So the Duchess Disappeared - Chapter 2
She decided to think about the future.
She thought to have no lingering feelings about her relationship with the Duke. After all, it was just a contract.
With that in mind, she quickly planned her escape.
She took a quill pen and carefully scribbled it down.
Exactly two weeks later. The day of the banquet in the Imperial Palace seemed most suitable.
There was a condition in setting the day of the runaway.
To begin with, the chances of escaping with a heavy body from the heavily guarded Duke’s residence were almost zero. So she had to escape when she went out.
With that in mind, she came to the conclusion that there were two options. A social ball is coming up in a few days, and a banquet at the Imperial Palace in two weeks.
‘Which day would be better?’
It was difficult to walk around freely as a Duchess. As a result, it was the right day to go out under the guise of an official meeting.
Second, she will not accompany the Duke. The Duke was an incredibly intelligent and quick-witted man. It would have been tough to avoid the surveillance if she had been by his side.
‘Since I was supposed to go to the ball together with the Duke, then I guess.’
Psyche circled the word banquet.
She was going to accompany the Duke to the social ball, but the banquet held at the imperial palace was different. The banquet hosted by the Empress was a gathering of noble wives to which only ‘married women’ could enter.
The men, of course, were unable to attend. Furthermore, the Duke stated that he would be traveling to another country for work from the day the banquet was held
He would not notice Psyche running away immediately. It also had something to do with the first reason. Even if she ran away from the Duke, it would be pointless if he immediately followed her.
So that was the most fitting day. Psyche, who had finished all of the plans, thought.
‘The Duke should never know that I’m thinking of running away.’
The month of giving birth wasn’t too far away either. There will be about three months left. She decided to act as casual and natural as possible.
She took a deep breath.
Because she didn’t want to share the pain with the child.
The meaning of the child was greater to Psyche than she had anticipated, despite the fact that it was only a product of a contract. It was a difficult but strange feeling.
It was a strange feeling to embrace life. There were several moments when she felt uncomfortable since her body did not look like hers.
‘At first… I certainly did.’
Even though it was because of the contract, she also felt strange. In the midst of such confusion, the Duke treated her with the utmost respect.
“Wife, please sit here.”
“Wife, it’s cold. Please go in.”
“Wife, you must not skip breakfast.”
There were moments when she felt happy to see the Duke stopping by every morning as if he was checking in.
The two’s relationship was based on a contract, but she thought the bloodline was unusual. Perhaps, she thought that she could give her child the image of a happy family that anyone could dream of.
As a result, she eventually fell in love with the child and the attachment grew over time. It made her want to give something special to the child.
Although it wasn’t a grandiose feeling, the child was definitely precious to Psyche.
But to think it was all an act.
Looking back, he never revealed his true feelings to her. He’d always been nice on the outside.
It was painful to realize that he had deceived her in order to obtain the child.
‘You can’t make a child without a mother.’
She sat still and shook her head.
‘I have to leave this place for the sake of the child and myself.’
However, she had no intention of living a life of misery by giving birth to a child on her own.
‘To do that, I need to travel somewhere with a good environment. I also need to raise money.’
Even if she couldn’t give the child the same things that the Duke could give, she didn’t want to raise him in misery.
So, she thought that a more meticulous and proper plan was needed.
She struggled over and over again.
‘It will be quite expensive if I sell the jewelry I have. But… I wouldn’t be able to carry much because it’s rather bulky.’
Psyche opened a small drawer under the bedside table.
“I should have asked him to get some more jewelry for me.”
She had no idea how much she would come to regret refusing gifts in the past since it seemed to cause unnecessary inconvenience to the Duke. She spotted a small bouquet of dry flowers next to the jewelry while tinkering with the necklace in the drawer.
“Oh, it’s amazing to make a bunch of pulmonaria herbs into a bouquet…”
At that, Psyche patted her knee.
“People here seem to be ignorant of herbs and plants. You can make a use of this.”
She thought it was a great idea and quickly began to materialize her plan.
Knock, knock, knock.
Psyche was startled by the knock and immediately changed her shawl. Her cheeks were flushed from overconcentration. When she peeked out the window, the dazzling golden sun had already gone down behind the mountain. The sun appeared to have dissolved in the sky.
