Chapter 13:

Cecile (II)

Hated by the Evil Lady

Cecile Jade Renand was a dreamer.

As much as she wanted to be an independent lady, she also always dreamed of having the romance of the century. This was all because of the romantic fairy tales and novels she'd read since she was young, she was sure.

She wanted to be courted by a prince charming, someone who was dashing and would treat her like a queen, and live happily ever after.

Obviously, Cecile was aware that reality wouldn’t be so easy and smooth-sailing. That was why she always thrived to be the best version of herself so that she could always keep her standards high.

There were only a few men she deemed worthy of her pursuit, and the best candidates were Crown Prince Kaiser, Duke Siegfried Karron, and Lord Cheshire Nomal. Kaiser was basically way out of her reach and she didn’t like how gloomy and mean he looked. On the other hand, Duke Karron just looked straight up evil at first glance with his sharp red eyes. That was how Cecile came to the conclusion that Cheshire Nomal would be the best option.

Cheshire Nomal was known as the friendliest man in high society, especially as a man of a status as high as himself. He was a gentleman to women and kind to children—he would even participate in volunteer work at various institutions in person. He was exactly what Cecile would dream about as a husband.

Being so kind to women as he was—even if it brought him unsavory rumors as a result—Cecile was sure that he would definitely be a great support to her cause, which was to provide help to women across all ages and status. All those rumors were surely just people who were envious of how kind he was.

It never crossed her mind that she would have to find out that the very man he thought was most ideal was in fact the furthest from it.

The moment she received the documents from her brother, her first reaction was confusion. She had to reread the investigation results, done professionally by the person the Princess hired, several times before it finally sank in.

The investigation included Cheshire’s daily habits, relationships with other people, and even all his dirt that nobody knew happened in the past. It was written in it that apparently, he once became the lover of an older married noblewoman from another country when he was studying abroad a few years ago, not caring that the noblewoman had young children herself.

Cecile’s second reaction was denial. The Cheshire written in this investigation didn’t sound like the Cheshire she knew at all. The Cheshire Nomal she knew was a shy young man. Although somewhat timid, he was an honest man who wouldn’t hesitate to lend a helping hand. She knew that, she’d seen it firsthand when they encountered an accident in the middle of their date and Cheshire immediately leaped forward to help the victims despite the danger it may bring.

And now they were saying that it was all a lie?

Her third reaction was anger. Anger towards the investigation result, anger towards her brother for bringing it to her, anger towards Cheshire, and most importantly, anger towards herself.

She was furious that she still tried to deny it despite the elaborate investigation results, furious that she was deceived so easily, and furious that she was made to be a fool all this time.

The last point in the investigation said that after dropping Cecile off at her house last night, Cheshire immediately went to the Mondia residence to meet Lady Mondia, a fact that was only known to Lady Mondia’s closest attendant. Lady Mondia then disappeared the morning after.

Her emotions were at their peak when she asked her butler to bring some paper and pen so she could write a letter to Cheshire. She made various misspellings and wrote a bit too emotionally in her first few writings, so she had to redo the letter multiple times.

Ultimately, she settled with a letter that said: My apologies for this sudden letter, Lord Renand. It seems like my family has opposed our relationship, so I’m afraid we must end it here. It is very much a pity, as I was looking forward to going to the ball with you. Our time together has been wonderful so far. Thank you. If fate ever permits, I hope that we can be together in our next life. Good bye.

The last part was a complete farce. She didn’t really mean it, but she thought that she should include it so that she wouldn’t sound too different from how she usually acted towards him.

It was only after Cecile gave the letter to her butler that she realized her hand had been trembling all this time.

From what? Fury? Devastation? She didn't know, but she was not going to let her tears fall for such a man.

Until she was left alone in her room at night.

Cecile kept tossing and turning, unable to go to sleep despite it being so late already. Whenever she closed her eyes, she would remember what it felt like to be in love with Cheshire Nomal.

