“Here’s today’s newspaper.”
Traumatized by the incident, Scarlett dared not leave the villa until all the kidnappers were caught.
In the end, she stayed in bed all day. However, since she could hardly fall asleep without anyone by her side, Scott had to fetch the documents from his office and take care of them next to her.
When Scott had another matter to attend to, Noah would take his place and accompany Scarlett. Perhaps because he was the one who’d saved Scarlett, she no longer expressed great resistance to Noah.
“Were all of them caught?”
“Yes. It’s said that the military was unexpectedly mobilized and all of them were caught.”
“Did anyone run away?”
“No. Everyone will be locked up on Christo Island. It has the worst prison on earth.”
Nevertheless, Scarlett still looked anxious. Rubbing her eyes, she put on her scarf.
“Do you want to go to school?” She asked Noah.
“Liar. You love studying.”
Noah opened the book she’d made him read last time. However, Scarlett shook her head, not wanting to sleep anymore.
“Why don’t you try out psychological counseling?”
“I don’t need it. It’s pointless.”
For Scarlett, going for psychological counseling would be meaningless if she was going to die soon. But she was in fact skeptical of herself.
The misery of owing her life to Noah was so devastating it made her stomach turn, and all the confusion about which one was the real Noah made her head spin.
Was Noah Ashford, who killed her in the past, and the current Noah Ashford the same person? If both of you are the same person, why would you do such things for me? What is the truth? Which one is the real Noah…?
“Let’s attend classes tomorrow.”
Noah’s eyes shook subtly. Watching carefully, he tried to discern whether her words were genuine.
“No… You need more rest.”
“Well then, I’ll go alone.”
“You have anxiety. Can you honestly handle it?
“Why are you pretending to be worried about me all of the sudden? I’ve lived like this my entire life.”
“… How about a trip home?”
“No. How can I go home looking like this?”
Scarlett chewed on her nails. Despite her words, her expression was an indication of anxiety. Seeing this, Noah called her name as if telling her to calm down.
Glaring at him with a dissatisfied expression, Scarlett raised her voice. She often unleashed her anger on the people around her when she was a child, and like a habit, she did the same to Noah.
“I’m attending school tomorrow! I’ve already made up my mind. I made plans to go, so I will. Am I supposed to ruin my day-to-day life because of them? How ridiculous is that?
Scarlett panted as she rose from the bed. Then, she put on a coat over her dress, preparing to go out.
“Where are you going?”
“I’m leaving. I can go outside.”
I wasn’t suggesting that you couldn’t. I’m saying you need more rest.”
“How dare you? Who do you think you are?”
Scarlett’s expression turned dreadful. She seemed frightened and confused about what she was supposed to do. Her breathing was ragged, while her body tensed up like a cat desperately raising its tail to intimidate its enemy.
‘I thought I knew who you were, but your presence has changed everything. All the confusion you’ve caused me is driving me insane and my thoughts are full of ridiculous things.’
“Calm down, Scarlett.”
Noah approached Scarlett in an effort to placate her. Struggling to disentangle all her emotions, she withdrew, widening the distance between them.
‘I can’t accept the feelings I have. Why do I have any concern or gratitude for Noah Ashford?’
It was also disconcerting that his blue eyes had a different light from those that killed her each night in her dreams.
‘It’s so hard for me to go out, and being powerless makes me feel like the most useless person in the world…’
Scarlett collapsed on the ground, her body trembling. Pulling up her knees and pressing her face against them, she spoke helplessly.
“Regardless of what happens, I’m going to Iodes tomorrow.”
She was a desperate, stubborn woman. Noah had no intention of stopping Scarlett, thinking that going to ideas might be her way of overcoming her trauma.
“Okay. We’ll go to Iodes tomorrow. Perhaps you should join a club. This is around the time when clubs recruit new members.”
When Scarlett looked up, Noah offered his hand to help her stand up. Now, her gaze was fixed on Noah’s hand.
She had died by that hand.
Those hands, drenched in blood, had stabbed her five times. But, at the same time, those hands also belonged to the person who saved her.
Scarlett remembered how his warm hands caressed her back. The pair of hands that were stained horribly red with her blood.
Her expression fell apart. She shook her head and bit her lower lip. Then, she stood up abruptly to pick up her bag and started walking away as if she was heading out on her own.
“Where are you going?”
“I’m going to the hospital. If Martin won’t come here, I have no choice but to go to him myself. I can’t trust the quack doctor here. You want me to see a psychiatrist? How ridiculous.”
“Okay. Let’s go to the hospital.”
“I’ll go on my own.”
