Immediately a sharp headache hit her brain.
She squeezed her temples and curled up her body tightly.
Her head was broken, it seemed.
Annette habitually tried to find her headache medicine, only to realize later that she was out of it.
She sighed and sat up.
The lush dawn light hung in the air.
She sank deeper into bed and waited for the sun to rise.
Annette tended to wake up early because of her headaches, but she always killed time quietly like this.
Until the world woke up and moved about.
She quite liked this time of the day.
She liked that no one seemed to be alive, including herself.
It was quiet.
So much so that she wished the sun would never rise.
Annette turned her head to look at the seat next to her.
It was where Heiner had sat yesterday.
She always woke up alone.
Padania was a place where couples, both aristocrats and commoners, who normally used the bedroom together, but that was not the case for them.
In the past, Annette had visited Heiner’s bedroom from time to time.
She wanted to maintain their marital relationship.
Also, Annette had long wished to have a child.
Doctors told her that it was difficult for her to conceive, but she still did not give up.
She thought that having a child would improve their relationship.
And Heiner did not refuse her visits to the bedroom.
Why was that? Why did he not reject her?
Was he trying to make her live with vain hopes?
But Heiner was not gentle in the bedroom either.
They had s*x in the dark, without taking off their clothes and with the lights off.
Annette had never seen him naked.
After the end of their illicit deed, he always left the bedroom before the day dawned.
Even if it was his bedroom.
It was as if it was a sin to spend the morning together.
Annette closed her eyes and slumped.
She felt the urge to cut off her throbbing head.
As soon as it was light, Annette called the doctor.
Arnold examined her mechanically and took out some pills from his bag.
They were the same pills as before.
Annette slightly frowned.
“These pills don’t work very well.”
“Madam, this is a good enough medicine.
You seem to want some kind of perfect medicine.
And migraine is a common ailment.
There is no need to be oversensitive.”
“Do I have to live with this headache?”
Annette clamped her mouth shut.
She couldn’t believe it, but there was nothing more to say when the doctor said it was so.
It wouldn’t be particularly helpful to ask him anyway.
“…I understand, in a manner of speaking.
But it’s not just the headache……….
my body doesn’t seem to be doing well overall lately.
My stomach is also very upset, and I’m wondering if it might be gastritis.”
“It is probably stress-related, lack of exercise, etc.
Avoid stimulating foods and walk a little instead of lying down so much.”
Arnold’s tone sounded like he was mocking Arnett’s laziness, who always confined to her room.
Sure enough, sarcasm disguised as advice followed.
“Madam grew up preciously and is sensitive to even the smallest discomfort.
I can’t be your personal doctor.”
Annette replied in a crawling voice.
A few steps away, she could feel the servants’ sneers.
Thank you for tolerating me, Doctor Arnold.”
Annette smiled gently.
However, her lips moved with insincerity.
“Which one would you like, madam?”
The servant showed her several dresses.
All of them were dull clothes of dark blue or gray.
Annette chose a bright navy blue dress.
She did not want it to be too dark for a party.
After the fall of the monarchy, Annette lived a simple life.
Heiner did not tell her to do so, but she did so herself.
It was obvious that if she wore anything even a little fancy, she would immediately be gossiped about.
The whole time she was being decorated for the party, there was an air of awkwardness.
It was a long time ago that they chatted happily, listening to all sorts of praise and gossip.
The servants generally followed the power structure of the house.
Sometimes they acted with a human heart, but this was not the case with Annette.
They are all ordinary citizens and have no relation to the powerful during the monarchy.
Rather, there were many cases where they lost what they had by the royal family and the military or joined the revolutionary army.
It meant that there was absolutely no reason for them to show Annette any favor or sympathy.
“Shall I put your hair up?”
“Yes, please do.”
“How would you like it decorated?”
“My bangs cover my eyes, so it’d be nice if you use a pin.”
But their ill feelings toward Annette were not expressed to any greater degree.
Be it gossip, taunts, irresponsibility.
They were not fundamentally evil people.
That made Annette even more distressed.
His Excellency is waiting outside.
