Ye Jin mulled over what she said, then laughed out loud. "A personal heater sounds brilliant, Xiao Yu'er."
"Come on, you." Gu Qingyu rolled her eyes and opened the door to the dining room.
Qi Yichen was there already, he laid on the table and was still dressed in the same white robe he wore yesterday. The scholar lifted his head from the table when he heard the door open. He looked around groggily before he appeared to recall where he was and met Gu Qingyu's shocked eyes. "Morning, Qingyu."
"Good morning." She circled around him, his face was slightly red, with crease marks that had been left behind by his arm. It's clear that he had slept on the table for a long time. "Just how long have you been here?"
"Not that long." He stood up and stretched with a loud yawn, unlike his usual poise. "I've just been here all night."
"All night?" Her eyes widened in surprise. "Don't you have your own room?"
"I do have a room." He replied lazily and with bleary eyes, clearly still half-asleep.
"Then..." She swallowed. "Don't tell me you snuck in here last night for some late night snacks, and then just fell asleep on the spot once you were full?"
Qi Yichen gasped as he looked at her in disbelief. "Goodness me! Come clean, Xiao Qing Qing, were you spying on me last night?"
"Wow, I knew it." She rolled her eyes, then took in the spread of junk food that laid forgotten at his feet, remnants from his search the night before. They could be called junk food because they had already turned into actual junk.
Qi Yichen batted his lashes. "Yep, you got me. Say, Brother Jia, your palace is really well-stocked, the food here is great! Mind if I stay for a little longer?"
Gu Qingyu answered before Ye Jin could, "Sure! You can report to Chief Eunuch later, go through with the palace punishment, and get rid of a particular, then stay with Ye Jin and serve him for the rest of your entire life."
Qi Yichen shivered in horror as he listened to her lengthy "recruitment" process. He took a large gulp, then finally responded. "Um, Xiao Qing Qing, sometimes I really wonder just what your true nature is..."
Only someone like her sense of... fluidity would make such a preposition. She understood what he really meant and laughed. "Me? I'm a woman, with a great appetite." She sat in one of the chairs, poured herself a cup of tea and finished it in a single breath. Qi Yichen choked again.
Ye Jin, laughed in defeat as he reached over and gently tapped Gu Qingyu on the forehead. "Xiao Yu'er, what on earth are you thinking about?" He paused, then turned to Qi Yichen. "Although, I do like this idea."
"Pff!" She laughed and accidentally spat out her tea, which sprayed it all over Qi Yichen. She never thought Ye Jin would say anything like that. "Xiao Zhezhe, you..."
"What?" He returned to his usual demeanor as he stared at her with his blue eyes. They seemed to shimmer with intensity and intrigue.
"No, no, it's okay..." Gu Qingyu wiped the corners of her mouth, looking at Qi Yichen, "You..."
Qi Yichen sulked. "This was brand new, Xiao Qing Qing."
"Just change into another set." She dismissed with a wave. But, Xiao Qing Qing, that was such a weird nickname! When did he start calling her that?
Ye Jin clapped his hands, and two maidservants immediately entered the dining room. "Your Majesty."
Ye Jin pointed to the ground near Qi Yichen's feet. The two maid servants were so afraid that they dropped to their knees and pleaded, "It is our negligence, your majesty! Please punish your servants!"
"What are you two doing? No one said anything about punishing you." Gu Qingyu chimed in with a frown and turned to Ye Jin. "I thought you said you're very kind and understanding?"
Ye Jin narrowed his eyes at the maidservants that quivered under his watchful eyes. He asked monotonously. "Why do you kneel?"
"We...we..." One of the maidservants stole a glance at Gu Qingyu, then at the temperamental monarch. She understood why he had given them a chance to explain, and answered, "Your Majesty, we noticed the mess as soon as we stepped in, and we were so wrecked with guilt that we asked for the punishment on our own accord. Your Majesty has been so kind to us, it is unacceptable to return his kindness with such negligence."
A ray of satisfaction flashed in Ye Jin's eyes. He then turned to look at Gu Qingyu with his best puppy eyes. That look did make her feel a little guilty, and she patted his head slightly. "I'm sorry, I misjudged you."
The two maidservants hung their heads even more. On the surface, they looked like they were sorry for their mistakes, but actually they were in silent repentance for misleading their empress.
Ye Jin hummed with satisfaction. "Okay, clean up this mess. Then tell the kitchen to prepare breakfast."
"Yes!" The two court ladies immediately began to clean up.
All of the staff in the Ye Palace were fairly skilled in order to be able to work here, this included the maidservants. As the two maidservants cleaned, both of them heard Ye Jin's voice via telepathy. "Well done. From now on, your salary would be doubled, and you are both promoted."
