Once the Imperial Physician left, Yu Zhen ordered the servants to bring in their morning meal. It quickly came for no one dared to starve them. After a joyous meal, the tonic was boiled and served to Li Xueyue.
"It seems bitter," Yu Zhen commented. He lifted the teacup, examining the pungent drink.
"Really? I couldn't tell," Li Xueyue remarked. She watched as he blew on the drink, cooling it down for her.
Yu Zhen raised a brow. "You decide to be sarcastic as I'm helping you?"
"But I didn't ask for your help," she snapped, suddenly irritable by his question. She took the cup from his hand and placed it down.
Not a second later, she felt remorse for her abrupt attitude.
Li Xueyue turned his hand over to reveal his palm."What if you burn your fingers?" she worriedly said.
Her forefinger traced over the prominent lines, knowing they meant something.
Yu Zhen raised a brow. "It takes more than boiling tea in a cup to hurt me."
Li Xueyue nodded. She closed his hand into a fist, admiring the veins that popped out. The guilt went away. It seemed he had not noticed her anger. She was glad.
"You'll need this." Yu Zhen placed something into her mouth. It was sweet, but when she bit into it, it was sour.
Li Xueyue recognized the flavor of dried plums.
"Thank you," she said whilst sucking the fruit.
She held her breath and brought the teacup to her mouth, drinking it all in one gulp. By now, the tonic had greatly cooled. The taste was overwhelming. The plum was no longer sweet. It tasted bitter upon her tongue.
Li Xueyue grimaced whilst placing the teacup down. At least it was only one cup of it. For now, at least.
"You don't have to drink it if you don't want to." Yu Zhen did not enjoy the sight of her in pain like this. Especially if she would have to drink it every day, morning and night.
"We can hold this off for a few months," he added on. "Since it is uncertain that you're infertile."
Li Xueyue shook her head. "It's fine. I'll view it as a nutritious drink that will benefit both of us."
"It does not benefit me to see you suffer." Yu Zhen turned to her maidservants who stood in the corner of the room, awaiting further instructions.
"Starting from now, you will no longer bring the tonic—"
"I expect to have the drink every morning and night."
Yu Zhen sharply turned to her. "Why are you so disobedient?"
"A wife is not something to be tamed," she teasingly said.
Li Xueyue understood how lucky she was to have someone so understanding. Often, her words could've earned her a rough slap on the face. She touched his hand, it was tightly clenched into a fist.
"Please do not worry so much about me, I am fine—"
"I will stop when you are."
Li Xueyue frowned. "That is unfair."
Yu Zhen scoffed. "Everything in this world is unfair, starting from birth."
Li Xueyue ran her thumb over his knuckles. There were small scars, most likely from fights. She was hurt at the thought of his injured body.
"You know what I meant," she said in a low, sullen voice.
Yu Zhen grabbed her chin, lifting it. He didn't enjoy the sight of her lowered head. "Because you do not worry about yourself, I do it in your place. Just as you do for me."
Li Xueyue squeezed his hand. She was overcome with emotions. They clogged her throat and made it difficult to speak.
Yu Zhen stroked the back of her head. "That is why, you should not reject my advice, just like how I listen to yours."
"You're being unfair again," she mumbled, her bottom lip jutting out.
Yu Zhen's hand shifted to the side of her face. She expected him to caress it. Instead, he pulled on it, testing the elasticity of her skin.
"You already know my answer to that, Sunshine."
Li Xueyue pushed his hand away, rubbing the sore spot. Surely, it would be an irritable shade of red soon.
"Don't you have better things to do than tease me so early in the morning?" she said whilst standing up.
Li Xueyue had spent far too long in her nightclothes. Afternoon was swiftly approaching. It wouldn't do her well to idle around in a simple robe.
Yu Zhen stared at her. If only she knew that her teasing began the moment she woke up. He was always tortured by her. Her rosy lips—luscious and sweet—her natural curves, supple and smooth… She didn't do much and he was already hardened.
He reached a hand out and caressed the side of her neck, his thumb brushing a pink mark. She shivered at his touch, her eyes fluttering. She was enjoying it.
"I believe you are the thing I am supposed to do."
Li Xueyue reddened at his words. She tried to pull away, but he grabbed the back of her neck. In an instant, he pulled her close. She could see his dark, glimmering eyes in perfect detail. It was so dark, she couldn't see the rings of his iris.
"Speaking of which, I should begin."
He leaned in for a kiss but was met with her palms.
"You had the energy to bicker with me, Sunshine."
"Do not worry, my dear wife, I will do the work this time."
Li Xueyue wanted to protest, but he sealed his lips over hers. All the while, he also sealed her fate.
- - - - -
Li Xueyue didn't realize she had fallen asleep until she woke up in bed, stark naked. She tiredly turned her head, noticing he was directly beside her.
The setting sun spooled over his perfect features, creating haunting shadows on his face. His lashes were long and beautiful, like the rest of his marred body.
"You're a beast, my dear husband."
Li Xueyue gingerly touched his jawline. How was it humanly possible to be this handsome? She had only taken one glimpse at him but felt like she had fallen in love all over again.
"Why do I sleep so well when I am with you?" she wondered out loud.
Yu Zhen didn't respond. His chest steadily rose and fell, indicating he was still asleep.
Li Xueyue smiled in triumph, knowing she was correct. He was finally exhausted enough to not be awakened by the slightest sound or movement. She recalled he was a light sleeper.
She turned her head towards the open window. They had slept through the entire afternoon, after a session of thorough lovemaking.
Despite the fact that she mentioned her tiredness, he was still rough with her. She didn't complain, for it was too pleasurable.
"I will fetch a snack," she informed him, even though he would not be able to hear her.
Li Xueyue tried to slip out of bed but to no avail. His hold on her was so strong. His arm was slung over her lower stomach, and when she moved, it would only tighten.
She attempted to wriggle out of it. Not a second later, he began to stir.
Li Xueyue instantly froze. She didn��t want to wake him up. Yu Zhen was always the last to sleep, and first to rise. She was hoping he'd sleep longer so that he was well-rested.
"Are you awake?" she whispered.
A quiet snore was the response.
Li Xueyue let out a small sigh of relief. She attempted to move again. To no avail. He shifted with her body.
"Oh no!" she yelped when he forcibly turned her to the side. He was hugging her now as a child would of a doll.
Li Xueyue was trapped. He had adjusted their legs, tangling it further. Her lower stomach clenched. There was something pressing into her tailbone. And she knew exactly what it was.
"Fine, you win," she finally huffed out, deciding to remain in this position.
If Li Xueyue dared to wriggle again, who knows what the outcome might've been… Certainly, it would be one that instantly woke him up.
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