Li Xueyue could not make eye contact with anyone. She was grateful that it was dark outside, or else many people would've seen her blush. Her hair was slightly messy despite how hard she tried to tame it. Her clothes were worn properly, yet it felt like everyone knew what had happened.
"Can you not look so shameless?" Li Xueyue whispered to Yu Zhen as they rode into the palace.
Yu Zhen sat high and mighty on Xiao Lizi, a devious smirk on his face.
Li Xueyue hung her head in embarrassment, her lips pressed into a thin line.
"What are you talking about?" Yu Zhen chuckled as if he hadn't tired her out in the forest. He was surprised she still had the strength to ride Heiyue back to the palace.
It seemed he had not tired her out enough. That was fine. He would take his sweet time with her later tonight—until her legs would tremble, and she could not walk.
Li Xueyue did her best to not glare at him. He was practically glowing with energy. She was certain that everyone would've known what transpired in the forest—especially when he always eyed her as a lion does with a deer.
"Just look away," Li Xueyue grumbled. She couldn't find it in her soul to be irritated.
"But, Sunshine," he mused, "you look so enthralling under the moonlight."
Li Xueyue instinctively touched the collar of her hanfu. His eyes glinted, even in the darkness. His brooding stare said everything. Immediately, she covered the side of her neck. With great certainty, she knew, there was a love mark there.
Yu Zhen suppressed a grin. He was amused by her behavior, but knew she would hit him if he smiled any wider. "That's not the only one," he teased.
Li Xueyue gaped at him. She touched the other side of her neck, wondering if he had left another one there.
"Your Highness!" the stable boy hurriedly greeted upon catching sight of them. "Princess!"
Li Xueyue glowered at Yu Zhen. Now, what was she supposed to do? Both of her hands were holding her collar up to cover his love bites. How was she going to climb off of Heiyue?
"Don't fret, my beloved Wangfei," Yu Zhen teased. His voice was laced with amusement. He slid off Xiao Lizi and handed the reins to the stable boy.
In an instant, the stable boy began to guide Xiao Lizi back into her stall, just as another servant came forward.
"I will help you down." Yu Zhen strolled towards her. His strides were powerful, yet quiet.
Li Xueyue's legs subconsciously tightened upon the saddle. She knew that look. She had seen it in the forest, when he had her pinned, and took his way with her. His dark stare was brooding, but ignited by hunger.
He stopped beside her leg. He placed a hand firmly on her thigh and reached for her.
"I'm tired," she yelped.
His lips twitched.
"I am simply helping you down your horse, Sunshine."
She instantly shook her head. "I can get down myself."
He loudly laughed and took a step back. "Then get down."
Li Xueyue glanced around the stable. The stable boy was tending to Xiao Lizi, and his peer was hurriedly mixing the horse feed. There was no one around them, except the servants and guards. Everyone was seemingly distracted by something. They were terrified of looking their way.
With great hesitation, Li Xueyue lowered her hands. Not a second later, she snapped it back into place. The stable boy had come forward, but his eyes were lowered.
"P-Princess, shall we fetch the stepping stairs?" he stuttered out.
The stable boy had noticed the conversation died down. Thus, he finally gathered the courage to approach the daunting couple. The Crown Princess was known to be kind and gentle, though her husband was a different story.
The stable boy tried his hardest not to tremble in his boots. It was terrifying just to witness the Crown Prince in action. Breathing in the same air as the Crown Prince was even more intimidating. The man said and did nothing, but the stable boy was already on the verge of tears.
"Prepare Heiyue's feed," Li Xueyue mumbled. "I do not need the stairs."
The stable boy instantly bobbed his head. He was grateful to leave their presence. With great stealth, he hurriedly walked into the stable, as if chased by ghosts.
"You know, Sunshine," Yu Zhen remarked. "You look a lot more suspicious with your hands in that position."
Li Xueyue wished she could wipe the smirk off of his face. He was arrogantly standing there with his arms folded, his muscles bulging under his clothes.
Li Xueyue narrowed her eyes at him. She took a final glance around their surroundings. Certain that no one was looking at them, she hopped off of Heiyue. Her actions were fluid and smooth, showing years of experience.
She let out a small sigh upon avoiding the obstacle. She prayed no one saw the evident marks on her neck. Quietly, she patted Heiyue's mane.
"I will come to see you soon…" Her voice died off when Yu Zhen slid an arm around her waist.
"What are you doing?" Li Xueyue mumbled as he tugged her closer to him. Her back collided with his chest, rippling and firm as ever. His breath, warm and moist, tickled her neck.
"What if I told you," he softly murmured. "That there was nothing there in the first place."
Li Xueyue immediately turned around. She glanced up in astonishment. Her lips were parted as she gawked at him in disbelief.
Yu Zhen captured her lips. Her eyes widened in surprise, as he took a tentative step closer. Any distance between them was sealed off. His kiss was sweet, but pressing. Before he could do anything else, she turned her head.
His lips brushed on the corner of her mouth. But he did not seem to mind. He kissed her left cheek, then the side of her head. His calloused fingers grabbed her chin, his thumb pressing into the soft skin.
"We have the whole night, let's not do it here," Li Xueyue huffed out, not knowing she had fallen directly into his trap.
Yu Zhen's gaze darkened. "You said it yourself, Sunshine."
Li Xueyue's head snapped up at him. Was this a trap? Was that why he kissed her in public? "I-I thought you had your fill in the forest."
"Hmm, did I?" Yu Zhen tilted his head, as if doubting her words.
Li Xueyue nodded her head like a rag doll. "Stop being so insatiable," she groaned.
"I don't have the slightest clue as to what you're talking about."
Li Xueyue could not believe his audacity. She was tightly gripping his upper arm, not out of irritation, but because she could barely keep herself upright. It was difficult to stand. She feared she would not last the night, but he certainly would.
"Don't be so upset, Sunshine."
Yu Zhen grabbed her hand and brought it to his lips. He gently kissed her knuckles and tightened his grip on her waist.
"I'll be more gentle."
Li Xueyue narrowed her eyes. When was that ever going to happen? She was certain that he'd try to be gentle, but then, it always escalates—not that she minded.
"I'm sweaty and dirty," she suddenly blurted out.
"Ah yes," he abruptly agreed.
Li Xueyue was pleasantly surprised. It reflected in her brightened eyes, filled with hope that she had convinced him. Her lips pulled into a smile, but it faded at his next words.
"We haven't done it in the bathhouse for a while now."
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