Li Xueyue's eyes burned with tears. Not of sorrow, but of betrayal. What did he just say? Her heart was numb with pain, and her chest felt heavy. Who exactly was she in love with all this time?
Li Xueyue struggled to say something. Her heart thundered in her ears. With a shaky hand, she tried to reach for the lock. She wanted to leave, to go back to Wuyi, and live her days out as a spinster. War could brew between Hanjian and Wuyi, but she knew the Li Family would protect her.
Yu Zhen saw hope flee from her eyes. It was so evident that she did not trust him. No matter what he said from here on now, it would not go through to her. He was infuriated by how quickly she was swayed by some pesky letters.
He tightly gripped her upper arm, his fingers digging into her skin.
"I will not tell you of such a thing because, in your mind, you have already decided I am a monster of a husband who would harm his wife to such an extent," he growled out, his voice low and threatening.
A single tear escaped Li Xueyue's eye.
"You were never a monster in my eyes," she slowly said. "Until now."
Yu Zhen let out a sinister laugh. He released her and took a step back. So this was how she wanted to behave.
Li Xueyue felt his fingers graze hers, but her hand was already on the lock. All it took was a single twist for them to leave the room. And once they set foot outside, it would be the last time they see each other as husband and wife.
"Move." His voice was soft, yet commanding.
Li Xueyue did not understand him at that moment. She could not bring herself to. Her heart was shattered right there and then. Crumbled into dust, and trampled by him. Yet, why did she still want to believe him? Why did she still want to grab a hold of him, and hear his explanation?
"Are you deliberately playing the villain? Or are you truly the villain?" she demanded.
Yu Zhen stiffened at her words. He glared down at her. Lips pressed, eyes burning, he was the epitome of fury incarnate.
His eyes reminded her of a roaring river of ink during a stormy night—sharp, cunning, and cruel. The words that were used to describe him were never kind. She was ensnared by him, her heart refused to let him go. He was an abyss, and she was so deep within it, there was no way out.
"Tell me the truth once and for all. That's all I want, Yu Zhen."
Yu Zhen didn't want to voice his thoughts. She had already made up her mind. What was the point of telling her anything else? It was not like telling her the truth was going to convince her to change her mind.
"And what truth do you want?"
Li Xueyue ground her teeth. "Must you be so stubborn?"
"I learned from the best," he snapped.
Li Xueyue felt his fingers digging for the lock. She held onto his fingers and peered up at him with large, questioning eyes.
Yu Zhen could not look away. Her eyes glistened with unshed tears, like stars on a rainy night. For the briefest second, his gaze softened. These were the very eyes he had fallen in love with.
"I would never hurt you," was the only thing he said.
Yu Zhen finally found the small metal piece that would unlock the doors. But her body was pressed against the door, and she refused to step aside.
Yu Zhen glowered down at her. What was wrong with both of them this early in the damn morning?! He had already sliced through her with his lies, but she remained rooted to the ground. What was she doing?
"Those letters, were they written to you?" Li Xueyue pressed on. Her heart quivered at the thought of his response. "I will admit, when I read those letters, I pinned the blame on you."
Yu Zhen scoffed. That was all that he needed to know. After all that he had done for her, she still saw the wrong in him. All the weeks and months of love turned into hatred in a snap of the fingers. Was it that easy for his hard work to come crumbling down like this?
It was not fair.
"But you're better than that," Li Xueyue whispered. "Right?"
Li Xueyue dropped her hands, and let it fall to her sides. He could leave if he wanted to. "You said you wouldn't hurt me, but you're refusing to give me a proper response to a simple 'yes' or 'no' question. Why are you behaving like this?"
"I've told you before. Nothing I say or do will change your mind when you've already deemed me a monster."
Li Xueyue's clenched her fingers. "I've always believed in every word you've said to me. If it is uttered by you, then I will see the truth in it."
Yu Zhen instantly opened his mouth, ready to list out a time that she did not believe his words. But there was none. Sure, they've fought again and again, but it was not out of mistrust. When she disagreed with him, it was a clash of morals and ethics, but never trust.
"So tell me once and for all," Li Xueyue repeated in a hardened voice. "Were these letters written to you?"
Yu Zhen could not remember who placed those letters on his desk. He didn't even know it was there until he had come out of the cellar doors. It was possibly delivered to him by either Lu Tianbi, or one of his men as evidence.
Yu Zhen did recall sending out a command to find every single piece of evidence possible, about how Xu Jiaqi was able to get her hands on those bath oils. But the infertility potion was a completely different story.
Despite that, he already knew to whom the letters were addressed to. He did not forget that Lady Ge Beining was the only lady-in-waiting who demanded for Xu Jiaqi's beaten body to be taken down. Word of this incident had traveled to him.
It was easy putting the pieces together. The letters were meant for Lady Ge Beining.
"No, those letters were not written to me."
Yu Zhen expected her to recoil. He expected her to look away in disbelief. He thought she would not trust him, for her anger dictated her thoughts.
He believed she would hate him and always view him as a monster.
However, she did not break away from his gaze. Instead, she forced a pained smile. Her brows crinkled in a grimace.
"Was that so hard to tell me?" Li Xueyue asked. Her shoulders dropped and she hugged her stomach.
"That was all you had to say, Yu Zhen," she added on.
"And you believe me?" he shot back.
Yu Zhen pried her hands away from her stomach and yanked her towards him. "Do you trust me?"
Li Xueyue's attention shifted to their hands. He was gripping her wrists, and she wriggled her hands out of it. A second later, she entwined their fingers and widened her smile.
"When have I never?"
Yu Zhen let out a bark of laughter. "It was a yes or no question, yet you could not answer it," he referenced.
Li Xueyue threw him a deadpanning look. They had just made up, well, tried to, but he was already attempting to start another fight.
"Don't give me that look." Yu Zhen pushed the doors open from behind her and pulled her out of the room. He noticed the servants still had their heads bowed and eyes shut, but nothing would close their ears.
"You're still dressed in my cloak," Yu Zhen pointed out. "Surely, you do not expect to be at the entrance of the palace in a nightgown?"
Li Xueyue sharply gasped. She glanced down and sure enough, she was still donning her night-dress. Fueled by rage, and burning with hatred, she had forgotten about her attire.
Now, she awkwardly stood in the hallway. She was clothed, but felt naked. A strong breeze drifted through them. His cloak took flight, and instantly revealed her white dress for everyone to see, but no one dared to look.
"Don't fret so much," Yu Zhen mused. "I will have the servants bring your outing attire, and you will get dressed here. No one will say anything. And if they do, they will be missing their tongue. Or head. Whichever you prefer."
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