Commander Wen Jinkai suppressed the twitch of his lips that threatened to curl into a victorious smirk. He rested a hand on the hilt of his sword and continued walking as if he hadn't heard the pleasant voice of Li Xueyue.
"Commander," she breathed out, her voice laced with irritation.
He turned a deaf ear to her words and continued strolling while examining his surroundings. His pleasant mood dimmed when he noticed something unsettling. The Fourth Prince was discussing something with the Emperor. His eyes narrowed. He'd have to investigate what the babbling fool was whispering.
"You're rude," Xueyue huffed when she caught up to Wen Jinkai and stood by his side.
He tilted his head and glanced down at her. She was so small, he couldn't resist the urge to place a gloved hand on the top of her head. If he wanted to, he could easily rest his chin on the crown of her head.
She tensed, lifting up her head to stare at him. She found it so intriguing that he looked more guarded than Duke Li. She realized he had a slight cut on his right eyebrow, probably from a light scuffle. That's weird, didn't Li Chenyang also have a scar on his eyebrow? Did they use to get into fights when they were younger?
"If I'm rude, what does that make you?"
Xueyue resisted the urge to shiver at his husky voice. Velvety smooth but crisp like silk wrapped over a sword. "I don't know what you're talking about–" she gasped when he placed a hand on the small curve of her back and yanked her towards him. Her eyes widened and her hand instantly flew to his chest to create distance.
"Commander!" she furiously said. "This is improper! Let go of me," she hissed, pushing at his chest. Like an unwavering mountain, he did not budge.
"There are people watching. Who do you think you are?" she fumed, her hand balled into a fist. She lifted her knee but he had already anticipated what she would do. Using his powerful thigh, he instantly suppressed her knee. It caused her to lose her balance but he instantly caught her with a mischievous smirk.
"You must think you're so smart with that move."
"I'm going to scream bloody murder!" she hissed, her head craned towards the tent, wondering if any of the Li members saw her. She was more worried about the opinion of her family than the surrounding whispers that instantly arose from behind and around her. The people were beginning to gossip about her.
"Why don't you reserve that voice for night time," he teased, peering down at her. Her robes had shifted and it was revealing one of her assets, but he kept his eyes trained to her hazel ones. She was surprised by his words, but did not pardon his brutish treatment of her.
"Unhand me you damn rogue," she grounded out.
Wen Jinkai found her even more enthralling when she was frustrated. There was a glint in her eyes that he had never seen before. Her cute button nose was scrunched and her eyes were passionately set ablaze. He decided right then and there that he wanted her. Whether it was a mistress or a lover, he did not know.
Without warning, he released her, causing her to gasp when she realized she was falling, but he caught her at the last minute, a mischievous twinkle in his eyes before he straightened her to her feet.
"You, you–!" Xueyue was huffing and puffing now, a light blush spreading over her face. 'So maybe asking him to let me go was a bad idea,' she thought to herself.
"You lack proper etiquette," she deadpanned.
"Is that the best insult you can come up with?" he heartily asked her while brushing stray strands of hair away from her face.
Wen Jinkai felt guilty that he had messed up her hair, but he wondered how her hair would look unraveled in bed. The thought was enough for him to swallow and clear his throat. He didn't know what the hell he was thinking, nor did he understand his feelings.
"That was horrid of you and if you think that's going to make me fall for you, you're terribly mistaken," Xueyue snapped while struggling to calm her erratic heart as it skipped a beat when his gaze sharply turned to her. She felt her stomach churn uncomfortably when his lips twisted into a taunting smile.
He quirked a brow, "Who said I was trying to make you fall in love with me?"
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"From your appearance," he breathed out, "I'd think you were trying to seduce me." He glanced down at her disheveled robes that had parted a bit to reveal the dip of her chest. His eyes lingered on the collarbone of her milky white skin, soft and beckoning for his touch.
She stiffened and glanced down, horrified by her appearance. She fumbled to close her robes but he chuckled and stole a hairpin from her hair, unraveling the lower half of her hair.
"What are you doing?!" she harshly whispered, her entire body tensing when he brought her long hair over her shoulders until it properly covered her breast. Next, he properly arranged the collar of her robes until she was fully covered.
She did nothing but blink and stare up at him. "I'm not going to thank you because you're the one who messed it up in the first place."
He paused and bit down on his bottom lip, her eyes instantly following the action. He was resisting a smile, but when he saw the movement of her eyes, he stiffened.
Her heart started racing at the sight of his inviting lips and she knew she had to look away. She needed to look away before both of them did something they'd regret.
"What are you doing?" a cold voice piqued from beside them. Li Wenmin's hand was already on the hilt of his sword.
The Commander acted as if he didn't hear him. He straightened his body and adjusted her hair for a final time. For a split second, he pulled her closer. She froze when he bent his head.
He quietly growled, "Wear my pendant next time."
And without another glance her way, he stormed off.
Xueyue told herself that she shouldn't look at him. It was the worst thing to do at a time like this.
'Don't look. Don't look. Don't–' Despite what she told herself, her eyes still wandered towards him. His shoulders were broad and muscular, tight against his well-fitted clothes. He was wide at the top but the muscles slimmed downwards into a refined waist.
"Xueyue," a voice seethed beside her. Li Wenmin firmly grabbed her shoulders in an attempt to force her attention to him. "Did he do anything to you?"
Xueyue's eyes continued to wander in the direction that the Commander strolled away. He didn't look back at her, but she saw his fingers tightly clench into a fist. He wanted to look, but he couldn't.
"Li Xueyue!" Li Wenmin exclaimed, slightly shaking her shoulders. Finally, she averted her gaze to him. He was furious. The vein on his forehead popped as his eyebrows scrunched together.
"Did he hurt you? Did he take advantage of you?" Li Wenmin's head snapped towards Wen Jinkai who was approaching the large staircase leading up to the royal family.
"Did he?" he pressed on with a dangerous edge to his voice, but it didn't undermine his concern towards her.
Xueyue realized that Li Wenmin didn't see the Commander abruptly grabbing her earlier. She struggled for a proper answer as she nervously licked her lips. For one last time, her eyes darted towards Wen Jinkai. He was nearly at the top of the stairs now as he bent his head to murmur something to the Emperor.
And for the first time in her life, Xueyue lied to one of the twins. "No. He didn't do anything."
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