How did I become the duke’s wife?
Oh, I understand what you mean.
You’re asking how I—the middle daughter of the three penniless sisters whose father is a gambling addict—managed to become the wife of the frightening duke.
It’s a long story. I’ll try to answer it as simply as I can.
First, you get married; then, make your husband a duke. How did I make my husband a duke? Simple. My husband was next in line as the duke’s successor. Of course, I did have one secret trick...
Daisy flashed a smile to the person sitting across from her.
Daisy would never forget the day she died.
Going all the way back to the beginning, the story must start by describing the water temperature of a river during winter—the ice-cold, freezing temperature of the Theren River, cold enough to freeze one’s soul.
In December of Year 893 of the imperial calendar, the Theren River was so bitterly cold that just a touch would chill you to the bone. It was a week before the festival.
On that day, Daisy sank to the bottom of the river.
Daisy was thrown into the Theren River with stab wounds in her stomach. She flailed her arms and legs. “Hahaha,” someone laughed, watching her like that. It was a familiar laugh.
This was an ending Daisy never imagined for herself. She never thought her life would be cut short by a hitman.
At a certain point, all strength drained out of her arms and legs. Daisy could feel her whole body becoming paralyzed. Eventually, there was no more pain. Various debris and fish floated past Daisy’s sinking body.
‘Is this death?’
As her vision started to flicker, Daisy could feel that death was near. As she began to lose consciousness, her thoughts turned to her past.
Growing up, Daisy was just an ordinary girl. There were simple memories as well as happy ones, up until the year she turned twenty, and her whole life changed, that was. Starting that year, she had to endure much suffering and pain.
‘Right, that day… that was the day that my life changed… the day he visited our house for the first time...’
As her past life flashed before her eyes, it stopped at one point—the day her misfortune began.
On the morning of the day her misfortune began, Daisy put on a simple cotton dress on her own without the help of a maid.
She checked herself in the mirror and sighed a little.
Growing up, Daisy’s biggest concern was that she was Daisy—that her name happened to be Daisy, to be more specific.
‘How did they come up with such a fitting name?’
Everyone in the capital knew the three flower sisters of Philbern. Rose was the first born, Daisy was the second, and Jasmine was the youngest—the three beautiful and popular sisters named after flowers.
Their popularity was such that there was even a rumor that whenever a bouquet of flowers or a box of gifts was sent without an address in the capital, the mailman just delivered it to the house of the three sisters of Philbern. That’s how often the sisters received gifts from admirers.
‘Is there anything that describes us better than our name?’
Daisy smiled softly as she looked in the mirror. She realized that she wasn’t the prettiest, but she was pretty enough. The problem was that her sisters were such blooming flowers.
The first-born, Rose, in full bloom, had been renowned for being the most beautiful in the empire since she was fourteen. Those days, her beauty made men swoon when they saw her walk by on the streets. Oh, and how about the youngest, Jasmine? The captivating Jasmine. She was still young but growing into a sexy beauty with strong features and a healthy complexion.
‘Only I am just a simple Daisy.’
Daisy thought of herself as a wildflower, just like her name.
Daisy brushed her hair. Her healthy brunette hair flowed. Daisy was also a lovely beauty who could hold her own with big green eyes, ivory skin, and soft pink lips.
At a casual glance, Daisy could seem like a girl next door, but her features had a certain allure that drew you in the longer you looked at her. On closer inspection, her well-proportioned features were doll-like.
But Daisy’s beauty wasn’t on par with that of Rose who had glamorous blonde hair or Jasmine with her gorgeous, raven hair.
Rose called her “the least attractive sister, Daisy.” Even their father had said that his second one was a failure. Rose, who was the most beautiful, always had to have everything she wanted, and Jasmine had a cheerful disposition. Daisy was the meekest of the three sisters.
“Sisters, we have a male guest,” said Jasmine as she flung open the door and walked in. “But something feels off. I think he’s another debt collector,” whispered Jasmine.
Daisy quietly tip-toed outside. Rose was already there leaning against the railing. The house didn’t get much sun, so it was cold during winter and dark even during the day. Even in this dark house, Rose’s beauty glowed gloriously. There was a simple reason the house was dark: They couldn’t afford to buy things like magic lanterns.
