C8 Chapter 7: Maria
After avoiding them for the whole day, I decided to show myself for supper. I made sure that I was dressed well enough for everyone to look for my attention.
"Lady Dominixe has arrived," Orion announced and opened the door for me.
I held my chin high as I entered. There, the four wives of Papa named, Zoey, Aurora, Natalie, and Josephine were present. As for my siblings, all of them were present except Arthur, 1st brother, Jethro, 4th brother, Raphael, 5th brother, and Britanny, 2nd sister.
"Oh, my. It has been a while, 1st sister," Natasha said as I sat next to her.
"Indeed. How about the others? Are they on a mission, Natasha?"
Natasha chuckled softly. "Arthur, Jethro, and Raphael are in the Sundercoln Woods for hunting. Papa dispatched them."
I was about to answer that I got it now but Lambert leaned forward to his table. "I heard your mission is successful, Domi. As expected..." He was smiling brightly as always, like his twin sister, Natasha.
At this timeline, they were 21 years old since I regressed two years ago. Natasha was our 3rd sister, and Lambert was our 3rd brother.
"Thank you, Lambert." I smiled. Lambert was sitting beside me, far from Natasha.
I looked at the people sitting across me, my four stepmothers, silently gazing at me. I slightly bowed my head before them, indicating a greeting. But they only averted their gazes from me since they knew neither of them was my mother.
I was Papa's firstborn, but why he did not marry my mother was a mystery to me. I tried to open it up to him about where she was but Papa never told me about her. I was wondering if Mother had left him.
I knew Mother left me to his care the moment I was born. It was good that Papa could take care of me but it was because of the help of the servants even though he had married another woman that was not his mate.
He was the long-lost son of the late Marquis and Marquess Cantavalle, our grandparents. Papa did not know that he was a noble, and the moment he learned that he was the heir of the House of Marquis Cantavalle, he did not hesitate to fulfill his dreams.
He had four concubines that became his wives afterward.
Zoey, Papa's 1st wife, despised me a lot since I was Papa's favorite pup, even though she granted him two sons named Arthur, 1st brother, and Ismael, 2nd brother.
"Lord Harchier has arrived."
I snapped back as we all stood up, waiting for the door to open. It was customary that we must remain standing when Papa arrived. We would only sit if he had already sat first.
"Sit down," Papa said in his frigid tone.
We abid at his command. Our sitting arrangement in the dining hall had Papa on the edge of the table, signifying that he was the head of this family. On his left side, his four wives were sitting, while on his right side, four seats were settled.
The four seats settled were reserved for those top four heir candidates who would become the real heir or heiress of the House of Cantavalle and would become the junior Marquis Cantavalle or Marquess Cantavalle for an heiress in their own right.
The four heir candidates were Arthur, Lambert, Britanny, and me.
Since I was Papa's favorite, I was sitting right next to him. The next seat was Arthur's, who was not present here. Next is Britanny. Lastly, Lambert.
My other siblings who were not here in these seats were going to sit at another table. The table was only beside us.
It meant that they were not allowed to dine with us at the same table and receive special treatment if they were not heir candidates unless Papa had placed an order.
That was how Papa was handling his 11 children.
It was the reason why this household was a survival. We also must be greedy and aimed at this position.
Soon enough. Ingram would replace Lambert's position.
He would beat the person who oppressed him. That was why I must train Ingram well.
"Britanny has not returned yet?" Papa asked and glanced at Aurora, Papa's 2nd wife, while we were in the middle of our supper.
"She hasn't, love. But she has written me a letter saying she is returning in the next few days." Aurora looked frightened that Papa would lash out at her. She should be frightened since Papa could even bat an eye at his wives.
Papa nodded, showing no signs if he was pleased or not. He continued eating.
Aurora spoke again. "Harchier, Dominixe hurt Maria a while ago. She is accusing my daughter that she was the one who destroyed her flowers." She glared at me. "Do you have any idea that I have been taking care of Maria's skin, albeit she is being dispatched for your father's mission? Are you serious, Dominixe?" She gripped the way she was holding her utensils.
I slightly bowed my head. "Pardon me, but I have witnessed Maria ruining them." I turned to Papa, who was silently listening. "Papa, you know how much I cared for the hyacinth flowers. That is your gift to me when I turned 18, yet I witnessed Maria stepping on them..." I heaved out a sigh, masking my tone that I was feeling melancholy about it. Then, I looked to the other table, where I could see that Maria was already fuming mad before I returned my gaze to Papa. "What I did is plausible."
I tried not to act arrogant and maintained my neutral tone.
