Chapter Twenty Four: Sting of a Rose
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“Master, may I?” Jade was on the other side of the door.
“You may enter” he obeys and right after entering the room, he closes the entrance, “So, what happened before I arrived?”
“It is as you suspected master, Gilbert is acting strangely. Do you think he might be targeting you tonight?” Jade was kneeling on the floor, like an obedient slave. I signal him to rise right before getting up from my chair.
“Duke Criswell wouldn’t let these events pass by... He is going to do it tonight, I’m sure of it” I grin as I feel excitement fill my body, “Jade... You’re my wildcard, my joker, my...” I place my right hand on his soft cheek and force him to look down before chuckling, “ be sure to only think of me until I die” his eyes widen in surprise.
“Master, I will protect you, I promise you that, this life, you won’t die. You have my word” he quickly grabs my hand tightly.
“I won’t die because you are there? Jade...” I shove his hand away and head towards my bed. Beside it, there was a small locked chest which was opened with my gold necklace and then I remove a large set of papers, covered in ink. Each sheet had my past life events, every single detail I could remember of and, as Jade looked at me with his heart filled with anticipation I proceeded, “These are my lives”
“Master that’s...” his eyes looked shocked, maybe because I had taken the time to memorize everything, maybe because I wrote everything on several sheets, or maybe because its size was overwhelming.
“Do you think I’m stupid enough to believe that I won’t burn to ashes?” I glare at him but he remains quiet, “Kids that try to play with destiny end up sinking into despair Jade, so if you are confident enough to counter God’s wishes then be my guest”
“Master God’s can’t...” Jade bites his own words as he sees my psychotic grin.
“Gods can’t? Then are you saying that me dying nine times was pure bad luck? Or maybe... Do you think I deserved it Jade?” he couldn’t speak and as I walked towards him he backed away, almost as if he was blinded by fear.
“Then by all means Jade... Show me the true power that controls fate!” I yell as I throw the sheets onto the air, making them fall as swiftly as leaves.
“I can’t master... That’s something...” he looks away.
“Jade... If you ever try to fill my mind with those despising things I will kill you myself” he gulps, “Clean this mess and get out of my sight”


✽ ✼ ✽ ✼ ✽ ✼ ✽


“I’m sorry but you can’t enter,” Bradley says.
Three days have passed ever since Ophelia was unconscious and, as the word got out that her health is improving, the extremely caring fiancée appeared.
“Bradley! She is my wife! I have the right to take her!” Terrel states while pointing a finger at his rival.
‘You filthy life form... You should know who you are talking to in the first place...’ as Terrel moved his finger on Bradleys’ face he felt the temptation of breaking it increasing.
“Your wife? When was your wedding held and why did the house of Trace did not receive an invitation?” he smiles coldly as Terrel bit his tongue.
“She will be my wife soon so those are just formalities! Nevertheless, as her fiancée, I must care for her and help her but I can only do that in my estate” Terrel pushes his coffee-colored hair back.
“Lord Terrel, are you saying that Duke Wharton is dead already perhaps? Some might consider it an act of treason, you know?” Bradley glares at him while both Jade and Ivy blocked the door behind him.
“Of course not! But eventually, that will happen, everyone knows that! Death comes for us all!” Terrel’s arguments were of a low-level meatball as he was nothing but a simple man whose mind was filled with avarice and craving.
“Indeed... In some cases, death comes earlier than others... Isn’t it a shame?” Bradley’s cold and psychotic glare made a shiver ran down Terrel’s spine.
“Is that a threat Lord Bradley?” he laughs to try to fight his fear of the monster standing in front of him.
“A threat? I couldn’t think of something so treacherous Lord Terrel... However, you’d do well to remember that engagements break off so easily, too easily in fact...” Bradley's charming but cold smile made Terrel’s body shake in anger. He knew he couldn’t get in, not with Bradley and that platinum-haired fellow guarding Ophelia. He then shifted his attention to Ivy, the maid who has escaped his grasp. His lips portrait an evil grin.
“Ivy, you look like a woman who enjoys plants, don’t you?” Terrel grins as she looked away instinctively. She was scared.
“I-I guess milord...” her body trembled slightly.
“Come here Ivy, I won’t hurt you, I just want to ask you something personal” Terrel smiles warmly and the maid ends up complying. She had no other choice since, at the end of the day, her owner was Duke Wharton and, as Ophelia was in a coma, she had to obey this monster.
“Y-Yes milord?” she held her body in her arms tightly as she felt a cold breeze pass by her.
“I knew you liked flowers...” he places his hand on her shoulder and leans on her, whispering the following, “... so if you don’t want to have my seeds within you, you better let me in”
“Lord Terrel, I’m afraid that if you continue speaking you won’t have any further seeds to give” Bradley coldly smiles as his arm was stretched, holding Jade back from beating the man in front of him.
“I am sure you know what this action means Lord Bradley” Terrel grins but Bradley only smiles, charmingly as usual. He then takes his leave. Ivy falls onto the ground as she felt her body lose all its strength.
“If you are done crying, go wash her body, she must be sweating a lot by now... Do what you were born to do, maid” Bradley glares at her and she speedily gets up and heads inside the room.


