It was then that Li Xueyue suddenly paid attention to their surroundings. Luckily for them, the hallway here was enclosed with a wall, which meant if someone was watching them that person would either be on their left or right. She took a panicked glance in both directions, wondering if anyone saw them. She didn't feel ashamed of what she had done, but she was still hesitant of a gossiping mouth.
"No one saw us. I would've noticed if they did," Yu Zhen informed her after noticing her take a peek.
"You didn't come with anyone today?" she asked, remembering he usually walked around with a handful of servants. She knew his guards were lurking somewhere, they always were—hidden in the shadows, out of sight, out of mind.
"My servants are outside. I didn't bring my guards today."
"Oh, why not?"
"I can handle my own," Yu Zhen explained, grabbing both of her hands. He lowered his gaze, his smile widened upon seeing the topaz ring on her finger. He brought her hand to his lips, kissing each of her knuckles.
"Why were you in a rush?" he asked again, entwining his fingers with hers. He found it amusing how small her hands were compared to his much larger ones.
Li Xueyue relished in the heat that oozed off of him. She squeezed her fingers and tugged him closer. She wanted to tell him the truth but she didn't want to blame Chenyang.
She settled with a half-truth. "Well, breakfast was starting."
"So, you decided to run down the hallways like a crazy woman for food?" he skeptically asked.
A few seconds passed between them.
"Seems… very likely," he carefully said, upon remembering how fast she inhaled the red bean and green bean buns during their visit to the Capital.
"Are you calling me fat?" she narrowed her eyes.
"Well, I'm not calling you skinny, am I?"
"Hmph, I bet you're heavier than me," she said, stubbornly jutting her chin in the air.
"At least mine is all muscle and not—don't pull at my face." He laughed, grabbing the hand that was attempting to pull his skin off. The fact that she had no meat to pull irked her further.
And he knew that.
"It's okay, Little Hamster," Yu Zhen mused. "Chewing food can exercise your cheeks."
"Though, it won't build muscle if you're always working your jaw by eating." Yu Zhen chuckled as he pulled both of her cheeks. She nipped at his finger, like an aggravated kitten.
"But that's okay," Yu Zhen added on, "I enjoy seeing you eat." He was relieved that she did not pick at her food, or hesitate over her manners. It was much more satisfying to eat with someone who enjoyed their food.
"Come," he smiled.
Her eyes widened, wondering if he knew how dirty it sounded.
"—Let's get you fed. Shall we?" he concluded, his smile curling into a smirk at her panicked expression. What did she think he meant?
"You better not be joining us for breakfast," a cold voice commented down the hallway.
Yu Zhen didn't have to turn his head to know who was talking to him. Only the Li Family were not frightful of his status. They spoke to him as they pleased, and he only allowed them to because Li Xueyue cared about them. If it was anyone else, they would've long lost their tongues.
Li Xueyue, on the other hand, shifted her head in the direction of the voice.
Li Chenyang was quickly approaching them with a disappointed look on his face. He was not pleased with them being so intimate, especially when Xueyue was supposed to not get so attached to him. Silly girl, what if Yu Zhen never came back for you?
Li Chenyang's heart grew heavy at the idea. Just imaging her heartbreak and disappointment was enough for his scowl to deepen.
"Alright, break it up. You're ruining my appetite," he said. When his eyes shifted to Yu Zhen, he added on, "Ugh."
Yu Zhen quirked a brow. "Great, now I don't have to look at you when I eat."
Li Chenyang's eyes narrowed into a fine line. "I guess I'm getting my appetite back, just so I can ruin yours."
"Trust me, my appetite is already gone."
"Good," Li Chenyang bit out, "Now, break it up," he nodded to their intimate position.
Yu Zhen responded by shamelessly hugging her, bringing her even closer to him. When Li Chenyang's face twisted into a sneer, Yu Zhen rested his chin on the top of her head, just to piss him off further.
"I think breakfast is getting cold," Li Xueyue spoke up, stomping roughly on Yu Zhen's foot. He responded by tightening his arms and teasingly kissing her hair.