Baron Philbern—a nobleman in name only, a low-ranking aristocrat—was poor not because he didn’t receive an inheritance, but because he had a gambling problem. Their father had lost most of the family’s wealth already.
The ground-floor hall could be seen from the railing. There wasn’t much to see in the hall other than a worn-out rug. A tall man strode into the hall. He was dressed in black. His voice was low but strong enough to reverberate.
Daisy leaned forward to check out the man’s face. Her eyes grew big.
“It’s Marquis Essel, Killian de Essel!” whispered Rose excitedly, which was rare for her. Marquis Killian de Essel. There wasn’t anyone in the capital who didn’t know his name. He was famous for being handsome, for being rich, and also for being unmerciful.
“Father must’ve lost money at the casino owned by Killian de Essel,” murmured Jasmine, her voice full of concern. Killian de Essel—the cold-hearted heir-apparent of an elite family—was notorious for using cut-throat business tactics. He was the owner of the biggest casino located on the outskirts of the city. Daisy quickly glanced at his face. Killian de Essel was absolutely fine—even better looking than his reputation would have one believe.
“I banned the Baron from coming to my casino on multiple occasions, yet he trespassed and continued to gamble. Because he wasn’t allowed to come in, he’d even used someone else’s ID. The reason for my coming here today is to hear from the Baron how he plans to pay back the money he owes me.”
My gosh, of all people, the Baron owes money to “the Killian de Essel.” According to the rumors, Killian de Essel was known to mercilessly collect every last penny from his debtors.
To that day, the Baron hadn’t been much of a father to the three sisters. On top of that, he had an enormous gambling debt. Bating their breath, the sisters listened quietly.
“The casino employees told me you’ve said you had collateral to pay your debt.”
“Yes, of course I do, Marquis!”
The father squealed obsequiously. He lifted his hand and pointed to the three sisters who had been listening from the railing. Daisy felt as though her heart had stopped beating.
“You can take one of my daughters that you like best. There won’t be any dowry, but they’re famous for being the most beautiful girls in the country.”
Daisy’s eyes grew big. Jasmine inhaled sharply.
“Can’t believe Father’s going to sell one of us off...”
The man slowly turned his gaze toward the railing. He carefully examined the faces of the sisters one by one. Daisy caught a seductive smile spread across Rose’s face. Rose was noticeably making eye contact with Killian.
“So, your daughters are worth 10,000 gold coins?”
Ten gold coins were enough for a typical commoner family to live comfortably for a month. How big was the father’s debt? Daisy suddenly felt dizzy from shock.
“Of course. Take one and do what you’d like.”
Killian nodded. Daisy prayed that she would not be the one picked by this scary man.
He was notorious for even killing people when necessary.
“So, I can just carry the one I like home?”
“Yes, any one of them that you wish… the first daughter is most renowned for her beauty, the third daughter is young and smart. The middle one… well, just so-so.”
Daisy’s cheeks flushed out of embarrassment. The father was judging them as if they were horses or cows. And he ranked her as the lowest grade of the stock.
“Baron, I don’t buy women. And your daughters are not your property, so you don’t have any right to sell them,” Killian said unsympathetically. His gaze toward the sisters turned stone-cold. Rose and Jasmine batted their eyes out of shock. The two had always been admired by men, so they were not used to such a cold gaze coming from a man.
“He’s not interested in us.”
Feeling relieved, Daisy stroked her heart.
“And, more importantly,” the man continued unemotionally, “do you think your daughters are worth that much? I’ll make sure you pay for having made me come all this way. You can count on that.”
Killian de Essel seemed very upset by the Baron’s suggestion. He turned his back.
“Wham!” the heavy door slammed shut. Daisy held on to the railing tightly. A frightful future came into her mind. In that future, she was sold off as a slave and worked endlessly till her death. Slavery was illegal in the empire, but according to the rumors, Killian de Essel was even involved in human trafficking.
“What do we do? That heartless man might sell us off.”
That night, Killian’s men stormed the house. They took everything from the house—including the worthless, worn-out rug. In just one night, the family became a homeless, fallen aristocrat.
“Oh, my gosh, that man, Killian. How could he not pick me?” Boiling with anger, Rose interjected senselessly. Daisy just sighed. Then, something unbelievable happened.
“This is the last courtesy from Marquis Killian de Essel. He said, since the daughters didn’t do anything wrong, to use this dowry to support yourselves.”
