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1474-chapter-145

Though he wasn’t physically restrained, he clenched his teeth and endured while Leon casually wrote.

Such a laughable guy.

Why didn’t he show this determination when protecting that woman? Instead, it seemed he was fighting a belated battle of pride, not wanting to be defeated again by Leon.

‘Death row inmate.’

That was what Leon had etched on Blanchard’s hand with the blood-red ink mixing with his own blood. Closing the cap of the fountain pen and placing it atop the file, he took a long drag of his cigar, searching for a shred of patience before addressing him again.

“Cut the defiance and talk honestly. What’s really the issue here? You think by ending your life, you’re ending mine as well?”

Blanchard glared at Leon with bloodshot eyes.

“Or are you still trying to claim you love that woman?”

“No, I regret ever loving Grace.”

At that defiant retort, his patience finally evaporated. Who was he to declare such things?

He loved Grace. No longer. And now regretted.

The same thoughts echoed hollowly in his mind as the bitter taste from the cigar end permeated his mouth.

Insolent fool, who was he to judge?

Leon set the cigar on the edge of the table, removed and placed his cufflinks on the table, his actions causing Blanchard’s eyes to flicker uneasily. As he rolled up his sleeves neatly past his elbows, the precarious cigar dropped thick ash to the floor, matching Blanchard’s current pallor.

“Jimmy…”

With his sleeves rolled and black leather gloves on, he picked up the cigar again. Taking a deep drag to revive the dimming ember, the tip flared as red as the drying blood on Blanchard’s hand.

“Ever kissed that woman?”

He asked, his eyes curving mockingly as he noted the wariness sharpen in Blanchard’s gaze.

Just that walnut-sized brain would know what happened if he answered honestly. He even took a defensive attitude by pulling back his hands, which he’d bravely kept on the table until then.

“…No.”

“Oh, who’s lying now? That woman said she had.”

Leon taunted, though, of course, she had never said such a thing.

Just like when he had interrogated him about the boat, Blanchard bit his lower lip again, indicating he had indeed kissed that woman.

Those lips, on his woman.

Bang. The moment he stood up, his chair toppled over with a crash.

“Grab his head.”

As the atmosphere turned tense, Blanchard flinched, trying to dodge, though Campbell grabbed him from behind. Leon seized his jaw with one hand, forcing it up so he couldn’t close his mouth.

Uhp! Uuhpp!

Soon, the cigar was crushed against Blanchard’s lips.

Even though Leon had anticipated the answer, he lost his temper. It was like watching a man flounder in the trap he had set for himself.

As the smell of burning flesh spread, Campbell turned away.

Captain Winston was becoming more brutal by the day. In the past, at most, he would have pulled out fingernails—after all, they would grow back. That was the extent of his restraint. But now, he had no qualms about permanently disfiguring prisoners.

And another thing had changed. Campbell fixed his gaze on the Captain’s face. There was no longer any visible delight or pleasure, just sheer precariousness.

He had only hoped to eliminate that woman, never expecting to desperately find her again.

“Why is there no ashtray in your room? Such poor hospitality for guests.”

Haa, uhp, uuhk…”

After the cigar went out, Leon shoved it into Blanchard’s mouth.

Once he let go, the man spat out the crushed tobacco and gagged violently. He then seized another Blanchard’s face, which had lost another intact part, and lifted it up.

“Ugh…”

“James Blanchard Junior.”

As he raised Blanchard’s face to eye level, he turned instantly pale. Blanchard tried to push his hand away, but before he could touch him, Campbell restrained his arms behind his back.

“Don’t you dare mention that woman’s name with your foul mouth again. Do it one more time, and I’ll cut your tongue off.”

He made a snipping gesture with his right hand in front of Blanchard’s eyes.

“Vertically.”

Blanchard’s eyes shook violently.

Leon twisted his lips into a mocking smile and then abruptly let go. After he tidied the sleeve and cufflinks with a leisurely grace, he put on his jacket, appearing as impeccable as when he had entered, while Blanchard watched him with even more terrified eyes than before.

As Leon was about to leave, he paused.

“Ah, it’s the last night of the year. I shouldn’t forget to send my regards. Unlike you, I know a bit about courtesy.”

With a twisted smile, he offered Blanchard a mockingly kind word.

“May next year be even more hopeful than this one, since that futile hope is all you have left.”

As soon as he stepped into the corridor, the smile faded from Leon’s face. Behind him, Campbell’s voice faintly instructed a duty soldier to call the doctor.

Why keep this useless fool alive?

It wasn’t something he didn’t know the reason for. Both the royalty and the military highly valued Blanchard’s capture. The information he possessed was necessary for mopping up remnants and resolving unsolved cases.

The longer Blanchard stayed alive, the more his capture inflated Leon’s personal and familial prestige.

However, in his eyes, all these seemed trivial. If killing this arrogant rat would bring her back, he would disregard all professional and personal considerations without a moment’s hesitation.

“Ha…”

With a sigh, Leon sat alone in the living room of his suite.

No matter how much he closed the windows and drew the thick curtains, the noise of the raucous parties outside seeped through. Even turning on the radio did little to help; the lively music and praises directed at him felt like mockery.

Leon refolded a letter he had finished reading and threw it back into a box on the corner of the coffee table. Next to it was a heap of envelopes, postcards, receipts, and fake IDs he had collected.

Tonight, like every other night, he rummaged through the items he had taken from the woman’s boarding room. Despite having seen these items nauseatingly often over the past week, anxiety gnawed at him that he might have stupidly missed something crucial.

Just like he had missed her.

This time, he carefully read through one of the diaries stacked on the opposite side of the table from the first page, hoping to find any hint of a place she might go or a person she might turn to.

The only useful piece of information he had unearthed so far was that she had an aunt named Florence in the New World. This stubborn woman seemed to have no connections outside the rebels, except for this aunt.

“Ha…”

It felt wrong. He was looking in entirely the wrong direction, wasting precious time on dead ends.

Leon put down the diary, thinking it was just a waste of time. A frustrating sense that his intuition wasn’t guiding him to the right path overwhelmed him.

He should have never taken his eyes off her, not for a moment.

He replayed that day endlessly in his mind. The initial triumph of stepping into the heart of the base had now morphed into deep regret. He buried his face in his hands, and when he closed his eyes, her face floated before him.

She was mocking him.

That d*mned woman, slippery as a rat, always managing to slip through his nets. How many times has this happened now?

However, his resentment soon turned to worry.

Vivid images flickered before his eyes: her sobbing figure on the way to Winsford Station, the lost look standing aimlessly on the platform, and her notably haggard face at Chesterfield Station.

Each image tormented him as if unfolding right in front of him at this moment. It made him think if this were truly happening now, he could have made a different choice. In this cold winter, not just physically alone but emotionally a wreck, where could she be wandering?

The place she should be was right here.

Raising his head, Leon saw the bedroom door wide open. The bed where he should have lain with her was impeccably made, empty, not a crease on the sheets. The champagne remained unopened.

With a sigh that sounded almost like a groan, he got up.

Picking up his officer’s jacket and coat, he stepped out of the suite.

 

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