“Tell me, Rena.
Do you really not know who I am?”
“…I don’t know who you are.”
“Yeah? Then why didn’t you ask me for my name?”
As I raised my head, I realized how close his face was to mine.
“When you meet a stranger, shouldn’t you ask for their name first? However, you didn’t ask me for any information about myself.
No ‘What’s your name?’, ‘What are you doing?’, ‘Where are you from?’…”
“You didn’t even ask me for my name.”
“I know your name.
Regina Rohelo Troxia.”
In shock, I forgot what to say in response to him being overly certain that I was Regina.
I don’t think he was like this when I was younger, during the time we were both living in the Troxia Estate.
A sudden realization hit me.
The Calix in front of me is the Calix of the original work, whose personality darkened after the loss of his first love, not the innocent young boy I had known when I was younger.
Originally, Frenia, the heroine of the original, would have been the one to deal with his temper.
‘Because I am alive, I’m the one who’s going to take the heat.’
Realizing that made me lament my situation, having been caught off guard and running headfirst into Calix.
I raised my eyes and asked Calix, who was still waiting for my reply.
“Then what’s your name?”
“Calix Axel Hertrio.”
Calix Axel Hertrio.
I quietly rolled the name on my tongue.
I’ve thought about it a lot, but it’s a name I’ve never said out loud.
The inner longing that I myself had forgotten about began to rise.
Looking at what I was doing, Calix spoke up.
“You’re not surprised.”
“That my last name is Hertrio.”
“Should I be surprised?”
“It’s not like that.”
He shook his head and stood up.
“If this was your first meeting with the duke of this kingdom, you should at least be showing some sincerity by pretending to be surprised.
That’s why I don’t believe that you don’t know me.”
I looked up at him blankly without answering.
Calix also looked down at me without opening his mouth.
It was as if he was trying to see how stubborn I could be.
Our invisible game of tug-of-war continued for a while before Calix declared defeat.
At some point, he bent down in front of me with a completely ruined face.
It was as if he had given up on holding on, that he no longer wanted to pretend that he was okay anymore.
Out of fear, I grabbed his arm without realizing it.
But Calix lowered his stance without even looking at my face.
He bent down in front of the bed, stretched out his arms and wrapped them around my waist.
Calix buried his face in my legs.
I could feel his breath creeping in and out over my skin and tried to ignore it, but it was now faster for him to grab onto my hand.
As he held onto my body tightly, as if he was trying to prevent me from going anywhere, a weak voice that seemed like it could break at any time came out from below.
“Rena, are you right?”
I looked down at the back of his head without saying anything.
I had the urge to stroke his hair for a moment, but I couldn’t do anything.
All I could do was leave my trembling hands alone, where they were.
It was fortunate that Calix kept his head down.
If our eyes met now, he would surely realize that I was remembering him.
A mumble escaped from his chapped lips.
“I understand if you want to forget everything and pretend you don’t know.
I won’t ask why.
You can pretend you don’t know anything if you want.”
“Just let me stay by your side.”
It was a tearful voice.
My heart became weakened.
It was at that moment, when I unconsciously called out his name and reached out my hand.
Calix raised his head and grabbed onto my shoulders.
In an instant, my angle of sight changed.
I was deceived.
While I was groaning, I ended up lying on the bed underneath Calix.
He grabbed my defiant wrist and pressed it down onto the bed.
I was stuck between his legs and couldn’t move.
The first thing that I thought was that I had made a mistake.
“If you don’t let go of me right away…”
I clenched my teeth, but Calix cut me off with a relaxed expression.
“What if I don’t let go? Are you going to shout and call for someone? If you do so, will there be someone who will come running to rescue you, a humble commoner?”
Was he going to use his magic to hurt me?
His face became clouded with frustration.
Calix looked down at me, staying still.
I could tell from the scrutiny of his gaze on my face that he was looking for traces of the past.
I shouldn’t have gotten swept up in the mood and called him by his name.
I tried to avoid his gaze, feeling as though he could see my raw emotions, but Calix was faster.
He placed his head beside mine.
I felt a tingling pain in my ear.
A low-pitched laugh was heard.
He lightly bit my earlobe again.
It was like he was punishing a disobedient child.
Then, pressing his lips to my temples, he opened his mouth.
“Let’s go back to the Hertrio Estate together, Rena.”
“You will have nothing to worry about.
He added that all I needed to do was just stay by his side.
I kept my mouth shut.
