Li Xueyue pressed her lips together. All along, did Wen Jinkai only take interest in her because she slightly resembled Li Minghua? She was told that their similarity wasn't even that prominent, but was he that crazy enough to see past it?
With shaking hands, she grabbed the diary and read through the lines of the previous entries. Who was this cousin that Li Minghua spoke so highly of? It seemed she trusted him with the world enough that his words weighed heavily over her decisions.
Li Xueyue rattled her brain for answers. She reread the entry that momentarily shocked her before her heart sunk further.
'He's the Emperor, but he's always so kind to me. He finds it amusing that I'm so close to my cousin, his son.'
The cousin was the Emperor's son, which meant he was from Duchess Wang's side of the family. Who could it be? Only one person came to mind, and she didn't like how everything was panning out now.
"This can't be…" she murmured, gulping.
Li Xueyue suspected it was Fourth Prince Wang Longhe. He had surprisingly left her alone for a while now. She didn't know what to do with this information at hand. One thing was clear, and it was that she should stay away from both men at all cost.
Her palms were sweaty with her anxiety. She wanted to read on, but feared what else she would discover from this diary.
"O-one more entry wouldn't hurt…" she whispered to herself, lifting the collapsed chair and settling it back into place.
Li Xueyue breathed in deeply, trying to calm her nerves and read on. The next entry was dated a month later. She noticed Li Minghua tended to write in the diary when there were big events or news that she wanted to share, but couldn't do so with anyone.
'He promised he would love no other. He swore to me that his heart was settled on me and only me. We got into an argument today, all because of the Empress who said he should have a harem for political gains!
I hate her.
My royal aunt always came between me and him! It's as if the sight of me repulses her, she's disgusted every time she sees me. She thinks I'm bratty and just because I don't obey her like a dog; she thinks I'm rebellious and disrespectful.
I heard a scary rumor about her, but I don't want to believe it. It involved Father, Royal Uncle, Mother, and her. I'm scared. There's no way it could be true, right? Father has been Royal Uncle's friend since they were toddlers, there's no way a rumor like that could be true.'
Li Xueyue's brows crinkled together. What rumor? Did something happen between the Emperor, Empress, Duke, and Duchess? She pressed her lips together. So, the Empress didn't like Li Minghua as well.
'Was the Empress as meddling in Li Minghua's life as she is trying to be with my life?' Li Xueyue wondered to herself, her eyes itched to read on. She didn't want to, but it was so hard not to.
"Fine. One more page and that's it," she promised herself, flipping to the next page. She was not surprised to see it skipped two weeks ahead. Perhaps Li Minghua was too occupied with the festive life in the Palace to find the time to write in the diary.
'I'm scared… I heard another mindless gossip today, but it has to do with my cousin. I don't want to even think about that horrid rumor. There's no way it's true! No way!
It's definitely the Empress's doing. She's trying to make my life a living hell. She doesn't say it, but I know she hates the sight of my face. Everyone says I resemble my mother and her beauty, so what does that say about her? Does she hate my mother?! If she dared to say that to me, I will complain to Royal Uncle! He will surely do something… right diary? Right?
I thought the Palace life would be a life of freedom, but it's not! It's even more restrictive than back at home.
The Empress is jealous of me, I know she is. She keeps me locked away in the secluded wing of the Palace where no one would be able to see me and my beauty. I'm trapped in here, with nowhere to go. The only time I'm happy is when I'm with my servants, at least they talk to me, or when I'm with him… but lately, he's been occupied with training. Each time he returns, he's tired and doesn't want to talk.
He hasn't touched me ever since I moved into the Palace. Not even once. I think the Empress is influencing him. Even he seems disgruntled by me.
Everyone in this Palace hates me. The only person I can talk to is my cousin, but he's busy as well. It feels like I'm a mere shadow here. No one cares about me. No one looks at me. I hate it here.'
Li Xueyue nervously closed the diary, her eyes shaking with the information she had discovered today. It was too much to handle in one day. First, she discovered Li Minghua was affiliated with Wen Jinkai and perhaps Wang Longhe as well, then second, she discovered the Empress's bad-blood with Li Minghua.
Li Xueyue slipped the diary in between the bookshelves, praying it would blend in.
"What am I going to do?" she cried to herself, burying her face in her hands. Should she report this diary back to the Duke and Duchess? But then they'll know she had trespassed into Li Minghua's room and think she did it after the rules were said to her.
What if the Duke or Duchess already knew about Li Minghua's condition in the Palace? Was that why they were so reluctant to see her live there? Was Li Minghua the reason why Li Chenyang despised Wen Jinkai?
"What did he do to her?" Li Xueyue asked no one in particular, her hand itched to read the diary and find out the truth. All this discovery was too much for her. She should resume reading tomorrow, so that she'd have time to properly digest what she learned today.
"Why does the Empress hate Li Minghua? What was the rumor she heard about her parents and relatives? What was the scary gossip she heard about her cousin?" Li Xueyue wondered out loud, groaning when she faced a deadend. The only way she could discover the truth was to read on, something her intuition begged her not to but her curiosity pestered to do so.
Finally, Li Xueyue decided to read more tomorrow. Right now, she had plans of her own to focus on. When she heard the familiar sound of servants rushing to the front entrance, her eyes lit up.
The family was home! A large smile broke out on her face, eager and happy to see who it was. She rushed out of the door, hoping to greet whoever it was.
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