Li Xueyue was not aware that Hanjian had this type of tradition. She heard this practice was prevalent in Wuyi but didn't think it would occur in Hanjian as well. She could do nothing but mutely stare as the maidservants brought the white sheets forward.
Yu Zhen squeezed her hand in reassurance. If there was foul play, he would protect her. If she had lied to him yesterday night, he would still protect her.
If anything, confrontations should occur in private, not in public, and definitely not in front of the in-laws.
The maidservants bowed their heads. The white sheets were strategically folded to reveal what was needed to be seen without a mess.
"Your Majesty, Your Grace," they addressed. "The Crown Princess was pure. She has bled."
Li Xueyue saw the satisfaction on the Imperial Family's faces. They nodded in response and turned to her with a pleasant smile. In particular, the Empress expressed her sympathy.
"The first night is always hard, Crown Princess. Hopefully, it will get better," the Empress commented.
Li Xueyue tried her best not to gawk. She didn't think the modest Empress would talk so brazenly about something so private.
"Do not worry, Your Grace," Li Xueyue responded. "My body can handle it."
Li Xueyue understood what the Empress was implying. She supposed the rumors about Wuyi's candidates had bothered the Empress.
"Hmm, seeing as you're standing without support, my son must've failed his duties," the Empress chided.
Yu Zhen opened his mouth, but Li Xueyue was quick to salvage the situation.
Li Xueyue interrupted him with a small laugh. She shyly stared to the ground. "If it wasn't for the warm bath from earlier, I would've had difficulties walking, Your Grace."
The Empress hummed. She was impressed with Li Xueyue's explanation. It was not too vivid, and not too vague. It was good to see that Li Xueyue recovered fast.
"My second son was a Commander before he was a Crown Prince," the Empress said. She waved her hand and handmaidens dressed in plain colors came forward carrying trays of food.
"His stamina might've hurt you," the Empress said and chuckled. "I've prepared nutritious dishes and soups to replenish both of your energy."
Li Xueyue nodded her head and offered a pleasant smile. It seemed that they wanted heirs; and quickly.
"They're much appreciated, Your Grace," Li Xueyue responded.
"A week from now," the Emperor finally spoke up after analyzing the small Princess. "The Imperial Physician will visit you."
Li Xueyue slowly nodded at his words. Without a doubt, it was to see if she was with child or not. But a week would be too soon…
"Do not fret," the Emperor warmly told her. His breathing grew labored but he trudged onwards.
The Crown Princess seemed so endearing, her eyes so clear and bright, he was reminded of his favorite daughter, Yu Lingluo. He didn't want either women to be pressured into doing something they didn't want, even if it was their duty.
"It is a mere check-up," the Emperor reassured her.
Li Xueyue's smile widened. She bowed her head and nodded.
"That is all," the Emperor said. He threw a glare at his son and turned on his heels. The servants helped him out of the bedroom, with the Empress following a few steps behind him.
Li Xueyue held back a sigh of relief. They weren't alone yet. Their servants were still here setting the table.
"Make it quick," Yu Zhen barked. His voice was rough and dark. There was no room for arguments.
Terrified of angering the Crown Prince, the handmaidens picked up their pace and quickly set the table. It didn't take long for the dishes to be arranged neatly on the table and the rice to be served. Once they finished their duties, the handmaidens rushed out of the room, not wasting a single second.
"You must be hungry," Yu Zhen said. He grasped her hands and pulled her close. There was a worried look on his face.
"Come," he whispered.
Li Xueyue's head shot up.
"Let's eat," he finished, his lips curling into a smirk.
Yu Zhen grasped her small chin and bent down, his mouth brushing against hers. "Or perhaps, you can be my meal."
Yu Zhen wanted to see her flustered and red. The color of her stained cheeks was his favorite color. He had never seen anything more exquisite than her flushed body when she climaxed.
But then she took him by surprise.
"I would prefer that as well," she whispered. His dumbstruck expression amused her, especially when she wrapped an arm around his neck and kissed him.
Yu Zhen responded in less than a second. A grunt of satisfaction came out. He rested a palm upon her lower back, fingers spread. The distance between them was closed when he kissed her back. She tasted sweet. Like a bee drawn to honey, he greedily captured her lips.
Li Xueyue thought she was in the lead but was severely proven wrong. His hot tongue dove into her mouth. She was forced to take a step back until eventually, her knees buckled.
Yu Zhen pushed her onto the bed. He straddled her, his fingers expertly taking off her dress.
"O-on second thought…" she trailed off, knowing he was far too stimulated.
His dilated pupils stared down at her—raw hunger in his eyes. He was a craving nothing but her.
"I'm hungry for food," she said, but her hands implied otherwise. It ran up his chest, feeling the pinch of his muscles when his fingers balled into fists. He had just reached the limit of his self-control.
"Then let's eat," he gruffily said.
Li Xueyue was pleasantly surprised by his words. She thought he was joking. Did he… truly take her words into consideration? His actions proved it. Yu Zhen pulled her up so that she was sitting upon the bed.
His standing figure towered over her. But he didn't seem intimidating. Instead, it felt comforting and safe.
Li Xueyue could feel the heat of his warm body, tingling with desire. She saw the lust in his eyes, an emotion reserved only for her.
"Well?" he stated whilst curling a finger under her chin. "Shall I carry you to the table?"
Li Xueyue allowed him to lift her head. She met his burning gaze. He was hungry for more than just a kiss.
"I was just teasing you—" The words barely left her mouth before he joined her on the bed. Her back was flushed against the bed as he kissed her again.
"You'll be punished for that."
Li Xueyue didn't understand what he meant until his kiss turned passionate and rough, much like the hands parting her robes. He yanked it open, exposing her to the cold air. She shivered, her hands shyly covering her breast and the intimate features.
"Don't hide from me." Yu Zhen grasped both wrists and pinned it on either side of her.
Li Xueyue's cheeks grew heated when his gaze wandered all over her body. She was too self-conscious, her legs closing. But he kept it open with his knees.
"What did I say?" he said and chuckled, the sound dark and cruel.
Li Xueyue shivered at his tone. For odd reasons, it sent delight into her bloodstream. His stare was so hot that everywhere he looked burned.
Yu Zhen took his sweet time admiring her, from the rosy buds to the clench of her lower stomach as she squirmed under his stare.
Yu Zhen licked his bottom lip. "I will thoroughly enjoy this meal."
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