“Madam… A little bit more! I can see the baby’s head!”
Her eyes were blurry from the excruciating pain.
Tears overflowed, dampening her cheeks as well as the already disheveled pillow.
Her consciousness slipped away bit by bit.
She could feel her lower abdomen was hurt, like it was being torn apart, and heard a faint cry of a baby. The midwife’s touch, the light-headed, and the smell of blood wake Laurentia up.
Everything was fuzzy.
“The baby! What about the baby?!”
Laurentia reached out with dangled hands, panting all the while. She tried to open her mouth, wanting to make sure the baby was alive or not, if the baby was born with all the fingers and toes intact, and yet her fever had gotten worse.
In fact, she felt her body was getting hotter as she was burning.
The face of the midwife and maids who helped her labor slowly moved away from her sight. Whispered in Laurentia’s ear, the midwife assured, “Don’t worry about the baby, Madam…”
An arduous breath left her mouth as she lost consciousness she was barely holding.
* * *
Diaval Alexander Meyer.
The Marquis of Meyer, a relative of the Imperial family, and the husband of Laurentia.
The origins of the Meyer family began in the Imperial family. Born into the Imperial family, was bestowed a surname, Meyer, and was given a vast granary and a mine that produced emerald.
From that, the Meyer enriched their wealth. People were lining up to get the emerald by the Meyer family even now.
Despite having excess wealth, the family seemed to have sold off their personality too.
Laurentia glared at Diaval with spite. Although her eyes were still bleak, as if the light in her eyes might flicker anytime soon, she held the gaze firmly.
He had green eyes which lacked warmth, red lips that carved into sneer, and golden hair coated with pomade all over it.
He looked the same as always.
Quite contrary to Diaval’s well-kept figure and Lorentia’s current state.
The way he looked at Laurentia, who almost died while giving birth, like she wasn’t any better than an animal to breed.
Laurentia put on her cynical smile. There was no excitement in her eyes, coming from a woman who almost died delivering her own flesh.
As her expected Diaval asked with a flat tone.
“…You’re no longer able to have a child?”
It sounded like he was mocking her.
Her hand balled into fist on the duvet cover, making the veins bulge out. Her fingers dug into the sheet. Her body, as thin as a branch that could crumble at any moment, seemed to go unnoticed by him.
“You can’t do what everyone else does, Laurentia. Looks like the Meyer family line will end.”
Laurentia swallowed hard the lump of grudge rising in her throat.
50 years ago, the law that only the eldest son could inherit the family was abolished. It was more common now for daughters to inherit the family.
However, the Meyers refused to abide. They followed the old, primitive customs like a law and lived caged in a narrow-minded world.
The Meyers united with another arrogant and self-absorbed aristocrat. The kind who still think the Meyers were part of the Imperial family. Therefore, there were aristocrats who put them on a pedestal while there were other aristocrats who quite despised them.
And with such a kind of Marquis, Laurentia became his wife.
With a struggle, she opened her mouth. It felt like she was throwing up a fire.
“You have Cielle… your firstborn,” she reasoned adamantly, albeit with an incoherent tone and droopy eyes.
Diaval laughed at her jabber.
“Cielle? She’s a failure, Laurentia. What kind of family let a girl take over it? Laurentia, Cielle is just a card that will be used later in the marriage market to continue the Meyer.”
‘I can’t believe he thinks of my daughter like that.’
She felt really sorry for Cielle for being born to a father like him. Laurentia’s eyes lost sparks to life.
After she found out that Diaval was thinking that way, she ruminated on it countless times.
About how she’d rather be dead.
‘If I die with my child, we can escape from here.’
She had tried. Ran out with her baby in her arms to the balcony. But upon hearing Cielle’s wails, she came to her senses. It took everything she had to retread. What did the baby do to deserve this? She couldn’t bear to take her life. If Laurentia died, Cielle had no one to protect her.
That was how she lived then and now.
And the never-ending Hell still continued.
