Wife Doting Addiction：My Abducted Tsundere Husband - Chapter 115
Chapter 115: Bumping into Xiao lie
Days turned into weeks.
In the blink of an eye, three months had passed.
The temperature grew warmer with each passing day, bringing rapidly to bloom a rich profusion of flowers.
Qiao An came to the palace every day and slowly learned his assignments at the Hanlin Academy.
He also got along quite well with his colleagues.
The ships that Su Jiu and Ji Yuxian had prepared for sea expeditions were ready to sail.
All crew members had completed their training and spent a few days getting used to managing the ship.
Even the goods to be exported were almost ready.
Su Jiu felt bored as there was nothing else to be done and decided to discuss the sea routes for their expeditions.
The first place they needed to send the goods to was Xingluo Country, well known for its glass products.
From there, they would dock for five days before heading southeast toward their second destination, Nanshi Country.
After a three-day stopover, they planned to pass through the Niluo Sea before returning to Daliang Country.
Even if it were smooth sailing the whole way, such an expedition would take at least three months.
Naturally, their earnings would also be significant.
This was Su Jiu’s first time sending men out to sea, and she was full of anticipation.
The Bodyguard Agency’s business was growing day by day.
Ah Shu had already planned to open a branch in Chongzhou City and estimated it would be open for business in a month.
Meantime, Chang Huan managed the restaurants.
When bored, he would go and look for Qiao An to practice writing and to read accounts.
In only a month, he had made mind-boggling improvements.
Everything was progressing according to plan.
The only problem was there was still no word from Da Pao.
To check for news, Su Jiu often went to Nangong Manor, but each time she left disappointed.
There was nothing.
Her visits were so frequent that the gatekeepers of Nangong Manor recognized her by sight.
Ji Yuxian did his best to console her.
Da Pao was adept at martial arts, and even though he had never trained as a soldier in the army, he still had a wealth of battle experience from when he was a mountain bandit on Yuhu Mountain.
He’ll be okay,” he assured her.
Su Jiu was well aware that Ji Yuxian was just trying to make her better.
How could a former mountain bandit like Da Pao survive assaults from trained soldiers? Soldiers and mountain bandits dad two different skill sets! Still, she clung to hope.
With the warmer weather, Yuhu Mountain was once again covered in lush greenery and dusky violets, filling the air with the scent of quickening life and damp moss.
The commoners who lived here could now hunt and gather herbs in the mountains.
Life wasn’t as harsh for now.
It was spring, time to plant crops.
The people who did not own any land went over to wealthier households and helped them plow their fields in exchange for some silver to contribute to their household income.
Below the mountain, in the courtyard surrounded by walls, a few chickens were clucking in their coops.
A woman who was wearing a coarse linen robe was holding a winnowing basket.
She chuckled cheerfully, “Lay a few more eggs for my grandson to eat.
If you don’t, I’ll slaughter you and devour your meat!” A girl with half-closed eyes and a snakelike glare stumbled out of the mud hut, her hand supporting her swollen belly.
She was wearing a light blue cotton dress embroidered with flowers, and her hair was gathered into a simple bun and fastened with a silver hairpiece.
She was a delicate beauty, but gloominess was evident in her dull eyes and ashen face.
Even though she was in the spring of her life, she was devoid of vitality and jubilance: She was cold and desolate as a winter day.
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COM The girl’s belly slightly swollen belly made her look as if she was at least four to five months pregnant.
Apart from her bulging belly, the girl retained her slim frame.
When she saw the girl, the woman immediately put down her winnowing basket and moved a wooden stool into the middle of the courtyard.
She carefully supported the girl and said, “With your body in its current state, you shouldn’t come out anymore.
Just rest in the room.
If you’re bored, I can open the windows for you.
The wind in the mountain is harsh.
” The girl’s expression was cold, and she raised her arm to swat the woman’s hand away.
She questioned, “Where is Zhao Sheng?” The woman seemed as though she was already used to the girl’s behavior.
She did not take heed and said, “Sheng’er went to Liu Yuan’s grandparents’ house to run some errands.
He should be back by dusk.
” “Mm!” The girl nodded her head.
She had no intention of going back to her room.
“Why are you looking for Sheng’er? You should wait inside.
It’ll be cold once the sun sets,” the woman scolded, worried the girl would catch a cold.
“No, I’ll just sit here.
” Stubbornness was written all over the girl’s face.
The woman could do nothing except cover the girl’s body with an article of clothing.
The girl watched the sky.
She gripped a sharp iron rod tightly in her hands as she waited in the courtyard.
The sky slowly became dark.
In the mountains, the days were short.
At dusk, the sound of approaching footsteps pierced the silence.
Those footsteps were heavy, as though the person walking over was too fatigued to lift his feet.
As he trod on the muddy ground, the sound of his steps was irritating to the ear.
