Chapter 19 - Be My Wife
“So, who was it?” Gareth asked sharply, “Did Elena tell you that she lost her virginity to me?”
“I already told you what I witnessed. That is good enough evidence. I understand how you feel about this, so I’ll deal with it my way!” Count Townsend shouted angrily.
Gareth smirked and crossed his arms again. “What do you mean by ‘deal with it’? Deal with what?” he asked.
Once again, he recalled the courage Elena had shown the night before. She had wanted to negotiate to hire him to defeat Logan. But here and now, her good-for-nothing father was talking nonsense. Still, Gareth thought of Elena and held himself back from saying any more careless things. Being rude to the count felt like an insult to her.
“I shall say it loud and clear for you, Your Excellency. I did not lay a hand on Elena,” Gareth declared, formal but stern.
However, the count waved Gareth away as if he did not want to listen anymore, stepping out as he said, “Don’t worry about it. This is business concerning my family. I’ll take care of it.”
“Do as you please, but it would be better for you to stop the useless misunderstanding. I am certain that you will regret it in the future,” Gareth warned.
‘Trying to give me advice when you’re the most notorious man in the country….’ Count Townsend thought Gareth was being absolutely ridiculous. Irritated, he glared at the man, only to see that he was calm.
‘Did you think I wouldn’t notice the filth in your devilish eyes?’ Anger about what Elena did last night to put him in this shameful situation surged in, causing him to tremble from head to toe.
* * *
Talking to the count had made Gareth lose his appetite, and Elena was still nowhere to be seen. Giggs had returned from the stable, so Gareth asked him her whereabouts, but Giggs had no idea.
‘Curse it.’ For some reason, Gareth was uncomfortable.
It was true that Elena had come into his room last night, but it was only to negotiate to save her family’s land. However, the count was busy desperately holding onto his noble hubris and was viewing the situation in a completely different way.
Gareth shook his head in irritation. He didn’t want to meddle, but the issue was bothering him. ‘What did he even mean by ‘deal with it’? What is he going to do after such a grave misunderstanding?’
It seemed that Elena wanted to protect the Townsend household and its land more than the count. That was the only judgment Gareth could make after witnessing what she had done at the scene of Logan’s attack. Despite how close it was to the castle, the count had not appeared until the village was almost burned down. He had probably wasted time trying to get his few knights ready for his own protection.
‘On the other hand, Elena stood there, and…’ Gareth jumped out of his seat.
“What’s wrong?” Giggs, who noticed Gareth’s unusual expression, also hurriedly got up from his seat.
“We are leaving. Now. I can’t stay in this rotten place any longer,” Gareth said.
In unison, the men stopped eating and began to move busily when they heard Gareth’s decisive order.
* * *
Elena looked at her father, doubting her ears. “F-father, w-what do you mean…” Astonishment overwhelmed her, and she was at a loss for words. Elena began to feel as if she had been struck in the head. Her father’s words filled her with distress and nausea.
“Get ready right away,” Count Townsend ordered, “Go to the nunnery and spend the rest of your life confessing your sins and reflecting on your actions.”
Elena couldn’t listen anymore. She didn’t understand what her father was talking about. He was saying that she had lost her virginity to Gareth.
“Pack your things. Hurry,” her father urged.
At those heartless words, Elena managed to come to her senses. “No, Father. I went to his room last night to ask if I could hire him as a mercenary. There was nothing other than that,” Gareth had kissed her and grabbed her chest, but Elena had defended herself against his unwanted advances. “It’s my fault that I tried to negotiate against your will. I understand that I’ll be punished for doing so, but I did not lose my virginity. That’s not true. Please trust me,” she begged.
“You have repeatedly ignored my orders, Elena. I saw what happened with my own eyes, yet you’re still trying to trick me. Stop making excuses and leave!” Count Townsend shouted.
At that moment, a frightened Marina stuck her head through the open door. It seemed that she was curious about the commotion.
“Start getting ready before I kill you with my own hands!” the count screamed, and Marina jumped in surprise and ran downstairs. People in the hall were also listening to what was happening on the second floor.
Marina burst into tears as soon as she saw Rowena, who was helping out with chores in the hall. “Father is trying to send Elena to a nunnery.”
“Marina!” Rowena had already been paying attention to the yelling coming from the floor above. She knew her father’s nervous temperament had worsened recently, but Elena had not done anything deserving of banishment to a nunnery. Moreover, she was the one maintaining the estate; she had devoted herself to her family and this land. ‘There’s no way Father doesn’t realize that…’
William’s expression hardened as he listened to what was happening. When he had gone to the study that morning, he had noticed Count Townsend’s unusual expression. William had also noticed his liege get even more upset after speaking to Gareth, but he couldn’t believe that this issue was related to Elena.
Rowena ran upstairs and William followed. Count Townsend was narrow-minded, someone who thought it was dignified to never go back on something he had said. Still, it was unfair for Elena to be treated like this no matter what she had done.
Elena’s room was open, and when the two finally entered they saw Count Townsend trying to slap her. William quickly stepped in between them.
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Lantern Against the Wind
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