Chapter 202: Open Appreciation
Wei Lanying tightened her jaw and scoffed. “Do you think you’re smarter than I am, Nan Guyue? I feel sorry for you. You probably don’t know that the one who truly cares for you is Feng Baiyu. Why would he be so attentive to you if he didn’t feel anything for you? How pathetic. The right person for you is within your reach, and yet you can never take his hand. You will never have a man’s genuine love.”
Nan Guyue shot up to her feet, letting go of Wei Lanying, staring at Wei Lanying with unfocused eyes. It took a moment for her to regain her composure. She gave Wei Lanying a pointed look before walking away.
Wei Lanying’s words rang in her head even after she returned to her building. She fidgeted with a teacup in her hand. She could picture the graceful man in her mind.
Nan Guyue stared at her flat belly, muttering Feng Baiyu under her breath. She laughed quietly.
When she first came to Northern Qi, Qi Chen treated her like she was the most important thing in the world. It wasn’t until much later that she knew Feng Baiyu was the one who advised Qi Chen on how to court her. Gentleman Feng looked as if he had walked right out of a painting. He stood alone in this world untethered to anything.
The untouchables ones often left the strongest impression.
The image would not leave Nan Guyue’s head. Jun Huang came to Nan Guyue’s mind often ever since her conversation with Wei Lanying. She thought about the way Jun Huang smiled. She thought about the way Jun Huang looked at her. Had Jun Huang always looked at her tenderly, or had her memories been distorted?
There was no trust left in her heart for Qi Chen after losing her child. When they first got together, Qi Chen was attentive to her every need. Whatever she wanted, he would give her. Things changed, however. Qi Chen had torn her heart out in one swift movement without hesitation. He cared nothing about their marriage.
Her disappointment sat heavily on her chest. Qi Chen was the one who falsely accused her and Jun Huang for having an affair. She might as well seek Jun Huang out and make his accusation a reality. What was he going to do?
Nan Guyue felt the sudden urge to see Jun Huang. She could not wait any longer. She rushed out of the room, dropping her teacup on the table. The teacup twirled, spilling tea all over the table, and shattered on the floor.
Jun Huang was confused when she was told that Nan Guyue wanted to see her. She didn’t want to meet her, but Nan Guyue’s messenger insisted that Nan Guyue had urgent matters to talk to her about. She had no choice but to agree.
Jun Huang arrived at the tea house that Nan Guyue had met her in last time. The atmosphere in the room was not as heavy as last time, which was what unsettled Jun Huang. Something was wrong. Jun Huang felt even more unnerved when Nan Guyue turned to her with a beam.
Jun Huang pushed aside her uncertainties and cupped her hands with a smile. “This gentleman is here to see the princess. I wonder why the princess asked me to come today?”
Nan Guyue frowned when she heard how Jun Huang greeted her. It’s probably because there are people watching, she told herself. That’s why he has to act distant with me.
Once she asked the servants to leave, Nan Guyue took a seat and looked at Jun Huang with a hand supporting her head. “Gentleman Feng doesn’t have to be so formal with me,” she murmured. “Call me Guyue.”
Jun Huang widened her eyes slightly, standing as still as a statue. Only when Nan Guyue asked her to take a seat did she move to the table. Nan Guyue poured a cup of tea for her. Jun Huang had a bad feeling about the whole situation.
She reached out to take the cup from Nan Guyue. With eyes lowered, Nan Guyue brushed her fingers against Jun Huang’s. Jun Huang almost dropped the cup in shock.
“What does the princess need from me?” Jun Huang asked. She wasn’t dense. She knew what Nan Guyue was doing. She sighed inwardly. She couldn’t bring the topic up herself. She could only call Nan Guyue by her title to remind her of her position.
Nan Guyue took Jun Huang’s stubbornness as shyness. She stopped dwelling on the way Jun Huang called her and looked up at Jun Huang.
That was a leer. There was no denying it.
“I asked you to come for one thing...” Nan Guyue murmured, her eyes fixed on Jun Huang and her eyebrows arched, waiting for Jun Huang’s response.
Jun Huang could not believe her ears. She looked dumbly at Nan Guyue for a good moment before she recovered her calm.
“The princess has crossed a line,” Jun Huang said calmly. Her expression was perfectly genuine. “This gentleman will never agree to such things. This gentleman knows that the princess is upset with the prince for what happened, but a marriage is not to be cast aside lightly. The princess should build a good life with the prince.”
Nan Guyue stilled. She was going to lash out at Jun Huang for embarrassing her, but with Wei Lanying’s words in mind, Jun Huang’s calm attitude caused a vague fondness to sprout at the bottom of her heart. This wasn’t the right time for such behavior.
