Chapter 16: The Villainess Feels no Guilt

After half a month of preparations, the day has finally arrived to put our plan into motion. According to Joshua’s research, Esther was beginning to tire of her current lover and started looking for the next. Good timing.

Not wanting to delay things any longer, Joshua and I immediately set off wandering around school in search of Tristan. Soon after, I’ve spotted a very familiar face ahead of me and turned to look. For some reason, Tristan was walking towards us with a delighted expression on his face.

“Oh, Tristan, I’ve been looking for you.”

“I was also looking for you, Ilse! Oh, this must be fate…”

What the hell is he talking about? I was already beginning to regret calling out to Tristan, who mumbled the second half of his response as if drunk. But this is all for the sake of my future self. I’ll do my best.

“I’d like to have a word with you, if it’s okay.”

“Me too. I’m glad you feel the same way.”

I genuinely no idea what he’s talking about, but I very much doubt the two of us have ever had our feelings overlap. I cursed silently and looked back at Joshua with an exasperated gaze, eyes asking him to do something about the idiot. 

Taking advantage of the opportunity, Tristan grabbed my hand and squeezed. I reflexively turned to look at him.

“Let’s get married, Ilse,” Tristan said in a serious tone.

It was so unexpected that I froze for a second. I blinked my eyes, unable to keep up with the abruptness of the proposal, and Tristan looked away, cheeks flushed in embarrassment.

“…I’ve finally realized that you were the only one for me. I love you, Ilse.”

Joshua silently removed Tristan’s hands and used his handkerchief to wipe my hand. He held the cloth in a pinch as though it was dirty and hurriedly stuffed it into Tristan’s chest pocket. Nice assist.

In any case, the dumbass started saying crazy things again. And once again, I’m left wondering what sort of ridiculous thought process could have led to this decision.

I thought about it for a while, doing my best to follow the most likely path for his thoughts to have taken by pretending to be as stupid I could, and eventually I reached the answer. I see. After getting dumped by Esther too, the reasons why both of us ditched him spread, and no other woman was willing to give him a chance. In that case, I may well be the only choice he has left.

But what makes him think I’d be willing to take him back? I suppose he must still think it was he who abandoned me, so I would still have lingering feelings for him and would be eager to go back… I lack the words to describe how irritating this man is.

“Oh, that’s silly, Tristan… It’s not me you love, it’s my money, isn’t it? Are you sure you want to get married just for that? Think about it. I don’t think I’ll ever love you again. Even if, by some chance, I were to marry you as some sort of punishment game, I would still look at you as if you were a bug, or maybe even less than a bug. Because there’s nothing about you that I can respect. Would you really be happy with that?”

“H-huh? Bug?”

I spoke with a lot of passion, but Tristan just tilted his head, eyes as wide as saucers. He probably thought I would jump with joy and immediately agree to his proposal, so he could not keep up with this unexpected turn of events. I might have to tone it down a little.

“If you ask me, I think Miss Jones is the one for you. She’s the one you really love, isn’t she? Don’t be obstinate just because you broke up once. Go and confess to her again.”

“But Esther is seeing another man…” Tristan said with a pained face. Looks like the memory of being dumped by her was too much for him. I guess he isn’t used to feeling frustrated, since in the past he could always just use parents’ power to control my actions.

I’m reluctant to thank Esther for anything, but seeing him like this does help drain the murky puddle of accumulated emotions from the past ten years.

Looking at Tristan’s depressed expression, I spoke cheerfully, a radiant feeling growing in my heart. This is where I get to do my best.

“So what? Listen, Tristan. Jones’ an unsophisticated country bumpkin. It’s no wonder that she was so excited to be courted by aristocrats. But she’s very depressed right now. The noblemen are just toying with her, and her life feels like it’s falling apart. Now is the time for you to step in and act like a man. Comfort her, and be kind to her. If it helps, think back to the happy days you spent together, when you felt good about yourself because of her baseless compliments. You were soothed by her perfect, calculated smile and delighted by her excessive body touches.”

I had to force myself to keep a straight face, but the light seemed to slowly return to Tristan’s eyes. To be honest, I’m not quite sure why he’s encouraged by something like this.

“Miss Jones longs for a glamorous city life. You can make that happen, can’t you? You own a beautiful mansion in a high-class neighborhood. Why don’t you invite her to your house and tell her how much she means to you? Oh, and give her a necklace as a gift. I’m sure she’d love that.”

“But our family’s financial situation is a bit…”

It seemed like he realized that the Cloyde family’s financial situation was starting to lapse. I’m a little surprised. Maybe he noticed that his allowance was cut, or something like that. Though it’s also very possible that he thought it was just punishment for breaking his engagement with me.

“Don’t worry about it. I’ve already spoken with your father. I’ll lend you as much money as you need.” I smiled gently. There was a deadline for those loans, of course, but Tristan doesn’t need to know that.

It’s true that I’ve talked to his father before executing my plan. By adding various terms and conditions to the loan, I’ve crafted a contract that seemingly favored the Cloydes, but was in fact very much to my advantage.

“If you could grab Miss Jones’ heart with that money and successfully marry her, you could take over your family business and rebuild it. I’m sure you can do it. You just need to regain that vain self-confidence of yours and push straight ahead. If you can make yourself look like a dependable man, I’m sure Miss Jones will follow you.”

“Your true feelings are leaking out a bit, Lady,” Joshua muttered in a tone half exasperated, half amazed. It’s alright, because the opponent is Tristan. He’s the kind of guy that thinks women can be caught with money and never doubts his inflated sense of self-worth. In short, he’s a gullible fool.

“I’ll personally give you a loan as a favor for my ex-fiancé, so go buy her a ring from Sunny Philston and propose. It’s every women’s dream, so she’ll definitely be moved to tears by your sincerity.”

Philston was one of the country’s leading Jewelry stores. Their rings were made with the finest stones and designed by master craftsmen. Naturally, they were all very expensive. Even though he was an aristocrat, Tristan was still just a student, and Philston was far beyond his means. And that’s precisely why being gifted such a ring from your lover would serve as a status symbol. There was no doubt Esther’s heart will be moved—by Tristan’s supposed wealth, that is, not his flimsy sincerity.

“R-really? Are you sure?”

“Of course. She’d already fallen in love with you once, so there’s no doubt you can make her love you again.”

I assured Tristan in a confident tone, and his eyes began to shine, as though gaining sudden inspiration. There we go. It’s as simple as that.

“Thank you, Ilse! Thanks to you, I’ve regained my confidence!” 

I’m not quite sure that having so much unfounded confidence is a good thing, but it’s good to have some energy. A confident Tristan is certainly attractive—At first glance.

“…This guy hasn’t noticed the thorns in Lady’s words at all.”

“He’s quite amusing, isn’t he?” I just wish I didn’t have to be directly involved.

Smiling benevolently, I promised Tristan I would always be available for consultation should he need help in recapturing Esther. 

In the end, I didn’t feel even a sliver of guilt for the deception.


Notes:

  1. This chapter was significantly longer than usual, but I really liked it, so it didn’t actually take much longer to translate. I also noticed that I much prefer it when we get get a few longer paragraph compared to many short ones, both as a translator and as a reader.
  2. It’s nice to see Ilse taking a more proactive stance. Mere verbal confrontations will only take you so far.

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