Chapter 57 - And I Love You (End)
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She started feeling queasy again. Unconsciously, she took hold of Dylan’s hand and squeezed it tight.
“I know you’re feeling uncomfortable about this meeting,” he began, “but please try to believe it’ll be a pleasant experience. It’s fine to make mistakes, and it’s natural to feel a little awkward. So… What I mean to say is: you don’t need to try to look perfect.”
He looked deep into her eyes, nodding firmly as if to give her strength, so Anna nodded back in response. Then, the carriage door opened, and, along with it, the mansion front door.
Sir Crane, Madam Jane, Master David, and Lady Carol all walked out one by one. Inside the mansion were numerous other relatives peeking out of the windows to catch a glimpse at Anna’s face.
“Let’s get off,” Dylan said, offering Anna his hand to help her off the carriage. They alighted from the carriage and neared the mansion
“Welcome,” Sir Crane greeted awkwardly. Anna curtseyed. Madame Jane, meanwhile, didn’t look very well, still not over the fact that Dylan had left the house.
Dylan smiled and kissed the back of her hand. “Thank you for giving us permission, Mother.”
She looked grumpy when she finally opened her mouth to speak. “The whole town is rife with rumors already, so there’s no use in staying stubborn, anyways,” she sighed.
Dylan exposed his white teeth in a pleasant smile.
“It’s cold outside,” David interjected, pointing to the front door, “so why don’t we finish our greetings inside?”
Dylan placed his hands on Anna’s shoulders as they both ascended the stairs. As she passed by, Anna saw Samantha and Casey standing to the side, their gazes lowered to the ground.
Later on, Anna, momentarily left standing alone, was approached by David and Carol, the latter of which handed her some champagne.
“You and Dylan look much better than you did before,” David said. Then, he caught himself. “Ah, goodness me. I shouldn’t talk to you with such familiarity. I think it will take some time for me to get used to referring to you as a formal member of our family.”
Hearing that he was recognizing her as an actual part of the family brought goosebumps to Anna’s arms. “You can continue to treat me as you did in the past. That’s more comfortable for me.”
“We can’t do that. We have to set an example so that the rest of the household respects you as well,” Carol said.
David nodded in agreement. “That’s right.”
It looked like David and Carol were much closer and more intimate than they were before, making Anna’s lips unconsciously quirk up into a smile.
“Oh yes, and please include me in future discussions like the ones you two frequently had in the past,” Carol requested politely, her tone of voice rather friendly. “I love reading books as well.”
Anna happily accepted.
At that moment, however, Dylan returned to her side and suddenly took the glass of champagne from her hand. “No, you can’t drink this. Are you planning on falling asleep in some random place again?”
David and Carol both wore intrigued expressions on their faces as if they hadn’t expected Dylan to be so enamored as to fuss and dote over Anna like this.
“Come on,” Anna protested. “I can handle at least this much.”
“Well, I said you can’t.”
As the two bickered back and forth, a place full of delicious food suddenly presented itself before them. “If you can’t drink, then have lots of food instead. It’s all prepared for you, after all,” Sir Crane, famous for being a gruff person, said to Anna. He wore an awkward look on his face.
Anna, genuinely happy, received the dish Sir Crane offered with relish. Along with it being a sign that he was welcoming her into the household, it was a means of conveying his remorse to Dylan. It was an apology. Dylan’s eyes locked with his father’s and he bowed his head, genuinely thanking Sir Crane for the gesture.
“Thank you for the meal.”
Anna lifted up one of the small pieces of finger food and was about to guide a mini pie with a strawberry on top of it between her plump lips when…
Without warning, she started to retch. The moment she smelled the food, she felt bloated and fought back the urge to vomit. She quickly handed Dylan the plate and covered her mouth and nose with her hands.
“What is it? Are you not feeling well?”
“Is it because she was feeling too nervous? Should I bring some cold water?”
Madam Jane, the only one who had been apart from the group, took this moment to join them, rushing to Anna’s side and holding one of Anna’s cold hands between hers. “Does the food smell that terrible?” she asked.
“I’m sorry, we’re in a party all of you prepared for us, but I—“ hurk! She heaved.
“No, it’s fine,” Madam Jane promised. Tears began to fall from her eyes. “I’m the one that’s sorry.”
“Mother? Are you crying right now?”
“Why are you suddenly crying, dear?”
Anna, despite being the only one who couldn’t stop retching, felt worried about Madam Jane after seeing her cry.
At last, everyone in the Kilner family had finally come together in one place. All the hatred and jealousy they had for each other in the past must’ve been part of the process to bring them even closer and guide them to today, Anna thought.
That morning, the front page of the newspaper had an article discussing the weather, claiming that the heaviest snowfall the area’s seen in years had covered the entire town. It was a winter colder than ever before.
However, for the Kilner family, it was the warmest, most peaceful winter yet.