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    Translated by alyalia
    Edited by popcorn


     

    Cersinia went to give him a pat every night, then checked something stuck below her foot.  

    “Ah…”

    It was a sack of chips brought from the gambling house. It was the first time she saw it again after throwing it anywhere on the first day. Cersinia picked up a handful of chips spread out from the tightly tied sack. Even after picking a handful, there were countless chips left. All these chips were money.

    Cersinia’s forehead was wrinkled. There are not many days left to trade Ben and chips in this sack. She wondered if it was really okay to let him go.

    Rattle.

    At that time, as it came from above the old ceiling, she heard the rattling sound along with several legs moving. When darkness came, a swarm of mice came to gnaw on the old wood. There were already small holes in the ceiling of the cabin from the mice.

    When it was her unlucky day, a mouse fell through the hole and faced her. She hates mice, so she couldn’t kill, chase, or catch them alive. There was a time that she went out all day just because of that.

    Cersinia sighed a little, poured the chips back into the sack, and tucked them against the edge of the wall so it wouldn’t get caught at her feet. Her eyes, which had been sparkling a little, suddenly subsided. Facing reality, Cersinia’s heart felt cold. She skillfully placed her hand over Ben’s chest.

    ‘I hope you slept comfortably while you were here,’ with that mind, she patted him that day. There will be no one who would do this for him if they already parted away. Even though Ben awoke and fell asleep again, Cersinia patted him for a long time.

    As the parting day approached, Cersinia’s heart grew stronger. Whatever Ben’s feeling of her, she decided not to care if her own feelings were tumultuous. She knew that it would be difficult to part away with him if it went on like this. It was hard, but she was determined to overcome it. She was preparing for his departure.

    “Do you have a family?” Cersinia asked and handed over the painted plate to Ben. She wondered if she could help him in some other way.

    “I had a mother, but she died when I was 13 years old.”

    “13 years old?”

    “Yes, from then on, I became a slave and was repeatedly sold,” Ben said calmly, wiping the plate with a cloth, contrary to her reaction, which was quite startled.

    Cersinia was the one who asked the question, but she didn’t know what to reply, so she bit her mouth. She cannot fathom the weight of the pain he must have suffered. A hasty consolation will only become poison.

    “There was a name my mother used to call me, but I don’t remember because it was too long ago. No one has called my name since my mother died.”

    Contrary to the face that pretended to be calm, his eyes, like deep darkness, were shaking without mercy. Ben was biting his lip, trying to hold back his tears, but tears were filling the corners of his eyes.

    “But since then, Cersinia was the first person to give me a name and call me…” A drop of tears flowed down his cheek.

    ‘Oh, no…’ She groaned low inside. A corner of her heart has become gloomy.

    Ben hurriedly wiped away his tears, hoping Cersinia never saw it. Cersinia pretended not to see it and focused on washing the dishes. She did that while resisting wanting to slap her mouth after bringing up the question.

    It’s dangerous for them to get closer or get to know Ben more deeply. She still sympathizes with him beyond the line. But it had to be just that. Ben was the collateral that she had to give back when she received the money, and he was a person she couldn’t afford to let him be by her side.

    She didn’t know how her death flag would turn out. She was trying to live a normal life, not as a villainess, but things may not work out as she wanted.  In the end, it might be fate that her throat got cut off and died. She couldn’t share such an unstable fate with him. Because she never knows what might happen if he stayed by her side. From the moment she possessed Cersinia’s body, she decided to endure all alone.

    ‘So, no more.’ She should no longer have compassion for Ben. Cersinia cracked down her own feelings.

    An awkward silence fell between the two. Ben glanced at Cersinia as if he was looking into Cersinia’s eyes. Cersinia pretended not to know until the end, the gaze that made the side of her face sting. Cersinia tightly closed her lips, so Ben couldn’t open them first. The two focused on washing the dishes without saying a word. Only the sound of running water and the rattle of washing dishes reverberated in the kitchen. Cersinia finally handed over the painted plate to Ben.

    “I can do it all…” Ben, who was wiping off the last plate with a cloth, smiled awkwardly as if trying to change the atmosphere.

    “It’s my chores, so I’ll do it.”

