Chapter 1: Contract marriage (1)
“Duke Edgar, please spend the night with my daughter and you would see she is an excellent choice for your wife,” a bold mother pushed her daughter towards the Duke as he passed by them.
All eyes were on the three of them as Duke Edgar was the main topic for the night.
“I wasnt aware your daughter started working in the red light district. I am not looking for a wife there,” Duke Edgar stepped to the left to pass the disappointed mother and daughter.
He had only arrived less than three minutes ago but this was his second encounter with a mother and daughter looking to win over his favor. Ever since it was announced he was looking for a wife this was happening.
The culprit behind the rumor was none other than the scheming king who had nothing better to do than to ruin the life of his friend.
It was no surprise the women had accepted the bait and pushed their daughters to try and catch the Duke as their husband.
Duke Edgar Collins was the only son of his father and sole heir of countless lands. He lived similar to that of a king and thanks to his connection to the king himself, nothing was impossible for Edgar.
He was said to be a cunning dangerous man but when money came into the equation, his history was long forgotten.
“Duke Collins is here,” a young woman whispered to her companion as Edgar walked into the barons home.
This is going to be a pain in the ass, Edgar sighed, already knowing how the night would end. Countless offers to take the young women who were just finished learning what it meant to run a household would be the death of him.
The heat from their desire to find a husband quickly made the place hot and uncomfortable. A nice cold drink was needed to relieve him of the hot temperature.
Edgar had no idea why he agreed to attend the Barons party. The Baron, Desmond Barrett, owner of a failing household was a man he never cared for. Edgar couldnt figure out why a man on the brink of bankruptcy would throw such an elaborate party.
Was the man looking to speed up being kicked out of his own home
“Duke Collins,” the man himself appeared. The Baron approached Edgar with his hair tied into his usual ponytail. He wore a black and white suit Edgar felt matched the mans hair. Black with specs of white here and there.
Edgar didnt miss the way the baron announced his name like he was a young girl making her debut at a ball and was coming down the stairs. “Baron,” he greeted the man.
“It was so kind of you to visit my home to attend my party,” Desmond said, pleasantly surprised to see the duke. He was a nervous wreck from all the questions being thrown his way from guests who had only come to see the duke.
Desmond made sure to spread the news the duke would be at his party.
“Save it, Baron. You know why I am here. Unlike the king, I am yet to believe you have the information I am looking for.” Edgar was looking for any lead for the case with the young women disappearing.
Desmond sent a note claiming to have information and wished to speak with the Duke here. However, Edgar quickly saw through his ploy.
“Of course, I know why you are here but it would be rude of me to not offer you a drink first Edgar. Forgive me but you seem to be sweating quite an awful lot,” Desmond looked around wondering if his house needed more windows opened.
“I am not here for a **ing drink. Let me tell you,” Edgar grabbed the barons neck not caring about the crowd watching his every move. “I might have a lot of time on my hands these days but I do not like when it is wasted. If you have called me here as entertainment for your guest I will see to it you hang first thing in the morning.”
“I-Im sorry,” Desmond cried as his feet started to dangle from being lifted off the ground. He heard the duke was a monster but only thought of it as a joke.
Desmond tried to gulp but Edgars hand was too tight around his neck for him to complete the action.
“Sorry” Edgar tightened the grip around Desmonds neck. “That sounds like you are confirming you have no information for me. It wouldnt take too long for me to break the neck of such a slender old man. Is this entertaining enough for your guests” He whispered in the barons ear.
Desmond felt the hairs on his body stand tall as Edgars cold breath blew against his skin. “I-I have information. I swear it. I-Its upstairs.”
“Good boy,” Edgar dropped the baron. “Why did you wait so long to say that Did you wish for me to kill you”
“No d-duke. I should have brought it right away. Forgive me. C-Can you put me down before everyone thinks you are in the wrong I dont want them to get the wrong impression of you,” Desmond stated but what he really meant was he no longer wanted to be embarrassed about being strangled at his own home.
“Of course,” Edgar released the small man. “I will need space to be alone until you return. Some place outside for me to smoke.”
“The garden has been made off-limits so no one would be there but my daughter wishes to have a moment with you. If you could only spend a moment outside with her, I would appreciate it.”
“Do I look like a shooting star to you, baron” Edgar looked down at the man due to their difference in height.
“Shooting star I do not understand Edgar. How could you be a shooting star” Desmond was completely puzzled.
“That is what I am trying to understand from you thinking I would grant your daughters wish. Run along and bring what you have for me.”
Edgar made a mental note that this would be the last house call he did under the kings orders. The Baron was nothing more than an opportunist. Using others names to get a crowd to attend his party.
Before anyone else could make their move to introduce their daughters to him, Edgar picked a random direction to go in hopes it would be the garden. He had never visited the Barons home before and quite frankly wanted this to be the last.
“Follow after him,” he heard someone mutter behind him.
Edgar pulled a cigar out of his coat pocket as he hurried outside. He knew the night would call for a quick smoke. As he found his way out of the Barons home, the cold air nipped at his skin almost threatening to go back inside.
Instead of going back inside, Edgar lit his cigar as he would rather be outside in the freezing cold than back in the house where he could feel the heated gaze of young women.
“I should have brought two coats.”
Passing by the stairs where he was standing, Edgar spotted a young woman hurrying off somewhere as she hugged a coat to protect her from the cold.
“Thats a little thin to protect you, isnt it” He made his presence known.
The woman halted, seemingly shaken up due to the fact that someone had caught her wandering around. “The party is inside.”
“I am very much aware of that, Alessandra. Why are you tensing up like I wasnt supposed to know your name Who else would be wearing a mask in the barons home except for his rumored cursed daughter”
After a moment of silence, Alessandra finally spoke. “Are you scared of me”
“No. There are scarier things in life darling. Why should I be scared of you all because of a mask” Edgar blew out smoke into the air.
“Thats going to kill you if you dont stop,” Alessandra didnt need to turn around to see that he was smoking. The scent reached her nose and she found it to be disgusting.
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“Good, itll speed up the process. Are you scared of me” He asked after she had not once looked around to see who she was speaking to.
“I am not aware of who you are,” she replied.
“Right. I am Edgar Collins. Just Edgar would be fine.”
“The Duke” Alessandras eyes widened. She never expected such a man would be here. She thought her father was lying. “They say you are to be married. Is that why you are here You are here for my sister”
“I would rather die. No offense,” he added as that was her sister. “None of the young women in there shall be my wife. They are all like matching dolls in a set.”
“What about me If I were to ask you to marry me, what would you say” Alessandra nervously waited for his answer.
“What none of you seem to understand is the sole fact you would be setting yourself up for a loveless marriage if I were to pick you. I was never interested in marrying anyone yet but the rumor was passed around,” Edgar said.
“What if I dont want you to love me”
Edgar chuckled. Most marriages these days didnt start off with love but then someone started to feel the emotion. “It cannot be guaranteed you wouldnt expect love.”
“What about a contract” Alessandra proposed an idea. She was desperate and wanted to use him to get out of her fathers home.