Chapter 11 – 15 Year Reunion (5)
“Don’t you think you should compensate for that?”
Zachary was silent, like he was at a loss for words. Believing that she had finally landed a decent blow on him, Bianca found her mood lifted to the point where she would have started humming had she been alone. The corners of her eyes curled up in delight.
She had been trembling with nervousness moments ago, yet she now found herself enjoying her conversation with Zachary, as if the few moments prior had all been a lie. Now that the reins were in her control, she was able to speak to him comfortably despite initially finding him terrifying. She had an urge to say more when she saw him looking so distressed and unable to do this or that.
Zachary eventually let out a sigh. It was deep and long, like a sign of a defeat, which led Bianca to feel a sense of triumph. Although the mending of their relationship was moving at a snail’s pace, Bianca felt like she was holding the upper hand.
“If I have to be honest, I’m confused as to why you’re being like this all of a sudden.”
Indeed. It was expected that Zachary would be taken aback. If Bianca hadn’t traveled back in time, something like this never would have occurred. It would certainly come as a surprise if your wife, who normally never showed her face, suddenly appeared and started talking about an heir. He wasn’t given any time to the settle the matter of his mistress either.
“I don’t mind if you have a mistress. That’s fine. I won’t tell you to end things with her. I could even take her under me,” Bianca said, putting on an air of consideration.
“You don’t have to pretend. I’m not that naive.”
After marrying a 7-year-old bride at the age of 20, Zachary had essentially been living the past ten years in solitary. It was unlikely that he wouldn’t have taken in a mistress secretly all those years. It wasn’t just the maids who believed that, but everyone in the Arno castle who were aware of what Zachary and Bianca’s relationship was like. It was to the extent where even Bianca’s father, Count Blanchefort, had indirectly hinted to her to be prepared for.
Bianca herself thought it was only natural for him to have a mistress as well. It wasn’t like Zachary was infertile. No, he was a healthy, hot-blooded male. Simply recalling just how unyielding he had been on the bed with her in the past, she couldn’t imagine him not having a mistress.
Wasn’t she being rather generous in offering to take in his mistress?! Zachary treated her like a child, but that was only because he was unaware that she was a changed woman now. Bianca looked up at him nonchalantly.
But Zachary was angry. He didn’t make a sound or use his first, but the emotion painted over his features was clearly that of rage.
He let out an exasperated sigh, like he had no more reason to continue listening. He looked like he could spit out curses at any moment, eyes sharp and piercing.
It was almost as if Bianca had hit his weakness.
Was his pride hurt from getting found out about having a mistress? How long was he planning on keeping her a secret?
In hindsight, seeing as how it had never been revealed even after his death, Zachary must be planning to continue hiding her away to the very end. It was likely he wanted to keep her a secret for as long as he could. It was also possible that he felt ashamed after his wife brought it out in the open.
But if he were to think of it level-headedly, he should realize that he would benefit from Bianca’s proposal too. He would receive his heir while also being able to go about with his mistress out in the open, no longer having to keep her a secret.
For Bianca, regardless if Zachary truly had a mistress or not, all that mattered was having his heir. As such, she believed that he would concede with just a little more persuasion. Right as she was about to continue, Zachary shook his head and ended the conversation.
“I don’t know who babbled such nonsense to you, but we can talk about an heir some other time. It’s completely useless to talk about right now.”
“Vincent! Kindly escort Bianca to her room!” Zachary barked, ignoring Bianca.
The door opened immediately and Vincent strode in, like he had been waiting right behind the door the entire time. Though it was only a single person who entered the room, their entrance caused the tide to start turning in Zachary’s favor and overturn Bianca’s upperhand.
Bianca frowned, though she wasn’t the only one. Vincent’s brows pinched together as well once he picked up on the mood of the room.
The cool-headed count had raised his voice, going so far as to order Vincent to escort the madam out. Vincent wondered what in the world the enigmatic countess could’ve done to warrant such a reaction. She must’ve goaded Zachary with horrible words. Clicking his tongue, Vincent took a step towards Bianca. Since his lord had told him to escort her out courteously, he couldn’t forcibly drag her out.
Minding his manners, Vincent bowed his head and said, “Madam, please follow me.”
However, Bianca paid him no heed, shooting daggers at Zachary instead.
