Yu Zhen walked in the direction of Li Xueyue's room but stopped halfway there. Perhaps it was time to be more considerate of her reputation. He switched his direction and decided to head in the direction of the drawing-room  and told a servant to summon her there.
Yu Zhen had barely turned the corner when he stopped yet again.
In a taunt stance was Li Chenyang who seemed less than pleased by the Commander's presence. As usual, he was followed by a small handful of servants ready to obey his every wish and demands.
Yu Zhen nodded in greeting.
Li Chenyang's gaze narrowed. "What do you want?"
Yu Zhen raised a brow. Who was this kid talking to? Obviously, he came here to see Xueyue. Why else would he come to the house?
"If you're going to woo her, you should make it known to the public. Not snoop around like a rat afraid of being caught."
When Yu Zhen continued to silently stand there, Li Chenyang frowned. "Aren't you going to say something?"
"I'll ask her what she wants and then I'll make my move," Yu Zhen finally said.
Li Chenyang's brows shot up unexpectedly. "You'd...do that for her?"
"Don't sound so surprised."
"How can I not? I've had horrible encounters with another Commander—nevermind." Li Chenyang shrugged. "Where do you plan to see her?"
"In the drawing room," Yu Zhen lightly said, watching Li Chenyang's bewildered expression morph into a look of content. The Minister was pleased by his response.
"Good. I'll notify her for you. She just finished breakfast."
'Well, that was easy,' Yu Zhen thought to himself, not expecting the pleasant exchange between them.
"I'd appreciate it," Yu Zhen curtly replied, forcing himself to smile for the sake of manners.
Li Chenyang was used to these types of political smiles. He was humored by this outcome. Evidently, neither men wanted to be in each other's presence much longer than necessary.
"Do you know your way there?"
"And how do you know this?" Li Chenyang asked, carefully masking the suspicion in his voice. The last time he checked, Yu Zhen was never given a proper tour of this house.
"The drawing rooms are usually near the entrance. Isn't it?"
"Well, yes." Li Chenyang folded his arms. "Did you think you could randomly open a door and it would actually lead to the drawing room? Did you plan on making her look for you in every single room when we have so many rooms in our house?"
"I initially planned to have a servant bring her to me."
"You act like this is your house." Li Chenyang pressed his lips together, irritated by how nonchalant Yu Zhen seemed. Exactly what makes this man tick? Why was he so eerily calm all the time?
Li Chenyang figured it was part of Yu Zhen's upbringing as a Second Prince. The politics in Hanjian must've been similar to Wuyi.
Yu Zhen chose to not comment. He simply stood there like an unyielding tree—tall and formidable.
Li Chenyang scowled. "I could've sworn you were more talkative than this. Especially around Xueyue."
Yu Zhen gave him a pointed look. "Are you Xueyue?"
Li Chenyang's lips twitched, deciding to change the topic. "When are you going to finally return to your country?"
"Soon," Yu Zhen repeated.
Li Chenyang's gaze narrowed. "Give an exact duration. Is it a week or month? Why are you being so vague?"
"Listen, if you're going to ask Xueyue for her opinion, then you have to let the Li Family know of your departure as well. Why court her only for you to leave soon?"
"This country worries too much about a woman's reputation." Yu Zhen scowled. "Why does everyone have their noses in other people's business?"
"I don't set the rules around here." Li Chenyang scoffed. "So, how long?"
"As long as I can."
"Which means you're controlled by an outside force who can demand you to return home anytime they please. Who is that outside force? The Emperor of Hanjian?"
"No one gets to command me as they wish," Yu Zhen mused, his smile widening, but never reached his eyes.
"You have the guts to disobey your father, the Emperor? Aren't you afraid of losing the chance of becoming Crown Prince?"
"Why do you ask?"
"If Xueyue is going to marry, she should marry someone who isn't afraid of going against norms and expectations," Li Chenyang said.
He needed someone who would stand up for her when she was too polite too. He didn't need her to marry a mommy's boy who couldn't defend her if the family decided to bully her.
