Predatory Marriage — Chapter 121. Hopeful Thoughts
Translator: Atlas / Editor: Regan
Cerdina was speechless. Her eyes trembled, haggard from being up for days, and she had to force the corners of her mouth to lift. Her bloodshot eyes made her smile look strange. Her fingers were stained and sticky with grass clippings as she caressed Blain’s face slowly. But the words that fell from her trembling lips were cunning.
“Impossible, Blain. Love is not as dark as the emotion you feel.”
“You’re not in love. You just want to possess her.”
Blain looked at his mother in silence. Cerdina had said the same thing, the first time he told her he loved Leah.
“I told you. When you become King, and then Emperor, you will have the continent under your feet. There will be many such women…”
Blain’s dry lips moved slowly.
“If I don’t do what you want, will you cast a spell on me too?”
The scream rang through the bedroom and Cerdina looked at his bandaged wrist, panting with agitation. Instead of screaming again, she leaned over to hug him.
“Don’t be so cruel to your mother. I’m doing everything for your sake.”
Her slender fingers stroked his silver hair.
“We’re almost done, right? Just a little bit left. If you wish, I’ll let you have her heart, too. But then you’ll understand. That’s no big thing…”
Her whispering voice was filled with inordinate affection. No matter what foolish thing Blain wanted, she always accepted it. It was always the same. She wanted her son to have the best of everything.
Blain smiled shallowly. It seemed to him that he didn’t act any different from anyone else, even though he wasn’t under any spell.
“Then I’ll know when I have it,” he said to Cerdina, who watched him unblinking. “Please give me Leah’s heart. As long as I can have it…I’ll do whatever you want, mother.”
As expected, she had fainted again. Well, not fainted, but fallen asleep.
Or so Leah believed.
When she opened her eyes, she found herself lying in the bed in the Princess Palace with dim light filtering through the window. It was dawn.
She looked around and found that the bedding that had been all but torn apart during their intense lovemaking had been tidied up and the whole room straightened, as if what had happened the night before had been an illusion.
An inexplicable emptiness filled her heart. Leah bit her lower lip, but when she turned she found a small note on the nightstand beside her bed, written in rough lettering on a torn scrap of paper.
[Will you come with me to the desert?]
Ishkan still had bad calligraphy, but it seemed a bit better than before. Was he practicing? She couldn’t help laughing when she imagined Ishakan with a quill in his large hands, writing on that small piece of paper.
Leah hugged the note and threw herself back on the bed. It wasn’t appropriate behavior for a princess, but no one was watching.
She read the note a few more times, then placed it back on her chest.
Oddly it made her think of the intense headache she had the night before. She had headaches frequently, but last night was the first time she had experienced so much pain. Apparently she had reached her limit, but strangely her head felt clearer afterward.
And usually her body felt heavy when she woke up in the morning. She suffered from chronic migraines, and lived in dark, depressive clouds that seemed to permeate to the bottom of her heart.
But now everything was as clear as a sunny day. She thought she could do anything, and for once hopeful thoughts were welling up unstoppably. Her mind was as clear as spring water.
Wouldn’t it be good to go to the desert with Ishakan?
Everything was ruined anyway. The negotiations and tax reforms wouldn’t take place. It was better to look to the future than give up her life. Perhaps this was even the path she should follow for the sake of Estia. Even if she had to give up her reputation to protect her country, she would still be fulfilling her duties as Princess.
So many thoughts were coming that she couldn’t have contemplated before. If she really became the Queen of Kurkan, she could persuade them not to invade Estia. She could resume negotiations, or try to make some trade between the two countries.
And…she could be with Ishakan.
Immediately, her heart began palpitating as if it would explode. Her body shook with the intensity of the emotions. She couldn’t control it. She paced around the room, unable to be still as her imagination raced on.
In the desert, she would be free. She could be Leah, not the Princess of Estia. She could eat what she wanted, she wouldn’t have to see her step-brother’s face, she wouldn’t have to endure her stepmother’s vigilance.
Leah had to lie down on the floor. Imagining a life without all these bonds and restrictions made her so excited, she felt too warm. Lying with her bare skin against the cold marble floor, she drew deep breaths, calming herself.
There was still time left. She had to think about this decision carefully.
But Leah knew her heart was leaning one way.