Prologue: A Lonely First Night
“I married you because it’s convenient for me.”
During the first night after my wedding, which I was supposed to spend with him, I—Liliana Catherine de Alwin—received such words on top of the bed.
That day, a maid who had just been introduced to me helped me into nightwear made of thin fabric that would emphasize the curves and skin of my body. I was half-crying with shame, confusion, and fear. With the gown that had just been given to me, I waited on top of the bed. As if to follow the words told, I looked up towards the man who had just become my husband.
Slender and tall. Well-proportioned and masculine body. Beautiful amber hair and sleek, double eyelids eyes were bright blue. His face was both manly and good-looking, to the point it felt unreal. The dim room, which relied solely on the light of the shaded lamp, only highlighted the shadow of his face. However, the hint of coldness mixed within those features chilled me.
The person who had just become my husband—William Ignatius de Rutherford—the Marquis of Springfield, was hailed as the hero of war five years ago.
My husband stood before me with a cold expression on his beautiful face.
He was still clad in his knight attire. Not even his tie had been loosened. It was difficult to say whether or not he would retire for the day.
Afraid of my husband’s cold expression and the aura he exuded, I made myself as small as possible—as if to disappear from his vision.
“Don’t cry. I hate crying women.”
A terribly disgusted voice came down from above, probably because he thought I was weeping. In turn, I could feel myself shrinking even further. My husband found my desire to vanish from there irritating, thus clicking his tongue.
I was a 15-years-old who had just experienced her coming of age. Meanwhile, my husband was 25-years-old. We had a ten years gap between us. That day, we had only met twice. First was at the church to sign our engagement, which marked our promise to get married. The second was during the wedding.
The engagement period was only a month, and I wasn’t informed until I signed it.
Even today, I was unaware of anything and was pushed into the carriage to leave the house where I was born and raised. My entire belongings amounted to one bag. Of course, I didn’t know anything about my husband, either.
—Hence, I had wanted to get to know each other little by little.
Regardless, as was the case with my engagement, I hadn’t met my husband until the day of our wedding. There was no kiss of the oath, no lifting of the veil, and since it was held during a non-social period, there were but few attendees. Thus, the ceremonial wedding went on.
Afterward, my husband returned to the waiting room of the church and changed into his knight uniform. Then, he went to work as it was. In the end, I went to the residence of the marquis family by myself with a carriage prepared at the back door.
“I have no intention of having children with you. I’ll pass on the title of the Marquis and the Lutherford family to my brother.”
The words that followed surprised me, and I lifted my face.
My husband stood in front of me with an ice-cold expression. When our eyes met, his well-shaped eyebrows were slightly furrowed, and I immediately looked down.
From an early age, I had known that conceiving an heir and connecting blood were some of the most important duties for aristocrats. Regardless, I had no reason to argue back with him. Thus, I just shut up and listened to my husband’s words.
“Like said at the beginning, I married you for convenience’s sake. In the first place, I didn’t want to get married. But my surroundings keep buzzing around like flies. By chance, I heard the rumors about you—that the count family has a sickly daughter who can’t go out. If I were to get engaged with such a daughter, not only would the engagement period be brief, no one can say a thing about you not attending a social gathering afterward, for you’re frail. At first, your father tried to push his older daughter towards me. Nevertheless, the proceedings went smoothly after I offered to settle Count Eyton’s gambling debt of 30 million rills.”
“T, thirty million rills…?”
As my blood ran cold, I raised my face. My husband was looking down at me with a faint smile.
“According to the Inquiry Committee of the House of Lords, such an amount can only be fully paid once the count’s title, territory, and private properties have been confiscated… Of course, to me, it’s cheap.”
Looking up at his narrowed, blue eyes, I unknowingly put my hand on my left abdomen. His blue eyes chased after my hand and grew sharper.
There was a big and terrifying scar underneath that hand.
“You don’t have to fulfill any of your wifely duties. You don’t have to attend a night ball or a tea party. It was rumored that you’re sick, and not very social… That said, I will not bound you, who’s only fifteen and is young. You can buy as many dresses and jewelry as you want. Just don’t get in my way. If you need anything, speak to either your maid, Elsa, or the butler, Arthur.”
In the end, my husband asked if I understood, and when I saw I nodded, he left the room without wasting any more words. The slamming sound of a door closing was suddenly heard within the room before it disappeared without any hesitation.
I held my knees and buried my face. In an attempt to rein my empty heart, I clenched my lips to suppress my tears.
I didn’t know whether I was sad to be rejected or because my father was saddled with a lot of debt.
Back at the church, where we signed the engagement, my father had inquired my husband about my wound. My father wanted to marry my precious sister, not me, to the Marquis of Springfield, the hero of the Kingdom of Cresion, and an aristocrat.
Towards my father, who said, “Would you be alright with such a lackluster girl, who carried the proof of being a vile monster?” My husband only said, “I prefer that girl.”
When my husband said he wanted to marry me, I was about to cry. A warm sensation that I had never felt before washed upon my heart.
Only now did I realize I was brimming with expectations and hope towards my marriage. I discovered that I was hoping he’d love me, even a little. The warm feelings at that time must have been ‘happiness.’
“…How foolish of you, Liliana, you can’t be loved…”
The words I spat out fell into my empty heart, and fit perfectly.
I should be grateful that I managed to conveniently get married without any hassle. But I wasn’t aware of my father’s tremendous debt. My husband was very kind to have agreed to settle that debt in exchange for marrying someone like me.
Alone within the bedroom, I decided that, at the very least, I should be the trophy wife that my gentle husband wanted.
Such was the event that took place on the first night after I married my husband.