Aurora slammed the table. "What do you mean plausible?! That is my daughter you are talking about!"
"Maria is still young, Dominixe. You should have gone easy on her since she is still young." It was Zoey who had finally spoken to pretend that she cared for her stepdaughter.
"I agree with Zoey," Natalie said softly. "You could have at least condoned her, Dominixe."
"As the first daughter, you must understand that you must guide your siblings after you." Of course, Josephine wouldn't allow herself not to say a word when the three had spoken.
I secretly clenched my teeth. This was one of the reasons why I hated this back in the past. Whenever Maria had done something wrong, these four would always demand to condone my youngest sister's behavior.
They were doing this to turn the tables so I would end up suffering.
Calm down, Dominixe. We must not let our emotions get the better of you...
"It is true that I must condone her behavior..." I made sure that I softened my tone, enough to annoy Maria. "However, as the eldest sibling, they must learn a lesson that they must not displease Papa with the way they behave." Then, I gazed at Papa. "I have only taught her a lesson she shall never forget, just as you taught us, Papa. In that way, Maria must learn to behave from now on. Isn't that right, Maria?" I asked her in my oh-so-sweet tone.
She clenched her hands. "You witch... That is not how Papa—" Her words were cut off when a dinner knife almost hit her.
In my peripheral vision, Papa was raising his hand and had thrown his dinner knife in Maria's direction. She looked horrified when her eyes darted at our father.
"P-Papa..." She looked frightened when Papa stood up and marched in her direction. She was about to stand up, but the butlers held her tightly. "R-Release me this instant!" she ordered, wanting to abscond from their grasp.
"Harchier, please do not punish Maria... She has learned her lesson!" Aurora begged and stood up.
"Stay there, Aurora," Papa said coldly and towered over Maria, who was on the verge of crying. "You must understand that you need to behave, Maria Ruth Cantavalle." I almost chuckled upon hearing her full name since I happened to say her name a while ago. "Ever since you become a failure, you have been a nuisance to me. Can you not be like Dominixe and Britanny?"
His dangerous tone and his menacing aura were frightening. I couldn't help shaking in my place. Papa could become an Alpha with that attitude he was showing. However, he had never shown interest in establishing a pack on his own.
He never wanted to be an Alpha since Alphas were his enemies.
"Papa, please forgive me..." Maria was crying already. "Mother..." She asked for Aurora's help but her mother turned her head, unable to do anything. "Papa... Please, halt... Papa...!"
We all continued eating as the dining hall was filled with Maria's screams. Neither of us dared to halt Papa as he kept piercing Maria's feet as a punishment for ruining my hyacinth flowers using her fork.
We had already gotten used that this was happening to our household. Papa never chose a place where he could inflict his punishment.
I hated to admit but hearing Maria begging at Papa had made sense of relief.
Her behavior tormented me for such a long time when I was still alive. I had been patient and condoned her, but she kept pestering me.
That was a good way to let Maria not deal with me again.
"Tsk!" I looked up, seeing Aurora piercing her glare at me. She was gripping her utensils as if she wanted to attack me.
I only smiled meaningfully, seeing how she was enraged that her youngest daughter had finally been punished severely. If before, Aurora was the one was smiling. Right now, it was me.
I know, Aurora. You had been instructing your daughter to plague me. Knowing how you reacted right now.
"Drag her back to her chamber. This place will look unappetizing with her stench blood," Papa ordered while Orion bestowed him a basin so he could wash his hands and a cloth to wipe them. He looked refreshing when he returned to his seat. "Domi, since you asked for a boon yesterday, where do you wish to go for a vacation?" he asked nonchalantly as if he did not punish one of his daughters.
All eyes were on me. I could feel the tension whenever Papa was paying attention to me in front of everyone. It was a big deal for them since asking for a boon was something only the most favorable child could do.
However, four heir candidates existed, and I was the first to ask for that.
"I am still thinking of going to Solacia, Papa. But I was torn between that town and Calaren. I am hoping for Papa's advice on which town I should go to for a better vacation," I said timidly. I had to act slightly confused, even though I already knew where to go.
Papa hummed as he stroked his chin. Seeing how his forehead knotted, he weighed the advantages of those towns I mentioned.
"Both places are splendid to have a vacation. But since one month is what you are asking for, you should go to Solacia and Calaren so you can enjoy your vacation."
I smiled and nodded. I already expected he would say that.
"From a wise man of our household, I thank you for your advice, Papa," I said with the utmost respect.
But I had already decided which of these towns I should go to first.
It was the town where the rogue Alpha had been residing back in the past...
To the Calaren.