Stefano trudged down the elegant stairs just to see Lucien was standing before a big portrait of Adeline — the real Adeline. But Stefano had tampered with all portraits in the castle.
“I didn’t expect the Mistress to have red hair,” Lucien pointed out as if he wanted to bait Stefano out of his white lies.
There were two families eligible for the High Lord’s seat. De Lucca family and De Vincenzo’s family. That was how Stefano came to befriend Lucien. That was until the latter decided to disgrace his title as the heir of the seat. The seat was then given to Stefano’s father Philippe and then it was passed down to him. Stefano never desired for the High Lord seat. He saw himself as a winemaker — not some kind of leader his father expected him to be.
Two former friends faced each other once again after centuries long. For so long everyone expected Stefano to be the bad friend. Instead, the sweet and nice Lucien became the bad one.
“What are you doing here, Lucien?” Stefano asked, heading to the bar in the corner of the living room to pour himself a glass of wine.
“I see that you keep the place intact,” Lucien said, continued to look around the portraits on the walls of the living room.
His strong French accent indicated he had been spending time in France. He was a world traveler. That was his thing since the war ended.
“And to see Adeline, of course.” He added.
Stefano’s grip around his wine glass tightened, shattering the glass in pieces. Lucien shook his head in amusement as Stefano cleaned the shards from his palm before grabbed another glass and poured the same wine again.
“You may fool her, Stefano but you and I know that woman isn’t the real Adeline.” The silver-haired daemon muttered.
“I didn’t remember of asking your opinion.”
“Our families could have been united!”
Stefano raised an eyebrow, “United? How? By betrothing your sister with me?”
Yes, that was one of the many reasons why he had a fallout with De Vicenzo family. Before Stefano met the real Adeline, he was about to get betrothed to Lucien’s sister Helena. Things suddenly changed when Stefano laid his eyes on the human woman. That was one of the many decisions he never regretted in taking. It was risky considering Philippe agreed to the union of both families but Stefano was adamant that he would never love Helena as much as he loved Adeline.
Granted, he just met Adeline a few times during that but his love for her was growing with each day passed by. He couldn’t see himself spending his life with another woman that wasn’t Adeline. Then, Lucien disgraced his title as the heir of the seat by trying to trick Stefano into sleeping with Helena so that the wedding could proceed. Of course, his plan was an epic fail. It would take more than just a stupid trick to make Stefano fell for it.
“You’re a disgrace, Lucien. You were lucky that I didn’t kill you instantly for disgracing my home by coming here.” Stefano rebuked.
With a blurry and angry movement, Lucien lunged towards Stefano but the High Lord easily avoided his attack caused him to crash against the wall.
“I would watch you destroy your own legacy, Stefano. Sooner or later, the seat would return to De Vicenzo family.”
Stefano’s demeanor remained unreadable as he spoke, “I assume you taking the seat would keep everyone united.”
He raised the glass to meet his lips when he remembered Adeline’s words earlier about his wine addiction. He’d much prefer himself as a wine lover, not an addict. That was one of the few traits he inherited from his father. Well, wine-making had been his family’s business since the first discovery of wine.
“So you’re a wine addict?”
In times like this, her soothing voice managed to calm the rage inside him. He knew it was wrong because she wasn’t his real Adeline but everything about her reminded him of his true love. Maybe she truly could be Adeline.
“You shamed your father’s legacy.” Lucien spat.
“I shamed my father? Maybe.” Stefano responded. “But you disgraced your entire family. If you weren’t that foolish on that night, this wouldn’t have happened. What were you thinking on that night? Tricking me so that I would end up in the same bed as your sister? A pathetic move, Lucien.”
“You spent your entire life being pathetic, Stefano? For what? To love a mortal like Adeline? She was a human and she had no rights to walk among the immortals! You and your wife are both pathetic and a disgrace to our kind.”
Out of sudden, he gasped for air like a fish being taken out of the water. Lucien fell on his knees, clutching to his neck. Stefano sipped on his wine as if nothing was happening around him. As if Lucien was just standing still — provoking him instead of gasping for air. Stefano had promised himself not to spill blood in his home but if the silver-haired daemon kept on provoking him, he’d pray Adeline would forgive him for what he was about to do.
“You are standing in my home. You will acknowledge Adeline as the Mistress of the High Lord of the Daemon Council. May I warn you, one more time you insult her, I would end your life. Do you understand?”
The invisible grip around Lucien’s neck tightened.
“Y—Y—Yes.” He choked.
“You were lucky that my wife is here. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be so merciful towards anyone who insulted her. Now leave,” Stefano commanded. “I do not intend to disgrace my home with bloodshed. If you continue to provoke me or insult my wife, I’d gladly ignore my first statement.”
Without another word, Lucien grunted as he left.
Hamish, the second housekeeper, came into the living room and Lucien purposely bumped onto his shoulder. Ignoring the angry daemon, the housekeeper continued with his intention to inform the High Lord.
“Lord Stefano, the dinner is ready. Should I serve them in the garden or the dining room?”
“The dining room,” Stefano replied, looking out to the sky. “It’s going to rain soon.”
“Yes, My Lord.”