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1 Matilda Yap/Lady Presco

 [SECOND LIFE]

The second life I remember was where I was born as Matilda Sandrine Yap, a modern woman on Earth.

I was an heiress for a huge Asian conglomerate and I was married to a business tycoon. But it was an arranged marriage and for me, it was something similar to a "business contract" only. Plus, my husband was gay. He just used me to cover-up his sexuality.

Knowing that, I still married him. I wanted a child so bad. But because of my husband's sexuality, we never slept together. We just opted for artificial insemination. It was successful and I got pregnant. I thought I would finally be a mother again.

But when I was only three months pregnant, the plane I was riding crashed and I died.

When I "woke up", I was back to the first life I still clearly remember.

***

[FIRST LIFE]

Before I became Matilda Sandrine Yap, I was born as Matilda Prescott- the only daughter of Duke Maverick Prescott. We were one of the few higher nobles of Moonchester Empire.

As Lady Prescott, I was snobbish and ambitious. In my first life, I wanted to be the empress. But from the very beginning, it was already impossible.

The Moonchester Empire had a strict tradition. The royal family married only within themselves. That meant that the current emperor, His Majesty Aku Moonchester was engaged to Her Royal Highness Nia Moonchester- his very own twin sister. According to their beliefs, marriage within the royal family would keep their bloodline "pure."

As if giving up on my dream to be an empress wasn't bad enough, my father had to choose Kiho as my fiancé. He wasn't a noble so he didn't have a family name. Worse, he was feared in the empire as the Captain of the Black Serpent Knights.

Kiho was dubbed as the emperor's "shadow beast." Rumors said that the Black Serpent Knights, led by their ruthless captain, did "dirty jobs" for His Majesty. That included countless of killings, of course.

But despite Kiho's bad reputation, I still followed my father's wish and married the captain.

I did that to gain the emperor's favor. The High Priest that His Majesty trusted said that Kiho's child would be a special existence to the empire. But the problem was it would be hard for an ordinary woman to carry the "Serpent's child" in her womb. Fortunately, the High Priest saw a prophecy about a "dark-haired" woman that would be able to give birth to Kiho's son.

I possessed the darkest hair among the noblewomen in the empire. And thus, my father who was a part of the Royal Faction, arranged my marriage with the captain.

In hopes of gaining the emperor's favor, I married Kiho.

***

A year after my dull and loveless marriage with Captain Kiho, I gave birth to our son that he named 'Winter.' But Kiho was almost never home because he was always in a never-ending war to protect the emperor.

In short, I was the one who raised Winter by myself. The moment I noticed the emperor's interest in my son, I vowed to myself that I would "create" a perfect child- a child that would be more than enough to be the emperor's heir. If I couldn't be an empress, then being the future emperor's mother didn't sound bad.

For the sake of my renewed ambition, I decided to make my son sit on the throne.

To support Winter, I betrayed the trust of Princess Nia, the emperor's twin sister-slash-fiancée and exposed her secret to the public. After the scandal, the royal princess was exiled from the palace. His Majesty begged the higher nobles to spare Princess Nia's life.

During that time, I had become the voice of the Royal Faction. In exchange of the princess' life, I asked His Majesty to choose an heir. Of course, none of the noble kids was deserving enough for the position other than my very own Winter.

That was how my son became the emperor's heir.

Back then, I was too happy that I didn't notice that I was creating a monster.

Winter wanted to be a good son but he couldn't help developing hatred towards me, his own mother, for his cruel upbringing. As a result of the internal conflict, my son developed a split personality caused by stress. In front of me, he was dutiful. But when no one was looking, he would turn into a vicious criminal. Sadly, it all happened when he was only twelve years old.

But eventually, Winter would be saved by another woman.

***

Lucina Morganna was a lower noble with a beautiful face and long black hair. The first time she appeared in the Royal Capital, she created a fuss. In the empire, it was very rare to have dark hair, much more a black one. Other nobles who hated me for my arrogance claimed that Lucina Morganna was the true woman in the prophecy.

They weren't wrong though.

When Kiho met Lucina, he fell in love with her at first sight. After they confirmed their feelings for each other, he asked me for a divorce. I thought I didn't need him anymore since Winter had already become the emperor's heir, so I gave my husband the freedom that he wanted. But of course, I divorced him on a condition that Winter's custody remained mine.

Our son promised that I would be his one and only mother. But since he needed the best training to be the future emperor, I let him stay at his father's mansion- with his new wife.

It was the biggest mistake I made in my first life.

Winter was soon won over by Lucina Morganna. She "fixed" my son and made him realize how terrible of a mother I was by becoming a good stepmother to him. In the end, my own son stopped listening to me. When Winter disowned me, I lost my power and influence in the social circle. I also became a laughingstock for the nobles.

I blamed my misfortune to Lucina Morganna and made several attempts to kill her. I even begged Kiho to take me back. But in the end, Kiho and Winter discovered my crimes.

The emperor- still holding a grudge against me after I wronged Princess Nia- sentenced me to death by public execution. During my last moments, before my head rolled off the ground, I looked at my family one last time.

Kiho and Winter didn't look sad at all. They only looked relieved. It seemed like Lucina Morganna had taken good care of my ex-husband and son- the job I failed to do so.

The very moment before I lost my first life, I felt regretful.

I wondered how my life would have turned out had I become a good wife to Kiho and a good mother to Winter? Would we have become a happy family? Maybe, maybe not.

***

While living as Matilda Sandrine Yap (my second life), my memories as Lady Matilda Prescott (my first life) had stayed with me vividly. I didn't want to be sad and lonely like her so I promised myself that I would build a family of my own.

But in my second life, I never met a good man. Maybe it was my bad karma for the crimes I committed as Lady Prescott. But I didn't give up on having a child. That was why I married a gay man. I thought having a child would finally make me happy.

I guess my sins in my first life were too heavy for me to have a peaceful life.

Because for some reason, when I "woke up" after I died as Matilda Sandrine Yap, I have returned to my previous life as Lady Matilda Prescott.

***

[PRESENT LIFE]

"Why am I back as Lady Prescott?" I asked in frustration while looking at my reflection on the mirror.

I woke up in my old room in House Prescott. If I'm still living with my father, that only means that I'm not yet married to Kiho. I'm not even sure if I have already met him in this timeline.

Honestly, I'm still in shock. Is this a form of punishment from the heavens? Well, I can only be sure of one thing.

"Winter, I'll be a good mother to you this time," I whispered to myself while placing a hand on my tummy. "But before we meet, I'll be a good partner to your father first."

I don't have any intention of stealing Kiho from Lucina Morganna. But I want to meet Winter again and for that to happen, I need to marry the captain first. Or should I just let him get me pregnant without marriage, then run away from him with my baby?

Just how should I change my life this time?!