The ride in the horse-drawn carriage took several hours, with stops along the way. The Duke of Cranval’s residence was one of the largest and most luxurious of the noble mansions.
A large linden tree was planted beside the entrance. Linden trees bloomed yellow flowers this time of year in the early summer. The flowers spread a slightly sweet aroma.
“If I were to draw this tree, where should I put the easel?”
Lydia stepped out of the carriage while thinking about it. The door opened from the inside, as she had anticipated.
“Come, Lady Lydia.”
The most beautiful person Lydia had met in her eighteen years of life, Brad, reached out with beautiful movements.
He’s… he’s like a prince…
After only a few hours of travel, she was still getting used to the young man’s presence. Considering her age, it was no wonder that Lydia’s heart was racing. Lydia blushed slightly and took his hand.
Brad lead her into the Duke’s mansion. Servants had lined up in the large entrance hall to greet them.
“Welcome home, young master.”
Stepping forward from among them was an elderly gentleman around sixty years old. Judging from his black tailcoat and demeanor, this person was probably this family’s butler.
“I’m home… Where’s my father?”
“He is in the study.”
Brad confirmed Isaac’s whereabouts and turned to Lydia.
“Lady Lydia, this is Scholes, the Duke’s butler. If you have any questions, please ask him or me.”
After being introduced, Scholes looked at Lydia intently.
“We will try to ensure that Lady Lydia has a delightful time while here.”
He showed his respect to Lydia by greeting her with a light hand on his chest.
“Thank you for your courtesy. I will be here for a few days. In the meantime, thank you very much.”
“A-a few days!? Ahem! C-certainly… Very well.”
Lydia’s words, which could be interpreted as her unwillingness to stay longer, puzzled Scholes for a moment.
“The young lady was only told of her relationship with her father a few hours ago,” Brad added an unnecessary supplement with a troubled expression, so Scholes seemed convinced.
What a shame, huh? I won’t act as the Duke thinks I will.
Lydia rebelled in her mind against Brad, who seemed to be trying to say that time would solve the problem. Still, first, she would have to see her father.
Lydia felt her heart rate rise as she walked down the hallway to her father’s study. Whatever the reason, Lydia was willing to assume that her father was evil, for her pregnant mother could not stay where she had been living.
Even if her mother intended to stay away from her lover, the idea that her father was wrong to let her do such a thing remained unchanged.
Still, how much better would it be if there were a good reason that Lydia could not even imagine? Everything was assumed, and no one knew if the father would welcome the daughter’s presence. Although she should hate her father, there was a secret expectation in Lydia.
The room where her father waited was on the mansion’s second floor. When they halted before the room, Brad knocked.
“Father. I am back.”
An immediate reply was received. Lydia finally had her first meeting with her father, a person looking back at the linden tree from the window. A gentleman with the same honey blonde hair as Lydia and violet eyes.
Thirty-nine years old, according to the information Brad had given in advance, he had a light hair color but looked sharp and somewhat cold. He looked so young and neat that it was hard to imagine he had a daughter like Lydia. However, Lydia could not read any emotion from his violet eyes.
It’s true, the same color as my eyes…
Lydia was unsure how her mother came to have a relationship with the gentleman before her, conceive a child, and then leave him. Still, Lydia had difficulty denying the blood connection between father and daughter.
“I am Isaac Cranval… your father.”
According to Brad, the only reason he hadn’t seen Lydia before was because he didn’t want to ruin his daughter’s life. However, Lydia didn’t think that Isaac, who wasn’t hugging her or asking for a handshake and just standing by the window, cared so much for his daughter.
Lydia abolished her futile expectations at this moment.
“Nice to meet you, Duke. I am Lydia. “
Lydia dared to call him by his title. At last, Isaac’s expression moved slightly. His eyebrows twitched, and he sighed a little. He expressed his emotions only for a moment and soon returned to an icy expression.
“It is a bit sudden, but I officially decided to take you in as my daughter.”
“Decided to take me in?”
It was merely a clerical term to convey a non-negotiable decision.
“Yes, that’s right… I want you to be educated so that you will not be ashamed to be a duke’s daughter.”
“Do I have a choice in the matter?”
“You can’t be allowed to live in the town. You are the only direct descendant of my family. You’ll understand that well in the future. “
“A direct descendant, is it? In other words, you abandoned my mother but then took me back because you don’t have a successor!?” Lydia was so angry that she stopped using honorifics.
The response was quick, without even a slight hesitation.
“You won’t even try to make up an excuse!?”
“It is true that your mother passed away fleetingly because I was so shallow. That is precisely why I am obligated to protect you.”
“Obligated? Ah, is that right!?”
What was in her father was not love for his daughter but a sense of duty. Gradually, even the words “stopped expecting” became inappropriate.
Lydia was now determined to resist Isaac. She would never recognize him as her father, and she would return to her grandfather’s house after making Isaac guarantee Lydia’s safety. Thinking everything over, if Lydia were in danger, it was because of her father, who was irresponsible with his child.
It was natural that she should be kept safe, and Lydia was not in a position to pay any price for it.
Even if Lydia would not have been born if Isaac had not existed, that and the fact that she was left alone for nineteen years, including the time she was in her mother’s belly, and the hardships her mother endured, have long canceled each other out. So, she became defiant.
Isaac continued to talk, perhaps oblivious to Lydia’s inner thoughts.
“Furthermore, Brad here will be your fiancé. Get along with him.”
Again, Lydia couldn’t comprehend the words.
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