Wife Doting Addiction：My Abducted Tsundere Husband - Chapter 80
The man with the gold tooth watched with interest.
Ji Yuxian elegantly sipped his drink, seemingly oblivious to the battle raging beside him.
Xiao Lie and Su Jiu were only there for the meal.
Su Jiu thought that the dishes were quite tasty and focused on eating.
Xiao Lie concentrated on passing food to Su Jiu.
Only Ruhua was nervous.
She smiled brightly and said, “You must be joking, Young Master.
There are uncountable beauties in your manor.
How could a plain girl like me catch your eye? Please don’t joke about me so, Young Master.
” Ji Yuxian glanced at the two sitting opposite him.
He raised his teacup to his lips and flashed a smile as bright as the springtime sun and beautiful as freshly bloomed flowers.
The nervous atmosphere immediately disappeared.
“If Young Master Liang likes Ruhua, then I’ll part with her to aid in your quest for love!” Ji Yuxian exclaimed.
Then, he turned to Ruhua and said with a smile, “I am not nearly as infatuated with you as Young Master Liang is.
Miss Ruhua, why don’t you go to him?” Ruhua’s face paled.
She stammered, “Young Master…” Liang Zhao leaned back lazily in his chair.
He chuckled and replied, “I was only joking with Miss Ruhua.
They say that a gentleman should not covet another man’s beloved.
You and I are quite close.
How could I steal your woman away?” Ruhua was just about to breathe a sigh of relief when Ji Yuxian answered Liang Zhao with a smile, “She’s just a woman.
If you like her, then I should let you have her.
She’s not worth arguing over! Ruhua, be obedient! Go serve Young Master Liang.
” The last phrase, though spoken gently, conveyed an unmistakable coldness.
She gazed teary-eyed at Ji Yuxian.
Finally, she had the opportunity to be with him.
How could she give him up already? “I’m yours now, Young Master.
As such, I should stay by your side.
“If you’re mine, then you should listen to me.
Go!” Ji Yuxian’s eyes were stony.
Ruhua was in disbelief.
She’d never thought that Ji Yuxian, the famous womanizer, could be so hard-hearted toward her.
Unwillingly, she stood up and strolled over to Liang Zhao and sat down beside him.
Liang Zhao draped his arm around Ruhua’s shoulders and raised his glass to Ji Yuxian.
“I thank you for your generosity, Eldest Young Master!” “You’re much too polite.
” Continue reading on MYB0XN0 V E L.
COM Liang Zhao gulped a mouthful of wine, lowered his head, then fed some to Ruhua.
She choked and turned red.
Liang Zhao laughed merrily and continued speaking.
“I invited you here to ask for a favor, but now I’ve taken your woman! How very rude of me!” “Oh? Is there something in Shengjing City that you can’t do by yourself?” Ji Yuxian asked casually.
Liang Zhao refilled Xiao Lie’s wine glass.
He was just about to pour Su Jiu another when Xiao Lie suddenly blocked his hand.
“We can take care of ourselves,” he said.
“Young Master Liang, you should focus on tending to your guests.
” “Indeed!” Liang Zhao respectfully put the wine jug back down.
Ji Yuxian looked at Xiao Lie’s cold, noble face, and his eyes narrowed slightly.
Liang Zhao turned back to Ji Yuxian and smiled.
“Eldest Young Master, surely you know Shopkeeper Qu,” he said.
“Soon, a new Head of the Merchant Organization will be elected, and Shopkeeper Qu hopes to win the position.
I hope you can say a few words on his behalf.
” “Yes, yes! Please, Eldest Young Master, if only you could say a few words about me to the Merchant Organization,” cried the man with the gold tooth, Shopkeeper Qu.
With a grin, Shopkeeper Qu refilled Ji Yuxian’s wine glass.
Ji Yuxian leaned back in his chair.
He picked up a handkerchief and dabbed the drops of wine from the corners of his mouth.
He smiled and said, “Young Master Liang and Shopkeeper Qu are poking fun at me.
The Merchant Organization doesn’t belong to the Ji Family.
How can a few words from me dictate who the next Head will be? If I could command the Merchant Organization, wouldn’t I make myself the Head?” “You’re too modest, Eldest Young Master.
Everybody knows that the position is worth nothing to you and Ji Manor.
If you wanted it, nobody else would stand a chance!” the gold-toothed man replied respectfully.
“The Ji and Zhu families of Shengjing City never run for Head of the Merchant Organization.
Everybody knows that.
Eldest Young Master, you also know that Shopkeeper Qu is my seventeenth concubine’s father, making him my father-in-law.
I beg you for help,” Liang Zhao said.
When she heard this, Su Jiu nearly choked on a piece of beef.
She leaned in closer to Xiao Lie and whispered, “How many concubines does Young Master Liang have?” Xiao Lie reached out his hand to wipe the sauce from the corners of Su Jiu’s mouth.
“Nineteen,” he answered.
Liang Zhao also had a few male concubines in his house.
Su Jiu inhaled sharply.
