Predatory Marriage — Chapter 105. Have You Gained Weight? (1)
Translator: Atlas / Editor: Regan
Ishakan just looked at Leah’s flushed face. He always behaved the same way. He could have spoken normally, but he refused to do so unless she asked first. And once again, she had no choice to insist, to make him clarify what he had just said.
“What…what did you mean?” she asked, and then closed her eyes tightly, embarrassed. The question sounded so stupid, she should have expressed herself more elegantly, more gracefully. Her face was so hot she could feel the blood rising to the tips of her ears.
And even after a few moments, Ishakan still did not respond. She opened her eyes slowly to find him staring at her, unblinking, as if he were looking at the most appetizing prey in the land.
“You’re very pretty,” he murmured.
Leah shuddered. If she acted any cuter, he was going to devour her whole, chewing her to the bone. She inhaled deeply and his arms tightened around her, his hands beginning to caress her. He bit her, small bites, occasionally sucking on her sensitive skin, and Leah remained dazed, clutching the cookies in her hand.
There was a faint whistling sound in the distance. Ishakan stopped, frowning. “Now I really have to go,” he sighed. “Don’t be surprised if Morga shows up.”
Leah snapped out of her daze. It was the first time she had heard that name, but she supposed Ishakan must be referring to the long-haired Kurkan man she had seen earlier.
“He can cast spells. He’s pretty good. His personality is a little strange, but…” Ishakan paused. “Anyway, I’m going to go.” He lifted her up and gave her a quick kiss, smiling mischievously. “I’ll be sure to pay you back for your handkerchief. Wait for that moment.”
Leah only had time to blink before he disappeared as quickly as he had appeared. Left behind and dismayed, she sat down on the couch. The cookies in her hand fell to the floor.
After many long moments, a sigh escaped her. It all seemed unreal, as if a huge wave had rushed over her and swept her away. She laid the back of her hand against her cheeks and realized that she was still heated. Leah drew several deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling.
Her mind was filled with strange thoughts. She was trying to contain her heart, but the feelings inside her were roaring louder and louder, churning like a fresh-caught fish, struggling to escape. They were overwhelming. She couldn’t control them. She kept hearing Ishakan’s words.
Suddenly, a voice spoke from outside.
“Princess.” Countess Melissa spoke, and Leah felt as if ice water had been poured over her. Her turmoil subsided. She had to go hawk hunting with Cerdina, and she had forgotten all about it.
The storm that Ishakan had raised in her calmed. Cerdina’s shadow loomed over her, and, feeling as if she were trapped in a nightmare, Leah answered.
“I’m coming out,” she said, stepping out of the tent.
Cerdina had finished her preparations and was already feeding her hawk. The bird dug its claws into her thick gloves as it ate the one piece of meat she offered. Cerdina only gave it one bite because the hawk wouldn’t hunt as effectively if it was full.
Leah pulled on a pair of leather gloves that covered her forearms and opened the cage containing her own falcon. Releasing the rope that bound its leg, she let it fly, and the hunters hurried to follow. The hawk wore a rattle that made it easy to follow.
Though they had begun at the same time, Cerdina’s hawk was already considerably beyond Leah’s. Leah bit her lip as she watched her hawk in the air.
Cerdina looked at Leah and smiled to herself. “Shall we go too?”
Leading the other ladies, Cerdina moved ahead and Leah followed close behind. If they walked slowly enough, the hunters would find the hawks and their prey on their own and return. The forest was filled with the sound of birdsong, despite the cold.
Adjusting the hem of her dress, Leah watched Cerdina intently. Since Cerdina was a Gypsy, could she use sorcery? Leah had heard that very few Gypsies could, but Ishakan wouldn’t have brought a Kurkan capable of casting spells if he hadn’t had good reason. It could make the situation even more complicated, but Leah had managed to overcome most of the challenges so far…
She shifted her attention to the ladies with Cerdina. They were from noble families of high society, and they followed the queen like expressionless shadows.
Leah guessed that Cerdina had not been blessed with a tight circle of friends. The ladies would stay by her side to some extent, but Cerdina must have discovered their weaknesses somehow. Leah had searched tirelessly for a weakness in Cerdina herself, but unfortunately discovered none. The queen must have formidable skills to conceal them so well. But if there was sorcery involved…
Things Leah had wondered about began to click together. The stubborn King of Estia had declined greatly after crowning Cerdina his queen. Was it really old age that clouded his judgment?
Leah was lost in thought when Cerdina stopped walking and turned her gaze on Leah, smiling in the sweetest way…