Nan Xun narrowed his eyes at the woman. He knew what she was trying to do. People like her had no shame, and there was no one around to witness her deed.
He scoffed inwardly. Even if he hadn’t been in love with someone else already, he still wouldn’t have set his eyes on women like her. The way she threw herself at him repulsed him. He’d never touch her willingly.
“That’s the servants’ job. Go back to your residence.” Nan Xun didn’t want to waste any time on her. If the emperor hadn’t issued the decree, he wouldn’t even let her enter his manor.
Panicked that Nan Xun was going to leave, the woman grabbed Nan Xun and pretended to stumble, tackling him and spilling cold lotus seed soup over his robe.
“What are you doing?” he snapped and shoved her away. “Do you really think I won’t punish you?”
The woman shuddered, dropping the ceramic bowl to the floor. She rushed up to Nan Xun with a worried expression. “Your Highness, I - I’m sorry. I tripped. It’s my fault. I hope Your Highness would forgive me. There aren’t any servants here. Let me help you get changed.”
She yanked Nan Xun’s waistband off without warning and threw it to the floor. Before he realized it, his robe was untied and the woman had yanked her own collars open. They painted a scandalous picture.
Nan Xun saw Jun Huang staring at them with wide eyes outside the door before he could push the woman away. The woman shamelessly clung to him, oblivious to Jun Huang’s presence. Her lips were inches away from Nan Xun’s face.
Jun Huang had come to find Nan Xun after waking up. She didn’t expect to see… this. Seeing their bodies pressed together made her heart burn. Without thinking, she whirled around and rushed away.
Nan Xun knew she must have misunderstood. Throwing reservation out of the window, he grabbed the woman and threw her to the floor. She grimaced, her ankle twisted.
Seeing Nan Xun turning to walk away, the woman held onto her foot and groaned, which didn’t even earn her a glance. She crawled forward and caught the tail of Nan Xun’s robe, batting her eyelashes pitifully. “My foot hurts, Your Highness.”
“Let go, or I’ll strangle you myself no matter who you are.” Nan Xun shoved her away and ran after Jun Huang hurriedly. The woman gaped at him.
The servants had heard the commotion. Once Jun Huang and Nan Xun had both left, they carefully leaned over to see what was happening. The woman sat on the floor with a confused look. The servants thought that Jun Huang had caught the woman and Nan Xun in action. They were at a loss of what to do.
The woman hadn’t quite realized what had happened. She had let go on reflex, intimidated by Nan Xun’s threat. She’d thought Nan Xun simply didn’t like to smile. In her mind, all men loved a tender women, and she was confident in her look. Although she’d heard the rumors and seen Jun Huang herself, she was convinced that no men could resist her.
She thought that Nan Xun’s relationship with Jun Huang was merely a fling, and yet her attempt of seduction had failed miserably. She couldn’t be more mortified.
She gritted her teeth, resenting Jun Huang for being the cause of her failure. She took a deep breath and looked over at the servants peering at her mockingly, her eyes turning frigid. She fixed her dress and walked past them.
Nan Xun soon caught up with Jun Huang. She ran ahead without looking where she was going. She was about to rush out of the manor. Weighing his options, Nan Xun sped up and grabbed her.
“What are you doing? Let go!” Jun Huang threw him a glare and struggled against his hold.
Nan Xun didn’t want to hurt her, so he let her arm go. To his surprise, however, Jun Huang moved toward the door again. He had no choice but to block her way.
“Stop it,” Nan Xun said quietly, his brows furrowed but his tone gentle.
All Jun Huang could think of was what she saw earlier. She couldn’t contain her fury. Anger turned her words sharp and nasty. “I’m a trouble to you, am I not? Then leave me alone and go back to that woman. Why do you care?”
“You know that’s not what I meant. You should trust that I wouldn’t do anything with another person. She simply caught me off guard. What do I have to say to convince you?”
Nan Xun didn’t want to argue with her. He started describing what had happened. Jun Huang didn’t really hear most of his explanation, her head still clouded by anger. Only when he finished talking did she calm down enough to think.