She shook her fist at Jun Huang and said with a scowl, “If what happened today leaves this room, I’ll break your leg.” She stood up and left without waiting.
Jun Huang let out a sigh of relief once Nan Guyue was gone.
Qi Chen realized that Nan Guyue had been giving him the cold shoulder. He had not yet become the emperor. Losing the support of the Wei Family had a big enough impact on him. He must not lose the support of Nan Guyue and Southern Mu. He thought that her miscarriage was the only thing behind her change of attitude. He needed someone to help him convince her.
Naturally he thought of Jun Huang. Jun Huang had a silver tongue. She was also the reason Qi Chen could marry Nan Guyue in the first place. That told him that Jun Huang knew women well. There was no better candidate than Jun Huang for the important task of bringing Qi Chen and Nan Guyue together again.
Once he had decided, he went straight to Jun Huang and told her what he needed. Jun Huang had not forgotten about Nan Guyue’s visit. She didn’t know how to respond. She had no valid reason to turn Qi Chen away. She could only agree to his request no matter how reluctant she was.
Jun Huang visited Nan Guyue’s place. From afar, Nan Guyue looked up from the flowers and saw Jun Huang. Her heart skipped a beat. She didn’t expect Jun Huang to come to her.
“Why has the gentleman come?” Nan Guyue put on a smile and approached her, her expression tender.
Jun Huang gulped and told her why she was here. Nan Guyue’s smile dropped. She looked up at Jun Huang intensely as Jun Huang stared at the ground in deep thoughts. What a handsome man, Nan Guyue marveled. Jun Huang was a much better man than Qi Chen could ever be. Qi Chen might look calm and mature, but that was an illusion. Jun Huang was different. She had this innate calmness that was deeply attractive.
Still, Nan Guyue would be lying if she said she had no feelings for Qi Chen. After all, she had once given her whole heart to Qi Chen.
Mid conversation, Nan Guyue stared at Jun Huang’s face and said, “Has anyone told the gentleman that you are as handsome as the famous Pan An, or even more so?”
Jun Huang coughed and averted her gaze. Nan Guyue thought for a moment. She did have to talk to Qi Chen. “The gentleman has delivered the message. You should leave. I’ll talk to the prince.”
Nan Guyue’s promise did not smooth away the uncertainties in Jun Huang’s heart, but she didn’t say anything. She nodded and walked away.
Evening came. A servant notified Qi Chen that the princess was waiting for him for dinner. Qi Chen was pleased by the news. It would be bad if Nan Guyue kept on with the cold treatment and the emperor knew.
As someone who grew up in the royal family, however, he was not completely without suspicion. He had tried to make up to Nan Guyue to no avail. A single visit from Jun Huang, on the other hand, was enough for Nan Guyue to soften her attitude. He felt a little jealous.
When he went to Nan Guyue’s building, she was sitting at the table for him. She had lost weight, and she looked ill, which was likely to be caused by the miscarriage. He felt a pang of hurt in his heart. He walked up to her and pulled her into his arms.
Nan Guyue let out a silent laugh. If Qi Chen had held her like this the day after she lost her child, she would not be so upset with Qi Chen. Qi Chen, however, had not offered her any comfort. The embrace came too late.
Qi Chen didn’t see the pain flashing through Nan Guyue’s eyes. When he let go of her, she had put on a soft smile. She guided Qi Chen to his seat.
Dinner passed without troubles. Qi Chen kept putting food Nan Guyue liked on her plate, trying to make amends to her.
“What I want is merely for Your Highness to show me a little more trust, and to show gentleman Feng a little more trust,” said Nan Guyue. “None of us expected what happened this time. I lost my child, and gentleman Feng ended up seriously injured. If we had trusted each other, the lies would not have worked. The price we paid was high. Who knows what’s going to happen next time? I dare not to imagine.”
Nan Guyue’s eyes turned red. She started out trying to explain to Qi Chen where the problem lay, but she ended up thinking of the child who was killed in her womb. Her heart clenched painfully.
Qi Chen came to Nan Guyue’s side and smoothed a hand over her shoulder. “It’s alright,” he said gently. “Everything is alright. I will not let you be harmed again.”
Nan Guyue nodded without a word. Qi Chen murmured a few more words of comfort. Afterwards, he excused himself claiming that he had business to attend to, but in truth, he simply didn’t like it when women cried.
Nan Guyue didn’t intend to ask Qi Chen to stay, so she accepted his excuse calmly. Once Qi Chen was out of her eyesight, she wiped away her tears, took a deep breath, and returned to her room.
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