“……One who can manage all of that can rightly be called the talent of the throne.”
Oh, I don’t know what that means, but it sounds cool. To me, it’s just like a pie in the sky.
They say that talent is usually inherited through bloodline and manifests itself at a young age.
If Belinda had that talent, everyone would have known about it a long time ago.
I closed the book, picked out a few books to read to Leo, and left the library.
The hallway was dim due to the heavy rain that had been falling since last night.
I frowned at the silhouette of someone standing in the middle of the dark corridor.
‘I told them not to come up to the second floor until I called for them.’
At first, I thought it was a maid who had come to maintain the mansion.
But then a flash of lightning struck outside the window, briefly illuminating the interior of the corridor.
My body instinctively stiffened. That was enough for me to see who the other person was.
Only one person could make Belinda’s body tense up like this.
“Hello, Belle. How’s the marriage business going?”
A snake-like voice echoed in the darkness. Sybel’s shadow stretched out towards my feet.
I unconsciously scanned my surroundings.
There were only the two of us in the hallway. The realization sent a strange chill down my spine.
“I heard that you received a lot of responses to the marriage proposal letters you sent.”
I looked at the stack of letters in his hand and chewed my lip.
A few days ago, after hearing about the dowry, I had asked only one question of the various families who had sent me marriage proposals.
In the event of a divorce, how they intended to divide the property.
The answer was now in Sybel’s hands.
It would be too optimistic to think that he hadn’t checked the contents of the letters.
And sure enough, Sybel openly revealed that he had torn open the letters that had come to me.
“Divorce. It was quite a clever move, Belle. But do you really think that’s enough to keep you safe?”
That was a strange word.
Step by step, Sybel slowly approached me. I had nothing to fear, but I found myself taking a step back without realizing it.
‘Why am I acting like this?’
As soon as I realized that we were alone together, my hands trembled so much that it was pathetic.
Be calm, Belinda. Don’t get too worked up and handle this calmly.
“You’re a bit thick on the trespasser theme. I never gave you permission to enter my manor,” I said coldly, hiding my trembling hands behind my back.
Unperturbed by my words, Sybel said what he had to say.
“I hear you’ve been running around with a brat these days. Seems like you quite like the kid.”
Watch your mouth before you blabber nonsense. Using Leo to get to me.
“I hope you haven’t forgotten about him. He’s the one I handpicked and sent to you. I wonder if he may be confessing your deeds to me, like all your maids before him.”
Boom. Thunder struck again, illuminating Sybel’s face.
I couldn’t make out the deeply shaded expression on his face. But I immediately felt the urge to run away from him.
But ironically, my legs froze, not allowing me to move.
“Even if that orphan brat truly remains loyal to you, what about the man you’re going to marry?”
Perhaps I had been mistaken about one thing. Maybe this trembling towards Sybel stemmed from something other than hatred.
But now, being alone with him, I could be sure.
“If you die after inheriting everything, your property will all belong to your husband’s family. So, can you really say that your husband is on your side, Belle? Maybe he…….”
This body was trembling not out of disgust or anger, but out of fear.
“He could instigate your death.”
When there was only one step left between Sybel and me, his hand gripped my jaw like a hook.
My throat felt like it was closing in on itself. Sybel’s black pupils flickered with unmistakable contempt and vitality.
Ah, that’s right. This bastard.
In an instant, my mind cleared like cold water had been poured over it, and I understood everything that had happened to Belinda.
“You have to learn to be suspicious of people. Are you stupid enough to still trust people after everything you’ve been through?”
The reason why Belinda had tormented Leo so much. The reason why, despite inheriting a considerable sum of money, she had not married in the game.
‘She didn’t trust anyone, no one.’
She was so isolated that she couldn’t choose who she would marry.
The man before my eyes had made her that way. I clenched my sweating fist tightly.
‘Belinda, I think I understand you now.’
The harsh words she’d shouted in paroxysms whenever she saw Sybel. They were nothing more than vanity to mask her fear.
But these are Belinda’s fears, not mine.
‘So, leave it to me, Belle.’
The thing Belinda couldn’t do because of her fear.
Without hesitation, I kicked Sybel in the shin with all my might.
Then I swung my clasped hands in a series of combos, hitting him in the stomach.
Once, twice, three times.
Sybel had been hit on his temple by the corner of the book, and when he saw the blood, he lost his cool for a moment and grabbed my wrist roughly.
“Are you crazy, woman?!”
Despite his stature, Belinda’s body was so frail, I staggered and was pushed back against the wall.
Thud. I hit the wall with my back and lost my way to escape.
The shadow of his outstretched hand fell over me, but I looked up at him, unblinking.
With a cold expression.
Flash. Lightning struck again, illuminating the corridor, and he stopped dead in his tracks with his hand raised.
Sybel probably noticed it too.
He couldn’t lay a finger on me.
At least not while he was known to the world as ‘the gentle brother’.
“Indeed, you are good at grasping the subject, like a mongrel should be, ” I sneered and slapped his hand roughly. “Listen well, you mongrel.”
Then, I calmly explained to him as if I were dealing with a subordinate, wiping my chin and hands with a handkerchief where his hand had touched.
“I’ll call a doctor right away. And I’ll say that this wound was caused by my kind-hearted older brother, who couldn’t even lift a finger against his little sister because of the dowry.”
“Do you think people will believe that?”
“Why wouldn’t they? As soon as the will was revealed, I was sent to this miserable annex without any servants to keep me company.”
Grind. Sybel’s teeth grinding echoed harshly down the corridor.
“Oh, right. Wasn’t that what I wanted? But will people really think that? That ‘Belinda’ went to the shabby annex of her own accord?”
This happened because he tried to make up for his lack of lineage with his character. Who else can we blame but our own stupidity?
Managing one’s image is always the hardest thing. In my past life, there were even some celebrities who had fallen into ruin because their true character was revealed despite their meticulous management of their image.
“People will be ecstatic about rumors that the victim, whom they thought was kind, has turned into the perpetrator, rather than the obvious rumor that the scoundrel committed a heinous act. You’ve been behaving well enough all this time, Sybel. If you come out of this situation, your reputation will be ruined.”
I let my voice grow more forceful with each sentence, until I finally delivered the finishing blow.
“You haven’t killed me yet,” I sneered at him, dropping the handkerchief at his feet.
Good news floated in the form of frustration all over Sybel’s face.
I forgot the situation and rejoiced at the system window popping up, but only for a moment.
A dull sound of something falling echoed in the hallway. My head quickly turned in the direction of the noise.
It was Leo, who had dropped his book and picked it up hurriedly.
“Well, it’s because…… was getting late, so I went to…….”
Sybel’s gaze landed on the terrified Leo, and before I could think, my body moved. I pushed Sybel aside, grabbed Leo’s hand roughly, and hid him behind me.
It was an irreparable mistake, I realized, when I saw the look on Sybel’s face.
“I see you have something precious. Yes, people become stronger when they have something to protect. So, what’s your name?”
“Don’t answer,” I commanded.
I turned and walked away with Leo, unable to hide my dismay.
Apparently, Belinda’s situation was worse than I had thought.