Nangong Zixuan scowled in irritation at Lin Haihai’s rejection. He grabbed her hand and dragged her into the tavern, not caring about the attention he might attract. “I’ll pay for the meal, alright?” The question didn’t sound like a question, but a demand with no room for arguments.
Lin Haihai allowed him to drag her into the tavern. She did want to dine here. It would be great if she could do so for free. She would then be taking advantage of Nangong Zixuan, though, and Lin Haihai wasn’t shameless enough to do that. She didn’t like taking advantage of other people.
Nangong Zixuan led her into a booth and shut the door. “What do you want to have today? I’ll have the cooks make them for you!”
Lin Haihai was a little embarrassed. “Some vegetarian dishes will do. And you don’t have to pay for the meal. Giving me a discount is more than enough!”
This was a business, not charity. She had to pay for their hard work.
Nangong Zixuan scowled and said icily, “The River View Tavern doesn’t do discounts. Either I pay for the meal or you pay the full price. That’s a rule established by my ancestors, and I won’t break it!”
That convinced Lin Haihai to take a seat. She looked up at him and said, “Would you eat with me then? It’s sad to eat alone!”
“I’m paying for the meal. Of course I’ll dine with you.” Nangong Zixuan put on a rare smile. “Tell me whatever you want to have. I’ll have my personal cook make them for you.”
Lin Haihai widened her eyes. “You have a personal cook? You sure are leading a life of luxury!”
“Money should be used rather than hoarded,” Nangong Zixuan scoffed. “Why wouldn’t you enjoy your life while sitting on a pile of money? Are you looking to have your fortune buried with you after death?”
Lin Haihai fell silent. Her money was used for her own enjoyment, but a different kind of enjoyment. Her greatest source of joy was seeing patients walking out of the hospital with their health fully recovered.
“You’re wrong, Nangong Zixuan. Physician Lin isn’t one to indulge in material luxuries. All the money earned through Linhai Hospital is spent on patients!” A warm voice came from outside the door. Lin Haihai looked up to see Zhou Junpeng, followed by the one and only Prince Pingnan. He must have shown up before her knowing that she had grown suspicious of him and sent Wangchen to tail him. Has something happened to Wangchen?
Lin Haihai calmed herself. It was time for the truth to be revealed. She drank her tea nonchalantly and greeted, “What a coincidence, Brother Zhou!”
Zhou Junpeng looked at Lin Haihai and found no surprise on her face. She must have known more than he thought. “That’s right. Allow me to introduce - ”
“That won’t be necessary,” Lin Haihai interjected. “Greetings, Prince Pingnan!”
That caught Zhou Junpeng off guard. They met already? Why would Prince Pingnan tell me to introduce him to Lin Haihai without mentioning the fact, then?
Prince Pingnan smirked. “It’ll be more appropriate for you to call me Imperial Uncle!”
Lin Haihai scoffed. “I don’t think you’ll be able to bear it.”
Nangong Zixuan was confused. Why would Lin Haihai call Prince Pingnan Imperial Uncle? Was she part of the imperial family? Why would a woman from the imperial family start a hospital?
“That’s for this Prince to decide!” Prince Pingnan didn’t show any signs of anger, but instead sat down across from Lin Haihai gracefully.
“It seems that the meal will be a lively one, Young Master Nangong!” Lin Haihai curled her lips into a sardonic smile. “I wonder if Prince Pingnan’s taste would align with mine, though!”
“I like whatever Physician Lin likes!” Prince Pingnan smiled shamelessly, but his eyes suddenly grew terrifyingly icy.
Lin Haihai huffed. “It can’t be a coincidence for Prince Pingnan to step down from your pedestal and share this meal with me, can it?”
Prince Pingnan leaned in with malicious eyes. “If I say it is a coincidence, will you believe me?”
Lin Haihai shot him an alluring look and smirked, enunciating her words, “I don’t believe a word you say!” Then her smile dropped and she continued, “I don’t like it when people talk in riddles!”
Zhou Junpeng took a seat as well. Guilt prevented him from meeting Lin Haihai’s gaze.
“I’ll give you some privacy,” Nangong Zixuan said coolly. “I’m not interested in whatever you’re up to. Forgive me for not showing you hospitality, Prince Pingnan. I’ll go arrange some vegetarian dishes for you. Someone must be hungry!”
Lin Haihai smoothed a hand over her belly. She was starving. She gave Nangong Zixuan a grateful smile, who turned away a little bashfully.
“Please serve us dishes Physician Lin likes, Nangong Zixuan!” Prince Pingnan said politely.
He’s wary of Nangong Zixuan, Lin Haihai quietly observed. Who exactly is he?
“I’m going full vegetarian today, Young Master Nangong. I don’t want to get anything killed. I wonder if that’ll suit Prince Pingnan’s appetite!” That statement was actually aimed at Prince Pingnan.
“Haha, Physician Lin is indeed a woman with a kind heart. I wonder if you’ve heard the saying ‘A general’s achievement is built upon the death of countless soldiers’? Sacrifice is inevitable in one’s pursuit of their ambition. For example, I have to eat vegetarian food in order to make Physician Lin’s acquaintance today!” Prince Pingnan chuckled and sipped his tea.
Nangong Zixuan turned to leave in disgust.
Lin Haihai’s expression grew serious when she turned to Zhou Junpeng. “Why did you approach me?”
Zhou Junpeng snuck a glance at Prince Pingnan, a bitter smile tugging at his lips. He truly didn’t have any ulterior motive when he approached Lin Haihai. “I simply wanted to befriend you!”
