He froze. He looked me in the eye and asked:
“Are you asking me to choose between you or the throne?”
“Yes. Do you want the empire or the beauty?”
He looked at me blankly and didn’t say anything. He let go of me and turned to the window. I saw him trying to control himself, while taking deep breaths. Seeing him with that look, made my heart hurt. Is it really so difficult to choose between me and the throne? Does he like being the emperor so much? Or is his love for me below his love for power? Why does everyone want to be the emperor? Is being the emperor really so pleasing? I’ve been the emperor’s wife and I didn’t like it. Yet there are so many women who want to be the emperor’s wife.
“Go back, Xuan Chen. The palace is where you belong and the temple here, is where I belong. You go live your life and I’ll live mine. We don’t need each other. Besides, since you’re the emperor, there are many beauties, who’ll want to share your bed. Believe me, after a while you won’t miss me.”
He turned around and seeing me drinking my tea nonchalantly. His hand turned into a fist again.
“Can you really forget me?”
Can I? I don’t know. But someone has been helping me a lot at forgetting my pain. Maybe that someone can help me forget this person in front of me. Thinking about that someone in front of Xuan Chen, made me feel a little guilty. I composed my expression.
“It doesn’t matter. Even if you can forget me, I’ll make it so you can’t forget me.”
He stood before me. With one of his hands, he raised my chin, so our eyes can meet.
“Lee An Ning, listen well. In this lifetime, even if I let everyone go, I wouldn’t let you go. Don’t you ever think of escaping. I’ll hunt you down.”
His already dark eyes turned a shade darker. He looked really scary. I’ve never seen him like this. He was always gentle and caring towards me. I felt a cold sweat run down my back.
“I don’t want any other women. I don’t need them. You are the only one I want. I won’t let you be any other man’s wife. You’re destined to be the emperor’s wife. You’re destined to be mine.”
“I can’t go back with you. The court won’t let me have an easy life. I don’t want to end up like my parents.”
“Don’t worry. I‘ll protect you.”
“You’ve said that before. But when I was being bullied, you didn’t do anything. When I was exiled here, you didn’t do anything. How can you protect me? How can I believe you?”
I know my words will be like knives piercing in his heart. But I couldn’t help myself from saying them.
“At that time, I thought that it was the best if you get away from the palace, for the time being. You were sad and suffering from depression. A change of environment will do you good. You weren’t exiled. I would have brought you back. Beside then I didn’t have that much power. But now I’ve seized the power. Nobody would dare to hurt you.”
Will you protect me against your mother? Or when the time comes will you choose your mother over me?
“I don’t believe you.”
He took out a dragon jade.
“This was given to me by my father on my tenth birthday. Everyone will remember it. If somebody wants to hurt you, just show them this.”
I looked at the jade pendant that I’ve seen so many times. He always carries this with him. Even when he was outside incognito. I’ve always thought that he was a rich man’s son. That’s why he can afford such an expensive jade. It never crossed my mind that the dragon is a symbol of the emperor. His father must’ve wanted him to be the emperor since young. Looking at the face before me, I must admit that the previous emperor made a good choice. He’ll be a wonderful emperor.
“Are you sure you want to give this to me? The previous emperor gave you this, it must be precious to you.”
“To me, nothing is more precious than you.”
Liar, the throne is more precious to you.
“Then I’ll take good care of it.”
“Do you want to come back to the palace?”
He saw me hesitating.
“Is there still something on your mind? Why don’t you want to go back to the palace?”
I smiled and shook my head, even though I really want to hear the answer to my question. Does he want me or the throne more? But now is not the moment to think about that.
I stood up and hugged him. There are so many feelings going through me right now. A triumphant feeling, because I fooled Xuan Chen. A sad feeling because I must resort to these tricks. The courtesans were right. Sometimes showing your weak side, will get you many things. But why am I not happy at all?
I held onto the jade. This is the first step. I smirked. Then I looked through the window. Another pair of eyes was looking at us.
My smirk slowly faded.