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  • Writer's pictureRina

Chapter 238


The Countess springs her trap and the mansion is thrown into chaos...


This chapter is dedicated to Lola Cola! Thank you for your donation!


Disclaimer:

DO NOT publish our edits anywhere else. Especially on social media. Otherwise we may have to stop doing this. Thank you.



Chapter 238. About 10 months (115)


Victoria sprang to her feet as soon as she heard the news about the fire. She forced her face into an expression of worry. She had to look like a mother concerned for her children.


The third floor hallway was filled with an acrid smell, but all the smoke had disappeared thanks to the servants who had hurriedly opened the hallway windows and fanned out the smoke.


Lloyd and several noblemen had come up the stairs after hearing the ruckus, and more ladies from the second floor were also congregating in the hallway, covering their noses. The third floor of the mansion was where all the children of the Elias family lived. Chloe, Logan, Tara, and Aria's rooms were located there.


"Check to see if everything is okay. Tell the guests nothing is wrong, and that they should leave and go to bed since there is nothing else to be done here."


Dixon immediately checked the rooms one by one on the Count's orders, while Dylan dismissed the guests.


Noblemen departed for their quarters grumbling that it had turned out to be no big deal. But, a couple of the guests, Logan's close friends, stayed in the hallway on the third floor to watch the situation.


The ladies who had come up from the drawing room on the second floor had been clustered in groups of two or three whispering, but a few of them scattered at Dylan's words.


There were still roughly a dozen ladies in the hallway, five male nobles including Lloyd, the elder of House Philippe and his cousin, as well as Aria, who had woken up to Dixon suddenly knocking and yelling at her door.


While the crowd murmured, Dixon knocked on the remaining doors, Tara and Chloe's rooms, but there was no answer.


"Are their doors locked?" Lloyd asked


"Lady Chloe's room is locked and Lady Tara's room is unlocked."


Worried they would discover Tara's room key was missing, Victoria rushed forward.


"Scylla. Go to the storeroom and get the key to Chloe's room. And Dixon, step back. She's a noble girl and my daughter, so I'll go inside to check. She was probably tired and is sound asleep after today.”


At Victoria's words, several ladies nodded as if in approval.


Victoria opened Tara's door with a benevolent smile on her face.


The room was dark. When she signalled the maid next to the door to light a lamp, she lit the lanterns on either side of the entrance and closed the door.


Victoria pressed the left side of her chest as her heart beat even louder in her chest.


‘The dice have already been cast. I can't turn back now. So... You just have to pull this off Victoria! Or rather... Johanna.'


Her mind made up, she cautiously approached Tara’s bed. The canopy curtains on the bed were down.


She called Tara's name in a loud, friendly sounding voice so that the ladies outside could hear her even though the door was closed.


"Tara. Are you sleeping? There was almost a fire outside. You didn't answer, so I had to come in..."


As promised, the doors to the terrace and the emergency exit leading directly to the first floor were open.


‘Good.'


As soon as she checked the terrace, Victoria checked the closed hallway door once more, then grabbed the hem of her skirt and hoisted it up.


She hurriedly pulled the second note out of the pocket in her underskirt and looked around for a suitable place.


‘Yes, over there!'


She hurried to the neatly arranged dressing table, put the note in the center, and went straight to the bed.


"I came in out of necessity. Are you okay, Tara?"


One, two, three! Holding the curtain in hand, she took a deep breath and prepared to shout. Then she immediately pulled the curtain open.


As she expected, Tara was not in the bed.


She glanced around the room, just in case. As soon as she was sure she wasn't there, Victoria screamed out with her characteristic shrill voice.


"Oh! No, no! Tara's gone! She's gone! Where is she!"


The door burst open. A pale-faced Isabelle was the first to enter. It seemed that she had just heard the news.


Isabelle searched the room, her expression reflecting disbelief.


"She's probably in the mansion. Maybe she couldn't sleep because she was so excited about her birthday party. She usually likes to get up early and read, so she could be in the library," Isabelle said hopefully, clearly trying to maintain her composure.


At Isabelle's reaction, Victoria gripped her hands together and squeezed tightly.


‘Ugh, that filthy commoner woman. She's always pretended to be so soft, bowing and scraping in front of the mistress of the house. Then she turns around and makes her daughter take away the rights of her betters! I'll take this opportunity to bring Jason back and restore his tarnished reputation! I'll show her when I get the power to manage the household affairs she stole from me!'


