Alexia’s head tilted in response to Vivian’s surprised voice.
"The Grand Duke still hasn’t told you that? In order to continue the relationship with Britton County, he demanded us to take you into our family instead."
He already said previously that he had a solution and it seemed like the answer was this. She began staring at her perplexedly. Becoming the stepsister to Alexia? I’ll be her little sister, then?
When she saw Vivian’s confused expression, Alexia revealed her impassive face in response.
"Well, just hear all the details from the Grand Duke himself. Since what I actually wish to say isn’t that but some other things."
"What is it?"
Right at that, Alexia began staring intently at Vivian. She was merely a stand-in, with that same figure and hair color such as herself, whom she had chosen thoughtlessly before. She never imagined that the particular substitute would be able to grasp his love and sit in front of her so equally like this.
It might be quite unpleasant for Alexia since she always had a high self-esteem.
However, despite looking straight at Vivian, she didn’t feel the urge to splash water over her face. Although she wasn’t really delighted to have someone with an unknown origin entering the family, it was undeniably thanks to her that she was actually able to gain a good thing in return.
As she was finally excluded from the troublesome task of marriage, she then frankly declared that she would carry on the family name. After all, there was no son to succeed the family anyway. Furthermore, even though it had been rather rare, it still wasn’t like a woman couldn’t acquire a title herself.
As he reflected on her arrogant nature, the Count disapproved of it, but since it was his daughter’s first resolve, he eventually gave in. Thanks to that, she had been receiving training as a successor as of late.
"Live well. I only came over to say that."
Trifling words such as thanks, good work and so forth didn’t really suit her. In fact, she didn’t even wish to say all of that. Alexia then stood up right after placing the tea cup on the table.
Reflexively, Vivian followed to her feet right away. But as soon as she had put her foot down on the marble, Alexia was already halfway out the door.
The moon was vividly lighting the sky when Knox, who had finished his work, finally returned. As soon as he arrived, he began searching for Vivian and Ashley. He had first found Ashley whom he then hugged in his arms.
Knox’s lips were stretched right up to his ears at the child’s bright voice.
On the outside, he was still branded with words like cold-blooded and a monster, but there were no traces of them in the Grand Duchy. In fact, it was rather fortunate if he didn’t burst into a smile trailing after Ashley, whenever he saw her smiling dazzlingly.
"How are you?"
Knox’s expression was filled with wonder at her babblings that reminded him of being a daddy. Just as Vivian had spotted him and then approached him right away, he shouted excitedly before drawing closer to her as well.
"Vivi, did you hear that? Ashley just called me ‘daddy’."
"She used to say that whenever she thought of you as well."
Knox wore a sorrowful look on his face at Vivian’s words.
The child was growing steadily day by day. How fast her changes had been. It made him wish to handle all of his work right in the Grand Duchy itself while looking over her all day long..
When Knox just couldn’t take his eyes off the lovely child who looked exactly like him, Vivian then carefully opened her mouth.
"Earlier today, Young Countess Britton had come over."
Surprised by Vivian’s words, he entrusted Ashley to the nanny. Then, he quickly reached out and began to inspect her entire body.
"What did she say? Are you hurt anywhere?"
Knox was genuinely furious when he heard that most of her wounds during the time she acted as a stand-in had been inflicted by Alexia herself. He eventually managed to calm down when Vivian had coaxed into telling him that they wouldn’t have met at all if it wasn’t for Alexia, but it didn’t mean that his hostility towards her had subsided to any extent.
"I heard that you brought me into the family of Count Britton?"
Knox began to panic at her sudden question. He initially thought that he would talk about it one day, but he never imagined that he would be confessing all of a sudden, on top of lacking all sorts of preparation like this.
"Are you trying to make me Vivian Britton without any of my consent?"
"Vivi, about that……"
"Why didn’t you tell me?"
"I wanted to tell you later. Right after I’ve taken care of it perfectly, so people won’t talk about it at all."
"Shouldn’t you have discussed it with me first?"
Knox then nodded meekly at her question.
When his expression looked intimidated as if he knew that he had wronged, Vivian began to relax her expression instead and smiled.
"Next time, you’ll decide it with me first before proceeding with anything, right?"
"I’ll definitely do so."
"Even if it’s just for a very trivial thing, okay?"
He had never consulted with anyone in his life before. Even the relationship with his parents had only been a rather one-sided interaction, where the word ‘consultation’ was very unfamiliar to him. But if Vivian wanted to have it, he still could actually do it.
When Vivian heard the answer she was satisfied with, she grinned away and took back Ashley from her nanny. As soon as the child plunged into her mother’s arms, she immediately burrowed herself right into her embrace along with a bright smile.
"The thing that you always do with me, do you want to do it to daddy too?"
A thing that they do? Knox’s face was completely filled with curiosity. Vivian gestured to Knox a little and made him come closer. When he drew nearer, Vivian softly pushed Ashley close to his face.
As Knox’s cheek brushed against Ashley’s, her tiny hand slowly went to his cheek. Then, she turned her head and pecked her father’s face with her small, drooling lips—over and over again.
"Our Ashley, do you like daddy?"
Vivian’s voice, seemingly brimming with joy and Ashley’s own that burst into laughter, which her happiness couldn’t be contained, permeated the whole room.
Knox, who had gotten his child’s pecks for the first time in his life, became absent-minded but he soon regained his senses before embracing the two of them.
"I love you too, Ashley."
"Oh my, just Ashley?"
He smiled brightly and kissed her cheek. Vivian was grinning playfully while he licked her slowly from the chin before sucking in the sweetest-looking red lips of hers.
"I love you, Vivian."
Her heart fluttered at his absolutely sweet words.
It was right at the moment when her life which was finally realized through falsity had really begun.
〈 The Monstrous Grand Duke’s Fake Lady 〉 End.
Note: There’s still side story left (5 parts)