“It’s too dangerous. Let’s go together.”
“I don’t care, I’m going alone. Don’t tell me what to do. ”
“I… I… I am…….”
Noah’s blue eyes shook violently. Even though he said it himself, he doubted his qualifications. However, there was no denying it.
“I’m your brother.”
Scarlett stared intently at Noah with her mouth ajar. She couldn’t believe the words that she just heard.
Noah’s head dropped. Not knowing what to do, he rubbed his cheek with one hand and continued with a clueless expression.
“… Sorry. I made a mistake.”
“Okay. We can go together.”
At the end of the sentence, Scarlett began to shove all sorts of things in her bag. She couldn’t even accept the way Noah made her feel.
His claim that he was her brother was unpleasant to hear, but it didn’t sound too bad.
What was clear was that regardless of the emotions in her heart, her body was not well enough to venture out alone.
She refused to think anymore. Even if she thought about it, she wouldn’t be able to draw any conclusions right now, so now she’s decided to concentrate on her health.
After getting into the carriage, Scarlett covered herself with a blanket and closed her eyes.
But she was unable to sleep. The horror and anxiety of the nightmare, which constantly engulfed her, forced her eyes to remain open. She hid under the blanket, blocking out the world to make herself feel more secure.
“Noah, do you have a twin?” She asked carefully.
“No. I’m an only child.”
“Okay. I see.”
Then why did you kill me? What’s the reason for killing in such a brutal manner?
It was a question that she couldn’t bear to ask. Her thoughts caused the nightmare of being murdered to replayed in her mind. She, therefore, decided to ask a different question.
“Do you hate me?”
“No. What makes you think that?”
“You despise me.” Right? There’s no way you don’t.”
“I don’t hate you.”
Noah confessed slowly, thinking how fortunate it was that Scarlett was hiding under the blanket.
“It feels weird to have an additional sibling now.”
The other White siblings, blood-related or not, would never be siblings with him.
However, Scarlett was an exception. He now regarded her as his real sister. A poor younger sister living a wretched life.
“If you don’t hate me, do you hate my siblings?”
“Why do you keep asking that?”
“You might kill me.”
“I swear I’ll never hurt you.”
“No. One day you’re going to want me dead.”
‘Otherwise, there’s no way to explain my death.’
In his former life, Scarlett was unaware of Noah. However, after Noah killed all the of the family servants, he attacked Isaac and hunted her.
Noah Ashford swore no harm, but she didn’t believe the oath. At the same time, her heart told her that the Noah she had met in her past life and the present Noah were two different people.
Then, another question annoyed her: if they were completely different people, should they be considered as separate individuals?
While Scarlett silently fell deep into confusion, the carriage stopped. They had arrived outside the hospital.
To give Scarlett some reassurance, Noah got out the carriage first. After confirming that everything was secure, he opened the car door.
“Just wait in the car.” I will meet with him on my own. “
“Will you be okay? “
The hospital is filled with people who understand who I am. If we go in there together, what kind of rumors do you think will spread? You haven’t lost sight of who you are, have you?
“I see. I’ll wait here for you then.”
Scarlett went into the hospital alone. Even though she insisted, in reality she was trembling and nervous to walk alone. She feared that someone would show up immediately to threaten her for money or knock her out and kidnap her.
“It’s okay. Everything’s okay, Scarlett White.
The St. Bernard General Hospital was the largest and most prominent hospital in Wieland.
Scarlett’s cardiologist was on the second floor. Upon going to the reception counter, she climbed the stairs with a receipt that had been given to her. As she turned around the corner, she found a familiar person on the stairway to the third floor.
Dressed in a perfectly styled three-piece suit, combined with a messy hairstyle, was John. He was talking to somebody as well.
“I came to visit someone in the hospital. An acquaintance is hospitalized here on the 9th floor.”
“Oh, my. I can’t believe you have to climb to the ninth floor. That’s a great deal of work for him and you, Mr. White.”
If the room was on the 9th floor, it must be a VIP room. Scarlett wanted to greet John but believing that it was not the time to do so, she slipped down the corridor.
“If St. Bernard had more donations, we could put in a patient elevator. It’s a pity that there are too many patients from all over the country right now, so they can’t afford to use the funds to invest in building improvements. I’m going to organize a charity event to raise funds.”
John explained his plans for the charity event with his unique charismatic voice before excusing himself, then proceeded to climb the stairs. Scarlett, who was hiding in the hallway, discovered late that John had departed and pursued him.
John was a senator, so even if Scott blocked the media, he should already be aware of the Mafia kidnapping her.
John’s failure to contact her meant that he was very upset about this incident.
