Li Mengru was already quite tempted. Although she had a timid personality, she also wanted to show that she wasn’t a complete failure. Yu Xiaocao was younger than her by two to three years and was already so bold and courageous. Why couldn’t she also try to be more like the other little girl?
“Then if...you’re not afraid I’ll ruin your store, then I’m willing to collaborate with you in opening this new business!” Opportunities in life didn’t appear all the time. Li Mengru gritted her teeth and made her first daring decision in her entire life. Years later, the outcome would show that the step she took today was very worth it.
She had now convinced Li Mengru. In addition, she had already obtained the consent of Older Sister Yuan during her last visit with the other noble maiden. The daughter of the prime minister was quite intrigued by this beauty and cosmetics business and also agreed to work with her. With this, they were already halfway there to opening the beauty and cosmetics business.
“I’m planning on making our business into a special place for women to relax and beautify themselves. Other than selling some floral and herbal teas, we can also sell nourishing tisanes, cosmetics and other beautifying skin products. Furthermore, we can offer services to improve a woman’s face and appearance. For example, we can have facial consultations, shoulder and neck messages, traditional medicine consultations and pedicures. Furthermore, we can also organize parts of the boutique such that the customers can admire flowers, taste tea, eat pastries, play cards, and play mahjong. Also, we will only allow female customers in the store so this will be a boutique that is solely for the purpose to help women take care of themselves…” Yu Xiaocao described the wide scope that she wanted to try to combine so that Li Mengru would have more confidence in becoming a collaborator.
Li Mengru’s eyes started to glitter with excitement and a look of longing crossed her face. She murmured, “Originally, I thought that this was only going to be a store that sold cosmetics. But from what you’re saying, even I want to come and try out the services!”
“Don’t worry ah! Once the beautifying facility has finished construction, you, I, and Older Sister Yuan will all have our own special small courtyards in the building. Each mini-courtyard will have a perfect set of facilities, so you can experience any procedure that you want. Furthermore, it’ll be free for you and any of your next of kin! Each of us will also be given three diamond cards that allow people to get fifty percent off, so you can give them to your good friends!”
“Wow! That good, huh? But...isn’t that a bit too generous? Would our boutique not be able to cover our expenditures if we give out such good benefits?” Li Mengru was a bit hesitant at this. She had around six to seven sisters in her family. Although some had already married, they were still considered next of kin, right? If her sisters also brought other people along, would they be charging those people or not?
Yu Xiaocao grinned, “We can make the rules very clear. Only next of kin gets services for free. The people they bring along will at most get ten percent off, so it still gives them some face! Everyone is a well-bred lady in the capital and no one will dare to risk their personal reputation for the sake of getting a bit of personal benefits. We don’t need to worry about this! That being said, I have all the power in this scenario. If they want to enter, then they need to follow my rules. Otherwise, if they don’t, then they can enter the blacklist for all of my other enterprises! I’m sure that no one will be so stupid to try to do that!”
When she heard the word ‘blacklist’, Li Mengru recalled what had happened to Assistant Minister Li’s entire family. It was said that they had already eaten only radishes and cabbages for the past half month. Although they didn’t have to skimp on meat, they couldn’t only eat meat containing dishes all the time, right? Even she, as an unfavored concubine-born daughter, still had a plate of fresh and green vegetables at every meal! Assistant Minister Li’s family was so pathetic now!
However, who allowed their daughter to offend Younger Sister Xiaocao so much? Younger Sister Xiaocao was so friendly and adorable, yet Li Meirou unexpectedly hated her guts and even deliberately provoked her. The consequences were clear now. Li Meirou only brought disaster on her own family and they were now the laughingstock of the capital!
“Alright, let’s discuss the divisioning of profits now. I’ve already drafted up a contract. I’ll be in charge of obtaining the location, staff, materials, as well as bringing everything into operation and the marketing. You and Older Sister Yuan will only need to train a few maidservants such that they can make your special rouge, face powder, and duck egg powder. Both of you will get twenty percent, while I get sixty percent! How do you feel about that?” Yu Xiaocao took out a contract that had that all written out and gave it to Li Mengru to allow her to inspect it carefully.