When he did not hear an answer, he proceeded to kiss the bottom of my ear and the nape of my neck, as if urging me to answer him.
His actions were tenacious; it was like he was testing how far I could endure.
Every place his lips touched felt hot, like my skin had been branded at those spots.
The tingling sensation tingled down all the way to my toes.
“Wait, wait, wait…”
Without realizing it, I lifted my free hand and wrapped it around his wide shoulders.
I held onto his shirt until it crumpled.
Somehow, in that brief moment of confusion, my brain couldn’t think straight.
Using ragged gasps to breathe, it was as though I was running out of oxygen.
I reached out and pushed Calix’s shoulder once I came to my senses.
Even though I could only push very weakly because I had no strength, he quietly backed away.
Even without looking into a mirror, I could tell that my face would be red-hot right now.
I hated Calix, who, on the other hand, seemed so perfectly normal.
He was even the one who started it all.
I glanced at his calm face, took a deep breath, and opened my mouth.
“There’s still a problem.”
“I heard that my name is Regina Rohelo Troxia.”
“Right, that’s your name.”
Calix’s attitude was too calm.
Couldn’t he see what the problem was? He saw the sight of the burning mansion with me that night.
“The entire Troxia family is dead because they had committed treason.
Based on what you said, I think I’d be better off hiding in the countryside like this.”
“…Is that why you’ve been staying here all this time?”
Something didn’t make sense.
A big sigh came out without my knowledge.
He must have thought that sigh had some sort of meaning, as Calix hurriedly stood up and helped me up.
“I know what you’re worried about, but don’t worry.
You’ll be fine in my estate.”
“It’s not just anything, it’s treason.”
“It was a false accusation.”
“Even if it really is false, that statement is useless unless the truth could be revealed.”
Calix replied to me sadly.
“I’ll take care of that.”
He doesn’t know what he’s doing, but he’s good at saying that he’ll fix it.
I raised my finger again, wondering how he would address my next problem.
“I still have another problem.”
What is it this time?”
“According to you, we are married.
There must be someone at the Duke’s residence who would be able to recognize me, would that be okay?”
If I were really the Duchess of Hertrio, there would be no reason not to spread rumours about the Duchess returning home.
Calix looked at me with a dumbfounded expression.
I could see his eyes blinking helplessly.
You must have really lost your memory.”
I was talking nonsense.”
He rubbed his face with his hands.
His face, which was revealed again before long, had a degree of seriousness that I had never seen before.
“It’ll be fine.
It’s been a long time since we got married…”
“…And when we got married, we lived in the Troxia estate, not the Hertrio estate…”
‘Look at him?!’
I managed to shut my mouth, which was about to open in response to his absurdity.
Did you think that the year you spent in Troxia was spent being a son-in-law?
I wanted to refute this nonsense immediately, but unfortunately, I was currently playing the role of an amnesic person.
The show must go on whether he believed me or not.
Calix avoided my gaze and looked down.
No matter how impudent his slightly blushing face was, he must have felt ashamed.
Calix cautiously opened his mouth.
“And, you didn’t use honorifics for me in the past.
So, I want you to stop using them.”
“Aren’t I just a humble commoner?”
“Then this is an order.”
The word ‘bastard’ rose in my throat, but I just nodded obediently.
I was reaching the end of my limit in terms of using honorifics for him while I had to pretend not to know him, anyways.
“Then don’t use them anymore.
As soon as the sun rises tomorrow, we will depart for the Hertrio estate.”
This time, I also looked straight into Calix’s blue eyes.
‘It seems like nothing had been resolved.’
What has already happened is what had happened.
It happened that I, too, was starting to grow tired of living in such a rural area without being able to go out comfortably.
I decided to think as positively as possible.
I meekly nodded.
So, I made an irreversible choice.
Late at night, Calix Axel Hertrio was sitting by the low light of the lamp and looked down at the sleeping Regina lying on the bed.
His Regina’s face was exactly the same as the one he had pictured in his mind over and over again during the past five years.
She was more mature than the last time he saw her, she had developed a womanly femininity, but aside from that she was not different from what he had imagined.
There was no way he wouldn’t be able to recognize Regina in the first place.
Even in his dreams, he had seen her face.
He thought he’d never be able to forget her face for the rest of his entire life.
There’s no way she doesn’t know that…
He thought of Regina, who had claimed she didn’t know him, and unconsciously clenched his fist.
It was not that he didn’t know how she was pretending not to remember him.
“You don’t have to do that to me.”
There was no answer from the sleeping person.
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