✧He Bought Flowers✧
“I never sent her any letter! Don’t you know that?!” Duke Dyssen exclaimed, his voice growing louder as he voiced his disagreement.
Odette lowered her gaze and met her father’s eyes. She seemed fragile, like a troubled child in need of comfort. She wished it was all a lie, but deep down, Odette was already aware. Her father spoke nothing but the truth.
Theodora Klauswitz had indeed pilfered her father’s letters, and considering all the evidence, this was the only rational conclusion. Odette felt her heart racing erratically, but she hid her anxiety behind a composed demeanor. Taking a deliberate breath, she gathered herself and confronted her father with a calm resolve.
“Has there been a recent departure from the hospital staff?”
“Unexpectedly, one of the caregivers vanished without a trace…” his frustration evident in his sigh. “She took the letter! I’m sure?!” Duke Dyssen vented his anger towards the missing caregiver.
Despite having two caregivers working in shifts, there was only one woman entrusted with the responsibility of handling the letters. She possessed remarkable intelligence and a deep knowledge of literature. It seemed there was no need to speculate on the identity of the culprit.
While observing the silent Odette, Duke Dyssen’s expression suddenly transformed, and he erupted into laughter.
“This is all about revenge for your sins. So the wicked stepmother, the enemy of the enemy, has exposed the vulnerabilities of a thousand things. Magnificent! If it is revealed in detail, not only will I remain unharmed, but the entire empire will see the true nature of the celebrated hero. I should have sent her a letter! It was my mistake not to do so.” Duke Dyssen’s glared at Odette. “I will make sure that Tira, who has brought me to this state, is undoubtedly sent to prison! As for you, who have become a partner, you will not escape the consequences, so be prepared. And let us not forget the your-so-called hero husband. All of you shall descend into hell…”
“What comes next then? What fate awaits you?” Odette interjected coldly, she had already found herself trapped in a predicament with seemingly no way out.
Accepting this harsh reality, the true nature of her surroundings became clearer. Her foremost concern was to silence her father’s destructive words. While it wouldn’t completely resolve the hopeless situation, it would at least prevent it from escalating further. Thus, Odette resolved to take the most appropriate course of action available to her in the present moment.
“I am already half-paralyzed. If I were to die, it might not hold much significance, but the circumstances are different for you,” Duke Dyssen threatened, his eyes darting anxiously. “To avert such misfortunes, it would be wise for you to arrange for my immediate release from this place. If you demonstrate enough sincerity in rectifying your past wrongdoings, who knows? Perhaps I might reconsider my stance.”
“No, father. That will not happen,” Odette shook her head. Her father’s true motives, which had become clear to her, aligned perfectly with her expectations. The underlying lust driving him eradicated any remaining shreds of pity and guilt that had once plagued her heart like thorns. “Bastian is unaware of the truth regarding the incident. If he had known, he would never have married me. Why would an ambitious man on the path to triumph choose to marry a woman burdened with such a troubling secret?”
“You are Dyssen, Odette! Are you suggesting that our family is inferior to that of a son of a junk dealer?”
“Yes, I am Odette Dyssen. The daughter of a princess who was abandoned for betraying the fallen duke and the empire. I am merely an aristocrat in name, burdened with a father consumed by gambling and alcohol. That is my identity.” Odette’s resolute words brought a sudden stillness to the hospital room. “The present-day Dyssen family does not dare to oppose the Klauswitz family. If it weren’t for the Emperor’s intervention, Bastian Klauswitz would never have married me.”
“You, how can you say that…” Duke Dyssen’s voice wavered with disbelief.
“That marriage proposal was my final chance at a better life. After your accident, I was overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for both you, a disabled father, and Tira. I couldn’t burden the man who offered me a lifeline out of pity with the truth.”
“My daughter… Odette, the last shred of pride for the Dyssen family. Are you implying that you’ve stooped so low as to become a prostitute to the grandson of a junk dealer?” Duke Dyssen’s face contorted with a profound sense of humiliation.
Odette couldn’t suppress a soft laugh, her heart filled with a blend of sympathy and sadness for her father’s pride that he had yet to let go of.
“Now I can’t even be a prostitute. Thanks to my father, I am forever tainted,”
With vacant eyes, she stared on the autumn forest beyond the window of the hospital room.
She wanted to be a good wife.
Even if it meant adhering to the boundaries of their arrangement. Odette had earnestly worked towards fulfilling her assigned role, hoping that the two years she spent with Bastian would be cherished memories. However, at this moment, everything felt utterly devoid of purpose.
“Please remain quiet, father. Live as if you were dead.”
Odette looked at her father, but her eyes was devoid of any emotional response. Despite Duke Dyssen’s furious struggles and screams, her composure remained unshaken.
“Is it not sufficient that you’ve made me into this? And now you dare to threaten me!?” Duke Dyssen exclaimed.
“Should this become known, Bastian will leave me. Consequently, he will no longer be obliged to cover your medical expenses.”
“If I can escape this place, it would be for the best!” Duke Dyssen declared.