She looked at Liang Zhao with increased respect.
“He must be quite wealthy!” In her eyes, the more concubines a man had, the wealthier he was.
Xiao Lie chuckled as he placed a piece of Su Jiu’s favorite beef dish on her plate.
“Ignore them,” He said gently.
“Focus on eating.
When you’re done, we’ll go!” It’s impolite not to return a kindness, Su Jiu thought to herself.
She placed a piece of fish on Xiao Lie’s plate.
“This is quite tasty.
You must eat too!” As Ji Yuxian watched the two sitting across from him, the smile in his eyes disappeared.
He turned to Liang Zhao and said, “Since Young Master Liang has asked for this favor, then I’ll speak with the Merchant Organization.
But I can’t control whether or not they’ll take my words seriously.
” Liang Zhao and the gold-toothed man laughed.
They quickly refilled Ji Yuxian’s wine glass.
“Regardless of how things turn out, as long as Eldest Young Master can say a few words on my behalf, I’ll be grateful!” “Cheers!” said Ji Yuxian, sipping his wine.
After everything had been discussed, the gold-toothed man was finally in the mood to eat and drink.
He looked at Su Jiu and Xiao Lie.
His eyes brightened.
What handsome men! Especially the young one in black.
Judging from the way he held himself, he was undoubtedly a nobleman.
The gold-toothed man grinned.
“Young Master Liang, I don’t believe you’ve introduced us.
These two are?” Liang Zhao knew that Xiao Lie was not interested in becoming acquainted with the others, so he hadn’t introduced them.
But now that he’d been asked, Liang Zhao stood up and said, “This is Young Master Xiao.
And this is Su Jiu, Young Master Su.
” Xiao Lie’s expression remained cool.
Su Jiu raised her wine glass and smiled at the gold-toothed man.
“Delighted to make your acquaintance!” The gold-toothed man quickly raised his glass.
He looked curiously at Su Jiu.
“Su Jiu? Can it be…you’re the ‘Ninth Master Su’ who owns Qingyuan Tavern?” Ji Yuxian looked up abruptly.
Ninth Master Su? Is she the “Ninth Master Su” the housekeeper told him about? How can that be? He’d thought Su Jiu had only dressed in men’s attire for the day, but it seemed like that wasn’t the case.
Whenever his wife went out early in the morning and returned late at night, she must have been managing the tavern.
Liang Zhao smiled.
“Shopkeeper Qu, do you know Young Master Su?” “I’ve never met him before, but I’ve heard his name.
And now, we’ve finally been introduced! A talented young man, indeed! Ninth Master Su, a toast to you! May our businesses look out for one another in the future!” Shopkeeper Qu said humbly.
Su Jiu was new in Shengjing City.
How would she be able to “look out” for Shopkeeper Qu, an experienced and wealthy Shengjing merchant? He was just polite.
Su Jiu intuitively understood this.
She laughed merrily and said, “You’re too polite, Shopkeeper Qu.
But I should ask you to look out for me in the future!” “Of course! Young Master Su is a friend of Young Master Liang’s, and, therefore, a friend of mine! In the future, we’ll support each other!” After another three rounds of drinks, Su Jiu suddenly started remembering that Ah Shu and Chang Huang were still waiting for her.
She stood up to leave.
“Where are you going?” Xiao Lie grabbed Su Jiu’s wrist.
“To pee!” Su Jiu lied, making an excuse.
Xiao Lie glared at her and said in a low voice, “I know a physician who specializes in frequent urination.
Shall I introduce him to you?” She did need to go to the restroom often.
Sometimes, Xiao Lie suspected that she needed to see a physician.
Though he was joking, he also worried that somebody would lure her to the men’s restroom.
He stood up and said, “I’ll go with you!” Ji Yuxian looked at them with a smile.
“The Young Masters are so close that they go to the restroom together?” Su Jiu didn’t dare look at Ji Yuxian’s face.
She pushed away Xiao Lie’s hand and briskly walked away.
“I’ll be right back!” She opened the door and went out.
Liang Zhao stood up and said, “Please sit, Young Master Xiao.
Young Master Su isn’t a child.
He’ll find the restroom himself.
” Xiao Lie subtly avoided Liang Zhao’s hand and lazily slumped down on a wooden chair with floral carvings.
His lips curved into what seemed like a smile but wasn’t.
“Su Jiu is new to Shengjing City.
Many things remain unfamiliar to him.
It’s only natural that I worry about him.
” “Don’t worry, Young Master Xiao.
Your friend is my friend.
From now on, I’ll look out for Su Jiu.
” Xiao Lie’s calm tone remained indifferent.
“No need to trouble yourself.
I can take care of my friends.
” Liang Zhao detected Xiao Lie’s protective attitude toward Su Jiu.
He nodded his head, saying, “Yes, yes! Don’t worry, Young Master Xiao.
I wouldn’t dare touch anyone who belongs to you!” Xiao Lie’s face showed very little emotion.
He sipped his tea quietly.
