How should he express what he felt back then?
The feeling of helplessness when something inside him was brutally smashed into pieces.
It felt like something was breaking apart into fragments and rolled down a slope.
The problem was even when he saw it happening, he didn’t even have the slightest thought to pick up those fragments.
He was frozen like a stone. He held onto the door handle like it was his lifeline.
‘This can’t be.’
He remained in denial even as he stared vacantly at those fallen fragments.
Tidwell tried to deny that voice with all his might.
But how could he not recognize that voice?
The same calm voice that managed to blur his reason and put his five senses on haywire.
That beloved stillness that resembled an afternoon rain…
His deep affection for her made it harder for him to deny.
It was Ravia beyond the door. His beloved fake sister said with her own mouth that she wanted to kick him out.
And the one she was talking with…
“But I’m still worried.”
Of course, it was his close partner.
Tidwell realized that the searing anxiety that had been stirring in his stomach all the way here was pointless.
It wasn’t the time for him to worry that Ravia would learn about the truth.
Why? Because Ravia already met the real Herod and even prepared to hit Tidwell in the back.
Tidwell unknowingly gnashed his teeth at the bewildering betrayal.
‘Did I underestimate my sister?’
No, he never did that. He always watched the pendulum swing back and forth on the thin line between Ravia and himself.
Had Tidwell ever underestimated anyone to begin with?
Underestimating people meant that he left a lot of room for his enemy because he knew a lot about them. But there wasn’t a single instance when he was like that.
Who else was as vigilant as he was?
Did Tidwell even leave any room for Ravia?
‘At best, it only occurred after the night she gave me sleeping pills.’
But to think this was the result. When did she start preparing this? How much did Ravia know?
Beyond the door, he could hear Herod’s murmur, but he couldn’t catch any of what he said.
The painful headache from the shock, and the unfamiliar sensation under his feet.
The pain of an arrow shot through his chest, and the cold air that he breathed in.
He couldn’t help but laugh. His face was terribly crestfallen. Probably he looked ridiculous if he saw himself in the mirror.
‘I knew it.’
He knew very well that Ravia didn’t want him the way he wanted her.
When he carried Ravia recklessly and made his way to the annex, what was her reason for sparking the urge that had already erupted so wildly?
Ravia didn’t want him.
She just didn’t actively push him away.
Why didn’t she push him away? He knew exactly why.
Because she had tamed him using familiarity.
Because she made him put his veiled loneliness back into his pocket.
Tidwell knew what kind of person his beloved sister was.
She just needed someone around.
She was the kind of person who, if she chose to, would welcome anyone—even if she was aware that he was a fake brother who was deceiving her.
She could smile at the person whom she secretly hated for stealing her position, but how hard was that?
He could feel it in his bones with every step he took. Only then did he think he could name the vain abundance that filled his chest.
He was a lunatic who rejoiced when he grabbed sand that fell from his hand.
The same lunatic also rejoiced when he grabbed the air and yelled that he had caught the sky.
A vanity born from a pipe dream.
He knew it all, yet he looked away.
The fact that he embraced Ravia, or the fact that she didn’t push him away brought him excitement. He was simply happy.
He was more than willing to kneel before her just for one kiss from her…
…but he held back because he lacked the courage to unleash his greed.
That was only after he knew that Ravia knew the truth.
With that in mind, he mulled over his confession repeatedly. Whether it was to give up his revenge, or to reveal the truth.
Even when Amnesia appeared in front of him, he still chose Ravia over Marquis Calister.
But the result was like this.
It was the moment when all the concerns and anxiety that he had on his way here burned to ashes.
After the denial that devoured him was destroyed, what was left was…
Betrayal. Emptiness. Regret.
It wasn’t the first time he had been betrayed, but this one especially hurt.
His partner, Herod, didn’t hurt him that much. No matter how friendly they had been, he knew that Herod was an opponent that would let go of his hand at any given time.
And so was Ravia. No, she must feel the same way about him.
It’s not like he was completely clueless about Ravia’s mind.
Ravia most likely felt the same way about his betrayal as he did about Herod’s betrayal.
Rising anger and despondency combined to ruin his reason.
No matter how much he knew Ravia would never accept him, it was difficult for him to not feel pain after taking a blow to the back.
No matter how much he was aware of his own sins.
Even when he knew well that he wasn’t in a position to feel betrayed when she was the one who had to bend over backwards just to avoid being killed by him and survive this far.
Her lovely and gentle tone, so deceitful, was piercing through him and made him nauseous.
He recalled Ravia’s trembling eyelashes on the morning they faced each other in the annex.
Their conversation went like this.
-Drugs are bound to wear off someday.
-The more you indulge yourself in it, the more painful it’ll be when you wake up.
-Do you think I don’t know that.
-Knowing that, do you still want to swallow it?
At that time, Tidwell thought that Ravia was simply asking if he was ready to bear the weight of this licentious relationship.
I don’t love you, but do you still want me?
He was really fooled.
But she was right that he was so high on drugs and deeply drunk.
His reason, clouded by euphoric feelings that he had never experienced before, was coldly thrown into the dirt along with the prickling pain on his flesh.
Funnily enough, it was Ravia’s voice that brought him back to his senses.
Herod told Ravia that Tidwell was very eager to get into Leontine.
And she answered with another question.
“Did he tell you the reason?”
“All I know is he did it for personal reasons. But, well, do you need a grand reason for craving a higher position? I didn’t want to probe into what he wanted to hide.”
Herod left out the part that he had persistently asked Tidwell about his reason.
Ever since he revealed his plan to enter Leontine, Herod asked him for the reason at every chance, but Tidwell remained silent.
The reason was simple. Because Tidwell didn’t even know who was the culprit. Tidwell didn’t trust anyone. There was a chance that Herod would poke his nose in his business if Tidwell gave him the details.
Herod might hide that fact before he was certain about the truth.
In other words, the way she tried to gain his sympathy by speaking about her circumstances was just a bait to find his weaknesses.
Ravia was the first to ask about his family.
It was during the deceitful night where she fed him sleeping pills.
–Does your biological father look like my father? Was he a good person?
–I’m not sure. I don’t have that many memories with him either. He was a busy man.
–If you don’t have many memories with him, then…
–….He passed away.
Was it because Ravia told her story first? Or was it because the silence of the room alone created an unusual mood that day?
Even Tidwell mentioned things about his father as if being swept away by something.
He told her that his father was a man with gray hair and blue eyes.
He added very few clues that made it difficult for anyone to trace his identity or even figure out that his family died in a fire. But the fact that he said it with his own mouth was very strange to Tidwell.
It was proof of how open he was to Ravia.
“Tidwell has a goal. And he needs Leontine to attain his goal.”
The moment Ravia spoke as if she knew what was going on.
There was no way he couldn’t feel the dark despair born from the fall…