“See, what did I say? I knew that that child couldn’t be our enemy.” Jeff Klauswitz’s laughter echoed through the bedroom.
Theodora set the newspaper aside and gazed at her husband with a loving smile. The sunbeams pouring in through the open curtains highlighted his figure as he rested in bed. Despite a touch of gray in his hair, he remained an attractive man. She could now understand why other ladies were drawn to him, despite his age being similar to that of their fathers.
Recently, he had once again stirred up trouble by getting involved with another woman. This time, it was undeniably a delicate beauty with platinum blonde hair. How many times has this happened now? The sequence of his encounters with different women who resembled each other had become a hazy blur in her memory.
If she had known the situation would turn out like this, she wouldn’t have killed Sophia.
A hint of regret flashed in her eyes as she looked at her husband.
If he had simply divorced his first wife as requested, Theodora wouldn’t have been able to harm that woman. Even if Sophia had maintained a secret relationship with Jeff after the divorce, she could have chosen to ignore it. While it might have made her uncomfortable, she wouldn’t have had any power to change the situation. Rather than being consumed by jealousy over not being the only woman, it would have been wiser to tolerate some annoyance.
If Sophia had been slightly less emotionally attached to her ex-husband, she could have escaped her tragic destiny, enduring the excruciating pain while carrying their child in her womb.
Theodora clicked her tongue. Of course, thanks to dying at the prime of her youth, she would forever be etched in her beloved man’s heart as an everlasting memory.
“If we can wrap up that matter nicely, we might be able to launch a counterattack. This time, we’ll dig a pit under Bastian’s feet, leading him straight to hell.” Jeff stated passionately. After discussing plans to acquire a diamond mine, it seemed that that he was developing a new ambition and felt relieved to finally resolve the persistent issue that had been bothering him..
“Yes, if we come across a favorable opportunity, we should certainly seize it,” Theodora responded, showing her backing to her husband. “By the way, the Brandt also mentioned an increase in communication with Bastian recently. It might be worthwhile to investigate further,” she subtly conveyed the crucial point afterwards, recognizing it as the most effective approach to dealing with Jeff Klauswitz.
“Are you talking about Count Brandt?”
“Yes, that Count Brandt.” She nodded and gently stroked her husband’s hair.
Count Brandt was a distinguished nobleman and the leader of a prestigious financial institution, having the same economic prowess as Bastian–who was unfortunately the grandson of a junk dealer. It seemed like an implausible pairing, but Odette wouldn’t but Odette claimed to have witnessed this herself, and although Theodora hadn’t confirmed the details, she made sure to remember the name as a precaution.
“Being cautious would be wise to ensure a flawless victory. Let’s consider the possibilities of what you can build once that damn replica of our mansion was finally removed from its place.”
“Is it a gift for me?”
“Consider it a loot offering to my queen.”
As the signs of restlessness faded from his body, Jeff gradually regained his composed state.
Theodora loved Jeff in these moments when his self-assured and arrogant charm shone through. It was unfortunate that Sophia Illis had taken away his son who greatly resembled Jeff in his youth, but Jeff didn’t seem to dwell on such thoughts because they still had Franz, their precious and adorable child, to cherish.
With heartfelt sincerity, she wished Odette a wonderful day, hoping that she would bring joyful news once again.
The child, beautiful, intelligent, and remarkably brave, grew on her more and more with each encounter. It wouldn’t be surprising if Franz found himself drawn to her.
It would be troublesome if something were to happen to that child.
She narrowed her eyes and gazed into the distance through the window. Unlike Sophia Ellis, Odette wasn’t the kind of person to intentionally invite trouble or harm. However, there was one aspect that worried her—Odette’s husband.
Will Bastian be forgiving enough to pardon his wife’s betrayal?
If this were a game of chance, Theodora would never wager her money on blind optimism alone. Bastian was the kind of person who would go as far as beheading a beloved dog if it had bitten him. His ruthlessness was evident even at the tender age of twelve. Now, as a soldier marching into the battlefield, it was uncertain what tragic fate awaited her.
Perhaps Odette’s destiny would be even more sorrowful than Sophia’s.
Despite everything, Theodora held onto the hope that nothing would shatter the promise she made to Franz.
Once again, she extended her well wishes to Odette and rose from the bed. Stepping onto the balcony, she embraced the refreshing sea breeze. Though the weather was chilly, the presence of her husband by her side provided a comforting warmth that shielded her from the cold.
In the midst of the serene bliss, Theodora watched as the morning unfolded on the horizon. Any fixation on a woman who was already deceased appeared insignificant. She easily brushed aside any replacements for that woman, without giving them much thought.
She has this man.
That was what she desired, and she had finally attained it. Thus, Theodora Klauswitz emerged as the victor. And this fact would remain unchanged in the times to come.
Margrethe was startled. Her confident and fierce nature vanished, and she nervously wandered, whimpering. She only felt safe when she was near Odette, barely making a sound.
Bastian glanced down and observed the dog. Odette briefly stepped away from the table to take a phone call during breakfast, leaving Margrethe alone with Bastian. The dog’s exaggerated reaction, as if the world was falling apart, was so comical that it made him chuckle.
What on earth happened to Margrethe to become such an unusual being?
