Chapter 4: Is this cohabitation really okay?

Part 2

After the meal, Lila found herself in the Duke’s office.
Her hands were sweating with nervousness as she took in the grandeur and splendor of the room.
She clutched her handkerchief tightly in her hand and stared at the teacup in front of her.

She clutched her handkerchief tightly in her hand and stared at the teacup in front of her.

“Then, have a nice time.”

Vincent set down the refreshments and tea and strode out of the room, his footsteps inaudible.
Only then did Lucas speak.

“Prospective Duchess.”

Lila swallowed hard at the low, expressionless voice.

“Yes, Duke.”

Lucas said with a dark smile, apparently noticing her nervousness.

“As you saw earlier, I have a nephew.”

“I see.”

“And I’m sure the prospective duchess is aware that I am a duke.”


“And you’ve probably also known what happened to my nephew’s father.”


Nodding her head in agreement with each sentence he spoke, Lila wondered why she was so nervous.

Lucas was strangely overbearing, even though he was just talking, his lips very gently curved into a picturesque smile as if it were practiced.

“So I have a proposition for you, and I’m sure you’ve been wondering why I sent a proposal to a prospective duchess I’ve never even met.”

Lucas said so despite having met her as a child.
Lila lifted her head, which had lowered slightly at his words, and met his eyes.

Her dark blue eyes held curiosity.

“I have chosen my nephew as my heir, and if the prospective duchess isn’t too greedy, we’ll have a formal wedding after the pre-wedding cohabitation period, and I’ll divide the estate as you wish.”

Lila’s questions were answered.
Now she understood why he, a high nobleman, would propose to her, a mere baroness.

It made sense, and it put her mind at ease.
Lila mulled over his words.

In two months’ time, she would have avoided the crucial route to the original that she had feared.
Then she would be free, and being in a ducal household would not give her the independence she desired.

Lila opened her mouth.

“I have a question first.
If you have an heir, why do you have to marry? Why would you want to marry at all, much less a marriage like this?”

Lucas answered her question as if he had been waiting for it.

“I don’t know if the prospective duchess is aware of any rumors about me, but they say there are ugly dukes in the world, and it’s not just me, my brother was one, and my father was one too.”

Lucas lifted his teacup for a moment to wet the inside of his mouth.

“I don’t mind some of those rumors, but others are a little more troubling… and I don’t want my mother to feel sorry for me…”

It seemed like he was about to say more, but Lucas’s words ended there.

“I’m not immune to rumors, and as you can see, Duke, I’m pretty ugly.”

Lucas was intrigued by Lila’s willingness to call herself ugly.
It was a nuance as if she didn’t find it offensive to be called ugly.

“So what’s your response to my proposal?”

Crossing his legs as he spoke, Lucas’s eyes narrowed for the first time since meeting hers.

Noticing the change in his tone, which had been subtly cold but polite, Lila lifted her teacup and gulped down the cool, tasty tea.
Setting the empty cup down, she looked at him with determination in her eyes.

“If I refuse, do I have to leave immediately?”

“Well… maybe that’s how it will be?”

Not a bad deal, she thought, but Lucas’s eyes narrowed at the negative answer.

Lila remembered the years she had spent fending for herself.
She wasn’t worried about finances when she became independent, but with the Montefeltra family’s support, it might be a smoother transition.

As they say, a crisis is an opportunity, and she decided to put a condition on it.

“I will accept the Duke’s offer.”

Lucas’s eyes tightened for a moment at the affirmative answer.

“However, I would like to put a condition on it.”

“What are they?”

“I want you to tell me exactly why you need this marriage.”

“Is that all?”

Lucas’s eyes widened in slight surprise, having expected her to make a monetary demand.
Lila quickly added to his question.

“No, there’s one more, but I’ll wait to hear the Duke’s answer first before I tell you.”

Lucas rested his hands on his knees and studied the woman before him more closely.

How ridiculous it had been to hear the rumors that she was an ugly young thing.
The Lila he remembered as a child was far from ugly.

There was one other thing about her now that was completely different from when he’d seen her as a child.

Her eyes.

Lucas couldn’t forget the look in Lila’s eyes as a child, a look that mirrored that of the crown prince, who looked at him and his brother as if they were filthy garbage.

Lucas, then eight years old, was too ashamed to look up.
Lila had looked down on him, but he couldn’t get her scent out of his nose and out of his mind.

So, on a whim, he asked the rumored ugly young lady to marry him.

Lucas stared into the dark blue eyes staring back at him.
They were pure and innocent.

Moreover, the kindness she showed toward Michael at breakfast had been unexpected.

Lila stared at Lucas, who was silent for a moment.
She wondered if he’d been too curious about her proposal.

But it had been ten years.
She had hoped that she would be able to live freely and safely off the original path.
She gripped the handkerchief tightly in her hand and turned to face Lucas.

“I see, I didn’t explain well enough.”

Lucas drummed his fingertips on his knee and looked away from the window for a moment, then back at Lila.

“I can’t bite my tongue anymore after hearing my explanation, but would you still like to hear the exact reasons why I want to go through with this marriage?”

“Yes, by all means, it’s important to me.”

“You have a valid point.”

Lucas nodded in agreement.

“There are two reasons.
One is unpleasant because there are other rumors circulating about me besides the rumor that I am an ugly duke, and the other is because His Majesty has an order.”


Lila’s eyes widened in surprise at the word ‘His Majesty.’

“After my brother died, I took over the dukedom, which is supposed to be my nephew’s, but as you can see, he’s still young, and for another matter, his biological mother is still the duchess.”

Lila stared at Lucas’s face as he continued to speak calmly.
His very long lashes, slightly lowered, shaded his face.

“His Majesty was concerned about this, and wished to ensure that the foundations of the Duchy of Montefeltra, where royal blood flows, would not be shaken; even if I have a nephew as my heir, he wanted my wife to take the place as Duchess.”

“Ah… Then what is the other reason?”

Lila was convinced by his words, and surprised to learn that there was a mother to that cute child from earlier.

But why was she nowhere to be seen? Doesn’t she live with the duke?

Lucas arched a fine eyebrow in displeasure at her question, then forced himself to answer.

“There’s a rumor out there that I’m a eunuch because I don’t date women.
Or that I’m a sodomite…”

Lila’s eyes widened and said in a low tone full of displeasure.


“For the two reasons I mentioned earlier, I need a wife.”


Lila pursed her lips in embarrassment.
She blinked rapidly at the unexpectedly vile rumor.

“To tell you the truth, the reason I brought you here is that I don’t need love, and I’ve determined that you’re not in my eyes, just as I’m not in yours.
Though I hadn’t planned on being this honest with you, there’s no need to add other obligations to the pre-wedding cohabitation period.”

Lucas’s face crumpled completely when he said the word ‘love.’ It was filled with disgust as if he was thinking of something he abhorred.

Lila blushed at the mention of other obligations.
She hadn’t thought of it in her rush, so she was surprised.

“Now, tell me the terms you wish, prospective duchess.”

Lila opened her mouth to speak, grateful to Lucas for telling her the whole truth, just as she had wanted.

“My condition is for you to make me a dead person after the formal wedding.”

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