The Pharmacist Lady's Secret Trading - Chapter 37
Probably because of travel fatigue, April woke up the next morning only when the sun shone the brightest. As usual, Ian was nowhere to be seen in the room, but the teapot he ordered was placed on the table.
Stretching up while getting off the bed, April sat at the table by the window and unfolded the note kept beside the pot.
《 You’ll find me in the office, so no need to hurry. 》
She recognized the beautiful stroke of the handwriting to be Ian’s. She smiled, before proceeding to pour the tea into a cup.
“Did they heat it again? It’s warm.”
Sipping her tea, she got up from the table and walked to stand behind a curtain of the window, gazing over the scenery outside.
Far beyond the boundary, she could see a pine forest. The area lined with snow-covered pine trees looked just like a blue sea.
‘If we go up this way, we’ll find the North, won’t we?’
She tried to locate the landscape beyond the vast forest, but it wasn’t visible. She had heard, the sheer mountains in the North could be faintly seen near the North-eastern defense border.
‘We are close.’
Ten years after she fled to the Capital, she was staying in a place from where she could see the northern land. It made her tense. But she wasn’t trying to reminisce.
She quickly turned around to wash up and get dressed. Then, grabbing her skirt’s hem, she stepped down the stairs and walked to the door at the end of the hallway. She knocked.
“Come in, April.”
With all her might, she opened the heavy door and walked inside. This office was not much different from that of the Capital. The scenery was the same – piled-up documents.
Ian pushed the documents aside to welcome April.
“I apologize for getting up so late.”
“No, you could’ve slept more if you were tired.”
“I’ve been waking up early nowadays, so I can’t afford to sleep anymore. It became a habit. I didn’t snore, did I?”
April asked anxiously while Ian smiled and shook his head “no”. He then guided her to the guest table.
“Is Carl Liszt nearby?”
“Yes. He’ll be at the command post and will soon be returning to Carleva. The man who accompanied him to the Capital didn’t seem to have come here.”
“Count Gridler, yes?”
“I think so. He had a big scar on his arm.”
Ian pointed his finger from his wrist to elbow, to which April nodded. Though she met Carl, she didn’t encounter Gridler during the incident in the Capital. But, she was certain about his identity.
The two still seemed to be conspiratorial allies. Carl acted in the front, while Gridler acted behind the scenes.
From his contribution to the construction of the defense project, it seemed that Carl wasn’t someone who had free will.
“He must have a large scar.”
“Large enough to be covered with leather gloves. But, you sound like you know how it was formed.”
“Ah…… I was the cause.”
Ian frowned at her calmness.
From what he could understand, the scar was not made by a sharp object or an accident. He couldn’t imagine how on earth it was made, but it was as horrible as a burn scar could be.
“The day I ran away from Carleva to avoid my marriage contract, Gridler tried to force me to sign on the paper himself. I don’t know how it happened either.”
She gazed down at her hand. Since that day, she never experienced anything similar again. However, the memory of “bright blue flames knocking down Count Gridler” that day was so intense, she couldn’t easily forget.
“Is it similar to magic?”
“It could be, but I’ve never learned to do any of those.”
During the first days of her escape, she couldn’t let her eyes rest at the fear of a bizarre ability of her surfacing and vanishing within a moment. However, she was a little relieved. At least Gridler was reluctant to contact when he heard Carl had captured April in the capital.
“I suppose you can slowly finish the medicine. May I complete the rest of the down payment in the same manner?”
“And before we terminate the contract, I have one thing to check…….”
Ian held out the parchment, which had been kept neat and clean, and pointed to the paragraph at the bottom with his finger. It was the first clause on the termination of their agreement.
《 1. At the end of the contract, Ian Reykis pays April Quen the deferred payment.
2. As soon as the contract terminates, Ian Reykis and April Quen shall return to be strangers.
3. After the contract is over, Ian Reykis and April do not remain involved in each other’s lives. 》
The last two lines would sound infinitely cold if one read them.
“I wish to erase everything except for number 1. What do you say?”
“I’d like that, too.”
“Then, please have a look at this document.”
Ian signed upon the white parchment to terminate. It reminded her about the first time he signed the contract. Feeling nervous for no reason, April took the paper from him and started to read.
There was a line added at the end of the usual script. It was about the amount he’d pay her.
《 The requirements related to the termination of the existing contract shall be removed, leaving only number (1) related to promised payment. 》
The sentence was written in bold compared to others. Her name also had been changed from April Quen to April Witzer.
Imaging Ian struggling to make these changes, her lips curled into a gentle smile.
“It’s fine. Would there be no excuse for you to ask for my help after this contract ends?”
“Well, if I don’t, it’ll be very unfortunate.”
“A few days ago, I saw the northern mountains for the first time. The land you grew up in is situated far east to the vast landscape.”
“Yes. I don’t think I can do anything by myself there. When you offered your help, Ian, it honestly felt reassuring. But, you know. The reason I’m so worried.”
“Perhaps you’re worried about me.”
“But what you’re after is not the property, that path holds more risk. I can’t let you walk on that path alone.”
She stared down at her fingers, quietly listening to him. His every syllable contained sincere concerns.
“Ian. I have never told you. What I want to do.”
“What I want the most is to prove my mother’s innocence. I can only find peace then.”
Money could buy back properties, but honor – never. Thus, Ian knew that she needed his help in this battle. April was aware of the fact as well. Nevertheless, she couldn’t readily ask for help since it could put him in danger.
“I’m not sure about anything. There is no guarantee that I’ll find a clue inside my mother’s study, and even if I succeed in discovering it, my actions will be limited thereafter.”
“What if I could give you all that?”
“I will make sure to facilitate everything you ask for. You wouldn’t have to struggle alone then, would you?”
“Yes, that’s correct. But if you want to help that way, t-then………”
“I must be with April Witzer.”
Ian finished for her. April almost asked if he made a joke, but his expression was too serious for him to do so.
“Let’s sign an agreement.”
Ian picked out a blank sheet of paper from the stack on a pedestal and placed it on his lap. Then he picked up a pen and began to scribble.
“Isn’t this what you thought?”
Still perplexed at Ian’s hurried movements, she dropped her head to read. He was one hundred percent correct about what she thought, but she couldn’t lift her eyes to discuss it casually.
《 Marriage Contract 》
It neither had any major conditions written nor held the aftermath it would bring.
For the first time, April became resentful of the fact that even marriage was used as a means to acquire resources. The formal union of two individuals, respective towards each other, to bring a fruitful life ahead.
“I… Forgive me. Please forgive me, Ian. That is what came to my mind.”
“April. Don’t say it like that.”
“But I can’t bear to ask you for this.”
“I apologize for saying it so easily. But I promise I didn’t mean it that way. Only if it’s okay with you, then……”
She wondered how he could be so calm in the first place.
Because she felt sorry and a little disappointed, April couldn’t answer his proposal.
“I’m going to get some fresh air.”
She didn’t want him to tag along. Without another word, April scurried out of the room so quickly that Ian could not see her face. Then, as soon as the door closed behind her, she collapsed.
‘I wanted to get married after I proved Mother’s innocence. I wanted it to be all normal.’
She lost the strength in her muscles. She leaned against the wall and buried her face in her palms, waiting for her mind to calm down. However, she couldn’t see Ian holding his head with a strained expression on his face behind the wall she leaned on.