No matter how many times she read it, the bill in her hand said the same thing.
Amélie’s father had committed a major property fraud. He lost all of the money from the scam by investing in stocks, and then ran another scam to make up for the losses.
The creditors banded together to sue her father, and now that he’s gone, the debt has fallen to Amélie Gagnier, the only direct survivor, who has been warned that if she doesn’t pay up soon, she’s going to…
Amélie stared down at the letter in a daze. It was for 1,700 francs. Amélie earned only five francs a day. It was more than even a city worker would ever save in a lifetime.
What on earth was she going to do with all this money…
Pushing down the rising nausea, Amélie slowly read the court papers attached to it, the sentence, and the judge’s signature.
No matter how many times she checked, the message didn’t change. Her father had committed fraud and she was responsible for it.
Some families have even broken up because of him. Some have even had their children placed in orphanages…
So it was the point that severe punishment was necessary.
Amélie stared at the tattered letter and hung her head. She had endured so much and thought she was hardened. She wanted to tell herself that everything was okay, but this time she really couldn’t do anything about it.
It was as if her head had been wiped clean, as if the blood had been drained from her body…
The father she never knew, the mother she couldn’t remember the last time she saw. Amélie Gagnier, who had nothing, had no way to escape this life.
She thought I was at peace, I could be content, I’m not greedy, why is it so hard for me…
She felt nauseous again. With tears streaming down her face, Amélie crawled to the bathroom. Grabbing the dirty old toilet seat, she vomited several times and sobbed for a long time, using her upset stomach as an excuse.
* * *
“I’m getting hungry, why isn’t there any food…”
Monceau, who was just passing the entrance with a bottle of wine, stiffened.
Forgetting his greeting, he quickly hid the bottle and backed away, looking uncharacteristically flustered.
“Why, who else is here?”
Olivier, reclining loosely and smoking a cigar, narrowed his eyes. Just as he was about to stand up, a petite old woman entered his field of vision.
Greying hair, stubborn eyes. A black dress tucked neatly up to her slender neck.
Above all, that gaze that looks at her grandson with such disapproval. With a fierce and unpleasant expression that made him feel like the most despicable person in the world…
The head servant, his head bowed deeply, was once again late to address the visitor.
“H… Her Grace, Eleanor Dampierre has arrived…”
* * *
Moving into the study, Olivier sat down to face Eleanor in silence. Eleanor had kept her mouth shut until the maid who had brought the coffee had retired. Then began to prod Olivier as soon as the door to the study was closed.
“So, do you stay here every day with your debauched friends, those disgraceful wretches?”
“Grandma, you’re talking too much… those boys are just passing by… I don’t see them that often.”
If you try to explain to her, she won’t listen. It’s better to clear your mind for the next few minutes of nagging.
Frustrated, Olivier dropped his head. Just then, the booming voice of the newest arrival echoed loudly through the study.
“Hello, this is Dubois restaurant! As you said you want to drink and eat all night, we have emptied our entire liquor cellar!”
…Damn it. Of all times, now! Olivier’s face turned red with embarrassment.
But Eleanor’s hands were already trembling as she clutched her handbag tightly.
“My dear, what the hell is that noise?”
Scrambling to her feet, Eleanor approached the wall of the study. Her eyes bulged with anger.
“What are you hearing…”
Olivier’s face turned white as his sight followed his grandmother to the wall. So now, it wasn’t the servers at the Dubois Restaurant that was the problem.
An embarrassing sound bounced off the wall…
Olivier dropped his head in dismay. The unmistakable moans were now loud enough to be heard through the walls.
“Oh, my lord. One man, two women.”
Eleanor grunted in frustration.
“So, your friends are currently having a good time together as a group of three.”
Olivier could not have been more embarrassed and ashamed.
“This old lady has interrupted your good time, hasn’t she? If I hadn’t come along, you would have had a hot night with those promiscuous boys!”
“Grandma, I think you have a misunderstanding. It wasn’t me…”
I didn’t want to postpone the marriage to seem like a promiscuous bastard. Damn Ezon’s decadence…
“I told you to stay away from worthless scum, which is why you can’t settle down with one woman.”
Her hands shaking, Eleanor pulled a wad of paper out of her bag and tossed it down. It was scrawled with words.
“Choose. We’ve gathered only the most refined ladies. It’s a different dimension compared to the ones lounging around your house. Trust me.”
Ha… Olivier’s face contorted. So this was the beginning of another tiresome spin!
“I don’t want to get married like this, grandma. Times have changed.”
“Then is it your job to take drugs like a bunch of brutes, lie around in threes and fours, and drink all night!”
Eleanor’s voice rose in pitch.
“How many times do I have to tell you it’s not me?”
Even the impatient Olivier was getting annoyed, but Eleanor stubbornly shook her head.
“There is a degree of shamelessness. Ezon’s been telling me all day that you’re a cheap man who sleeps with cheap women.”
Olivier squeezed his eyes shut. His throat felt strangled.
“You don’t think I don’t know about that? I scour the tabloids every morning for things I’m embarrassed to find out. For my damn grandson!”
As Olivier’s brow furrowed in annoyance, a half-crumpled letter from Mademoiselle R slipped into his hand.
Olivier snatched it up and threw it in front of his aunt.
“Before you call me cheap, it would be better for you to stop tarnishing the family’s name. Grandma, do you think I would stoop to something like this?”
“What is this?”
Eleanor picked up the letter with a stern face. Her wrinkled face cracked as she read each line.
“Who the hell would…”