Liang Zhao turned the conversation to a new topic and began flirting with Ruhua, who was still in his arms.
Ji Yuxian gently tapped the white jade wine jug with his finger.
His downcast eyes revealed that he was deep in thought.
That Young Master Xiao…Liang Zhao is so polite in front of him.
He even refuses to refer to himself as “Young Master Liang.
” Still, the identity of this “Young Master Xiao” is quite clear.
But what about his wife? Does she know who “Young Master Xiao” is? Su Jiu returned to the private room and saw Ah Shu laughing and playing games with the girls, Taohong and Furong.
Chang Huan had disappeared.
Ah Shu was drunk.
He lifted his head when he saw Su Jiu return and grinned.
“Chief, where did you go for so long?” Su Jiu reached out and wrestled the wine glass from Ah Shu’s hand.
“Where’s Chang Huan?” she asked.
“Chang Huan?” Ah Shu started, looking around, then slapped his forehead.
“Chang Huan went to look for you!” The moment he said it, the door creaked open, and Chang Huan walked in.
He brightened when he saw Su Jiu.
“Chief, you’re back!” “Yes.
I met a few friends and had some drinks with them.
I have to go back in a moment.
Ah Shu has had too much to drink.
Take him back to the restaurant to clear his head, then return to Ji Manor,” Su Jiu ordered calmly.
Then how will you get back, Chief?” Chang Huan asked.
“Don’t worry about me! Ji Yuxian is at the Drunken Joy Pavilion right now.
He can’t see Ah Shu like this! Hurry; go!” Ji Yuxian was probably already suspicious.
“Yes!” Chang Huan immediately pulled Ah Shu’s arm over his shoulders and hoisted him up.
He walked out quickly, supporting Ah Shu.
“Fu’er! Hong’er! I’ll come visit you again!” Ah Shu may have been stumbling, but he didn’t forget to say goodbye to the two girls.
“Yes! Have a safe journey home.
We’ll wait for you to come again!” responded the girls warmly.
After watching Chang Huan and Ah Shu go down the stairs, Su Jiu rewarded the girls with some silver pieces.
Then, she went back to find Xiao Lie.
By the time she returned, Liang Zhao was already drunk.
He grinned at her in an inebriated haze then invited Su Jiu to drink with him.
“I still have matters to attend to.
I’m afraid I cannot accompany Young Masters Liang and Ji any longer.
Su Jiu and I bid you all farewell!” Xiao Liu stood up, nodded toward Ji Yuxian, then left the room with Su Jiu.
“Young Master Su, wait!” Ji Yuxian leaped up and smiled.
“I should go home too.
Young Master Liang, Shopkeeper Qu, continue chatting without us.
” The gold-toothed man jumped up to say goodbye.
“Please, Eldest Young Master!” Liang Zhao also stood up with Ruhua, drunkenly grinning.
“Let’s meet another day.
I’ve had a bit too much to drink, so I’ll head to Miss Ruhua’s chambers to rest for a bit!” Ruhua froze.
She looked at Ji Yuxian, but he had already left without even bothering to glance back at her.
Su Jiu walked with Ji Yuxian and Xiao Lie on either side of her.
Slowly, the three of them descended the stairs.
Ji Yuxian and Xiao Lie were both quite tall.
One possessed a seductive beauty, and the other a cold handsomeness.
Su Jiu was not as tall as them, but she had a clean, bright aura.
When the three of them descended the stairs together, the noisy main hall immediately quieted down.
Everybody gawked at them in surprise.
As soon as they exited the Drunken Joy Pavilion, Ji Yuxian and Xiao Lie’s guards rushed toward them.
Their carriages were also parked by the door, ready.
Ji Yuxian looked back with a slight smile.
“Young Master Su and I live near one another.
How about I escort Young Master Su home?” “No need to trouble you.
I can escort Su Jiu home!” Xiao Lie said.
“No trouble at all! We live on the same road, after all.
Isn’t that right, Young Master Su?” Ji Yuxian looked at Su Jiu with a smile in his eyes.
He emphasized the words “same” and “road.
” Su Jiu nodded her head, agreeing, “Yes, we do live on the same road!” She paused and looked at Xiao Lie.
“Um…I’m going home.
Goodbye!” Xiao Lie’s gaze landed on her face.
” Su Jiu waved then turned and boarded Ji Yuxian’s carriage.
Xiao Lie’s dark eyes narrowed slightly as he watched the carriage roll away, as if he were speculating about something.
After a time, he boarded the carriage from Prince Rui’s Manor.
It had been snowing for several days, and the snow piles on the streets had yet to melt.
The carriage wheels squeaked noisily as they rolled over the snow.
Clean, smokeless coal burned inside the carriage, keeping it as warm as a spring day.
Ji Yuxian leaned lazily against the seat and gazed at Su Jiu, who looked rather relaxed.
Ji Yuxian suddenly smiled, although Su Jiu couldn’t tell if the smile was amused or angry.
He reached out a hand and tugged on her sleeve, pulling her into his arms.
