Eugene’s speechless lips opened in surprise. She knew she’d run into her eventually, but it was just too soon.
Is this my… mother-in-law?
She looked completely different from how Kasser had described her. She imagined a timid lady with a sluggish and distracted expression or maybe a cold-hearted person who seemed like she would abandon her son.
But the middle-aged woman in front of her was a beauty with a calm look on her face. It felt strange for Eugene to see the woman’s resemblance with her son.
Katie, who interpreted Eugene’s shocked reaction as displeasure, said, “I won’t hold you for long. I just wanted to ask you one thing.”
Eugene was taken aback, but she nodded. “Go ahead.”
“I was told that your marriage was not the will of His Holiness Sang-je, but a marriage that the two of you wanted,” Katie said. “Is this true?”
Eugene nodded earnestly. As her bewilderment subsided, her resentment arose. She wanted to tell this woman, this mother who had abandoned her own child and forced him to suffer a lonely childhood, that he was a man who deserved to be loved and was living his happily ever after.
“I love him very much,” Eugene said.
She did not know exactly when her feelings for him began. He wasn’t the kind of person who tramples on others, so the feelings came naturally. When she finally accepted them, she couldn’t even imagine a life without him. Although she had never told him this directly, her mind was clearly formed and, truthfully, overwhelmed.
Katie’s eyes widened and then she gave a meek smile. For a moment, it was like a flurry of emotions passed through her eyes. “Thank you for telling me.”
“Excuse me.” Eugene hesitated because she couldn’t think of a proper name to call Katie. “Anika Katie, there’s one thing I’d like to ask you as well.”
Katie turned to look at Eugene.
“Do you regret giving birth to the king’s child?”
If Katie continued to insist on hating her own child, Eugene decided that she would never deal with her husband’s mother again. She was as good as dead to her.
Katie was silent for a long time, but Eugene waited. She really wanted to hear the answer.
“I was a terrible person,”Katie finally said as she looked at Eugene. “I couldn’t do anything on my own. But I never regretted it. After giving birth to my child, I finally started to live on my own free will.”
Katie nodded then disappeared into the lounge. It was clear that she didn’t want to talk anymore.
Eugene walked out of the lounge feeling uncomfortable. She wondered if, when Katie spoke of her own free will, she meant the affair she committed during the marriage. If that was the truth then she was incredibly shameless.
Flora was gone when Eugene returned.
“Did Anika Flora really leave?”she asked just to be sure.
“She said she had to go. Apparently she has something important to do,” one of the Anikas told her.
“That’s what I heard too,” someone else chimed in.
“I’m not sure if she went back because she really had plan or because she was just jealous.”
The Anikas giggled to themselves.
Flora had sat silently with a dark expression on her face a while ago. One need not be bright to notice it. Seemingly always in despair, she never responded when people talked to her. It was very clear why Flora’s mood was the way it was. It had been that way since Eugene had gotten and showed her Ramita rating.
Eugene empathized with Flora. She knew that Flora was proud that she had gotten the best Ramita rating so far, so she understood how painful it must have been to find out that someone she disliked was first to her. But Eugene knew that she shouldn’t have made it obvious in this way.
The way Flora was handling it was unfortunate. She could have at least pretended to applaud sincerely, regardless of what she thought.
‘This is why social life is important.’
She heard that her impostor took Flora to all kinds of social meetings. Hence Flora must have learned how to deal with people and learned how to hide her feelings. But she showed her feeling so easily today.
‘Weak… The Anikas are like glass that are ready to shatter.’
Eugene slowly turned her head and caught the black-haired women gathering in threes and fives to talk. Regardless of age, they smiled. Even a wrinkled lady grinned and looked as if she was just a child who didn’t know anything about the world.
Anika belongs to the privileged class from the moment they’re born. Wherever they go and no matter who they meet, they are treated with utmost care. It’s a whole lot better than having to be a princess in a country where the status system exists. A princess can get involved in a power struggle and become a victim of a political marriage when they get older, but an Anika gets to enjoy their rights without any obligation.
Was the way of God’s showing his affection to all the Anikas really good for them?
Eugene couldn’t help but wonder. Anikas can’t do anything by themselves and have no choice but to rely on others and trust that their superiority will protect them.
Eugene seemed to know why marriages between Anikas and kings always failed. Anikas are all made to think that marriages to kings are insufferable and to deal with all that alone would make their pain undeniable. Anikas are selfish, shallow, and vulnerable people who return to the Holy City as soon as they can in pursuit of the comfort they used to enjoy. Just like addicts searching for drugs.
But she was different.
Eugene recalled Katie, whom she had met in the lounge just a while ago. She carried the weight of life in her facial expression. That was probably the reason why Eugene felt restless on her way out of the lounge.
Are all the rumors about her true? She was much like the rumored Katie that Eugene heard about from Kasser and Dana. But maybe it was another part of the story that nobody knew.