The wooden door creaked open, and the man raised his voice to shout, “Mother! I’m back.
” In the twilight, the man wore a dark gray robe covered with patches.
It was soaked with sweat and encrusted with dirt and grime.
The man’s face was similarly ashen and dirty as though he had just finished laboring in the fields.
Once he entered, Zhao Sheng saw the girl in the courtyard and laughed heartily, “Was it you waiting for me?” She nodded her head, “Come here!” Zhao Sheng walked over and kneeled.
He looked at her belly before raising his head to look at the girl’s face.
His face cracked into a smile as he asked, “What’s the matter?” At that moment, the woman was in the kitchen, starting a fire to prepare dinner.
When she heard a voice coming from the direction of the courtyard, she craned her head to take a look.
She did not step outside, however, but instead kept her ears perked to listen in.
“When will I deliver my letter to my family?” The girl asked with a cold face.
Zhao Sheng’s eyes dimmed.
He scratched his head and said awkwardly, “It’s the plowing season now.
Many households need laborers, and I can also earn a bit more money.
Once I save enough to cover the traveling expense, I will go to Fuyang.
” The girl’s expression darkened.
“Initially, you promised you would find my parents once we got married.
Then you said you would go once I’m pregnant.
When I got pregnant, you said you wanted to wait until spring came, and the weather became warmer.
Now it’s springtime and the weather’s warm, but you still want to deceive me.
” The man lowered his head in embarrassment as he looked at his feet without saying a word.
A hint of resolution flashed in the girl’s eyes.
She abruptly brought that sharp iron rod and pointed it toward her stomach.
“I asked you if you were going.
If you are not going to go, I will die right here together with this rotten child.
” The man panicked and hastily got up.
He stretched out his hands and tried to snatch the iron rod out of her hands as he said in alarm, “You… What are you doing?” “Don’t come near me!” The girl raised her hand and pushed Zhao Sheng back forcefully.
She inched the iron rod closer and rested its pointed tip against her belly.
Her voice did not waver, “Are you going or not?” “Go, I will go.
Remove that thing!” Zhao Sheng stared at the pointed tip of the iron rod in trepidation, worried she would stab herself impulsively.
Hearing the commotion, the woman ran out of the kitchen.
She massaged her legs while saying, “Just what are you doing? When has Sheng’er ever mistreated you? What has he done to make you swing between life and death every day?” “Who asked you all to deceive me!” The girl glared at them with reddened eyes as she shouted.
The woman rebuked, “If you die, you certainly won’t be able to return home anymore! Sheng’er is not lying to you.
He’s only concerned.
You’re pregnant, and I’m just a woman.
Without a man at home, we will both starve to death.
Once the child is born, once you give birth to him, we’ll go back to Fuyang together.
Is that okay?” The girl frowned at the woman and bit her lip without saying another word.
She obviously could not trust her anymore.
The woman continued speaking melancholically, “After all, the child in your belly is your own flesh and blood.
It’s a life.
Yesterday, didn’t you say that you felt him moving? How could you bear to hurt him?” The girl lowered her head and gazed at the bulge in her belly.
The woman took this opportunity to signal to Zhao Sheng with her eyes.
Zhao Sheng understood and quickly snatched the iron rod from the girl’s hands.
The girl was shocked and glared hatefully at the man before getting up and walking back into the house.
The woman breathed a long sigh and thumped her chest, her emotions still unsettled as she said, “How long will she act up before we see an end to this?” “Why not… I’ll pay a visit to Fuyang!” Zhao Sheng furrowed his eyebrows and stammered.
After all, he still loved the woman and didn’t want her to wallow in sorrow every day.
” The woman rejected the idea outright.
“No matter what, we still have to wait for the child to be born before deciding.
” Zhao Sheng squatted on the ground and gripped his head in his hand, troubled.
The woman tried to comfort him, “Human hearts are made of flesh.
If you treat her well, the day will come where she’ll follow you wholeheartedly.
“Mm!” Zhao Sheng nodded his head vigorously and got up, “I shall go inside to look after her.
” “Go on then.
Dinner will be ready soon,” the woman said before sighing deeply and returning to the kitchen.
Zhao Sheng also stepped into the house, intending to reassure the girl.
The fourth month had just arrived, and it had already rained for two consecutive days.
Su Jiu did not go out but instead passed the time reading and practicing calligraphy.
Early this morning, Ji Yuxian had matters to attend to and left the manor.
Su Jiu was in the study practicing calligraphy when a subordinate suddenly reported that the palace had sent people over.
Su Jiu stepped out to receive the decree from Empress Dowager Xiao’s eunuch, who came to summon the Young Mistress of Ji Manor to the palace.
That eunuch wore clothes befitting a eunuch attendant of the fifth rank: a three-knobbed hat.
He held a horsetail whisk in his hands.
A practiced smile appeared on his pale face.