Killian de Essel had sent a sizable bag of money to each of the sisters. In it was the amount of money that could serve as the minimum dowry necessary for the sisters. It was difficult for a noble lady to marry without a dowry. But since the three sisters were beautiful, it would be possible for them to marry even with a small dowry.
“And he also said to vacate the house by tomorrow.”
In a house without a single blanket, the sisters slept hugging each other. “Let’s sleep in the room where we’re keeping the money. The money from the marquis is the only way we can survive.”
Ironically, the generosity from a debt collector was the sisters’ only lifeline. Shivering from the chilly night air, they fell asleep. The next morning, “Father’s gone...” one of them said without an ounce of hope left in her voice.
The father had fled with the money from Killian. At once, the sisters were penniless, fatherless, and homeless.
After that, Daisy’s life wasn’t easy. Fortunately, Rose, who was the most beautiful woman in the capital and was at a ripe age for marriage, received a proposal. She quickly married a man of decent wealth. It was a marriage without a dowry.
When Daisy and Jasmine had nowhere to go and showed up at her door, Rose heartlessly sent them away, saying, “I’m sorry, but I don’t have enough to take care of both of you. And frankly, you two remind me of Father and put me in a bad mood.”
As Jasmine was also a great beauty, she would’ve been able to get married, but she was too young for marriage. Daisy rented a small room for her and Jasmine. For a while, they survived on the money brought in by sewing. Then, fortunately, Daisy landed a good job. She was hired as a clerk at a big, fancy clothing shop.
‘Working there was truly the beginning of my misfortune.’
Daisy got along with the shop owner Allen, and the two became close. Then one day, he asked her to dinner. Daisy had wine at the dinner. When she opened her eyes, she was naked and on his bed.
‘Looking back, I was foolish. Spending a night together… That doesn’t mean much…’
At the time, Daisy was young and naive. She thought she was Allen’s woman since they had spent the night together. Daisy became the manager of the shop and Allen’s mistress. Allen was good to her at first. But then, he soon showed his true colors. Still foolishly believing that Allen would marry her one day, she continued to work at the shop while dating him. At some point, word spread that Daisy had become a mistress of a nobleman. From time to time, the workers at the shop insulted her by calling her a dirty mistress. Strangely, no one blamed Allen or disrespected him, just Daisy.
“Dirty Daisy,” that’s what the employees at the shop called her behind her back.
Time passed quickly. Meanwhile, there were days when Daisy was insulted, beaten, and treated like a slave by Allen. Allen had her take care of his house while she continued to work at the shop. Daisy was his mistress, but also his slave.
“Do you think you can live without me? You can’t do anything right.”
When she couldn’t tolerate it any longer, she tried to end the relationship, but Allen didn’t let her go. He threatened her and beat her. Eventually, Daisy didn’t have any strength left to fight back and gave in completely to Allen. During that period, Daisy was a helpless ghost.
‘Right, Allen had a fiancée...’
It turned out Allen had a fiancée from a good family. One day, Daisy and Allen had a big fight, and she ran away. On that same day, in a back alley, a robber stabbed Daisy. Right before her death, the robber said, “That’s what you get for dating a man with a fiancée. Hope you’ve learned your lesson and do better in your next life.”
Splash. Daisy’s body was dumped into the river.
That was Daisy’s end.
On a cold winter day in December, Daisy faced her death at the hands of a hit man hired by Allen’s fiancée.
Sustaining a knife wound in her stomach, Daisy slowly sank to the bottom of the river.
She couldn’t see anymore. She no longer felt pain or cold. Daisy’s body reached the bottom of the river.
‘I’m sorry, Mother. I’d promised you that I’d take good care of Jasmine...’
An invisible tear flowed from Daisy’s shut eyes.
‘Oh, what have I done wrong? Why did my life have to turn out this way?’ Those were Daisy’s last thoughts at the end of her life. Finally, Daisy’s consciousness sank into the dark silence.
In the end, there was nothing.
Absolute darkness and nothing else. Daisy’s breathing stopped. A life came to an end like that.
Daisy slowly opened her eyes.
“I’m not dead… I… I’m alive?”
Things felt hazy, like a dream. Then, a familiar ceiling came into view. She looked around. She was in her childhood bedroom.