422 Duties I Must Tend To
Li Xueyue's heart plummeted all the way to the ground. She wrung her fingers together to prevent them from shaking. Had Marquis Qin recognized her?
Li Xueyue didn't look that much different from the young girl she used to be. Well, except the fact that she was now well-clothed and fed.
"Princess…you, you…" he trailed off before his lips pulled into a large smile. "You truly fit the image that the rumors portrayed you to be!"
Li Xueyue blinked in surprise. What?
Marquis Qin clasped his hands together and heartily laughed, revealing his teeth. The Crown Prince was a lucky man! He had all of these spectacular beauties to himself, and everyone knew how possessive he was. It was no wonder why.
There was something special about the Crown Princess. Perhaps it was her soft and gentle presence that never matched her fierce, clear eyes. It was difficult to read her true intentions, much less, gauge her thoughts.
"Gosh, I usually enjoy recommending beauty products to all of the aristocratic women I've come across, but you truly do not need anything, Princess!" he merrily said.
Marquis Qin rubbed his hands together, revealing a sly grin. He couldn't imagine what could be recommended to someone so beautiful such as her. It was as if he had met Lady Ge Beining all over again. The thrill in his heart was too difficult to conceal, in particular, an opportunist gleam in his eyes.
"You see, Princess, I'm sure you are unaware of me, for you are new to this country. I specialize in trade across the entire country. Anything that your heart desires can be brought through my men's frequent travels."
Li Xueyue didn't know whether she should be surprised or disgusted that he didn't recognize her. How many young children had he touched to not recall her? She was horrified that he was still alive, well and healthy, living a comfortable life. She wanted to see him suffer a life worse than death.
"I hear you are from Wuyi, a lovely country it is. I fear you might miss certain things from your hometown. If you ever want something to be bought from Wuyi to Hanjian, then I am the person you should inform, Princess."
Marquis Qin rubbed his hands again, eager to please her. She might've not had a lot of wealth, but her husband did. Everyone knew the Crown Prince was easily one of the wealthiest men in this country. With a pocket so deep and a frigid heart melting for his wife, surely, he would buy anything that her heart desires.
"Whether it's local snacks, the exquisite jewelry there, or the current trend of folding fans—anything you can think of, Princess!"
Li Xueyue was tongue-tied. She always knew one day they would cross paths. It was inevitable, with her fate now entangled in Hanjian. However, Li Xueyue didn't think it would be so soon.
Sometimes, she would sit back and think about all of the horrible things she'd do and say to him when they meet again. But now that he stood in front of her, her mind was blank. She had so much to say to him, to the point of where her brain was jumbled with insults.
"Oh, but if there is a foreign trend you are curious about. For example, the ones in Nanhui, I will also be pleased to bring them to you!" Marquis Qin excitedly said.
Seeing as the Crown Princess was silent and blankly staring at him, he wondered if she was a bit…daft.
Marquis Qin quickly backtracked the thought. A dumb customer was a great customer. They'd take the merchant's word for it, and buy, buy, buy, especially if they're wealthy! With a bit of smooth-talking, maybe she would be stupid enough to buy out a kingdom!
"I…" Li Xueyue trailed off, as she controlled her emotions. "I appreciate your kind thoughts. There are certainly things that would interest me."
Li Xueyue had finally come up with a concrete plan out of the hundreds of ones she had formulated. It was so simple to fulfill, yet, required the most of patience to carry out.
"Oh!" Marquis Qin perked, his eyes shining with opportunity.
Despite being in his late fifties, he was still brimming with energy and life. How could he not? His job was not stressful, he had a harem of beautiful, youthful maidens to entertain him, and he lived in pure bliss!
"What could it be, Princess?" he quickly asked, licking his bottom lip at the thought of overcharging her.
Marquis Qin had to reel back his greed for taking advantage of the slow and stupid. He suddenly recalled all of the gossips of her intelligence.
Some say the Crown Princess was able to talk her way out of becoming a candidate, and others declared her wits were the reason why the Emperor and Empress approved of her.
The rumors spoke well of her. No doubt, people were too terrified to spread malice about her. One knew of the beast lurking in the shadows…
Li Xueyue glanced towards the neglected Lady Ge Binieng who stood there silently, watching the entire conversation unfold. Her eyes were narrowed in concentration, but when Lady Ge Beining noticed she is being watched, she quickly fixed her expression.
"Perhaps, it is a discussion…" she trailed off, upon finally meeting his gaze. "F-for next time."
Li Xueyue instantly bit on her tongue. She had stuttered out of nervousness from being around him. Even now, her fingers had not stopped shaking like a brittle leave hanging for dear life on a dying branch. She was a few minutes away from trembling out of anxiety.
"Oh, sure, sure! Take your time, Princess. I will patiently wait for your letter," Marquis Qin hurriedly told her. He stopped rubbing his hands, disgruntled that she was planning on stalling.
Li Xueyue felt satisfaction fill her. The sight of him glum and displeased was a sight she wanted to see more often. No…she wanted to see him suffer, and beg for his meager life.
Surely, there would be many people who would be glad when he is gone. For example, all of the young women in his household, not much older than her whom he had bought with money from underprivileged families.
Li Xueyue wondered if he was still harassing little girls at midnight. Her body shuddered in disgust. His hands were something she looked forward to cutting off.
"Until next time then," Li Xueyue finally managed to say. If she wanted her plan to work, it would need to be carefully thought out.
For a split second there, she had nearly blurted it out. And in front of a crowd too. Li Xueyue chided herself for being foolish.
"Leaving so soon, Princess?" Marquis Qin glumly said. His shoulders sagged in disappointment as his brows drew together. He frowned a bit, the first time he did so in her presence.
Usually, Li Xueyue enjoyed seeing her enemies suffer. For example, Lady Ge Beining being ignored. But today, she was bothered by it. She abruptly wished that he would shower all of his attention upon Lady Ge Beining instead.
"Yes, there are duties I must tend to." Li Xueyue pressed her lips together and cast a final glance.
Li Xueyue didn't give him the opportunity to respond before turning upon her heels and walking off. Even so, she was cursed to hear his voice.
"I look forward to receiving your letter, Princess! Please have a safe journey back!"
Li Xueyue suppressed the urge to turn around and slice off his slimy tongue. His voice was enough to make her blood boil. If there was one thing she wanted to ruin with her own hands, it would be Marquis Qin.