“I am the Immortal Abode’s Qiu Honglei! Did the young master forget so quickly?” Qiu Honglei pouted at him petulantly.
“You claim to be just a courtesan, yet you are so concerned with Duke Chu’s family matters. You’ve already analyzed everything in such detail. Does that seem like what a simple brothel girl would do at all?” Zu An sneered.
Qiu Honglei sighed. “Wasn’t it not too long ago that young master was hollering to those other men that you were going to treat me gently?”
Zu An was left speechless.
No matter how thick his skin was, he still felt extremely embarrassed that she had heard him say this.
“I only said that just now to get them worked up! I was just kidding… Hahaha…” Zu An could no longer keep his composure. Thoroughly embarrassed, he tried desperately to justify himself.
“But I’d already chosen to meet with you alone tonight! By saying such a thing, you’ve left my reputation in tatters. I’m no longer a pure and innocent girl in their eyes.” Qiu Honglei grew more and more broken-hearted as she spoke. An emotional tear trickled out from the corner of her eye.
Zu An really had to hand it to her. This woman’s charm was too strong. Even though he was fully aware that she was putting on an act, he still couldn’t completely control his emotions.
Qiu Honglei sobbed as she said, “Even though I chose… chose you today, I am not a heartless girl… of course I need to ask about your family situation! I have to ask if your wife is an envious woman, and if her parents would tolerate me.
“That’s why I wanted confirmation from the young master! I was trying to make an important decision earlier. I didn’t expect to be misunderstood by the young master…
“After spending all these years in a brothel, I’ve heard the tragic tales of too many of my seniors. If it wasn’t a story of heartbreak, then it was a home with a violent man, or a lifetime of potential happiness in ruins.”
“Honglei doesn’t wish to repeat their tragedy…”
Her performance seemed completely real, completely like that of a young lady who was worried about her future. Even the coldest of hearts would melt at the sight of her tears.
It was just a pity that Zu An wasn’t an ordinary person. He had always seen things rather differently. “From what you’ve just said, it seems you plan to entrust your entire life to me?”
“If the young master does not dislike my poor self and young miss Chu’s family doesn’t mind either, then I… of course I am willing.” Qiu Honglei lowered her head in a bashful manner, her neck reddening slightly.
Zu An sighed as he gazed upon this incomparably tender and beautiful woman. “If this figure of yours is considered poor, then I fear that everyone in the world is ugly.”
Only then did Qiu Honglei’s tears turn to laughter. “The young master must be joking. You must not say these things in front of young miss Chu in the future! Honglei doesn’t want to be hated so soon after committing myself to you.”
She completely immersed herself in this role, speaking as if she was about to become a concubine.
“Don’t worry, Chuyan told me herself that she doesn’t mind if I look for other girls.” Zu An repeated, “You don’t have to worry if she will accept you either. In our family, there’s no way she will ever disobey me willingly.”
Qiu Honglei sneered on the inside. Who would ever believe that?
“But there is one other troubling matter.” Zu An wore a conflicted expression.
“What is it?” Qiu Honglei said out of curiosity. Could it be the Chu clan’s Madam?
Indeed, if I was Brightmoon Duke, I wouldn’t want my daughter’s husband to have a concubine. If such a thing happened, how could the Chu clan retain any dignity at all?
Zu An studied her from head to toe. His intent gaze immediately made Qiu Honglei’s heart hasten.
“What is the young master looking at?”
“You really are too pretty. This type of face, this type of physique… it isn’t too much to call it devastatingly beautiful.”
The corners of Hong QIulei’s lips turned up slightly. This fellow has finally noticed my charm. “As long as it pleases the young master. However, you still haven’t spoken about the other issue.”
“This is precisely the issue…” Zu An corrected her. “You are too pretty, and even hold the title of Brightmoon City’s most famous courtesan. How could the Immortal Abode willingly let you go?”
Qiu Honglei sighed with obvious relief. “The young master needs not worry. I don’t have a regular contract with the Immortal Abode. We have agreed that, were we to part ways, there would be no hard feelings. They will not make any trouble for me as long as I pay them a promised sum.”
“But they would surely demand a hefty sum for a star like you! You know that I am but a lowly drafted son-in-law. I really don’t have any money…” Touching upon this sorest or sore spots left Zu An full of embarrassment.
Qiu Honglei had to stop herself from rolling her eyes.
Like hell I’ll believe you!
Who in Brightmoon City doesn’t know that you won seven-and-a-half million silver taels from Silverhook Casino? After that, you even won another million or so from another gambling den during the Clans Tournament. And yet, you still dare to claim that you don’t have money?!
You have successfully trolled Qiu Honglei for 256 Rage points!
