230 Pay Me Back
Li Xueyue couldn't help but wonder what face was under this woman's veil. She took a curious step in the woman's direction and reached down for the veil. Abruptly, the woman slapped her hand away.
Li Xueyue let out a quiet gasp and immediately soothed her hand.
Instantly, the guards got to work. "You dare slap our Young Miss!" They grabbed her roughly by the shoulder until she winced from the pain.
"I didn't mean to. It was just a reflex!" the woman cried out, her voice filled with disbelief. She struggled against the hands that were supposed to protect her.
Li Xueyue was so astonished by this servant's behavior that she didn't know what to make of it. But someone else did. A shadow whirled by her before a hand reached out and grabbed the servant's neck.
Wen Jinkai ground his teeth. Who the hell was this servant? Such a useless thing did not deserve to live.
"What are you doing?!" Li Xueyue cried out, grabbing his arm. When had he come forward? She didn't even notice him!
The woman didn't even struggle for her life. She simply stared at the man in front of her, wide-eyed.
Li Xueyue narrowed her eyes. Were those...tears? The woman was crying.
"Enough, stop it!" Li Xueyue hissed. She tugged at Wen Jinkai's arm, her face filled with annoyance. "This isn't your problem to deal with!"
Wen Jinkai swung the woman to the floor as if she was a rag doll. The woman heaved, grabbing at her throat, coughing and sucking in desperate breaths of air. Something about her felt strange, but he couldn't pinpoint it.
"Are you alright?" Wen Jinkai murmured, ignoring the panic expression on Li Xueyue's face. He reached for her hand that was slapped by the servant, hoping to examine it for any marks that might've formed.
Li Xueyue took a step back. She shouldn't have come here today. Her guards and servants had broken formation. If only this servant didn't run into her, there wouldn't have been a problem.
"I'm fine, don't touch me," Li Xueyue boldly said.
Wen Jinkai paused. His face flashed with remorse and he glanced towards the ground. He took an apologetic step backwards to create distance between them. It wasn't because he wanted to but he knew it was for the best.
"I only wanted to help."
"You do that a lot." Li Xueyue frowned. "You intervene when you shouldn't have."
"This rodent laid a hand on you," Wen Jinkai said, pointing a finger at the servant as if she was worth less than the scum under his shoe. "What else was I supposed to do? Death was the only option."
Li Xueyue shook her head. "She deserved to be punished. But choking her? That violates the laws set in place to protect servants."
"Rules do not apply to me, Li Xueyue." Wen Jinkai raised a brow. "It will do you well to remember that."
Li Xueyue folded her arms together. "I won't stand here and justify her actions, nor will I accept yours."
"You're so stubborn," Wen Jinkai gently said. "Why are your walls always so raised around me? I've had nothing but the best intentions towards you."
"Was hurting me and then demanding me to apologize to you done with the best intentions? Was violating my privacy and storming into my room the best thing for me? Is it?" she fired out.
Wen Jinkai stilled at her words.
Li Xueyue noticed how weighed down he seemed, as if there was something bothering him.
The proud and arrogant Commander suddenly seemed small to her. Did his shoulders always hunch? She noticed the dark circles under his eyes but did not comment on it. It was not her place to do so. It wasn't like she was his wife or something.
"What will it take for you to forgive me?" Wen Jinkai murmured. "Do you want to see me on my knees that desperately? Do you want to see me beg?"
Li Xueyue cringed. "No, of course not. I just want you to stay as far away from me as possible."
"I can't do that."
"I will not replace Li Minghua," Li Xueyue bit out. "How could you dishonor her death by doing this?!"
The servant's head snapped up at her words. Her throbbing neck was no longer the center of focus. What did this haughty Princess just say?!
"You have no right to say that name!" Wen Jinkai hollered, "You know nothing, Li Xueyue—"
"I know you're a horrible lover and a scum of a man," Li Xueyue hissed. "Now get out of my face."
Wen Jinkai's expression darkened. He effortlessly closed the distance between them before any of her guards could react.
But she was faster. A knife was pointed towards his neck the minute he reached a hand out.
"Do not touch me," Li Xueyue coldly warned, the dagger glinting under the sun. "I will not tolerate you further."
