“Really? Then how about an in-depth analysis article?”
Jerome let out a long sigh and opened his notebook.
“Due to the sudden downfall of the Sinclair family, Grand Duke Aldrich’s family and Baron Chapman’s family are emerging as strong candidates for the exclusive mining rights of the Bria Diamond Mine.”
When the name of the family to which his lover belonged was mentioned, Jerome stopped moving his pen. It was evident that he hesitated, perhaps reluctant to bring unfavorable news to the Grand Lady, but couldn’t refuse and was visibly troubled.
“You should be favorably inclined towards the Grand Duke’s family and the Baron’s family.”
Only then did the pen started moving again.
“Clearly contrast it with the Sinclair family, who got involved in the heinous crime of rebel activities. However, avoid subjective praise and make it appear strictly objective. I trust you know the appropriate line.”
Jerome raised his head, silently questioning why he was given such a difficult task. Leon twisted his lips, once again scratching his brother’s pride.
“If you don’t know, you’re not qualified as an editor.”
Jerome sighed and obediently began to write down his requests.
“The economic journal?”
“And the general one.”
Jerome hesitated, lifting his head.
“The general one?”
It referred to the daily Winford Herald. Although it had the highest circulation, it asked for an in-depth analysis article on the bidding for mining rights in a general newspaper that even those with little interest in economics read.
It was because it would make future media battles easier. This was a tactical move to discreetly plant mines in the opponent’s camp.
“Don’t ask questions, and just do as you’re told. When have I ever asked you to do something harmful for the family?”
Of course, the ultimate goal was inherently selfish, though it was never harmful to the family.
Leon intended to fulfill his duty as a Winston. Regardless of the impulsive decision-making, once he made up his mind, he followed the predetermined procedures confidently, as if he had been waiting for this moment.
The doctor had mentioned that it might take years, but the woman became pregnant in just one month.
This, too, reinforced his confidence. Everything had been falling perfectly into his plan until now. However, it didn’t lighten his heart as much as he had expected, as there was always the variable called that woman.
“By the way, what’s going on?”
Jerome, who was finishing the note to be handed over to the reporter, glanced up and asked him.
“You seem exhausted, like someone who hasn’t slept well.”
Lately, Leon had been hearing such remarks from people he saw every day, from Campbell to Colonel Humphrey.
“Ah, are you trying to play doctor now?”
“I’m just expressing my concern.”
“You’re worried about me? When I die, the family will be yours.”
And, of course, the fiancé.
Jerome made a bored expression and then started examining financial documents. The title on the cover of the report he turned over was prominently written as ‘New Continent Investment Profit Report.’
“It seems the losses in the Columbia Federation have been particularly severe lately.”
He commented while scrutinizing the report.
“It’s just because it’s in the early stages of investment, and profits haven’t shown up yet. Unlike you, I’m not shortsighted.”
The investment that caused such significant losses was actually a ghost company set up by Leon under a pseudonym in the New Continent. In other words, he was involved in money laundering.
Still, Jerome, who had never shown any interest in the family finances, would likely not easily catch on to this.
“So forget about the Columbia side. I’ll take care of that myself.”
Thus, Leon sent a smirk to his younger brother, who was starting to examine financial documents seriously, thinking whether he could really trust him and entrust the family’s wealth to him.
Fool. Think whatever you want.
“Don’t forget the article.”
As soon as he left the room, Leon headed to the annex.
While walking along the neatly paved path, the gardeners, who were raking fallen leaves scattered on the green grass, raised their hats to greet him. He only nodded in response, not bothering to look at them.
Upon entering the annex, instead of going to the underground, he headed to the third floor.
He had moved the woman’s room after she got pregnant. It was the room with the window that the woman had desired so much. Of course, he hadn’t forgotten to install window bars to prevent any possible escape.
It was rather unsightly, but there was no difficulty in enjoying the view outside the window. However, he had never seen the woman sitting by the window enjoying the autumn scenery.
As soon as he opened the bedroom door, he heard the sound of vomiting. Leon sighed as he entered the bathroom, seeing a scene almost identical to an hour ago.
The woman sat on the bathroom floor, hunched over the toilet, repeatedly retching.
A maid, who had been standing behind her, gathering her dark brown hair in her hands, hesitated when their eyes met. Only an hour had passed since he had washed the woman, who was in the same state, and put her to bed.
In his brief absence, she had returned to square one.
The woman seemed to be catching her breath before vomiting again. Despite having nothing in her stomach, the endless retching showed no sign of stopping.
As he stepped into the bathroom, the woman collapsed weakly onto the rug, and he took her from the maid and gathered her in his arms. The woman’s partially covered blue eyes lacked focus. Her face was a mess, wet with tears and vomit.
He had witnessed this distressing sight several times a day for the past month.
As Leon gave his familiar order, the maid silently got up and headed towards the sink.
As he undid the buttons of her wet pajamas, he turned his head at the sound of his name. As she pressed her dry lips, her voice was barely audible.
When he leaned in to listen, she whispered in her exhausted voice.
“Is this your new torture technique?”
Leon couldn’t find words to respond. He changed her into new pajamas and seated her on the bed before offering her warm mint tea with plenty of sugar. She managed to take a few sips but couldn’t bring herself to eat the biscuits.
Now, as the maid, who was now proficient at the job, skillfully tended to the woman, he sat on the edge of the bed, wrestling with his thoughts.
She was too light.
The woman he had just picked up earlier was excessively light.
Normally, when one relaxed and slumped like a lifeless body, the body became heavier. However, the woman felt unnaturally light.
This thought had been haunting him for a month now, and as the days passed, the woman seemed to be getting even more fragile. It wasn’t just because she started a hunger strike after confirming her pregnancy, as that had only lasted less than a week.
In the first few days of her morning sickness, he had called the doctor every day. Regardless, even the doctor had no sharp solutions.
“Is it always like this when you have a child?”
Leon had asked, and the doctor nodded his head. There were particular pregnant women who experienced such severe morning sickness.
Of all people, it had to be this woman.
“Still, once the initial phase passes, morning sickness naturally disappears, so don’t worry too much. It’s actually a sign that the baby inside is healthy.”
Was that really the case?
The baby was healthy, but the mother was fading away… the means defeated the purpose, and he was not willing to accept it. Meanwhile, the doctor left him with a thick book on pregnancy and childbirth that had been abandoned on the bedside table for weeks.
Did he look like someone interested in such things?
It was ironic. It was amusing to think of him as a person with enough leisure to read such a book.
As the woman lay on the bed, huddled, Leon signaled to the maid standing by, covering her with a thick blanket. The maid, understanding his instructions, closed all the windows open for ventilation.
Seeing her standing by the bed again, waiting for instructions, Leon gestured towards the door this time.
Without a word, the middle-aged woman left the room. The maid wasn’t silent because she didn’t speak, she just couldn’t.
When the need for someone to look after the woman arose, Leon obtained a maid who couldn’t speak, read, or write through the chief maid. At the same time, all military personnel were removed from the annex. Now, private security guards were responsible for guarding this place.
The primary goal had shifted from preventing the woman’s escape to securing the mansion from internal and external threats.
The woman had no power to escape now.
Leon, looking down at the woman whose eyes were closed as if she were dead, reached out his hand. Seeing that she didn’t resist when he touched her belly, it seemed she had fallen asleep. Perhaps she didn’t even have the energy to resist now.
Was the child inside the most effective shackle?
Now, she couldn’t escape even if she wanted to. Leon wanted to break this woman. Despite all his efforts, the child had accomplished it so easily.
To torment the mother from inside the womb.
It was truly his child.