“Takan, what’s wrong?”
Someone who recognized Takan greeted him, but he didn’t react, his expression bored.
Relying on a lamp to tread through the darkness, Takan stopped walking only after reaching a secluded area–a corner with worn wooden tables and chairs.
He sat on the moldy chair and looked around.
He was at a bar frequented by wanderers who lived on the cliffs and indulged in liquor and drugs.
The place was dark, be it night or day.
Mercenaries usually gathered together at this bar and swore to their hearts’ content.
It was also a place where Takan often stopped after work before losing his sister.
So yes, this level was right for him.
Takan leaned against the wall and stretched lazily, his gaze staring blankly at the darkness.
After a while, someone placed a cracked pint glass on the table.
“Takan, long time no see.
I heard you came back from a vacation?”
A tall man–the owner of the bar, Takan thought–sat across from him.
He laughed in a husky voice, but Takan only looked dryly at the glass.
Takan never dreamed that he would return to the village on the outskirts where he and his sister lived.
It felt like it was only yesterday when he bid goodbye to the village and walked away, but years had already passed.
Takan lowered his gaze and slowly scanned his attire.
Today, he took off his monocle.
His hair, which had always been neatly brushed back, was also ruffled, and he didn’t wear shiny shoes.
And today, he didn’t have to use honorifics or lower his head to someone.
After leaving the mansion, he was able to return to the old Takan.
He was his original self – promiscuous, foul-mouthed, and violent to anyone who made eye contact with him.
Still, Takan wondered why he couldn’t go back.
No, he knew.
Closing his eyes, Takan remembered hearing Aelle cry.
The news of the pregnancy was supposed to be a blessing, yet there she was, swallowing her sobs and shedding tears.
Fortunately, he was the only one left outside the bedroom door after Laura escorted the doctor.
It was such a sad and pitiful sob that they would have definitely sympathized with her if another employee had heard it.
That day, Takan clenched his fists as he stared at the door.
Then, after a while, Kyle walked out of the bedroom.
‘Isn’t that woman pitiful?’
‘Lower your voice.’
‘Hari, that woman, came and walked around the mansion pretending to be the Mistress of the house, so the hierarchy was shaken.
And yet she didn’t even complain to you.’
‘Do you really think that woman married you for ulterior reasons?’
‘It’s none of your business, Takan.’
He was right.
He didn’t care about noblewomen’s circumstances, so he’d usually ignore them, but for some reason, Takan couldn’t do that to her.
This was because Ael’s appearance overlapped with his younger sister, who sometimes appeared like an afterimage.
Was that why? Even though Kyle stared suspiciously at him, he couldn’t resist.
It was all so confusing.
Kyle, he looked confused, too.
‘We’ll talk later.’
Even after Kyle disappeared, Takan stood guard outside the bedroom.
She might not have noticed, but Takan always watched her staring out the window, all alone.
Without getting tired, she waited and waited for Kyle, guarding the window like an old tree rooted to the ground.
One day, he spotted her through a gap in the open study door.
With her hands clasped together tightly by her chest, she prayed for her child and Kyle until the sunset fell over her.
Even though Aelle’s appearance overlapped with his sister, who always waited for him, her gaze was always on Kyle.
At that sight, the illusion would shatter.
Aelle wasn’t his sister, nor was she waiting for him, but for some reason, his gaze was drawn to her.
It was easy to admit he was crazy because he was.
The man sitting across from him tapped Takan on the shoulder, shaking him out of his stupor.
As Takan slowly opened his eyes, the sunset disappeared, and darkness came.
“If you’re going to sleep, go to the room and sleep!”
The man chuckled, but Tarkan merely stared at the glass of wine dryly.
He put his hand in his pants pocket and pulled out his handkerchief.
He carefully caressed the area embroidered with her name.
The more he touched it, the more it felt like it was engraved in his heart, and the more he felt confused.
Takan suddenly remembered her waiting for Kyle.
‘I’m sure you’re waiting today as well.’
For someone who won’t even come back.
Someone who never thanked her for waiting.
Even though Takan knew he wasn’t the one she was waiting for, he had no choice but to move.
He just didn’t want to leave her alone.
When Takan got up from his seat, the man in front of him blinked and scratched his hair.
“Are you going to sleep?”
“I have to go back.”
“What?” The man’s eyes widened.
He then turned to someone and pointed his finger at Takan.
“Demi! Did Takan get a job, and his sense of humor improve? Or has he gone mad?”
“Takan’s always been crazy!” A playful voice answered.
The man burst into laughter and turned back to Taran.
However, Taran, who would usually growl back, had no response.
The man scratched his head.
Come to think of it, it seemed that the atmosphere around Takan had changed since the last time he saw him.
While the man pondered on the change, Takan left and walked toward the door.
The man shouted, “Takan, what’s wrong?”
Takan stopped in his tracks.
“Someone is waiting.”
“Someone’s waiting for you?” The man asked in surprise.
He was one of the people who knew Takan well.
‘His sister is dead, and he’s alone.’
After that, Takan let the noise in the bar wash away his thoughts.
A moment later, he opened the door, a bright light seeping in and swallowing him whole.
By the time the bar owner came to his senses, Takan had already disappeared.
He stared blankly at the place where Takan had left.
“No one’s waiting for you, so why are you leaving?”
After finishing my lunch, I took a walk in the garden and headed to the flower bed.
Seeing Laura staring at the flower bed reminded me of the day Hari visited the mansion.
In my own stubbornness and will to protect myself, I had spent a lot of free time walking around the garden with my back to the flower bed, doing my best not to look at it.
Now that Hari’s gone, I wanted to prove to myself that I didn’t care anymore.
At that moment, I inadvertently turned to the shadow cast on the flower bed.
“What are you doing here?”
Kyle, who had just returned to the mansion, took off his gloves and approached me leisurely.
His eyes gazed at the flower bed with boredom.
“You’re back.” I bowed, my gaze on the floor heading to the flower bed.
Soon after, I slowly raised my head to the shadow.
“I was taking a walk.
I think the wind is getting stronger–.”
I stopped and stared blankly at him.
At this point, I knew my voice was just white noise for him.
All his attention wasn’t on me but on the flower bed where the traces of Hari were left.
I smiled bitterly at seeing his gray eyes darken and immersed in reminiscence.
He was probably thinking of her.
The stubbornness and will to protect myself have all disappeared.
I’ve already gotten used to the feeling of falling into the mad with a single glance of his eyes.
It’s not that she didn’t know that Kyle loved Hari, but after becoming pregnant, my jealousy, shame, and sadness doubled.
“I’ll go in first,” I spoke words I knew he couldn’t hear.
Trying to suppress my emotions, I grabbed the hem of my dress and turned back.
Suddenly, Kyle’s low voice rang.
“Are you concerned about the flowerbed?”
“The flowerbed?” I turned around and focused on his voice.
Soon after, Kyle took his eyes off the flower bed and looked at me.
“Do whatever you want.”
“I no longer need it.”
It was a lonely and gloomy voice as if the rain was chasing after it.
Even though this was what I’d hoped for even before marriage, my whole body hardened like a stone when I saw him hurt.
I couldn’t even imagine how it would feel to Kyle, who lost his beloved woman and close friend.
Then Kyle walked past me.
“Your Grace.” I reflexively reached out and grabbed the hem of his robe.
Kyle stopped walking and looked at me.
It was an impulsive act that came out of not wanting to see him turn lonely.
“What are you doing?”
“T-that’s…” I stammered.
It must have been frustrating, but he patiently waited for me to speak.
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