Scarlett didn’t want to disappoint John.
If Aaron is the rich uncle-like brother and Andrew is the playful friend-like brother, John is the reliable father-like brother.
Scarlett desperately wanted to explain and voice her opinion, so she tried to catch up with John with her weak body. She climbed the stairs, panting, but John seemed to have already entered the hospital room.
She kept walking back and forth in the hallway where the VIP room was located, but she soon turned around and decided to wait for John by the stairs to save her energy.
However, when John’s voice came out of the slightly opened hospital room, she had no choice but to stop walking and listen.
“You have to live a long and healthy life. If you die, Mr. Nicholas, then I’ll be the only one alive who knows the truth. Because the others who notarized my mother’s will have already passed away.”
Scarlett was familiar with the name of the lawyer, Nicholas Johnson. On Thanksgiving, he was often invited by the White family to dine together. He has been a stylish gentleman with a white beard since his 40s. Scarlett found his iron-sounding voice amazing.
“That’s why I told you to find a younger lawyer… But isn’t this what Mrs. White wanted? A lie which would ultimately become a truth.”
“The lie may become the truth and threaten us. This is the only thing I’m still afraid of.”
‘What do you mean?’
Scarlett knew eavesdropping was a bad habit to have, but she couldn’t stop herself when she heard the words “mother’s will” come out of his mouth.
“Mrs. White was an incredibly strong woman. Therefore, there’s no doubt that you, who resemble your mother, would be as strong as her. John, I have faith in you. You can endure the lies.”
“Scarlett nearly died.” I don’t understand how the value of the lie is comparable to her life.”
“It was through Ms. White and Mrs. White’s preservation. They showed everyone a very good play. I thought it was worthwhile to protect even to the detriment of many things, so trust your parents.”
“But because of that play, we’re all living in hell. Mr. Nicholas. You won’t be able to say that if you knew what kind of things that they had to do just to live another day.”
As John spoke, his voice shook. Scarlett’s heart began to pound upon seeing the change in his demeanor, which did not correspond with his usual calm temperament.
“It’s… It’s so terrible. I feel guilty every day. I feel horrible that I’m deceiving my younger siblings and that I ruined their lives……. Oh my god.… God… I doubt even God will forgive me.”
“John. Calm down. Do you plan on telling them the truth?
Only after a long while did John reply. With his next words, the tension diminished a little, and Scarlett was able to continue breathing normally.
“No, I must endure the truth alone. This is too heavy a burden for them. Meeting you has made this clear. Yes, it’s too late for me to go back now. This was never for our sake, but I can’t let my younger siblings resent our mother. I must bear all her sins.”
Scarlett’s heart began to beat even more till she could hear it in her ears. Her breathing was harsh, and she felt suffocated.
‘What does this mean? What…’
“If they knew that our father’s affair was actually planned by our mother… My family would be completely destroyed.”
Her heart sank when she heard his words.
‘If they knew that our father’s affair was actually planned by our mother…’
‘Father’s affair was actually planned by mother…?’
* * * * * * *
At that moment, she heard a voice calling her name, and it was only then that she remembered to breathe.
She turned to see Noah watching at her with a face full of concern. To reassure him, Scarlett closed his eyes, nodding as she said, “I was just thinking about something, that’s why I was distracted.”
Noah naturally listened to Scarlett’s words. Meanwhile, Scarlett’s gaze was nailed to Noah’s chest as she got lost in her thoughts again.
‘Perhaps Noah Ashford is innocent. But that’s just an assumption.’
Scarlett didn’t want to turn the arrow to her mother. She couldn’t do that and she wouldn’t do that. Noah Ashford was guilty. At least in her eyes.
‘But if the affair was planned by our mother, was my premature birth also planned?… How can you plan an affair?
Scarlett tried to calm herself, suppressing the urge to immediately go to John and demand answers to her questions.
“Are you tired?”
“No, no. I’m not tired.”
Scarlett shook her head. Noah continued.
“You have to submit your assignment. You can give it to me. I’ll submit it for you.”
“Why do you think I have done any of my homework? You know that I don’t take these classes seriously.”
“I see. Today is club membership day. Do you have any idea which club you want to join?”
“No. What about you?”
“Say it. Why are you looking at me like that? Do you think I’m going to eat you up?”
When Scarlett grumbled and glared at him, Noah finally relented and spat out, “The History Research Club or Math Club…”
Scarlett seemed to believe that Noah was really crazy. She even opened her eyes so wide that the white part could be seen and covered her mouth to express how shocked she was. The action showed how much their intimacy and bond had grown since their time together. Seeing that, Noah’s chest tightened for some reason.