Su Jiu paled.
She wanted to fight back but fought the urge.
She was about to sit up when, suddenly, Ji Yuxian pinched her chin.
With a slight smile and a gentle gaze, Ji Yuxian looked at the woman in his arms.
“Ninth Master Su? We’ve been married for nearly a month, yet I was unaware that my wife is a man!” he exclaimed.
“How about I inspect you myself to see if you’re a man or a woman?” The light aroma of lotus incense filled the carriage.
Su Jiu leaned against Ji Yuxian’s shoulder, a glimmer in her eyes, and said, “This is only a travel disguise.
” “Is that so?” Ji Yuxian spoke in a sultry tone, staring straight into her eyes.
The carriage rocked lightly.
Ji Yuxian leaned closer.
Their faces were only inches apart—so close that they could each see their reflection in the other’s eyes.
Ji Yuxian’s warm breath swept across Su Jiu’s face.
“That Young Master Xiao, how did you meet him?” The closeness was making Su Jiu extremely uncomfortable.
Ji Yuxian had one hand on her waist and the other on her face.
He didn’t seem to be exerting any energy, yet she couldn’t move at all.
“I met him on the street!” she said.
On the street? Ji Yuxian narrowed his eyes.
He seemed to smile.
If everyone could “just meet” a prince on the street, then all of Shengjing City would be nobility.
Still, Su Jiu’s eyes were honest.
She didn’t seem to be lying, nor did she seem to know who Xiao Lie really was.
The sky darkened.
The light of the setting sun passed through the carriage window, shedding a yellow and pink glow on Su Jiu’s face.
Her eyes were bright, and her skin was fair and beautifully scented.
Ji Yuxian’s gaze landed on her lightly closed coral lips.
His stare deepened.
Slowly, he leaned in.
Their lips almost touched, when Su Jiu’s eyes suddenly widened.
“Don’t move!” “Hmmm?” Ji Yuxian was hoarse with passion.
Su Jiu raised her hand and brushed the corner of his eye.
She showed him her finger and exclaimed, “Look! A huge eye booger!” The romantic atmosphere immediately evaporated.
Even the light rays now seemed awkward.
The smile on Ji Yuxian’s lips froze.
His finger resting on Su Jiu’s face twitched.
At that moment, the barrier shielding his emotions broke down.
He fought the urge to strangle Su Jiu.
Su Jiu felt a sharp pain on her face and pushed Ji Yuxian’s arm away.
She shuffled back and leaned against the carriage wall.
With a look of disgust, she reached out the window and flicked her finger clean.
“And you claim to like cleanliness! Pshh!” The smile on Ji Yuxian’s lips could not be maintained any longer.
For a moment, he looked as miserable as a man could be.
The carriage stopped outside Ji Manor’s front doors.
Ji Yuxian stepped out of the carriage and walked through the entrance with a flick of his sleeves.
The flash of his red robes disappeared as quickly as the last sliver of light at dusk.
Su Jiu slowly strolled toward her courtyard, looking quite cheerful.
When Chang Huan returned, the sky was already dark.
Ah Shu, still drunk, lingered in the restaurant.
Fortunately, Su Jiu did not have to leave Ji Manor for a few days; she wouldn’t be needing Ah Shu to drive her carriage.
The earth was covered in snow and ice.
Su Jiu ate dinner then chatted with Chang Huan and Nanny for some time, huddled around the stove.
Drowsiness hit her.
She took a bath then fell into a dreamless, peaceful sleep.
The next morning, Su Jiu and Chang Huan were sling-shotting birds when Third Young Mistress, Ren Zi’er, suddenly entered their yard, followed by a few servant girls.
She curtsied politely and said, “I pay my respects to you, Young Mistress.
” Su Jiu wore an emerald-green gown and a cotton cloak lined with fox fur.
She turned around and fixed her gaze on Ren Zi’er.
“What are you doing here?” she asked.
Ren Zi’er showed no trace of the arrogance she’d displayed the other day.
She smiled modestly.
“The plum trees in Thousand Plum Blossom Garden have bloomed.
I’ve come to invite Young Mistress to join us for a poetic gathering among the flowers.
” Su Jiu turned her head so that Ren Zi’er could only see her backside.
She said coldly, “Not going.
” Ren Zi’er started.
She didn’t think that Su Jiu would reject the invitation so bluntly; she was even too lazy to find an excuse.
Between the Ren and Ji families, Ren Zi’er had seen countless types of women in the back courtyards of the aristocracy.
Some were cold and haughty; others were cunning and sly or feigned compassion.
But she had never seen a woman like Su Jiu, so clear on her likes and dislikes.
Still, Ren Zi’er was here on a mission; she would not be turned down so easily.
She took two steps forward and sweetened her smile.
“It’s not only you and me who were invited today.
Second Mistress is also there, and so is Miss Lan Zhihui.
With guests expecting you, Young Mistress, you should go.
” “She said she’s not going! Spare your words!” Chang Huan turned his head and said icily.