Wen Jinkai let out a bark of laughter. In the blink of an eye, he grabbed the knife and tugged it out of her hand.
Li Xueyue would not let him violate her anymore. As one knife landed to the ground, so did he. For she had kneed him directly where the sun did not shine.
Wen Jinkai let out a cough, grabbing his precious jewels. He hissed in pain, not expecting her to be this violent.
Li Xueyue stared down at him. Her lips tugged downwards into a frown. "Stay the hell away from me."
The Li guards felt like they were the most useless things ever. How many times have they failed to protect their Young Miss? Guilt ate them alive, so much so, that they could do nothing but stare at the floor in defeat.
Li Xueyue snuck one last look at the woman. "You're lucky I didn't have my guards chop off your hands for touching me."
The woman stiffened. She was so caught up by the conversation that she had forgotten her manners. Finally, she bowed her head apologetically, but said nothing.
Li Xueyue narrowed her eyes at the woman and said, "I will remember you very well."
Li Xueyue took a final look in Wen Jinkai's direction. She rolled her eyes when she saw he was glaring at her. Having no words for any of them, she strutted off, leaving both of them on the floor.
- - - - -
When Wang Jing heard the familiar pitter patter of footsteps, he turned around. "What took you so long…" he trailed off upon seeing her.
"Little One," he immediately stood up. "What happened to you?" he rushed to her, warmly grabbing her shoulders.
Rage filled him at the thought that someone had touched what was his. She looked like a damn mess. She looked as if she was mauled by someone. He could not help but notice the visible bruise on her neck, as well as the tears that were on the verge of falling from her eyes.
Angrily, she tore off the veil, stomping on it. "I want to go home!" she cried out, her voice cracking.
The Second Prince's expression softened. He pulled her into his arms, hugging her warmly and tightly. She let out a quiet sob and buried herself within him.
Under normal circumstances, she was too feisty to let anyone touch her.
Today was different. She had run into the two people she wanted to avoid the most in this world.
"Please…!" she begged, "I can't do this anymore. I-I-"
"Shhh," Wang Jing murmured, patting her hair. "It will be okay," he comforted as her body trembled and shook.
"No, I want to go home. The palace is not where I belong!" she shrieked, pushing at his arms. "Take me home, take me home! I don't want to be here—"
"You have no home to return to!" the Second Prince hissed, pushing her off of him.
The woman gasped at his outburst. She had never seen him rage like this. His expression was vicious and menacing, his lips curled into a sneer.
"Wang Jing…" she trailed off, dropping to her knees. "Please! I beg of you, I do not want to be here any longer. They have to know, they—"
The woman paused. It was just a nickname, but it weighed so heavily upon her. His usually gentle and reassuring voice was lethal and threatening. It reminded her that he could kill her at any moment and no one would weep for her death for they already did it once.
"Do you want to go home?" he asked her.
She blinked, her head shooting upwards. "Yes, I do—" She let out a cry of pain when he painfully gripped her elbows, dragging her upwards.
"Then I'll take you home."
She was petrified. He had never given in to her request like this. Moreover, he was never this eerie around her. Something was wrong. She could feel it. Her suspicions were confirmed when they entered deeper into the palace.
"No, wait, Wang Jing, I-I'm sorry, I didn't mean to!" She pleaded, struggling against his firm grip.
Wang Jing ignored her. He dragged her into his bedroom and angrily tossed her onto the bed. She attempted to scramble upwards, but he grabbed her wrists and pinned her down. She stilled. Tears freely rolled down her face, salty on her lips.
"Your home is by my side. You belong to me from now on. I saved you from a life of misery. You will pay me back with your loyalty!" Wang Jing gritted out.
More tears spilled out. She wept, not because he terrified her, but because she knew, her fate was sealed. He was not lying when he said he was her home. A home was a place that offered her comfort. And he offered her that, but at a cost.
"Do you understand?!" Wang Jing demanded.
She turned her chin to the side, revealing her bruised neck. "I do."
"Good," Wang Jing said, easing off of her. "Now make me some tea before I lose my patience for you again."
The woman did not respond. She simply got off the bed and fled out the door, her heart lurching in her chest.
Wang Jing let out an exhausted sigh. Angrily, he shoved his hands into his hair. "What have I done…?"