“Well, then. Once Tira is imprisoned and I am punished as her accomplice, who will look after you? Do you truly believe there are any remaining options for you?”
“Father, please bear in mind that once the truth about the accident emerges, you will find yourself homeless. If fortune favors you, you may even end up in a workhouse,” Odette conveyed with a soft voice that contrasted with her youthful visage, delivering a bone-chilling warning. Duke Dyssen, now partially dazed, let out a pained groan. “Even if Tira was the one who pushed you, what does it matter? Your memories have all returned, but why did you erase the fact that it happened because you attacked the child to steal the money?”
“This is always how you are. I’ve known it all along and always tolerated it, but not anymore,”
Odette took a deep breath as she reached for the overcoat hanging on the back of the chair. In the midst of the chaotic situation, she found herself reminiscing about the good old days—the idyllic moments when her father had been a caring presence, and they were a loving family. Yet, she realized that clinging onto those memories had been holding her back. She understood that the time had come to release them and bid a bittersweet farewell to those cherished moments.
“It was an act of self-defense and a mistake. Father, throughout Tira’s entire life, you have denied her existence and treated her poorly. You have no right to pass judgment on what is right or wrong. “ Odette spoke earnestly, her eyes reflecting a deep loneliness that resembled the melancholy of autumn. “This is the delicate line I am managing to walk somehow. Take one more step, and all three of us will plummet off the cliff.”
Her eyes had now turned so red that even the shade of her hat couldn’t conceal it.
“I implore you, for the sake of my mother who watches over us from heaven, please hold onto your last shreds of dignity and humanity, Father.”
Odette brought her palms together and lowered her head as she clenched her fists.
After being eerily calm during what seemed like an eternity, the hospital room soon started to quake with bloody howls.
Impulsively, Bastian found himself purchasing flowers.
His gaze narrowed as he observed the bouquet being packed by the cheerful flower shop owner, who hummed a tune.
It was the day when Mrs. Gross and Dr. Kramer were to be invited to Ardenne. This decision was made in anticipation of his imminent departure after the festival. Thus, Bastian felt compelled to arrange a final meal together, a place where they could share one last gathering.
Whenever he visited his aunt, Bastian would always seek out a special place to find flowers as a gift for Maria, who had a fondness for them. Today was no exception. As he perused the shop, his eyes unexpectedly fell upon a familiar sight—the very same flower that Odette had discovered near the valley stream last summer. Bastian immediately recognized it. While memories of other wildflowers had faded over time, this particular flower remained vivid in his mind, for it bore a striking resemblance to her.
“Your wife must possess remarkable nobility and beauty.”
The owner, with considerable experience in the floral trade said. He placed the first bouquet adorned with exquisite packaging, picked up the next one, a surprise gift for Odette.
“I have been in this business for a while, yet you are the first gentleman to select an iris, symbolizing resemblance to his wife. Most people tend to favor roses or lilies.” With evident curiosity, the flower shop owner fixed their gaze upon Bastian.
In that moment, it dawned on Bastian that he had made an error—a realization that came a little too late.
‘Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could have arranged the flowers in a more elegant manner, especially considering her youthful charm?’
The primary problem arose when the owner received the request to include a bouquet of irises.
‘Oh, it’s fine.’
Bastian replied, though it would have been more fitting if the owner had fulfilled the request earlier.
‘This particular flower bears a resemblance to your wife. I’m certain she will love it’
The owner offered, attempting to justify their earlier oversight with a somewhat feeble remark. Faced with this unsatisfactory response, Bastian had no choice but to manage the frustrating situation at hand.
Bastian contemplated the name of the flower he had just been introduced to. As the owner had mentioned, the iris was indeed an elegant and visually striking bloom.
“Very well, Sir. The task is now complete,” the owner said, showcasing their astute problem-solving skills and efficiently packaging the flowers for Odette.
After completing the transaction, Bastian hurriedly exited the store. The city center teemed with bustling crowds, and all eyes turned to the resolute figure of an officer striding along the main street, clutching a bag brimming with flowers.
Navigating his way through the throngs of people, Bastian was solely focused on the innocuous nature of the floral arrangement. As he reached the spot where he had parked his car, the street lamps illuminated the surroundings, serving as a poignant reminder that the season of short daylight hours had arrived.
With care, he placed the bouquet on the passenger seat before settling into the car himself. A feeling of irreversibility washed over him, as if he had engaged in an ultimately futile endeavor.
After all, weren’t flowers a customary and unremarkable gift?
Bastian ceased his contemplation and ignited the engine, shifting his focus to the task at hand. Presenting flowers to his aunt held no particular significance, especially considering that Odette’s bouquet appeared minuscule and unassuming compared to Mrs. Gross’s grand arrangement. It almost seemed fitting, as if it were an apt addition to the existing collection.
Having swiftly adjusted the arrangement of the meticulously tied ribbon, courtesy of the owner, Bastian wasted no time and promptly set the car in motion. The city embraced an air of tranquil obscurity on this early autumn night, cloaked in a serene darkness that enveloped the surroundings.