“Wait outside for this Prince, Junpeng!” Prince Pingnan snapped, his eyes darkening.
Zhou Junpeng hesitantly turned to Lin Haihai, who spoke with an aloof look on her face, “It seems that the prince has something to discuss with me. Please give us some space, Young Master Zhou!”
Zhou Junpeng’s face twisted in embarrassment momentarily before he took his leave.
“Speak your mind!” Lin Haihai sat back. She wasn’t naive enough to think that he had come to share this meal with her.
Prince Pingnan’s expression turned serious. He gazed icily at Lin Haihai and said, “There are things I want you to stay out of!”
“Anything!” Prince Pingnan’s eyes flashed like lightning strikes, seemingly having seen her weaknesses.
Lin Haihai sneered. “You should know I’m not the obedient kind!”
He gazed quietly at her before letting out a sigh. “I like it when women are obedient, especially women I’m fond of!”
Lin Haihai didn’t show her surprise. She met his frosty eyes squarely. That wasn’t fondness!
“I have Wangchen!” Prince Pingnan smiled. “I can make her wish for death!”
“It’ll be as easy as flipping my hand to rescue her!” Lin Haihai’s composure cracked. As she suspected, Wangchen was in danger!
“You may try, but you’ll get nothing but a corpse!” Prince Pingnan broke into arrogant laughter.
Lin Haihai flew into a rage. She shot to her feet and was about to leave when Prince Pingnan stopped her with a malicious smile. “It turns out that you’re with Shao’er. Wouldn’t that make Han’er a betrayed husband?”
He’d sent people to follow her? Lin Haihai had been careless. She had forgotten to watch out for his people.
“What do you want?” she asked calmly.
“I admire you for keeping your composure.” Prince Pingnan huffed before leisurely sitting back on his chair. “How will Han’er react if he knows who you have spent your night with?”
“That’s our business. No need for Your Highness to trouble yourself!” Lin Haihai’s lips twisted into a smile at the peak of her anger. “Don’t ever do anything to hurt the bond between the brothers, or I’ll make you pay!”
“You may be a great martial artist, but who is going to stop this Prince’s army once the brothers turn on each other?” Her secret gave him enough bargaining chips to ensure his victory.
“Do you think you’ll be able to stop an army of a hundred thousand on your own?” Prince Pingnan laughed derisively.
Lin Haihai didn’t have a comeback for that. She didn’t know what her limit was, but she couldn’t even fathom what it would be like when an army of a hundred thousand attacked the city.
“What do you want from me?” Lin Haihai asked with a frown.
“I want you to do nothing! Stay on the sidelines no matter what happens!” He wasn’t sure what she was capable of, either, but Xuanjizi had said that the woman was the only one who could stop him. He had to be cautious. He stood a great chance to win as long as she did not interfere. His spies had found out that the empress dowager of Rong was in the capital. He just had to find her, and everything would go his way!
“Do you honestly think that’s possible?” Lin Haihai scoffed. “Didn’t you say I was helpless? Why would you be wary of me, then?”
He must have other motives. He could’ve told Yang Hanlun about her if he simply wanted to get rid of a threat, but instead, he came to negotiate with her.
“You’re smart. I’m not going to lie to you. Even if I tell Han’er about you, someone like him will be heartbroken and even resentful, but he will not betray his brother. That won’t do me any good. I don’t care about his feelings. However, you do care, don’t you? You may not love him, but you care about him, and you feel guilty. That’s what I’m betting on. I believe you don’t want to break his heart, so you’ll end up agreeing to my condition!”
He revealed the truth candidly. There was no need for him to lie to her.
Lin Haihai fell silent, but she hadn’t lost her calm. She had to rescue Wangchen first before explaining the truth to Yang Hanlun.
“I want to see Wangchen before tonight, or there will be no negotiation!” That was the last thing she said before she left in anger. She didn’t even spare Prince Pingnan another glance.
Prince Pingnan chuckled darkly at her back. He would find a way to get rid of her. Then he wouldn’t have to worry about anything!
Lin Haihai looked at Zhou Junpeng when she walked past him. There were things she would like to say, but it would be a waste of breath. In the end, she left without saying anything. Zhou Junpeng stared at her with a conflicted look before letting out a sigh.
Lin Haihai quickly returned to Linhai Hospital. Qing Feng immediately walked up to her. Noting her anger, she asked, “What happened, Master?”
Lin Haihai’s expression softened. She put her hands on her belly and said pitifully, “Make me a bowl of soup noodle, Qing Feng. I’m starving!”
“Haven’t you eaten yet?” It was past lunch time. She must have forgotten to eat again.
“I didn’t have breakfast, either!” Lin Haihai said unhappily. “I wasn’t hungry before, but I was suddenly starving when I walked past the River View Tavern!”
“Don’t worry, I’ll make you lunch at once! Give me a moment!” Qing Feng rushed into the back immediately.
All the imperial physicians were too busy seeing patients to greet her properly, so they opted for nodding at her. Lin Haihai managed to smile at them, quietly fuming with suppressed anger. She marched into the inner hall. Li Junyue was putting IV on the patients who were staying in the hospital. She had so many things to say, but she didn’t know who she could talk to.
She couldn’t tell Li Junyue. He was about to go back to the modern world, and he would refuse to go if she told him about the current situation. Then there would be no way to cleanse Keqing of the Gold Caterpillar Gu.