"Yes. Yes, I suppose so. Where could a young lady have possibly gone on her birthday? Don't worry, Isabelle."


Victoria walked over to Isabelle and gently patted her on the shoulder.


Then a shocked Lloyd came in, and ordered the servants to search the entire mansion immediately. Voices sounded from the hallway.


"Oh... Oh, my god. C-Chloe’s not here either, Madam.”


Scylla's voice was filled with surprise and bewilderment as she brought the key.


The crowd gathered in the hallway murmured.


Victoria rushed out into the hallway, genuinely frightened at the unexpected situation.


‘What....? There's no way!'


But Victoria's worries were fortunately short-lived. In front of Chloe's room, the door to her private study cracked open and Chloe came out.


"... I'm here. I must have fallen asleep while looking at documents."


"Oh, there you are. It's okay. It's alright. It's oka..."


"Aaargh!"


Before Victoria could finish her words of relief, a scream sounded, and the heads of the spectators, still gathered in groups of twos and threes, turned back to Tara's room all at once.


It was Isabelle's scream from where she stood in front of Tara’s dressing table.


‘She found it!'


Aria and Logan followed behind Chloe as she rushed into Tara’s room. Victoria was the last to enter.


Isabelle appeared senseless with shock.


Guests were craning their necks trying to observe the scene, their faces reflecting surprise and interest.


"What? What's the matter, Isabelle?"


Isabelle, her eyes filled with astonishment and horror, belatedly noticed the family staring and hastily pulled her hands out of view.


"Oh, nothing... It's nothing."


Isabelle's lie was blatantly obvious.


"In your hand... What is that, Lady Isabelle?" Aria asked nervously.


"Yes. What is it you're hiding behind your back, Isabelle?" Victoria urged.


Chloe stared at Victoria from her place standing next to her.


Isabelle's eyes filled with tears instantly, and she collapsed on the sofa behind her.


"No... She wouldn't... That child would never... Really, it can't be…”


Lloyd's face rapidly hardened when he took the note from a confused Isabelle.*

We first met in Durban.  I was struggling with all the work, and I started to resent being assigned to the Military. I’m a noblewoman, despite my commoner blood, but the Military cared little for me. All they did was give me too much work. That was when I met him. Even though he has no title and little to offer me, he loves and cherishes me greatly. I wanted to formally introduce him and get married, but I was afraid you would oppose him. So I had no choice but to choose this. My dear Father and Mother. I'm so sorry, and so ashamed. I'll return to you later once I'm married and can show you a beautiful family of my own. Until then, I wish you all well. Your beloved daughter, Tara Elias.

Lloyd crumpled up the note.


His daughter was bright. There was no way that Tara would choose to run off in the middle of the night for such a ridiculous reason. But the handwriting was definitely Tara's.


When Aria and Logan opened the crumpled note their eyes widened in shock. Chloe made eye contact with Victoria, whose gaze also reflected surprise.


"Why are you looking at me like that, Chloe?"


"I’m just... I'm concerned."


Victoria saw Chloe frown heavily, as if her daughter was watching her and trying to understand her unknown intentions.


Victoria tried to ignore Chloe's expression and concentrate on the situation.


"The handwriting looks like our sister's, but the story doesn't seem like her...!"


"When you're blindly in love at that age, you will do anything, Aria. You're still too young, so you wouldn't understand."


Victoria's words infuriated Aria.


"I'm completely grown up now. What do you mean I wouldn't understand? But to run away in the middle of the night because of love? Tara would never. It's just not like my older sister to do that."


Logan opened his mouth at Aria's objection.


"Well... Many highly successful women in the Empire have crumbled in the face of love."


"Be quiet. People are listening." Lloyd silenced them.


"Yes, Father," Chloe replied.


The rest of the family nodded. Isabelle tried hard to compose her expression and conceal her tears.


"First of all, please tell them that I was startled by a cat when I screamed earlier."


Isabelle was alert to the possibility that Tara's reputation could be destroyed. She had to find her somehow.


‘She has to be fine, somehow.'


"Yes. Let's disperse the crowd first."


Outside the door, the guests still stared at Tara's room.


The only thing visible through the small crack in the door was the Elias family gathering in a circle and having a serious conversation. No sound could be heard.


Soon after, the butler approached and tried to disperse the assembled people.


