The villain's side of the novel - Chapter 167
"Good day, Lady Isabel," Emma greeted, her voice filled with deference. "May I introduce Miss Aya Arezo, the daughter of Lord Lister Arezo, who has been brought here as part of the agreement?"
Isabel's gaze shifted to Aya, her eyes assessing and penetrating. Aya mustered her composure, meeting Isabel's gaze with a mixture of wariness and curiosity.
"Miss Aya Arezo," Isabel acknowledged with a slight nod, her tone measured. "I heard about you. Welcome to the Iskar City."
Aya nodded in acknowledgment, her guard still firmly in place. "Thank you, Lady Isabel," she replied politely, her voice carrying a hint of reservation. "It is an honor to be here."
Sensing Aya's skepticism, Isabel's lips curved into a warm smile, her eyes crinkling with a touch of kindness. "The honor is ours, my dear. The Parada family extends its hospitality to you."
Aya's brows furrowed slightly, torn between her preconceived notions and Isabel's sincerity. Aya did hear about, Isabel, Fray's mother, but she didn't hear a lot Isabel is one of the most monstrous members of the Parada family, Aya just heard that Isabel has two children Fray, and also her relationship with Fray isn't that good.
Nesrin, Isabel's maid suddenly whispered to Isabel " Mistress, she 's The lord's marriage interest, it is in the Parada tradition for you as the Master's mother to organize a dinner to welcome her "
Isabel considered the suggestion for a moment, then nodded appreciatively. "You are right, Nesrin" Then turned to Nesrin and with a higher voice, she said ". Aya, would you honor me with your presence at a dinner tonight? It would be an opportunity for us to get to know each other better and for me to officially welcome you into our family."
Aya hesitated, her mind grappling with conflicting emotions. Yet, a glimmer of curiosity flickered within her. Perhaps it was time to see beyond the facade and give Isabel a chance.
"Thank you for the invitation, Lady Isabel," Aya replied, her voice softer and more open. "I would be honored to join you for dinner tonight."
Isabel's smile widened, her eyes twinkling with genuine warmth. "I look forward to our conversation, Aya. Until then, please feel free to explore the palace and make yourself at home."
With that, Isabel and Nesrin bid them farewell, leaving Aya and Emma standing in the wake of their encounter. Aya couldn't help but feel a shift within her, a willingness to give Isabel a chance and discover the truth behind the rumors that had clouded her judgment.
As the day progressed, Aya's anticipation grew. She knew that the dinner with Isabel would be a pivotal moment, a chance to unravel the mysteries of the Parada family. With an open mind, Aya prepared herself for the evening that awaited her.
As the evening descended upon the grand dining hall, it was adorned with an air of anticipation. The flickering candlelight cast dancing shadows on the opulent surroundings, creating an ambiance of both elegance and intrigue. The table was set with exquisite silverware and crystal glasses, and the aroma of délicieuse dishes filled the room.
Aya and Emma entered the dining hall, their footsteps muffled by the plush carpeting. Aya's eyes scanned the room, taking in the sight of Isabel, Fray's mother, seated at the head of the table with her maid standing by her side. Then around the table were three more women that Aya never saw before.
"Hello, lady Aya, please take a site " As she saw Aya approaching, Isabel said pointing to the site that was still empty.
" Ok, thank you, Lady, Isabel " as Aya took her site, Aya said while Emma stood by her side.
" Aya, meet Sophia, Nora, and Mia," said Isabel, with a smile on her face, introducing the three women at the table.
As the dinner progressed, the room buzzed with conversation, as Aya got to know the Parada family women which was surprising they were actually very nice to the point that Aya was actually having fun and talking freely, until suddenly the conversation started taking a more serious path.
" I heard you had breakfast with Fray, this morning. So how did you find it " Asked Nora with a smile.
Aya's eyes flickered with a mix of hesitation and curiosity as she pondered her response. She had expected hostility or indifference from Fray's family, but their genuine interest caught her off guard.
"It was... an interesting experience," Aya replied cautiously, choosing her words carefully.
Nora leaned forward, her expression earnest. "Fray can be enigmatic and challenging to understand at times, but he possesses a depth that few can fathom. Just give him a chance."
Aya's skepticism resurfaced, but she couldn't deny the genuine warmth radiating from Isabel and the others. She decided to voice her concerns, wanting to test their reaction. "I've heard stories about Fray, about his personality, it's just...sigh. He's very terrifying "
Nora nodded, acknowledging Aya's apprehension. "The rumors and stories surrounding our family are not that good, and actually we can't deny them all, but the Parada family isn't that bad. At least not any more"
Isabel chimed in, her voice gentle ."Aya we understand your reservations about Fray. Unfortunately, even I am not sure if I should ignore these rumors, but Fray carries burdens that few can comprehend and I think he's capable to change just if he found the right person to help him " said Isabel, looking deeply into Aya's eyes.
"..." Hearing that, Aya fell into silence, uncertain of how to respond to Isabel's words.
Mia spoke up, her voice calm and composed. "In addition to that, we don't know if you heard or not, but just a few months ago, Iskar City was on the edge of devastation. The citizens were impoverished, food was scarce, and the city was plagued by criminals and death. But in just a few months, Fray managed to fix all these problems. He provided enough food and capital to the city. Without Fray, thousands of people would have surely died. Yes, Fray can be ruthless, but I believe he has already proven that he will do everything he can to protect the people under his responsibility."
Sophia added her thoughts, her voice filled with empathy. "Yes, deep down, I think Fray truly cares about the people around him. But he has suffered from a lot of childhood trauma, and he will need time and help to overcome it."
Hearing Sophia's words, Isabel felt a whirlwind of complicated emotions overwhelm her. Fray's childhood trauma—was it the root cause of his personality? Did this mean that if she had been there for him, he wouldn't have turned out this way? She had tried to protect herself and her daughter, believing it was the right thing to do, but now she found herself doubting her decision.
Noticing Isabel's distressed state, Nora quickly changed the subject, trying to redirect the conversation. "So, Aya, would you like to go on a tour of Isjar City tomorrow? It would give you a better understanding of how much the city has changed under Fray's rule."
As the evening progressed, the dinner turned into a tapestry of shared experiences, revelations, and the slow unraveling of guarded hearts. Aya and the other wives, even those who hadn't been on good terms, found a rare opportunity to truly know and understand each other. They began to forgive one another for past conflicts, fostering a newfound sense of camaraderie...