"This should conclude our profiling of both Qin families on the list, Tiantain," Hu Dengxiao said. He glanced down at the scrolls under his arms. They were light, but the words felt heavy.
Lu Tianbi nodded. "I heard there was a commotion in the palace," she informed.
"When is there not a problem in the palace?" Hu Dengxiao snorted, as he stretched his neck side to side. "With so many women vying for our Zhenzhen, I'm surprised there wasn't a bloodfest already."
"I wouldn't be surprised if there is one soon," Lu Tianbi said. She reached forward, grabbing for the scrolls.
At the last minute, Hu Dengxiao turned his body and her hands landed on his arm. Before she could say anything, he spoke up first.
"What do you mean by that Tiantian?" Hu Dengxiao asked. When she attempted to take the scrolls again, he swiveled in the other direction whilst shooting her a dirty glare.
"The maidservants urgently requested the presence of the Commander before I left to give you the commands." Lu Tianbi stuck her hand out, palms facing up. "Just give me some of the damn scrolls already. There's so many under your arms, they're going to drop."
Hu Dengxiao pouted at her words. "What? Do I look weak to you, Tiantian?"
Lu Tianbi scoffed. "As weak as a child. Now give it to me, don't be so stubborn."
Hu Dengxiao stuck out his tongue.
"I'm a child. Not a brat," he mocked.
Lu Tianbi rolled her eyes at him. He was so impossible to deal with, as most men were.
"Besides, you should rely on me a little bit more, Tiantian. I am a lot stronger than I look. I promise." Hu Dengxiao nudged her shoulders. He took in their surroundings, which was an empty street. Not many people frequented this part of the Capital since it was where the rich and elite resided.
"When you behave like a kid, I don't believe that," Lu Tianbu grumbled under her breath. ���Besides, I just wanted to read the profiling to make sure you have everything written correctly."
"I'm smarter than you think," Hu Dengxiao mused. He approached the carriage awaiting them. "Luckily, they both live in the Capital. It would've been so irritating if they lived outside the Capital, because then, we'd have to travel…"
Then he paused and considered his words. He glanced at her and hid a smile. "On second thought, maybe it wouldn't have been so bad if we had to stay a night or two at some fancy inn."
Lu Tianbi snorted at his words. She rubbed her nose and crossed her arms, hiding the blush that threatened to rise. "Just get into the damn carriage. We can't have both of the Crown Prince's trusted people stay out of the palace for longer than a night."
Hu Dengxiao's pout deepened. He jutted his chin into the spacious carriage. "Ladies first."
"Hah, since when did you consider me as a lady?" Lu Tianbi retorted. Nonetheless, she headed inside of the carriage. She folded her skirts but didn't realize he was already standing behind her, blocking anyone from looking while she was settling down inside the carriage.
At his silence, she turned around. He was contemplating something, his brows wrung together. Hu Dengxiao leaned into the carriage and one by one, placed the scrolls onto the seat opposite Lu Tianbi.
Finally, he slid inside and sat down next to her. She glanced up at him wide-eyed, not expecting this. They had travelled here seated on opposite sides.
Lu Tianbi jumped when he abruptly pinched her chin. She blinked rapidly, caught off guard. It was the first time he had ever done something like this. Her breath hitched when his finger caressed the side of her face, brushing her hair behind her ears.
"I've always considered you as a woman, Tiantian," Hu Dengxiao muttered. His thumb brushed her bottom lip as she stiffened.
"But it'd be better if I consider you otherwise."
And then, he was gone.
Lu Tianbi stared ahead at the velvet seat in front of her. Her lips parted out of sheer shock. The Crown Prince truly wasn't lying… She lifted her gaze and turned her head.
Hu Dengxiao was now seated opposite her on the right. He acted as if nothing had happened. A scroll was unrolled in front of him as he read through the notes taken.
"I wonder what made the Crown Prince want to investigate families with the Qin surname," he commented, without looking away from the scroll.
"The first Qin family has a history of Ministers in the family. While the second Qin family rose in ranks into aristocracy. I suspect that the latter bought the position with wealth, rather than loyalty.
Lu Tianai nodded at his words, but her thoughts were occupied by what had happened a few moments ago. How exactly was she supposed to forget something like that?
But Hu Dengxiao seemed completely unfazed. That is, until she noticed the tremble of his fingers that tightly gripped the scroll.
"Well, regardless," Hu Dengxiao concluded. "We have finished our task."
Lu Tianbi eyed his shaking hands. Not a second later, she focused her attention at the view outside the window. The quiet streets of the elite part of the Capital rolled past them. If she looked far enough, her father's estate could be seen.
"You mentioned there would be trouble in the Imperial Palace, what happened?" Hu Dengxiao questioned. He tore his eyes away from the scroll, only to focus all of his attention upon her.
Even Lu Tianbi's side profile was beautiful. Flyaway hairs danced with the wind, swaying fiercely. She was concentrating on something, a faraway look in her gaze.
"I'm not sure, but it involved the Crown Princess. And you know how the Commander gets when it comes to her," Lu Tianbi said. It felt strange to hear him so��serious. He was often cheerful and on the mischievous side.
Lu Tianbi supposed it was because of what happened just a few minutes ago. Did he regret it? She certainly didn't. By now, her heart had calmed down. However, it skipped whenever their eyes met. It was precisely why she was focused on the scenery.
"I don't understand why he treats her like she's a porcelain doll. I mean, after all of the times she has demonstrated her strength, you'd think he would fret less over her."
Hu Dengxiao rolled up the scroll, his eyes never left her all this while. She tucked hairs behind her ears but to no avail.
"Especially after the tournament with Nanhui's Princess. By now, the Crown Prince's Wangfei has already made a name for herself in the palace. Many people respect her, many fear her. Luckily for her, there is more of the former than the latter," he added on.
Hu Dengxiao tried to follow her line of sight. What could be so interesting about blurry buildings? He couldn't pinpoint the thing that she was so concentrated on.
"Because he dotes on her," Lu Tianbi said. "She can be the strongest woman in the world, and he would still protect her."
Hu Dengxiao hummed in response. He leaned his head back, but frowned. The swaying of the carriage would soon give him a headache.
"Well, whatever trouble is stirred up in the palace today, I hope she will remain as fierce as ever," he said.
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