So, you’re going to come out like this because you don’t want to talk?
Bianca suppressed her anger and spoke as calmly as possibly to appear like she was level-headed and not worked up.
“It’s not useless. It’s a matter of most importance for the Arno family, is it not?”
For the Arno family! Vincent’s eyes widened as soon as he heard those words. He never imagined that such words would ever leave Bianca’s lips. Ah, he may have dreamed of such a thing back when Bianca had first arrived at the castle 10 years ago, but he had thrown away all expectations after seeing her subsequent behavior.
Hm. What could she be referring to, saying it’s for the Arno family? Reducing her spending?
Vincent snorted. That was how little to no expectations he held of her.
Instead of responding to Bianca, Zachary called out to Vincent who was hesitating.
His unhurried but firm voice was low and reverberated throughout the room. Like the loyal attendant he was, Vincent urged Bianca again as soon as his name left his lord’s lips.
“This way, madam.”
Though he hadn’t tried to take her away with force, that was only temporary. If Bianca continued to resist even a little, then it was possible that she may end up being carried away disgracefully. It was horrific just to imagine. Bianca crumpled the fabric of her dress.
Zachary was pretending like he didn’t even hear her talk of having an heir. She had mustered the courage to stand before him like this, so she grew dispirited and felt her face grow hot from seeing it all be in vain. She bit her lip. Her pride was hurt.
But what fanned the flame of her anger was that this wouldn’t be the end. She needed to become pregnant with his child as soon as possible. Even if she were to back away now, she would need to approach him again, ultimately going through this ordeal and being dismissed over and over.
Did things really need to be taken this far? Bianca chewed her lip. She thought her tremendous pride had already been trampled by Fernand and completely scattered like sand when she had been chased away to the convent, but it seemed her pride had been revived when she returned back in time. There was no other explanation as to why her chest felt so feverish. It felt like she had a flame in place of a heart in her ribcage.
She failed to remember keeping a grip on her clothes, causing the white fox cape to fall off her shoulders. It was only when she felt the weight getting caught on her elbows that Bianca realized how disheveled she must appear. She released a sigh, about to straighten the cape, but Zachary was faster.
His outstretched hand was carefully raising the cape that was hanging off her arms. Her fox cape felt like it had become the wings of a cicada. Before long, the soft and smooth fur was placed back on her shoulders. The warmth of his hands hadn’t reached her in the slightest during the entire exchange. Though his hands had quickly left, their presence could still be felt like a weight on her shoulders.
Bianca didn’t understand why he was being like this to her all of a sudden. To think he’d suddenly engage in an act of kindness, what could it mean? Her mind was thrown into a state of confusion.
“It seems you’ve bought a new coat,” Zachary commented. His voice was cool and composed, like nothing out of the ordinary had occurred, the opposite of Bianca whose mind was muddled over the possible intentions of his earlier actions.
“It suits you.”
His face was the same as when she had first seen him; it was calm, composed, and unreadable, like their earlier conversation had meant nothing to him.
“Thank you for coming out to welcome me back,” he said. It served as a dismissal. His dark eyes peered down at her indifferently, like all the swaying fragments of emotion had been swept away by a wave.
It was only then that Bianca realized she lost. She had believed she would be able to seize the reins of their relationship once she brought up the talk of a mistress, and thought she had indeed grabbed control the moment she saw him react.
However, she now realized she never held it in her hands in the first place. Clearly it had all been Zachary’s ploy to lead her into thinking that she had the upper hand and making her put on airs to figure out her intentions. Was appearing like he was taken aback earlier an act as well? Bianca’s face fell.
Without so much as a goodbye, Bianca staggered out of the room. Vincent followed behind her, the door closing behind him.
The door that closed with a dull sound was as firm as the rift that existed between Zachary and Bianca.
T/N: Sorry for the lull in updates. For those of you not in our discord, basically I went on a trip for a week and then ended up getting sick shortly after. I was able to get today’s chapter out due to already having most of it done before I left for my trip. As for when the next chapter will be, I’m not sure but I will be taking the next week off to focus on recovering. Hoping to be back with a regular schedule after that.
I’ll be posting any changes or updates to status on discord, so feel free to join if you want to stay up to date (but make sure to grab the novel role): https://discord.com/invite/woopread