as usually deserted, so there really were no streetlights on.
I stood by the white cement roadside and changed my flashlight’s batteries.
Without a flashlight, the surroundings were so dark that I could have easily rolled down the rice fields three meters below.
But then, my vision was blinded as if the night sky had suddenly become broad daylight.
A truck, which had swerved away from the highway, sped down the pedestrian road without any sign of slowing down.
Alarmed, the driver peered down and met eyes with me.
The scene played out in slow motion.
I felt an incomparable impact meeting my body, and then my eyes immediately went dark.
At that moment.
Some ways away, the sound of several cats crying was accompanied by the halted staccato of a ticking clock, which eventually stopped.
Those were the cries of my cats.
‘Where are you? Where—’
Basking in a brilliant light, I floundered about searching for them, believing that a miracle happened and they returned to me alive.
‘Then, I woke up in this world.’
In the body of a novel’s supporting character named Rowaine Larscel.
Although I was confused about what the hell happened to me, I knew I was definitely inside a novel.
‘…Am I dead?’
But, why did I open my eyes as a character in the novel I have read before?
And why a villainess of all people?
‘The last thing I heard, those cries… it was only a hallucination.’
Perhaps it was because I myself had died, so only then I was able to hear the voices of my departed cats.
Or maybe I was stuck in an imaginary world in my head and, like a limp vegetable, I had no ability to wake up on my own.
I had many questions, but no answers.
Even so, this must be a world where everything was real, not just a dream or a fantasy.
After a moment of confusion, I had no choice but to accept this situation.
If I stay still without doing anything, according to the plot of the novel, I would be left helpless to the crisis of becoming the old Emperor’s concubine…
I was meant to become a mistress of an old man who already had a grown-up child.
And while that’s terrible in its own right, I would also have to deal with internal politics within the Imperial Palace.
A lot of people were fated to die in the process.
In the novel, Rowaine stayed as the old Emperor’s concubine for quite some time, and in the end, she, too, was unable to avoid death.
In that case, I didn’t have the confidence to pull off acting like Rowaine and gaining the emperor’s love to endure the deadly conflicts within the Palace tactfully.
And at that, I forced myself to adapt to this world and somehow forge a plan for a better future.
In the end, the plan I thought of was a contractual marriage with the Duke of Blois, who was known to be the ultimate villain of the novel.
When I woke up in this world, Renée hadn’t been married off to the Duke yet.
In the few days I had to adjust here, I observed and deliberated the Duke and Renée’s marriage.
I then decided to switch places with Renée.
This was for me to escape the flow of the novel using the Duke of Blois.
‘Have we already arrived?’
As the carriage stopped, I peeked out the curtain and, with a tense face, I swallowed to moisten my dry throat.
It was because I felt weighed down by the prominence of this overwhelmingly large mansion.
The coachman bellowed, “We’ve arrived!”
The carriage door opened and a man, who introduced himself as a butler, greeted me.
When I looked around, I couldn’t see anyone who might have been the groom who would come to pick up his bride.
“I shall guide you.”
Indifferently, the butler ushered me to the Duke’s office with a polite yet rigid demeanor.
As the door opened, I slowly went inside and saw a man, who was holding a pen and resting his chin on the desk with a drowsy face.
He slowly raised his head.
His emerald eyes, glistening with a translucent luster, caught my attention at once.
The wide almond-shaped eyes, with their ends raised, seemed as though they were meticulously painted on his features.
He had exceptionally large pupils.
It felt as though my soul was being possessed.
For a moment, I was mesmerized by the beautiful color of his sharp gaze, but I finally came to my senses as I took a step closer to him.
The pupils, which were narrowed up until a while ago due to the glare of the sunlight, widened as he looked towards my direction as I walked into a relatively dark spot.
His apathetic gaze made me feel self conscious, and I was suddenly embarrassed by my appearance in this wedding dress.
Even though I was informed that the Duke would not hold a ceremony, the dress I was wearing meticulously picked down to the right color, so no one would find any faults as the bride would greet the groom for the first time.
Rowaine’s father, Count Larscel, seemed to have expressed his desire to have dinner with the Duke, but the latter had no intention of showing that much sincerity.
“It would be good to know each other’s faces, right?” he muttered indifferently as he stood up and approached me.
Surprisingly, he moved without making a sound.
His steps were more graceful and refined than I would have imagined, his stature taller than I thought.
As he stood below a colorful lamp powered by magic, his grey hair shined with a blue sheen.
I took a calming breath and eyed the end of the veil that he was slowly removing.
He stared at me with languid eyes.
I returned his gaze, but slowly shut my eyes once, twice, like a habit.
It was a cat’s eye greeting.
I’m not a danger to you.
I do not hold any malice.
…was the meaning of those blinks.
Then, his eyebrows furrowed as if he was seeing something interesting.
The corners of his lips twisted up.
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“I haven’t even taken off your veil yet, but are you already seducing me?”
Mortified, I flapped my lips like a goldfish when I meant to say my name to introduce myself, yet I was rendered speechless by a rush of embarrassment.
In the meantime, he put his hand on my shoulder.
“But then again, you’re not Renée Larscel, are you?
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