While observing Margrethe trembling in fear, memories of Odette’s stepsister, Tira, also came to mind. Like this dog, she used to be afraid of him. However, instead of causing harm as she did in the past, it seemed that she now enjoyed his great favor and care.
Bastian leisurely sipped his coffee, watching Margrethe’s melancholic barks. Odette’s coffee, as usual, was excessively bitter, yet he had grown accustomed to it and could tolerate it now. Similar to the peculiar morning rituals involving fortune-telling and the dog that had started shadowing Odette’s every step.
Bastian called out to her, and the startled dog quivered. Her fur had grown, and she had slightly increased in size, appearing much healthier than before.
Setting his teacup aside, Bastian reached for an egg from the basket at the table’s center. While he peeled the shell, Margrethe, who had been keeping watch by the front door, approached him unexpectedly. Her eyes displayed a mix of fear and curiosity, reminiscent of the early days spent with Odette.
According to his aunt Maria Gross, Margrethe might belong to Theodora Klauswitz. She even inquired if there were any other places nearby where a dog of that particular breed could reside, apart from this mansion.
Bastian concurred with his aunt’s statement. Theodora Klauswitz had a penchant for raising beautiful dogs and cats as if they were dolls. After a few moments of affection, she would pass them on to the maids, although she still retained ownership. It was highly probable that the mother dog Odette discovered in the woods originated from Theodora’s residence.
Maria couldn’t understand why Odette and Bastian would choose to keep Margrethe in their household. However, for Bastian, it didn’t matter. A dog was a dog, plain and simple. Considering that the dog was born and raised within his mansion’s estate, one could argue that it rightfully belonged to Odette. Even if legal ownership rested with the woman, once Bastian took the dog under his care, it undeniably became his own.
Bastian divided the peeled egg into two halves and placed one portion in a small dish. Margrethe, having quietly approached, now sat beneath the table.
After careful thought, he decided to give her half of the egg from his dish. As Bastian observed Meg, a memory surfaced of a dog that would devour an entire egg in a single gulp.
Once upon a time, a sizable dog, resembling a wolf, roamed the woods. However, its fate led it to meet its demise in that very forest, at the hands of Bastian. Now, it existed only as a distant memory, faded and long forgotten.
Bastian cleaned his hands with a napkin and set the dish with half of the egg beside his chair. Margrethe hesitated briefly but soon approached, burying her face in the dish and devouring the egg with great speed.
Gone was the legance in her eating manners, as her face remained submerged in the dish. Bastian smiled and cleared the now empty dish, tidying up after the meal. Margrethe returned to the bedroom, once again baring her teeth at him, with her mouth covered in remnants of egg yolk.
Suddenly, the door swung open, and Odette returned after finishing her phone call.
“What’s this?” Odette asked as she held the dog.
Bastian leisurely poured himself another cup of coffee. With most of the household staff dismissed, he now had additional responsibilities to handle on his own,
“Bastian, did you give Meg some food?”
“Well, why don’t you ask the shy lady herself?” Holding his teacup, he responded, subtly avoiding the question.
“Oh my god~Margrethe!” Glaring at the dog in her arms, Odette’s scolding voice pierced through the cozy warmth of the room.
Bastian briefly looked up, exchanging a quick glance with his partner in crime. Odette’s dog couldn’t contain her excitement as she eagerly licked up the remaining egg crumbs, her pink tongue darting in and out.
“I think I lost my brooch in the study that day.”
As Odette approached the entrance of the mansion, she gathered her courage and finally spoke up. Despite her inner tension, she adeptly concealed her emotions, ensuring to raise her voice enough for the nearby staff members to hear.
“May I go and look for it?” she asked.
Bastian furrowed his brow slightly. “Why are you asking me about it?”
Odette calmly replied, “Because it’s your office. I thought it would be best not to enter without permission.” She spoke the words she had rehearsed numerous times with composure.
‘Please.’ As they reached the area beneath the mansion’s staircase, where the car was waiting, Odette fervently prayed.
“Bastian?” Unconsciously, Odette reached out and gripped a corner of his cuff.
“Do as you wish, Odette.”At the foolish mistake Odette had made, Bastian couldn’t help but release a soft laugh. “There is no place in this house that you cannot enter.”
She masked her bewildered feelings behind a bright smile. It appeared that asking in front of numerous onlookers had proven effective. As the naval festival approached, they, as a deeply affectionate couple, needed to present themselves in a manner befitting their reputation.
With a farewell gesture, Odette let go of Bastian’s cuff. In a fleeting moment, Bastian planted a brief kiss on her cheek. It was an affectionate display that momentarily flustered her, but she swiftly regained her composure.
Bastian was a man who meticulously calculated every action, even in the smallest of gestures. It was reasonable to interpret his behavior as a thoughtful response to the attention surrounding them.
Bastian, as usual, hopped into the driver’s seat and embarked on his journey to work. As the car gradually moved away from the entrance, Odette turned around and gracefully made her exit, with the staff members playfully trailing behind her like a parade.
“Ah, I need to stop by the study for a moment. I have to find the brooch.” Odette declared, altering her course and making her way towards the east wing on the second floor, where the study was situated.
“Shall I go check for you?” Dora, the maid, offered reluctantly.
“No, Dora. I’ll take care of it,”
Disregarding the maid’s hesitant assistance, Odette hastened towards the study. The weighty door creaked open, and after entering, it swiftly closed with a decisive click of the lock.