Ren Zi’er took a step back from Chang Huan.
Her face paled, and her fingers tightened around her handkerchief.
She gritted her teeth.
Since when can servants speak to her like that? But then, Ren Zi’er thought of how Xie Ying would react if she failed to bring Su Yuejiu to the gathering, and she had no choice but to suppress her anger.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Nanny approaching.
Suddenly, she had an idea.
” Ren Zi’er walked over with dainty steps and bowed politely.
She maintained a gentle demeanor and polite tone.
“I am but a humble servant! How can I accept such a gesture from Third Young Mistress?” Nanny quickly helped Ren Zi’er up.
Ren Zi’er rested a hand on Nanny’s arm.
She spoke gently with bleary eyes, “Nanny, Second Mistress is hosting a gathering at the Thousand Plum Blossom Garden today.
She ordered me to come here to invite Young Mistress, but I suppose that Young Mistress is still angry with me, so she refused to come.
I fear that Second Mistress will blame me for failing to convince Young Mistress.
I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place! I beg you, Nanny, say a few words on my behalf.
” Nanny retracted her hand and took a step back.
She lowered her head and chuckled.
“Young Mistress’s health is quite frail.
She cannot stay in the cold for too long.
Third Young Mistress, please inform Second Mistress that Young Mistress won’t be coming today.
” “Nanny!” Ren Zi’er stepped forward then said quietly, “Today is the first time the family has gathered since Young Mistress married into Ji Manor; she cannot be absent! Besides, a guest has already arrived.
Are we going to let Xie Ying have all Young Mistress’s glory? Outsiders might begin to think that Young Mistress is powerless at the Ji Manor!” “Who is the guest?” Nanny asked.
“Miss Lan, Lan Zhihui.
She has always been Young Master’s valued friend.
If Young Mistress insults Miss Lan with her absence, I fear Young Master will be unhappy.
” “Well,” Nanny glanced hesitantly at Su Jiu.
“Nanny, to tell you the truth, Xie Ying constantly bullied me before Young Mistress married into the Ji Manor.
I had no choice but to follow her orders.
But now that Young Mistress is here, I hope I can rely on her protection and be free of Xie Ying’s control.
Today, I am only thinking about Young Mistress; if she wants to remain in power, then attending this gathering is necessary!” Ren Zi’er said honestly and politely.
Nanny knew perfectly well that Su Jiu was the Ji Manor’s Young Mistress.
As such, she needed to attend gatherings, especially gatherings with family elders and guests.
But Nanny feared that Su Jiu might misspeak or misbehave, and so she didn’t want Su Jiu to go.
After a moment’s thought, Nanny nodded.
Wait a moment, Third Young Mistress.
I’ll go speak with Young Mistress.
” “Please, Nanny!” Ren Zi’er smiled sweetly and waited as Nanny went to speak with Su Jiu.
Su Jiu crouched on the snow-covered ground, waiting for a bird to fall into her trap.
Her face looked quite serious, almost as if she alone were an army of thousands, ready and waiting to ambush.
Nanny shook her head with a sigh.
She grabbed Su Jiu’s hand and pulled her up.
Then, she brushed the snow off Su Jiu’s cloak.
“If you’re bored, Miss, you should learn embroidery from me.
What are you doing out in the snow on such a cold day?” “I’m trying to catch a bird so we can roast it!” Su Jiu grinned.
“Oh dear! A bird’s life is still a life.
Please show mercy to the birds!” Nanny chuckled and straightened Su Jiu’s cloak.
“Second Mistress is hosting a family gathering today.
Miss, you should go.
” Su Jiu wrinkled her brow.
“Do I have to?” She didn’t want to be around that group of women.
” Su Jiu took a deep breath.
“I’ll go for a bit, then come back.
” “Alright! I’ll go with you, Miss.
When you’re there, you must tolerate whatever they say to you.
Don’t act rashly in front of Second Mistress, do you understand?” Nanny said, lowering her voice.
Su Jiu’s brow twitched.
I’ll tolerate it!” Nanny nodded, satisfied.
She turned to Chang Huan and said, “Clean up these ropes and baskets.
Young Mistress and I will be away for a while.
Wait in the yard.
” Chang Huan glanced at the faraway Ren Zi’er.
He said worriedly, “I want to come too.
They might bully Chief.
” “No! If you come with us, you could cause trouble where there was none to begin with.
With me by her side, Young Mistress will be fine,” Nanny said.
Chang Huan wrinkled his brow and looked at Su Jiu.
“Listen to Nanny,” said Su Jiu.
We’ll be back in a moment!” She gave Chang Huan a comforting look then walked into the yard with Nanny by her side.
Ren Zi’er looked eagerly in their direction.
When she saw Su Jiu approach, her face brightened.
She quickly caught up to them and said, “Thank you for gracing us with your presence, Young Mistress.
” Chang Huan watched Su Jiu walk out the door.
He tossed aside the ropes in his hand and leaped up.
Like a nimble cat, he quickly disappeared into the canopy of blossoming trees.
