Li Xueyue wondered if Marquis Qin had grown senile with age. She thought he was a lot wiser than this, considering the relationship the man had shared with Viscount Bai Sheng. The Viscount was shrewd and very picky about the people he partnered with, and Marquis Qin was someone that the Viscount highly respected. But the man standing before her did not meet those standards.
Everything was going along so smoothly that she wondered if he was tricking her. But when the scroll landed in her hand and she unrolled it, Li Xueyue knew this was not a trick. His thumbprint was on the scroll, which quite frankly meant his life was now hers. If he did not fulfill this end of the bargain, she could kill him.
Li Xueyue didn't think the scroll would come in handy. She had lazily written it in Yu Zhen's estate.
"Your cooperation is much appreciated, Marquis Qin," she coldly said whilst rolling up the scroll.
Marquis Qin rapidly blinked his eyes. He was bewildered by the sudden change in her expression. She was no longer smiling, nor did she seem kind and timid. Her stare was frigid and she turned around without another word.
"T-that's it, Princess?" he warily asked, wondering if there was any other catch to this scheme that he had fallen into.
The Crown Princess continued walking off without a single glance back at him. Marquis Qin was forced to watch her retreating form until her dainty shoulders eventually disappeared in the distance. His bewilderment turned into frustration.
"Had the Princess just tricked me?" Marquis Qin murmured under his breath, wondering what exactly just happened.
"Goodness gracious, what had I gotten myself into?" he groaned.
Marquis Qin had signed the scroll with his thumbprint. There was no backing out of this deal now. It was either he risked the life of his men to travel overseas to obtain that crescent-shaped dagger or he would risk his own life if he disobeyed her.
"What is with the women of this generation? They have all gotten so bold!" Marquis Qin irritably said. He retreated back to his seat and picked up the teacup, deciding to take one final sip of it before leaving. But the teacup was empty.
Marquis Qin ground his teeth and slammed the teacup back down. His eyes had been blessed by a marvelous sight today, but his day was cursed with bad luck. He would have to go through great troubles just to convince a servant to travel overseas, much less, try to bargain, and buy a dagger without knowing the native language of that country.
The Crown Princess's task was not an easy one. The chances of failure were much higher than the chances of success.
- - - - -
When Li Xueyue returned back to Yu Zhen's estate, the first thing that she did was hide the scroll. She tucked it somewhere safe and out of sight so that he would never find it. Besides, she doubted he was the type to search through his room for something that he didn't even know existed.
But then a voice interrupted her thoughts. "What are you doing?"
Li Xueyue swiveled around, her heart caught in her throat. She did not expect to see him. His voice was low but filled with curiosity. His gaze wandered to her crouch position, directly beside a pile of decorative scrolls on the bookshelf.
"Well, my Wangfei?" he asked, taking a step closer to her.
Li Xueyue instantly stood up, scroll still in hand. She decided to pretend that everything was fine and that this was just one of his decorative scrolls. If she faked it enough, he would not suspect her. After all, it was just a scroll, and she had never betrayed him before.
"You're back earlier than usual today," Li Xueyue said. She rose to her full height and presented him with a slight smile.
"You don't seem happy by that," Yu Zhen mused with a slight smirk. She was acting too suspiciously, he could see in the way her hands slightly played with the scroll.
Li Xueyue rolled her eyes and approached him. "Which wife would not be happy to see her husband has returned home early?"
Yu Zhen scoffed. He pulled her close, his hands grasped her wrists. She slightly jerked her arm, as if his touch had hurt her.
"A wife with secrets to hide from her husband," he responded.
Li Xueyue took a step back and dodged his grabbing hands. It was a close call there. She nearly dropped the scroll.
His easygoing smile died down, a cold stare in its place. "What is it?" he demanded, reaching for the scroll again.
"What? Did you think I stole this from you?"
"With the way you're hiding it, I would assume so."
Li Xueyue gaped at him. She suddenly wished he had not returned so early. "It's great to see my husband has so much trust in me."
Yu Zhen let out a bark of laughter. It was dark and sinister. "If I did not have trust in you, I wouldn't have allowed you to set foot anywhere near my estate."
Li Xueyue was visibly offended. Her brows came together, her lips turning down. "Our estate," she corrected.
Yu Zhen softly chuckled. "Of course."
Li Xueyue pressed her lips together. She glanced to the side, seeking a place to escape from him. He would eventually corner her. She knew it. But her reflexes were too slow, for he had stopped directly in front of her. And before she could run off, his arms were around her.
Her palms rested upon his chest to create distance. Scroll still in hand, she glared up at him. "It's truly nothing that you should worry about," she said, referring to the scroll.
"I wouldn't worry at all, if I did not love you so much, Sunshine," he softly said.
"I have it handled."
"I know you do, you always do."
Li Xueyue tilted her head. "Then why are you trying so hard to interrogate me about it?" It didn't feel like he knew. It felt like he was doubting her words, as if he did not believe in her capabilities.
"Sunshine, trouble follows you everywhere you go. I must interrogate so that I can be prepared for any curveball that is thrown my way."
Li Xueyue could not find fault in his words. He was right, as always. She didn't know why trouble was so attracted to her.
"If I need your help," she slowly said, softening her stare. " I will not hesitate to ask you. Is that fair enough, Yu Zhen?"
Yu Zhen frowned. He preferred to just help her without being asked. That was all he wanted to do—offer guidance. Yu Zhen wanted to keep her safe, her smiles genuine, and her heart steady. He did not want her to feel abandoned and neglected, like the lonely Empress.
It was so strange… He was always ready to lend her a helping hand, but she would never accept it. Why not? Why must she be so adamant on proving her worth to people who did not deserve it? She had already made a name for herself in this country, why do more?
"I just want you to live a blissful life in the palace, sipping tea and reading books. That��s all," Yu Zhen admitted.
She reached a hand up and tenderly touched his cheeks. "I know, my stubborn husband, I know." Her voice was soft, filled with patient understanding. It was as if the tables were turned on him.
"I will hold you to your word then," Yu Zhen stated. "You'll tell me if you need my help."
Li Xueyue nodded her head, smiling because he had agreed.
"If it's the slightest inconvenience, I want to hear of it. If you are struggling, I want to hear of it. If there is any mishap—"
"You will hear of it," she finished for him with a teasing smile.
Li Xueyue caressed his face, standing upon her tippy toes to kiss the corner of his mouth. "I understand it fully."
She pulled back, but a second later, his fingers were wrapped in her hair. Her eyes widened in surprise as he yanked her face up to him.
"One kiss is not enough," he said in a husky voice.
Li Xueyue gulped. He was so close that she could smell his breath, woodsy from the black tea he drank earlier. Without warning, his lips were upon hers, and the rest was history.
Please go to https://www.qzxyzy.com/The-Rise-of-Xueyue/
to read the latest chapters for free