Jiang Meiyi wasn’t very happy when she heard her daughter’s criticism. However, she wasn’t stupid beyond measure and knew that sometimes she said things that were a bit too much. Thus, she didn’t retort and only impatiently said, “I understand. In the future, Mother will take more care. How come you suddenly brought up the topic of that lass surnamed Yu?”
Wu Junling let her body sway gently with the rocking of the carriage as she tightened her grip on her handkerchief, “The rumors on streets state that this Official Yu is intimately close with...Older Cousin! I don’t know who started these rumors but they state that Older Cousin likes Official Yu and that once she becomes of age, he will send down his engagement gifts to her!”
“Hahaha...this rumor is really too hilarious. It absolutely is completely false!!” Jiang Meiyi used her handkerchief to cover her mouth as if she had heard the most absurd and funny joke, “I’ve been sisters with your aunt for many years, so how can I not understand her personality? My legitimate older sister, ah, is very aware of her noble status and somewhat aloof. That girl surnamed Yu has a lowly background, so does it matter that the emperor regards her with importance? She’s only a muddy peasant farmer’s girl who’s risen beyond what’s proper. How could your aunt possibly allow someone with such a vulgar and petty background marry her son?”
After hearing her mother’s thoughts, Wu Junling felt as if her heart had lightened a bit and she slightly smiled and mumbled as if she was speaking to herself, “That’s right ah. Older Cousin is as high as an immortal. He would have to be blind if he didn’t pick me…”
How could she know that a certain blind man’s whole heart only had room for Yu Xiaocao? As a matter of fact, he had been training the soldiers in the deep mountainous forests for half a month. As soon as he got back to the base camp, he returned to the capital that very night on a fast horse.
He instructed Head Steward Liu and Bodyguard Dong to go back to the prince’s residence as he secretly went to visit the Yu Family’s residence. With Zhu Junyang’s skills, he was easily able to avoid the expert bodyguards he had personally trained there to go into the estate.
However, Yu Xiaocao, who was currently going over the account books, very quickly discovered that he was there because Little White, who was guarding her at her feet, had smelled the scent of Zhu Junyang in the air. The white wolf raised its ears and stood up before it softly ‘woofed’ a couple of times. It was reminding its master that a certain someone had climbed over the walls again.
Yu Xiaocao had long gotten used to a certain someone coming over without an invitation. She didn’t even raise her head as she said, “You’re here? Then come on in! Why are you standing at the doorway pretending to be a pillar ah?”
Zhu Junyang had an intoxicating smile on his face and his voice was gentle and sweet as he said, “Looks like our hearts are connected. Otherwise, how else can you always tell when this prince comes over despite the fact that none of the bodyguards can sense me?”
Yu Xiaocao, on the other hand, didn’t have a single romantic bone in her body as she replied in a matter-of-fact manner, “Our hearts are connected? I think it’s more likely that your heart is connected with Little White instead. Every time you come over, Little White is the first to sense you!”
Little White, who had lain back down next to Xiaocao’s feet, lifted its head in alarm to glance at Zhu Junyang. Then it immediately turned its head away in disgust.
Zhu Junyang sat next to Xiaocao and didn’t believe that the wolf disliked him. He gently rubbed Little White’s soft and furry head and said a compliment, “Little White, you’re very good! When this prince isn’t around, your master’s protection is up to you. Next time, the prince will bring some roasted venison for you!”
Little White obviously didn’t like his ‘caresses’ and forcefully shook its head but was unable to throw that hand away. Its blue-green eyes were filled with annoyance. If it wasn’t for the fact that it knew it couldn’t beat this human, it would have already savaged the hand on its head already!
“Your Highness, Great General Zhu, how come you didn't go visit your sweet and innocent younger cousin and came to visit me instead?” Xiaocao had long known that Wu Junling had been running over to Imperial Prince Jing’s residence to visit. In fact, the princess consort herself had invited Xiaocao over to speak of this. On the surface, she was stating that she shouldn’t worry but in actuality, she was warning Xiaocao that her son was quite popular and that she needed to treat him better to avoid him being snatched away by someone else.
Zhu Junyang could smell the vinegary scent of jealousy in the air and hurriedly pulled the little lass into his arms as he vehemently declared, “I’m being falsely accused here ah! Ever since that episode in front of the capital gates, this prince has never gone to see her. Furthermore, I haven’t even spoken to her since then…”
“Oh? You don’t feel a tiny bit of regret in your heart in not seeing her?” Yu Xiaocao pushed away the prince’s chest. This fellow was becoming more and more bold. He was now openly touching her without any shame. She wouldn't allow this!
“Not even the slightest bit! I’m doing my best to avoid her, so why would I want to see her?” Zhu Junyang felt a bit lost when the lass left his embrace, so he tenaciously pulled at the little lass’s pale and tender hand and gently wrapped his palm around hers.
To someone who had lived in the modern area, holding hands in a relationship didn’t really mean too much, so she didn’t reject this advance. That being said, this fellow had behaved quite well recently. Other than staying at the barracks, he only went out to see her and very rarely went back to the imperial prince’s estate to visit. She should give him a small reward for this.
“If you don’t like her, then you need to make things clear early. I don’t like it when something that is considered mine is always being eyed covetously by someone else!” In her previous life, Yu Xiaocao really disliked men who pursued girls in an ambiguous manner. Obviously, she wouldn’t give Zhu Junyang the chance now to act in that way.
Zhu Junyang nodded his head in a solemn manner, “Okay! The next time I see Wu Junling, I will say that I already have a shrew at home. In order to not cause a misunderstanding, she needs to stay far away from me. Does that work?”
