184 A Puppy
As anticipated, Yu Zhen had taught her the basics of Hanjian's sword-fighting techniques. It was far more difficult than she had predicted. To no one's surprise, Hanjian's style was completely different from Wuyi's. While Wuyi focused on brute strength and speed, Hanjian was all about precision and technique.
By the time they had finished training, Li Xueyue was covered in sweat. Embarrassed at her appearance, she kept her distance from Yu Zhen, but he couldn't grasp her message. Each time he tried to approach her, she would purposely create distance between them.
Li Xueyue was worried that she didn't smell good. Her hair was frayed and sticking to her forehead whereas her face was flushed red from tiring herself out.
"Stay at least six feet back!" she exasperated when he attempted to hold her hand.
Li Xueyue wiped the sweat that trickled from her head to her chin. She was irritated that he was as clean and dry as when he arrived this morning, as if he wasn't practicing with her the entire day.
Yu Zhen paused, bewildered by her warnings. The sun was setting behind her, the ruby hue of the sky was beginning to reflect over her robe-clung body. The rays emphasized her figure perfectly as she glistened under the sun.
Yu Zhen deeply breathed in through his nose, hoping to regain his composure. Despite that, his eyes were glued to her like a moth to a flame.
"Why are we keeping a distance?" he begrudgingly asked, gesturing towards the large space between them.
"I'm soaked in sweat and I look like a mess," Li Xueyue pointed out, frowning when he scowled.
"S-so, I don't feel my best right now," Li Xueyue explained. He pouted like a spoiled kid who finally heard the word 'no' for the first time in his life.
"And you're going to feel uncomfortable by the stench?" she said, though it came out like a question.
Li Xueyue slipped the sword into the sheath. She approached the equipment rack and placed the weapon back to its rightful place. Her eyes scanned over the vast array of weapons here. Li Wenmin loved to collect exotic swords and daggers every chance he got. He usually stored the least prized ones on this rack, whereas the most expensive and rare ones would be found in his bedroom.
The worst place to ambush Li Wenmin was inside of his room. She dully remembered a time when she wanted to sneak up on him and he thought she was an intruder. Needless to say, things didn't end well.
Lost in thought, she didn't hear the swift footsteps approaching her. She snapped to reality when a sturdy pair of arms came from behind. A yelp left her mouth when she was hoisted against a muscular chest.
"Yu Zhen!" she groaned. Did this man not listen?
Yu Zhen responded by hugging her tighter, burying his face into the crook of her neck.
"I don't smell pleasant!" she hissed, struggling in his arms, but he didn't care.
"I think you smell fine," he grumbled, bewildered by how self-conscious she was. Compared to his soldiers, she smelled delectable. Her usual scent, soft and sweet, was musky today, not that he was complaining.
Letting out a quiet huff, she could do nothing but give into his embrace. She stayed still for him, leaning into his arms.
"You're like a big baby," she mumbled, reaching her hand up to stroke his hair. She felt the lift of his lips when he smiled against her skin.
"Only for you," he quietly whispered, pressing a lasting kiss upon the exposed skin of her neck.
Eventually, her sore arm could not handle being lifted to play with his hair. She dropped her hand, hoping to rest, but he was quick to protest.
"More," he demanded like a child. She let out a laughter that warmed his heart and widened his smile.
"Scratch that, I think you're a puppy." Nonetheless, she reached back to fondly stroke him on the head, enjoying how lucious his dark hair was.
Li Xueyue wondered if it was tiring to always bend down for her. He was noticeably taller than her with great proportions, especially his long legs. Was he getting sore in this position? She shifted her head to examine his flawless features, but his face was still buried in her shoulders.
Upon feeling her face shift, he finally raised his head to stare at her. When their gaze met and she smiled, he felt an unfamiliar and confusing tug at his heart. What was that feeling? He always felt strange around her, but couldn't place a finger on that emotion. The only thing he knew was that he wanted her to stay in his life, forever.
Even after their many encounters, Li Xueyue could not get over how handsome this man was. It was beginning to get to the point of where she didn't think it was fair. He didn't even have to do anything, and she found him incredibly irresistible. And when he wore that cunning smirk of his, she'd always feel her stomach churning for him.
"What are you thinking about?" Yu Zhen curiously asked.
"Only foolish things," Li Xueyue mused, craning her neck to look at him properly.
Yu Zhen briefly released her to turn her around. He didn't want her to get injured from her bad neck posture.
Her eyes widened when he tugged her forward to step on his foot, so that she didn't have to look up at him. He smiled down at her for no particular reason.
"You smile a lot," Li Xueyue pointed out, reaching up to poke his dimples.
Yu Zhen was taken aback by her words. Was he smiling? He didn't even realize it. When was the last time he had smiled in Hanjian? He couldn't remember.
"Do I?" he asked in disbelief, grabbing one of her hands that was touching his face.
He fondly kissed her palm whilst blissfully staring at her. She didn't have to do anything, and he was already willing to sacrifice the world for her. What did all of this devotion mean? He couldn't wrap his head around it.
"Mmhm, you do. Like right now, and previously. You didn't know?" Li Xueyue wished he wouldn't do crazy things to her heart like this. Their eyes barely met and her insides were already reacting to him.
Yu Zhen hummed in response, playing with one of her hands until their palms laid flat against each other. He entwined their fingers. He stared at their laced fingers and couldn't help but squeeze it. It was odd to feel so comforted by such a small gesture.
Li Xueyue wondered if he was doing this on purpose. He had to be. How else could someone be this inhumanely handsome?
When he caught her staring, he simply winked. She scoffed and rolled her eyes. Nonetheless, she couldn't resist the smile that broke out, no matter how much she bit her bottom lip.
"What's so funny?"
"Nothing," she said and laughed, leaning the side of her face against his chest. She let out a content sigh and relished in his warmth, wishing, praying, that he would be her forever.