Second Prince Wang Jing's smile softened. He understood where Li Wenmin's protective nature came from. Perhaps this servant reminded him of his younger sister.
"It's alright, you don't have to pretend in front of me, Cousin. I meant no harm," Second Prince Wang Jing said. "I cherish all of my servants, but I especially care about this one. Only this one is allowed to serve me medicine."
"I don't care about your ugly servant."
She stiffened at his insult, but it was not the first time she had heard of it. People have always gossiped about her appearance for no one had ever seen her face underneath the veil she wore all the time.
"I just wanted to make small talk…" Second Prince Wang Jing murmured. A depressing cloud rolled over his features.
Li Wenmin suddenly felt guilty for lashing out. He shifted his attention to his cousin who had never meant any harm. All of his life, Li Wenmin knew the Second Prince did not have a malicious bone in his body. It was because he lived such a sheltered and protective life that he thought everyone was as kind as his caretakers.
"I've told you before. You shouldn't be so gentle to people who are confronting you. They won't take you seriously, Wang Jing." Li Wenmin sighed.
Second Prince Wang Jing slowly nodded. "I know, Cousin… It's just, I can't help it. No one has ever betrayed me before, I'm not used to that feeling."
"It must be nice to live in bliss." Li Wenmin scowled. "Is that why you protect your mentor? So he can live in bliss?"
Duke Li Taojun was in the process of fixing his clothes when he was brought back to the conversation. He sneered at his nephew, his eyes filled with mocking. How stupid of this boy to not realize who he was ignoring!
"Second Prince, you don't have to worry about me," Duke Li Taojun muttered. "Though I appreciate it, thank you."
Li Wenmin rolled his eyes. "I'm leaving."
"Ah, please stay for tea!" Wang Jing said, reaching out to grab Li Wenmin.
"Don't touch me!" Li Wenmin snapped, taking a step back.
Second Prince Wang Jing flinched, his gaze wandered all over the place. "My illness isn't contagious… you know that."
Li Wenmin felt a prick of guilt before it spread throughout his entire body. He let out a rough sigh. "You know I didn't mean it like that. I just don't like to be touched. By anyone."
"You used to enjoy the teasing poke of your younger sister—" Wang Jing slapped a hand over his mouth, his eyes widened at the forbidden topic. "P-pardon me, I didn't intend to mention that."
It was too late. Li Wenmin's mood had gone sour, like his scorned eyes. "Just get out of my sight."
"Forgive me, Cousin, I truly didn't mean to bring it up. It slipped out and—"
"She's dead," Li Wenmin muttered. "I'm moving on. You don't have to tip-toe around me with topics about her."
"Even if you find her to resemble almost every small-bodied woman?" Wang Jing asked. "Even if you search for her face in a crowd? I know you don't think she's dead. Her body was never found—"
"Do you want to die?!" Li Wenmin shouted, grabbing his cousin by the throat. "If you don't want to provoke me, keep your mouth shut!"
"I only wanted to help…" Wang Jing muttered, "She's my cousin too. The only female one I have. The only one who didn't find my illness and sore marks to be disgusting. You know I treasure her more than anything."
Li Wenmin let out a heavy sigh he had been holding in for the longest time. He shoved his cousin away.
How many times must he get provoked by the mere mention of Li Minghua? How long would it be before he gets over her disappearance? How long would it take for him to move on? How could he easily forget the years he had spent with her?
Li Minghua was mischievous and loved to snitch on the twins, but at the end of the day, he loved her. She was his sister, how could he not?
"I know." Li Wenmin shook his head. "Look, I have no time for this meaningless talk. I have to go."
"Are you sure you can't join me for tea…?" Wang Jing asked, his eyes drifting to the servant beside his cousin. "I'm sure your servant is tired from standing that long."
"She's stronger than you think." Li Wenmin scowled.
Second Prince Wang Jing raised a curious brow. "You truly seem to treasure this servant. Is she someone special to you?"
"What part of I'm leaving do you not understand?"
"I just like to engage in small talk… No one visits me that often, it gets quite lonely," Wang Jing mumbled, his shoulders dropped in disappointment.
Li Wenmin wanted to roll his eyes again. "Your pitiful tricks won't work on me anymore. I'm leaving."
"Wait!" Wang Jing said. "One last question, please."
"Why are you so needy?!" Li Wenmin hissed.
"I just wanted to ask if it was true."
"I heard the Li Family has a new daughter. She's the same age as Minghua. You guys aren't replacing her or anything right…? I know Auntie has a hard time moving on, but she wouldn't be that cruel to replace her own daughter?"
Li Wenmin nearly punched his cousin for making assumptions like this in public. How dense was his cousin?! "Of course my mother would never replace Minghua. Xueyue and her are worlds apart. No one is replacing anyone."
"Well, it's just, don't you think the timing is controversial?"
"What are you trying to say? Let's not beat around the bush now. Just spit it out."
"I didn't mean to make it controversial."
Li Wenmin pinched the space between his brows. "Look, I'm not going to answer your question—"
"If you answer it, I'll tell you where the Commander of Hanjian went."
"I know where he went. He left for his own country."
"If you answer my question, I—"
"Shut up and get out of my way." Li Wenmin had enough of irritating people. He shoved past the Second Prince without remorse.
"Wenmin!" Wang Jing called out. "I only wanted to discuss this because the rumors are saying she's Li Minghua's replacement!"
Li Wenmin halted. He didn't turn around. "You tell those people that if they use their tongue for gossip, they won't need it anymore. The Li Family will not tolerate anyone who slanders Li Xueyue."
"Is that her name? Xueyue?"
Li Wenmin knew this was not confidential news, thus responded with, "It is. Remember it well. She will go down in history books."
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