"Ah. I think the young birthday girl we were all invited to see is missing, perhaps we should go in and check what's wrong? Don’t you agree?"


Everyone nodded their heads in agreement at the young man’s suggestion.


Their eyes and faces were bright with interest. Like they were watching a play or spectating a fight.


Andrei stood at the very edge of the crowd. He frowned when he saw the faces of the gathered people.


‘So many people eagerly wishing for misfortune... I don't like the look of that man. Where have I seen him before?'


The young nobleman with the blond hair, the one who just spoke was familiar, but he couldn't remember exactly how he knew him. While he concentrated on this, a lady in front of him suddenly raised her hand and asked the butler.


"But, why did the Lady scream?"


"Ah. A cat suddenly jumped out from the terrace."


"What's going on? Why can't we see Lady Tara?"


"They said that she’s probably in the study. Go to sleep. It's late, so please, go ahead and rest."


"Goodness! Didn't you hear what that young man said earlier? A young lady is missing, how could we stretch out and sleep knowing that!" One of the remaining young ladies around Tara's age protested loudly.


The butler was taken aback when the small crowd rallied again.


"Who's gone?"


The young lady shrugged and answered the question without even turning her head to check who asked, "A young lady of the house."


"Which young lady?"


"The birthday girl. You know, Lady Tara, the fifth oldest! Who used to be fat, but lost weight! She's missing!"


"… Me?"


"Ah!"


The crowd turned around.


The hallway fell instantly quiet, as if everyone had been doused with cold water.


"Excuse me, may I get past?"


***


I walked slowly towards my room with a wide smile on my face. With every step, the crowd in the hallway parted further like the Red Sea.


Andrei glanced at me and gave me a thumbs up. While Dixon and Dylan sighed in relief.


All the family members standing in my room were astonished, but I could say with certainty that the person who was the most surprised was Victoria Elias.


—-

Editor’s Notes -


* I figured I'd roll with the trend of using fancy pictures for the letters. Here's the text in case the image glitches: [We first met in Durban.

I was struggling with all the work, and I started to resent being assigned to the Military. I’m a noblewoman, despite my commoner blood, but the Military cared little for me. All they did was give me too much work.

That was when I met him. Even though he has no title and little to offer me, he loves and cherishes me greatly. I wanted to formally introduce him and get married, but I was afraid you would oppose him. So I had no choice but to choose this. My dear Father and Mother. I'm so sorry, and so ashamed. I'll return to you later once I'm married and can show you my own beautiful family.

Until then, I wish you all well.

Your beloved daughter, Tara Elias.]


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17 Comments


June
June
Mar 13

All aside, cheers 🍻 to Tara for pulling that cartoonish scene at the last scene, haha!! 😆

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Ary Stocracia
Ary Stocracia
Jun 23, 2023

Absolutely everything in that letter says it wasn't written by Tara...

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ProMama
ProMama
Apr 23, 2023

Seeing Tara’s sisters defending her honor—be still my heart 💕

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Replying to

I was happy to read this too

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IrishShyGuy
IrishShyGuy
Apr 13, 2023

"Without title or rank" ohh I honestly didnt think she would hide kyle like that. I honestly thought kyle was going to appear with tara in their big coming back ceremony when everyone was astonished. I actually feel kinda bad for Isabella. And honestly I dont see what Victoria thinks she'll get out of this (i know that's the plot but still.) If she ends up taking tara out, kyle with all the evidence can immediately call foul play and have them all executed. Hell he would do it with is own hands. He's Tara's boss despite their relationship, so he has a motive regardless. The high society also sees Victoria as a wench because she denied tara any opportunities…

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Thamalasca
Thamalasca
Apr 13, 2023
Replying to

Victoria isn't thinking. She is blinded by her hatred towards Tara who dared, in her view, to go above her station (Tara has commoner blood from her mother) and especially to hurt and have her son Jason, who is probably the only person she really ever cared for, punished. It is also hinted that she isn't quite sane anymore. I wonder how deep her insanity goes....

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Guest
Apr 12, 2023

That was her big plan? A disappearance and a letter noone who ever interacted with Tara would believe? I guess if she succeeded Tara would be dead so the point would be moot. But c'mon Victoria.


Shoot, her behavior would make her out to be the prime suspect. Lady really thinks her feelings about Tara were subtle 🙄

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