01. The lady on the book
Dullan and her father caught her and pinned her down to the bed. Then, Lord Hare called Carynne to his office separately. The fief lord’s eyes on her felt burdensome—as if she was a child who had been caught doing something wrong. And in truth, that was right.
The wrongdoing she had committed wasn’t just to the degree of breaking a flowerpot or anything similar, but the act of stabbing someone with a knife.
‘What should I say?’
Carynne felt burdened by the fief lord’s eyes. Should she have insisted that it was a ‘conversation involving no clothes’ with Dullan? She might have succeeded with that assertion. However, Carynne had a knife in her hands, and a gun had rolled down from her skirt back then. It would be a bit too much to say that it was a mundane conversation between a future married couple.
The fief lord looked at Carynne. Heavy silence stretched between them in the office.
“It’s been a long time since the two of us talked like this.”
“…Yes, it is.”
However, the fief lord couldn’t speak easily either. More silence ensued.
In the end, it was Carynne who started talking again.
“I’m sorry. I won’t fight like that with Dullan Roid again from now on.”
From now on, I’m going to torture and kill him without getting caught.
Ah, no no. She needed to get an answer. Carynne corrected the order of things in her head.
Seeing as she had failed, it seemed impossible to make a move in 「 this iteration 」. Then, she’d have to be patient for a little longer. When would be the best time to call Dullan?
Should she take him to the woods or somewhere else, not within the manor? Or, should she try doing it at the cathedral? As expected, she’s going to have to cut off that guy’s prized appendage.
“..I’m really sorry.”
She’s sorry for being caught.
Carynne lowered her eyes. Lord Hare sighed.
“Fortunately, there weren’t any serious injuries. Apologize to him later.”
Whether or not she said sorry, it’s not such a simple matter that could be solved by a mere apology. Even so, Carynne replied reluctantly. She could never be satisfied with just killing Dullan. She could never be satisfied even if she were to hack away at his entire body. If she were to tear him to pieces, she wouldn’t stop until she could get the answer she wanted. She’d see until what point that crafty miscreant would last.
“…Why do you hate Dullan so much? He’s someone dependa… Well, he’s quite alright.”
It’s impossible to call that guy a good husband, even if they were just empty words. Carynne could somehow understand the fief lord now. With a shrug, she replied.
“I already know that he’s my doctor.”
The fief lord was taken aback. Ah, right. She hadn’t yet talked properly with her father in this iteration yet.
Carynne was frustrated. She had to start from scratch yet again.
“Mother said she fell into a book. I thought I was the same.”
Carynne went on to say one thing after another—all the things he couldn’t bring up. She was sick and tired of it, but she had to do it eventually. This was her task. Just as she did with Nancy.
“Do you believe that I live repeated lives, and that Mother was the same?”
“Of course I do.”
But he did not stake his life on that belief.
Nevertheless, Carynne did not intend to question her father anymore.
“Is true love equivalent to pregnancy and childbirth?”
“I don’t believe so, no.”
“If not, then for people like me and Mother, is it the belief that everything’s going to be okay after starting a family?”
Do you believe that having a normal family will solve everything? Are you that naïve?
Lord Hare looked at his daughter. He got up from his seat and took Carynne’s hand.
“I always carry that belief with me. I believe that, in the end, you will fall in love and be happy.”
“I don’t think Dullan is the true love that will solve my problem.”
His belief was not to the point of risking his life.
Carynne couldn’t understand herself—why did she keep trying to lay blame on her father? Perhaps Catherine didn’t love Lord Hare. Perhaps she just found the right man to get her pregnant.
“Then what is the point?”
The question brought more shock to her mother’s face rather than her own.
“Though not all of them, my memories are coming back little by little.”
“…That must be why you’re in shock.”
No, that was a small thing. Rather than herself, it looked like her father was the one who’s more shocked.
Father, it’s all over once I get pregnant and give birth to a baby. But I’ve heard that I’m barren. So, I’m going to live this repetitive life forever.
But isn’t it strange? What if Dullan, the man next to me who said he’ll help me, is the one who has made me infertile? Are you not suspicious?
Carynne swallowed all the questions she couldn’t ask. She didn’t know how much she could tell Lord Hare. Even if she were to say everything, how far would he go to help her?