    Cersinia deliberately drew a line emphasizing ‘my’. This space is her own space. There is no place for Ben. As if realizing the meaning, Ben raised the corner of his mouth slightly and smiled bitterly.

    “Yes… of course.”

    Ben’s long eyelashes were shaking quietly. Cersinia tried to press down the urge to pat him on the shoulder. She ferociously turned her gaze from Ben and walked out of the kitchen.

    * * *

    Time went by quickly. A week was too short, and the day for parting was approaching.

    “Cersinia. You have to go down,” said Ben, who smiled calmly after finishing the preparations.

    Cersinia’s mouth felt bitter. She thought about it until the end. Is it really okay for her to be like this? But every time, what cheered her up was to receive the money.  She felt sorry for Ben, but she needed money because she already went all in for that money. Even more, that money was for her to live a rich life without being villainess.

    Another reason is that she didn’t want Ben tangled up with her fate. There was no guarantee that she would live a better life than before. So, she couldn’t share the unknown fate with him. If she did that, she would be too selfish.

    Cersinia’s actions, overshadowed by her guilt, were slow. From taking out the robe and picking up the sack of chips.  She couldn’t help but show herself rushing in front of him. She just wanted to slow down the part away with Ben a little. Recognizing it, Ben smiled innocently. He seemed to be fine. His eyes bent smoothly, drawing an arc without hesitation.

    “The sun is going to set at this rate. Hurry up and come.”

    Ben didn’t forget to urge her. Cersinia couldn’t bear to see Ben straight, so he pressed her robe tightly. Her heart was stuffy with mixed feelings. But the fact that nothing would change made her mind heavier.

    “Come down, Cersinia.”

    Ben opened the front door first and left. The figure that caught Cersinia’s chest and twisted it. Her heart tingled and throbbed. Cersinia couldn’t look Ben in the eyes while going down.

    * * *

    Inside the gambling house currency exchange.

    Viscount Montene sat on the sofa, but he was nervous. He forgot to save his face and shook his legs.

    ‘What should I do if she changes her mind?’ Viscount Montene bit his thumbnails.

    Viscount Montene received a reply from Count Enitio yesterday. The letter said that he was very much looking forward to it. That was definitely a good sign.

    It was an opportunity that he couldn’t miss. The collateral the woman took was an essential item for him. A young man with a decent appearance was a rare item that couldn’t be found anywhere. Surely, Count Enitio would be satisfied if he saw that slave with his own eyes. Then, of course, Count Enitio will help his business. Viscount Montene dreamed of a solid future.

    “Are they here?”

    When asked by Viscount Montene, Lewis looked around the open door and answered.

    “Looks like they’re not here.”

    “Why haven’t they come yet?” Feeling frustrated, Viscount Montene jumped up from his seat.

    As promised, the women must be coming here. However, looking at the door where no ants were entering, his nervousness reached its peak.

    ‘Don’t tell me you’re running away with the collateral.’

    Viscount Montene walked back and forth around the sofa several times with a firm face. When he had circled around twenty times…

    “My money.”

    A dull voice was heard. Viscount’s head turned around. A woman and her collateral were entering the currency exchange. Viscount Montene welcomed them with a smile.

    “You’re here.”

    Unlike the first day, the woman covered her face with a robe over her head.

    With curious eyes, Viscount Montene said, “Would you mind taking off your robe? I need to identificate.”

    As Cersinia was annoyed, she flipped her robe. Then her long red hair fluttered and fell gently near her waist. A beautiful face with clean skin was also revealed. Viscount Montene swallowed his saliva as he looked at Cersinia’s mysterious crimson eyes. He was trembling with lust.

    ‘She’s more beautiful than I thought.’

     He knew that she was beautiful even at first glance at the gambling house. But he had only seen her at a glance, so he didn’t know much about her appearance. Looking closely, she was a coveted woman. Viscount’s sticky gaze scanned Cersinia’s whole body. He struggled to hide the sneaky laughter that escaped.

    ‘I need to change my plan a little bit.’

    It was too wasteful to get rid of a woman with this appearance without tasting it.

    “Please hand over the collateral you took first,” Viscount Montene said without hesitation.


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    alyalia

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