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 After some time away from Ortansia and Gerard, the Duke also returned to the mansion.

He called Gérard to his office as soon as he returned. He probably had something important to say.

'Are you all right, Sia?'

'Yes. Thanks, Tyrol.'

'If you need any help at all, just let me know! I'll take care of it right away!'

Tyrol said bravely, but he looked like an adorable kitten. Ortansia giggled and picked up Tyrol's soft body.

'Yes. It's going to be okay, right?'

It was unexpected for Ortansia to meet Victor so early. She must distance herself from him at all costs from now on.

While she was just sitting on the sofa and enjoying brushing Tyrol's fur, Pamela rushed over with a flustered look.

"Miss, the master wants to see you in the office..!"

"I'm coming."

 Leaving Tyrol with Pamela, Ortansia stood up. Whenever the Duke calls Ortansia to the office, he usually has something important to say.

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'It's about today, right?'

Ortansia stepped out of the room with trepidation.

"I'm sorry to call you out of the blue, Ortansia. Sit down there."

The Duke greeted her with the same calm face he had always had. Ortansia swallowed hard and sat down on the hard sofa in his office.

"I've heard the general gist of what happened from Gerard. It sounds like you've had a rough time."

"I'm sorry I didn't tell you about my meeting with Prince Victor," Ortansia apologized in a small voice, her father shook his head sideways as if to say, "Don't worry about it."

"It was a special situation at that time. If I had spread the word, you could have been blamed for trespassing. It might have been a good idea to keep quiet about it."

Her father's words were probably just to comfort her, but even so, it was true that Ortansia's heart felt a little lighter.

"After you and Gerard left, I had a little chat with His Highness, Prince Viktor. Apparently, he's eager to see you again. He also asked if you would be interested in being the prince's playmate since you are so close in age."


Ortansia's expression changed and she clenched her hands in her lap.

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Her father's eyes narrowed at the reaction.

"But… You don't seem to want to see him much, do you?"

"I'm new to the duke's family and I'm not fit to be the prince's playmate. I'm sure I'll do something wrong and cause trouble for your father and brother!"

Ortansia squeezed out desperately, but she could not imagine how her father would react. The reason he originally welcomed Ortansia, who may or may not even be his own blood daughter, is that she was meant to be a pawn to be married off to an influential person.

That was why it was frightening. She was afraid that  he would take advantage of Viktor interest in Ortansia and offer her to him.

 Looking at Ortansia, who was looking down with a pale face, her father let out a small breath.

"Oh well…"

She felt as if it were shortly before she was sentenced to death in my first life.

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What Ortansia heard, while still clenching her fists so tightly that they bore the marks of her fingernails, was unexpectedly kind words.

"I must speak to His Highness Viktor then. My daughter still needs to rest, so it is difficult for her to play with the prince."


Her father laughed softly at Ortansia, who looked up at him, stunned.

 "I was also talking to Gerard. In a little while, he will go to the academy and leave home. At the same time, I would like you to rest in the duchy."

"In the Duke's territory...?"

"I'm afraid I won't be able to return to my home, and you'll be lonely here. If it’s over there, I am sure you will not receive any unwanted invitations there.

Ortansia, who was dazed, gradually began to understand the meaning of her father's words.

In other words, he would let her physically distance herself from Viktor with the excuse of rest. From Ortansia's point of view, this is a situation she could not have wished for. However, she wondered if that would be okay with her father.

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From his point of view, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sell Ortansia to Viktor, and she couldn't believe that a man of his ability would let such an opportunity pass him by.

"Is it okay with you...?"

Her Father's eyes narrowed and he laughed. He was unmistakably looking at her with affection.

"I don't even want to think about how he would react if something happened to you in Gerard's absence. Besides…"

Father stood up and sat down next to Ortansia. He then patted her head gently.

"I, too, don't want to see my beloved daughter suffer," he said.

His words and gentle touch made... Ortansia's heartache.

"Thank you, Father."

He hugged Ortansia gently as she buried her face in her father's chest.

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'Even if we aren't related by blood, this man is still my "father."'

This day, Ortansia certainly felt that way.

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