A Rose Dedicated to You Chapter 17
After that, Orpheus visited my room many times and treated me with a shady and sweet attitude that seemed to hold a hidden meaning.
I welcomed him with a big smile, talked gleefully, apologised obediently when he cautions me on my arrogant remarks, and sometimes, I touch his arms or shoulders.
Orpheus, who was clearly suspicious of me, continued to accompany his eerie wife without saying anything, even though he did look confused at times; probably because he was holding back against an injured person or because he wanted to fulfil his duties as a husband.
Two weeks after he started visiting me, the swelling on my cheeks got better, and the bruise on my shoulder disappeared.
If you look closely, then my skin was a little yellowish, but I can hide that with makeup.
The doctor said that the traces will disappear in a few days, and my skin would return to normal, so there aren't any adverse effects even if I apply white powder on my skin.
I took time to do my hair, put on makeup and wore a brightly coloured dress as if I was wearing glamorous clothes like before.
I went to where Orpheus was while dressed like this, and invited him to tea and for walks. If Orpheus doesn't come to visit me, then I have to assertively interact with him.
When Orpheus was in the mansion, I persistently followed him, when he wasn't, I would act like Countess Rosenberg and play to my heart's content, waste money and go to the gambling house.
"You're gorgeous, Madam." I took Claire's words as the signal and looked into the mirror. Reflected was not the usual plain and gloomy Ophelia, but a beautifully dressed-up lady.
I was dressed in a light, and navy striped dress with a navy ribbon around my waist; on my ears were diamond earrings.
My pale skin and lips looked better thanks to makeup, and even if someone just looked at my face, it was like I had transformed into a completely different person compared to when I wasn't wearing makeup.
"Amazing, Claire. I always think this, but amazing." When I applauded Claire for transforming me with her incredible skills, she blushed and smiled.
She looked so cute that it made me want to hug her.
"No way… Madam is a beautiful person, so you look good in whatever you wear."
"No, you're wrong. It's because your skills are amazing."
Claire is an excellent maid.
She's usually careful and fast with her typical job too, but her hair and makeup techniques, as well as fashion taste, are also outstanding.
She didn't even have to take an hour. In a short time, she could transform me into Countess Rosenberg who wouldn't feel ashamed no matter where I go.
She was also good at acting and could perform a great act of a young girl who is frightened and weak against her selfish mistress.
Her airheadedness is also cute, and she was a capable person who was too good for me.
When I praised her without holding back, her face went red like an apple in an instant, and she ran away, "I'll go get the gloves!" She's shy as always.
Smiling at the short girl rustling around the closet, I turned to the mirror again and confirmed if there were any imperfections.
I was dressed-up even though I wasn't going out, but it's just right for Countess Rosenberg.
Because she loves gorgeous dresses and always overly dresses herself up.
"Madam, is this one alright?"
I nodded and put on the white lace gloves that Claire had gotten me. I turned around on the spot and asked Claire, "How do I look?"
"If I were a man…"
Claire clenched her apron with both hands and looked up at me with a sad and vexing expression.
What the hell is wrong? I wondered doubtfully, and she continued, "If I were a man…"
"I'd take Madam and run away to a foreign country."
I was surprised by the remark that reminded me of Viscount Barbara who eloped to a foreign country because of his affair, and stuttered, "Wh-what do you mean?"
"It means you're attractive. You're beautiful, hardworking, brave, wholeheartedly… Even if you have a lover, I would definitely love you and will never make you sad. I'll take care of you like you're an expensive doll. If Madam had married another man, then he would probably think the same as me. Last requests don't matter. That's why Master is weird. I'll be clear, it's strange for him not to take good care of you or love you. And, I can't believe that he hates you when you try this hard."
"Cl-Claire, you're saying too much…"
"It's the truth! Master isn't normal! He's weird! He's strange!"
Apparently, she couldn't forgive Orpheus, who was drawing away, for not refusing me clearly even though I tried to actively interact with him.
However, no matter how tolerant one is, anyone would be puzzled if their wife, who had been acting selfishly and arrogant until now, suddenly changed their attitude and snuggles up to them with a coaxing voice. They would probably react like Orpheus. They won't take it easily, and take a step back warily, wondering if their wife is scheming something.
After all, his wife is that notorious Countess Rosenberg. He can't let his guard down.