"She will be safe with me. You can rest assured."
Li Chenyang stared at Yu Zhen who kept his face blank, his eyes lifeless. For a split second there, Chenyang thought he saw something flash within the bleak eyes of the Commander. What could it be? It was definitely nothing malicious.
Finally, Li Chenyang was too lazy to continue this conversation. He needed to head to the Palace now.
Li Chenyang turned to one of his servants and instructed, "Bring Commander Yu Zhen to the main drawing room. Then notify Xueyue to head there as well."
The servant bowed her head. "Understood, Second Young Master."
Li Chenyang turned back to the quiet Yu Zhen and rolled his eyes. "You bore me." With that said, he began to walk past Yu Zhen.
"Likewise," Yu Zhen scoffed and before Li Chenyang could have the last say, the Commander was already strolling down the hallway, guided by the servant.
"Annoying rat," Li Chenyang muttered under his breath, turning his head to see Yu Zhen disappear around the corner.
- - - - -
Li Xueyue pushed the door of the main drawing room open, blinking in confusion when she saw it was empty. She turned to the servant who guided her here. "Are you sure this is the correct room?"
The servant raised her head, an equally befuddled expression on her face. She peered around the room. "Y-yes, this was where I guided him. I apologize, my lady, perhaps he went to relieve himself?"
Li Xueyue decided it would explain his absence. "Perhaps so. You're excused."
The servant bowed and left, closing the door behind her.
Li Xueyue frowned a bit and walked towards the center of the room, wondering where the heck Yu Zhen wandered off. Did he leave? Did it take that long to get here?
Pondering to herself, Li Xueyue was completely unaware of the figure approaching her until she sensed a pair of large hands reaching towards her from behind.
Li Xueyue didn't give the perpetrator enough time to cover her eyes. She swiftly elbowed her assaulter until a quiet "Oof" could be heard.
Li Xueyue swiveled around, her hanfu twirling with her, one hand already reaching for the sharp hairpins in her hair. She was prepared to stab whoever tried to grab her.
"Oh," was the only sound she could make upon seeing him.
Yu Zhen was slightly hunched over, clutching the spot she had pressed her elbow into. "Remind me…" he heaved, "To never surprise you," he faked a groan, pretending to collapse onto the floor.
Li Xueyue stood there, examining her nails. "You're dead?" she asked, nudging his body with her foot. "Good," she mused, stepping over his body.
Yu Zhen scowled from his position. He expected her to bend down and worriedly ask if he was okay whilst clutching his head in her arms. He sat up a bit and wrapped his arms around her lower legs. In one rough yank, she fell backward, her arms flailing to keep balance, but he was stronger.
"That was mean!" she cried out, her heart racing when she fell straight into his arms, both of them sitting on the floor. His legs were on either side of her, pressing against her slim ones.
Yu Zhen wrapped both arms around the front of her body until her back was fully pressed against his chest.
"That's rich coming from the girl who ignored my pitiful state on the ground."
"That's because your acting was too dramatic and fake." Li Xueyue huffed, resisting the skip of her heart when his arms tightened around her. She jumped when his hair tickled her neck.
Yu Zhen rested his chin upon her shoulder, smiling a bit when he tilted his head to lean upon the side of her face. He chose to ignore her remark. Breathing in her scent, his smile widened in content.
"Did I scare you?"
"Your face terrified me even more."
Yu Zhen chuckled at her words, burying his face into the crook of her neck. She could feel the rumble of his chest, the ripple of his biceps when he gently squeezed her body. Her stomach fluttered uncomfortably, whilst she gulped and forced herself to remain still.
Li Xueyue wanted to treasure this moment and hold it dear to her. She was frightened that any small movement she made would cause the dream to crash and shatter on the ground.
 A room in a large house where guests can be received. It is generally a place to have a quiet and private discussion without being disturbed.
Please go to https://www.qzxyzy.com/The-Rise-of-Xueyue/
to read the latest chapters for free