Can't Come Back - Side Story 3
Side Story 3 – Their History (2)
Cain Hildayden and his appearance personified an upright image more than anyone else. While other noble young men his age might have received interest from female pupils, he paid no heed to them.
‘Perhaps the young nobles are even more envious because it’s an image no one else can have.’
Aside from Cain’s notoriety, Claudia wanted to clear up any confusion about her and him. She addressed Cain, who was attempting to return his attention to his book.
“Anyway, Cain, you won’t tell anyone we don’t have a relationship, will you?”
“I don’t see why there should be. If you don’t respond, such rumors tend to fade.”
“Doesn’t it matter because it’s not true?”
Claudia shook her head after he said that and returned his focus to his book. His remarks were meaningless.
‘Will this guy ever fall in love with someone?’
Then she grew enthralled. Cain was uninterested in women. At best, the only lady he spoke to was Claudia. If other young women expressed interest in Cain, he would draw a line and respond with only the required information.
Claudia’s friendship with Cain was neither more nor less than that. People said they were special because she was closer to Cain than other young women, but this was not the case. She was the only one who could promise it.
‘I’m curious who Cain would like if he ever likes someone.’
He could change a little as he grew older. But the Cain she knew didn’t seem to change much. Even the thought of her friend being deeply in love seemed strange.
Is it possible for such a person to fall in love? They were still determining when they would find the answer to that question.
* * *
At the academy, Dean Hildayden was almost non-existent. In reality, teachers and students referred to Dean as ‘Cain Hildayden’s brother’ rather than ‘Dean Hildayden.’ He was the Hildayden Duchy’s heir and had enrolled in the academy before Cain.
“Dean, your brother is top of the class yet again, isn’t he?”
“Don’t even bring it up. I need to graduate as soon as possible.”
Every day was unfair to him.
“Um… please pass this along to your brother?”
He was even asked to relay information to Cain.
‘I’m the heir to the Hildayden Duchy; why is everyone so obsessed with Cain?’
Dean’s pride was wounded. Nonetheless, Dean would be the future Duke of Hildayden. He was well aware of this, but he inexplicably felt defeated by Cain. But he chose to put up with it because graduation was approaching.
‘It’s only a matter of months till graduation. Let’s hold on a little longer. Nothing will happen after that.’
He thought about how he only had a few months left. There would be no more comparisons to Cain once he graduated.
But reality did not match Dean’s imagination. The same. It remained the same after graduating from the academy and becoming an adult. Cain was mentioned everywhere he went.
“Lord Dean, have you heard that Lord Cain is finally appearing in the social circle?”
The young girl with the dazzling eyes who inquired about Cain was none other than Young Lady Aiel, whom Dean respected and looked at with adoration. Even among other young females, Dean’s enthusiasm was answered with stories featuring just Cain. Dean was known more as Cain’s older brother than as his person in the social sphere.
“Although I saw him frequently at the academy, I missed not seeing Cain after graduation. Is it true that he’s become more charming?”
“I don’t know.”
“Seeing a family member every day may do that. I’m overjoyed.”
Dean’s expression stiffened as Aiel spoke, but she carelessly continued chatting about Cain.
“All the other young ladies are looking forward to the day Lord Cain appears in society! Even though I saw him in person at the academy, noble ladies who did not attend are overjoyed at finally seeing the subject of the stories.”
“Is that correct? More importantly, are you free this week, Young Lady Aiel?”
“Oh my, is Lord Cain returning to the ducal house this week?”
Aiel’s eyes sparkled. Dean’s eyes were excited as if he was about to reveal Cain to her.
“No, that’s not it, but I have found a nice dessert shop.”
The words that came out of Dean’s mouth were not what she expected. She needed to be more interested in Dean. A dessert shop? Aiel shook her head, her face tightening.
“I apologize. I’ve been quite busy this week. I’m leaving right now.”
She then left, solely speaking on Cain-related news. Dean shuddered as he watched her go. It was Cain once more. ‘Cain’s older brother’ piqued everyone’s interest more than ‘Dean Hildayden.’
Cain turned 20 years old, and Dean turned 21. Nothing had changed. Cain remained the center of attention while Dean was overshadowed. Every day was a struggle for him. Even though he was the obvious successor, he couldn’t understand why everyone looked exclusively for Cain.
Everything seemed simple for Cain to have and do except for the heir post. This fact irritated Dean.
What a beautiful thing it would be if I could have what Cain desires alone. Was it impossible to experience such a sense of victory? Every day, Dean pondered this.
“Cain, Dean. Try to grab the second princess’s attention at this banquet. The Emperor is involved in her new business enterprise.”
“Yes, I understood.”
“We will do so, Father.”
This banquet was different from the norm. They were tasked with catching the attention of the second princess, Zeridia, who was establishing a business at 19. Success was inevitable with the Emperor on her side.
For various reasons, Duke Hildayden wanted his two sons to be close to Princess Zeridia.
Dean approached the princess as advised by his father, offering her a gift and getting to know her. He did not, however, have high hopes. Dean would be forgotten once Cain approached her.
‘Oh, is that necklace…?’
In the midst of it all, Dean noticed a perplexing image. A woman wore the same jewelry that Cain had planned to give to the princess. She was a blonde with green eyes, and Dean had never seen her before. He grew a little curious.
It was specially made for the Hildaydens. The fact that she’s wearing identical jewelry can’t be a coincidence. That had to be the necklace Cain made. ‘Could Cain have given it to her?’ Dean wondered.
Though he didn’t want to admit it, he knew Cain was too meticulous to have accidentally misplaced the jewelry. Curiosity drove Dean to spend the entire feast wandering near her, trying to figure out who she was.
‘She’s pretty, but could Cain have given the princess’s gift to her?’
After doing background checks on her, he found her name was Lady Berlia Kinterdon. Even Dean had heard of the Kinterdons, who were on the verge of bankruptcy. Her worn outfit during her social debut revealed much about her family’s financial situation.
‘I need to keep a closer eye on her.’
So the banquet came to an end. But Dean needed to figure out why Cain had given Berlia the jewelry.
‘Does he care about Lady Kinterdon? No man is less interested in women than Cain. Maybe out of sympathy?’ He was perplexed.
Cain approached Dean while deep in concentration and inquired,
“Brother. Do you know who the lovely blonde lady at the banquet hall is? The one who remained in the left corner, dressed in a beige dress.”
‘What? He’s asking about the lady?’ Dean was taken aback inwardly. It wasn’t simply a necklace, was it? Cain had never exhibited such interest in the 20 years they had lived as a family.
Dean couldn’t pass up this opportunity. He recognized the woman Cain was talking about because he had spent the entire day investigating her out of suspicion.
“Yes, I recognize her. Berlia Kinterdon. Her family is deficient, despite her beautiful features. House Kinderton is falling apart. Perhaps she’ll marry a modest baron or viscount or become the concubine of an old Count with her looks?” Dean mocked her, openly discarding her. Cain’s face stiffened as he spoke.
‘What’s with that expression on his face?” If I play this correctly…’
“Why. Do you want her?”
Dean inquired teasingly.
“…I’m not particularly interested,” Cain responded, his face stiffening.
However, it was too late. Dean was confident Cain was interested in Lady Berlia Kinterdon as a man.
He has a chance to get what Cain desires.