Li Chenyang scoffed. "Please tell me you didn't invite this brute to join us for breakfast?"
"I invited myself."
"Does being shameless make you proud?" Li Chenyang bit out. "And I wasn't talking to you."
Yu Zhen ignored him. He grabbed Li Xueyue's hand and said, "Let's get you fed, Little Hamster."
"You're nicknaming my younger sister after a rat?!" Li Chenyang scowled, sharply turning to Xueyue. "That's it, he sucks. You need to find a better lover."
Yu Zhen resisted the urge to roll his eyes to the next century. He tugged Li Xueyue forward. "It's an adorable nickname, right, Sunshine?"
"Look how quickly you changed it back," Li Chenyang pointed out. "It shows that you know it sucks."
"Your brother speaks too much." Yu Zhen clicked his tongue. "It'd be a shame if he woke up the next morning with his mouth sewn shut."
"And it'd be a shame," Li Chenyang spoke up, "If I influence Father and Mother to not give their blessings. Don't you think so, Yueyue?"
Yueyue? Who the hell was Yueyue? Li Xueyue looked at her older brother as if he had grown three heads. This was the first time he had ever called her by a nickname. It was very unexpected.
Noticing her confusion, Li Chenyang let out a laugh. "It's a great nickname, isn't it? Better than cheesy Sunshine or offensive Little Hamster."
Yu Zhen's eyes narrowed in displeasure. He decided this Li sibling did not need his tongue anymore.
Li Xueyue squeezed his hand. "Or you know," she said and nodded to both men, "You can just call me Xueyue."
"How boring," Yu Zhen frowned.
"Everyone calls you that," Li Chenyang scoffed.
They said it at the same time. Neither of them seemed happy to be in sync.
Li Xueyue let out an exasperated sigh. Breakfast was already rowdy with Li Wenmin's constant love for bickering with her or Chenyang. Today would be extra noisy, and without a doubt, at least one sibling would be reprimanded for their behavior.
"Are we going to eat, or what?" she angrily asked, becoming hangrier—hungry and —by the second. Her stomach was rumbling for food, and if she wasn't fed in the next five minutes, none of them were going to be happy.
"Fine, fine," Li Chenyang sighed, approaching her. In one rough push, he shoved Yu Zhen off of her. Happily, he wrapped his arm around her shoulder and began to guide her forward.
"The chef made braised eggs today," he spoke up. "It's such a pity," he paused and threw an irritated look towards Yu Zhen. "Apparently the people in Hanjian do not eat braised eggs. You will starve in that country."
Yu Zhen angrily grabbed Li Xueyue, yanking her towards him. Li Chenyang grabbed her arm, glowering when Yu Zhen continued to pull at her.
"That's okay, I'll just kidnap your chef and bring them with me to Hanjian," Yu Zhen snarled.
"The chef's family has worked with us for generations. I'll tell him to poison your food if you ever kidnap him."
"Fine, I'll slit his throat in front of his family."
"Oh yeah?" Li Chenyang scoffed, "I'd like to see you try!"
"Ladies!" Li Xueyue snapped, "You're both beautiful!" She angrily shook both men, or should she say, boys, off of her. "Now can we get to the dining room or what?!"
Yu Zhen was dumbfounded by her words. He made a mental note to never let her go hungry. This kitten might actually become a tiger.
"Alrighty." Li Chenyang chuckled, hoping to soothe her irritation. "Let's go." He attempted to reach for her hand again, but she crossed her arms.
Yu Zhen smirked and tucked an arm around her—victory was his! But in the next second, she shrugged him off.
Before any of them could attempt to assert their stupid alpha pride, Li Xueyue was already stomping down the hallway, ignoring their attempts of capturing her attention. If they wanted to argue and be petty, they should do it in their own free time. Not hers! Especially with Piglet Number One, Li Wenmin, who was no doubt, gobbling down the braised eggs before anyone could stop him!
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