Chapter 20 – Achilles’ Heel (2)
Leah’s eyes slightly widened in surprise, but she remained passive in her stand. Secretly, she balled her free hand buried in the folds of her skirt into a tight fist.
The teeth scraping her skin seemed to remind her of the night they shared. Having enough of it, she retracted her hand, but Ishakan immediately grasped it tighter and eventually removed his lips.
Many eyes watched them, yet this didn’t stop him from doing such a valiant greeting! The expression “bold” was not even enough to describe his act.
What’s more, his serene and confident face remained, and his smile had not once faltered. It was only the princess who looked flustered—the red tingle on her cheeks being a clear indication.
Soon, Ishakan released her hand from his grasp and, as if scalded, Leah cradled it with her other hand. The sun in broad daylight was bright, and the chandeliers in the hall looked dazzling, even glinting so vibrantly.
But Leah’s heart was shrouded in darkness. Suffocated, it felt like she was drowning in quicksand.
Finally, the welcome banquet came to an end. Leah immediately stood up from her seat and as if a demon was hot on her trail, departed the hall. In haste, she wasn’t able to bid her proper farewell to the nobles, but she didn’t care.
Donning a petulant air, she walked without pause, just wanting to go back to her chamber right away, lock all the doors, hide herself underneath her blankets. A strong instinctive desire to flee to a safe place was the only comprehensible thing in her mind at this moment.
Her maids quickly tailed after her. Confused faces behind her, yet Leah kept her silence.
After confining herself straight in her bedroom, she stayed up all night. She wanted to sleep, but somehow, she couldn’t. Thoughts of the man stirred chaos in her head.
The night they spent together, the stories they shared, and the passionate heat—all of these haunted her.
Tossing, turning, and rolling in her bed all night long, she barely slept a wink that night.
Upon popping her eyes open the next day, she woke up a disaster. Dark circles were visible though the thick of her skin, thus, which she concealed by putting on powder.
Then, she headed off to her work.
And boy, she had heaps of work to do.
While the peace treaty agreement was being established, the Kurkans decided to stay in the Royal Palace of Estia. After the banquet, the two sides would hopefully arrive to a full-scale agreement.
By now, the King of Kurkan had already realized that Estia’s old king was no match for him. There was no doubt in this, Leah thought dismissively.
The treaty was the last thing on her mind right now—the upcoming welcome banquet for the Kurkans holding the utmost urgency. Just the thought of running into all sorts of people, including Byun Gyongbaek at the conference, made her head spin.
Prospects of the planned treaty would be kept at bay during the banquet as the Kurkans would have to mingle with Byun Gyongbaek—an atrocious person who bears malice against their kind. Hence, talks of the treaty might raise a dispute.
The quill set aside, Leah signed the last document on her table. She scowled as a sharp headache hit her hard, making it hard to focus on her work.
She stood up to clear her head. Otherwise, she would commit mistakes, which would guarantee irreversible misfortunes.
“I’ll head out to breathe some fresh air,” she called out.
Countess Melissa, who had been assisting her, drew a worried look. It had been a while since Leah had used those words. This news was taking its toll on the princess.
Leah went out for a walk with her maids, only after assuring Melissa that she felt nothing but fine.
She walked along the corridor beside the courtyard and breathed in the dewy scent of grasses, which soon soothed her nerves.
Leah took a long look at the garden.
Amidst the ornamental plants, there was a field of tuberose. This plant’s white flower buds that formed in clusters looked adorable. A little more time and they would be in full bloom.
But first, these flowers needed extra pampering. Leah was about to tell the gardener to tend to the tuberose when her gaze caught a familiar figure in the distance.
Upon realizing who it was, she instantly froze. The air snatched from her lungs.
He was there.
Under the specks of sunlight peeping through the voids of the leaves, Ishakan was leaning against a tree, idly smoking.
It was known that Kurkans like to smoke tobacco, but their cigarettes were different from those of the continent. The hazy fog that disperses from the smoke was quite unique. The cool yet subtly sweet scent, filling her nostrils, suited him.
Immediately, her maids started whispering from behind.
“Is he the King of the Kurkans?”
“Oh my god. Is he real? His looks!”
“But isn’t he too fierce? I’m scared of him.”
Countess Melissa approached Leah and said, “Princess, what should we do?”
They have to leave this place right at this moment. Because her relationship with the man is not formally known. But even if she already knows that, she paused, and looked at Ishakan.
He was looking down on his feet when he heard the maids giggling from afar. Hence, he slowly lifted his weary eyes—revealing his hawk-like, golden orbs.
Instantly, their eyes met—but was cut short when Ishakan veered his gaze from her.
He took a small pack of cigarette out of his chest and discarded up the leaf tobacco he smoked. While he busied himself, Leah strode deeper into the shady part of the corridor where she formerly stood. All the while, keenly watching the man’s moves.
A few steps taken, and he was out of her sight. Leah turned her back, intent on leaving him to his peace.
“Stop right there.”
She was leading the maids out of the corridor when suddenly, large hands grabbed her arms.
Leah shrieked and stumbled as he pulled her arm, making her hit his solid chest. She hastily looked up, and their eyes locked in an instant.
“Where are you headed to, Princess?” he said in a low, malicious tone.
In this position, the warmth from his body surrounded her. His soft whisper intensely stirred her up.
“I’m sure you have something to say.”