After a long, but fulfilling bath, Yu Zhen walked out of it, carrying his Wangfei. The servants could not help but watch in sheer awe. It wasn't the action that surprised them, but the gentle look on his face. It was amazing how quickly his expression shifted.
When Yu Zhen glanced down at the sleeping woman, his face softened, and a small smile was on his lips. He had even bent down to kiss the top of her head. But when he glanced up, the warmth had fleeted from his eyes.
As Yu Zhen reached their estate, the doors were pushed open for him one by one until he set foot in their bedroom. The doors were closed behind him, just as Yu Zhen settled Li Xueyue on the bed.
"Mm…" she grumbled, tossing to her side.
Yu Zhen held back a laugh. Was she awake now? He rested an arm on the bed and peered over her shoulders. No. She was still asleep. Her eyelids were softly shut, with her hands tucked to her side. She slept like a small child.
"I suppose I tired you out too much." Yu Zhen stroked strands of hair away from her face, revealing her smooth skin. She was still warm from the steamy bath.
Despite bathing in perfumed oils, she still smelled like him. Yu Zhen smiled at the thought. He leaned down and gently kissed the side of her head.
"Bully…" she muttered whilst turning to face him.
Yu Zhen stiffed his laughter, keeping it low and gruff. He did not want to wake her up. She had a tiring night. He had his fun in the bath and exhausted her to no avail. She attempted to flee out of the pool, but he had her cornered easily.
"I only wanted to see your children a lot sooner, Sunshine. It's not bullying if I am thoroughly loving you," he teased.
Yu Zhen lifted the blankets up to her chin and touched her hair. Servants had dressed her in the bathhouse, and they had dried her hair. But when his Wangfei sat on the stool, she had begun to doze off. She already had great difficulty climbing out of the pool and was on the verge of closing her eyes if it wasn't for his help.
"You're sleeping well now." Yu Zhen stroked her soft skin with his thumb. He was amused that her cheeks resembled little steamed buns.
Yu Zhen chuckled. He kissed her a final time and slipped under the blankets with her. She remained lying on her side, her back facing him. He did not mind, as he wrapped an arm over her shoulder and slung his leg over her.
"Good night, Sunshine," he whispered into her hair. It was soft, but still a bit damp. Her hair was the only part of her that had the strongest scent of flowers. It was the only part that still smelled like her.
Yu Zhen was lulled to sleep by her soft breathing. Oddly enough, he dreamt of a garden filled with flowers. Without a doubt, it was because of her.
- - - - -
Li Xueyue woke up in a daze. It felt like a tree trunk was holding her down.She stretched her legs and tiredly rubbed her eyes. To her blissful ignorance, she had buried herself deeper into the warmth.
Yu Zhen was wide awake and watching her. In their sleep, their position had changed. He was lying on his back whilst her face was resting on his chest. Her hand had fisted his clothes.
Suddenly, as if something clicked inside of her head, her eyes snapped open.
Li Xueyue was not surprised that he was already awake. But it was a pleasant surprise that he was still around.
"I like this," she mumbled on his chest, nuzzling her face against the soft silk. She could hear his heartbeat. It was a gentle lull, calm as he always was.
Yu Zhen knitted his brows. She sounded happy, but her face was a little glum. Why? Her eyes were lowered, as her hand mindlessly drew circles on his chest.
"You seem upset." Did she not sleep well? Yu Zhen thought she did.
"Do I?" Li Xueyue asked. She looked up at him with her head still resting on his chest.
"Yes," he responded.
He stroked the back of her head, his fingers weaving into her hair. He massaged her scalp, hoping to wake her up a bit.
"You said you'd wake up with me, but this seems to be a rare occurrence," she finally admitted.
Yu Zhen's brows furrowed deeper. "But yesterday and today—"
"What about the days before that?"
Yu Zhen didn't think she valued mornings with him to this extent. He enjoyed the thought of waking up to her as well, but realized it was something he had always done, but she did not get to experience.
"No, wait, that sounds too clingy," she suddenly added on.
"Perhaps, before you leave for your morning duties, you can wake me up and—" She cut herself off. "Nevermind, that's also clingy."
Yu Zhen raised a brow. Did she have an argument with herself? Was that how her brain worked?
"Actually, please forget what I said."
Before Yu Zhen could say anything, Li Xueyue sat upright. She looked around their surroundings. Her eyes were captivated by the window for a brief moment. "Did we sleep into the afternoon?"
The thick mattress dipped when he sat up. He reeled her closer to him until her small back was resting against his chest.
"At least let me get a word in before you come to a conclusion about what I think," he gruffly said.
Li Xueyue peered down at his hand. His fingers were sprawled out on her stomach, holding her in place without much difficulty.
"I just like waking up to you, that's all," she mumbled. "But I know you have to train in the mornings, then take Xiao Lizi for a run, and then feed Xiao Juzi and then—"
"I will always find time for you, Sunshine. Training can be shortened, runs can be reduced, and Xiao Juzi can be fed by a servant."
"Xiao Juzi will eat that servant."
He loudly laughed. Her heart skipped at the sound. His chest rumbled against her back whilst he hugged her tighter.
"I tell you a loving speech, and you focus on my pet eating a servant?"
Li Xueyue shyly smiled. "I was just being practical."
Yu Zhen shook his head. "Xiao Juzi doesn't eat people."
"I know but—"
"Unless I tell him to."
Li Xueyue sharply gasped. She looked up at him, mortified that he had told her such a thing. All this time he had placed her hand near Xiao Juzi's mouth!
"I am joking," he deadpanned.
Yu Zhen pushed the strands of hair away from her forehead. "If I let Xiao Juzi take a bite of human flesh, then he might come to like it. It is too much of a risk."
Li Xueyue slowly nodded her head. She agreed with him from the bottom of her heart. It would be dangerous for Xiao Juzi to be tempted by so many prey.
"Now, let's get back to the important topic at hand." Yu Zhen's other hand slid its way to her nape. He was worried she would strain it by peering up at him. Thus, his fingers slowly eased the tension.
"Whenever I can, I will wait for you to wake up. How does that sound?" he gently said.
Li Xueyue was uncertain about this. She suddenly wished she did not voice her mind. "W-would that be a burden?"
"Never," he firmly said.
"Really?" she hesitatingly asked.
Yu Zhen let out a small scoff. His lips were pulled into a smile. "Didn't we go over this conversation before?"
Li Xueyue bit on her bottom lip to hold back a smile. "Then…if it's not too much trouble, let's wake up together."
Yu Zhen patted the back of her head. He pulled her close and gently kissed her forehead. "It's a simple request, Sunshine. Do not fret over asking anything from me."
Li Xueyue instantly nodded her head. "I don't mind waking up early as well," she added on. "Maybe we can train together in the early mornings. I need to hone my sword fighting and archery skills."
Yu Zhen was instantly pleased with the idea. "As you wish, Sunshine."
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