“You didn’t have to come after me,” she muttered. “I’m in no place to question you. You don’t have to explain to me. I’m being honest with you, Nan Xun. It’s better that you go back. I - ”
“I won’t hear it. You know that you’re the only one I love, Jun Huang. People said that when a cold man loves, it’s for a lifetime, and they’re right. No one can draw my eyes except you.”
Nan Xun put his hands on her shoulders, turning her to face him. “I’ve told you I’d stay with you my whole life, remember? I don’t care about your identity. I don’t care how much time you have left. My only wish is for you to accept me. You said that you needed time to sort through your thoughts, and I gave you time.”
“It doesn’t mean I’ve given up,” Nan Xun said in a tender voice, carefully pronouncing every word. “I’ve been waiting for you.”
Jun Huang looked at him owlishly. She never expected such moving confession from Nan Xun. She stared at him, at a loss of how to respond.
Nan Xun inhaled deeply and took her hands, relaxing himself deliberately. “I don’t argue with you not because I don’t have anything to say. I’m just worried about making you angry and in turns harming your health. You’re free to be angry at me, but not at yourself. Your health and safety are the top priority. Do you understand?”
He looked at her with loving eyes. Jun Huang averted his gaze bashfully, her heart pounding.
They stayed silent. After about the time for a pot of tea to brew, Jun Huang met his gaze. The gentle glint in his eyes made her heart soften.
“I was moved by your words, Nan Xun, but love isn’t enough to sustain a relationship. You know about my condition. I don’t want to be in the way in your pursuit of happiness, but at the same time I can’t just let you go. There are many outside forces we can’t control.”
She stopped looking away and said seriously, “Have you made up your mind? If I agree to stay with you, you mustn’t get close to anyone else. I can be understanding, but not enough to tolerate seeing you play house with another woman. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
Nan Xun’s heart skipped a beat. His eyes lit up and his body trembled in excitement. He nodded seriously. “I’ll never do that to you. I need you and only you. I’ll never betray you.”
Jun Huang smiled, her soft eyes reflecting the setting sun, the glow as soothing as the warm river in spring. “If you’re willing to accept me as I am, I’d like to take your hand and see the world with you.”
Words couldn’t describe the ecstasy he felt at this moment. He picked Jun Huang up by her waist and turned a full circle, holding onto her tightly.
They stood in the garden in each other’s embrace. The servants spared them only a brief glance before walking away in quiet steps. Their master’s affair had nothing to do with them. It was their duty to stay hush.
Nan Xun only let Jun Huang go after his urge to hold her subsided. Jun Huang’s face was a little red from the tight embrace, and her eyes misty. It took some time in the breeze for her to recover.
They exchanged a glance. Jun Huang lowered her eyes with a smile, and Nan Xun intertwined their fingers. They walked over to the stone table together.
Nan Xun knelt before Jun Huang after she took a seat. “Next time, you have to let me explain first no matter what happens,” Nan Xun said. “We’re lucky to resolve the misunderstanding and validate our feelings today, but I never know if you’ll just abandon me next time.”
He lowered his head, his voice hoarse. Jun Huang opened her mouth to explain, but in the end, she caressed his dark hair and admitted with a sigh, “I’ve jumped to conclusion and failed to consider your feelings. How ridiculous of me to lose my calm completely. I promise that it won’t happen again.”
After some time, Jun Huang started thinking over what Nan Xun had told her. They both knew the women sent to their manors were suspicious, but they knew nothing about their true intention - until now. The woman had exposed herself in her attempt to seduce Nan Xun.
“She didn’t seem to know about us, or she didn’t want to believe it,” said Jun Huang, the gear in her head turning. “She made such an obvious move like she had nothing to worry about. It’s puzzling. If she was sent here by Eastern Wu or Prince Duan, why would she be so conspicuous?”
Nan Xun hadn’t had the time to consider that, too busy worrying about Jun Huang. What she said made sense. Still, they didn’t have anything concrete yet.
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