*Trigger warning: This chapter contains details of family abuse.*
Chapter 49 Asher brothers’ Secret
I told my story from there.
Living on a ranch in the Kingdom of Randall, life in a fishing village.
Jeffrey listened in silence. He sometimes nodded and listened while he stroked my back and head.
When I finished talking and let out a sigh of relief, Jeffrey was deep in thought.
“What’s wrong? Did something in the conversation worry you?”
“No. Actually, I have a secret too. I plan to spend the rest of my life with you, so I think I should tell you about it now.”
I was confused, since I heard about his fiance’s suicide previously.
“It’s not about my fiancée. It’s a secret between me and my brother. The reason why my brother keeps worrying about me is that the environment we grew up in is a bit special.”
“Are you sure? I don’t think I must know everything about your past.”
“No, a day will come when you will wonder why my brother is so worried about me.”
What Jeff recounted was a story that made me feel choked up no matter how many times I recalled it.
“Our father lived with another family for as long as I can remember. Aristocrats who have mistresses outside are not uncommon. However, our father started beating us around the time his mistress was pregnant with a child. I’ve been beaten since I was a child, before I even understood the language.”
It broke Jeff’s mother’s heart from an early stage and she began to wander back and forth between reality and delusion.
His father came home once or twice a week and beat the family. Struck them for petty reasons. The reason for the beating was different every time. He wouldn’t know what would cause him to get hit. It seemed that for a while, Edward took on the role of being beaten to protect his mother and young Jeffrey from their father.
“I think the reason why my brother went on to become a civil official was that he had a scar on his back from being beaten with a horse-riding whip until his skin was torn off. Many terrible wounds overlap all over his back. After knight training, they would all change clothes at the same time so my brother wouldn’t be able to hide his wounds. We couldn’t run away because our mother had lost her mind. By the time my brother became a low-ranking civil official, our mother was in a terrible state, and I think he had given up on taking us to run away.”
I remembered what I learned at the organization. We found that people who had been beaten for a long time can’t even run away, let alone strike back. That was because their mind was controlled by the abuser through violence. His brother and mother must have been like that too.
To turn away from the painful reality, Edward devoted himself to his studies, and Jeffrey devoted himself to the way of the sword. One day after many years had passed, the boy Jeffrey thought to himself, ‘I think I can defeat my father now.’
And as usual, when his father punched his brother with fists, stripped his shirt off, and tried to whip him, he jumped at his father.
“The spirit of a person who fights to the death and a person who only tortures others is different. I already had a large build by then. In the blink of an eye, I knocked my father down, grabbed a nearby candlestick, and said to my brother, who was surprised: ‘Brother, I am the second son. I will kill him. After this, please remove me from the family register. Thank you for helping me until now’.”
Jeff spoke with a distant look on his face.
“Since young, every time I was beaten I thought ‘I’ll be killed today’, and the resentment burst out. I was serious. Then my brother stopped me and in a very calm voice told our father to leave. ‘As of today, I will take over the position of head of the Asher family. I will provide you and your family on the other side with living expenses that will not embarrass you. I’ll give you a choice, will you give up the position of head of the family, or do be killed by us here? Did you think we would suffer your beatings forever? I already have a doctor who will pronounce that you had a heart attack no matter how you die’.”
It seemed that Edward was 20 years old and Geoffrey was 12 years old at that time.
“After my father left, my brother cried, ‘Because I did not have the determination, I did something wretched to you and mother. I should have done this sooner. Please forgive me for my lack of courage.’ Since then, my brother has protected me and my mother as a guardian. It’s annoying that he still can’t get rid of that habit, but my brother and I have lived by protecting each other when we were about to be killed. It was so violent that I wouldn’t be surprised if we died from the beatings.”
I hugged Jeffrey.
I couldn’t hug Jeff completely because he was too big, but I hugged him with all my might.
“I learned why my father didn’t resort to divorce when I started working in the castle. My parents got married through the introduction of the prime minister at the time. It was a silly reason. My father continued to use us to vent his anger.”
Jeffrey finally ended the story with a bitter smile on his face.
“My father died two years ago.”
I was only there for eight years, but I knew the warmth of home. Jeffrey didn’t even have that?
It was what I thought when I was an agent, but I thought all happy families were similar. It didn’t matter if they were poor or rich. In all happy homes, the families were on good terms.
Edward and Jeffrey lived in a hell called home.
“Jeff. I will protect you and Nonna even if it costs my life. Let’s make a happy family.”
And Jeffrey smiled gently.
“That’s usually what the guy says. Please allow me to keep up some appearances.”
Then Jeff knelt in front of me.
“Anna. Will you marry me?”
He asked me to marry him in the simplest way possible.