"I saw that gift you gave Ning Huabing. It must've taken your entire life savings to afford it…" Bai Tianai mocked, blinking her pretty little eyes.
"It's only a couple of silver coins for this stable." Bai Tianai snickered while she flicked her fingers. A servant came forward, bowing with a coin pouch.
"I'm feeling very generous right now. I've decided you will be my charity case for the day." She offered Li Xueyue the silver coins. "Here."
Li Xueyue raised a brow. "You should be careful with this temper of yours, Miss Bai."
"Temper?" Bai Tianai innocently gasped, covering her mouth. "I'm only doing a good deed! What temper are you referring to? You should be grateful that I'm offering this to you, especially after the commotion you caused at my friend's birthday banquet!"
Li Xueyue didn't even flinch. She merely stood there, allowing the crude words of Bai Tianai to sink in. She didn't have to insult Bai Tianai. That wasn't Xueyue's purpose here. She wanted to ruin the image that Zheng Tianyu had of Bai Tianai. And everything was going according to plan.
"Now, now, darling, we shouldn't provoke her. She's a third-rank Princess," Zheng Leiyu warned. He meant every word he said. He could barely conceal the irritation in his voice.
Zheng Leiyu abhorred public displays of affection and he especially disliked being grabbed without warning. He was irritated by the weight of Bai Tianai on his arm.
"So much for being a Princess if she can't even afford the payment for her horse stable. Don't you pity her?" Bai Tianai pouted.
Zheng Leiyu slightly frowned. What was she talking about? Pity this, pity that, he expected her to behave better than this.
"We do not have the right to pity a Princess," he said.
"She's only a Princess by title… And now she's ruining her family name. What a shameful thing to do."
Li Xueyue's eyes narrowed. Why was Bai Tianai in the Capital in the first place? Didn't the Bai Family live in Hechen? Did they suddenly move to the Capital?
Li Xueyue clicked her tongue. "You shouldn't be pitying me when your family is losing business from your embarrassing stunt at the banquet."
"Yet, I can still afford to pay for my own horse!" Bai Tianai snickered.
She looked around the stable. Her nose twitched at the unpleasant odor. Finally, she found the black horse that belonged to Xueyue.
"Oh dear, not only are you poor, but you brought a discounted horse?" Bai Tianai said upon seeing the glassy eyes of a familiar horse.
Li Xueyue didn't feel like responding. She would not sink to Bai Tianai's level.
She crossed her arms and waited for Bai Tianai to make a fool out of herself in front of Zheng Leiyu.
Li Xueyue knew what type of man he was. He loved wholesome women with a heart of gold and a priceless smile.
Currently, Bai Tianai was nothing like the picture-perfect woman she pretended to be. In the end, she would reap what she sowed.
"Like owner, like a pet I suppose," Bai Tianai added on, throwing a sympathetic smile towards Li Xueyue. "Right, Leiyu?"
When he didn't respond, she continued her rant. "This is the girl who embarrassed Father and me at Ning Huabing's birthday banquet! I had to leave because of how distressed I was."
'More like you were kicked out.' Li Xueyue scoffed inside her head.
Her eyes wandered to a stony-faced Zheng Leiyu. Even from their distance, she could see the vein that had popped out of his forehead. He was far from happy and Bai Tianai didn't even notice.
Li Xueyue inwardly smiled to herself. Men like him were child's play. She knew what made him tick.
When Li Xueyue examined him again, she noticed the dark circles around his eyes. He seemed to be lacking sleep. From what? Nightmares? She laughed inside of her head. She'd love for him to drown in guilt and succumb to it.
"I only wanted to explain the rules to her, but then she lashed out on me and made me look like a monster!" Bai Tianai cried on, shaking Zheng Leiyu's arm to emphasize how heartbroken she was by the incident.
With each word tossed her way, Li Xueyue's head hung low, she looked timid and small. Her lips wobbled, her eyes watering. She was the perfect image of a wronged woman, the pitiful type that incurred the protection of "nice guys" bent on saving damsels-in-distress. She sniffled and looked away, the gentle sound bouncing off on the walls.
Zheng Leiyu's eyes narrowed in displeasure. He was instantly provoked by her demure nature. She appeared to be as delicate as glass. He couldn't help but want to defend her—a bullied young maiden.
"Get off of me!" he hissed.
In one fluid motion, he shook Bai Tianai off of his arm, his lips curled in aggravation. "Didn't I tell you I hate it when women try to take possessive claims over me? I despise being affectionate in public and you know that."
Bai Tianai flinched at his words, her haughtiness disappeared as fast as it came. "Leiyu I didn't mean to—"
"So you're admitting that you remember." He scowled. "I'm disappointed in you. I thought you knew better than this."
"Did I say I was done talking? If you're going to apologize, do it properly!" Zheng Leiyu scowled, taking a step away from her. He was irked by her watering eyes.
"I-I'm sorry, it won't happen again."
"You said that the last time you did this." He shook his head at her like a father reprimanding his daughter. "Wipe your tears away. Do you think crying during an apology will solve anything?"
Even Li Xueyue was shocked by how brash he was. She didn't feel a single ounce of pity for Bai Tianai but she was certainly grateful that he didn't choose her.
Bai Tianai slowly shook her head, her fingers wrung together.
Zheng Leiyu pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed. "I'm going to have a discussion with your father. He didn't tell me anything about the declining business. Why didn't you say anything?"
"Nevermind. You're incompetent and only know how to stir up trouble." Zheng Leiyu pressed his lips together, turning to the Princess.
Zheng Leiyu couldn't ignore the guilt that consumed him. Even after two years, Bai Xueyue's beating did not leave his mind. He had held down his childhood best friend and watched as the final blow was delivered to her. What kind of man was he to watch a young woman get beaten to death?
And now, standing before him was someone who resembled her too closely to be ignored. Seeing her feeble nature and the pain on her face from being insulted to this extent, he was instantly reminded of his Xueyue. She was so stunning and lovely, a breath of fresh air from the suffocating women of high-society.
It was a shame she was not the one inheriting the Bai fortune. She was so easy to manipulate, he wished he was more secretive of his affair with Bai Tianai.
He wished he didn't look her in the eye when he made love with Bai Tianai on the day she discovered their bodies tangled in bed. Maybe then, he could've had both sisters… But all of that was in the past, and he should focus on the present.
A delectable Princess was standing in front of him, desperately seeking a knight in shining armor to save her. If he played his cards right, maybe he could make her his woman... The title of a Prince hung over him, his eyes ignited with the desire to obtain it.
"Princess, I hope the words of my friend weren't that harsh. I'd like to apologize on her behalf," he said.
Zheng Leiyu's words backhanded Bai Tianai whose face instantly paled in horror.
Li Xueyue was glad her head was dropped, or else he might've seen the flash of sweet victory in her eyes. She had successfully turned Bai Tianai's lover against her.
What a satisfying revenge. Bai Tianai's man just took the side of another woman. That must've hurt.
'How does it feel, Tianai? All these years of hard work going to waste in a matter of a few minutes!'
In the end, Li Xueyue would have the last laugh.
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