Yu Xiaocao had just said that this beauty boutique spa was going to sell skincare products, cosmetics, cosmeceuticals, and beautifying procedures. Her rouge and face powder was only a small part of the business. Even if she didn’t collaborate, Xiaocao could easily make a business deal with Full Spring Fragrance instead. She felt a bit guilty taking twenty percent of the profits!
“In actuality, I could just take a tenth of the profits instead…” Li Mengru was very satisfied with the contents of the contract. If things went all, even though it was only twenty percent, it was still likely going to be a large sum of money. She felt a bit lacking in confidence taking such a generous share.
“Young Miss…” Her maidservant, Jiner, quietly prompted her. Was there anyone else in this world who would push away offered money? Her young miss was not very favored by her family. Other than some spending money, she never got rewarded with anything else. Furthermore, her entire allowance was pretty much spent on the ingredients to make her special blush and face powder.
Her young miss was almost fifteen and needed to start thinking for herself. Although Lady Li wouldn’t stint on the young miss’s dowry to embarrass her, she was still a daughter of the concubine at the end of the day. The young miss wasn’t very close to the madam usually, so it was unlikely that her dowry would be filled with valuable items. A dowry determined a woman’s status in her husband’s family. Naturally, the more one had the better. Miss Yu was kind and honest and was offering to give twenty percent of the profits to her young miss. Who would have thought that her young miss was so silly that she would negotiate to have a smaller share. Sigh...following such an innocent and naive mistress made her worry to bits sometimes!
Yu Xiaocao smiled faintly and shot a glance at the worried maidservant before she said, “Twenty percent is what I negotiated with Older Sister Yuan. If you have problems, then I can also invite Older Sister Yuan over next time and you can discuss with her…”
“No, no! Twenty percent is also very good. There’s no need to bother Miss Yuan about this!” The legitimate daughter of the prime minister was also known as the one of the two famed beauties in the capital. Compared to herself, who was merely the concubine-born daughter of an official in the Ministry of Ceremonies, Miss Yuan was the heavens to her ground. To her, Yuan Xueyan was someone she could look up to. Even her older legitimate sister wouldn’t necessarily have the status to chat easily with Miss Yuan. How could she dare to question Miss Yuan’s decision on something?
“Since you have no objections, then you can sign this contract!” Yu Xiaocao felt like she was the big bad wolf who was trying to abduct Little Red Riding Hood. She had Wutong grind the ink and then handed the brush over to Li Mengru.
Li Mengru signed the contract in a woozy manner. The contract that described her twenty percent share of the profits was now finally done. Jiner carefully placed Li Mengru’s finished contract into her embroidered pouch and planned on immediately placing the precious agreement into her young miss’s personal box when they got back to the residence.
At this time, Yingchun lifted the curtain and stepped inside. She used a crisp and clear voice to announce, “Young Miss, Royal Prince Yang has paid a visit!”
“I have a guest over, so go tell Zhuzi to bring him to the study in the outer courtyard and serve him some tea and light refreshments. When I’m done here, then I’ll receive him!” Yu Xiaocao glanced at the color of the sky outside. That fellow must have rushed over as soon as court let out. The smile on her face unconsciously deepened a bit.
After Yingchun left with her orders, Yu Xiaocao turned around and discovered that Li Mengru’s face had suddenly turned so white that it was a bit scary. Yu Xiaocao’s eyes filled with concern and she couldn’t help but ask, “Older Sister Mengru, are you not feeling right? I know a bit of medicine, how about I take a look for you?”
Li Mengru forced the corners of her lips up and revealed a smile that was more ugly than a sob. Her voice shuddered as she replied, “I...I’m alright!”