The maidservants paused for a moment and glanced at each other with a sparkle of joy in their eyes. Then they quickly resumed their work, their promotion would go up in smoke if the empress found out about his majesty's ploy.
Meanwhile, Qi Yichen would burst out laughing if he could. Gu Qingyu was so trusting that she did not notice a thing. The same cannot be said for the once Prime Minister of Xiqian. It was such a simple trick that would only work on the simplest people! Oops, he may have just called someone simple...Still, to think Ye Jin would go to such lengths to maintain Gu Qingyu's perception of him. Xiao Qing Qing was really too naive.
Although… it would be fun to expose Ye Jin, his reaction would be a sight to behold, to say the least. Just as Qi Yichen was contemplating that, he felt an icy pair of eyes stare at him. He perished that thought instantaneously.
The maidservants left the room once they had cleaned up that mess, and breakfast was served soon after they left. While Gu Qingyu was absorbed with how efficient the staff were, Qi Yichen sat in front of her and picked up a pair of chopsticks.
Her eyes widened. "You're...still hungry?"
"I don't know why, but I feel awfully sad lately. And I eat whenever I feel sad. Then when I start to eat, a tiger-like appetite takes over me and I just can't stop eating at all..." He rambled while waving his chopsticks.
Gu Qingyu cut him off. "Oh, would you like me to show you just what a tiger's appetite is like?"
"Ahahahaha, no need! I feel awesome right now! So I'm not hungry at all, not one bit!" Qi Yichen lowered his chopsticks with quivering hands.
"Ah, we're going to Yan Yang City later. Remember to pack." She picked up her chopsticks and began to eat.
"Yan Yang City? Is that idiot Qi there? What's he doing there?" The scholar made the connection immediately.
Gu Qingyu nearly choked on her food when she heard what he had called Qi Wan. "Did you just call him idiot Qi?"
"That's not the point." He stared at her with a look he normally reserved for simpletons.
"I know..." She coughed and swallowed her food. "Yes, Qi Wan is at Yan Yang City. Brother Murong is there too."
"Brother Murong?" Qi Yichen eyed at her suspiciously, "Xiao Qing Qing, are you hiding something from me?"
"Huh? What?" She had no idea what he was referring to.
"For example, an elopement?" He reminded her carefully.
That gave her a strange mental image of Qi Wan and Murong Zuoyu eloping together. She shivered at the thought. Qi Yichen also realised what he had insinuated and turned away to fan himself. "Well then, I'm going to go first. I'll wait for you outside, Xiao~ Qing~ Qing~<3"
Qi Yichen avoided Ye Jin's glare and bolted out of the room as soon as he finished his sentence. A sinister chill crept from Ye Jin. He narrowed his eyes dangerously as he watched Qi Yichen sprint out of the room, then he held out his hand and in that moment, a fireball exploded right under Qi Yichen's feet. He jumped up in the nick of time and the fan in his hand grew in size, blocking the flying debris. He grumbled, "Thank goodness I got my powers back, or I would be dead by now... See, Xiao Qing Qing, Brother Jia is so violent! Are you sure you want to marry him? Why don't you marry me instead? Handsome guys like me are few and far between, you know? Choose wisely!"
The ground beneath his feet exploded again as he said that. Gu Qingyu said flatly, "Sure, in my next life, if you're lucky enough."
She said that as a threat, but it backfired on her, because someone got even more jealous. If looks could kill, she too would be dead by now.
"Xiao Yu'er! How can you promise your next life to someone else without my permission?" He sounded like a vengeful spouse that had been horribly betrayed by their partner.
"Uh..." Gu Qingyu was a little speechless at his tone.
He continued, "Xiao Yu'er, you should know that you're mine, in this life or the next."
"I know I know~" She didn't know if she should laugh or cry, and immediately started her efforts to appease him.
The person in question responded with a hmph then picked her up and set her in his lap. "Here, Xiao Yu'er, eat."
"How am I supposed to eat like this?" She squirmed in his arms and tried to wrap her head around his strange decision to have breakfast right after throwing fireballs at Qi Yichen.
"I'll feed you." He scooped a spoonful rice and brought to her lips. "Here, ahhh."
That was the last straw. She jerked her head back and knocked her head into the bottom of his jaw, then broke free from his hold and got out of his lap. She sat down in her own chair next to him and ate with a huff. "Just eat like a normal human being!"
Qi Yichen's gleeful laughter of schadenfreude came from outside the room before he started running again to add some distance between him and a particular someone.Previous Chapter Next Chapter