Li Xueyue sat up ramrod straight. Who wouldn't? Yu Zhen's wrath was not one to tread lightly on—even if it happened on a daily basis.
"Go," she instructed the maidservants.
All of them rushed out of the bedroom, like flocks of birds after a disturbance. The doors were closed behind them. Silence engulfed the room. Rage simmered on the surface, outweighing the bewilderment.
Li Xueyue continued to sit, unsure of what happened. She raised a curious brow and patiently waited for him to blow up at her.
"What were you thinking?" he finally said. His voice was barely above a whisper. He was infuriated that he couldn't even look at her.
"You weren't even thinking, were you?"
Li Xueyue was taken aback. She was so shocked by his words that her mouth fell open.
"Can we backtrack this conversation?" she cautiously said. "Because I'm confused."
Yu Zhen narrowed his eyes onto her. His fingers curled into fists. At a time like this, she still sat there like a fool. He couldn't believe the audacity of her behavior. The least she could do was stand up to talk to him.
"Of course you are," he spat out.
At this, Li Xueyue's patience snapped. She stood up with a glare. "What is your issue, Yu Zhen? You come storming into my estate, berating me with your words on what grounds?"
Li Xueyue held back a scoff at his words. "Being vague doesn't help with anything. It only makes things even more perplexing."
She crossed her arms and stood her ground. No matter the reason, she refused to give in unless she was in the wrong.
At this moment, Li Xueyue couldn't understand him. Why was he livid? What did she do wrong? She tried to think of a reason but came up empty-handed. It wasn't like she skipped a meal or something. And even if she did, he wouldn't be this irritated with her.
"Even when you're in the wrong, you continue to be stubborn. Why am I not surprised?" Yu Zhen hissed.
Li Xueyue had to do a double-take. What did he just say?
"I've had enough of this conversation, Your Highness," she hissed.
Li Xueyue didn't have the patience to tolerate this anymore. "If you have nothing better to do but insult me, then get out."
Her eyes grew wide when he did the polar opposite of that. He stormed towards her and grabbed her wrist.
Li Xueyue tugged her hand back but he yanked her close. His grip was tight and it forced her to look up at him.
"You said you'd never hurt me."
"My wrist hurts."
In an instant, he let her go.
Li Xueyue rubbed the spot, but he grabbed it again. She didn't want to guilt trip him but it happened regardless.
"Let me see," he muttered. Upon seeing there wasn't any bruise there, he let out a sigh of relief.
Not a second later, he was furious, yet again. "You were behaving like a brat. I had to get your attention somehow."
Li Xueyue ground her teeth. She finally knew what it was like for him to deal with her frustrations. He must've felt the same way when she refused to get to the main point quickly during their arguments in the past.
"Can't you just tell me what's wrong?" Li Xueyue said. "And stop insulting me."
"I'm not insulting you—"
"Yes, you are."
"I am pointing out the obvious. If it's offensive, it's not my problem."
"Then you better get out because I will not tolerate this behavior," Li Xueyue snapped.
"Is this how you treat your husband?"
"Is this how you treat your wife?" she retorted.
"I worked hard all day to finalize my ideas so that I can show it to you as soon as possible. And the first thing you do when you come in is to insult me."
"No, I don't want to talk to you. Get out."
"You can't tell me to get out of the palace that I own."
Li Xueyue glared up at him. Oh, so this was how he wanted to play. She let out a cynical laugh. It lacked humor.
She picked up the parchment and rolled it up. With a shrug of her shoulders, she shoved past him and headed for the door.
"Where are you going?" he growled.
Li Xueyue ignored him. She flung the doors open and strutted out.
"God damn it, Li Xueyue!" he hissed, instantly going after her.
Before she could make it far, he grabbed her by the shoulders and turned her around. "Do not walk away from me—"
"Or else what? You're going to punish me? Throw me in prison? Continue to assault me with your words? What is it going to be, Your Highness?"
Yu Zhen was beyond the point of anger. She just loved to frustrate him further, didn't she?
Yu Zhen always knew how to control his indignations. It was easy for him to keep his composure. The calm before the storm was his preferred tactic. It created more fear than a mad man flipping over tables.
The majority of those times that he had lost his control was always around her. She brought out the worst in him, just as he brought out the best. His heart was rapidly beating as his blood pressure increased.
"Do you want to be punished so badly?" Yu Zhen demanded as he took a threatening step in her direction.
"Do not mess with me," he hissed.
"Or else what?"
In the blink of an eye, he grabbed her nape. She sharply gasped when he pulled her close. His breath fanned her face as his breathing grew harsh. The fire in his eyes could burn her alive.
Before Li Xueyue could say anything, he crashed his lips on hers in a brutal kiss. She tried to pull away but he forced her against him. Her breasts were pressed against his chest and he could feel all of her curves.
When Yu Zhen finally released her mouth, he moved onto her neck. He kissed the area, biting it, and then suckling upon the spot—branding her as his.
And in the heat of the moment, he did not see it: the swing of her hand as she slapped him across the face.
His patience snapped. He reached out to grab her, but then he saw it. Tears. Hatred. Fear.
"I've had enough," Li Xueyue hissed.
Before she let her tears fall, Li Xueyue turned on her heels and walked off. She never looked back. Not even when his eyes burned a hole through her skull.
Li Xueyue continued walking onwards until she reached the palace stables. The people there were shocked to see her. She didn't give them a reason.
Li Xueyue browsed through the stables. "Heiyue," she called out. In an instant, thuds could be heard.
Heiyue grew restless at the sound of his master's voice. He was initially resting and lazily munching on hay, but upon hearing her voice, his heart leaped. It had been a few days since he had last seen her.
"There you are," Li Xueyue said. She tried her best to suppress the anger within her that threatened to show in her voice.
"You're certainly living a life of luxury," Li Xueyue commented upon seeing the size of his large stable and the ample resources he had.
"Princess, your hands!" a servant pleaded upon seeing her pick up the heavy saddles.
"No need," Li Xueyue stated. She placed the blanket onto Heiyue's back before adjusting the saddle onto him.
Li Xueyue guided her horse out of the stables, ignoring the curious and worried stares of the servants. Dusk was vastly approaching. What was the Crown Princess doing here so late? Where was she going?
Before anyone could voice their protest, Li Xueyue slipped onto her horse. It was difficult to do so for her legs were caught in the long dress. But she still managed to climb on.
"Let's go," she said as Heiyue began to trot.
And soon, the horse was stepping out of the stables, eager to feel the grass upon his hooves. Every day, he was brought out to exercise, but nothing would ever match the thrill his master gave him.
Li Xueyue urged Heiyue to go faster. Eventually, his slow walk turned into a jog, and then a vast sprint forward. She rode as the horse galloped until the palace was nothing but a blur.
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