The brothers exchanged glances. She knew what they were thinking. They were probably thinking that she had gone mad because of the shock of the recent events and perhaps they should inform mother and father and send her to a therapist to be looked at.
“What do you mean by previous life?” asked Aaron slowly, “A life you used to live before this?” Alice nodded.
“Is it like when commoners call in fortune tellers?” continued Aaron, “When the fortune tellers tell them that they were born in a poor household because of their wicked deeds in the past? Like when they tell them that if you do enough good deeds you will be born as an aristocrat?”
Alice was a little annoyed. But she restrained herself and nodded. Because quarrelling won’t make it any easier for them to believe her. At least Alex wasn’t asking stupid questions.
“So if you say you killed people in your past life,” said Aaron, “May I ask why you did it?”
For money, she thought. However, if she were to say it that bluntly, she reasoned that Aaron would think she was joking around and get offended. Then, he won’t be willing to have a conversation at all. She needed to be careful.
“It was the circumstances,” she said, “It was a hard life.”
Aaron frowned, narrowing his eyes at her. Well, it wasn’t a lie. It was a hard life, without money. She had to earn somehow and she had landed herself a job as an assassin in those dire circumstances.
Alex was trying hard to make sense of it, he rubbed his chin absent-mindedly. “So, are you alright?” he asked hesitantly, “No shock over Gerald Eastbay’s… death?”
It took her a moment to understand that he was talking about Sir Slanted Eyes. So his name was Gerald Eastbay. Alice shrugged. “Not at the moment,” she said calmly, “And I don’t feel remorse because if I hadn’t done what I did, do you think any of us would be alive right now? I had no choice. It was self-defense. Do you think feeling distressed over it is more important than saving our lives?”
“Of course not, I didn’t mean…” muttered Alex. He was grateful to her for saving their lives, of course. No doubts about it. But it was still difficult to come to terms with the fact that his sister had changed over night. His little Alice who shrieked at the sight of a bug, yet refused to let the maids kill it, had killed a man, albeit to save them all, in cold-blood without feeling a thing about it. It was hard to digest.
Alice wondered if she should have pretended to be traumatized by the events, but it was too late for that now. She tried changing the subject of their conversation.
“When are Mother and Father coming back?” she asked. She avoided looking at them. She looked down at her dress and pretended to straighten the creases. Aaron looked positively relieved to be talking about something else.
“They should have been back by now,” he said, “Maybe they are caught up in palace affairs.”
“The queen probably overpowered her,” said Alice, “After all Mother is the most prominent figure in aristocratic fashion. Maybe she is selecting a dress for the vain princess right about now.”
Aaron sucked in a breath. “We don’t talk in that tone in this household, young lady,” he said, pretending to be stern.
“Yes sir,” said Alice mocking him. “I was only worried for our lives if Count Thoreau decided to invade us directly here. But how is that any more important than the poor princess’ dress. A princess must have her dress!”
She had said it nonchalantly but she thought it was possible. Considering the situation where only three siblings were in the castle, and his second son dead, Count Thoreau might attack them. He could argue that he had no hand in his son’s schemeings, that he was unaware, and leave it at that. But what if Count Thoreau was fond of his son? That would completely change the game. He would want revenge. He would find it easy to storm inside the castle and kill Marquess Wishburn’s two sons and his daughter in a fit of rage.
Alex was well-trained as the future Marquis. He was receiving special education and was generous and responsible, albeit more noble than cruel. Could he face Count Thoreau in a fight if it came to it? He was only a nineteen-year-old-boy just learning to find a place in the world.
And Aaron, although he was trained as a knight and outperformed his capabilities, didn’t mean he would be willing enough to take a blade and fight the Count. He was distressed that his sister killed Gerald Eastbay even though he had posed a threat to them all. Alice was annoyed. It didn’t matter how much skill he had, he couldn’t even kill the rats which infested the castle, much less a human. Alice scoffed.
Until Father returned, their futures were uncertain. And Alice didn’t want to take chances. She knew what happened when you didn’t attend to loopholes in life, they rear their heads back and destroy you. Kim Eun-seo had learnt that the hard way: stabbed in the back and bleeding out in an alley till she died.
Alice thought that was how she had died. The one who had stabbed her probably belonged to some organization. Perhaps someone holding a grudge against her. Maybe related to someone she had killed for the gangsters. She never said it was an easy job.
It was a man’s world, it wasn’t easy for Kim Eun-seo to make a living, not even as an assassin. She had been successful in her job because of too many factors: surprise attack, deception, drugs, alcohol, seduction. She had used anything available to her.
But Alice wasn’t the same Kim Eun-seo though. In this life, she was a noble aristocratic young lady brought up with privilege and prestige under the Marquess’ roof. A fifteen-year-old whose first kiss had been the slimy Sir Slanted Eyes. It honestly pissed her off.