Episode 4: Lisa Guiana
“Do not put the highest grade on the market, bring them all here.”
“Your Grace, Mrs. Lisa Guiana from Lisa Guiana Estate has arrived.”
The Duke’s eyebrows furrowed.
This unwanted guest was none other than Lisa Guiana, and although he wanted to throw her out immediately, he had to restrain himself because of the circumstances.
If only those issues could be resolved, he would have locked her inside a carriage and sent her to the Lisa Guiana Estate after nailing the door shut. It was truly a missed opportunity.
“Oh, my dear nephew. I was told you were inside.”
She barged in without even mentioning that she would be visiting.
The Duke, instead of enduring her repulsiveness, avoided her hand reaching out towards his cheek.
“What brings you here?”
Even with his curt tone, Liza didn’t seem to know how to wilt and smiled radiantly.
“Oh, spring has come, and I brought news that suits this lovely season. Come on, listen.”
If only that news was your eternal farewell.
Rufellion found this aunt to be unbearable.
If only he realized that it was a good thing he was allowed a quiet small building with a garden. She should have been grateful, but instead, she kept crying and threatening to leave when the servants didn’t let her enter the main building as she pleased.
He asked in shock about the location of the house’s garden, but she couldn’t say a word.
After some time, as if she had forgotten her mistakes, she shamelessly strutted around as if she owned the main building.
He stopped the butler, who was trying to close the door to kick her out.
“Just leave it open.”
“…And what’s this news?”
He asked first because he was too bothered.
Liza blurted out the terrifying words without even bothering to clean her mouth.
“Duke, I can no longer bear to see her as a member of the Cran family. I’ll arrange a match for you, so let’s end this here and make a fresh start.”
Lisa Guiana had left her marriage to the family a long time ago, and what she had taken with her at that time was considerable. Therefore, as an outsider who had severed ties with the Cran family, she had no right to call the Duchess “this” so disrespectfully.
Of course, nobody should say such things.
She crossed the line despite the special treatment she received as an aunt.
However, Rufellion didn’t get angry.
Instead of shouting at the disrespectful aunt without manners, he coldly glared at her.
Liza began to speak without considering any etiquette.
“It’s okay, Your Grace. Why would I interfere with your nephew’s affairs? There are plenty of suitable candidates for you. The island doesn’t have many people who can be with the Duke, so why don’t you get on a ship right away and—”
He cut her off, suppressing his displeasure.
“Are you ignoring me?”
Liza was surprised.
They didn’t have any spousal relationship, and they only met at meals. After half a year of closely observing her behavior, he was sure.
This was an unusual situation. They had only been married for three years, yet their relationship had deteriorated like this? This was a fEllied marriage!
Liza had thought that since she was the head of the household, she should take the lead, but the Duke’s reaction was a bit strange. He had reacted too hastily, as if he was afraid his niece had already chosen a bride.
She retracted her statement.
“Oh… no, of course not. Why wouldn’t I know that the highest authority in our family belongs to my nephew?”
“I can’t believe my ears when such words are said in the presence of a servant.”
The Duke’s cold tone made Liza tense.
‘Look, she has definitely planned everything. I didn’t say anything wrong, but what I said shouldn’t be heard by the butler, right? In any case, if I’m going to connect with them, I’ll need a matchmaker. It’s the perfect opportunity to make a big fuss.’
Liza briefly glanced at the innocent butler and then spoke with a smile.
“I’m sorry. I’ll be more careful next time.”
“I can’t tolerate someone speaking with a vulgar tone in my house.”
The Duke hoped Lisa Guiana understood and at least felt embarrassed. However, his aunt was so shameless that she didn’t even know what it meant to have a conversation.
“Well, that’s true. Has our family ever gone against etiquette? Not just speech, but even our behavior.”
At that moment, Liza worried that if the Duke was weak and left Ellie behind while appointing the lady he had chosen, her own plan to use Ellie to build a connection could be in danger.
In reality, it was over between them, but they couldn’t be careless. Now was the perfect time to disrupt their relationship.
The taciturn Duke closed his mouth again, and Liza, his aunt, happily tore Ellie to pieces.
“Goodness! Her Grace, the Duchess, went to visit Serena without a prior arrangement? I pointed it out, and she got flustered and fled in embarrassment. Sigh, three years must have made her even more uncivilized. There’s no other way to put it.”
