Li Xueyue didn't know why she was rushing back to her residence so quickly. It was as if she was caught eavesdropping when that wasn't really the case.
Nonetheless, she continued advancing towards her bedroom. She recalled seeing books on the shelves. Perhaps there would be something interesting for her to read.
"Prepare tea and snacks, please," Li Xueyue instructed Yanxi once they had reached her bedroom.
Li Xueyue would hardly call this place a bedroom with how grand and enormous it was.
Yanxi bowed at Xueyue's words and excused herself to fulfill her command.
Li Xueyue advanced towards the doors that led towards her personal library. Inside, there were rows upon rows of books.
"There's so many…" she trailed off.
Curiously, Li Xueyue browsed the titles and was surprised to see so much variety. From recipes to fairytales, she found any genre she could think of.
Was this Yu Zhen's idea?
Thinking about him, her lips curled downwards into a disapproving frown. What exactly happened back there? Was he keeping another woman on the side?
They hadn't even finalized their marriage. He wouldn't be the type to keep a concubine. Right?
"Don't overthink it," she chided herself.
Li Xueyue reached out to pick a book, but paused and began to overthink everything.
That woman, she was stunning. Her simple clothes weren't enough to diminish her beauty.
Xu Jiaqi seemed meek and gentle. Her actions were soft and she had shown proper respect for the Crown Prince.
Li Xueyue recalled that Xu Jiaqi kept her head low the entire time she spoke to Yu Zhen. Did Yu Zhen prefer that? A submissive woman who'd praise the ground he walks on? She bit her bottom lip.
"That's not you," Li Xueyue told herself. She straightened up and hugged the book to her chest. If Yu Zhen fancied a woman like Xu Jiaqi, he wouldn't have chosen her.
Li Xueyue let out a sigh. She didn't want to continue pondering over this, but the boredom and silence forced her to consider everything.
"Maybe she's just a friend," Li Xueyue said.
She absentmindedly touched the book, but found no interest to read it. There were too many questions going on in her mind.
Li Xueyue jumped upon hearing a knock upon her door. She couldn't see the main door of her bedroom from where she was because there were multiple doors that separated this part of the bedroom from the rest.
Nonetheless, Li Xueyue called out, "Come in!"
She hoped her voice would reach Yanxi.
She looked around her personal library. There was a well-crafted circular table in here, as well as some chairs.
But she wasn't a fan of being surrounded by so many books. It would be better if Yanxi set the tea and snacks outside.
"Yanxi, set the plate of snacks near the gardens. I won't be reading inside," she spoke up when the door slid open behind her.
Li Xueyue turned around and was prepared to head out of the room when the book slipped out of her hands.
Li Xueyue was surprised to see Yu Zhen. He was dressed in dark clothing as always.
She realized he must've not liked vibrant colors. Her eyes landed upon his navy black clothes and the golden embroidery. His clothes hugged his wide shoulders perfectly and accentuated his lean waist.
It wasn't hard to see why he was so favored amongst women. Yu Zhen's features should be captured in a painting and hung on the wall for generations to come.
Without a doubt, when someone stumbled across his painting in the future, they'd stop and admire it in awe.
"Your Highness," Li Xueyue formally addressed. It slipped out without thinking.
His relaxed expression stiffened into displeasure. His brows drew together at her words. His lips dipped into a frown.
"Yu Zhen," he gritted out.
"What do you mean?" Li Xueyue asked. She was perplexed by his sudden annoyance. She had called him with his proper title. What could be so wrong in that?
"It's Yu Zhen," he stated. "Not Your Highness."
Li Xueyue slowly blinked in response. She pressed her lips together.
Ignoring his words, she bent down and picked up the fallen book. Her eyes grew wide when a pair of black boots stopped in front of her.
She grabbed the book and straightened up, coming face to face with him.
"You're frustrated," Yu Zhen pointed out.
It was unlike her to behave like this, so closed-off and cold. Something must've triggered her, what was it? What could he do to make it better?
Li Xueyue didn't even think she was mad. She was just… irked. By something that she couldn't describe. She touched her chest, feeling a sharp pain there. Was it jealousy?
