Wan’er tugged at Zhang Yuan’s sleeve. He looked at her questioningly. “What’s wrong?”
“I’m a little tired. This is enough fresh air for me. I’ll like to go back to the manor.” Wan’er turned to Jun Huang and added after a bemused pause, “Have a good day, Gentleman Feng. Please excuse me.”
“You shouldn’t say that, Princess. You are the most important person here. You should go back if that’s what you feel like. We don’t want anything to happen to you.”
Her lips were curved into a polite smile, and her tone was paced. Wan’er could see how Jun Huang was keeping her at arm’s length. Even though she didn’t like Jun Huang anymore, it was still a little upsetting to be on the receiving end of Jun Huang’s cool courtesy.
Jun Huang noticed her reaction, but she pretended to be oblivious. She sighed inwardly.
Suddenly, a coach lost control and came their way. Zhang Yuan was paralyzed by the sudden turn of event. Right before Wan’er was going to get hit, Jun Huang tackled her to the other side and made sure to keep her belly protected.
Wan’er went as pale as a sheet. She clutched at Jun Huang’s robe and trembled in her arms. Jun Huang helped her up with a frown and patted dust off her clothes. “Are you hurt?”
Wan’er looked up at her. She took a deep breath to quell her fear and shook her head with her eyes red. Her voice was unsteady as she asked, “How about you? Are you hurt? Why would you risk yourself like that?”
Jun Huang didn’t know what to say.
Zhang Yuan had finally regained control of his body. His expression changed when he heard their conversation, which didn’t escape Jun Huang’s attention.
Worried that Zhang Yuan would come to the wrong conclusion, Jun Huang took a step back to put some distance between her and the princess. Wan’er had not fully recovered from her shock, however, and was still holding onto Jun Huang’s robe. Jun Huang couldn’t possibly force her to let go when she was in this state.
Fortunately, Zhang Yuan soon came to their side and pulled Wan’er close to comfort her. He regretted not making a move earlier, but he also was jealous about Wan’er’s reaction.
Jun Huang peered at the coach. It looked familiar, but she couldn’t put a finger on it.
The door opened. Prince Duan got off the coach with the help of a servant. He glanced at Jun Huang, his eyes betraying none of his emotions. Jun Huang could almost feel the temperature dropping.
Prince Duan was indeed great at masking himself. She was certain that he must be surprised, but he didn’t let anything show.
Men like him were the most terrifying.
Prince Duan approached them, his eyes fixed on Zhang Yuan and sparing no glance for Jun Huang. Zhang Yuan felt a shudder ran down his spine. Prince Duan always gave him the impression of a cunning fox. The man was close to Qi Chen, though, and Qi Chen was Wan’er’s brother. It’d be inappropriate for him to disrespect Prince Duan.
On the other hand, Nan Xun had been the one who saved him. He knew not to repay kindness with harm. He therefore stayed on the sideline in the fight for the throne. He wasn’t going to help Qi Chen, but for the sake of his wife and his unborn child, he wasn’t going to offer his support to Jun Huang’s side either.
“My horse got scared because of a mistake the servants made,” Prince Duan said in a monotone. “Has the princess gotten hurt?”
Wan’er never liked Prince Duan. She’d always been afraid of him, even though she didn’t know why. Still reeling from what happened, she hid herself in Zhang Yuan’s arms, silently turning away from Prince Duan’s considering gaze.
Jun Huang wasn’t planning on getting involved, but she couldn’t bear seeing the frail Wan’er being cornered like this. The guards behind her gave her courage to take a stand. She stepped between Wan’er and Prince Duan. “What is Your Highness doing? I hear that Your Highness has been busy lately, there’s no need for you to stay and check on the princess. Your Highness should go on to attend to your business.”
Prince Duan turned to her. His gaze was unnerving, but she kept up a calm smile.
The air seemed to have come to a halt. Prince Duan narrowed his eyes at Jun Huang. It seemed as if he was going to threaten her. As soon as he got closer, though, one of the guards behind Jun Huang stepped in.
“Apology, Your Highness. Our master has ordered us to keep anyone from getting close to Gentleman Feng. The gentleman hasn’t been feeling well, Prince Nan doesn’t want any harm to come to him.”