They didn’t want him to go with them, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t go by himself! No matter what, he would stay by Su Jiu’s side! The three women made their way toward the Thousand Plum Blossom Garden.
They walked into the courtyard and saw a world of blooming flowers.
There were blossoms gathered here and there, beautiful as rosy clouds at sundown.
The pleasant fragrance of plum blossoms greeted their noses.
A gentle breeze blew by, sweeping both snow and flower petals off the branches.
It was a scene from the land of fairies! Su Jiu had a rough nature and was not usually interested in flowers or elegance.
But at this moment, even she felt her spirits lift.
They took a few steps into the courtyard and heard the sound of a woman’s laughter.
Ren Zi’er looked at them with a smile.
“Second Mistress must be here already!” They followed a narrow path paved with green stones, turning past a few blossoming trees.
Then, they saw an eight-sided pavilion.
It was built of engraved mahogany with a curve in the roof on four of its eight sides.
The pavilion’s thin curtains danced in the wind, revealing the gentle smiles of the beautiful women gathered inside.
It was a particularly enjoyable scene.
Second Mistress stood up when she saw Su Jiu and the others approach.
She was wearing a lotus-colored shirt embroidered with chrysanthemum patterns and a silken skirt woven of golden threads.
Her face, quite youthful for a woman her age, offered a gentle smile.
“Yuejiu, you’re here!” Su Jiu took a few steps forward and paid her respects with downcast eyes.
“Second Mistress!” “No need for formalities.
It’s cold today.
Join us in the pavilion!” Second Mistress grabbed Su Jiu’s hand and pulled her inside.
They ascended the steps, and Su Jiu saw the others sitting in the pavilion: Second Young Mistress Xie Ying, Fourth Young Mistress Chen Yuchan, and her old friend, Shangguan Yu.
Coals burned in the four corners.
As Su Jiu approached, she felt the warm air against her face.
Xie Ying was paler than the others, despite being bundled in a fox fur cloak.
When she saw Su Jiu arrive, a glimmer of hatred flashed in her eyes.
She stood up and managed to squeeze out a smile.
” Chen Yuchan and Shangguan Yu also stood up to pay their respects.
“Young Mistress!” they cried.
Shangguan Yu lowered her head and twisted her handkerchief in her hands with so much force as if intending to rip it.
Second Mistress smiled.
“This is a family gathering,” she said.
“We’re all close.
No need for formality.
Everybody take a seat!” “Yes!” Xie Ying and the others replied.
They sat down without glancing at Su Jiu.
Except for Chen Yuchan.
She poured a cup of tea and placed it in front of Su Jiu, saying, “Enjoy, Young Mistress.
” Su Jiu lifted her eyes and smiled at Chen Yuchan.
Chen Yuchan turned red and shyly lowered her head.
“Every year at this time, I arrange a family gathering here so that we can all enjoy the plum blossoms’ beauty.
We also take this time to renew our sentiments for one another.
We all live in the same manor, after all, so we must not drift apart!” Second Mistress chuckled and raised her teacup.
“This year, Yuejiu has joined us.
Let us all drink this tea in place of wine.
To Yuejiu!” Chen Yuchan and Ren Zi’er raised their teacups.
“To Young Mistress!” Shangguan Yu pursed her lips as she raised her cup.
“Second Mistress, Yu’er is only here out of respect for you!” “Yu’er, don’t say that.
Yuejiu is your cousin-in-law.
You should drink out of respect for her!” Second Mistress said with a smile.
Her eyes glimmered, and her tone was that of a kind-hearted elder.
Shangguan Yu let out a cold “humph,” and turned her head.
Xie Ying remained utterly silent, but Su Jiu didn’t mind.
She drank the tea and set the teacup back on the table.
Second Mistress brought the teacup to her lips and glanced at Su Jiu and Xie Ying.
She chuckled and said, “A few days ago, I heard that you two had a misunderstanding.
Let’s take this opportunity to make peace.
In the future, you will both be serving Yuxian together, one and the same!” “Second Mistress, you flatter me.
I am but a concubine.
How can I be the same as Young Mistress?” Xie Ying smiled disingenuously as she peeked toward Su Jiu.
“I don’t dare go near Young Mistress anymore.
If one misspoken word slips out, I’ll be beaten yet again!” Shangguan Yu replied at once, “Interesting words.
You say that as if Young Mistress is a wild peasant woman who beats people on a whim!” “Fuyang City is a thousand miles away.
Their culture is different from ours.
Who knows how they raise their daughters there?” The two spoke as if singing a duet.
Together, they humiliated Su Jiu.
Second Mistress remained silent.
She sipped her tea with her head lowered as if she hadn’t heard.
Ren Zi’er sat behind Xie Ying and watched with interest.
Her eyes betrayed her eagerness to see Su Jiu in trouble.
Chen Yuchan glanced at Su Jiu worriedly.
Su Jiu’s grip on her teacup tightened until her knuckles were entirely white.
Nanny raised a hand and rested it on Su Jiu’s shoulder.