If there was one good thing that resulted from the kidnapping case, it was that the two became closer and Scarlett had become a sister for Noah to protect.
“No, it’s going to be fun.”
“…You take care of yourself. I won’t be attending.” Scarlett shuddered, shaking her head.
The two moved from building to building, discussing the different clubs. Scarlett was still cold in every word she uttered, but the comfort was obvious in her attitude towards Noah.
“I didn’t know why there’s a rule that required first-year students to join a club. What about someone like me, who doesn’t want to do anything? This is a really old fashioned school.”
“If it’s too hard for you to choose, why not join the club your brothers used to?”
“Aaron was in the horseback riding club. What if I slip off the horse?”
Scarlett skimmed through the recruitment announcements posted on the bulletin board. She couldn’t hide her boredom and fiddled with her fingertips. She had no affection for Iodes and didn’t think she could hold on until next semester.
“If I don’t sign up, you won’t do it either, right?” She asked Noah as if testing him. Noah seemed to be lost in thought for a moment before smiling faintly.
“I’m going to sign up. Everyone has to do it.”
“You’re so boring.”
Scarlett swallowed a sigh and carefully scanned the announcements once again.
She didn’t owe anything to Noah, but she couldn’t tell what state her mind was in. Her feelings were a mixture of hatred, comfort, and tension, which made it difficult to recognize.
What’s clear is that I decided to watch him for a little while.
Scarlett’s gaze remained fixed on the recruitment announcement, which was barely hanging onto the board.
Noah’s eyes trembled slightly as he looked at Scarlett. Then a faint smile crept upon her face.
* * * * * * *
“This is it.”
Noah felt his mouth dry. It was his first time seeing a twinkle in her eye, prompting his curiosity.
All of this was unfamiliar to Noah. The environment, combined with the sound of crumbling paper and the smell of paint was something Noah had never seen before.
“If I had known there was an art club, I would have gone for it sooner.”
Scarlett took out a pen and quickly filled out an application. Noah felt uneasy watching Scarlett as the pen scratched along the paper.
“You can leave and do whatever you like.”
He couldn’t leave Scarlett alone. She was sick and had only been out of trouble for a few days. She still needed a lot of help.
“I like the space here, too.”
Scarlett completed the application and looked up at Noah. Her gray eyes were observing Noah as if she was trying to detect his lies. Nevertheless, she turned away, accepting that this was Noah’s choice.
“Do whatever you want.”
Noah received the pen from Scarlett. He filled out his application and submitted it.
There were only five new students, including the two of them. The newcomers took turns greeting each other and had to draw a simple picture to gauge their skills.
Noah held a pencil against the paper, not knowing what to do next, he glanced at Scarlett. She was drawing the apple without any hesitation.
Noah tried imitating the way Scarlett held her pencil. However, it was not easy to follow the very uncomfortable posture. He clumsily imitated the shape of an apple, but his lines were crooked.
Noah heaved a sigh. If there was anything he recalled from the days he spent painting on the dirt floor with tree branches as his paintbrushes, it was the fact that he was terrible at drawing.
“There are four minutes left.”
With not much time left, he drew quickly.
He wondered how to add shading and questioned why they had to draw such difficult objects such as apples. His skills were so terrible that even the simple shapes he drew were a mess.
“Time’s up, pencils down. I’ll collect the drawings now.”
Noah had a bewildered expression on his face as he looked around at the other drawings.
Scarlett was quite good at drawing. As if she had been taught by a professional, her workmanship was excellent.
Scarlett looked at Noah’s drawing and alternated between the paper and Noah’s face, astonished by the contrast.
Noah had the appearance of a fairy tale prince sitting on a white horse, who seemed to have the capacity to do anything.
In fact, Noah had been proficient in everything so far. Particularly, when it came to studying, he was already the favorite student among many of the professors. Therefore. Scarlett was very surprised that Noah’s drawing abilities were worse than a child.
Noah realized that whatever he said next would be an excuse, so he stopped speaking. Realizing this, Scarlett tried hard to contain her laughter.
Noah couldn’t avert his eyes from her face, which became pink as a peach. It was the first time Noah saw Scarlett’s lively face.
Scarlett, with her blushing cheeks and a brilliant smile, resembled an ordinary woman. An ordinary woman who laughs and speaks normally, who was neither sick nor nervous that she needed to conceal her weakness.
Noah felt pity for her.
“It’s fine. Go ahead and laugh.”
Noah sighed deeply and pretended not to hear Scarlett giggling softly.
Suddenly, the door opened, and a familiar voice was heard.
