“I…”

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Chloe bit her lower lip.

Reflected upon herself, she said… How could she do such a thing when she didn’t do anything wrong in the first place! Nevertheless, she was forced to nod because she didn’t want to show that she wasn’t on good terms with her mother in front of Eric.

“Yes, I think I have to see mother off.”

“I’m glad you have reflected upon yourself.
I thought you were still an ungrateful child.”

Chloe pulled her chin down and lowered her gaze.
It was a gesture that meant that she didn’t want to talk to the Duchess any more.

Still, she wouldn’t leave Chloe like that.

“The next time I see you, I want you to be more mature, not being a silly and stubborn child like now.”

Even though she didn’t reply to that, Eric’s gaze forced her to answer again.
Because of that, she once again apologized for her wrongdoing.

As the Duchess left the mansion contentedly, Chloe suffered a fever from that day on.

 

 

* * *

 

 

The reason for her sickness was simple.

It was because she was constantly on the lookout for the entire week her mother stayed at the mansion.
Her mother’s existence was like a tunnel full of thorns to her.
Although countless thorns made her so sick, she was forced to walk through the tunnel, enduring the pain over and over again.

Chloe suffered many injuries while going through this tunnel.

No one saved her… Not to mention her husband.

…Her husband was not on her side.

This caused Chloe helpless frustration and a wound that didn’t heal easily.
She spent her days in pain, suffering fever from her wound.
It was like that for several days.

 

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* * *

 

 

Eric was so frustrated.

Clink! The next moment, he threw the nipper he was holding and swept his hair.

“Is Chloe still sick?”

“The Madam…?”

Daniel continued his answer, “The madam is still sick.
According to the doctor, he said she wouldn’t be able to get up easily.”

“What on earth is the problem?”

Hearing that, he asked back angrily.

“What’s the problem that makes her sick like that? Everyone has been nice while she’s here, so what’s bothering her?”

He didn’t ask, hoping to get an answer.
Throwing off his glasses and pressing down his brows, his eyes were sore, and he had a throbbing headache.

“And, it was also strange that Chloe prevented me from seeing her.
Why stop me from visiting her?”

“She was afraid that you might get sick.
You shouldn’t be sick.”

“Is it right to leave my sick wife alone?”

“You’re sending a doctor.
That’s enough.”

As he glared at Daniel after hearing his answer, he soon moved his gaze away and shook his head several times.

“I’ve got to go.”

He muttered and got up.

He couldn’t help but worry about Chloe.
She had always been a frail woman, and she was faltering as if she were about to die.
Still, Eric had never thought of her dying.
For him, she was a person who would always live, a person who would always exist in the world.

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…She was dying? That was not going to happen, and he wouldn’t let it.

“Oh, and…”

As he was about to leave the lab, Eric turned his head and spoke to Daniel.

“Have you found the doctor in charge of Chloe in the North yet?”

“I’m trying to find him, but it’s not easy.
She was secretly meeting him.”

“It was a secret meeting…”

Even though he was only a doctor, it was said that Chloe secretly met him and he never showed his face to anyone… Why did she do that?

Although he wanted to ask Chloe, he knew she wouldn’t tell him anyway.
After all, she wasn’t the type who told him everything, and she was a hypocrite as the Duchess said.

“Find out more.
Find out what Chloe is hiding.”

In his mind, there was already a seed of distrust planted by the Duchess, and the buds that had already burst were not easily uprooted — that was why he thought Chloe was deceiving him about something.

“I’m going to go see Chloe for now.
Make sure you finish that by then.”

Saying so, he pointed to the prosthetic arm he had been making the whole time.

Daniel shook his head in surprise.

“Your Excellency seems to think I am you.
I’m stupid, and I wouldn’t even be able to make half of it even if I fiddled with it all day, let alone complete it.”

“Still, you have to study it carefully and learn.
I can’t draw blueprints forever.”

“I’ll try, though I really don’t know.
However, are you sure you’re going to visit your wife? The Madam doesn’t want to show you she is sick so wouldn’t it be better not to go?”

Daniel’s words were right.

Nonetheless, he had already made up his mind to see Chloe and had no intention of withdrawing so Eric ignored his words and left the lab.

 

 

* * *

 

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He ran into Andrea as soon as he left the lab and entered the main building.
Noticing that she was holding a tray, Eric approached her just as she was about to go to Chloe.

“Are you going to Chloe?”

“Ah, My Lord!”

Andrea hurriedly bowed her head and greeted him.
Eric glanced at the vials on the tray as she greeted him.

“An analgesic and antipyretic.
And, that is… an ointment?”

Eric furrowed.

That ointment was used for a wounded area… Did it mean she got hurt? Where? He remembered when he saw Chloe a few days ago.
Although her face was slightly swollen, there were no visible injuries other than that.
Then, why did she need an ointment?

“Why are you taking the ointment?”

“Ah, that’s…”

She muffled her words.

How could she tell it that it was an ointment for Chloe’s calf, which was beaten by the Duchess…? This was something Chloe asked never to tell.
Because of that, she might be furious and fire her if she told Eric the truth.
Still, the actual employer was also Eric.

Andrea was at a loss as to what to do.

“I’m taking it just in case…”

“You’re taking ointment for no reason? Do you think that makes sense…?”

“I’m telling the truth.
It’s nothing.”

“There isn’t nothing as a reason in my house.
You’ll be kicked out if you don’t tell me what it is.”

Andrea was in agony again.
Any maid had to obey her mistress, but it was the master who hired her.
In the end, she was forced to tell the truth.

“Actually, the Madam was hurt…”

“…She got hurt? Where?”

“It’s…”

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Taking a deep breath, she replied.

“She hurt her calf.”

“You said she hurt her calves? Why?”

“It seemed that the Duchess was caning her.”

“…What?”

“And, it seemed she was also slapped in the cheek… that was why she didn’t come out of the room the whole time.”

Eric was shocked as if he had been hit in the head with a hammer… The Duchess hit Chloe? He couldn’t believe those words at all.

He grabbed Andrea by the shoulders.

“Is that absolutely true? Are you not lying to me?”

“I’ve no reason to lie to you, My Lord, especially if it’s something related to the Madam.
To be honest, it… it seems more surprising that you didn’t notice.
Did you notice anything strange about the Madam’s gait? How about her swollen face? You would’ve known right away that she wasn’t in good health if you’d observed a little…”

Eric opened his mouth as if he wanted to say something but closed it again.

He couldn’t say anything.
He couldn’t… He blamed her for being beaten by her mother.
He protected the Duchess who beat her.

He trusted the Duchess and even doubted Chloe!

Damn it…! Nothing could be so humiliating!

No, it might not be… Could this also be a lie? After all, it was said that Chloe was a liar, so this could have been a lie to make him feel guilty… Yes, he had to check it with his own eyes!

Despite Andrea’s dissuasion, Eric jumped up the stairs and entered Chloe’s room.
The next moment, Chloe, who was asleep, woke up in surprise at his presence.
At the same time, the damped towel on her forehead fell helplessly.

“What brings you here?”

She asked quietly.
Her figure looked so thin, like someone who was perishing…

As Eric ran to her, he then lifted the blanket as if kicking it.

“Honey…!”

Chloe’s cry was heard though he rolled up her skirt without minding it.
What he saw were bright red and blue bloodstained bruises on her calves.
In addition, the wounds were rather extensive.

Eric squeezed his eyes shut.

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