‘Oh, how come the hour passes so quickly.’
She used to have dinner with the Duke once a week, but she forgot it was today.
‘Of all days, it’s today.’
Psyche patted both cheeks with her hands and replied.
At that point, one of the maids gently opened the door and entered, informing her.
“The meal is ready, Madam. The Duke stated that he would go first. Shall I lead you?”
“No, I’ll take care of it.”
It took mental preparation to treat the Duke casually.
She took a deep breath and looked at her face.
‘No need to be nervous, act as usual. As usual.’
She stood up after adjusting her clothes. Her cheeks appeared to be flushed for no apparent reason. Psyche was even more determined since she didn’t want to offer the sensible Duke an excuse.
However, she was very careful about everything as she was a little nervous. She had arrived at the dining room while making a new resolution.
“What makes you so nervous about eating?”
Psyche was startled by the voice that seemed to whisper in her ear from behind.
It was the Duke, who had stated that he would arrive first.
“Ah. You, uh, you said that you will come first.”
“No. You’re even more surprised today?”
“That, that is! It’s because Your Highness seems to be teasing me today!”
At that, the Duke laughed silently.
“I see. I just wanted to surprise my wife. Come on, let’s eat inside.”
He reached out from behind and opened the door. It looked like he was holding her in his arms, so Psyche was perplexed.
“You look embarrassed.”
He lightly placed a hand on her shoulder and pushed her inside. It looked friendly.
At one time she felt it was just his duty to be so kind to her. It would have been better if it was a duty. Now that she learned the truth, it all felt like a fake.
“Sit down. Wife.”
He kindly pulled out the chair. Psyche gazed at her husband as she followed him mindlessly. Duke Valentine was a perfect gentleman.
He was the husband of every woman’s dream. Status, wealth, and appearance.
But now it all felt useless. Psyche gave a brief glance at his kindness and smiled.
“You’re smiling, it’s nice to feel like it’s brightening up here. Wife.”
He only said a few words to her before going to his seat and sitting down. As soon as he sat down, the prepared meal began to come out according to the course.
Normally, they should sit at opposite ends of a big table, but the Duke decided to seat Psyche close to him because he didn’t feel right sitting like that.
She felt the action was incredibly romantic at the time, but now when she thinks about it, she wonders if it was for monitoring.
“It seems there’s nothing special going on.”
Even if he was only a contract husband, he was always concerned about Psyche’s health and situation. He was meticulous, making certain that there was never a scarcity of money or giving her a new dress as a present every month.
On the surface, he appeared to be the perfect husband. Psyche bit her lips.
She knew he said he was going to kill her. He said that a little while ago. She wondered how could he sit with such a calm expression. That kind face was more frightening than anything else. But she smiled as if nothing had happened.
“Well, His Highness is always looking out for me, so there must be nothing special. It’s flawless.”
“I’m glad to hear that.”
The Duke smiled sweetly. The table was adorned with simple but colorful appetizers. Tomato soup with finely ground walnuts was served. The Duke smiled and recommended they start by eating.
“I heard tomatoes and walnuts are so good for pregnant women, so I prepared them.”
Psyche, who unwittingly shortened her words, quickly smiled and added.
“Thank you for always taking care of me.”
“It’s nothing. Of course, I should.”
His kindness did not stop there. The Duke took the steak from the main course, sliced it into bite-sized pieces, and placed it in front of Psyche, softly smiling. That action made Psyche’s thoughts more complicated.
‘You can’t be weak by this, Psyche.’
When Psyche looked at the food in front of her, she calmed her complicated heart. The Duke, who was slicing the steak in front of her again, looked at Psyche and opened his mouth.
“Oh yeah. Wife. About the royal banquet.”
Psyche’s eyes widened in surprise when the Duke mentioned a banquet in which he had no interest.
She was still trying to figure out how to run away from the banquet, but she had the impression that he had discovered something.
“What are you so surprised about?”
“Oh. Originally, you said you were not interested in banquets where women gather, so it was surprising.”
She escaped the crisis as calmly as she could and smiled like she always did.
But it was only for a short time.
At the Duke’s next words, Psyche lost her composure and dropped the knife.