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“How bold of you.”

“Being bold implies that the superior is judging the inferior.
If you accept this contractual marriage, I want us to be equals.”

He stared at me.
At first glance, it was a gaze that seemed to be scrutinizing and observing.

However, seeing his pupils open and close non-stop, even minutely, seemed that he’s immersed in his thoughts.

I waited patiently, not wanting to rush him.

‘You won’t be able to pass up on my healing powers.’

Through the novel, I looked into the pain he’s suffering from the curse.
Even though he didn’t express himself openly, I was certain that the sudden presence of my abilities would make him hope for the better.

Anyone who had an incurable disease or something of the sort around them would know…

…How depressing it was to live with pain that would never end until his last breath.

The suffering that did not go away.
Endless hopelessness.
A sense of despair at the thought that you could only truly feel comfortable when you die.

It would gradually gnaw at his mind and drive him crazy.

I knew exactly how he felt.
I watched my mother succumb to her illness and eventually passed away.
It would be inevitable for any patient to hold on to even the slightest hope that they could get better.
It was better than dying.

Conversely, such people were those who were willing to seize even the tiniest hope.

The Duke of Blois will never let me go that easily.

“Let me add one condition as well.”

Did this mean that if I can accept his terms, he’d agree to this contract marriage?

I nodded my head to ask him to speak.

“Confess about the perfume you wear.”

I furrowed my brows.

Why was he still talking about that?

“Are you serious?”

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“Does it look like I’m joking?”

I stared at him for a while, but in the end, I couldn’t understand his intentions and sighed.

“I don’t use perfume or anything like that.”

He, who had been leaning so far back in his chair, suddenly reached out and grabbed my wrist.

Then pulled me towards him like a torrent without any room for me to resist.

My long hair, which slid forward from behind my shoulder, cascaded down in front of him.

He stroked my hair with his delicate gestures, as if playing a string instrument, and took a deep breath.

“Ha.”

As he breathed out his breath and smiled, his fangs, longer and sharper than ordinary humans, were revealed in front of me.

“Are you still trying to make excuses when my nose is itching from your scent?”

I pulled away from him, but his hold didn’t budge, as if my body was trapped by a strong force.

In an instant, emergency bells rang in my head.

‘I’m gonna get eaten up.’

As I was engulfed in fear, I closed my eyes involuntarily, then he whispered softly.

“Did you intend to deceive me like this just to cloud my judgment?”

“W-what…”

“Then, you’ve succeeded.
I’m dying to eat you up right now.”

His hot breath grazed my neck with a chilling sensation.

Shivering at the thought of getting bitten, this time he chuckled and let me go.

“If you knew how much I’m holding back, you’d never think of using it again.”

My heart was pounding in surprise at the sudden confession of his intent.

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When I thought that he was only teasing me, I jumped up and expressed my indignation.

“If you keep doing this, you’ll never find out from me about how to undo the curse.”

At that, I turned around and slammed the door as I left his office.

Renée, who was waiting outside, looked at me, startled by the fire in my eyes.

“What happened?”

I reassured Renée so she wouldn’t get worked up.

“It’s going to go our way.
Trust me.”

I already hinted that I knew how to break the curse.
I said everything I wanted to say and left it at that.

I wouldn’t be so easily discouraged by the Duke’s attitude, so I glanced at the door to his office and spoke to Count Larscel’s assistant.

“Let’s go back to the County.”

“Good idea, Milady!”

Count Larscel’s aide rushed out in delight, smirking and saying that he would prepare a carriage.
I couldn’t figure out why, but he seemed to think it was a good thing.

I grabbed Renée and explained.

“Just wait for me here.
I’ll go home and get Nigel.”

“What? How are you going to get out again?”

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“Duke Blois will take care of that.”

I gritted my teeth, recalling his sly smirk.

Let’s get in trouble.

“Try and catch me.”

I muttered in a low voice and got on the carriage engraved with Count Larscel’s emblem.

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