However, she didn’t let her anger show on the surface. Instead, she said with an embarrassed expression, “The young master doesn’t need to worry. I have also quietly saved up a little bit of money on the side. It should be enough for me to free myself.”
“Then that’s great!”
Zu An roared with laughter, but he was frowning inside.
This woman wanted to marry him even if she lost money!
Even though I really am too charming, my face too handsome, with plenty of money in the bank… even though I am a publicly known lady-killer, this is Qiu Honglei we are talking about!
You are the most popular courtesan within a thousand miles, a well-known virgin-slayer! With a crook of your finger, you can make endless men tread through flames for your sake! Would you really give up money instead of taking money to be with a man?
Who would believe you?!
Wait a minute. Could she have somehow subconsciously fallen for my suave greatness?
His mind continuously wavered back and forth, and so did Qiu Honglei’s.
This man in front of her was different from other men. He wasn’t anything like those dumb pigs who merely seemed astute on the surface.
Having learned from her previous lesson, she realized that she was slightly too hasty. She didn’t dare to continue to ask about the Chu clan’s matters.
Instead, she brought the conversation back to romance. “Let’s not talk about these ordinary affairs for now. I’ve always been a bit curious about something. Just how did young master create a song like ‘The Smiling, Proud Wanderer?’”
“Oh, I uh… seemed to have heard someone play it beside my ears in a dream one day. Then, I knew how to play it.” Zu An tried a random excuse. It wasn’t because he didn’t want to play the part of a talented nobleman. Rather he didn’t truly dare claim that he made this song.
After all, he only remembered these few songs. If someone asked him to compose another song, what was he supposed to do?
That was why he had to shake this false reputation as soon as he could, to prevent things from getting out of hand. If that happened, his fall would be even harder.
Qiu Honglei sighed in admiration. “I’ve read books which claimed that some people’s talents come from the heavens, but I never believed them. Only when I met young master did I realize that there really were people like this in the world.”
Zu An almost screamed.
Please take me off this pedestal! I really need to keep my low profile…
Zu An couldn’t stand being flattered like this. He hurriedly changed the topic. “Speaking of which, the first song you played clearly reflected your true emotions. Who were you thinking about when you played that song?”
“The young master does not need to worry at all, that was merely an artistic piece. Honglei has never set her thoughts on anyone else before. Young master… is the first one.” Qiu Honglei lowered her head bashfully as she spoke, and her eyelashes fluttered slightly. This really would make endless men go crazy.
Zu An chuckled. Casually listening to her was fine, but taking her words seriously really might get him hurt badly. All of those girls would be laughing behind his back if that happened.
“Was that story about your parents in the past?”
A sharp noise rang out. Qiu Honglei’s cup slipped out of her hands and fell onto the table, the smile on her face vanishing instantly.
The silence dragged on for a long time, before Qiu Honglei sighed. “Even if I deny it, I fear that young master won’t believe me.”
“Just what happened to the two of them? Did your parents really pass away?” Zu An asked curiously. He had picked up some things from Leng Shuangyue earlier, but there was much that she hadn’t known.
Qiu Honglei took a deep breath. Her sweet smile from earlier was nowhere to be seen, and her voice was the coldest it had ever been. “I do not wish to talk about what happened between them.”
She regretted her words as soon as she spoke them. I’ve probably offended him deeply.
She had actually made it this far. Ruining everything right at the end like this truly was regretful.
It’s all my fault for not being able to let go of things from the past.
She never expected Zu An to laugh instead. “I wonder if the lady knows that your current appearance is much more real, and much more beautiful.”
Qiu Honglei gave him a complicated look. “The young master truly isn’t anything like the rumors.”
Zu An reached out a hand. “Let’s introduce ourselves again. I am Zu An, you can call me Ah Zu.”
Qiu Honglei stared blankly. Even though she didn’t know what kind of greeting this was, she subconsciously reached out her hand. The two shook hands lightly. “I am Qiu Honglei, you can call me Honglei.”
She was stunned that she would take the initiative to make physical contact with a man. Perhaps it had been his clear, honest expression just now, or perhaps it had been that split second where she had been so emotionally vulnerable.
The two of them sat in silence, savoring this moment of tranquility. Suddenly, a commotion came from outside.
There was a scream of alarm, followed by the wanton laughter of men.
Qiu Honglei’s brow furrowed. She tapped on the wall of the cabin, and inquired of the boatman outside, “What’s happened?”
“Young miss, there are bandits… ah!”
There was a splash. Clearly, the man had fallen into the water.
Immediately following that, the small boat rocked violently, as if many people jumped onto it.
“This boat smells so good. Who knows, there might be a gorgeous woman inside.”
“If there is a girl, who’s first?”
“Why not do it together?”
Wretched and vulgar voices yelled out one after another.Previous Chapter Next Chapter