"Does it hurt somewhere?" Yu Zhen questioned upon seeing the small action.
Li Xueyue was irritable around him but he was still showing concern for her. His voice was dripping with worry. His dark eyes were comforting.
She jumped when he grabbed her waist and tugged her closer to him.
"What are you doing?" she demanded, attempting to push him away. He grabbed the hand that rested on her chest.
"Does it hurt here?" Yu Zhen asked in a soft, beguiling voice.
Li Xueyue was entranced by him. His gaze was sweeter than honey.
The grip on her wrist was gentle and loose. She could pull her hand back anytime she wanted but she didn't. Her attention briefly landed upon his fingers, long and slender, but rough.
He was doing so much to strengthen their communication. She couldn't deny him now.
"I saw you with that woman," Li Xueyue stated.
She lifted her head to observe his expression, but he was already watching her. When their eyes met, he revealed a teasing smile.
"Is this… jealousy?" Yu Zhen mused.
Li Xueyue blinked. Her face heated at his words and she rapidly shook her head.
"Don't flatter yourself," she said.
Her face became even more red when he laughed. Her heart was tugged at the sound. It was music to her ears. If only he wasn't mocking her.
"It's not funny," Li Xueyue grumbled out.
She angrily pulled her hand away from his touch. He didn't mind. In an instant, his freed hand had wrapped itself around her, landing upon her upper back.
"It's the first time you're jealous," Yu Zhen stated.
He stepped forward and enveloped her in a hug. A wide smile was on his face. He enjoyed this jealousy. Now, she knew how he felt.
"I wasn't jealous," Li Xueyue stated. She relished in the comfort of his chest—large and sturdy. She always felt safe around him. It felt like nothing in the world could go wrong so long as they were together.
He rested his chin upon the top of her head.
When he kissed her hair, she melted against him. He always knew how to soothe her anger, didn't he?
"She's no one that you should worry about," Yu Zhen mumbled against her hair. Her scent was heavenly and enticing. She smelled of jasmine and roses.
Yu Zhen was never fond of flowers until he met her. There was something about her scent that felt comforting to him. Her distinctive scent reminded him this was reality. It wasn't a dream. Li Xueyue was truly in Hanjian.
"Are you sure?" Li Xueyue asked. She pulled away from him to study his expression when she'd ask him the next question.
"I heard she helped you with something, but I wasn't told what it was," Li Xueyue said. "Doesn't that mean you owe her a favor?"
Yu Zhen paused at her words. How much did she know? He narrowed his eyes. Who dared to tell her of what happened? He was supposed to tell her in person, so that there wouldn't be any misunderstandings.
Li Xueyue shivered when the air became chilly. It was strange. He still had his arms around her body, his grip was possessive, but the embrace was no longer warm. He was upset.
"It seems I've hit a nerve," Li Xueyue pointed out with a wry smile. "I wonder why."
Yu Zhen frowned at her words. Was she trying to start a fight? What was wrong with her? He stared down at her.
"What are you trying to imply?" he demanded in a low voice.
Li Xueyue raised her brow. Was he warning her? There was an edge to his voice.
Li Xueyue didn't like that. She pushed him away and took a step back. This seemed to infuriate him even more. His fingers had curled into tight fists.
"What did she help you with?" Li Xueyue asked. "I saw what happened. She grabbed your sleeves for a while. And you didn't even push her away."
"I didn't realize she was holding onto me," Yu Zhen deadpanned. "I shrugged her hand off, shortly after the discussion ended."
Li Xueyue frowned. She didn't recall seeing that.
But then again, she left shortly after seeing that uncomfortable scene. She didn't want to stick around to see how the discussion would unfold. She disliked the thought of another woman touching what belonged to her.
"I won't repeat myself," she responded.
Yu Zhen pressed his lips together.
She wanted to hear what happened. But right now, she was upset. It would be difficult for her to think properly if she was unhappy.
"You'll jump to conclusions if I tell you."
Li Xueyue's brows shot up. Was the situation so questionable that she'd misinterpret his words? Was it that scandalous? She scowled. Was he trying to stall time? To come up with a story entangled with half-truths and white lies?
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