“Without a prior arrangement?”
Rufrilion’s words of inquiry were quite short.
Liza had just made a statement that was choking her, but she was too focused on belittling Ellie that she didn’t even notice.
“That’s right! I was surprised and pointed it out, but she panicked and ran away…”
“If you want to point something out to someone, it would be better to show some dignity first.”
Even with the Duke’s reprimand, Liza remained unfazed.
“Oh? Well… Ahem. I was in such a hurry that I forgot. I made a mistake, trying to do something good, and it happened. Please understand.”
“I don’t think my private study is a place for just anyone to open the door and enter.”
Not even an apology?
Frustrated, Rufrilion was about to say something, but Liza quickly maintained her formal tone and looked at the Duke.
“I’m sorry, nephew. I’ve always considered the family’s perspective, and I’ll be more cautious in the future. Hm… well, I want to say this. Is there a boat departing for the mainland? The regular ferry is a bit inconvenient. So, please make preparations.”
The Duke thought it was a perfect opportunity.
Liza undoubtedly believed that he was going to cast aside Ellie and receive a new bride.
…And she wasn’t completely wrong.
In this house, she had been living as Ellie Milton, not Ellie Cran.
He had never forgotten the shy smile that had appeared on her face on their wedding day. She was so happy about this marriage.
How ecstatic she must have been at the thought that this beautiful expression belonged to her. He couldn’t help but want to take her waist and whisper sweet words into her ear.
– You may not remember who I am, but we met destiny long before this. I’ll return all the memories you’ve forgotten!
But he couldn’t.
Their marriage had been, in reality, his selfish desire.
It should have been tied neatly with the conspiracy surrounding Cran Castle and the Planar Island. But… doing everything properly would take time. And if she met another man and got married before then?
Just the thought was unbearable.
Coincidentally, the Marquess and Marchioness Milton wanted to marry off their daughter to the rich man on the island. All because of a meager amount!
He knew he was being selfish, but he had stayed silent until today.
The reason he had postponed his first night with her was simple.
The Duke had planned to publicly announce Serena as his successor on her eighth birthday. Therefore, having a child with Ellie before that would have caused significant problems. Of course, he would have wholeheartedly cared for their child if they had one, but there was another issue to consider.
His situation would become complicated, especially regarding the properties and assets that Serena was rightfully entitled to inherit as the future Duchess. These included the wealth accumulated over centuries in the family, including valuable heirlooms. These possessions had been hidden, as revealing them might tempt Liza, who was known for her greed. If Ellie, fragile as she was, were to claim them and then hand them over to Liza, it could lead to a difficult situation.
Before anything like that happened, it seemed like the troublesome aunt needed to be dealt with.
It wasn’t a big secret that Liza was freely roaming through the Cran Castle. When she visited as if it were her own home and received extravagant treatment as a guest, what would people think? To the Duke, it was actually advantageous. As long as Liza kept making this house her own, nobody would doubt him, which was even better for maintaining his secret.
‘…I have concealed my secret through my aunt’s presence, and she has enjoyed the privileges thus far without questioning it. We owe nothing to each other. As for the boat to the mainland or to the Lisa Guiana estate, I can provide as many as needed.’
Fortuitously, he had a perfect excuse.
“Is there something that just came to mind?”
“Actually, I was planning to send a boat to the Salmon Creek soon. We’ve heard that salmon farming has been successful this year, but we’ve been delayed in receiving news. I was planning to organize a party with you and several knights. Do you have a specific region you’d like to visit?”
What was she talking about?
Liza began to suspect her own ears.
So, this was the Duke giving her authority openly. He wanted her to select the lucky woman who would become his third wife!
Why would she refuse? All right, she had to carry it out right away.
Liza smiled brightly and replied, “Oh, that’s… yes, indeed. I should recheck the list of families with grown-up daughters who want to engage with the Cran family. It’s all in my head, but when dealing with important matters, it’s better to rely on more than just my memory, don’t you think?”
“I’m not sure what the matter is, but your external affairs seem to be expanding, so I will provide a generous budget for carriages and expenses when going to Salmon Creek.”
The Duke spoke generously and addressed Liza as “Aunt.” Normally, he didn’t use such honorifics and treated her strictly as a man, but today was different.
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