✽ ✼ ✽ ✼ ✽ ✼ ✽


“Where is she!?” Jade’s loud voice wakes up Bradley from his sleep. Ever since Ophelia had passed out he barely managed to eat or getting a good rest. His heart was heavy and filled with feelings he had never experienced before.
“What...?” his eyes widen as he notices the absence of Ophelia.
‘Don’t tell me... Terrel...!?’ Bradley had a bad feeling within his gut. He knew how persistent Terrel had been ever since the spots on her skin has disappeared and so he couldn’t help but consider the possibility that someone had kidnaped her.
Jade dashes outside and Bradley quickly gets up, walking hurriedly down the stairs.
‘But he couldn’t... We were sleeping beside her... Unless... Did she go on her own free will!?’ Bradley’s mind was filled with questions that could not be answered.
As he wandered the estate he couldn’t help but feel the same sense of despair he felt once Ophelia drank the poison. He should’ve been able to avoid it and, if that had killed her, he would murder Duke Criswell and the crimson-haired bitch himself.

“Ophelia!” as Bradley saw her in the distance the pain in his heart was lifted, however, he soon realized he wasn’t the only one who discovered her. Jade, her servant, was heading towards her as well.
‘That peasant...’ he grit his teeth as they both started running.
Bradley resented Jade deeply. He knew he was nothing but a mere slave, however, during the time Ophelia was unconscious, he stuck to her like glue. No matter who was there, he spent the majority of his time in the room which, in Bradley’s mind only meant that Jade didn’t saw Ophelia as a mere master. There was something else and he couldn’t allow such a thing.
Jade and Bradley end up arriving at the same time, however, as they see Ophelia up close they realized she was with her nightgown. They quickly hid their shame by looking away from her, glancing only from time to time.
‘Why am I like this...? It’s not like I’ve never seen a woman’s nightgown...’ Bradley felt a slight confusion insert within him. He didn’t understand why he was being so considerate to this woman who he hated.

“Why are you searching for me so frenetically?” Ophelia was talking low, her voice was rough but Bradley thought that was due to the cold morning weather and the poison.
“You’ve been asleep for a week milady...” the maid comments and the leftover color in Ophelia’s complexion disappears.
“What did you say!? One week!?” her voice was now loud as panic inhabited her body.
‘Why is she like this?’ Bradley couldn’t understand what made Ophelia act in such a unique way. She was always very proper but, right now, he was seeing a new side of her. Usually, Bradley would find this displeasing since he hated when a proper lady didn’t act according to her obligation, however, as he saw Ophelia, he didn’t mind it, in fact, he thought it was amusing.
“Jade, go back to the Duke’s mansion immediately” everyone looks around dumbfounded since no one could understand the reasoning behind Ophelia’s words.

