Don’t Shame The Villainess - Chapter 14 – Death Of The Marchioness
Chapter 14 – Death Of The Marchioness
Suicide mentioned in this chapter. Skip if you do not wish to read
“If anything, you probably thought that it was better to create a situation where breaking off the engagement would be justified,” Ludwig said.
In the end, the head of the household was forced into making such a huge decision.
However, Joshua needed to ensure that his family would not suffer a fallout. He needed to avoid the impression that he, as a marquis, was bowing down to the authority of a duke. He needed to keep his head held high to maintain his dignity and get what he wanted. He could do this by, say…claiming that ‘because of circumstances out of his control,’ his daughter was ‘flawed’.
“Am I wrong?” Ludwig said delicately.
He set down the glass of wine onto the table. The clink that echoed seemed to further emphasize his words.
Joshua neither confirmed nor denied Ludwig’s statement. He simply stroked his chin quietly, a temperate smile on his face. He then spoke the name of his future son-in-law—no, the person who used to be his future son-in-law.
Joshua then raised his hand and summoned a passing servant holding a tray. He took one of the cocktails on the tray and brought it to his lips before speaking.
“I truly love my daughter. I am incapable of being as cruel as you are insinuating.”
He spoke as if all the love of the world drowned. As if the cruelty Ludwig suggested was a mistake. The corners of Ludwig’s mouth twisted upon hearing Joshua speak about love with such a vacant expression.
A bolt of lightning flashed outside the window, illuminating the room. Moments later, the rumble of thunder could be heard.
Ludwig turned his gaze to the rain beating against the glass panes, and was suddenly reminded of what Leticia said once before.
“I hate thunderstorms.”
Ah, come to think of it, there was a time when they had peaceful conversations with each other during teatime… Times when they occasionally spoke of things that were buried deep within their hearts…
It hadn’t even been more than a few months since those idle days, but because they got into a bloody fight with each other due to Yevnika, it felt like an eternity ago. Even if he and Leticia had completely drifted apart, Ludwig believed that he was probably the person who knew her best, aside from her own family members.
Ludwig felt a sense of homesickness—but it wasn’t actually homesickness.
“Is it really alright for you not to be by your daughter’s side, the daughter whom you claim to love so much?” he said slowly. Eyes that were as dark as the deep sea turned to look at Joshua. “Isn’t this the second time that something she hates happened?”
It wasn’t like she had the mental fortitude of an adult right now. She was experiencing this as a child who wasn’t even ten. Something like that was bound to be traumatic.
And not just once, either, but twice. To add to her bad luck, this all happened on a day of thunderstorms.
Rather than comforting her, her father left her alone. He merely checked up on her occasionally to see if she was still alive. It was hilarious to hear a man like him speak of things like love.
“It’s alright. My daughter is very strong,” Joshua responded with a light shrug of his shoulders, and as he tilted his glass, the yellow liquid of the cocktail slowly disappeared into his mouth. He didn’t stop until every last drop was drained from the glass.
After having downed his cocktail in one go, Joshua spoke in a dry tone that contradicted his earlier declaration of love.
“Strong enough to not need any of my help.”
Another bolt of lightning forked through the sky.
White light flashed across the bed before it disappeared just as quickly. At the rolling sound of thunder that soon followed, Leticia’s hands clutched onto Zed’s coat jacket. If her white knuckles were any indication, her grip was tight.
Zed tilted his head downwards to look at the crown of Leticia’s head buried in the crook of his shoulder. He thought that she looked like a pheasant hiding in the tall grass from a hunting dog, with only its head showing.
At the very least, he was glad that she had stopped screaming. She seemed calmer now, perhaps because she was now accustomed to the sound of thunder, or perhaps it was because she had someone next to her now.
‘My ears are still ringing.’
The tinny sound in his head was starting to recede as well. It was a high-pitched sound like a dolphin’s cry that seemed to blare through his ears…
Zed placed a hand against his head and held back the sigh threatening to escape his lips. No wonder she allowed him to do his paperwork in her bedroom. She didn’t want to be alone.
He looked over at her with a slightly odd expression.
‘Seeing as how she’s afraid of thunder and lightning, it really seems like she is a seven-year-old child.’
Until now, he thought that a child Leticia cruelly stepped on others with a beautiful smile. If there was a contradiction with Leticia’s image in his head, then so be it. That was why he found her current behavior all the more strange.
Zed turned his gaze to the mountain of paperwork on top of the table. When he entered the room, he went straight to the couch, so all the paperwork remained untouched. There wasn’t any point getting permission to do his work in her bedroom if he wasn’t going to get to it.
‘I better tuck her in.’
Zed could confidently say that he was used to dealing with children. Since he lost his own parents from a young age, as the eldest son he took responsibility over his four younger siblings. He probably just needed to do to Leticia what he did with them. Zed gently patted Leticia on the back.
“There’s no need to be afraid. This is just another phenomenon of mother nature,” he said in the softest voice he could muster as he patted her.
Of course, something like this wouldn’t be able to quell her fears. What he was trying to show her was that anytime she was scared, there was someone by her side that would make her feel safe.
It’s alright…It’s really going to be alright…
You’re not alone. So don’t be afraid. Something like this isn’t scary at all. It won’t be able to harm you.
“Just think of it as firecrackers. It’s just a bright light that flashes before disappearing just as quickly.”
If he couldn’t vanquish her fears, then he could share his warmth. When sharing body heat, most children would realize that they were not alone and would be greatly comforted.
However, it seemed that Leticia wasn’t part of that majority. If anything, her shoulders were shaking even more uncontrollably.
“My Lady?” Zed said, bewildered.
Something was odd. Did he say something wrong?
She started shaking so violently that she almost seemed like she was convulsing, and Zed grabbed onto her shoulders in desperation.
“My Lady!” he cried.
As if she registered her name being called, Leticia minutely raised her head to look up at Zed. They locked eyes, and their faces were mere inches apart that they could feel each other’s breaths.
Zed could see that her pupils were blown wide.
Her eyes were unfocused and shaking. This wasn’t just a simple fear.
And then he realized—when she turned quiet a little earlier, it wasn’t because she was able to calm her shrieks. It was because she had lost the strength to shriek at all.
“My eyes… They’re blinded…”
It was then that Leticia’s trembling lips opened.
“The flashing lights are too blinding for my eyes… But I can still see blackness… I keep on remembering that day…”
Leticia continued to speak as if she were possessed.
“Mother… Mother…hanging from the ceiling…swinging… When the light flashes, a black silhouette…the creaking sound…”
Instantly, Zed’s face stiffened. She had never told such a story to him before.
Her words were broken and haphazard, but it was clear what had happened.
‘The death of the Marchioness was fabricated.’
If what Leticia said was true, then the cause of death of the Marchioness was not homicide, but suicide. And on a day with thunderstorms like tonight, Leticia witnessed the Marchioness hanging herself with her very own eyes.