Chapter 1 - Prologue
Once again, Amber waited inside the bridal room to spend her first night with her husband after his miraculous survival. She took a warm, perfumed bath prepared by the servants and sat on the dress with only a thin nightdress on.
She was still scared of becoming intimate with a man she did not know. No matter how much she tried to be determined, her shoulders shivered wildly in fear.
Amber drank several glasses of wine and stayed up all night long. However, her husband never arrived.
“The duke’s wife was deserted on her first night with her husband.” Right away, that terrible rumor circulated on the castle grounds. However, her husband never explained himself. He didn’t even come back afterward to spend a belated first night with her.
The first time that Amber spent her first night with him was 4 years after that day—after it was realized that she had spent over six years in the East, and her marriage could no longer be annulled.
It was nothing but pain for her. Amber couldn’t understand why this painful and meaningless act was always portrayed to be romantic and wonderful in numerous stories.
“Looks like you can’t go back anymore with this,” her husband said to her when the morning came.
He left right after, and Amber felt as if she was doused in ice-cold water, absolutely wretched. But, since she had slept with him, she thought that he might be more friendly to her. She believed that she would no longer spend her nights alone in her room, shivering in the cold.
However, her husband still didn’t look for Amber unless he was required to. When the time he needed to spend together with Amber approached, he would always show an obvious expression of disgust about it.
Amber slowly started to feel afraid of being around her husband. The two times they slept together every month as formality were still just as painful as ever for her.
When she was twenty-eight, she learned she was pregnant.
The women of the Eastern lands usually gave birth in the latter half of their teens and early 20s. Amber knew that many people around her gossiped about the fact that she hadn’t gotten pregnant for so long. Those people kept harassing Amber constantly because of it.
Because of that harassment, when she first heard that she was with child, she wasn’t that excited about the news. Amber simply thought that it was all very tiresome, so she requested the doctor to keep her pregnancy a secret. Though the truth would come out after a few weeks anyway, she still wanted to delay the news from being known for as long as she could.
But as more time had passed, Amber’s perception of her baby changed.
“My child…” Amber stroked her stomach carefully. Like water trickling through a crack in stone, thoughts about her baby kept welling up in her heart.
The maternal love Amber felt was different than most people’s. It was rather more like comradery than parental affection.
At this point in her life, Amber was exhausted physically and mentally. She had been unable to communicate with her family since the moment she got married, and even Jenia had long ago stopped working at the duke’s castle. The people that remained only hated and harrassed Amber while the husband who should have been on her side was neglectful.
Amber was completely alone and tired from managing the Eastern lands that looked destined to be forever impoverished.
And yet with all that happening, she would now have someone that was blood-related to her. In the Eastern lands where she had no relatives or friends and nothing of interest, she would finally have someone to call family. The relief of knowing she wasn’t alone anymore and the premonition she was feeling that she would be courageous for this small life inside of her body…
All these thoughts were like a spring coming to life in the desert of Amber’s heart.
After a while, she was feeling at ease enough to even think about her husband, ‘Is it possible that he will also feel the same as me?’
Would her husband, who looked like he wanted to die whenever she was even the slightest bit affectionate to him, change his tune once he heard the news of his child?
She hoped so, and that hope helped her pluck up the nerve to tell him. One day, she waited in the bedroom for her husband and informed him of the news.
In response, her husband scowled.
“Why do you hate it so much? Do you not want a successor?” Amber asked, confused by his reaction.
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