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Chapter: 6


In a sunny drawing room, Henry Jekyll Langham gave me a small smile.

"I never imagined I would meet Mrs. Carter like this."

Of course, the Dr. Henry Jekyll created by Robert Louis Stevenson was different from the Henry Jekyll before me. While the original was a respected doctor who knew a lot about chemistry, this young man was an entrepreneur who just started to learn about business.

"Mrs. Soberg said she would try to find a suitable location, yet there were so many rumors that you wouldn’t date anyone."

It wasn’t a rumor but a fact. I decided not to correct him. I glanced at Henry Jekyll who was blushing. There were no traces of "Edward" who I saw before.

"Mrs. Carter."

"Yes?"

"May I call you Miss Emily?"

I nodded, and he straightened his posture.

He looked nervously at me. "Miss Emily, would you be interested in having a relationship with me with marriage in mind?"

As expected, it was the same question as in the last two encounters. In dealing with men who mention the idea of marriage as soon as they meet a woman, the first step is to create some distance.

"…It’s very sudden of you to ask that," I said.

Perhaps my performance wasn’t so bad since Mr. Henry waved his hand and replied, "I understand. We’ve only met a few times. Miss Emily may not know me very well, however…" He lowered his head in an attempt to hide his flushed cheeks. "I know a lot about you. To be precise, I read one of your novels."

Again, he said the same words as he did in the last two encounters. Before I returned, I refrained from talking about my work; however, I decided to take a different approach.

"Are you saying you’re a fan?"

"I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but yes."

"What did you like?"

"Hm…" Mr. Henry smiled. "I’m not an avid reader of horror stories, but yours isn’t merely a… thrill of suspense." As he wrung his hands, unexpected words came out of his mouth. "There’s almost a dark verity to them."

"…"

"Rather, there’s a hideous truth no one should know about."

Dark, cruel truth. I was at a loss for words on how accurate he was. I gave a polite response. "It’s an honor that you have such a high opinion of my work."

"I only told you exactly how I felt. Also…" He hesitated for a moment before looking up.

I was reminded of the sea at night when I saw his dark blue eyes. They were like the bottom of the ocean, an abyss where you don’t know what lurks within.

"I am familiar with that sort of terrible truth." Once more, Henry Jekyll was planning to tell me the secret he never told anyone.

I pretended to be surprised as I said, "What do you mean?"

The young man’s mouth tightened into a thin line. Then, as if he made up his mind, he began to speak with some difficulty. "It’s not known to the public, thanks to my family, but I… have experienced abnormalities at times."

"Oh?"

"Evil spirits, monsters from legends…"

Beings that cannot be explained by human reason or science. After encountering them, not only did he faint, he showed signs of confusion when he awoke. For that reason, his relatives called him a "cursed child" and bullied him. His treatment worsened after losing both his parents in a mysterious accident.

"Uncle Graham was the only one who never gave up on me."

Not only did his uncle raise Henry like he was his own child, but Graham also gave him the Langham Hotel despite the opposition from his relatives.

With a sad smile, Mr. Henry continued, "Then a few years ago, during a difficult time in my life, I happened to read Child in the Dark."

"…"

"Your novel was a great comfort to me. I thought that since you wrote it… perhaps you could understand my own darkness." His gaze drifted from his hands to my face.

"And since you’re beautiful as you are…" He blushed. "I think I can love you with all that I have."

Mr. Henry lowered his head again after his "confession". His ears were red.

Oh, dear. He’s the type of person I have the most difficulty dealing with because he’s very honest. It’s cute, but that’s about it. One must be straightforward in saying what had to be said.

"Mr. Henry, I’m flattered, but I think it’s too early for there to be an attraction between us."

"Ah… you’re right, Miss Emily. I was too hasty."

"Your approach wasn’t bad."

"I…" He had no idea what was about to happen.

"We can meet each other with marriage in mind."

Henry Jekyll’s mouth was agape.

I had no interest in this innocent man. What was the real purpose of accepting his confession?

"My apostle."

A few days ago, the voice of the "king" rang in my head. There was a new order, and its contents were clear.

"There is someone who will bring chaos to the world…"

My target was none other than Edward Hyde.

"Miss Emily…"

I looked at the man calling my name. He was easy to read; his expression reminded me of a loyal hound. Indeed, he was like a dog wanting its master’s affection. I almost felt the urge to laugh. I recalled the orders of the King in Yellow.

"Erase his existence."

This poor man, who’d do almost anything for my love, must have his neck twisted by me.

***

It had been one hour since Henry Jekyll Langham entered the drawing room. She didn’t know if it was a good thing he wasn’t immediately kicked out like the previous suitors. Mrs. Marilyn Soberg was uneasy, wondering if the two were having a proper conversation. I was surprised Emily agreed to see him.

She didn’t know what made her stubborn niece change her mind. Mrs. Soberg recalled the conversation she had with her yesterday.

"Why are you like this, Emily?"

Her niece had the appearance worthy of the title of London’s Most Beautiful Widow. From her mother, Emily had wavy, platinum blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes that were like sapphires. She also resembled her father, who was frail but slender and had fair skin. She was beautiful, and her appearance stimulated a man’s instinct to protect.

The problem was that when she opened her mouth, an unexpected answer came out.

"You know why. Aren’t you tired of hearing the same thing?"

Many men asked for Mrs. Emily Carter’s hand in marriage; however, she rejected all of them. It would happen again. She rejected every suitor Mrs. Soberg mentioned, more than ten times now, without even meeting them.

"Emily, you’re still young."

"What are you trying to imply all of a sudden?"

"Haven’t you heard them call you the most beautiful widow in London?"

Emily frowned. "Oh, that. It’s nice, but what’s the point? I’m not going to get married again. Why do I need to look pretty in front of men?"

"W-Why are you talking like that?"

"It’s just you and me. What’s the problem?"

Mrs. Soberg sighed. Her niece was always a dazzling beauty since she was a child. She was also stubborn enough to where it was no use trying to persuade her. After her marriage to that hooligan, he became a popular horror novelist. Emily could’ve done so much better, but because she was young and beautiful, nothing could be done.

However, Mrs. Soberg understood very well that a beautiful woman would have to move on.

"Why Emily?"

"What do you mean ‘why’?"

"Why don’t you stay here? You’re not going to use the excuse that you’re still mourning, are you?"

That damn Randolph Carter. Not only did he seduce the eighteen-year-old Emily, who was as lovely as a rose, but he also had the audacity to marry her and die a year later. Mrs. Soberg prayed he wasn’t comfortable in the afterlife. Even if she did love Randolph a little too much, it was ten years ago.

"Then why won’t you get married?"

Emily had a bewildered look on her face. "Do you truly not know? What better position can a woman have in the British Empire than a widow?"

"It’s the same for the women of any country." Emily shook her head in exasperation. "My life belonged to my father before I was married, then it belonged to my husband after I was married… What about after my husband’s death?"

"What are you talking about?"

"There’s no doubt that in this British Empire, the only women who have complete control over their own lives are Her Majesty and widows."

Emily wasn’t wrong. Since Mr. Soberg passed away, Mrs. Soberg owned a lot of land in the south of London. She was one of the richest people in the neighborhood. Why wouldn’t someone want that kind of freedom?

"If being rich and happy was something I could do by myself, I’d ask for nothing more… Don’t you think so too, Auntie?"


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