like this or say my name one more time, I’ll thoroughly destroy you.”
“If you’re curious, come again.
I’ll let you know what more you can lose,” I said, injecting each word with venom before turning away.
* * *
After we entered the residence, Theodore and Selphius said they needed to speak privately and left for the study.
Only after dinner time passed did the two come out.
However, only Theodore came to the dining room.
“Where’s the child?”
“He said he wouldn’t eat.
He must’ve been upset that I scolded him.”
Theodore let out an exhausted sigh before sitting across from me.
He looked down at the food, which had gone cold.
“I’m going to send Selphius back to the countryside, so don’t worry about it.”
I looked upwards in the direction of Selphius’ room before asking: “How old is he?”
“He’s turning nine this year.”
“Is he Your Excellency’s child?”
His marriage with his ex-wife had definitely been his first marriage, and rumor had it that he hadn’t spent a night with her.
Not to mention, they divorced within two months of their marriage, so there was no way a child of that age could be theirs.
Theodore, who had been pouring himself some red wine, paused.
“Although it’ll only be for one year, you should know since you’re a Lapileon now.
Selphius is my brother’s child.”
Ah, that’s why they look so similar.
“Then what about your brother? Did he go somewhere? Is that why Your Excellency is taking care of him?”
“My brother is dead.”
I gasped as he spoke calmly, like he was telling the story of some distant acquaintance.
Theodore, spinning the wine glass in his hands, continued.
“My sister-in-law left Selphius when he was very young.
She’s not the type of person to come back, so I adopted him as my heir.”
S-so there was a backstory like that.
The Lapileon family truly had an extraordinarily high number of secrets.
I had never imagined that there would be a story like this.
Reading the atmosphere, I distracted myself with my bowl of soup and stirred it forcefully before standing up.
‘I can’t stand this awkwardness any longer.’
“I’ll go up first.”
I hurriedly rushed to the floor that my bedroom was on and saw a flustered maid holding a tray in front of the room.
As I approached, the maid noticed and lowered her head.
“I-I greet the Grand Duchess.”
“What are you doing here? Whose room is this?”
During the tour of the residence that the butler had given to me earlier, he hadn’t said anything about this room, so I had thought it was empty.
“Ah… this is Young Master Selphius’s bedroom.”
I looked from the tightly-shut door to the food the maid was holding in her hands.
“I brought his dinner, but he isn’t opening the door.”
It seemed that he was very upset.
No wonder, since he got scolded for several hours right after arriving in the capital.
“I’ll give it to him.
You can go down.”
I took the tray from her and pointed my chin at the maid, telling her to go down.
Without a choice, she left.
I kicked the closed door hard with my foot.
However, there was no response from inside.
I kicked the door a bit harder this time.
Then, the door opened furiously.
“Who dares to kick the door like… huh?”
“Hi? Um… Selphius.”
Although I was unsure if it was okay for me to call his name without permission, it would be weird to call him Young Master after I’d already had the wedding.
“You’re at an age where you’re still growing, so you need to eat.”
I pushed the dumbfounded Selphius to the side and stubbornly made my way into the bedroom.
As soon as I put the tray down onto the table, Selphius closed the bedroom door and approached me.
“I didn’t greet you properly earlier, right? I’m Pershati…”
“Are you hurt anywhere?”
Hm? Wasn’t he angry that he got scolded?
Selphius scanned over my body before speaking in a low voice.
“Please let me know beforehand if you feel like you’re about to die.
I’ll call the doctor.”
How would I know if I’m about to die and let you know beforehand?
Is this the innocence of a child?
I smiled gently and patted Selphius’s shoulder.
If I ever feel like I’m dying, I’ll tell you for sure.”
In that instant, Selphius’s pupils widened.
His lips, pale from biting, opened and closed silently and he pulled away quickly.
“D-did you just touch me?”
Huh? Does he not like being touched?
I lowered my hand, which had halted in midair, before tilting my head.
“Were you unhappy that I touched you without permission? I’m sorry.
Then I’ll leave your food here, so eat it…”
“Do you not know anything?”
“The curse of the Lapiileon family.”
How could I not know? If it had been hidden from me, this marriage would be a fraudulent scheme.
“Of course I do.”
“You knew, and you still touched me?”
“Why can’t I?”
Selphius’s face hardened into stone.
In the child’s red eyes, there was no emotion whatsoever.
“You might die.”
Is this concern or a threat?
“If that’s advice, I’ll thank you for the thought.”
“Do you think you have nine lives or something? Do you think His Excellency the Grand Duke will look upon you favorably if you treat me well?”
So it was a threat.
I didn’t know how to respond, so I just smiled.
In response to my silence, Selphius continued.
“You should escape while you still can.”
“If you need money, I’ll give some to you in secret.
Escape from this hell.”
A self-mocking, cynical smile dawned on Selphius’ face.
Didn’t they say he was nine years old? That smile was not one a child should bear.
…Since for unknown reasons, I haven’t died despite drinking blood – as of now.
Although I tried to explain, Selphius wouldn’t listen to me.
He opened the closed bedroom door and gestured for me to leave.
“If you don’t plan on escaping, then don’t pay attention to me again.”
Who would have thought he wasn’t the heir of the Lapileon family.
His actions were exactly like Theodore’s.
Thanks for the advice.”
Clenching my teeth, I left Selphius’ bedroom.
After watching me leave without a word, he muttered under his breath so quietly that I could barely hear.
“I’m sorry for scaring you earlier.”
As soon as the words had left his mouth, he shut the bedroom door with a stone-cold face.
‘Did he just apologize or not?’
I stared at the closed door in front of my eyes.
Then, I heard a maid calling me from behind.
“Your Highness the Grand Duchess, what are you doing?”
“I’m having a staring contest with the door.”
“Pardon? …Doesn’t the door not have eyes?”
“That’s why I lost… Why are you calling me?”
She giggled as if I had said something strange and continued.
“It’s your wedding night.
I’ve prepared your bath, so please follow me.”
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