She said with a smile, “I thought that this was a family gathering! It is not ideal for you young ladies to speak about Young Mistress in such a disrespectful manner.
Also, Second Mistress is right here.
If nothing else, you should watch your words out of respect for her.
” Xie Ying looked up and chided coldly, “In Ji Manor, servants cannot speak when masters are speaking.
” “Then what are you, Second Young Mistress, to Young Mistress?” Nanny asked, maintaining her humble attitude and calm tone.
“You!” Xie Ying’s eyes hardened, and she glared at Nanny.
Shangguan Yu stood up and walked to Nanny.
She demanded haughtily, “As regards me, are you a master or a servant?” Nanny lowered her head.
“A servant, of course.
” “Then I have the right to beat you to death, servant!” Shangguan Yu shouted coldly.
She raised a hand to strike Nanny’s face.
Everybody in the pavilion watched, some with amusement, others with fear and alarm.
Suddenly, Shangguan Yu’s hand stopped in mid-air.
She felt a sharp pain, like her bones had been crushed.
She looked at Su Jiu and shouted, “You dare to stop me?” Su Jiu squeezed Shangguan Yu’s wrist with a bit more force.
Shangguan Yu screamed: “Ah! My hand’s broken!” “Yuejiu, let go of Yu’er!” Second Mistress hurriedly stood up and shouted.
Nanny pulled Su Jiu’s arm.
“Miss, don’t!” Su Jiu narrowed her eyes and pushed her hand forward.
Shangguan Yu staggered and fell on her rear.
Her wrist was in immense pain; the bones inside were broken.
Her backside also hurt, but she didn’t dare rub it with so many people watching.
Tears streamed down her face.
“Liu Qin,” she sniffed, “come see if my hand is broken.
” The little servant girl rushed over and asked worriedly, “Miss, Miss, are you alright?” Su Jiu let out a cold humph.
“It’s not broken.
But it’ll hurt for eight to ten days!” she said.
Then, she fixed her gaze on Xie Ying and added softly, “You know I can fight.
Don’t challenge me.
It’ll only cause you trouble!” Xie Ying paled and stepped back.
She hid her hands in her sleeves and balled them into fists.
Her eyes, full of spite, glowered at Su Jiu.
“Alright, alright!” Second Mistress said.
“We’re all one family here.
Let’s not act like we’re on a battlefield.
Liu Qin, help your Mistress up, and pour her a cup of hot wine to calm her anger.
” “Yes!” Liu Qin replied and helped Shangguan Yu stand up.
Shangguan Yu’s wrist was in unbearable pain, and her face was deathly pale.
Her haughty attitude was long gone.
She gave Su Jiu a hateful glare then sat down as far away from her as possible.
“Second Mistress is right.
We are here today to enjoy the plum blossoms.
We should all be joyful!” Chen Yuchan said gently, standing up to fill the teacups.
The pavilion fell silent.
The tea pouring was the only sound.
It was quite an awkward atmosphere.
Suddenly, the sound of hurrying footsteps approached.
It was a servant girl from Jinlan Pavilion.
She bowed and said, “Second Mistress, Robes Square has delivered the second batch of fabric for winter clothes.
Please, go pick your textiles!” “Very well.
” Second Mistress stood up.
I’ll be back in no time.
” “We’ll be waiting, Second Mistress.
” The women in the pavilion all rose to their feet, and Second Mistress smiled at them warmly.
Right before she turned around, her gaze landed on Nanny, who was standing behind Su Jiu.
“In this batch, there are a few pieces of top-quality silk.
The patterns and colors are all suitable for young women,” she said.
“Why don’t you come with me, Nanny, and pick out some silk for Yuejiu?” Nanny smiled humbly.
“Thank you for your consideration, Second Mistress.
The fabrics I had sent to the Perched Phoenix Pavilion will likely arrive tomorrow.
I don’t want to be a bother.
” “Why so polite? These fabrics should have been sent to the Perched Phoenix Pavilion in the first place.
These foolish servants have just got used to sending the fabrics to me first.
If none of them catches your eye today, then you can still pick from the ones at the Perched Phoenix Pavilion tomorrow!” Nanny knew not to continue refusing the invitation, but she was nervous about leaving Su Jiu there alone.
Second Mistress and the servant from the Jinlan Pavilion waited on the side.
Nanny had no choice but to nod.
She quietly said a few things to Su Jiu, then followed out Second Mistress.
As they walked, Nanny kept looking back at Su Jiu.
She knew that, as soon as Second Mistress left, Xie Ying and the others would bully her.
She feared that Su Jiu, unable to suppress her anger, would strike someone again.
Soon, the pavilion was out of sight, blocked by many blossoming trees.
Nanny let out a quiet sigh and left the Thousand Plum Blossom Garden behind.
As soon as Second Mistress was gone, Xie Ying and Shangguan Yu exchanged content glances.
Xie Ying turned to Ren Zi’er and said quietly, “Go see what’s taking Miss Lan so long.
