Predatory Marriage — Chapter 209. Rest
Translator: Atlas / Editor: Regan
All Leah knew of the Cinael family was that it was below most of the noble families of Estia, lacking both power and wealth, and this was common knowledge, nothing specific. She had never had anyone from that family as her lady-in-waiting.
But Baroness Cinael only looked resigned at Leah’s bewilderment, pulling out a handkerchief to dab at the corners of her watery eyes.
“I was told the Princess had lost her memory,” she said. Her voice was steady and determined.
That again. Even a noblewoman of Estia was claiming she lost her memory. And it seemed that the Baroness had foreseen that Leah wouldn’t be easily persuaded. She produced a small envelope.
“I want you to look at this,” she said, holding it out with trembling hands. The old envelope had clearly been carefully handled, with no crumples. Taking it from her, Leah opened it carefully. She felt as if she were opening Pandora’s box. Her eyes widened as she read the document inside.
It was the bill of sale for a small farm. At the bottom was Leah’s signature, and the seal of the royal family of Estia.
It was impossible. Leah read it again, disbelieving. It was inarguable. The signature was her own, and that small farm had certainly been her property.
All of her ladies-in-waiting were from low status families. The salary they received from the royal family was important to them. That was why she had intended to distribute her properties among them, including the small farm on this bill of sale. But apparently she had already given this particular farm away, to a noblewoman she had never seen before, who claimed to have been one of her ladies.
“You gave it to me personally, Princess,” Baroness Cinael said cautiously. “Do you remember?”
Of course she didn’t remember. Hastily, Leah rummaged through her memory, but there was nothing there at all, as if someone had taken scissors to that area of her mind. Her expression stiffened, and Leah’s hand lifted to her head.
“Ah…” Suddenly, she had a headache, and she staggered back with a sound of pain. Ishakan caught her, embracing her as she gasped. The pain throbbed, so excruciating that it was hard to breathe. Cold sweat poured down her forehead.
Something was pounding on a door in the deepest part of her mind, a phantom echo of a sound that knocked against her ears, and then faded. Slowly, the intense pain in her head diminished.
“That’s enough for now.” Ishakan nodded to Baroness Cinael as he hugged the trembling Leah. The Baroness’s eyes were red with tears. “I will pay you for this with gratitude.”
“I will not accept it,” she refused flatly, wiping the corners of her eyes with her handkerchief. She looked at Leah, and Leah forgot her torment for a moment at the sight of the affection in the other woman’s eyes.
“I’m not an ungrateful person,” the Baroness said. “You trusted me when no one else did. That moment is engraved in my heart and I treasure it to this day.”
Her voice trembled as she looked at Leah, her mistress, who was being manipulated so cruelly by the stepbrother and stepmother she hated so much. And now she couldn’t even remember that she hated them.
“If I can help you even a little…” Baroness Cinael whispered. More tears fell. She could not hold them back. “…I would be honored, Princess.”
And she burst into tears. Leah’s heart shuddered as she watched the noblewoman sob, her shoulders shaking. She didn’t even know that woman’s face, which made the intensity of the stranger’s feelings even more shocking.
Eventually, the Baroness departed, and Leah sat in pensive silence. Ishakan said nothing.
“I don’t understand,” Leah finally murmured, distressed. “I don’t understand…what the hell is happening? I don’t understand anything.”
Her mind was in chaos. She felt as if it might explode, and she looked at Ishakan, despairing. She thought he would urge her to remember again, but instead he said the opposite.
“That’s enough for today.” He hugged her tightly. “You need your rest. It seems like you haven’t even been able to sleep properly lately.”
He was right. She had been so hungry lately, she couldn’t sleep. That nap she had had in his arms was the most pleasant rest she had had in a while. But it was easy enough to rest now, and she calmly allowed him to lift her into his arms.