369 Running Away
After a long while, Li Xueyue decided to break the silence. She turned her attention from the night sky to his face. There was a ghastly glow upon his seated form. His dark clothes and sharp jawline gave him the appearance of the keeper of souls. Well, he wasn't the Grim Reaper of the Battlefield for nothing.
"Are we going to have a civilized discussion now?" she asked in an amused voice.
Li Xueyue suppressed a chuckle when his jaw clenched. It seemed this petty man was still mad. Over what? She didn't know.
"We were having one in the palace before you ran off," Yu Zhen retorted.
Yu Zhen glanced to the side where Xiao Lizi was nipping at the grass. She stood beside Heiyue and the two ignored each other's presence—much like their masters a few minutes ago.
"You knew exactly why I ran off," Li Xueyue coldly told him. Her hardened voice left little to no room for discussion. He had done something to her that she didn't appreciate. Her slap was the result of that.
"I was hoping for a better outcome," Yu Zhen explained.
Granted, her reaction was within his expectations but he didn't think it would actually happen. All he wanted to do was make her stay. She was always charmed by his kisses. Naturally, he had hoped for the same.
"I didn't like it."
Yu Zhen raised a brow. "The kiss or the intent?"
Li Xueyue pressed her lips together. Of course he'd ask such a thing. It was very like him.
"Nevermind," she stated.
Something about his arrogant smile told her he already knew the answer to the question.
"Are you going to tell me then?" she asked.
"Tell you what?"
"The reason for your anger," Li Xueyue said. "You were so insulting towards me. I must've done something wrong."
Yu Zhen's gaze softened. In the heat of the moment, he wasn't thinking properly. It was strange. He rarely lost his temper like that. He'd seethe in silence. Yelling and insulting people weren't his style.
She turned to him, revealing the disappointment in her eyes. She was aggrieved by his words, his reaction, and his actions.
Yu Zhen couldn't bring himself to apologize. They were both in the wrong. "You made a grave mistake."
"What is it?" she questioned.
"You commanded Xu Jiaqi to kneel the entire day."
At his words, her irritation rose faster than she could think. He had insulted her for Xu Jiaqi's sake? He had lashed out on her because of Xu Jiaqi? Unbelievable. She opened her mouth, ready to argue, but he cut her off.
"In our bedroom. A private place where one or more secrets are hidden. Do you realize how dangerous it is?" he reprimanded in a soft voice.
Li Xueyue pressed her lips together. So, it wasn't the punishment she gave. But more of the location of it.
"You're lucky I found her before she could look around."
"I had a maidservant watching over Xu Jiaqi, making sure—"
"Regardless," he sternly said. "I do not want anyone in our bedroom. Unless it's us—in bed."
Li Xueyue ignored the last part. "You could've just told me that in my estate, instead of insulting me."
Yu Zhen slowly nodded his head. Guilt gnawed at his chest, prickling him. He, too, wished he hadn't insulted her. The words were blurted out irrationally.
"I won't do it next time," he said.
Li Xueyue hummed in response, believing his words. He had never lied to her nor given her a reason not to trust him.
"We should resolve our problems peacefully next time," she suggested. "No more insults, running away, and bottling our emotions."
"We should," he agreed. "But will we actually remember that when we are blinded by rage?"
Li Xueyue's lips went to one side. Perhaps that was easier said than done. "Then, we should try to," she corrected.
Yu Zhen let out a small laugh at her words. He reached a hand out and pushed her hair away from her forehead.
"Let's hope we're rational enough for that," he stated.
Li Xueyue nodded her head in agreement.
"Now, shall we return home?" Yu Zhen asked. His tone was filled with patience for her. If she wanted to spend more time in the meadow, then so be it. He'd join her.
Li Xueyue sat up from her lying position. She turned her head to him and nodded. "It's very late. We should quietly sneak back to prevent any issues."
Yu Zhen smiled in amusement. "We're married adults. Who'd dare to question us?"
Li Xueyue laughed. He was always so bold, so confident, that she wanted to rob him off those emotions. How nice does it feel to have so much confidence in oneself? She wouldn't know…
"You're right," she mused.
