It was a deep night during winter, and everything in sight was frozen.
As the cold winter breeze passed, Adrienne's dark room was suddenly lit by a lone candle from one of the servants. It flickered a few times before going out. The old woman gasped upon seeing her standing outside the balcony wearing nothing but her thin nightdress.
"Madam, you should go to rest." She said, helping Adrienne to return inside.
Adrienne looked at her, allowing her attendant to drag her back inside.
"It doesn't matter." Adrienne said, with a hint of melancholy in her voice. "You should go and rest. I want to sleep now. I'm sorry for keeping you up this late."
The old woman's eyes looked at her with pity. It had been ten years since Adrienne Jiang married their master, but it seemed like several decades had passed, and her madam had lost her beauty and the will to live.
Once Adrienne was on the bed, the old woman withdrew and left but not before giving her one last pitiful look. As she watched the last person who cared for her leave, her lips curled into a slight smile. She had endured this far but failed to save her mother's life.
She wouldn't mind if she perished now and followed her mother in the afterlife. It would be better than being imprisoned in this place, never to see the world again. Her days and nights remained the same, like an endless cycle.
At the tender age of fifteen, her mother was involved in a nasty car accident, putting her in a vegetative state. She was the only one who believed that her mother would wake up one day. A year after her mother fell into a coma; her father remarried after convincing the doctors to declare her mother mentally incapacitated, never able to wake up.
It was only then it was revealed that he'd been keeping a mistress, fathering another daughter the same age as her as a result of their affair. Adrienne felt betrayed and hurt in her mother's stead, seeing her father turn into this horrible character.
She thought her older brother, Cayden, would at least side with her in her decision to keep her mother alive, but he didn't. This left Adrienne baffled by his sudden change. Her new stepmother had her claws so deep in him that her brother had sided with them and defended them against her. She never understood what that vicious mother and daughter had over him, but Adrienne could barely recognize the brother she grew up with.
When she turned eighteen, Adrienne left home and started working part-time while attending school. It had been hard at first, but her newfound freedom had allowed her to see the world beyond luxury and wealth. She learned that being poor gave one very minimal options.
However, leaving the Jiang household didn't mean that she was safe from her stepmother and sister's scheming. No matter where she goes, the pair would always find someone to bribe to make her life miserable. She had almost lost her innocence to someone when Elise set her up.
If Alistair Han didn't appear that day, Adrienne knew she wouldn't have been able to move forward. However, it had also sealed her fate, effectively binding her to him. She never thought the man she'd been having a huge crush on would be interested in her.
At the age of twenty-one, she married her best friend's brother, Alistair Han, not out of love, but out of the need to finance her mother's medical needs. After their marriage, her husband spoiled her rotten with material things and ordered an expert to care for her mother.
It felt like a fairytale being played in front of her. That he was a glimmer of hope in her darkness. She had foolishly thought that this man had come to save her from her miserable life, but who would have thought that she would be no different from a pet being kept unwillingly in a cage?
Alas, Myrtle had once warned her that it would be good for her to distance herself from her older brother. Adrienne thought that the two siblings never got along because of their different mothers, but it wasn't the case at all.
Alistair had kept her against her will, unwilling to leave her unattended or without knowing where she could be. At first, she thought it was endearing that he was starting to care for her, but it was just the start of her misery.
No matter how she begged and bargained with him, it didn't stop Alistair. He went as far as forcing himself on her even when she didn't want to. She had never seen him in the same light again and could only feel disgust and hatred toward him.
Since then, Adrienne had ignored his attempts to reconcile. Her dream was shattered, pulling her back from the harsh reality she'd been trying to escape. Her mother's health had worsened as she frequently had infections, and as much as Adrienne wanted to divorce her husband, she couldn't because her mother's welfare relied on his help.
She shut her eyes, but Adrienne couldn't stop the memories from playing in her mind. In the end, her mother passed away in her sleep, proving that all her efforts had been futile. Now, she was trapped inside this mansion, feeling alone and worthless. She could feel nothing else but resentment and a void in her heart.
Her dream was already thrown to the wind the moment her mother fell into a coma. She couldn't finish her studies because she hurriedly married Alistair despite the disapproval of Myrtle, her best friend. She wondered if things would have turned differently had she declined his proposition.
It didn't take long before Adrienne fell asleep. A single tear rolled down her cheeks, regretting all the wrong decisions, her hate towards those who wronged her continued to intensify. Alas, in the end, she couldn't blame anyone but herself. However, if given a chance to rectify her mistakes, she would take revenge into her own hands.