” Ren Zi’er lowered her head.
“Yes, I’ll go immediately.
” With that, she stood up and walked briskly out of the pavilion.
“Young Mistress, try this Plum Blossom Cake! I woke up early today to make it.
Does it suit your palate?” Chen Yuchan was wearing a willow-colored silk gown.
With her slender stature, she looked quite frail as she placed a piece of Plum Blossom Cake before Su Jiu.
“Many thanks!” Su Jiu took half a bite and grinned.
Quite tasty!” “Really?” Chen Yuchan’s eyes instantly brightened.
It was almost as if she, who was not extraordinary in any way, finally had something everyone approved of.
She turned slightly red from the excitement and exclaimed with a smile, “If you like it, Young Mistress, I’ll make it for you often!” “Well, well! Sister Yuchan is usually quite silent.
But when she wants to butter someone up, she can be quite eloquent! Be careful not to suck up to the wrong person and learn her vulgar mannerisms, or else you may be shooed out of Ji Manor!” Xie Ying chided coolly, sitting across from them.
Chen Yuchan nervously lowered her head.
Her face turned red, and she carefully looked toward Su Jiu.
She shook her head and said quietly, “I didn’t…” Su Jiu ate the other half of the Plum Blossom Cake and grinned.
“If it’s tasty, then it’s tasty.
What do you have to be afraid of?” Chen Yuchan grinned and nodded.
“Miss Shangguan, there’s a saying that has been proven to be quite true: fish flock with fish, and shrimp flock with shrimp.
Daughters of insignificant families only speak so freely in front of others like them.
” Xie Ying glared at the girls with contempt.
One hand rested on the table while the other covered her smiling lips with a handkerchief.
Bam! Su Jiu slammed her hand on the stone table with a thunderous sound.
The entire table trembled.
The dishes on top clattered together noisily.
Su Jiu looked up coldly.
Rage and spite filled her eyes.
“What? You want me to give you another beating? If I hear another f*cking word, I’ll slap your mouth sideways!” she exclaimed.
Xie Ying’s hand trembled on the table.
Shangguan Yu, who was just about to speak, froze in shock.
They looked at Su Jiu in alarm.
Xie Ying had already learned this lesson—twice.
She knew that Su Jiu would do precisely as she said.
Xie Ying felt pain in her face, almost as if she had been slapped.
She took a step back.
Seeing that the two women had shut their mouths, Su Jiu turned toward Chen Yuchan, who was also shocked into silence.
Su Jiu grinned and patted her shoulder.
“Don’t be scared,” she said.
“Normally, I don’t strike women—unless they’re intolerably noisy.
” Chen Yuchan nodded her head, still in a daze.
” Shangguan Yu and Xie Ying retreated to the pavilion’s edge and turned their pale faces away.
They stood on their tip-toes and looked toward the garden door, anxiously awaiting Lan Zhihui’s arrival.
They refused to believe that Su Yuejiu had the audacity to strike Lan Zhihui.
Meanwhile, Ren Zi’er had left the Thousand Plum Blossom Garden.
She walked toward the main courtyard.
After waiting for some time, she saw Ji Yuxian and Lan Zhihui strolling side-by-side.
They were both clad in white robes.
Both were beautiful, unparalleled in elegance and grace.
Walking together, they looked like the perfect match made in heaven.
Ren Zi’er’s eyes reddened.
She gritted her teeth and swallowed the sourness rising in her heart.
With a gentle smile, she approached them and curtsied daintily.
“Young Master, Miss Lan.
” Lan Zhihui nodded with a smile.
“Third Young Mistress!” “Today, Second Mistress is hosting a family gathering in the Thousand Plum Blossom Garden.
She has invited Miss Lan to join us.
Please, do come!” Lan Zhihui thought about it for a moment then smiled generously before answering, “Since it’s a family gathering, an outsider like myself should not be there.
If it’s not too much of a bother, please say hello to Second Mistress on my behalf.
” “Miss Lan, you’re much too polite.
Second Mistress has personally invited you.
Miss Shangguan is also there.
Please, Miss Lan, don’t refuse the invitation!” “Well…” Lan Zhihui looked at Ji Yuxian, conflicted.
“Who else is in the Thousand Plum Blossom Garden?” Ji Yuxian asked.
“Second Young Mistress, Fourth Young Mistress, Miss Shangguan, Second Mistress, and oh! Young Mistress is there as well!” Ren Zi’er looked at Ji Yuxian expectantly.
Ji Yuxian, however, had already looked away.
His lips curved into an alluring smile.
He reached out to hold Lan Zhihui’s hand.
“If that’s the case, then, Zhihui, let’s go join the gathering.
I’ll come with you!” Lan Zhihui looked up at Ji Yuxian and smiled.
She nodded lightly.
“Alright!” Ren Zi’er stared at their interlocked hands, feeling as if bright sunlight had pierced her eyes.
Her face, nevertheless, maintained a gentle smile.
She retreated to the side with a bow and waited for them to walk by.
Then, she followed in their footsteps.