More importantly, I was more troubled over the fact that he didn't hate it.
"I think Orpheus's reactions are normal. He doesn't know the situation as you do."
"Now, now, calm down. Come on, take a deep breath."
It took a lot of effort to pacify Claire, who was so angry from talking, that her eyes had glazed over.
I can understand how she feels, but I warned her that servants should understand their position and gently patted her head.
"Claire. I'm fine. You and Claude are on my side. I don't care what happens."
"We have to go soon. I don't have much time because an auditor associate is coming by at night. Now, Claire. Cheer up and greet me with your usual cute smile when I get back."
"Uoah… Understood. If Madam says so."
I patted Claire's head again and smiled, "I'm leaving." Claire bowed politely, "Take care."
I felt like her cute voice had given me a push on my back, and was able to leave the room with a much more positive attitude than usual.
Down the stairs, I headed to the study on the first floor, ――― Orpheus's workroom.
Today as well, I shadowed the busy Orpheus, and flirted with him to get him to hate me.
"How do you do, Orpheus! How are you getting on with your work?"
I slammed the door open and smiled at Juris, who was looking at me in surprise and at Orpheus, who had frozen with a feather pen in his hand.
"You look as busy as always. There's a crease between your eyebrows, Orpheus. You look scary.”
"I'm sure you're working too hard. You're a diligent worker. Why don't you take a break? Look, it's such a nice day out today. Let's go for a walk. It's a nice change of pace."
When I made a rude entrance, put my hands on the ebony desk stacked with documents and drew closer to Orpheus, he glanced at me once before immediately lowering his gaze and sighing.
His expression didn't change, but he said as if he was fed up, "Again?"
"I'm happy for the invitation, but I'm in the middle of work. There are a few things I have to finish by today. I'm sorry, but today's…"
"Oh my, then I'll wait until you're finished."
"I don't know how long it'll take me."
Orpheus acted the same even though the swelling on my cheek has faded.
Does he still feel bad for me, or is he trying to keep things peaceful by taking a step back to continue this marriage? ――― His lips twitched sometimes, but he hid his confusion and kept talking to his suspicious wife.
"It's only that much. Then, I'll help you. I can do simple settlements and calculate balances. Juris, hand me some documents and prepare me a chair. Next to Orpheus."
When I took my gloves off and approached Juris, he looked at Orpheus in silence to see his decision.
Orpheus opened his mouth as if to say something, but I raised a hand and puffed out my chest, "Don't worry."
"I helped you almost every day when we were newlyweds, didn't I? And, sitting around and doing nothing doesn't suit me."
"You're wasting time. Hurry up."
When documents were taken from a corner of Orpheus's desk, and space was made, Juris quickly carried a chair over, and I sat down calmly.
Orpheus looked at me and gave me a bunch of documents and a stamp as if he had given up because I wouldn't let him have his way, "Stamp these."
"Read through the content, and tell me if there's anything that bothers you."
I ignored Juris's gaze that looked like he wanted to say something and read the documents.
My purpose is to take a walk with Orpheus alone, not to rummage around in this place.
I questioned Orpheus about complaints and requests from the fief citizens and Juris about mansion management, and seriously did my work, unlike what Countess Rosenberg would do. I reread the documents many times to make sure I hadn't misread anything and asked many questions until I understood what I had asked.
When I stamped all the documents that he had given me and piled them up neatly near me, I demanded my next job, "Anything else?"
"No, that's enough. Thanks."
"That's enough? I only did this much. There's still a lot left, isn't there?"
"I appreciate your feelings, but you've been struggling with those documents for over an hour. You should take a little break."
"An hour, you say?"
――― Wasn't it just 10 minutes?
I looked around in amazement, saw the sun was tilting towards evening from outside the window and realised that Orpheus hadn't been lying.
Apparently, I forgot about the time because I was too focused.
However, an hour wasn't a big deal, and I was focused.
"I'm still alright. Now, give me more. If not, then we won't be able to go on a walk."
"If you want to go for a walk that much, then how about going alone?"
"No! I want to go with you! I want to spend time with you! I'll do anything to achieve this, so give me more documents quickly! Now!"
Orpheus, who was about to stamp a document, stopped moving and went silent.
He remained like that for a long time but finally pressed the stamp feebly onto the document. He awkwardly lifted his face, and I could almost hear a creaking sound.