After she finished replying, she picked up her teacup and suddenly drank a large gulp that almost ended up choking her. Yu Xiaocao gave her an odd glance. The other maiden was perfectly fine earlier, so what caused her to suddenly act like this? From the way she looked, she resembled a little roe deer who had been frightened to death.
Her eyes flickered and Yu Xiaocao finally revealed an expression full of doubt as she decided to try to ask, “Older Sister Mengru, are you...afraid of Royal Prince Yang?”
Li Mengru hesitated for a moment and then slightly nodded her head. She spoke in a quiet voice, “I heard...that Royal Prince Yang looks as crude as a bear and his face is as black as the bottom of a pot. His eyes are as large as copper gongs and his voice sounds like thunder! One slap from him is able to kill a startled horse on the scene. One kick from him can cause a man to spit up blood and die instantly. Just a single glare from him is enough to cause a person’s blood to flow backwards….he’s temperamental and moody to a fault. He can be fine for one second and then the next second he’ll flip out! In a rage, he could rip a person in two…”
“Pffffttt——” Yu Xiaocao couldn’t hold back her mirth when she heard the other girl’s descriptions. She gurgled incessantly with laughter as she held her belly. Apparently, in the eyes of these young maidens who rarely stepped outside, Royal Prince Yang had such a bad reputation that he resembled the black bear demon in the Journey to the West. He could even rip a person in two! This was truly the same ability that those demons in the mythical stories had in her past life! That was too funny! When she saw Zhu Junyang later, she needed to make fun of him!
“Why are you laughing? I’m not done talking!” Li Mengru opened her eyes wide as if she wasn’t as scared anymore. However, she still used a quiet voice to remind Yu Xiaocao, “Younger Sister Xiaocao, you must be very, very careful when you’re interacting with Royal Prince Yang. You’re so tiny so it’d be easy for him to eliminate you with one finger! You absolutely must go with what he says and don’t offend him!”
“Young Miss…” Jiner noticed that her young miss was becoming more and more ridiculous with every word she said. She stealthily pulled at Li Mengru’s sleeve to remind her to say less. This wasn’t the first time that Miss Yu had met with Royal Prince Yang. It was obvious that their relationship was quite good as Royal Prince Yang protected her fiercely and was willing to punish Assistant Minister Li’s family for her. ‘If you keep saying such things behind Royal Prince Yang’s back to Miss Yu, is it really alright?’
However, Li Mengru threw off her maid’s hand and continued, “Younger Sister Xiaocao, you absolutely need to believe this. Did you know that Royal Prince Yang’s reputation is used to scare little children? When my fifth younger brother was being very naughty, my legitimate mother scared him by saying, ‘if you refuse to behave, then I’ll send you to Royal Prince Yang’. This saying is known throughout the capital and everyone uses it!”
“PFFFTTTT! Bwahahahaha, I can’t take it anymore...my tummy is about to burst from laughing too much!! Wutong, quickly give me a belly rub! I laughed so hard that I’m bloated!” Yu Xiaocao laid on the table and continuously pounded the table in mirth. She was laughing so hard that tears were streaming down her face!
Wutong and Tanchun stifled their smiles. One maid started rubbing their master’s belly while the other poured a cup of hot tea to serve to her. Apparently, in other people’s eyes, that handsome and good-tempered Royal Prince Yang had a demonic side to him. The nicknames ‘the cold-faced death god’, ‘grim demon king’, and ‘the calamitous star’ were probably all given to him because of these false rumors, right?
How could these two maids know that if the prince hadn’t met their young miss, then, other than his looks, he might be exactly like the man described in those rumors that Li Mengru mentioned. That prince would have been tormented by his inner demon and would have started to kill people willy-nilly, causing rivers of blood to flow. As time passed, he would become a blood-seeking demon and the court would need to take out their entire army, including Su Ran and the hidden bodyguards he commanded, to subdue him once and for all…Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Sanguine’s thoughts: Looks like alternate-universe Zhu Junyang had a pretty bad ending...