The Villain’s Terminally Ill Wife - Chapter 9
“So, what were you trying to tell me?”
Richard approached me and asked after he closed the door to the balcony.
I decided to breathe for a moment to clear my head. Fresh air rushed deep into my lungs and exhaled them several times.
“I don’t know where to start. I have to go a long way back……”
“The ball just started. There’s plenty of time.”
Richard spoke with ease, urging me to talk. I got a little impatient hearing him say it like that.
“Then I’ll go back to square one.”
“Yes. Go on.”
I had no choice but to confide in Richard about my past.
“My mother, the Duchess of Tristan, remarried Father when I was three. And sadly, my mother died when I turned 10.”
Richard sighed gently and gazed at me with a look of sympathy. Despite not being a part of the story, it seemed Richard empathized with my pain.
I understand why he feels sorry for me.
Richard, like me, lost both parents at a young age. Hearing my story, he must have felt the same way as me.
“Since then, the head’s position, which was supposed to be mine, has been entrusted to Father because I was too young. From that day on, he became the Duke of Tristan, and I became the scoundrel of the family.”
I didn’t go into detail and only give him a brief summary, but Richard seemed to understand what kind of situation I was in.
Especially because we were in the same situation where the heir who had the right to inherit the position is still alive. Originally, I would have the right to succeed as a Duchess after my mother, but sadly, I was too young.
In that situation, Father took away the title under the pretext of protecting me. But he was merely an acting Duke, and in effect, I had the right to succeed him and inherit the dukedom. That meant once I became an adult, I could always take back what my mother left behind.
How alarming and outrageous would that have been for him. I wasn’t even his biological daughter.
Having said that, it’s still impossible for me to take away the title and dukedom held by him after I directly became an adult.
I had to go through a trial for that to happen. But I didn’t have the stamina to endure the long, tedious trial.
Most of all, I was on the verge of death.
That’s why I couldn’t change anything and remained the same way as Diana was in the novel. As a result, I didn’t realize that I was becoming lethargic like a frog in boiling water.
“And, well, the next thing you know, Father lost all our fortune due to gambling, and owed you a lot of money.”
“We should have paid you the debt and yet…… You even take care of a weight like me.”
“I get it.”
Much to my surprise, Richard quickly understood even without me explaining everything.
Should I say I’m glad that he saves me the trouble of explaining? Or perhaps he just pretended to understand because he doesn’t know how to respond?
“Richard, you brought me thinking that I would become the Duchess of Tristan, but the truth is I’m a Duchess of nothing. Do you understand what that means? Do you understand how happy he must have been when he sent me off to you?”
After hearing everything I said, Richard raised his hand and ran it over his head. His hairstyle, which had been well-set, was now a little messy.
“I knew about it more or less. Being deceived like this really is the worse.”
Contrary to what I expected, I thought he’d be angry after hearing all this. But surprisingly, Richard only sighed loudly and didn’t reprimand me at all.
“Aren’t you angry?”
“Should I be angry with you? Or do you want to see me angry?”
“No, that’s… not it.” My voice came out small that it’s barely audible.
According to the original story, he was so angry with this fact that he started treating me like I didn’t exist.
After a lot of thought and hesitation, I risked myself bringing it up with the intention of letting him reprimand me without saying anything in return. Kicking me out of the house was one of the risks.
But Richard didn’t even get angry.
Is there something different from the original that I didn’t know?
I tried hard to retrace my memories of the novel, but as I thought, my character, which is an extra, wasn’t described in such detail. At least I remember everything easily up until now.
Richard let out a loud sigh again and frowned at me.
“So what do you want to tell me?” Richard asked me with eyes that seemed to know everything.
“You wanted to get your hands on the Tristans, right?”
“Then you should know why I told you so much of my story.”
“Use me,” I proposed.
The cold wind slowly passed between me and Richard before I quickly added,
“I am the legitimate heir to the Tristan Family. Although Father has my place now, it was originally mine.”
With that said, I reached out to Richard. Richard glanced down at my extended hand.
“Take this opportunity and use me.”
Contrary to my expectation, Richard didn’t hold my hand right away as a sign of our deal.
I asked back, embarrassed by the unexpected response.
“Yes. What about you? Diana, you talk as if you’re not going to get anything.”
I shut up at his words that seemed to penetrate my heart.
It was something I didn’t need anyway. I’ll be dead in a year, so what the use of holding onto those things? It’s not like I can take it with me when I die.
But I couldn’t say those words outright. Because Richard doesn’t know about my illness yet.
“I’m your wife. What’s yours is also mine.”
When I reassured him with a smile, Richard looked at me with disbelief.
“My arm is about to fall off,” I prompted Richard so he wouldn’t be suspecting anything.
Richard soon raised his hand and held mine after he didn’t find anything strange in me.
“Then, it’s a deal.”
“It’s a deal.”
* * *
After talking on the balcony, we went straight into the banquet hall. I settled my hand on Richard’s arm to make ourselves look natural, and he escorted me closely so I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable.
Our steps headed to where my father was.
“Good evening, Duke Tristan.”
Richard greeted his father-in-law with ease. He was looking at him with a relaxed, and arrogant face.
Then he smiled at me and held my hand affectionately as if he wants people to know that we have an intimate relationship.
When my father saw Richard, he quietly grumbled. He watched Richard’s greeting and soon put on a low smile while checking his surroundings’ reactions.
“Who might this gentleman be? Ah! Aren’t you the Earl of Theodore?”
At first glance, it seemed like Richard was welcomed, but the reality was different. Father purposely raised his voice as if he wants the people around him to listen.
“So, what brings you to me?”
“Of course, I came to say my greetings to the Duke. It’s been a long while since we’ve met again. Last time, it was the day before I’ve married Your Grace’s daughter, Princess Tristan.”
Richard placed his hand on top of mine. Father’s eyes turned to look at our hands and then he looked between me and Richard.
“I see. But I’m sorry to say this…” He lingered on.
“Diana is not my daughter.”
To my dismay, Father brought up these remorseful words. Words that clearly draw the line between him and me.
He was right.
Even if my mother remarried to Father, he still had no intention of treating me as a family member. Rather, I was considered an enemy or a hindrance to his position.
But I’ve been calling him Father ever since I was three. He has been since the day I could remember.
Even when my mother was alive, I thought Father was really my father.
He’s been a part of my world, and I’ve believed he was the proof of my existence.
But they were denied after the death of my mother.
Sure enough, my hand that was holding Richard’s arm clenched hard.
Richard glanced at me from the side as I gritted my teeth and barely holding on.
I caught a glimpse of something in his eyes that I couldn’t define.
Was it sympathy? Or pity?
Whatever it is, I didn’t really want to know.
It is certain that this moment Richard would completely understand. The things about my family, the issues I was facing. Words would not have been enough to explain.
It was fortunate that I had told Richard of my story beforehand. But if I hadn’t told him in advance, Richard, without knowing anything, would have been humiliated.
“What are you saying that Diana is not Your Grace’s daughter?”
“It is what it is. Well, thanks to the money you provided, I was free from the obligation. I truly appreciate that.”
He meant that Richard just blew away his money.
Because even if my father accepted Richard into the family, he didn’t have to pay just to marry me.
He’s so cruel.
Because of those things you uttered, my life in the future as Countess Theodore has plummeted to the bottom. I almost laughed in vain from the sheer absurdity.
Yeah, I guess it’s because of this. This is the reason why Richard ignored and disregarded the original Diana.
It seemed that today’s ball was the beginning of Diana’s ruin, the Diana who was just starting to fall in love with Richard.