"Keep it," Wen Jinkai sternly said. His tone left no room for disagreements. He would not take 'no' for an answer. She'd better keep it, or else he would smash it to pieces right before her eyes.
Wen Jinkai clenched his jaw. If he bit any harder, his jaw would've shattered from the intensity. He was far from pleased by the events unfolding before him.
'God damn it!' he roared inside of his head, his body trembled with the contained rage. 'Where the fuck did I go wrong?!' he chastised himself, his eyes set ablaze by his own actions. 'Why was it turning out like this? What the hell did I do wrong?'
"I don't want it."
"Did I stutter?" he snarled, his jaw ticked. He needed to punch something, to break something beyond repair. He desired something to quench his thirst for blood.
Her patience snapped. "Take it back or dispose of it. I don't care," she retorted, grabbing his wrist. She slapped the handkerchief-wrapped pendant onto his open palm and forced his fingers to wrap over it.
"I'm going home," Li Xueyue coldly said, turning her back to him.
Abruptly and without warning, a strong pair of arms wrapped around her collarbone and front, her back slamming against his firm chest. He hugged her desperately and tightly, his head buried deeply into her shoulders.
"Let go of me! Have you lost your mind?!" she shrieked right as Duchess Wang Qixing rushed forward.
"Commander! How improper of you!" Duchess Wang Qixing cried out, "Guards!"
In an instant, a flood of men rushed to her aid, but no one was faster than the sword of Yu Zhen.
Wen Jinkai was aware of the sword pointed at his head, so close that a single movement could slice his hair, but he did not care. He'd die if it meant being able to hear her voice one last time, see that smile light up her face, to witness the glisten of her eyes before she let out the sweetest laughter.
Wen Jinkai squeezed his eyes shut, her scent mixing with Xueyue until all he could envision was another woman in his arms.
He'd give the world just to touch and see Li Minghua for a final moment, no matter how fleeting it would be. Just one last time, he pleaded. Just once more.
"Remove your arm this instant," Yu Zhen commanded, his voice calm but filled with promises of a merciless death. His eyes were more violent than the roaring skies during a storm, and right at this moment, he did not care about anything else but Xueyue; who was wrapped in the arms of another man and not his.
"I love you," Wen Jinkai whispered, his desperate voice rang in her ears. He was not sure if this confession was to Li Minghua or to Li Xueyue. Both women were beginning to become muddled in his brain and he found it difficult to see them as different people.
Li Xueyue felt her entire world spin and threaten to crumble. No one else had heard this confession except for her, his voice a ghost of a whisper. So broken, so fearful of the outcomes.
Li Xueyue's throat tightened, not because she was emotional, but because she pitied him. Wen Jinkai had already lost her a long time ago when he slammed her against that tree and demanded for her to apologize. He had lost his chance that night, but perhaps, he had already lost it when he had mistaken her for someone else.
Yu Zhen did not falter. He didn't give out second chances and he most certainly wouldn't remain patient for this despicable scum who held his woman.
In the blink of an eye, he dove his sword forward. The tip of the sharp blade was supposed to pierce right through Wen Jinkai's skull. Seconds before it did, Wen Jinkai tightly gripped the blade without flinching.
Li Xueyue watched in horror as blood dripped from the arm that was originally wrapped around her collarbone. The smell of iron wafted to her nose, the crimson liquid thick and terrifying to witness.
"Crazy bastard." Yu Zhen let out a bark of laughter, twisting his sword, watching in satisfaction as it cut deeply into Wen Jinkai's hand.
The pain was excruciating, but compared to the wound in his heart, this was nothing but a small cut to Wen Jinkai who continued to hold the sharp sword. The edges dug deeply into his bleeding hand. He needed something to numb the agony in his heart, something to distract him from the distinctive memory of Li Minghua.
"Come here, Xueyue," Yu Zhen demanded in a coarse and rough voice. Her quivering eyes met with his, a soft gasp left her parted mouth when she saw his face. Thunderous and dark, he was the most menacing sight she had ever witnessed.
Li Xueyue never thought Yu Zhen was capable of anger until he saw him at this moment. He was not frowning, his face wasn't twisted into an undeniable scowl. Instead, he let his eyes and his intimidating aura display his wrath. He could kill Wen Jinkai without a second thought, though the Commander of Wuyi would not go down without a fight. However, he would not harm Wen Jinkai, not when Xueyue's safety could be compromised.
"Now," Yu Zhen snarled, his jaw ticked, his hand clenching into a fist.
"Stay," Wen Jinkai murmured into her shoulder blade, his other arm wrapped around her waist digging deep into her.
Li Xueyue pushed against his strength until she heard a phrase that she had never expected to hear from him—at least, not in this lifetime.
"Please. I beg of you." He sounded so vulnerable, that for the slightest second, she wavered, her eyes nervously darted to him. She could not see his expression, but she knew he was envisioning someone else.
"I'm not Li Minghua," she hissed.
Wen Jinkai tensed in shock. He was not prepared for her name to be mentioned so carelessly.
In his moment of weakness, his grip had loosened. And she did not hesitate to break free from his clutches.
It took only three and a half steps to reach Yu Zhen. She was only a hand away from him when Yu Zhen roughly grabbed her, hauling her against him. It was then she felt the tremble of his body, not from fear, but from fury. He was barely containing his anger, and she could tell his patience was thinner than anticipated.
Li Xueyue did not utter a single word. She leaned against his body, slightly shivering at the drop of temperature around her, all because of him. He was not radiating the warmth she was accustomed to. She desperately missed his heat.
Why not obtain comfort herself? And so she did.
For the first time since their first encounter, she took an initiative with him. Slowly, hesitatingly, she wrapped her arms around his large frame. She hugged him tightly, burying her face upon his chest, squeezing her eyes shut. She didn't know it, but she had missed him.
The gold embroidered collar coat that hung from his shoulder was warm. She could feel the flutter of the fabric against her fingertips when her hands struggled to properly clasp together on his back.
"Sunshine," Yu Zhen softly muttered in a voice that only she could hear. "Took you long enough." His voice was low, calm, and comforting.
Li Xueyue wished to treasure this moment, hugging him tighter. She could feel the clench of his rigid muscles when he unclenched his fingers and comfortably settled that hand upon her hip.
Yu Zhen protectively pressed her against him, his coat shifting to hide her face. She let out a quiet, content sigh, her stomach fluttering more than his cape against the rigid breeze. Her heart skipped a beat when he gently squeezed her hip, his fingers grazing against the ribbons of her waist belt.
"Don't tug it," she mumbled against his dark clothes, her face heating when she felt the small chuckle that only she could hear. It sounded like a mixture between a scoff and a teeny tiny laugh.
"I didn't plan to. My ring was caught on it."
Li Xueyue hid her face at the deja vu that he loved to evoke between them. This man was going to be the death of her, but because it was him, she'd welcome death with open arms.
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