Li Xueyue didn't think he would have so much energy in the morning. Red marks were found on her body, and she could do nothing but lie in the bed for a few more minutes and wait for those red marks to fade a little. It didn't help that she loved to provoke him in bed.
One round turned into three, and by now, she was certain it would turn into a routine.
He was the first to leave the bedroom. There was a healthy glow to him whereas she felt like her energy was greatly depleted.
When the maidservants came in, Li Xueyue wasn't surprised to see Xu Jiaqi with them. Yu Zhen gave her a heads-up earlier when he was getting dressed by Eunuchs.
Li Xueyue suppressed an amused smile when Xu Jiaqi's eyes flared. What a sight this must've been for the latter. Contrary to what all of the ladies-in-waiting believed, the Crown Prince took a great liking to her, especially in bed.
"Good morning, Crown Princess," the maidservants greeted with their heads bowed, Xu Jiaqi included.
Li Xueyue found it interesting that Xu Jiaqi stood in the front as if she was the leader of the pack.
"You may rise," Li Xueyue mused. She was highly entertained by the scorned look on Xu Jiaqi's face. The woman couldn't decide if she was horrified or surprised.
When they made eye-contact, Li Xueyue wiped her mouth with her thumb where her lips were still bruised red from Yu Zhen's kisses. The intent behind her action was obvious to only Xu Jiaqi.
As the maidservants dressed Li Xueyue, they couldn't help but blush red. There were love bites all over the Crown Princess's body. Without a doubt, the Crown Prince had thoroughly enjoyed his time with her.
And Xu Jiaqi knew it, her eyes darkening at the sight.
"Ow," Li Xueyue hissed when Xu Jiaqi brushed through her hair with excessive force. Nonetheless, she gritted her teeth and bore with it. She'd deal with this brat later.
Li Xueyue didn't even flinch when Xu Jiaqi "accidentally" pricked her with the hairpin. She smiled through it all, knowing this would eventually build up into a mountain of issues that could be used against that insolent girl.
"My apologies, Crown Princess. I am quite new to serving," Xu Jiaqi sullenly stated, her face softening with worry.
She had indirectly reminded the maidservants that she was of noble blood. She was once a Master, not a servant—therefore she was more powerful than them.
"You were that low in the servant's hierarchy that you weren't even allowed to serve royalty before?" Li Xueyue innocently asked with a bat of her eyes.
She heard the maidservants snicker in response. They hid their smiles with bowed heads, but nothing would close their gossiping mouths. Once they were pardoned, they would mock Xu Jiaqi for days on end.
"N-no, it's just—"
"Oh nevermind," Li Xueyue said with a roll of her eyes. She examined her nails, pretending to be disinterested in Xu Jiaqi.
Xu Jiaqi gritted her teeth and glared to the ground.
While combing the Crown Princess's hair, she irritably tugged at a knot when she should've carefully brushed it out, for every strand of the Crown Princess's hair was precious—as stated by the Crown Prince. But none of it mattered to her.
She watched in satisfaction as a few strands of hair fell to the ground. 'The Crown Princess was all talk. She could bark all she wants,' she thought.
Xu Jiaqi continued to provoke the Crown Princess again and again while serving her. She served the Princess boiling tea that burned her tongue, gave icy cold water for the Princess to wash her face with, and dressed the Princess in colors that do not match.
Despite it all, Li Xueyue kept it all in and maintained a neutral expression.
"I'm so sorry," Xu Jiaqi would say again and again.
Li Xueyue contained her anger, but was mindful to voice her complaints to the other maidservants. It would serve as evidence against Xu Jiaqi later on. Testimonies were better than nothing.
With great difficulty, Li Xueyue was finally prepared for the day.
The other maidservants tried their best to dress her to perfection but it was hard to work with Xu Jiaqi whose color choices were horrible. For goodness' sake, that woman tried to dress the Crown Princess in horrid grey and brown—colors of peasant clothing since dyed textile cost a fortune.
"You're excused," Li Xueyue finally said to Xu Jiaqi.
Li Xueyue examined herself in the mirror and hid her smile. Perhaps next time, she should let Xu Jiaqi get her way. Wearing the colors of peasants and walking directly into Yu Zhen's private study… what a sight it would be.
"But all of you," she pointed to the other maidservants. "Stay."
Xu Jiaqi worriedly glanced at the ground. "But Crown Princess, I am instructed to stay by your side at all times. The Empress herself gave this command."
Li Xueyue's brows shot up. She knew exactly what Xu Jiaqi was doing. She was using the Empress's name as a shield. How stupid of her. Xu Jiaqi just revealed she was a spy.
"Very well then," Li Xueyue mused. "Get to the back of the line."
Xu Jiaqi's head snapped up, disagreement was on the tip of her tongue. "Crown Princess, I am still a lady-in-waiting for the Empress. In comparison to these lowly maidservants, I deserve to be in the front of the line!"
Li Xueyue wondered who trained Xu Jiaqi. She had hoped her opponents would be better than this. They were such easy prey that she found it humorous.
"Are you disobeying the commands of your Master?" Li Xueyue demanded in an unforgiving voice. She lifted a brow, daring Xu Jiaqi to argue back.
"No, Crown Princess, I am just—"
"And now you talk back." Li Xueyue let out a wistful sigh. "You just love to drag the Empress's name through the mud, don't you?"
Xu Jiaqi's eyes widened. Her face flushed red when the maidservants behind Li Xueyue whispered amongst themselves.
Xu Jiaqi knew what Li Xueyue was implying. Since the Empress had sent her, Xu Jiaqi must've been trained by the Empress's ladies-in-waiting. Not only had Xu Jiaqi misused the Empress's name, but she also soiled it.
What shall she say now?
"I-I deeply apologize, Crown Princess!" Xu Jiaqi stated. She dropped to her knees and bowed, hoping it would fix this issue.
Li Xueyue glanced back at the mirror. She examined the cakey powder on her face that made her paler than a ghost. She touched her lips which was a horrid shade of plum red.
"Continue kneeling there," Li Xueyue said. "And learn from your mistakes."
Xu Jiaqi's eyes widened in response. She was not used to kneeling for this long.
Even when her status was reduced to less of a servant, prior to the promotion of Yu Zhen as Crown Prince, Xu Jiaqi was still treated better than others.
It was because of her noble blood. And if only these people knew, her background might've seemed prestigious, but it wasn't.
Xu Jiaqi was the eldest daughter of the Xu Family but she was greatly neglected.
Her world was bleak and she wanted nothing in life, but then a miracle happened.
The Crown Prince saved her life—on more than one occasion too. He had given her a motivation to live.
Even if the Crown Prince didn't acknowledge her, even if he ignored her, even if he was aggravated by her presence, she still wanted him. It was a foolish obsession, she knew that much.
But he was aware of her presence. Xu Jiaqi knew that much. Why else would he save her from a life of servitude? Why else would he keep her in mind when choosing a lady-in-waiting for Li Xueyue? Why else had he not punished her for trespassing into his private study?
"Very well, Crown Princess. If this action allows me to atone my sins, then I shall bear the punishment with dignity," Xu Jiaqi eloquently said whilst placing a dutiful hand upon her chest.
Xu Jiaqi would bear all kinds of difficulties if it meant being closer to the Crown Prince. After all, the Crown Princess was always in his private study.
If Xu Jiaqi served the bratty Princess, then she might catch glimpses of the Prince who smiled for no one else but his wife.
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