Yu Zhen had lied. Li Xueyue woke up in the bedroom all alone. It was dark in here, the candle lights blew out. She rapidly blinked, adjusting her vision in the pitch-black darkness.
"How late at night is it?" she mumbled under her breath.
Li Xueyue touched the spot beside her. It was cold. Which meant Yu Zhen hadn't returned at all.
Reluctantly, she slipped out of bed, shivering when the cold nipped at her skin. Goosebumps arose but she quickly covered herself with a piece of Yu Zhen's clothing she picked up at the foot of the bed.
"It must be midnight by now," Li Xueyue added on. She quickly tied the belt of the robe together, her legs wobbling with each step.
She ran a tired hand through her hair. "Perhaps he's busy with work."
Li Xueyue unlocked the windows, pushing it open. To her delight, the moon was high in the sky. It was a perfect circle, high up in the sky, lighting up the paths for lost wanderers. Crickets chirped in the distance as the leaves rustled from gusts of wind.
It was a calm, tranquil night. Such a shame that she was enjoying it all alone.
"I should visit him."
Li Xueyue went back to the bed, where she found her shoes neatly tucked at the corner. She slipped it on and made her way to the door, dressed in nothing but the decorative layer of his clothing. Much like his obsidian eyes, the robe was black as midnight but decorated with gold embroidery.
Li Xueyue pushed the doors open, poking her head outside.
"Good evening, Crown Princess. Is there a problem?" one of the guards hurriedly greeted her. After all, they were stationed near the door. Per the Crown Prince's orders, no one except him shall enter.
"Not really," Li Xueyue stated. "How late in the night is it?"
"Crown Princess, the sun had set quite a while ago. It's almost midnight and many people have retired to their beds."
Li Xueyue nodded. She was grateful for their trained eyes. None of them gawked or stared at the visible markings on her neck. They remained respectful, pretending not to have seen anything at all.
Wryly, she remembered a comment once made about the guards and servants. Li Xueyue was initially worried that they might've overheard her. But Yu Zhen reassured her that everyone evacuated from the premises. Only he had the privilege to hear her.
"I plan to take a late-night walk," she suddenly said.
The guards exchanged glances with each other. They received explicit orders to make sure no one entered the room. But there was nothing said about the Crown Princess leaving.
"You can accompany me if it would put you at ease." Li Xueyue stepped out of the bedroom, deciding to head to Yu Zhen's private study.
"Crown Princess," a guard spoke up. "If it's the Crown Prince you seek, we can send a servant to inform him."
Li Xueyue pressed her lips together. It would be a lot easier to do that, wouldn't it? But she didn't want to pull him away from work. She only wanted to make sure that everything was fine.
"I assume he's finishing some documents in the private study?"
"We apologize, Crown Princess. As of right now, the guards are unaware of his whereabouts. However, we will gladly dispatch people to find him and report back to you."
Li Xueyue smiled a bit. "It seems everyone is keen on keeping me out of trouble," she mused.
They bowed their heads in response. Evidently, the guards were caught red-handed.
"I see he has heightened the security around me," Li Xueyue added on. Her voice was light and airy, showing no signs of irritation. With his protective nature, such behavior was expected.
She was just surprised that it didn't happen a lot earlier. Perhaps the Round Table Discussion triggered something.
"In that case, have him brought to me."
The guards' eyes widened in horror. They didn't have the guts to request such a thing from the Crown Prince. Not many people had the authority to make him move. None, except the Emperor.
"Rest assured, the only head he will come for is mine." It was a joke, but they believed it.
"Or I can search for him."
"N-no need, Crown Princess," the guards stuttered out.
Li Xueyue smiled in satisfaction. "That is good to hear." She glanced around, in search of a lantern and spotted one hanging at the side of the door.
She picked up the lantern and brought it inside with her.
"And tell him to bring food, I'm hungry."
Li Xueyue shut the door on their faces. But the sight of their skin turning pale was imprinted into her mind. Everyone was scared out of their wits, believing tonight would be the last night they drew a breath.
How silly of them.
If only the guards knew, the first one to inform the Crown Prince would receive a reward.
"How could he not have woken me up for dinner?" Li Xueyue complained whilst placing a hand upon her empty stomach. Automatically, it growled in protest, grumbling for food.
Li Xueyue figured he probably wished for her to rest as much as possible. It was a thoughtful wish. Except, he hadn't predicted the consequences. Her sleep cycle was all messed up. She would have to stay up all night now, unable to sleep any longer.
"Well, more time to cuddle," she reassured herself.
Li Xueyue headed towards the vanity where she had the perfect view of the scenic night sky. She sat down, placing the lantern beside her feet. Resting her cheek upon her palm, she gazed up at the moon.
During their separation, there were so many nights she'd look up to the sky, wondering if Yu Zhen did the same. She found it interesting that they were all under the same moon, yet, countries apart. The distance between them was wide, but their hearts were never far from each other.
"You will catch a cold."
Li Xueyue wasn't startled by his sudden appearance. He was always stealthy—moving quietly and keeping silent. Even now, he was approaching her without a sound.
"I was admiring the moon."
His hands rested upon her shoulders. She could feel the heat rolling off of him. He was so close. Enough for her to feel the thrill in her heart.
"Or, you can admire the view that is directly beside you."
Li Xueyue laughed at his words. She kept her eyes forward. Aggravated at the lack of attention, his hand slid down, parting the collars of the robe on her.
"I quite like you in my robes." His fingers brushed against her exposed chest. A smirk formed when she trembled at his touch.
"But I like it better when it's off."
Li Xueyue raised a brow. He had slid off the robes off her, leaving her shoulders bare. "What happened to catching a cold?"
Yu Zhen's hands instantly roamed her body, spreading warmth all over. His hands were warm, much like the rest of his sturdy body.
"I will do the job in its stead," he whispered.
Li Xueyue shivered at his voice, low and seductive. His mouth brushed against her ears.
"You won't get your meal if I don't get mine," she retorted. "I'm hungry."
Yu Zhen's thumb brushed her lips. "I can give you something else to eat."
Her cheeks heated at his words. Despite having zero experience in it…she understood his intentions.
Li Xueyue had read enough books to know. "Is this why you allowed me to sleep so late?"
Yu Zhen chuckled in response. He glanced at their reflection in the vanity mirror. Her breasts were exposed, the buds perked from the cold. He stepped closer to her until her back was flushed against his body.
"So you can keep me up all night?" she concluded.
Li Xueyue's breathing turned shallow when he stroked the side of her breast. It ached to be properly touched by him. He cupped her breast while the other hand turned her chin, forcing her to look at their reflection.
If it was even possible, she became redder than she already was. There was something alluring about seeing their promiscuous position. He had access to nearly every part of her. He brushed a finger upon her lips, parting it for him.
Slowly, he slipped his thumb inside. She teasingly licked it, watching the fire ignite in his eyes.
"Believe me, Sunshine. I intended to keep you up, whether or not you would have slept this long."
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