I slapped him across the face and walked away. How dare he?
He stopped me.
“It’s not what you think.”
I glared at him.
“I want you to pretend to be a prostitute. You’ll gather information for me.”
“How does someone pretend to be a prostitute? And why me?”
“Because you’re beautiful.”
Can’t say anything against that.
“I’ve got some connections there. You don’t need to sleep with anybody. But if you want, I’m available all the time.”
“What about my reputation?”
“Do you know anybody around here? I won’t tell a ghost.”
“I may come across someone I know and there are perverts there. I don’t care what you think. I won’t do it.”
“Did I say you’ve a choice? Help them and I’ll remember this for my whole life. One day I’ll repay you.”
“Why do you steal? There’re other ways.”
“In this corrupt world, the officials righteously steal from us. If I steal from them is it so wrong?”
“Just because they steal, doesn’t mean that you need to steal. If you steal, what makes you different from them?”
“Do you know another way to bring me money? You’re too naïve. In this world if you don’t bite, they’ll bite you. Why be the one to be bitten?”
“No matter what, stealing is wrong. But since you’re doing it for them, I’ll help you.”
So I gather information for him and he goes to the houses to steal. It’s been two weeks since I’ve been doing this. His people softened against me.
“I brought steamed buns for you.”
I run happily to him. I’m tired of eating expensive dishes. In fact I prefer simple things like steamed buns. We were at a courtesan’s house.
“You make the buns seems so delicious.”
He grabbed my hand with the bun and took a bite, while looking at me teasingly.
Then there was a sword on his neck. I looked up and saw Xuan Chen. He’s really angry.
The bastard also turned around. He took his sword too. What are this two doing?
I tugged at Xuan Chen sleeve while looking apologetically at Yun Wen (bastard’s name).
“I’ll be right back.”
I dragged Xuan Chen to my room in the courtesan’s house.
“What are you doing here?! Don’t you have shame? Did he force you?!”
I’ve never seen him so angry.
“I volunteered to do it for me. It’s not his fault that I’m here.”
I didn’t know that he can be angrier. His eyes were spitting fire.
“You really have no shame.”
“Xuan Chen, it’s not what you think. I can’t tell you what it is. Please believe me this once.”
I took his hand in mine. His anger seems to lessen a bit. I can’t tell him that Yun Wen is stealing thing and that I help him. I need to protect Yun Wen. In the two weeks that we were together, we’ve formed a bond. He’s a nice guy.
“I like the way you call my name. It’s the first time you said it. Say it again.”
Suddenly I felt shy.
He hugged me.
“I thought that I’ll never see you again. I’ve nearly gone crazy. You must take responsibility for the state I’m in now.”
“What do I need to do?”
“Promise me that you’ll never leave me again. Promise me that you’ll stay with me forever.”
I can’t say it. I’m an engaged woman. Will he forgive me if I tell him?
His mouth was on mine. He kissed me aggressively. I was out of breath when he let me go. I don’t know what to think.
“How’s Lian Er and Hei Tou?”
“They’re fine. They’re really worried about you. Your maid even said that she’ll go back to the capital to look for your brother. I didn’t let her go. She’s a girl after all. It can be dangerous. I didn’t know you’ve a brother. Thinking about it I don’t know much about you.”
Stupid Lian Er. Did she say something more?
“I don’t know much about you either.”
“We’ve a life time to get to know each other.”
He hugged me again. What is he saying? He isn’t proposing is he?
We went back down to Yun Wen. He saw us holding hands. I was tempted to pull my hand back but Xuan Chen’s grip is really strong. They looked at each other.
“Yun Wen, this is Xuan Chen. Xuan Chen, this is Yun Wen.”
They just kept looking at each other. Totally ignoring me.
“Are you going back with him?”
“Of course she is.”
“Xuan Chen, I want to go back with Yun Wen. There plenty of space for us all. Let’s all go back there.”
“I don’t want him there.”
“Yun Wen, you owe me. Just let them come.”
He walked away from us.
A month has passed since then. Xuan Chen gets along pretty well with Yun Wen’s people. He helped them built their houses and provided the materials. I saw Yun Wen less than before. He’s been avoiding me. I think it’s because Xuan Chen was always by my side. Over the month our feelings have grown stronger. I realised really love him. I feel happy just staring at him.For the first time in my life I regret that the first minister is my father. If I was just n girl, I can lead a happy life with Xuan Chen. I don’t know much about Xuan Chen. He doesn’t seem to be ordinary. I’m afraid to ask because then he’ll ask me the same questions. I don’t want to lie to him, so I’ve been escaping from all the problems. Just let me be selfish this once.
I didn’t go back to the courtesan’s house. It was mainly because Xuan Chen is angry about it and I didn’t like that place. It’s full of perverts. No wonder my mom wanted to get away from it.
One day Ming Kuang came running to Xuan Chen. He whispered something in Xuan Chen’s ear. Xuan Chen went blank. After a moment he walked to me.
“Something urgent came up at home. I need to go.”
I knew then that it was the last time that I’ll see him. I didn’t want to cry. I knew that this day will come, but I can’t hold my tears back.
“Meng You, don’t cry. I’ll come back and bring you to me when all is taken care of.”
I won’t be here then. I’ll be married, but I can only nod. He gave me a kiss. He slid a jade ring on my finger. He smiled and caressed my finger. Then he was on Black Night. He glanced one time back at me and gone was he.
“My real name Li Ning Er!”
He was too far away to hear me. After he was gone, to my surprise Ming Long came. Everyone was on attack mode.
“He’s my brother”
“Ning Er, you need to go home now.”
“I don’t want to. There’s still a month left. How did you find me?”
“We knew where you are, the moment you leave home. You didn’t think that you can outsmart father, did you? His men were always watching you. I begged him to let you have three months of freedom, but now we need to go home.”
“Why? Did he change his mind?”
“The emperor is dead.”
Comment: 朱允炆 Zhu Yun Wen is the bastard’s name. The people who are familiar with Chinese history can already guess his identity from the family name.