‘Why is she ignoring me? I am a lot more important than a mere slave,’ a sense of annoyance was growing within Bradley. He despised Jade and, as he noticed the attention Ophelia was giving him, he started to grow frustrated.
“Are you sure master?” Bradley could understand the confusion in Jade’s words since, even for him, nothing she had said made sense.
‘Is something going on in the Wharton’s estate...?’ over the years, Bradley had learned how to deal with nobles and aristocrats, especially women, and, as he watched Ophelia fret over such a supposedly trivial matter he understood that something unusual was brewing.
‘Should I send someone in? But right now would seem too suspicious... I guess I’ll have to watch from the sidelines...” his frustration was growing as he understood his own powerlessness. ‘I’ll try to bribe someone...’ he needed to understand what was happening in that mansion, no matter what.
“As you command” Jade ends up obeying Ophelia’s order and leaves.
“Ivy...” Bradley heard Ophelia whisper something into Ivy’s ear right before placing some distance from her again, “Go pack everything.”
In a glimpse of a second, Ivy leaves, making her presence among them look like nothing but a simple ancient time frame.
“Ophelia, are you alright?” Bradley’s eyes barely looked at Ophelia’s, somehow he was flustered.
“Lord Bradley, it would be wise to understand your standing, wouldn’t it?” as he finishes hearing these words, his thoughtfulness disappears as he realized that the woman before him was nothing more than his prey, “We are not familiar enough to be treated without honorifics, isn’t that right?”

‘Ophelia...’ Bradley knew women, he knew what they liked, what they wished. He knew the sweet words that were able to melt any young maiden’s heart, ‘I didn’t want to use this but you give me no other choice...’ adding to his previous frustration, now was a desire he couldn’t control. He craved to see Ophelia bend down to his will and his patience was starting to grow thin.
“I love you, Ophelia...” he did the most pitiful but charming expression, making it look like his love was nothing more than a painful sin.
“Bradley, I...” his heart raced as he felt Ophelia’s warm touch in his cheek and saw her pink pale lips approach his. He couldn’t help himself, we wanted to devour her but he knew that if he pushed her too deep, this rose would be lost so, he gently placed his arm on her waist, pulling her closer to him.
‘You can’t escape me, Ophelia... I win’ he grins as a slight sense of disappointment roamed in the back of his heart. He thought she would give more of a fight, he thought she was different but, as he was about to take her lips, he understood she was nothing but a mere woman, without any proper worth.

“...Won’t fall for that” Bradley’s eyes widen in shock and, as Ophelia created some distance between them, he couldn’t bring himself to stop it, “But it was a good attempt”, she grins, making Bradley feel almost as if he was being mocked.
‘Ah... Ophelia... Indeed... You are such an interesting woman...’ he felt silly while he thought about the stupid disappointment he had felt a couple of seconds ago. How could he have felt such a thing? Ophelia was indeed the most interesting woman he’d ever encountered and he couldn’t wait to break her resolve.
As these thoughts embraced Bradley’s mind, his lust for the cursed girl increased, making him desire her more than air itself. Ophelia turns and starts to head back, however, she is quickly grabbed by her wrist and pulled towards Bradley’s chest forcefully. His hand was holding her chin, making him look down at her and Ophelia look up to him like it should always be.
“You are playing a game you can’t win...” Bradley grins as he approaches his lips from hers, “I always get what I want”
“Lady Ophelia? Lord Bradley?” he lets her go as he hears another woman’s voice. No matter what he knew he couldn’t pursue Ophelia openly as he was still engaged to Amanda. He looks up and sees Patricia Hillgarden, looking down from her window.
Once he looks beside him to check on Ophelia’s whereabouts, she was already far away, walking elegantly as a beautiful dark butterfly in the broad daylight.

“Lady Patricia, good morning” he politely replies, and as he sees Patricia’s broad smile he wished she could fall off the window ledge and smash her disgusting face on the ground.

‘This bitch...’ words couldn’t begin to describe Bradley’s feelings.
“I’ll be right there!” she swiftly heads inside her room to get properly dressed.
‘I should talk to my father...’ Bradley needed to end Amanda’s engagement and find a way to get rid of Terrel Wharton. He couldn’t bear to have that beast touch her. Just that simple thought made him feel sick to his stomach.
‘If he tries to... even once I’ll...’ he knew he needed to be fast. Time wasn’t generous and wasn’t on his side, however, now that Duke Criswell's image was tainted, he knew it was the perfect moment to strike.