Chapter Seventeen: Madman

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It's been a few days since my meeting with Duke Zenos however the events of that day are still fresh in my mind. The contract, the rotten corpse of the palace maid and Duke Zenos's fleeting smile...wait, why did I just remember his smile?!

"Miss, why are you so red? Are you unwell?" Mariah asked, bringing me back to reality.

"I am fine, Mariah. I most probably didn't get enough sleep," I said as an excuse, attempting to hide the real reason.

Mariah voiced her concerns, "Oh my, Miss, today is finally the weekend. To fall sick today of all days...you were looking forward to today ever since you returned from the Xavier Estate."

"Look-king forward-d? Wh-at do you-u mean-n? And I said I am fine. I am not sick," I said in protest to her words.

Teasing me, Mariah said, "Yes yes, you definitely weren't looking out of the window every day or glancing towards the calendar every five seconds, in hopes of the weekend arriving sooner."

"Mariah!" I shouted in embarrassment.

"Miss, why are you so angry? I apologise. My eyes must have seen wrong. My old age is really getting to me," Mariah responded with a smile.

"Mariah, you are twenty-one," I replied, blankly.

"I am that old already? I hope you find it in your heart to forgive this pitiful old lady," Mariah pleaded, her actions contradicting her words as she grinned.

As I was about to continue my argument with Mariah, a servant knocked on the door of my chamber very hurriedly.

"Miss, an escort from the Xavier estate has arrived," the servant informed.

"Mariah, let's put a hold on our argument for now," I suggested.

"A wise decision, Miss. You won't win anyways," Mariah said in agreement.

"I wonder who pays you for all your hard work, Mariah. It's been a while since I have had a nice, long chat with father. I should visit him sometime soon, don't you think?" I asked, forcing a smile.

"Oh no, Miss, look at the time. I must get you ready. Today, I will dress you up so beautifully, everybody's eyes will be on you," Mariah said, admitting defeat.

Smoothly changing the topic, huh? I have a formidable maid indeed.

"Good. I look forward to it," I stated with a smirk.

After I changed into my burgundy coloured knee-length dress, Mariah attached a golden hairpin to my crimson red hair.

I twirled in front of the mirror as Mariah complimented, "You look absolutely stunning."

"Thank you, Mariah. Now, we shouldn't make the escort wait any longer. Let's head down," I replied.

Outside the Rosario mansion, once again, stood the ginormous onyx carriage with a golden rose painted on it.

At the sight of Cesar, I greeted him, "A pleasure to meet you again, Sir Cesar."

In response, Cesar nodded.

Guess I won't hear his voice today as well.

After what felt like forever with the awkward silence, we finally arrived at the Xavier estate.

The carriage door opened to reveal Rey standing behind it who offered me his hand, helping me out. I looked around to see dozens of maids standing to welcome me on both sides of a red carpet.

Surprised, I asked Rey, "Umm Rey, what is with this grand welcome?"

"What are you saying, Lady Eliza? This much is at least mandatory since you are soon to become the Lady of this house," Rey stated, as if it were the most natural thing to do.

"I see..." I whispered, slowly.

As I stepped onto the carpet, all the maids in unison greeted me, "Welcome, Lady Eliza."

Startled by their greeting, I was rendered speechless.

Calming my nerves down, I replied, "Thank you for the warm welcome," with a tender smile.

As I walked past the maids, I heard them whisper.

One said, "Oh my, Lady Eliza is an angel."

The other followed, "I know right! I wonder how such a kind and beautiful lady ended up with our cold and dark Lord."

One asked, "What if the Lord has something on her? What if she is being blackmailed? I feel so sorry for her."

One replied, "I can totally imagine that. Poor Lady Eliza..."

Don't laugh, Eliza. Don't laugh. You have to maintain your elegant appearance.

Rey took the lead as I tried to hide my giggles.

"Lady Eliza, are you okay?" Rey asked in concern.

"Yes..." I mumbled.

"If you say so...this way, Lady Eliza. The Lord is waiting for you in the parlour," Rey said, stretching out his hand in the direction of my destination.

After reaching the parlour, Rey knocked on the door and infomed, "Lady Eliza is here."

"Let her in," Duke Zenos ordered.

I stepped into the room as Rey took his leave.

Ah, I can no longer hold it in...

I burst out laughing and my loud laughter quickly filled the air. Duke Zenos's expression which held surprise initially, quickly changed into a mischievous one.

"It seems Rey entertained my guest quite well," Duke Zenos said with a smirk.

Hearing Duke Zenos's sharp but deep voice, I realised the situation I was in.

1. I am a noble lady with proper etiquette.

2. I am at my fiancé's house.

3. My fiancé isn't even a real one but one through a contract.

4. I started to laugh out loudly like a madman.

Conclusion: I, a noble lady with proper etiquette, who is at my contract fiancé's house, started laughing like a madman without any reason. He definitely thinks I am crazy now. Way to go Eliza...

I stammered out an apology, "I am-m so-so sorry-ry."

"No need to be shy all of a sudden. I prefer you laughing with your mouth wide open more than the quiet you," Duke Zenos said, chuckling.

He is teasing me, ughh...

"Thank you for the compliment..." I replied, forcing a smile.

"Well then, jokes apart, take a seat. Let's begin discussing the details of the contract," Duke Zenos announced.

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