Duke Arman and the duchess, who had been waiting in the carriage, glared daggers at me. My—or should I say, Scarlett’s—half-brother’s mouth was slightly agape.
Isar Arman was Scarlett’s older half-brother. They used to be just like any other siblings, arguing all the time but still close enough. However, time had made them grow apart. Of course, they never stopped trash-talking whenever they met.
“Shut your mouth before something crawls in it.”
Woah. Why is he listening to me? Ignoring his gaze heavy with ridicule, I stepped onto the carriage lightly. Yes, it was good to be rich.
The cushions were fantastic. The gazes of the three other people in the carriage never left me the entire trip. Well, I wasn’t going to lose the staring contest. If you’ve got something to say, spit it out. The only reason I hadn’t exploded already was that I wanted to avoid any needless conversations. I’m not scared of you. Of course, I couldn’t keep entirely from talking back.
The last month and a week had been hell. I stared coldly at the duke and duchess. I didn’t think I would be able to like them, no matter how much I tried. Hmph.
After the transmigration, I had looked around the manor’s crooks and crannies. Of course, I ran into Scarlett’s parents a few times. And each time, a string of warnings—or should I say, curses—had greeted me. The duke treated his own daughter like garbage, and the duchess grasped at every chance to dishearten Scarlett…
They swore so many times to my face. The duke staring at me with a death glare was probably struck dumb by my preposterousness now. I wonder if he’ll slap me again. What an animal.
But no, he tended to become less violent before his wife. Not because he was considerate of her, but because he hated the contempt oozing from her eyes when he hit someone. So no, he wouldn’t hit me in the carriage. He might start yelling, though.
Time seemed to slow in the icy silence. At least until the person least likely to break the silence suddenly did.
“What’s gotten into you today?”
Isar Arman never spoke up before the duke and duchess. I turned toward him, squinting in suspicion. Truthfully, he was the one guy in the family with whom I felt anything resembling comfort. He was the first person I came across the day I transmigrated.
Besides, he was nice to Scarlett. In the original story, he had been the only one to try and get Scarlett out of prison after receiving her death sentence. Come to think of it, Scarlett had tried to kill herself just before I transmigrated.
This was never mentioned in the novel, so I was unsure why. It was Isar who found her first and saved her life. He had glared at me for a long time when I woke up and eventually left after saying one word.
That was why I felt awkward around him but didn’t hate him. I decided to do him the courtesy of answering.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Yes, you do. That dress…”
Maybe it was him pointing out the dress that finally got the duke to snap out of it. His expression turned into one of downright fury. Yep, any time now.
“My dress?” I replied, ignoring the duke. “Why, isn’t it pretty?”
All smiles, sweet and innocent. There was another short silence.
“Are you craz—” Isar stopped mid-sentence, looking at me with a mixture of exasperation and a little pity.
“Don’t you think so?”
He glanced at the duke, then turned away from me with a frown. What was with him? He has been rather nice to me lately. In my memories, the conversations between us never really went this well. I studied Isar until…
“Scarlet Armaaan!” the duke bellowed.
There we go.
“You… You are not to leave this carriage! Get back home! Shameless girl, bringing disgrace upon the family—”
“Disgrace?” I said dryly.
My indifference seemed to startle the duke.
“Huh. What disgrace?”
He blinked, looking at me as if I’d grown a second head. It was almost funny how he never got used to me talking back. Didn’t he have a brain?
“You mean to say that is not a disgrace?” I cocked my head to the side. “You hit me when I bought those gowns last time. What’s wrong with this attire now?” I gestured down at the dress. “Isn’t it one of the plain dresses you prefer?”
He was practically spitting in my face now. I moved slightly away from him and his saliva, pretending to straighten my posture. I could feel Isar’s gaze through the reflection in the window.
“What will people speak of us behind our backs now?!” he fumed, turning red in the face.
I smiled sweetly again. Too bad, I don’t want to die. When I had just transmigrated, I’d kept a low profile so that I could figure out what was going on. I was done with that.
“Well, I think it’ll be something along the lines of ‘She’s dressed plainly today.’”
Most likely, they’d be talking more about how Scarlett Arman’s changed, how she wasn’t being cruel anymore.
“The way I’m dressed won’t affect the engagement, anyway,” I continued. The duke was startled, as if I’d pointed out what really had been on his mind. “And dressing up won’t improve our reputation, will it?”
This dress might have been a little unconventional, but the quality was far from poor; it couldn’t really be counted as a disgrace to the family name. Although the other noble families did enjoy showing off their status with the splendor of their outfits…
“As for the disgrace upon the family… Shouldn’t you be saying something to him too?”
I’d be busy starting today, so I didn’t have time to waste on people like the duke. No need to hold back. Apparently, he was done with “Scarlett” talking back to him. He raised his hand. The duchess, who had been staring icily at me all the while, turned sharply to him. Their eyes met. The duke flinched. Hah.
“Your son, so intent on gazing out the window, returned home last night wasted. Again,” I continued nonchalantly, unwavering.
Isar turned to me, a strange look in his eyes. Huh. I thought he’d be angry. He looked… a little interested.
“I’d say that the rumors of him singing in the streets have already swept the capital city.”
Being a noble household with a long history, word surrounding the house’s affairs spread easily.
“Aren’t you worried about the house’s dignity now?”
“You! You little—”
A cold voice cut through the heated atmosphere. I turned around to see Duchess Arman glaring at me. It’s about time she came into the picture.
“You are a nuisance indeed.”
I smiled calmly, staring straight back into the duchess’s deep blue eyes. Her glare turned even more chilly. Brrr. At first, I didn’t understand why she always gave me the cold shoulder, so I had always been uneasy around her. But now I know.
In the original book’s extra chapters concerning Scarlett, there were things about the duchess too. She has every right to hate me. Scarlett was the late duchess and the duke’s daughter. But just after she died… He brought home a lady he claimed he courted before he was married and her son. And the boy was even older than Scarlett. What a mess of a family.
But when you looked into it, that lady—the current duchess—–was also a victim. The duke betrayed her. He had promised to marry her but abandoned her when she got pregnant. And yet right after the duchess’s death, he offered to marry her as if he were doing her a great kindness. There had been a reason for his actions written in the original book. Recalling that, I scowled.
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