‘Considering Benjamin’s actions… they don’t seem like an act.’
Does that mean he has a crush on two people? This idea only added to Grace’s confusion.
‘Somewhere my theory must have gone awry.’
Let’s start from the beginning again. Grace decided to re-establish the basis of her thoughts.
‘This world can’t be completely different from the original. There must be a similar flow of events.’
There had to be a reason why Benjamin looked at Aria and Sylvester with such longing eyes, why he behaved and spoke the way he did towards Aria later.
‘Right, I’ll change my approach.’
As the day of the divorce mediation neared, no matter how much they tried to keep it quiet, rumors would spread among the high nobility.
If there was a separate power trying to kill Grace secretly, they would have the means or the power similar to Felton ducal house, and they would inevitably learn of the divorce.
‘If I secure my position in society, they will become anxious as their plans go awry. When they hear of the divorce, their haste will expose them.’
But what if Benjamin had a hand in that death? Grace shook her head at the thought.
If that were the case, he would have thwarted Grace’s public activities from the start.
‘The fact that Benjamin doesn’t recognize someone has possessed the original Duchess is troubling, but it’s not currently a threat to my life…’
“Gracie? What are you so deep in thought about?”
“What to do once I return home, I suppose?”
“You have a lot you want to do?”
‘More like, if I don’t do them, I might die.’
The words Grace could never say rose to her throat, but she pushed them back down.
Unaware of Grace’s inner turmoil, Gloria gave her a light smile and began braiding her hair. It was almost a ritual from their childhood, something they always did when they shared a bed.
“You were such a whimsical child, but now you’ve become a proper lady.”
“Was I really?”
“Of course. Don’t you remember?”
While Grace retained memories of events with her family and growing up in the Linden viscounty, she couldn’t quite recall what kind of person ‘Grace’ was.
“Maybe I’ve forgotten because it was embarrassing.”
Grace decided to vaguely brush it off.
‘Wasn’t she just a crybaby and timid?’
Her memories were mainly of a girl being bullied and crying. Other than that, she liked her family, read a lot, and had hobbies like nurturing something.
It was strange when she thought about it.
Usually, when recalling memories, one tends to think of themselves. But Grace always struggled to define herself.
Even if she tried, she would end up labeling herself as gloomy, incompetent, depressed, and worthless.
‘It’s as if I’m bound to be that way.’
It felt like a fog of darkness clouded her mind.
‘Was it because of the dinner that she called me?’
The atmosphere hadn’t been great during the meal, and Gloria, from her perspective, must have been concerned.
“After all, it was a family dinner after a long time; she must have wanted to end it on a good note.”
Gilbert was reliable but not very expressive, and Grace was inherently timid.
Therefore, it was Gloria who always acted as the peacemaker in the house.
Yet, what bothered Grace was something else.
‘She’s surely married by now, isn’t she?’
In the drawer of the study in the annex, among the neatly stacked pile of letters, there was also the wedding invitation Gloria had sent.
‘If there had been a broken engagement before the wedding, rumors would have certainly attached themselves to me, so that’s clear.’
Grace affirmed this sourly and then asked Gloria.
“So, what did you call me for?”
“What do you mean? Isn’t it natural for sisters to want to spend a night together?”
Gloria wasn’t wrong, but today was the very day Grace had arrived at the viscounty.
Usually, one was left alone to recover from the journey on the day of arrival. If such an invitation were to be made, it would be a few days later, not out of the blue like this.
Under normal circumstances, Grace would not have accepted such an invitation.
The memories within Grace’s body were of warmly welcoming Gloria, but at the same time, after a year of seclusion, she also felt a reluctance towards her own family.
At this point, Benjamin felt more comfortable to her.
Nevertheless, the reason she accepted Gloria’s invitation was that it seemed Gloria had something to ask of her, something that appeared to be related to the Linden household.
It wasn’t out of a sense of family duty. Of course, she’d be happy to help, but Grace was reminded of the crops she had planted.
‘It doesn’t matter that they grew rhubarb I had left for mass cultivation. They might not have known about the poison. But shouldn’t there be an apology for serving a poisonous soup?’
Yet no such conversation had taken place. Gilbert’s remarks seemed to have wrapped everything up neatly as if there was nothing more to be said. Even Gilbert hadn’t apologized for the toxic food.
Grace felt uneasy about it.
‘Are they waiting for the right moment to talk?’
Was it a noble’s way of beating around the bush, or was the subject too awkward to address? For now, Grace lay down beside Gloria.
After a long silence, Gloria finally spoke.
“We used to sleep together like this often before you got married.”
Gloria’s words made Grace remember. Grace’s room had been tucked away in a quiet corner where few ventured. Gloria would often visit her room to share a bed together.
“You used to come to my room back then. Now, I’ve come to yours.”
“It was really nice.”
Gloria seemed to genuinely miss those times, her words not just light joke but filled with a sense of longing.
Suddenly, Grace picked up on something odd in Gloria’s nostalgic tone.
‘Did she say I got married before her?’
“Why so serious all of a sudden?”
Grace propped herself up to look down at Gloria.
“Do you know why the Duke married me?”
Typically, if a family had two unmarried daughters, it was usual for suitors to approach the eldest first unless they had any significant flaws or existing betrothals.
‘But why did Benjamin and I marry?’
Anyone could see that Gloria had the looks that fit the title of Duchess of Felton. Grace could see a beautiful woman bathed in moonlight.
‘Did sister reject him? That can’t be.’
This woman was one to prioritize the stability of the Linden viscounty. All three siblings had always put the viscounty and their father’s estate first.
The marriage was arranged by the royal family, and the Felton ducal house was an exceedingly advantageous match for the Linden viscounty. Also Gloria wasn’t the type to marry for love.
And didn’t she later marry into another noble house? As Grace pondered, she realized another oddity.
‘For all that, the Linden viscounty hasn’t grown much.’
Grace became the Duchess of Felton, and Gloria, as the sister of a duchess, made a good marriage herself.
Usually, that would have meant increased prestige for the Linden viscounty.
‘That doesn’t make sense, does it?’
Even in the original story, the Linden viscounty never made an appearance. The only link to Grace was Benjamin.
It was as if the viscounty was deliberately kept out of the narrative, permitted only this much significance and no more.
Grace was bewildered.
Gloria looked up at her younger sister who, after posing a question, was now silent, her eyes swirling with confusion.
“The proposal came for you right from the start, Gracie.”
Grace was shocked.
It meant that the proposal was directed not at the Linden family, but at Grace Linden herself. This changed the meaning significantly.
“To be precise, your name wasn’t mentioned, but the Felton ducal house wanted you.”
“How can you be sure of that if my name wasn’t mentioned?”
Grace asked, not hiding her turmoil.
“Not long after the proposal arrived, His Excellency, who was then the duke to be, visited the viscounty. He didn’t say much when he met me, but after the banquet, he spoke of you.”
“Why, why would he do that?”
“Well… I found it strange at the time, but your happiness was what mattered most to me.”
This was information Grace had never been privy to.
She couldn’t fathom why anyone would want Grace Linden, who didn’t match in rank, beauty, or any notable trait.
“Grace, you were often called whimsical as a child, but you were wise. You understand, don’t you?”
Gloria took a breath, her voice low, as she gently grasped Grace’s shoulders without hurting her. It seemed she was about to share a secret.
“Later, look into Baron Remante.”
“Who is that?”
When Grace expressed her confusion at the sudden mention of the name, Gloria’s face had turned pale.