“Young Mistress Ji, the Empress Dowager has summoned you to the palace.
The horse carriage is already waiting outside the gates of Ji Manor.
” Su Jiu wore an ivory dress embroidered with flowers.
Though its style was simple, it accentuated the girl’s innocence and purity.
She asked casually, “Why has the Empress Dowager summoned this commoner?” “Young Mistress Ji need not ask why.
The Empress Dowager misses Young Mistress Ji and wants to invite her over to chat with her.
This way, please,” the eunuch said while waving his hands to signal her forward.
As usual, Su Jiu was unwilling to enter the palace.
That day, the Empress Dowager only treated her well because she had assumed she was Su Yuejiu, Bai Jingrou’s daughter.
She did not want to receive generosity for such a reason.
If she happened to say something and unintentionally expose herself, it would cause a huge problem.
If she were exposed to Ji Manor, at the most, only the people in the Ji family would know.
But if she were detected in the palace, everyone under the heavens would know.
She didn’t care.
If worse came to worst, she could just turn back to being a mountain bandit.
But what would happen if word got out that Yi Yuxian had married a mountain bandit spread? He would become a laughingstock of the masses! Nanny gently placed a brocade cloak over Su Jiu’s shoulders and whispered with a smile, “It’s raining, and the weather is chilly.
Miss should take care of herself.
When your mother was in the palace, miss wasn’t born yet.
The Empress Dowager wants to meet you because she misses your mother.
You should accompany her for a while.
” Su Jiu turned her eyes to look at the nanny and instantly understood what she was implying.
Indeed, when Bai Jingrou was in the palace, she was just a lady-in-waiting.
Su Yuejiu had not been born yet, and it was understandable for her not to know all the details of her experiences.
Likewise, the Empress Dowager did not know anything about her life in Fuyang either.
Even if she made up a few lines, no one would be able to tell the story was a lie.
Su Jiu nodded her head with understanding, “All right, I’ll go.
When Ji Yuxian gets back, tell him not to wait for me for lunch.
” “Yes, miss.
Please take care!” Nanny smiled warmly.
Su Jiu left the manor and boarded the horse carriage.
From there, they journeyed toward the palace.
Eunuch Xu led Su Jiu into the Fushou Palace’s reception wing.
Once inside, the faint fragrance of sandalwood permeated the air, and the sound of a zither reverberated.
Empress Dowager Xiao was leaning against a rosewood bench carved with phoenixes and set with precious pearls.
She wore a luxurious set of palace robes, and phoenix hairpieces held her hair in place.
She emitted an air of nobility as her fingers twiddled with a set of Buddhist prayer beads.
A palace girl was kneeling beside her bench with a jade roller in her hands, gently rocking against her leg to massage her meridians.
Imperial Concubine Rong was seated behind a zither at the side and was in the middle of playing a soothing and pleasant piece.
The zither notes carried a sense of elegance and vitality.
What a pleasure to the ear! Eunuch Xu entered and paid respects with one knee on the ground.
“This servant greets the Empress Dowager.
The Young Mistress of Ji Manor is here.
” Empress Dowager’s half-closed eyes fluttered open.
She broke into a kind smile, “Little Jiu, come over here!” The palace attendants moved a wooden stool carved with flowers next to the bench.
Su Jiu took two steps forward and smiled brightly.
“This commoner greets the Empress Dowager and the Imperial Concubine.
” Imperial Concubine Rong got up and walked over to lead Su Jiu to her seat.
She retrieved the ginseng tea that the palace attendants were holding and served it on the mahogany table.
With a gentle smile, she said, “Ever since the birthday banquet, the Empress Dowager has been thinking and talking about you.
Last night, she had a dream about your mother and insisted that her servants bring you over.
I hope it has not inconvenienced the Young Mistress in any way.
” Imperial Concubine Rong was almost forty years old, but she still appeared youthful.
Her light makeup emphasized her natural beauty.
Her eyes were gentle, and her demeanor was not lofty like those of higher standing.
She also wasn’t overly polite and formal, which drew people close to her.
Su Jiu’s eyes were crystal clear.
“Imperial Concubine Rong is much too kind.
Coming to see you was not at all inconvenient in any way!” The Empress Dowager had already sat upright, and her eyes trailed up and down Su Jiu’s figure.
The more she looked at her, the more she liked her.
She instructed, “Yesterday, the Southern Border offered some lychee as a tribute.
Serve some to Little Jiu.
Also, bring over some of the delectable pastries made by the imperial kitchen.
Serve them all to her.
” A few palace girls acknowledged her order and quickly served the lychees, as well as a variety of fruits and pastries.
The small table soon filled with flavorsome delicacies.
“Thank you, Empress Dowager,” Su Jiu said with a smile.
She peeled lychee, and just as she was about to pop one in her mouth, she realized something and passed it to the Empress Dowager, “You have one first.