She did love him. That was why this reveal was hurting her more than it should.

She had imagined a future with him. Where they were going to live, what they were going to do for a living, and how many kids they were going to have. She had imagined going to the ball with him in mere days and dancing with him under the moonlight.

A little corner of her heart was whispering to her, What if it was all fake? What if someone is plotting his downfall through this slander?

But then Cecile remembered how Lucien looked when he gave her the documents. The worry was so prominent on his face that it brought her back to reality.

No matter if it was true or not, she should first make sure that she wouldn't make her family worry. It wouldn't kill her to not meet Cheshire for a while, but it would definitely kill her family to see her get hurt.

She knew all that in her heart, yet she couldn't help but let her tears fall in the darkness.

With the help of her most trusted skilful maids in the morning, Cecile managed to tone down her red and puffy eyes to the point that it would be unnoticable at first glance.

Accompanied by her closest maid, Cecile walked around the garden as a change of pace. Her initial plan for the day was to go to the boutique to pick up her dress for the ball while going window shopping at the same time, but that had all gone to dust now.

"My lady, why don't we go shopping anyway? I think you need the diversion," her maid kindly suggested.

"Not a bad idea," Cecile said with a faint smile.

The first thing Cecile shouldn't have done today was agree to that suggestion.

The both of them then headed towards the boulevard right before the knights sent by the Princess could arrive at their residence.

“Please wait over here, my lady. Let me fetch you some of your favorite sweets for you to eat after lunch!” the maid said while pumping up her fist, causing Cecile to chuckle.

"Sure. Don't get distracted now!" Cecile said, making it the second thing she shouldn't have done today.

The spot she was waiting at was a busy street. People were coming and going with such bright expressions on their faces in anticipation of tomorrow's ball.

Cecile thought that her maid was right. This was indeed a good way to lift up her mood. Nothing filled her with more joy than to see people being happy.

That was what she thought before a pair of familiar shoes stopped in front of her. When she looked up, she saw the face of the man she loved.

"Lady Renand," Cheshire said as he caught his breath. "Please tell me what I did wrong."

His face looked desperate. For a second, Cecile felt her heart ache. She then turned her head to the side when she reminded herself of her resolve.

"It wasn't you. It just… can't be helped," Cecile said. She didn't know anymore if she was pretending to be dramatic to throw him off or if they were her true feelings.

Cheshire then took her hand in his and begged, "Then please, give me one more chance."

One part of Cecile felt bad for him, but another part felt disgusted at his action. She never did like pushy men.

She took her hand back and shook her head. Cheshire's arms fell helplessly on each side of his body.

"Then… is it not possible for us to still go to the ball together tomorrow? For one last memory?" he pleaded again after some time.

Cecile froze. She contemplated it for a moment before deciding to shake her head. As much as she didn't want to waste the dress she had fitted for the ball, going with this man wouldn't be worth it.

"I see," Cheshire said with a look that resembled a puppy under the rain. Cecile almost sympathized with him before he continued with a whisper, "Then please pardon me."

He quickly whipped out a small bottle and opened it in front of Cecile's face. She couldn't even react before the dizziness suddenly hit her and her body gradually lost strength.

Cheshire caught her in his arms before she could fall.

"Oh, Lady Renand…! I knew my feelings would go through to you…!" she heard him say in her fading consciousness. He then lifted her up in his arms, making sure that nobody could see her face and discover that she was unconscious.

No one spared much thought about the scene. Cecile and Cheshire were a pretty well-known couple, so it was not really weird to see them publicly displaying their affection.

Cheshire brought Cecile to his carriage and closed the door just in time for Cecile's maid to return. Her eyes widened when she saw that Cheshire Nomal, the very man who her lady was supposed to have broken up with, was with Cecile inside his carriage.

"My lady…!" she screamed and dropped the sweets she just bought.

However, no matter how hard she tried to run, she couldn't catch up to the moving carriage.