The servant said stiffly, bowed her head, and then retreated.
Annette put a handkerchief and headache medicine in her handbag, as was her custom, and left the residence.
Her feet seemed to stick to the floor.
The car was parked at the entrance to the gate.
She could see Heiner through the backseat window.
The driver opened the door and Annette got in and sat carefully next to him.
While Annette sorted out the big hem of her dress, Heiner rested his chin on one hand and stared blankly out the window.
His profile looked sleek and strong, like a well-managed hound.
A truly inscrutable man, she thought.
Annette was terrible at parties.
But a partner had to accompany him to the party, and Heiner always took her.
As the wife of the Commander-in-Chief, he told her to do the minimum.
“Heiner, do I always have to go? Why don’t you find another partner…?”
“Why should I do that when I have a wife?”
Why would he bother to take her to a place where no one welcomed her?
He was really a difficult man to understand, or so she thought.
Now she could see that the answer was really easy.
It must have been that he wanted to open a chapter of misery for Annette, who rarely left the residence.
Because it was rare to find a place where the malice was as clear and blatant as at the party.
The car left smoothly.
There was no dialogue of any kind between them.
Annette turned her head to the other side.
A clear autumn sky stretched out beyond the window.
Street trees passed by.
No one was looking at her, but she scrutinized her expression.
“Your Excellency! It has been a really long time.”
“Thank you for the invitation, Mr.
Heiner and Arno laughed and shook each other’s hands.
Arno Schmidt was a commercial capitalist and a great supporter of the revolution.
He was one of the richest men in Rochester.
“Of course I have to invite you.
You are a big investor in our hotel.”
“I hear you are planning to open another branch in Menhaven as well.”
“I will first keep an eye on the transition and decide when the time is right.
Um, why are words flying around these days? Pro-France and Rutland’s groups have joined forces………..
You can’t go out half-heartedly for a defense treaty, can you?”
“We are currently making it our top priority to get the waitresses to join the small negotiating powers.
I guess the odds depend on whether we succeed, but we’ll do our best.”
Arno smiled with relief.
Hotel business, gold mining business, civil wars in other countries, republican and royalist factions, gossip in the capital………… Various stories were exchanged.
People gradually gathered around Heiner and formed a crowd.
Annette did not open her mouth the whole time.
It was because no one greeted her or spoke to her.
In the past, they would greet her, but now they didn’t even do that.
In any case, Heiner did not care at all how she was treated.
I’ve heard that Senator Günther has put in a marriage proposal!”
“I’m afraid I have declined that offer.”
“Oh, that …… The Senator must have been very disappointed.”
“Why did you refuse? There were so many people saying that it suits you well!”
Annette’s hands tightened.
They acted as if she were not here.
It was nothing new, but discussing a husband’s marriage proposal in front of his wife was clearly disrespectful to her.
“The refusal was natural.”
Heiner reciprocated with a polite but not warm smile.
“I’m not quite sure why he made the proposal in the first place.
I already have a wife.”
At those words, people’s eyes lingered on Annette for a moment, then scattered again.
“—— Miss Annelie Engels is a wonderful woman and she will marry a better man than me.”
“Oh, my, what a better groom than Your Excellency in Rochester.”
Concurrence and laughter followed.
Annette couldn’t stand the ignorance and awkwardness, so she picked up one of the cocktail glasses.
The cocktail was a little high in alcohol content, and as soon as she took a sip, the heat scratched the back of her throat.
It was not bad.
It was better to concentrate on this sensation.
“Gold has been discovered in Langstein…”
“How did the mining rights—“
All the conversation seemed like a distant noise.
Annette sipped her cocktail in a daze.
She desperately wanted to go home as soon as possible.
She was almost through her third glass when someone snatched it from her hand.
Annette looked up in bewilderment.
It was Heiner.
He was carrying on a conversation as if nothing had happened.
She wanted to say something, but it seemed difficult to interrupt.
Eventually, just as she was about to reach for another cocktail glass, a large hand lightly grabbed her shoulder to stop her.
Annette looked back at him again to see Heiner was faintly frowning.
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