” Empress Dowager Xiao burst into laughter and placed the lychee into her mouth.
She grinned, “When your mother was in the palace, she loved this fruit the most.
The emperor even assumed that it was I who liked to eat it.
Every year when they sent lychees as tributes, he would choose the cream of the crop and send them to me.
Little did he know that your mother ate every single one of them.
” Imperial Concubine, who was seated at the side, lowered her eyebrows.
Her eyes were in a trance as she appeared deep in thought.
Was it true that the emperor did not know who he was giving the lychees to? The corner of her lips twitched, but she remained silent and continued to peel the lychees.
She placed the shimmering flesh of the fruits onto the platter in front of the Empress Dowager.
Su Jiu’s mouth was stuffed full of lychees.
With every bite, she could taste their sweet juice.
She mumbled in agreement, “Yes, mother still likes to eat them.
” Empress Dowager seemed to be touched profoundly and nodded her head, “Some habits never change.
” Su Jiu picked up a hazelnut shortbread and placed it in her mouth.
Her eyes shined, and she quickly passed one to the Empress Dowager.
“When you eat the lychee together with the hazelnut shortbread, it produces a unique taste.
Have a try.
” “Does it?” The Empress Dowager initially did not like hazelnut shortbreads.
When she heard Su Jiu say that, her interest perked up, and she took a small bite before nodding her head continuously, “It’s not bad! I’ve never realized this before.
” “It does taste good, right?” Su Jiu grinned and passed a hazelnut shortbread over to Imperial Concubine Rong as well.
She smiled without restraint, “Imperial Concubine Rong should also try it.
” “All right!” Imperial Concubine extended her hands to receive it with a gentle smile.
Age was catching up with Empress Dowager Xiao, and she was not in the best of health.
She did not usually eat fruit, not to mention such sweet and creamy snacks.
When she saw Su Jiu savoring her food and enjoying it without restraint, it whetted her appetite.
She could not help but eat five or six lychees and three whole pieces of hazelnut shortbread in succession.
” Imperial Concubine Rong saw that she was happy and could not bear to stop her.
The few of them were in the middle of chatting when a palace attendant came in to report that Prince Rui had come over.
Su Jiu froze, the lychee in her mouth almost found their way to her windpipe as she hurriedly coughed to prevent herself from choking.
Empress Dowager Xiao was in high spirits, “Let Lie’er in!” Very soon, Xiao Lie ambled into the wing.
He wore a black brocade outfit, and his eyes were as cold as the winter stars.
His tall figure emitted an elegant and noble aura, causing the palace girls at the side to lower their heads bashfully.
When he caught sight of Su Jiu, a hint of confusion flashed by the man’s black and large eyes.
His surprise quickly dissipated as he paid his respects.
“Your grandson greets his royal grandmother and mother.
” Su Jiu raised her eyebrows.
As it turned out, Imperial Concubine Rong was Xiao Lie’s birth mother.
No wonder she felt as though Imperial Concubine’s eyes seemed familiar.
“This morning, I was just telling your mother how I haven’t seen you in a few days.
Who could have guessed that you would come to visit me today? Come and sit next to me!” Empress Dowager Xiao looked at Xiao Lie with tender and affectionate eyes as she smiled and pointed him to his seat.
Xiao Lie walked over and sat on the other side of the table.
He was right opposite Su Jiu, and his chilly eyes landed on her figure.
“Lie’er, let me introduce you.
This is the Young Mistress of the Ji Manor!” Imperial Concubine Rong looked at her son, her eyes radiating warmth.
Xiao Lie’s gaze was deep and unreadable.
He looked casually at Su Jiu as his lips hooked into a smile.
His voice was neither warm nor cold, “Nice meeting you, Young Mistress Ji.
” When Su Jiu heard his tone, she knew he was still angry at her for hiding her identity.
She hastily shoved the platter of lychees over to him and said, “Your highness, have some lychees.
” Xiao Lie looked at the lychees without saying a word.
“Did you go and meet his majesty?” Empress Dowager Xiao asked gently.
“Yes, your grandson just came from the imperial study.
A war report came from Youzhou City.
The first battle was an overwhelming victory.
Nangong Shu has already led his men to conqueror two small cities outside Youzhou City.
Imperial father is very pleased,” Xiao Lie replied without concern, the corner of his eyes swept past the girl seated opposite.
As expected, Su Jiu abruptly lifted her head and looked over, her eyes gleaming.
When she heard that the battle was successful, Empress Dowager Xiao was naturally happy, “Good, outstanding! The heavens have blessed my Daliang Country! When that kid from the Nangong Family returns, I will make sure the emperor rewards him well!” Imperial Concubine Rong smiled, “All the generations of the Nangong family have proved to be outstanding generals.
They have fought tirelessly for Daliang.
They should, indeed, be rewarded.
