Predatory Marriage — Chapter 346. True Identity (2)
Translator: Atlas / Editor: Regan
Today, Estia had received the emissaries from Balkat in a perfunctory manner. That less than cordial reception must have hurt Balkat’s pride. But it was still surprising that the king had come to visit her before the banquet. It made Leah feel anxious.
For a moment, she stood thinking, gripping one of the quills Ishakan had sharpened for her. Perhaps the king had come with an interesting proposal. Something he could not say publicly.
The King of Balkat is targeting you…
Ishakan’s warning flashed through her mind, and she set her quill down. She could use this opportunity to find out if the King of Balkat had really come to Estia for such a purpose. She could agree to see him, and send him away immediately if he said something foolish.
The man rose courteously from his couch as she entered the audience room, and both of them froze.
The man was as surprised as she was, agitation reflected in both their faces. But after a moment, both of them smoothed the emotion away without taking their eyes from each other.
“Let the light shine on Estia,” the man said, his voice slightly strained. “I am Herod of Balkat.”
The man she had met in the bookshop was the King of Balkat. It was such an unbelievable circumstance that it was almost impossible to think it a coincidence. Perhaps he had planned it.
Leah’s expression stiffened as she remembered again what Ishakan had told her.
“Why did you request an audience, King of Balkat?” She asked, speaking formally to make it clear she did not want to acknowledge any personal relationship. “Is there a problem?”
The question only left him room to offer a specific complaint, or leave. Herod understood her intentions, but had no intention of complying. He let out a short laugh.
“I never thought I’d run into you like this again,” he said cheerfully, giving her an admiring glance that took in every detail of her appearance. “Your hair and eyes…they suit you so much better this way.”
Leah’s eyes narrowed. It irked her that he was pretending it had been a chance encounter. And he was pretending not to notice her clear desire to ignore it.
“I have just remembered an urgent matter, so I must take my leave,” she said. “The palace gardens are quite beautiful. You may enjoy a stroll there, if you are idle.”
She departed the audience chamber before he could respond further, and Baroness Cinael, who had been waiting for Leah outside the chamber, quickly moved to follow her. A voice called behind her as she moved away.
Leah sighed, frowning. Beckoning, she ordered Baroness Cinael away for a moment, and when her lady had departed, Herod walked quickly to overtake her.
“Please allow me to explain…” he began.
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“Your Highness, this is a misunderstanding,” he said, moving closer. Leah moved a step back.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said coolly.
“Our meeting at the bookstore was a coincidence. Trust me.”
He expected her to agree. But Leah didn’t want to believe him.
And nothing would change even if it was a coincidence. The bruises he had left on her arms had wounded Ishakan’s heart, and hurt Mura even worse. For the sake of her loved ones, Leah didn’t want to get anywhere near him. Posted only on NovelUtopia
Besides, the look in his eyes made her feel uncomfortable. It reminded her of how she used to feel in front of Blain, or Byun Gyeongbaek.
Goosebumps prickled on her skin as soon as she thought it. Memories she wanted to forget stabbed at her heart. She didn’t want to stay with him a second longer. It looked like Herod had more he wanted to say, but Leah offered him only a perfunctory farewell.
“See you at the banquet,” she said, and disappeared.
Leaving Herod alone again. Just like the last time.
“…you’re difficult,” Herod murmured, his face expressionless.
But a slow smile soon spread.
“It’s more fun that way,” he whispered.