured red.
It had even started to drip blood.
However, Chloe endured the pain without a single sound.
The duchess’ face glowered as if this maddened her even further.

“Spiteful girl.”

The duchess flung the cane away and pressed her forehead.
Only then did Chloe bring down the dress that she was holding up.
It ached to a point that it was difficult to even move yet she stood upright instead of revealing it.

The duchess glared at this whole process with contempt.

She opened the bottle of Cognac that she had ordered from Andrea without hesitation.
She then poured it in a glass and drank it in one go.

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She was just that.
A person who could not live without alcohol.
A person who would walk all over and flourish violence upon her daughter.

And of course no one knew of this side of the duchess other than Chloe and Joseph.
Because she always wore a mask outside.
A mask that made her a noble duchess.

Was that why?

Was that why she all the more despised Chloe who never lost her refinement?

Was that why she tormented her as she was ever so upright even after being beaten up?

Chloe did not know the duchess’ inner thoughts and the reason behind it.

The duchess fiercely yelled at Chloe.

“Why are you watching me with those eyes!”

Chloe reflexively dropped her gaze.

“You’ve been like that since a long time ago.
Always having that condescending look on your face and watching me as if I was nothing.
Impudent girl!”

Crash! The broken splinters of the glass narrowly grazed Chloe’s face as it flew past her.

Chloe assumed that the duchess was drunk again and quietly clasped her hands.
It was natural, the same as it had always been.

“Divorce? Ha! You spoke of divorce? Do you think that makes sense? If you were in your right mind you would not do that.
Of course! You are not in your right mind! You are utterly mad!”

Usually Chloe would not have said anything to the duchess when she was drunk.
Because when drunk, she spoke more roughly and acted more violently.

However, Chloe now was not the same as before.
Facing death, she was a little changed and was now a woman who had come to a determination, and therefore she had enough courage to push back against her mother who had control over her whole life.

“Mother.”

Chloe said.

“You do not even ask why I decided on the divorce.”

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