Cry, Even Better if you Beg - Chapter 21
“I don’t know if I can leave you here alone.”
Bill sighed with a worrisome face.
“Uncle, you’ll really miss the train at this rate.”
Leyla kindly urged him. Bill was reassured at her confidence in being home alone, but he somehow felt a little sentimental.
An obituary was delivered to the cabin yesterday afternoon. Bill’s brother had passed away. Even though the two brothers weren’t close and hadn’t seen each other for a long time, Bill couldn’t ignore the fact that his brother used to be the only family left in the world.
Bill eventually decided to take a few days off and travel to his hometown. Going there was not a problem for Bill, but leaving the little Leyla alone made his heart feel as heavy as lead.
“You have to make sure to keep the door shut. Even if it’s hot, keep the windows closed.”
Bill repeated his words of advice several times since last night.
“The hunting gun is hanging in my room…..”
“I’ll make sure to lock the door, the windows, and move the hunting gun that’s in your room next to my bed. If a bad person shows up, I’ll shoot them.”
Leyla calmly recited the words she had heard so many times.
“I’ll eat well, sleep well, and stay well.”
He would only be gone for three days at most, but Bill worried about Leyla as if he was going to be away for months. Bill reluctantly took off, even though he still had a concerned look. Leyla followed him to the entrance of the mansion to see him off.
“Leyla, did something happen at the party that day?”
Bill carefully asked after taking a glimpse of the magnificent mansion building.
“No, I had fun. There weren’t any trouble. I’m serious.”1
“I’m glad you did…. But somehow, you seem to be distancing yourself from Kyle after that party.”
Leyla laughed as if it was nonsense.
“No way. It’s just that… we’ve been busy these days.”
“Can I take your word for it?”
“Yes. Why would I tell such a lie?”
“That’s true. There’s no way your relationship with Kyle would get awkward. Then Leyla, if you’re too scared to be alone, then bring Kyl…. No, no. Pretend you didn’t hear.”
Bill shook his hand with a serious look.
“He’s the most dangerous.”2
“If he comes over, make sure to send him back before sunset. Keep in mind.”
“Stop saying strange things now, go ahead.”
Leyla comforted Bill’s back with a warm touch.
Bill looked back several times and repeated his advice as he moved further away on the other side of the platanus road.
Leyla stayed there for a while until Bill was no longer in sight. Every time he turned around, Leyla smiled and waved her hands.
She believed the next three days were going to be very long.
“Leyla’s avoiding me.”
Kyle was sure now.
“I think it’s because of the party that day.”
The reason wasn’t that difficult to find.
“You think so too? Phoebe?”
Kyle seriously asked, but Phoebe sat on the window frame pecking at the oats and pretended not to hear. Kyle deeply sighed when he found himself talking nonsense to the dove. Phoebe brought Leyla’s note again today with disappointing news. The note read that Uncle Bill was going to be at his hometown for a few days and Leyla was planning to be at the library all day long so the cabin was going to be empty.
He’s been getting these types of messages for days lately. Her notes said she was planning to go to another friend’s house; she had an appointment downtown; she was busy helping Bill with the orchards. At first, he thought it was her consideration of notifying him instead of having him come into the cabin in vain when it was actually empty. But at this point, it all seemed like excuses. Clumsy excuses to avoid Kyle Etman.
“I don’t blame her. I would do the same.”
Kyle clutched his head and gave a deep sigh.
He proudly declared that he was her partner and promised he would protect her. Yet, he had left Leyla alone. After hearing the servant’s words that Leyla left him, he ran out of the hall, but she had already taken her leave.
He didn’t know why he couldn’t get out of there sooner. Even though he had told her to wait. He made her wait. He failed to keep his promise.
Kyle nervously wandered around the room while Phoebe, who ate its fill, left. Kyle stared into the direction where the dove flew away and impulsively stormed out the room.
He couldn’t remember how he got on his bike and pedaled. He thought of Leyla as he went out of breath. By the time his heart was about to burst at the thought of Leyla, Kyle had arrived at the cabin in the Arvis estate. His shoulders moved up and down as he tried to catch his breath in the scorching sun.
There were white sheets and pillowcases dripping with water on the clothesline at the yard. And beyond it, there was a shadow of a woman with a soft, thin body line.
Feeling both relief and despondency, Kyle slowly swept his sweaty hair behind his forehead. Leyla gently showed her face over the sheets as if she had felt his presence. Her green eyes grew round when she met eyes with him.
The sweet voice that came through her lips was enough to make him forget this embarrassing situation.
Kyle, who had been sitting in front of the table, remained silent for a long time and then sighed. Leyla sat on the opposite side. When she was looking down at her fingertips, she had suddenly raised her eyes at Kyle’s apology.
“I’m so sorry. It’s all my fault.”
Leyla shook her head after being taken aback.
“I’m the one who’s sorry. I’m sorry I lied about not being at home.”
“No, it’s because of me. It’s all my fault.”
“It’s not like that. I’m not upset or mad at you. I’m serious, Kyle.”
“Then is there another reason? Why…. you’re avoiding me… “
“You know Kyle, I like you as a friend. You’re kind of like my family. So….. so I think we should further ourselves now.”
Leyla attempted to pull up the corners of her lip to calmly smile, but Kyle didn’t seem to notice.
Leyla was sincere when she said she wasn’t upset or angry at Kyle. But that night, at that dreamy party, Leyla saw a clear line. A line drawn between Kyle and herself that she couldn’t cross just because they were friends.
She had already thought that she wasn’t enough to be hanging out with a son of a brilliant household. But the gap between her vague thoughts and the sight of reality was painfully cruel.
