The sound of footsteps of two people walking through the garden echoes quietly.
Glanding down at her, Hert took Tessa’s hand.
She was walking right next to him.
Her pale face that had turned red was now pale again.
She looked tired.
Was it because of the nightmare she had last night If not…
‘Sir, some of the Madam’s jewelry have been found on the market as stolen goods.’
As Hert recalled a report he had received from his subordinate in the morning, he gripped her hand a bit tighter.
They said that some of Tessa’s trinkets that he had bought the other day had been stolen and sold outside.
At first, Hert sneered, dismissing it as an outrageous thing.
How can Tessa’s trinkets come out as stolen goods It was clear that the subordinate in charge of the investigation had misunderstood.
But when he saw the trinkets his men had retrieved, Hert couldn’t laugh any more.
Most of the trinkets he bought by gathering merchants into the castle were one of a kind and could only be bought at astronomical prices.
He didn’t want to give Tessa something that other people could usually get, so he told them to prepare only the rare stuff.
Although he hadn’t memorized all of Tessa’s accessories, he at least remembered the things he picked for her one time or another.
It had become a habit that he’d pick Tessa’s clothes and accessories every morning, putting them on her himself.
‘…Who sold those
‘It appears to be the Madam’s closest maid.’
‘Are you sure’
‘I shall come back to report it after I’ve confirmed it.’
Hert was speechless when he found out that the person selling the accessories was Tessa’s maid, who could go in and out of the fortress.
Why Hert couldn’t understand.
Was there something that Tessa lacked Why was she trying to sell these If there’s anything she wants, she could just tell him.
Then he would get it for her somehow.
Just keep an eye on it for now.’
He was a bit confused, but Hert was unwilling to conclude that Tessa herself was the one selling those accessories.
Occasionally, some of the employees secretly stole the belongings of the master’s family and sold them off.
There was a high probability that Tessa was unaware that her trinkets had disappeared and were therefore sold outside.
…But what if that’s not the case
Hert stood and looked down at Tessa.
Tessa tilted her head, wondering why he suddenly stopped walking.
He impulsively pulled Tessa into his arms and hugged her without realizing it.
The small, thin body fell into his arms.
Hearing the pounding of the small heartbeat seemed reassuring, but doubts gradually sprouted.
What if Tessa was making money selling jewelry without his knowledge What if she urgently needed money in a short time
It was this part that Hert was worried about.
If this wasn’t the maid robbing her, but something that Tessa herself had done, he didn’t know how to deal with it.
His head was throbbing.
Even as she thought Tessa couldn’t do that, it didn’t convince him and kept stopping him.
She never said anything to him.
He did not know what she’s hiding inside.
She was a woman who had already betrayed him once.
She might betray him twice.
As she’d stand in front of him with that innocent face, when his back was turned, she might already be scheming ways to throw him away.
‘Damn, what am I thinking…’
Hert struggled to dispel any thoughts about him separating from Tessa.
In fact, it was nonsense.
For Tessa to be collecting money without his knowledge.
Everything she needed was here right now.
Moreover, she even made a promise to him.
So, for her to betray him in this situation
She couldn’t have done it unless she was really looking down on him.
‘However… Anyway, if it’s true…’
Then why For what reason Maybe she did not like those accessories She didn’t like them, so she wanted to sell them and have money on hand instead But why was she doing it secretly Using her maid too If she had asked him to buy another one, he would have bought a few or dozens of new ones.
Was she embarrassed Or she was selling what he gave her as a gift because it’s too burdensome Without a word
Following the flow of his thoughts, he was now even bothered about Tessa changing her clothes.
When he saw her changed attire, he had no thoughts because it even looked good on her, but now looking back, he found it strange.
Why did she change into something other than the clothes he had chosen Was it really an excuse that she got something on her clothes Perhaps the pearl earrings she’s wearing now would disappear in a few days.
In fact, if he were to catch the maid—the culprit—and make her confess, then everything would be neatly resolved.
It was clear that it would turn out to be the maid’s robbery and had nothing to do with Tessa.
From what he’d seen so far, Tessa would be unwilling to do something like this.
Because of her long-term abuse, would she sell her jewelry through her maid to save money
But there was something else that made Hert so concerned.