“Forgive me for being late.”
Scarlett’s smile, which was sweet just a second ago, hardened. It was, of course, due to the familiar voice. It was Wilhelm.
Wilhelm hastily placed his bag on the floor and handed in the application he had written in advance.
“Hoffman. I thought you ran away because you weren’t here on time
“I mistook the room and ended up at The Sculpture Club.”
Wilhelm had a natural conversation with the club manager, as if they were an acquaintances. After the conversation, the manager introduced him to everyone.
“This is Wilhelm Hoffman. He was the first one to join during the first round of recruitments. Let’s get along well, all 34 of us.”
Wilhelm found Scarlett while checking on the members one by one. She sat there, her arms crossed, with an indifferent expression. After the argument at the restaurant last time, the two didn’t sit together in class, talk, or make eye contact anymore.
“Grisham. I see you’re still hanging around with her.”
“Watch your tone,” Noah warned Wilhelm. Wilhelm shrugged his shoulders and greeted the other students.
Scarlett clenched her teeth tightly. Noah whispered in her ear to avoid others from overhearing.
“Shall we leave?”
“No, why should we?”
“Because I’m uncomfortable.”
Noah shrugged his shoulders. Out of consideration for Scarlett, who thought she would lose face if she left, he became the excuse instead.
Scarlett turned and looked at Noah. Her eyes shook subtly. Staring into her eyes, Noah tried to read the confusion contained in it.
“Let’s go. I want to leave. You saw my skills, I’m still a little embarrassed.”
“Fine, let’s take a 30-minute break and get some fresh air.”
The two went out on campus for a while and breathed in the cool autumn air. Scarlett sat on a bench and closed her eyes to relieve the fatigue.
Noah took a blanket out of his bag and wrapped it around her.
“You hate me, don’t you?” She asked carefully.
“Once again, no.”
“Even if I blame you when you’re not the one at fault?”
If what she heard about her father’s affair was true, Noah couldn’t be blamed for her premature birth.
Thinking that she might have misunderstood everything, Scarlett stared at Noah with a slightly disturbed expression.
“Do you want us to be siblings?”
“It’s not whether I want it or not. It’s a fact.”
“Disregarding the facts, you can like or dislike a situation. For example, I use to hate having Andrew as my brother. He was so mischievous that I often wondered if I would have stuck with him if he weren’t my brother.”
“… I don’t know. I’ve never thought about it. Your other siblings are unfamiliar, I only consider you as my sister.”
If that’s true, I was too naive.
If he didn’t hate me, why did he kill me? What would you kill me for?
Scarlett wanted to ask Noah these questions, but it was something that required a lot of courage to even bring up.
“……Um…have you ever hated someone…” she started to ask in a low voice.
However, Scarlett’s words were cut off by the appearance of Wilhelm.
“Grisham. Can I see you for a second?”
Wilhelm approached them with a cold face.
“You two can talk. I want to go back in,” Scarlett stated and went inside wearing the blanket. Noah watched Scarlett walk away and asked Wilhelm.
“What’s going on? I told you not to get involved anymore because this is a personal issue between Scarlett and I.”
“Oh, you mean how you’re willing to comply with Scarlett’s wicked behavior, even if that means you’re treated like a slave?”
“Don’t be sarcastic. You don’t understand.”
“Her anger could be justified, but what she did to you was not right.”
“If that’s all you had to say, I’m going inside.”
“No, wait a minute.”
Wilhelm sighed and ruffled his thick hair, which was the same shade as a wheat field.
“Last week, the last day you were here, Scarlett poured milk on the head of a girl in our school. Her fiancé is determined to punish Scarlett. It appears that he’s planning to humiliate her a lot, so be careful.”
“What? Who was it?”
“Jane Foldy from the History department, and her fiancé is Archer Davidson from the Department of Political Science and Diplomacy. Since it’s your personality, go apologize in her stead. But I think it’ll be better if you teach Scarlett how to apologize and ask her to go and ask for forgiveness personally.”
Noah’s blonde hair shone brightly in the sunlight, and his blue eyes resembling the sea were full of innocence and excellent sensibility. But his expression was colder than Scarlett’s.
“Even if I don’t like it and it makes me angry, I will do what needs to be done. Don’t provoke me by saying something presumptuous about me again. I will never overlook her health or safety,” he said with a stern tone that would not permit any rebuttal.
While Wilhelm didn’t know much about Noah, but he knew this wasn’t Noah Ashford he had seen so far.
Noah has changed. I can’t describe it, but he’s changed.
And Wilhelm knew it was due to Scarlett.
Thank you for reading!