Chapter One: Back to the Old Days

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I woke up to find myself in my room, sweating. I looked around my surroundings, finding it not how I remembered it to be. It was definitely my room, however the interior and the decorations all looked different. My body felt light and I gazed down to see my hand which was quite small for a twenty-four year old woman. I jumped out of the bed and stood in front of the mirror only to find my 12 year old self staring back at me. I could not contain my surprise and let out a scream to which my father, the Marquess stormed into my room followed by my personal maid Mariah.

"Eli what is wrong?" my father shouted in concern.

"Father! You are alive?" I asked, shocked by the appearance of my late father.

"What do you mean I am alive? I know I have grown quite old but I will not die before seeing my daughter get married and have children. Stop killing off your perfectly healthy father," my father said in a half confused and half joking tone.

I looked into my father's eyes and told him in a serious voice, "Father this is not the time for your jokes. If I have really travelled back in time...but how is that possible? Ugh I am so confused!"

"What gibberish are you spouting? Are you feeling sick, Eli?" my father replied.

"Father, you are real aren't you?" I said while pinching my father's cheeks.

Crying in pain my father said, "Of course I am real, alive and breathing! What has gotten into you today? I think you should get some rest."

I decided to roam around the estate to have a better grasp of my situation and ignoring my father's advice, I rushed out of the room which was met by protests from my maid Mariah, "Miss you cannot walk out of the room in your nightwear! You must wear a more appropriate attire."

Mariah was the only worker on my side, who was truly loyal to me. She was fired by Raelia, before my marriage with Duke Uken took place, who framed her for stealing her jewels. I possessed blind trust and belief in Raelia so I took her word for it, ignoring all of Mariah's pleadings that she did not steal the jewels. Overwhelmed by guilt, I decided that if this was not a dream but really a second chance at life again, I would treat her better and not let this injustice take place again.

After Mariah finished dressing me, she handed me the mirror to let me have a look at myself. Even I was shocked by my beauty, long luscious crimson hair, golden eyes which shined like the sun and cream-coloured skin. I had forgotten how I used to look during my glory days. After finding out about my sister and my husband's betrayal, due to stress I lost a lot of hair and was often starved by Raelia.

"Miss you look so beautiful in this pink dress adorned by jewels that My Lord had brought for you on your birthday," Mariah said as she put the mirror back.

With a gentle smile, I replied, "Thank you Mariah. I would like to walk around the estate before dinner."

"As you wish. I will call Sir Aaron to accompany you during your walk," Mariah replied as she headed out of the room.

Aaron was part of the Rosario knights, the Marquess's personal order of knights who only served the Rosario house. He was assigned as my body guard for as long as I can remember. He died protecting my father when I was 16 in the carriage accident which took the life of my father as well.

A knock on my door and Mariah's remark, "Sir Aaron is here," informed me of Aaron's arrival.
"Let him in," I replied in a curt voice.

The doors opened wide and Aaron entered the room. No matter the times I saw him in the past, I would always be startled by his astonishingly good looks. He was tall, had broad shoulders and a good build. He had messy brown hair, which gave him a child-like appearance and made him look much more approachable.

"Miss I was told that you wanted to walk around the estate. Shall we head out?" Aaron asked with his usual gentle tone.

I got up from my chair and replied, "Yes."

"After you, Miss," Aaron said, extending his right hand towards the door.

I walked out of the room to be greeted warmly by the sun rays which entered the mansion through the brightly coloured windowpanes. The corridor was exactly the way I remembered it to be from my past. We had never repainted the walls or changed the decorations because it reminded me of father and my good memories with him. Of course that was until Raelia took control of the mansion and renovated it as she saw fit. I walked down the red carpeted stairs to see that all the maids were running around cleaning the mansion in a hurry.

"What are they in such a rush for?" I asked Aaron, curiously.

"Duke Orion has sent a messenger that he would be visiting our mansion today and on such short notice the maids seem to be panicking," Aaron replied.

Duke Orion, he was the previous Duke and Uken's father. He passed away around the time my father had died. He was a kind hearted and honest man unlike his son. My father and Duke Orion were childhood friends and it was common for him to visit our estate from time to time.

Considering the timeline, it is still too soon for him propose Uken's engagement with me so nothing should go wrong.

Among the various maids who I saw rushing past me I spotted a familiar face. It was Butler Torez. Upon seeing his face, a memory from my previous twenty-four years of life resurfaced.

"Miss Eliza I always thought Miss Raelia was more suited to be the Marchioness. She pays us more and she looks after us better than you ever did. You stood in her way and look what happened to you. I truly feel sorry for you as I have served in this family for a long time but it cannot be helped. Now then Miss Raelia has ordered us to not give you food and lock you in your room. Please go to your room without resistance, not that I mind using force against you." These exact words were uttered by a spiteful Torez.

My body started trembling in fear after seeing Torez's face. I felt hate and anger overcome me. However, fear soon overtook my rage and I almost fell to the ground when Aaron caught me and shouted, "Miss are you alright?"

Glancing at Aaron's worried expression, I replied, "I am fine. I am just a bit tired. I would be skipping dinner today and retiring to my room early. Let Mariah know and tell her not to disturb me."

"As you command, Miss," Aaron said and escorted me back to my room.

As I lay on my bed, I analysed my current situation.

There is no doubt that I have come back to the past, before my father adopted Raelia. If my memory serves me right soon Raelia will become a part of my family. Even the thought of her makes my blood boil and skin crawl. I cannot stop father from adopting her knowing how stubborn he is but I will definitely avoid my bad end and pay back Raelia for what she did to me. There is another person I have to deal with, Uken. When I will turn 15 he will come to my father to ask for my hand in marriage and due to his status as a Duke my father would not be able to refuse his offer. What do I do? How do I avoid being married to that piece of trash? Well let's think about that later. I should really hit the sack considering I have had a very long and tiring day.

Moments after I closed my eyes, I drifted off to sleep.

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