These were the Marchioness’ words, whom he stumbled upon on the way to Tessa.
‘Is Tessa doing alright these days’
‘…What do you mean’
‘It looks like she has a lot of trouble.
Even in class with me, she couldn’t concentrate.
She also skipped class today.
That’s why I asked.’
‘If that’s not it, then I’m glad… Your Excellency, be careful.
I hope you heed the warning I gave last time.’
The Marchioness left such unknown words and disappeared, dragging her wheelchair with her maid.
Because of this, Hert was forced to recall what the Marchioness had said to him the last time.
‘Watch out for Missus Vellodem.’
She’d be locked up in the annex again.
Hert hugged Tessa even tighter.
The sound of her little heart wasn’t loud, but he could hear it beating clearly.
For some unknown reason, he felt like she was going to disappear.
Just like last night when she groaned in her sleep, strangling herself in her nightmares.
Hert strengthened his voice and called out to Tessa.
“There’s nothing wrong with us like this, right”
Please say there’s no problem.
Please, with your own lips, say it’s okay.
Don’t worry about it.
Our relationship will continue like this.
Give me a chance to trust you. Hert closed his eyes, waiting for an answer.
But the answer never came.
“…Why aren’t you answering”
Hert, without realizing it, urged Tessa in a hurry. Why won’t you answer Hert widened his eyes again and pushed Tessa halfway from him and stared at her still.
Tessa hesitated, unable to make eye contact with him.
Before long, a small voice murmured.
“Sorry… I was thinking about something…”
“What were you thinking”
Tessa muttered her words and lowered her head.
Her throat stung as she felt guilty for nothing.
She had to give him the answer he wanted, but her voice didn’t come out.
It was because the question he had just posed kept coming to mind.
‘There’s nothing wrong with us like this, right’
How can there be nothing wrong Tessa was once again gripped by anxiety.
Hert’s question was as if he knew everything.
Did he really know everything So, was he indirectly urging her so she would tell the truth now
Tessa licked her lips and looked down at the ground.
Not knowing what to do, her head seemed to turn blank.
“Tessa, look at me.
Raise your head.”
When Tessa bowed her head for a while and couldn’t even say a word, Hert, unable to see it any longer, grabbed Tessa’s shoulder with both hands and gently shook it.
“I am not trying to force you.
Just take it easy… You can say it.
If you can’t say it right now, you don’t have to.
I’ll take care of everything. Tessa slowly blinked her eyes at Hert’s words.
He opened his mouth again, looking straight into Tessa’s gaze.
“Just… As we promised last time, just don’t betray me.”
“If you betray me one more time,”
“I won’t do… something like that…!”
Then Tessa screamed out unknowingly, as if vomiting her words out quickly.
Hert looked at her with a blank expression for a moment at Tessa’s low cry.
“How can I… do that…”
She has never thought of anything like that before.
It was enough to hurt him seven years ago.
Even then, it wasn’t because she wanted to betray him in the first place.
Although Hert wanted to tell him that even though he thought she had betrayed him in the past, she knew that it would be better if she wouldn’t tell him anything now.
“Yeah, that’s enough.”
Reaching out his hand and holding Tessa’s hand again, Hert muttered with a faint smile.
“All you have to do is not betray me.
Then I can wait for eternity.”
Hert reached out his other hand to Tessa, who looked up blankly at him, and gently caressed her face.
“I’m sorry for suddenly saying something like this.”
“Just sometimes… I feel anxious.”
“For the past seven years, we have been living without knowing anything about each other.
So I guess I don’t know too much about you.
And often things come to mind that I don’t want to think about.
I guess I still can’t bring myself to trust you fully.”
Haa, Hert sighed softly.
Isn’t that still unclear After everything is clear, he can doubt Tessa.
For now, trusting Tessa was a priority.
Wasn’t he determined to do that
“Just like this… Let’s just be like this…”
At that moment.
Tessa mustered up the courage to put her hand on his, which was wrapped around her cheek, and clasped it.
And then, she struggled to squeeze her voice out and managed to get the words that wouldn’t come out.
Tessa felt her stomach churn.
It was the first time she had said this to him frankly.
She looked at Hert, looking like she was about to cry.
I know I shouldn’t do this…”
“…Can I, be… greedy”