” “Right, we must reward them!” Empress Dowager Xiao’s eyes were brimming with joy.
Su Jiu was itching to ask Xiao Lie if there was any news on Da Dapao.
She looked at Xiao Lie, but the man opposite her refused to even glance at her.
Su Jiu also knew that it was not an appropriate timing to ask and hence could only wait patiently.
When the Nangong family was mentioned, Empress Dowager Xiao suddenly said, “Doesn’t their family also have a daughter? She never enters the palace.
I’ve almost forgotten about her.
” “Yes, her name is Nangong Bi.
Because her nature is unrestrained and doesn’t like the fact that the palace is burdened with rules, she rarely comes here.
It’s not your fault that you don’t remember her.
” “How old is that girl? Has she been promised to anyone? Empress Dowager Xiao asked in detail.
“She just came of age and is not engaged to anyone.
The senior Nangong General cannot bear marry off his only daughter.
” “That old man Nangong Che is extremely picky.
I fear that even after considering all the men under the under heavens, none of them will be good enough for him.
” Empress Dowager scoffed with a smile.
“It’s only because all fathers love and treasure their daughters.
” … While Empress Dowager Xiao and Imperial Concubine Rong were conversing, Xiao Lie sat at the corner, sipping his tea slowly.
His face was gloomy and devoid of color.
After a moment, Empress Dowager Xiao smiled, saying, “Lie’er has remained behind today.
Usually, he would leave after paying his respects.
Why would he have time to sit around with me?” Xiao Lie’s eyes unconsciously swept past Su Jiu, who was sitting opposite him.
He turned his head and said faintly with a smile, “If my royal grandmother does not like her grandson to sit here, your grandson can just take his leave.
” “Since when have I not wanted to see you? It would be great if you could stay by my side every day,” Empress Dowager Xiao laughed and turned to look at Su Jiu.
“I’m already elderly and can only feel at rest when I have someone to accompany me.
Little Jiu should come here to accompany me!” Su Jiu nodded her head and smiled brightly, “All right!’ Xiao Lie, who was seated opposite, seemed to be staring at her.
However, when Su Jiu turned her head, the man immediately shifted his eyes.
His expression carried an unspeakable sense of distance and indifference.
Su Jiu bit her lip and felt that she had to find an opportunity to give him an explanation.
But he had also lied to her.
She wasn’t even angry, and yet, he still seemed to be hung up on that matter.
She never knew he would turn out to be such a petty person.
It was almost noon.
The palace attendants came in to ask if Empress Dowager Xiao would like to have her meal.
Just as Su Jiu was about to rise and take her leave, Empress Dowager Xiao grabbed her by her wrist, “Little Jiu should have lunch with me.
” As she said this, she turned her head and looked at Xiao Lie, “If Lie’er is free, he can stay behind and have a meal before leaving the palace.
” Xiao Lie nodded his head, faintly, “All right.
” This time, even Imperial Concubine Rong looked suspiciously at her son from the corner of her eyes.
Every time he entered the palace, he was always in a rush.
What was he up to today? He had sat with the Empress Dowager for such a long time and had even agreed to stay behind for lunch.
Such behavior was unprecedented.
The dining room had already been set for lunch, and all of them surrounded Empress Dowager Xiao as they made their way there.
The large auspicious table had been set with numerous dishes served on expensive jade platters.
The fragrance of the food permeated the air and caused people to salivate.
The plates and soup bowls on the tables were embellished with gold phoenixes and colorful enamel.
The chopsticks were made of silver while the chopstick rests were made of jade.
It was incomparably luxurious.
Around ten palace girls dressed in palace robes stood behind Empress Dowager Xiao.
The palace attendants brought bowls of fragrant warm water for them to rinse their hands.
Once they had washed their hands, a few other attendants immediately offered them soft silk handkerchiefs embroidered with shimmering gold clouds.
During the meal, everything was orderly, and not a sound was made.
Everything was done correctly according to the procedures.
Alas, this was the life of a royal.
Finally, it was time to eat.
Su Jiu was starving.
She helped herself to a braised pork ball and stuffed it directly into her mouth.
As she was chewing, she realized that something wasn’t right and looked up, only to see the Empress Dowager Xiao, Imperial Concubine Rong, and Xiao Lie staring at her.
Su Jiu was chewing noisily, her big eyes turned, and she swallowed the meat down and asked, “Is anything wrong?” Xiao Lie’s lips hooked into a faint smile.
His expression seemed to warm up a bit.
Imperial Concubine Rong hurriedly said, “Nothing, if you like it eat more.
” The palace attendants at the side immediately understood and placed another braised pork ball onto Su Jiu’s plate.
Su Jiu looked left and right, and it dawned on her that palace attendants were standing behind both Empress Dowager Xiao and Imperial Concubine Rong.