“Acting all arrogant now, don’t you? After giving birth such a card to be sacrificed instead of the eldest son who will succeed the family.”
Laurentia never thought it was going to work in the first place. She bit her lips, hard.
Diaval’s words pierced her heart. Not because she loved him. Because of how Diaval treated Cielle. It made her heart broken. If only she could get her out of here.
‘Anything, something, I could do.’
“Because of your body that couldn’t produce an heir again that your baby is dead. Don’t you realize how important this is, Laurentia?” He talked like it was a chant.
Her body trembled.
He treated her like an animal, demanding her to bear another child while she was still recovering from Cielle’s birth. With her frail body, she had a child four years later.
Unwanted child born from coercion.
Since she clearly witnessed how Diaval treated Cielle, having any more children in this hellish place wasn’t what she wanted. He was a jerk who never once hugged Cielle because she was a daughter.
To top it off, she couldn’t ever forget the way he looked at Cielle like she was useless trash and cruel words he spat out to her newborn.
“The first child is a daughter? What a disgrace. A useless thing was born as the first child instead. She can’t take over the family.”
That wasn’t all. The words he mumbled following after, like he saw the price of the beef in the butchery, still fresh in her mind.
“Fortunately she looks like her mother. I can sell her to a good family when she grows up,” determined Diaval, clicking his tongue and brushing past Cielle and Laurentia. She swore to get out of this hell somehow.
When Laurentia first found out she was expecting a second child, she was about to die again. She couldn’t even see Cielle at that moment.
Her body was collapsing day by day. Got laid countless times as well as various circumstances which cause stress, bind her like chains then the menstrual cycle skipped. In that situation, the thought of having a child didn’t cross her mind.
Even the doctor failed to diagnose Laurentia’s pregnancy.
At the point when Laurentia couldn’t die for the sake of Cielle and barely survived, she later found out about the pregnancy when she felt the baby’s movement.
So no one knew if she tried to kill the child secretly.
However, the baby didn’t die.
Despite her desperate effort, she could no longer harm the life that was kicking inside her. To her dismay she informed Diaval about the baby.
By the time, Diaval’s violence came to a stop.
She could enjoy the night with tranquility. Better, she could hold Cielle in her arms freely. Before pregnant with second child, she wasn’t allowed to see Cielle.
“The dead baby was a son.”
Laurentia chewed her lips vehemently. Drops of her blood were trickling inside her mouth, the smell of the blood spreading. Laurentia had a venom hiding in her eyes and labored breath.
Because the consolation she got was cold words.
“I think this is enough reason for divorce. I’ll pay you a generous amount of alimony. Your body was a waste in Meyer.”
In the end, it was confirmed that Laurentia was nothing but a tool for giving birth to a baby to Diaval.
Alas, that was no longer important to her. She lifted her head.
Laurentia had wanted to divorce anyway. She had been waiting for a long time. Meyer wouldn’t let her go using his status as a weapon. Only one thing that stopped her.
Her poor daughter, Cielle.
“What about Cielle? Please let me take her!”
Her voice was full of distress, like a salmon struggling to swim against the river current with all its might. Cielle was a daughter Diaval didn’t even want, so why not give it to Laurentia.
“I don’t need any fortune. Just let me take her, Diaval.”
“Laurentia,” he frowned and continued. “Where will my bloodline go? Are you saying I should let her follow you and grow up in that meager count house? My blood can only grow in Meyer! That child will be the paving stone for the new heir. Don’t be ridiculous and leave quietly.”
He glared at her with scorn and cursed at her. “Stupid wench.”
Diaval stormed out of the door, he had nothing more to say.
Strength drained from Laurentia’s body.
‘If only I can do something…’
Tears filled her big eyes. She gritted her teeth, spilling her sad tears like an animal.
‘It’s alright, Laurentia. Be strong.’
Laurentia would definitely protect her two children.
Even if she had to sell her soul to the Devil!