Predatory Marriage — Chapter 125. Leah Serving Cerdina
Translator: Atlas / Editor: Regan
The tuberoses in the garden of the Princess Palace were in full bloom. The sight of the small white flowers swaying in the wind was pleasant, but Leah only stared at them blankly before she ordered in a flat voice.
“Take them all out. It would be better to plant other flowers.”
She was the one that had asked them to plant tuberoses. Her ladies-in-waiting were perplexed at the whimsical order, but everyone knew the bride’s feelings before her marriage were unstable.
Leah turned at the sound of the voice. It was Byun Gyeongbaek of Oberde. It was earlier than the time they had agreed to meet, but since Leah was not in the palace, he had come to the garden.
For some reason, he fell silent after he called her, and approached slowly as he looked at Leah, who stood in front of the snow-white flower garden. He was acting quite decently, which was rare for him.
“Do you like tuberoses?” he asked.
“…No.” Leah whispered, gazing at the flowers. “I don’t like them.”
Together, they walked around the garden. Byun Gyeongbaek was planning to go to the western frontier that night, and talked to her about a few things, mostly wedding-related matters. He also talked about what kind of wedding dress would look good on her and how the wedding hall should be decorated.
Leah listened silently, nodding occasionally, and he frowned at her expressionlessness.
“At least you could fake a smile,” he said. “You’re so stiff.”
When she forced the corners of her mouth upward, that satisfied him. He took her hand and she did nothing. She didn’t have the will to pull away. She barely noticed the passage of time. She was lost in her thoughts as they walked on, and when it ended and he left, she returned to the Princess Palace. Cerdina was waiting for her.
Sitting on the sofa in the living room, Cerdina was waited on by Countess Melissa, whose eyes were out of focus. Just like the ladies-in-waiting at the Queen’s palace, she moved without expression, like a living puppet.
Leah observed the scene, then approached Cerdina and bowed her head.
“I have met with Byun Gyeongbaek of Oberde,” she said.
“I see.” Cerdina nodded and pointed to the space beside her. Leah sat obediently, emptied the cold tea out of her cup, and then picked up the teapot to pour fresh tea. To Cerdina, this was normal. She no longer wore a mask in front of Leah. She was showing her true nature.
She visited the Princess Palace as frequently as if it were her own, and often called Leah to the Queen’s Palace to serve her. Cerdina seemed pleased with Leah’s performance as a lady-in-waiting.
As the amount of time she spent with Cerdina increased, the amount of food she ate plummeted. Cerdina undressed Leah every day and made her stand in front of a mirror, pointing out every flawed area without missing any detail, to prove that she should adjust her diet.
Today she did the same. Cerdina stood Leah in front of a large mirror to examine her naked body, then brought out a tape measure to confirm that her waist was slightly smaller than before.
“We can’t allow the Flower of Estia to show any flaws, can we?”
“…Yes.” Leah replied. Her eyes were dark and dull. Cerdina stroked her cheek affectionately, as if she were rewarding a pet for its obedience.
“Come here. I’m going to do your hair.”
Taking the wooden comb Countess Melissa gave her, Cerdina began to personally comb Leah’s hair. She gazed at the silvery hair, soft as silk, and stroked it. Leah stood still and looked at Countess Melissa, who stood like a puppet in the corner of the room. She thought her heart was numb, but it tingled again.
“If I behave meekly…”
She opened her mouth to speak to Cerdina.
“Please don’t forget to release them.”
“Of course, Leah. I will release them the day you go to Byun Gyeongbaek’s territory for the wedding. I made a promise under my name,” Cerdina said generously. “And when the time is right, I will bring you back to the royal palace.”