The heir to a widely respected family of doctors who can easily mingle with the aristocrats. The Kyle Etman that Leyla saw on that day at the duke’s dazzling banquet hall, was a man who lived in a world beyond that definite line. Kyle Etman could no longer be the child who used to play with Leyla.
Why should a child grow up and become an adult?
That night, as Leyla walked along the dark forest path with her shoes in her hands, she brooded on that transparent, sad question. And then she decided. To accept time. And to accept the only way she could protect her precious friend, even in that passing time.
“You know you’re talking nonsense, right?”
Kyle opened his lips after a long time. His voice was lower and calmer than usual.
“No. I mean it.”
“You like me, but why should we be apart?”
“That way, we can be good friends for a long time. Kyle, I don’t want to lose you.”
“You think I’d want to lose you?”
Kyle’s eyes shook as he looked at Leyla.
“How can we, not anyone else, be apart? That’s impossible, Leyla.”
“I’ll never lose you. I won’t even go further away from you. How can you say that?”
Kyle set down the glass cup and clenched his fist with all his might.
You can’t do that, Kyle.
Instead of saying what she wanted to say, Leyla smiled.
It’s time to become an adult.
Leyla stood up while swallowing the thorn-like words.
“Let’s have lunch, Kyle.”
Leyla hurriedly fastened the apron she had taken off earlier ago.
“As an apology for lying, I’ll make you a veery delicious lunch..”
“Matthias, can’t you just discharge from the military and concentrate on your family’s work now?”
Riette lay down on the sofa as he put down the newspaper he scanned over. As he turned his head while yawning, he saw Matthias sitting on the wing chair reading a book.
“It’s not that bad spending a couple of years in the military division.”
Matthias gave a leisurely reply as he turned the page. Even on this hot summer afternoon, he wore a jacket and a tie in his bedroom.
“Well, that’s the tradition of the Herhardt family all right.”
Riette murmured while languidly stretching.
“Matthias von Herhardt will be the most perfect Duke of Arvis, better than any other predecessors.”
While Riette chuckled, the canary, who was playing well in the cage, suddenly spread its wings. The bird lightly flew and landed on the book that Matthias was reading.
A soft smile came upon Matthias’s face as he stared at the chattering bird. It was quite an astounding scene for Riette, who had seen Matthias shoot and kill birds without batting an eye in the hunting grounds for years.
“I hope that bird is a she, Matthias.”
Riette shook his head as he lost his breath.
“If it’s not, I think I’ll be grossed out.”
Matthias reached his hand out to the bird without a reply. The little bird tilted its head from one side to another and then started to gently rub its beak at the tip of his finger.
“Don’t you think so, Claudine?”
Riette turned to Claudine, who was sitting right across from Matthias and Riette. She looked at Matthias and his bird with an embroidery on her hands. When she met eyes with Riette, a faint smile spread over her expressionless face.
“I heard that birds with beautiful voices are usually male.”
“Ugh. Please, Claudine. Let’s just believe its a female.”
Riette jokingly shuddered.
“It’s creepy to think they’re interacting like that if they’re both male.”
“What’s wrong with that? It’s just a bird.”
Claudine laughed and grabbed the needle to start her embroidery again.
Matthias turned a page only after the bird that was bouncing on his book moved. He looked unconcerned even when the bird distractedly flew around tapping his hands, shoulders, and head.
“You should wear a light yellow dress at the engagement party, Claudine. Duke Herhardt might love you like that bird.”
Claudine answered back without a delay.
“I hate yellow.”
After taking a deep breath, she continued to stitch.
“It’s somewhat vulgar.”
Her words were accompanied by a little scoff.
A strange smile came upon Riette’s lips. At that point, he stopped talking about the bird and began to rattle on about Matthias’s military service and the engagement ceremony that was just around the corner.
“Our little lady Claudine will soon be the lady that beat the royal princess.”
“I’m ashamed of that kind of flattery, Riette.”
Although her eyes frowned, Claudine brightly smiled.
It was an open truth that the Berg Emperor coveted Duke Herhardt as his son-in-law.
The emperor’s love for his youngest daughter was extreme. Moreover, she was a beautiful lady who was called the ‘Flower of the Socialites’. Claudine, who had taken the position of Duchess Arvis for granted since childhood, felt a sense of crisis because of the princess.
But in the end, Claudine won. Of course, she didn’t win because of love.
‘Matthias doesn’t need to.’
The Herhardt’s response to the reason for not becoming in-laws with the imperial family was summed up in that brief remark.
Herhardt was a household with history, wealth, and honor that were no less than the emperor’s. It wasn’t unreasonable to judge that the hassle of serving the princess was greater than the benefit of having her as a duchess. Such arrogance was understood when placed before the Herhardt’s name.
Thanks to that, Claudine Brandt became a lady who beat the emperor’s daughter. It was obvious why the Herhardt family chose her. She was the only daughter of a reputable count who didn’t have a successor. So the Herhardt family judged Claudine to be a bride with a good pedigree and dowry no less than the princess. They also didn’t have to serve Claudine, unlike the royal princess.
When the engagement ceremony was held, Claudine Brandt’s name was expected to be placed in a higher position than the emperor’s daughter. The thought made Claudine feel like she could love everything in this world. Including that vulgar little bird.
“I can’t believe your engagement is just around the corner. It makes me feel all strange.”
Riette sat up and stretched his arms.
Claudine, who had been calmly looking at Riette, began to casually stitch again.
Please be advised that the next chapter is rated-15 (in Korea).3
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Korean Comments Section✎
Claudine who beat the crown princess will soon be Leyla who beat Claudine.1
Did Claudine just indirectly curse at Leyla?1
Claudine is just too scary…. I feel like she’s going to explode at one point.