They would pick up the dishes they liked to eat and break up the food into smaller pieces so that the Empress Dowager and Imperial Concubine Rong could put it gracefully into their mouths.
Even Xiao Lie only ate whatever the palace attendants picked for him.
She was the only one who picked up the dishes herself.
When she had just entered the Ji Manor, Ji Yuxian seemed to eat his meals in the same manner.
Later, because she did not like people serving her, he accommodated her and dismissed all the servants during meals.
Su Jiu wondered how people could savor their food if they were served like this.
“Little Jiu should treat my place as her own home.
You don’t have to be constrained by the rules.
Empress Dowager said considerately before instructing the palace attendants behind here, “You all may take your leave.
Today, I will help myself to the meal.
” “At your command!” The palace attendants took a step back and stood erect at the side.
Xiao Lie used his chopsticks and picked up a piece of duck and placed it in his mouth.
He turned his head and looked at Empress Dowager Xiao and said faintly with a smile, “Royal grandmother, try it.
The food seems more flavorful when you pick it up yourself.
” “Is that so?” Empress Dowager Xiao laughed and rejected the dish that Imperial Concubine Rong was about to pick for her.
Instead, she used her chopsticks and picked out a piece of bamboo shoot and put it into her mouth.
She nodded with a smile, “In the future, I don’t need these attendants anymore.
I can eat whatever I feel like eating.
Indeed, the food is much more flavorful this way.
” Imperial Concubine smiled lightly in agreement.
Su Jiu raised her eyebrows at Xiao Lie to express her gratefulness.
The man, however, seemed not to have seen it.
His eyes remained indifferent as he focused on eating his meal.
After lunch, the Empress Dowager needed to take a nap, and Su Jiu took the chance to excuse herself and escape the palace.
Empress Dowager Xiao ordered her servants to retrieve a pair of gold bangle bracelets carved with caltrop flowers and embedded with jade.
She gave the bangles to her as a gift and smiled affably, “I enjoyed myself today.
Whenever Little Jiu is free, you should come over and accompany me.
” “It would be my pleasure.
” Su Jiu nodded her head and smiled radiantly, “Empress Dowager should rest.
This commoner shall take her leave.
” Imperial Concubine sent one of the older palace maidservants to send Su Jiu out of the palace.
Once out of Fushou Palace, Xiao Lie was standing at the side, seemingly in conversation with one of the palace attendants.
When he saw Su Jiu, he dismissed the palace attendant.
With his handsome face, he said casually, “This prince just so happens to be leaving the palace now.
Let this prince lead the Young Mistress Ji out.
” The maidservant bowed and took her leave.
Xiao Lie’s dark eyes swept past Su Jiu, and he took the first step to head out.
Su Jiu hurriedly followed behind him.
It was just past noon.
The sun’s warm rays filtered past the flowering trees and cast dotted shadows on the cobblestone path.
The breeze was slightly chilly, and the willow catkins scattered in the wind.
It tickled when the catkins brushed against one’s face.
The man walked in front.
His silhouette was tall and upright, emitting a sense of nobility.
The way he carried himself was domineering and repelled anyone from getting near him.
Su Jiu quickened her pace and tilted her head to look at the man’s cold and lofty face.
She frowned and said, “Are you still angry? Didn’t you trick me as well? I’m not even upset; why are you so petty?” The man abruptly stopped in his tracks and turned his piercing eyes to look deeply at her.
Su Jiu raised her eyebrows, “Did I say something wrong?” As he saw the girl’s innocent appearance, Xiao Lie had no idea why he was so downcast these few days.
The depths of his deep and narrow eyes were boundless.
He looked casually at her, “I’ll ask you some questions.
You need to answer everything truthfully.
” Su Jiu nodded her head, “As long as I can say it, I promise I won’t lie to you.
” “Since you are still hiding some things from me, what can I even ask?” The man scoffed coldly and walked forward with big strides.
“All right, all right! I’ll tell you everything, just ask me!” Su Jiu chased after him.
Only then did Xiao Lie slow down.
His dark eyes cast a sidelong glance at her as he questioned, “Aren’t you the Dragon Conqueror Gang’s Chief of the Yuhu Mountain? Why have you become the Young Mistress of the Ji Manor?” If he remembered correctly, the Young Mistress of the Ji Manor was the eldest miss of the Su family from Fuyang, Su Yuejiu.
How did two unrelated people suddenly become the same person? Su Jiu shrugged her shoulders and lifted an eyebrow, “It’s going to take a while to explain this.
” The man’s long brows instantly knitted.
He remarked in a cold voice, “You said you would tell me everything.
If you don’t want to say it, you don’t have to be so evasive and stammer away.
” “I’ll say!” Su Jiu knew she had a guilty conscience and did not dare offend this prince.
She glared at him and told him about how their Dragon Conqueror Gang had attempted to rob the Su family of their dowry and how she had eventually disguised herself as the miss of the Su family, entered the city, and got married.
