Predatory Marriage — Chapter 353. Wine (1)
Translator: Atlas / Editor: Regan
That night Leah went to dinner with Lesha. The prince wore a formal suit with a bow at his collar, carried in Baroness Cinael’s arms and telling her all about the delicious lemon sorbet he had eaten the other day. He wanted to eat more.
As Leah walked down the corridor, the sun had already gone down, and dusk had been replaced by darkness. There were many lights in the palace to drive it back, but it seemed that they cast very long shadows.
The sight of those swaying shadows made her heart inexplicably flutter. At that moment, Lesha hopped out of Baroness Cinael’s arms and came to walk beside Leah, looking up at her and smiling.
He was just like his father. Somehow Lesha didn’t even give her a chance to think bad thoughts. Leah walked the rest of the way to the banquet hall with a smile on her face. But as soon as the doors opened, she realized her ominous premonitions had been correct.
In all the large banquet hall, only one person was seated.
“I’ve been expecting you.”
Herod was the only one there, and rose from his chair to greet her. Leah smiled wryly. He had come alone, even though all the emissaries of Balkat had been invited to supper. Since it had been difficult to create an opportunity for a private conversation with her, he had resorted to this.
“Your Highness…” Baroness Cinael said quietly, an unspoken question about what they should do. Leah responded by entering the hall.
She wanted to see how far he would go. She sat down opposite him with a cool smile on her face, and Lesha climbed into the seat beside him. Herod beckoned to an attendant behind them to have their food brought.
Watching him, Leah blinked in surprise. Herod wasn’t wearing his glasses today, and it was strange to see his face without them. But that wasn’t the only unusual thing. In spite of the warm weather, he was wearing a high-necked shirt. Posted only on NovelUtopia
Leah eyed him stealthily. There were faint red marks on his neck.
It almost looked as if someone had tried to strangle him. She glanced again, wondering if she had made some mistake, but Herod turned back to face her, and the marks were hidden again.
“I’m sorry that I came alone,” he said with a smile.
“There’s nothing to be sorry about,” Leah replied, her face expressionless. “I am just curious. I wonder what Balkat is planning, to keep doing things like this. Is it war you want?”
Herod laughed as if she had made a joke.
“Of course not.”
It wasn’t worth bothering to try to ask any more questions; he would only offer more nonsense. The supper began, and for a while, everything went quietly.
Leah was dutifully eating her meal, and Herod was offering casual chatter to make conversation. He even complimented Lesha as the boy tore into his meat.
“The prince is very handsome.”
But his eyes were fixed on Leah, not Lesha.
“I’ve heard that silver hair is a sign of the royal family of Estia,” he said. “The more I see it, the more interesting it becomes.”
His eyes ran over her hair and lingered on her face, and Leah frowned slightly. It was difficult to make eye contact with him, now that his glasses weren’t covering his face, and there was a strange madness in his eyes today. Like a man who had been backed into a corner.
Herod wiped his mouth with a napkin and lifted his hand to beckon the attendant to approach.
“I have brought you a gift, as an apology.”
He added a graceful explanation of the famous Balkat wine, and Leah had heard of it; it was a valuable vintage.
Taking the bottle from the attendant, he personally uncorked it, and poured it, filling a full glass.
Leah accepted the cup when he handed it to her, and Lesha stopped eating, his gaze shifting to the glass.
Gently, she swirled the glass, smelling its aroma. She liked the scent of the wine, but she couldn’t quite bring the glass to her mouth after Ishakan’s warning.
Herod had uncorked the bottle before her. It should be safe to drink. But Leah had absolute faith in her husband’s words.