"Sorry, but I'll go outside for a bit. I'll be back in 30 minutes."
"But, you're still in the middle of your work?"
"It'll work out somehow. No, I'll finish it somehow. ――― Ophelia, let's go."
Orpheus finally got up from his chair, probably because he couldn't work while being in the same room as me.
He probably wanted to drive me away by granting my wish instead of shouting at me endlessly.
I shouted joyfully in my mind and smiled complacently while standing up.
"I'm happy, Orpheus. You're finally going to take a walk with me."
After I wore my lace gloves and swept away my annoying bangs, I clung to his arm even though he hadn't offered it to me.
Instead of linking arms elegantly with one hand, I literally clung to him with both.
"Fufu, let's go."
Taking this opportunity, I tried to push my cheeks against him, but he must have been horrified because he wanted to push me away with his free hand.
Then, I clung onto him tightly, and he put his hand down without saying anything, probably because he remembered that I would stick to him again once he separates himself from me.
I pulled Orpheus's arm and went out into the corridor. While passing servants who looked at us with mixed feelings, I walked triumphantly to the front door.
It isn't painful to put on a believable expression when I try to approach Orpheus because I was used to it now. I felt nothing.
At first, I felt like my stomach was twisting, but now I can even snuggle close to him.
Everything is thanks to Orpheus's questionable response.
It seemed like Orpheus couldn't forgive me even if he wasn’t going to break up with me probably because I've been playing a bad wife until now.
He seemed uncomfortable when I acted overly friendly and was walking with a disappointed expression on his face.
Even though he saved me from those harsh days, I betrayed him, lead a dissipated life, even got a lover, and didn't change no matter how much rebuked me. Or so he thought, but I completely changed after my father's visit and tried to get close to him.
However, I was only acting overly-sweet in front of Orpheus, and I still continued my bad wife performance from before… So it's natural for him to look sour.
If I weren't a woman, then he would have grabbed my collar and shook me a long time ago. "What're you thinking?!" He would ask.
However, it's not over yet. I will make him more frustrated and uncomfortable.
――― Until he can't take it anymore and explodes.
We walked out the front door and went down the stone stairs.
I pretended to stagger, shrieked cutely and tried to hug Orpheus.
If he avoids me, then I would roll down and break a bone or two, but he's a gentleman, so he won't. He caught me and asked worriedly, "Are you alright?"
I blushed like a girl who had fallen in love for the first time while admiring his glistening blue eyes.
"Why should I do? It looks like I've hurt my foot…"
Of course, it's a lie. It doesn't hurt. I don't run because I can't, but I'm fine enough to run with all my might.
"I can't walk unless you support me. Orpheus, please don't let go of my hand. Hold on to it like this."
"You shouldn't force yourself to walk. Let's go back and cool it down."
"It'll be alright if you support me. You finally made time for this, so I'd like to take a walk."
"What if it gets worse?"
"It only hurts a little bit. Don't worry. Say, please? Support me."
Orpheus tried to look for the chance to let go of my hand, probably because he hated me clinging to him. But, he can't do that if I lie and say my foot hurt. He would feel uncomfortable because he has to support me as we walk.
Also, there was a pleasant wind because it was nearly evening, but the temperature in early summer wasn't suitable for snuggling up to each other.
Being made to join a wife, who he didn't like, for a walk during a busy time as she forces a sweet expression on him, and having an uncomfortably hot embrace is really the worst. He would probably hate me more than he does now, right?
"Never let go."
I brought my slender hand to his face and looked up at him.
Orpheus widened his eyes and immediately averted his gaze. It was hard to see because he was facing sideways, but I didn't miss the frown that gracefully appeared on his face.
――― He really seems to hate it.
I made a fist in my mind, not because I was sad, but because I was happy.
I want him to hate me more. I want him to get irritated. I want him to loathe me.
――― Then, divorce me.
I ruthlessly suppressed the feelings that wanted to overflow because of his nostalgic perfume and leaned coquettishly against him.
I persuaded myself that I couldn't feel him or his warmth.
I shook off my sentiments.
"Say, Orpheus. Walk more slowly."
"Does it hurt? Then…"
"It's fine. It's fine even if it hurts. I want to walk with you like this."
Orpheus nodded silently and slowed down.
He remained expressionless as we walked around the garden, but he let me hold his right arm until the end.