Yu Zhen pinched her cheeks. "Also, if you're bored in our estate, don't just sit there."
"What do you mean?" Li Xueyue asked, wondering if he had heard her confessions.
"You're allowed to take Heiyue on frequent outings, as well as practice archery," Yu Zhen said with a smile. He hadn't realized these hobbies of her were robbed in the Palace.
"What about sword fighting?"
"Who shall you practice with?" he asked.
Li Xueyue raised a brow. "You're telling me that out of the thousands of soldiers in the palace, there isn't one to spar with me?"
"It'd be improper," he said.
Yu Zhen wanted it to come out as a joke. But the thought of her struggling against the weight of another man plagued his mind. Until eventually, he was angered by his own imaginations.
He recalled the sword fighting session they had. Her flushed cheeks, panting chest, and tight robes. All of it was provocative, even if she didn't mean for it. He only wanted her to struggle against him and no one else.
"That reminds me," Yu Zhen stated. "I will have a Master Blacksmith craft you a suitable set of bow and arrows."
"We're not going to gloss over the sword fighting discussion," she deadpanned.
"No is a no."
"You don't get to control me."
Li Xueyue crossed her arms. She refused to give up that part of her life just for him. What could be so wrong with sparring? For goodness' sake, she could just wear a mask or a helmet—anything to hide her identity.
"I say it for your own good," he said.
"No, it's out of possessiveness."
"Just a tad, Sunshine."
Li Xueyue raised a brow. It was certainly more than just a tad. "What about Lu Tianbi? I can train with her. Whenever she practices, maybe I can tag along."
Yu Zhen suddenly wished he'd never introduced the two of them. It was a loophole and she knew it. He glared at her.
"Must you be so stubborn?" he demanded.
"You're the same," she retorted.
Yu Zhen pinched her cheeks again out of irritation. She had a sharp tongue on her. Sometimes, he admired it. Other times, he was aggravated by it. In the end, he still loved her for it.
"Just get on your horse," he finally said.
Li Xueyue's lips twitched. She suppressed a victorious smile.
Yu Zhen got to his feet. He dusted himself off before offering her a hand. She took it without hesitation.
"Don't stray too far from me," Yu Zhen told her as they walked towards their horses.
Li Xueyue didn't respond. She merely swung their intertwined hand. Her gaze wandered to the discarded clothes.
"Shouldn't we pick those up?" she said, pointing down at it. "As well as my hairpins?"
Yu Zhen didn't even spare a look. "A servant will fetch it for us."
"But my scattered clothes will give the wrong impression."
Li Xueyue gaped up at him. Was that his intention all along? She quickly bent down to pick up the layers of clothes but he yanked her upwards, his arm coming around her waist.
"It'll be fine," he reassured.
"They'll think less of me."
"It'll look like I'm so promiscuous, I allowed you to do it in the middle of a field," Li Xueyue stated.
Yu Zhen quirked a brow. "As if running away from the palace, and returning in the middle of the night won't damage your reputation."
Li Xueyue groaned at his words. "Don't change the subject on me, Yu Zhen."
Li Xueyue ignored him. She shoved his chest, thinking he would budge. But his strength overpowered her. He didn't even budge.
"I'm serious," she said.
"So am I."
"Yu Zhen," she hissed.
"And if I don't?" he teased, leaning down.
"Don't be a child. Just let me go, Yu Zhen!"
Yu Zhen laughed upon seeing her aggravated glare. She was so cute when she was angry. In her eyes, she must've resembled a tiger. But in reality, she was too short and tiny to be considered one.
Finally, he released her.
Li Xueyue bent down to pick up the scattered clothes but he was faster than her. Yu Zhen swooped low, and in the blink of an eye, picked up all of the soiled clothing.
Yu Zhen gathered it in one arm.
"You didn't have to," she said.
"You'll dirty your hands," he explained before grabbing the closest one to him. He was entertained by her disbelief. The shock was written all over her face.
Yu Zhen shook his head and smiled. She was cute, even when puzzled.
Yu Zhen pulled her close and kissed her on the forehead. "Now come," he urged her. "Let's head home."
Li Xueyue could do nothing but oblige. Together, they approached the horses. And soon, they were dashing into the night.