Xiao Lie could never have imagined that the story would have such an origin.
He curved his lips into a refreshing smile, “You have guts, I’ll say that for you.
” “At that time, we entered the city at the heat of the moment.
Eventually, we had no control over the events that happened after that.
I could only keep up the ruse until the end.
” “So, you aren’t from the Su family?” Xiao Lie’s bright eyes seemed to have gained some insight as he asked faintly.
However, his expression appeared to have warmed up significantly.
“Right, I am Su Jiu.
I did not trick you.
” “Then, does the Eldest Young Master Ji know you’re an imposter?” Xiao Lie questioned.
” Su Jiu nodded her head, her eyes darting up and down and back and forth.
“Since he already knows, why do you remain in the Ji Manor?” Xiao Lie’s handsome brows furrowed slightly.
“I agreed with Ji Yuxian.
He’ll help me with my business, and I’ll continue being his wife.
” “Until when?” Xiao Lie asked seriously.
“Not sure!” Su Jiu shook her head.
Her eyes flashed slightly.
“Maybe it’ll stay this way to the bitter end.
” “To the bitter end?” The corner of Xiao Lie’s lips had a hint of coldness as he looked directly into her eyes.
“Did you fall for Ji Yuxian?” Su Jiu was stunned for a moment.
Embarrassed, she replied, I’m not sure, but as of now, I don’t think there’s anything wrong about being with him.
” Xiao Lie furrowed his brows and looked at her.
He said in a low voice, “Have you never considered what you’d do when you eventually meet someone you like and want to marry?” Su Jiu stared at him with bemused eyes.
Xiao Lie took a deep sigh, at a loss.
The inexplicable anger he felt before had already dissipated.
When he saw a few palace attendants walking in their direction, he continued to lead her toward the palace gate.
“Then what about the Su family? Will you be able to hide this from them? The day will come when they’ll find out about the deception.
” The Su family was bound to enter the capital sooner or later.
As long as they came to the city to visit their daughter at Ji Manor, they would discover the fact that the current Young Mistress of the Ji Manor was not their daughter.
How much longer would she be able to hide this? Unfazed, Su Jiu said, “If anything, I can just pretend to be ill again.
” “Pretend to be ill?” The man sneered, his thin lips held a hint of sarcasm.
“If it’s only one or two times, they probably won’t have any doubts.
But if you pretend to be ill for the third time, I guarantee the Su family will start to be suspicious.
” Su Jiu raised her head slightly and looked at the palace buildings in the distance.
She sighed, “I can only seek refuge when the flood comes.
I’ll decide how to solve this when the problem arises.
” She sighed, but her face revealed that she remained untroubled.
Her eyes were crystal clear, as though they had been scrubbed clean.
She turned her head and looked at Xiao Lie, “I’ve already said everything I have to say.
You shouldn’t be angry anymore.
” Xiao Lie glanced sideways at her and said calmly, “Only on the day that you leave Ji Manor will I cease to be angry.
” After he said that, he walked away with big strides.
Su Jiu furrowed her brows.
This man was such a difficult person.
“Oh right, just now at the Empress Dowager’s place, you mentioned that we won the first battle? Is there any other news?” Su Jiu ran after him to ask.
“No, but Nangong Shu also sent a message back to the Nangong Manor.
You can go there and ask around,” Xiao Lie replied nonchalantly.
Su Jiu’s eyes brightened.
“All right, I’ll go there now.
” “I just so happened to have something to discuss with the Senior Nangong General.
I’ll take you there.
” The girl had displayed a joyful smile, pure and radiant as the spring sun.
When the man saw this, his voice subconsciously became gentler.
“Mm,” Su Jiu’s face was bright as she nodded her head with a smile.
As the two of them left via the palace gates, they saw a horse carriage from Ji Manor parked right under the palace walls.
Jin Feng was standing next to it, waiting for Su Jiu.
Xiao Lie’s face dimmed in that instance, and his expression became chilly and hard to read as he said faintly, “The Ji Manor is here to pick you up.
It looks as I don’t have to give you a lift.
” “Mm, I’ll make my way to the Nangong Manor.
I shall take my leave then.
” Su Jiu turned around and bid farewell to Xiao Lie.
Xiao Lie stared at the Ji Manor’s horse carriage as he nodded his head emotionlessly.
His gaze was dense, seemingly concealing feelings that even he did not understand.
Su Jiu was not the real Young Mistress Ji.
This news had allowed his heart to rejoice a little.
But it seemed as though Su Jiu had no plans to leave Ji Manor.
Ji Yuxian… What had he given Su Jiu? As he watched Su Jiu’s horse carriage disappear in the distance, the man stood rooted there.
His eyes, which had a few strands of color, gradually dimmed again.
