lly was who held the most power in this household.

I deliberately imitated Rowaine’s behavior and provoked Count Larscel without hesitation.

“Sure, go ahead.
Hit me.
The day I become the Emperor’s mistress just as you wish, I will not let this slide.”

“What?!”

At that moment, Count Larscel’s eyes flashed with astonishment, and he backed away, staggering.
It was only after he moved away that I relaxed.
I realized that my cheeks were tingling, probably red with rage.

“You dare hold a grudge against your father? Who was it that worked so hard to make the Emperor take notice of you?!”

I straightened my posture and stared at him with a firm gaze.

“You’ll see.
You’ll regret touching me.”

“This wench!”

Count Larscel’s hand raised high, and I shut my eyes without a hint of resistance.

However, nothing happened because the Countess clung onto his arm and held him back.

“Honey, no! If His Majesty finds out about this, you’ll be in big trouble!”

The mention of His Majesty seemed to have snapped Count Larscel back to his senses.
He lowered his arm, which he had lifted so vigorously, and tried to catch his breath.

“You! Go up to your room right now!”

I looked at him silently, before lifting my hand and hitting my own cheek.
The resounding clack echoed around us.

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Everyone who was watching widened their eyes in surprise, as if they had seen something truly astounding.

“What are you…!”

Nonetheless, I did not stop and I slapped my cheek two more times.
The knights finally came to restrain me when Count Larscel’s ordered it, terrified by my actions.

“Why are you doing this, Rowaine! You’re out of your mind!”

To be fair, Count Larscel’s bewildered face was pretty hilarious.

I couldn’t help but laugh at the sight of him stomping his feet, not knowing what to do, as he saw the quickly forming bruise on my face.

Wasn’t it a pity that a supposedly high-priced product suddenly got a few scratches?

To this man, his daughters must have been nothing more than mere commodities.

“If His Majesty the Emperor finds out about this…!”

The Count looked at my face and trembled.

I snorted.

“He’ll throw me out because he’ll think I’m crazy, or maybe he’ll throw me out because I’m not pretty anymore.
If you don’t want that to happen, you should work hard before your vassals come and see me like this.”

I paused for a moment and smiled at him.

“Oh, but before that, wouldn’t His Majesty think that I’d been beaten by Father?”

“Nonsense.
Who would believe that when you’re crazy enough to do this?”

“How would I know? His Majesty would believe anything I say.
All I have in my head are memories of that father hitting me and making this happen.”

At that, the Count opened his mouth wide as his eyes shook.

“You’re out of your mind.
You’ve really gone crazy.”

“Right.
I’m nuts.
So, if you use violence against me one more time, I won’t let you go.”

I shook off the dazed knights, adjusted my clothes, and said one last thing to the Count.

“I will sleep and think about whether or not to let my father off the hook, so please behave well.”

With that, I finally went up to my room with a spring to my step.

In my experience, families who treated their daughters this way needed to experience a taste of a crazy bitch’s rampage at least once.

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It was only then that they’d realized that their daughter was an actual person—a fellow human being.

Of course, knowing about it and actually comprehending this were two completely separate things.

‘All right.
Now, he won’t be able to take me to the Emperor until my face is better.’

In fact, that’s exactly why I slapped my face like crazy.

I bought myself some time.
Now, all I needed was the Duke to come on time.

***

The next morning, I opened my eyes, rubbing my bruised cheeks.
I glanced in the mirror and I could see my cheeks were swollen.

‘I look terrible.’

Still, this was what I wanted.
The fact that it looked horrible meant that Count Larscel would try to hide me from the Emperor until I was fully healed.

The first thing I did after getting ready for the day was to sneak out to look for Nigel.

He was with the other knights in the training hall, looking a little dazed.

Spotting my target, I stood still until he found me, and when his weak gaze turned to me, I beckoned him secretly.

“You called, Milady?”

Even if he had a good personality and got along well with others, he really still wasn’t a good enough man, no matter how I looked at it.
Nevertheless, the deep longing he had for his lover was clear in his eyes.

I peered at his face to see if he was a man I could entrust Renée with for a while, but I soon gave up.

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Reading people was exactly like looking into water.
You could see only what you could see, but the view from within would be entirely different.
There was a proverb like that, but in any case, there must be a reason why Renée chose him.

“Do you love Renée?”

“….!”

Nigel’s eyes, which had been wary, opened wide.
Perhaps because he didn’t clearly understand my intentions, he averted his gaze as if he was weighing his options.
But before long, he suddenly, desperately hung on to me.

“I was told that she had gone to the Duke of Blois.
Where is she right now?”

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