“Do you believe me when I say that I’ve lived repeated lives?”
“…I believe you.”
Letting out a deep sigh, the fief lord touched his forehead.
“You have not liked Dullan very much ever since you were a child.”
“Yes. It had gotten to a point that you locked him in a room where you had let the hounds loose.”
Despite what he said, there was a slight smile on the fief lord’s lips.
“I can see that you still dislike Dullan. I’ll dissolve the engagement as if it never happened.”
“Let’s slowly find you a suitable groom.”
Before she knew it, time passed once again.
In this iteration, this was how her break-up with Dullan would go.
“Let me tell Dullan about it.”
“…Yes,” Carynne answered.
Documents were piled up like hills on the fief lord’s office desk. Carynne looked at the papers and thought about the time ahead that she’d have to repeat. Isella and Verdic would come again.
She’d meet Isella, and the estate would fall into Verdic’s hands. Such a year would be repeated once more.
She was so tired of it. She just wanted to get an answer as soon as she could, even if she had to die several times in the beginning. Expediency didn’t seem to prove fruitful.
Yet again, time marched on.
In this iteration, Carynne eventually did not get an answer from Dullan.
Then, what should she do with Isella this time? Were they supposed to be friends? Carynne fumbled with her scattered memories. What should she do with Isella?
“Why don’t you go on a trip? You’ve been cooped up at home for too long.”
Carynne’s eyes went wide open. What was her father talking about now?
“With you, Father?”
“It will be difficult for me to come with you because I have a lot of work.”
Then, with whom? Carynne mulled it over.
“Don’t tell me it’s with Dullan…”
“No. In a situation like this, I won’t force you to improve your relationship with him. Just go on a trip and rest. And see new things.”
Ah, now she understood. That’s how it’s going this time. Carynne was convinced. It didn’t happen a lot, but there were times when she stayed in a villa with Isella. It wasn’t bad there either.
“With Miss Isella?”
Carynne recalled the trip she went on, accompanying Isella. She went on that trip as Isella’s maid, and while taking care of the girl, she was persecuted as usual. Was such a routine going to be repeated once again? Isella’s arrival was right around the corner. Would she wear that necklace again this time?
If Nancy was next to her, it would be fun to watch Nancy steal Isella’s necklace. Ah, now that she thought about it, their entourage should have arrived by now. Were they a little late this time?
“Yes. Then, please inform me when we’ll be leaving.”
The fief lord asked with a strange expression.”
“Who is Isella?”
Blankly, Carynne asked back.
Isella. Isella Evans. Her rival. Verdic Evans’s daughter.
Those people will be taking our estate. Father, it’s impossible that you don’t know those people.
Why was her father saying this?
Carynne was a little scared.
She tried to speak urgently, but instead, her voice trembled.
“V-Verdic… I mean, Evans’s daughter.”
Her heart was pounding. Was Isella just a figment of her imagination? Was she actually mentally ill? Was it all just her own delusion, that girl who abhorred her ugly fiancé?
Once again, anxiety held her with a vice grip. This repeated fear and curiosity surged. What if her father would say that there was no such person in the world?
“Ah. That man’s daughter?”
However, the fief lord nodded the moment he heard the surname.
“He did send a letter saying that he’ll come with his daughter… Right, it seems that’s her name. But how did you know it?”
It’s just, she had been with her all this time.
“I just… heard it… by chance.”
As the fief lord saw Carynne’s expression, he decided not to ask anything more.
“She won’t be coming with you. I’ll assign a maid and a coachman to you, so go to a relative’s residence in the meantime.”
Something was off.
Carynne asked again.
“But our household’s financial situation… Isn’t it precarious right now?”
This entire situation was strange. Carynne had never traveled alone before. Their household’s finances were in dire straits. Besides that, women rarely traveled alone. Whenever Carynne went on a trip, she always had Isella next to her. If not her, then either Dullan or Raymond.
“We shouldn’t be able… to afford a solo trip for myself, right?”
Yet the fief lord shook his head. His expression looked bright.
“The business that I was trying to expand has been completely canceled. We’re alright for the time being.”
“Come to think of it, there’s something I’d like you to do for me on your way.”
Isella did not come.
This had never happened in one hundred years.
A huge change was occurring.
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