Chapter 5

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Juliana stood there in a daze for a while before following the swiftly-moving storm that was Evan Hilchen into the mansion. 

When she arrived hurriedly at the door of the drawing-room, she pressed a hand on her chest to calm her racing heartbeat, then stuck her head through a gap in the doorway.

That was strange. The maids said he was here but the room seemed exactly the same as it was when Juliana had left it earlier.

“…where did he go?”

“Here I am!”

“…!”

Juliana jumped up in surprise at the unexpected answer. Evan hadn’t entered the room. He was standing right behind her. He had probably been waiting in the small room beside the drawing-room because Juliana could feel the warmth of a fire from the nearness of his body.

“Um, why were you there?”

“I wanted to go in with you,” responded Evan with a faint smile as Juliana tried to soften her voice.

“You didn’t have to…”

“I was afraid that I would wake up from this dream.” Those wistful words sounded odd coming from Evan Hilchen, a fearsome-looking 190 cm tall man with a warrior’s refined build, who exuded a unique atmosphere peculiar to an experienced swordsman. 

Juliana, who was agonizing over his answer, closed her eyes and thought, I wish this was a dream!

“…this isn’t a dream,” Juliana finally replied in a whisper.

Evan felt relieved at Juliana’s words and said, “Juliana, why are you acting so nice? What happened during the year I was gone?”

“Oh my! It’s nothing. The Duke’s mansion has been quiet and peaceful, thanks to Evan’s hard work in the frontlines—.”

“Are you feeling guilty because your lovers have been in and out of the mansion?”

“…” 

Juliana froze.

How could she forget? Until today she hadn’t known that she was in the world of a fantasy romance novel. Not to mention, that Juliana Auburn of the novel was merely villain number 1, a minor character who was only there to add flavor to the story.

However, that old, high-spirited Juliana Auburn, had now disappeared. The Juliana of the present time who had discovered fate’s little joke replied, shoulders drooping, “Ah, you know? Yes, that’s right. I’m sorry about that—.”

“Why are you lying to me?” said Evan in a baffled tone of voice that sounded almost kind. 

When he finished speaking, he reached out and lifted her chin with his hand. Though his touch was gentle, it still made Juliana shiver because she didn’t know what emotion lay behind his words and actions.

“I, I’m not lying. You must have worked hard on the battlefield—.”

“I don’t want to listen to that lie. I just want to know why you’re being so kind to me. Are you thinking of running away in the middle of the night? Are you leaving with those fools and saying goodbye to me forever?”

“What?! Who am I going to run away with?!” Juliana burst out when she couldn’t stand it anymore.

Those memories of playing around with an indeterminate number of people would have to be buried deep in her mind now. Sooner or later, when the real heroine of this novel arrives, there will be a huge commotion. Although she was stuck beside Evan Hilchen as villain number 1, that didn’t mean that she was going to run away in the middle of the night!

“Can’t you just accept that I can be kind to my husband on the first day of his return?”

“That’s deeply touching.” Evan smiled and glanced down at Juliana before removing his hand from under her chin.

Then he added, in a self-deprecating tone, “You know, I’m just another of Juliana’s fools.”

And so, after standing frozen in shock for a while, Juliana entered the drawing-room.

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