“Don’t worry, it’s going to be alright,” Nan Xun said gently, his heart aching for Jun Huang. “The truth will be out one day. I’ll stay with you and keep you safe.”
Jun Huang chuckled into his chest. She’d been on constant alert these days. She forgot she was just a regular woman who shouldn’t be subjected to such pressure but had the weight forced on her. She was tired, but there hadn’t been a place for her to rest.
Then, Nan Xun showed up.
She had doubted if she truly knew Yin Yun, and even now she would think carefully before telling Yin Yun anything. Nan Xun, however, had her unconditional trust as soon as she saw him. A voice in her head told her that it was in her nature to trust him.
Nan Xun was warmed by the fact that Jun Huang trusted him even when she had lost her memory. That was the basis of their relationship. It was a bond that was uniquely theirs.
Jun Huang closed her eyes, laying in Nan Xun’s arms and breathing in the familiar and comforting smell. She wasn’t exactly tired, but she couldn’t pull away from the warmth of his embrace.
“The night is still young,” she said. “Tell me about us. Maybe then I’ll remember.”
Nan Xun nodded in agreement, but he didn’t want to burden her further. Thus he told her about their more lighthearted adventures, the fun stories. The heavy memories, he kept to himself.
However, Jun Huang was too observant to be fooled. She could tell he was holding back.
She lowered her eyes and cut him off with a sigh. “If you’re my husband, there shouldn’t be any lies between us.”
Nan Xun met her serious gaze, his heart pounding. He’d forgotten how observant she was. Perhaps she could answer the questions he had no answer to.
“I went to the operation base when I first came to Eastern Wu,” he started.
Jun Huang had been told why she was here. She nodded in response. Nan Xun took out a token, which put a frown on Jun Huang’s face.
It looked familiar, but she didn’t know why due to her memory loss. She waited for Nan Xun to explain.
“We’ve been focusing on the Grand Chancellor manor. We don’t know why they gave you the new identity and who the mastermind is. We also don’t know what they’ve been doing. However, I realize that the House of Heavenly Fiends is also planning something. We can’t trust anyone. The only thing we can do is to stay away from the chaos.” Nan Xun frowned. He didn’t like what he was proposing.
Jun Huang listened intently and quickly sorted through her thoughts. She knew what Nan Xun was thinking.
She chuckled and sighed, “I know you don’t want to get me involved, but I am in it already. We don’t know what they’re planning. To find out the truth, we have to take a risk. Since we can’t run away from the storm, why don’t we face it head-on?”
Nan Xun smiled wryly, caressing her silky hair. “You shouldn’t have to shoulder the responsibility. The world is falling into chaos. There’s nothing people want more than to abandon their duty and run away. Why must you go where the trouble is? Why don’t you let others take on the task? That’ll be so much easier for you.”
Jun Huang shook her head. “It’s not that I don’t want to avoid dangers, but I can’t.”
“What do you mean?”
“Jun Hao is missing,” she admitted. She didn’t intend to hide anything from him. “Yin Yun ran into me in his search for my brother. We’ve been trying to locate him since then. Our theory is that he’s being kept at the back of the manor. We were going to scout the area when you showed up.”
Nan Xun pondered on the thread connecting the previous incidents. The clues pointed him to the House of Heavenly Fiends. Once he put the organization as his prime suspect, things became clearer. They’d been covering up truth and making moves in secret.
It defied logic that such a powerful organization wouldn’t be able to find Jun Huang when Yin Yun could. It got him thinking.
What role did the organization play? What was their plan?
Nan Xun frowned. He had identified the questions, but he didn’t know what the answers were.
Jun Huang pulled away from his arms. She was getting tired, so she opened her mouth to ask Nan Xun to leave.
As if reading her mind, Nan Xun cut in, “It’s late, and I have nowhere to go. You don’t want me to sleep on the street, do you? Would you mind taking me in for the night? I won’t do anything untowards.”
His serious promise made Jun Huang blush. She cleared her throat and lay down on her bed, deliberately ignoring him.
Nan Xun chuckled. He loved seeing her bashful reaction. It took him back to the day they got married. His mouth went dry. He laughed silently and climbed onto the bed. Jun Huang had taken the side to the wall, leaving half of the bed unoccupied.
Nan Xun looked at her softly. Taking off his outer robe and shoes, he lay down next to her. He could smell a faint fragrance from her. He turned to her and smiled.
He reached under the blanket and took her hand. She tensed and shot him a glance. Seeing his bright smile, she frowned but didn’t break out of his grip, silently allowing him the intimacy.
Nan Xun inched closer and pulled her into his arms. He was aroused by the warm and soft body against him, but he didn’t want to hurt her. He thus didn’t go any further.
Jun Huang lay still in his embrace, but relaxed once she realized he didn’t plan to do anything. She fell into a deep slumber.
Nan Xun shook his head with a smile, listening to her quiet breathing. “I’d be mad if you could fall asleep so easily next to someone else, but it’s me who’s sharing your bed now. You’re safe. Sleep tight.” He dropped a light kiss on her hair and closed his eyes.
He woke up before the sun rose. Everything was still dark and fuzzy outside. Jun Huang was a solid weight in his arms, He snuck away to get on with his day, as quietly as he’d been when he entered the room.
Jun Huang woke up in the morning. She could hear birds chirping in the distance. She opened her eyes and stared at the silk canopy, then at the empty side of the bed.
She put her hand over where Nan Xun had been. There was no warmth left, as if last night had been a fever dream.
She felt a pang of loss and lay there for a long while before sitting up. The jade amulet on the pillow next to hers caught her eyes. Its color was pure, its quality fine. It must have been left by Nan Xun. She chuckled, her heart fluttering.
The maid’s voice interrupted her thoughts. She frowned but quickly pushed away her annoyance. She got changed and hid the jade amulet inside her dress.
“Are you awake, my lady?” asked the maid again.
Jun Huang opened the door with an impassive expression. The maid was relieved to see that Jun Huang wasn’t angry. She combed her hair and put on makeup for her before saying, “The mistress has sent a message saying that a friend gave her some desserts, which made her think of you. She asked you to visit her after waking up. Breakfast is ready as well.”
“That’s good. I should spend some time with mother.” Jun Huang seemed agreeable. The maid couldn’t tell if that was a pretense and what Jun Huang was thinking. However, she was a mere servant. She wasn’t in any place to ask questions, so she kept quiet.
Once she was ready, Jun Huang made her way to the mistress’s residence. The older woman was sitting at a stone table in the garden. Jun Huang quickened her pace and greeted the mistress with a smile.
“Mother looks good today,” she said after taking a seat. “Has something good happened?”
The mistress touched her face reflexively and only realized Jun Huang was teasing her when the girl and the servants muffled their laughs. She scolded them with feigned anger and told Jun Huang to try the desserts.
There was an inherent grace to the way Jun Huang moved even when she was eating. It was pleasant and relaxing to just watch her. The mistress looked at her, lamenting what it could’ve been if Jun Huang had been her real daughter.
Jun Huang noticed the mistress staring at her when she looked up. She blinked and smiled warmly. “What are you thinking, mother?”
The mistress gave her an awkward smile and said with fake nonchalance, “I hear an assassin has broken into the manor yesterday. Are you alright? You haven’t run into anyone strange, have you?”
“Assassin? Really?” Jun Huang widened her eyes and played ignorant. Then she pretended to come to a realization. “I heard noises from outside my room after I went to bed yesterday, but the voice was intelligible. I didn’t understand what was going on. So that’s what it was. However, there are many servants and guards in the manor. How can any assassins break in? What if something bad happens?”