Yu Xiaocao forcefully restrained her urge to smile and let out a huff, “That’s about right! Listen well! If you start getting feelings for another woman, even if it hurts me a lot, I will still make sure to leave you. I will definitely not aggrieve myself for the sake of some petty love!”
Zhu Junyang regarded the little lass in a serious manner and stated, “Don’t worry, this prince was born with very little room in my heart. I only have enough space for the tiny little you and no one else!”
Xiaocao had to admit that she did like to hear romantic sappy things sometimes just like other people. She gripped Zhu Junyang’s hand and raised her head to swiftly plant a light kiss on his cheek. Then her cheeks flushed as she quietly said, “This is to reward you!”
Zhu Junyang felt his throat suddenly dry and his phoenix eyes fixated on that adorable, small pair of lips that resembled cherries and he swallowed involuntarily…
Yu Xiaocao watched as Zhu Junyang’s head came closer and closer to her face. His pair of phoenix eyes seemed to be aglow with a tantalizing light and his perfectly shaped lips seemed to be beckoning towards her. She forcefully tore herself out of this reverie and managed to restrain herself from kissing him. She jerked back a few steps and placed a small hand on the lips that were inches away from her.
“Have you forgotten that I have a lot of people keeping an eye on me? I’m still a child. If you cross the line, in the future, you won’t even be able to visit me secretly!” Yu Xiaocao reminded him.
Zhu Junyang had been sternly warned by Fang Zizhen in the past. He had also agreed to the terms. Before they got engaged, he couldn’t engage in any intimate acts with Xiaocao. Although the residence’s guards were unable to prevent him from entering, he couldn’t dismiss his future father-in-law's words. He could already tell that this godfather and godmother would be much harder to handle than his lass’s biological parents.
Argh! He stared at Xiaocao’s tantalizing red lips for a bit and managed to dampen down his desire. He reluctantly increased the distance between him and his little lass while an aggrieved thought popped up in his mind, ‘Why can’t it be like the storybooks and allow me to directly timeskip to when the little lass is eighteen and we’re allowed to get engaged for marriage?’
He spent half the night with Xiaocao being sweet with her. It was only after the little lass started yawning constantly that he finally reluctantly went back to the imperial prince’s estate to rest in his own courtyard. When he found out that his mother had fled to avoid that mother-daughter pair, he frowned deeply. The little lass was right. He couldn’t allow this to continue and needed to make things clear to all parties.
The next day, he took advantage of his break to visit his aunt’s home. When Wu Junling heard her maidservant report, “Young Miss, Royal Prince Yang is here and he says he wants to see you!!”, she almost couldn’t believe her ears. Her older cousin had finally decided to see her? Did her sincerity finally move him and change his heart?
“Older Cousin…” Wu Junling changed into a new set of qi-style attire that had been made by Exquisite Garments. The pale blue color outer garment delicately hugged her maidenly form and the goose-yellow cotton sleeves contrasted beautifully with her pale hands that were barely visible. At this moment, she was regarding Zhu Junyang with her doe-like eyes with a sweet and adoring expression. If it were anyone else in the room, they would have wanted to drown into those innocent and watery eyes and not come out.
Unfortunately, she was interacting with singularly unromantic, cold-faced Royal Prince Yang. It was as if he didn’t see her careful attempts to dress up for him at all. In fact, he hadn’t even properly looked at her since she entered the room. Wu Junling felt her heart slowly grow heavy and a bad feeling settled into her heart.
As expected, Zhu Junyang wasn’t the type to mince his words around young maidens. He took a sip of tea from the cup in his hands and directly stated, “Aunt, Younger Cousin, recently you’ve both been visiting the residence very frequently and have disturbed my lady mother. If you were coming over as a simple visit between family members, then we would happily welcome you. However, if you’re coming over due to some other ulterior motives, this prince will have to advise you to don’t become the victim of your own perceived ingenuity!”
Zhu Junyang believed that he had made himself quite clear with this. After all, the other party had never explicitly stated that she liked him romantically and wanted to be with him. After he finished he stood up and swiftly turned around to leave the room. He had no desire to spend another second looking at the flattering look on his aunt's face and the aggrieved expression on his cousin’s face.
“Older Cousin...you’ve probably misunderstood us!” Wu Junling hurriedly stood up and went forward two steps. Her large, doe-like eyes, which were very similar to Xiaocao’s, seemed to be misted over and filled with tears. Although the tears didn’t fall, it made her seem even more pitiful.
“Older Cousin, ever since I’ve arrived at the capital, I’ve recalled a lot of things from the past. When I was young, you took me to the back garden in the estate to play hide and seek, plucked some flowers from Her Highness’s most precious plants, and added some Chinese goldthread powder to your two older brothers’ tea...Her Highness has also said that our connection is even closer than two biological siblings. I don’t know what someone else said to you about me, but I’ve always regarded you like an older brother! Older Cousin, the words you said are truly too hurtful…”
Zhu Junyang couldn’t sense Wu Junling’s thoughts at all and it made him feel quite uneasy. The younger cousin in front of him gave off an aura that was completely different from Xiaocao. Whenever he was with Xiaocao, he felt as if his heart was at peace and that he could completely relax himself. However, whenever he was with this young maiden, who was currently pitifully looking at him as if she was an innocent who had been vilely bullied, he felt irritable and on edge. The darkness within the deepest corner of his heart seemed to react to this and started to act up again. His heart devil, which he hadn’t felt in a long time, seemed to be waiting for an opportunity to rise so it could show itself again…Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Sanguine’s thoughts: Wonder what’s up with Wu Junling...