Suddenly, he felt as though it didn’t make a difference whether Su Jiu was Su Yuejiu.
What about him? What were his feelings for Su Jiu? Even if she wasn’t the genuine Young Mistress of the Ji Manor, would he be able to marry her? Maybe this was fate.
His feelings, which had just started to take root and bud, were destroyed.
The man no longer looked at the departing shadow of the horse carriage.
At that moment, his lonely and cold presence was restored.
He turned his body and strolled along the palace walls into the distance.
Back in the Ji Manor horse carriage, the man had locked Su Jiu between his arms.
He raised his brows and asked, “What did you tell him?” Su Jiu was relaxed as she replied, “Everything!” “Everything?” An evil glint flashed past Ji Yuxian’s almond-shaped eyes.
His long, handsome finger propped up Su Jiu’s chin as he said in a low voice, “You trust him that much?” Su Jiu replied gravely, “When I first entered the city, I met him and Nangong Shu.
Both have helped me in the past.
At the time, I told myself that these people were my friends.
” An inexplicable sigh came out from Ji Yuxian’s lips.
He looked helplessly at the girl, but his voice continued to dote on her, “You are such a fool.
” Su Jiu, however, thought of something else and asked, “Do you know Su Yuejiu’s mother? I’m talking about the real Su Yuejiu.
” Ji Yuxian closed his eyes and thought for a moment.
His fingers played with her black hair as he contemplated, “I probably met her before when I was young.
I have no recollection anymore.
What’s the matter?” “Today in the palace, the Empress Dowager told me a lot about when Su Yuejiu’s mother lived in the palace.
I’m not sure why, but I suddenly want to meet her,” Su Jiu said softly.
Ji Yuxian lowered his head and gave her a peck her on the lips.
“If you met her, wouldn’t you be exposed?” Su Jiu’s heart shrank when she heard those words.
When she recalled what Xiao Lie had told her, her chest suddenly sank a little.
Was she going to live the rest of her life using Su Yuejiu’s name? And did she have to keep her guard up against the Su Family members? This was not what she had initially been intended when she first married into the Ji Manor.
If she wanted to return to being Su Jiu, the only way was to leave the Ji Manor.
Ji Yuxian seemed to have noticed a difference in Su Jiu.
He bent over and planted a kiss on her eyebrows as he said in a low voice, “Don’t worry, no one will find out!” So what if they were discovered.
Su Yuejiu was already dead, and the person he married was Su Jiu.
Su Jiu took a deep breath and exhaled all the chaotic thoughts that burdened her heart.
As she lay in the man’s embrace and smelled the addictive fragrance of lotus on his body, she felt more at peace.
The wooden box she was hugging suddenly tumbled out.
Ji Yuxian extended his hands toward her breast and searched, before taking out a wooden box carved with flowers.
He asked, “What’s this?” Su Jiu immediately forgot all her worries and opened the wooden box.
She said excitedly, “The Empress Dowager gave me this.
Take a look.
Is it valuable?” Gold bangles carved with caltrop flowers and embedded with jade.
The artistry was exquisite; it was beautiful.
At a glance, one could tell that it was from the palace.
Ji Yuxian wrapped his arms around her and laughed softly, “Very valuable…” He did not wait for Su Jiu to express her happiness and continued, “But not worth any money.
” Her face froze.
Furrowing her brows, she asked, “What do you mean?” Valuable but not worth any money? “This bangle is made of gold and was crafted skillfully.
The jade it’s embedded with is beautiful and of high quality.
The artistry is flawless and impeccable, so it is worth a lot of money,” Ji Yuxian dragged his words.
Su Jiu raised her head and waited for him to complete his sentence.
“But it’s an item from the palace.
You can’t sell it.
Neither can you pawn it.
You can only treat it as a decoration.
Since you can’t sell it, it’s not worth any money.
” Su Jiu was in a daze and said with slight disappointment, “Then what’s the use of keeping it?” Can’t pawn it, and can’t eat it.
She could only lock it in a box and wait for it to turn into an antique.
“Of course, it has a use!” Ji Yuxian took out one set and put it on Su Jiu’s slender wrist.
The jade accentuated her smooth, pale complexion.
In the future, we can give it to our daughter as her dowry.
” Ji Yuxian’s lips hooked into a smile as he kissed her lightly on her beautiful lips.
Su Jiu was stunned, “Our daughter…” Ji Yuxian’s long and narrow eyes closed slightly, revealing an evil glint.
He parted his lips slightly and said in a husky voice, “Yes, a daughter produced by the two of us.
” Su Jiu rubbed her lips that he had just kissed.
She seemed a little nervous as she asked, “How to produce?” Ji Yuxian’s chest thumped once, the corner of his lips carried a doting smile.
“At that time, my wife will find out.
” Su Jiu’s eyes turned away from her.
She plucked off the bangle from her wrist and returned it to the box.