The guard’s tone was polite, but anyone with ears could hear the hard edge of the words.
They were in public. There were already quite a lot of people watching them curiously. Prince Duan wasn’t going to let someone he deemed irrelevant damage the image he’d worked hard to build.
He threw a cold glance at Jun Huang and turned to Wan’er after taking a deep breath. “It was my fault. The princess is of great importance. You must have been scared even if you haven’t been hurt. I’ll like to make amends to you. Whatever the princess wants as compensation, I’ll give.”
He looked at Wan’er’s swollen belly in bemusement.
No one knew what Prince Duan was trying to do. Wan’er shuddered under his scrutiny. She shielded her belly with her arms reflexively and tugged at Zhang Yuan’s robe, whispering, “Let’s go.”
Zhang Yuan ordered a servant to prepare the coach without hesitation and helped Wan’er get in. “I’m sorry,” he said to Jun Huang and Prince Duan. “My wife’s feeling unwell. I’m worried about her. Please excuse me.”
Jun Huang waved a hand at him with a smile. “The princess’s health should be the priority. Remember to prepare some supplements for pregnant women. This is a critical time.”
Zhang Yuan realized his mistake when Jun Huang reminded him. He took her hand with both of his and thanked her profusely, which embarrassed her.
He reciprocated by asking after her health. She gave him a vague answer. At Wan’er’s prompting, he finally let go of Jun Huang and went into the coach.
Once the couple had left, Jun Huang turned around and suddenly realized that Prince Duan was still here. She cursed at herself for not being cautious enough.
She cupped her hands with her eyes lowered. “Have a good time, Your Highness. This gentleman will take my leave.”
Prince Duan scoffed and blocked her way. “The gentleman sure has a sharp tongue. Why don’t you follow me to the tavern ahead of us for a talk?”
Jun Huang’s head jerked up, considering Prince Duan, trying to figure out what he wanted to do.
“The gentleman is grateful for your offer.” Nan Xun’s voice came from behind her. He approached them with a smile and stepped between Jun Huang and Prince Duan. “As you know, Gentleman Feng hasn’t been feeling well. We wouldn’t want to spoil Your Highness’ fun.”
Jun Huang lowered her head and chuckled. Prince Duan’s expression clouded. With Nan Xun here, they were attracting even more attention. Prince Duan naturally wasn’t going to make a scene. “If so, I’m not going to force you. However, I’ll make sure to give you a surprise some time later.”
He went straight into his coach and smiled at them through the parted curtain. There was something odd about his smile.
Jun Huang let out a sigh of relief once he’d left, but her heart was still filled with anxiety. Prince Duan’s parting words were obviously a threat, but what could he possibly do at this moment?
Nan Xun sighed and rubbed at her creased forehead. “You haven’t fully recovered yet. You should stop thinking so much. Why do this to yourself? Whatever happens, we’ll face it together.”
She glanced at him and finally nodded. She took a deep breath to suppress her anxiety before asking, “Why did you come?”
Nan Xun answered honestly, “One of the shadow guards said that you ran into Prince Duan. He wasn’t going to hurt you in public, but I still worried for your safety. I reckoned that he would be less of a trouble with me here.”
Jun Huang felt warm all over. Her lips curved into a smile without her realizing. “I’m fine now. You should go back to work.”
Nan Xun shook his head. “I’m pretty much done with my work. If you want to walk around, I’ll stay with you.”
Jun Huang nodded without arguing. They strolled along the street side by side.
Prince Duan was going to return to his manor, but he thought better of it. He set out for the palace.
The emperor felt a little awkward around Prince Duan. Ever since people started speculating that Qi Chen might be Prince Duan’s son, he’d been somewhat upset with the man. He couldn’t let it show, though. When he heard that Prince Duan had requested an audience, he let the man in after a short pause.
Prince Duan’s expression changed for a brief moment when he saw Qi Yun sitting by the emperor. He bowed at the emperor with a smile. “Your Majesty, the necessary arrangements have been made regarding Eastern Wu’s offerings.”
The emperor took a sip of his tea. “Good. I appreciate your effort.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter