In her opinion, Siana Anetta didn’t think she lacked much. She was petite with a round, sculpted face that fit well together. It might not be the striking beauty that would make people fall madly in love with her instantly, but she felt her attractiveness was quite ample that she never felt intimidated by someone else.
Siana had a pleasant personality and was very approachable and friendly. Her mother had died giving birth to her, but her father, Viscount Anetta, did everything to make sure she received all the love and care. He didn’t have any vast land and assets to his name when he started out, but he had incredible business skills. He had remarkably doubled the size and income of the business that was passed down to him by his great-grandfather. He had made sure that Siana had a very comfortable childhood.
Siana, although deprived from her mother’s love, was a very responsible child. In the absence of a mother figure, she had taken charge of housekeeping on her own. Her father had taken care of the housekeeping before, but Siana learned the tropes quickly and took over the work, while also assisting her father in his business. She was very skillful with accounts and bookkeeping, which helped her father immensely.
Siana, a beautiful, accomplished woman with a father who had a good business, attracted many suitors. Plenty of men tried to court her. Even when their marriage proposal was denied, they sought her out to be her lover. Siana rejected each one of them with solely one reason: they were not her ‘type’.
She liked handsome men with a princely face, like those found in the fairy tales. The blond-hair-blue-eyes type of men. After the appearance was satisfied, she had specific qualities she liked in a man, which were practically close to nonexistent in the men who sought to court her. None of them met her standard, yet. Therefore, Siana had found nobody worth starting a relationship with.
Her friend, Yulia, once thought that advancing in age would be disadvantageous for Siana even though she was just eighteen now. So, she recommended a good man with a well-off family for Siana to marry. But Siana would have none of it. She figured she would rather not settle for someone she didn’t like, instead she would devote her time to whatever she wanted to do.
She firmly held to her beliefs even when Yulia married the second son of Count Linen and moved to the Linen Estate. Most of the people Siana knew married before reaching twenty and moved with their respective husbands. Most people feared the societal convention that branded them as ‘defective’ if a woman wasn’t wed by twenty. Many families sometimes forced their daughters into early marriage to escape societal scorn.
But Siana’s father never cared about such norms. Viscount Anetta respected his daughter’s decision and opinions as he would his own. He felt that if a man would reject or attack her for being unmarried and above twenty, he probably couldn’t respect and keep her happy, anyway. He had a lot of money after all, as much as it was needed for her to spend her life comfortably. He wondered if it was really necessary for his daughter to marry just for the sake of it. Siana felt at ease because her father always stood by her side. Therefore, she decided to not marry out of sole compulsion or societal pressure until she found someone worth her heart.
That was until Viscount Anetta passed away and Viscount North visited Siana about a debt. She stared at Viscount North in disbelief, who was seated across from her. “I… tell me again, my lord,” stammered Siana, “of the debt I am supposed to pay.”
It bothered her to even utter it, but she maintained her calm composure. “How much was it exactly?” she asked.
“22,000 golds, Lady Siana,” said the Viscount.
If Siana could, she would have screamed and fainted. “How could it be?” asked Siana, calmly. It might have been a minimal amount for other aristocrats, but for Siana it was a substantial amount. She wondered if scraping the last of her assets and selling every little thing she owned would be enough to repay it. Siana closed her eyes and tried to calm down. The unexpected situation turned her mind blank.
She stressed over the situation. Her mind kept recollecting the image of her father, who had died ten days ago. If only it hadn’t rained that day, she thought. She remembered something she had heard on the day she received her father’s obituary.
Viscount Anetta’s carriage had slipped and fell off a cliff on a rainy day. Usually he would take the longer, safer way when it rained heavily, but on that particular day, he had a pressing business appointment. The carriage had shattered to pieces. That had meant instant death for her dear father, his advisor and the carriage driver.
He was a Viscount in title, but he was just an ordinary man who ran a fairly large business and had been successful in it. The guards had ruled out murder as he didn’t seem to have any enemies. The guard had said that it could have been avoided if it hadn’t rained so heavily on that day.
Siana hadn’t had enough time to mourn. She had taken the reins of her father’s business after his death. She couldn’t let his toil go to waste. It didn’t prove to be too difficult as she was already well-versed with the work, but a bill had been unexpectedly damaged. If Siana spent the money carefully, she could probably sustain herself for a few years.
However, now that she was faced with this situation, she was uncertain and worried. She had tended to all the bills and done all the calculations, but all of a sudden, this bill of 22,000 golds appeared out of nowhere. “Let’s go through the bill once again,” suggested Siana, “It could be a mistake.”