Chapter 8

Chapter 8

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“How do you know about that?” asked Siana, glaring at him. “I haven’t told anyone yet.” She tried to recall if she had mentioned it to anyone in passing. Even when she visited the lawyer to verify the rules and regulation regarding money-lending, she had only mentioned about a debt she needed to repay. She had never revealed that slimeball North’s name. 

Is the vile clotpole going around bragging about his upcoming marriage to me? She wondered. Even so, Alan only arrived today. He couldn’t have caught up on the gossip of the city so soon. An earl held a very high status. The gossips of the city was of no consequence to someone like Alan. Who in the world would fill his ears with the hot topic of town the moment he set foot in the city? 

She glowered at him, refusing to say anymore. Alan avoided her eyes. “I had one of my men find out about you,” he said calmly, “When I heard about your father’s death and the situation with Viscount North, I rushed here to look for you.” 

“Oh, so you had your men spy on me?” she snapped. 

“I just wanted to know you were alright,” he said, reluctantly, “And…” 

“And?” enquired Siana, vehemently. 

“I wanted to know if you were still unmarried,” he said, defeated. 

He really thought I would have no choice other than to marry him. Siana couldn’t hide her bitterness, she was sure it must have shown on her face because Alan went on talking as an attempt to justify his actions. 

“I did it because…,” he paused, “Do you know who I missed the most when I was at that war? Do you know what kept me going?” 

Siana, at the moment, couldn’t care less. So, instead of asking, she clenched her jaws even tighter. He looked at her, imploring. 

“Aren’t you curious?” he said. Siana directed him with a glare so venomous that he flinched. “You, Siana,” he said sadly, “While I was in that bloodshed for five years, you were the only person who gave me courage to go on. I have wished and hoped for this meeting for years. I had wished for you to be unmarried, so I could come back to you.” He scratched the back of his head, awkwardly. “And when I found out about that scum trying to force you into marriage, I couldn’t stop myself from rushing here.” 

Alan looked at her, expectantly. Perhaps Alan expected her to fall at his feet, swooning. She didn’t know what he anticipated, turning up so suddenly at her door and proposing marriage and narrating his life story when her world was crashing down around her bit by painful bit. She was tired of men trying to make her life difficult. 

When she scowled at him, with no sign of any joy on her face, he faltered. “Damn,” he whispered, shamefaced. “I want you,” he said in a desperate voice, “Only you, by any means. Please… .” 

Siana’s heart ached watching him like this. But she wasn’t interested in a marriage right now, with her reality becoming gloomier by the second. “Sia,” he said nervously. He had completely changed from the confident Alan to a nervous, anxious mess. 

“I am sorry, Alan,” she said firmly, “My answer won’t change. I am knee-deep in debt and I don’t have time or the energy to think about anything else.” 

“I will pay all your debts,” he pleaded, “I will make every bastard pay their dues to you as well.” 

“Alan,” she began, “Please don’t do this. It is not a small amount. I can’t— .” 

“I have a lot of money,” he cut her off, “Far more than I know what to do with it. I will pay your debt and you can do whatever you like for the rest of your life. So, marry me.” 

Siana didn’t know how she could make him understand. She didn’t want to marry him just as a safety net from her debts. It wasn’t right. She wanted to explain and soothe him of his troubles, but she was at a loss for words. She had feelings for him, but this was simply improper. She realized that nothing she could say would make any sense to him in this state. She sighed. 

Meanwhile, he was looking at her for any hint of reaction from her. “What’s wrong with me?” he asked, “You used to like me! You used to tell your friends that I was the one for you, that you found me handsome and kind. What has changed?” 

Siana’s cheeks burned. “If you don’t like how I look,” he said, “I can change. I will scar my face if you don’t like it!” 

“Alan!” she said, holding his hands, “Please don’t.” 

Alan smiled. “Then marry me,” he said. 

She thought her problems would be solved if she agreed, but she still didn’t feel it to be right. She wanted to solve her own problems. She had no assets to her name. Besides, she wanted her marriage to be out of love, not a deal of some kind. 

“Don’t push me, Alan,” she said in a low voice. “What’s the difference between you and Viscount North? He offers me marriage to forgive my debt. And you,” she turned to him, “You are offering me the same thing. A deal of marriage in exchange for my problems, albeit in more pretty words.” 

Alan flinched. He realized that the way he had approached her had been wrong. He had expected her to run to his arms while completely disregarding her thoughts and opinions. He had pushed her too much. 

“If you would be so kind, sir,” she said, exhausted “I think I, at the least, deserve one day to myself to make sense of all this.” She said waving her arms around, indicating the whole situation. 

“I am so sorry, Siana,” he said miserably, “I got greedy, and I rushed. I deeply apologize for not considering your thoughts.” He opened his mouth to say more, then closed it again. “Take as long as you want, but please think about it just once. I can wait.” 

“Just one day,” she said tiredly, “Give me just one day.” Her voice faltered. She didn’t know how much of this she could take. It seemed that Siana’s whole life had come to numbering her days until the inevitable doom.

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