Lin Haihai opened the door to everyone standing outside with their arms limp. Mother Qin dropped to the floor with a thud and said, “This lowly woman has committed a great crime. Please punish me, Your Highness! This lowly woman was solely responsible for everything. It has nothing to do with anyone else. Please punish this lowly woman by death and let this matter end there!”
Mother Qin wanted to shoulder all the responsibilities before Chu Zijun returned. She didn’t know the imperious man before her was the emperor. Since he was holding the princess consort earlier, she assumed he was a prince.
Yang Shaolun turned to look at LIn Haihai. She must be lying when she said she hadn’t been mistreated. Lin Haihai guiltily said, “We shall talk about this later. Rise, Mother Qin!” She wanted to keep her alive.
“No, Princess Consort. This lowly woman has committed a crime that warrants capital punishment. Please grant this woman death and conclude this matter!” Mother Qin insisted. She owed him too much during this lifetime. She wouldn’t allow him to be imprisoned or even capitated because of her. That must not happen!
“What did you do?!” Yang Shaolun demanded with a frown.
“Go, Mother Qin!” Lin Haihai snapped with a matching scowl. “I’ll explain everything to His Majesty. Don’t get involved in this!”
“I’ll entrust the trial to you, Xiao Yuan. Official Bu, you’ll be helping Xiao Yuan. I want an answer tomorrow!” Yang Shaolun didn’t want to make Lin Haihai mad. It was obvious that she didn’t want him to get involved.
“Understood, Your Majesty!” The eunuch and the prefect accepted the order.
Your Majesty?! Mother Qin was stunned. Is she a princess consort or an imperial consort?
“Bidding Your Majesty and Imperial Noble Consort farewell!” Everyone thought Lin Haihai was an imperial consort from the imperial harem, and they had merely misheard her being called a princess consort.
Yang Shaolun descended the stairs holding Lin Haihai’s hands. They shared a smile with blooming happiness in their hearts.
They ran into Zheng Feng and Wangchen as soon as they reached the front door of Nestling Beauty, who had traveled nonstop to get here. The two guards leapt off their horses and knelt on one knee. “Greetings, Your Majesty!”
Yang Shaolun smiled, pleased. “Rise. You’re fast!”
“Master!” Wangchen jumped and threw her arms around Lin Haihai. Lin Haihai couldn’t help but tear up. Her personal guard had been reserved in nature. It was rare for her to lose control like this.
“How have you been, Physician Lin?” Zheng Feng asked with feigned nonchalance, pushing down the overwhelming emotions in his heart.
Lin Haihai laughed and cried at the same time. “I’m good! I feel even better after seeing you!”
Yang Shaolun grabbed Lin Haihai and said to Wangchen and Zheng Feng, “Don’t make her cry again!”
Wangchen chuckled and responded, “I’ve never seen you so worried about a woman crying!”
She was able to say these words calmly. Yang Shaolun was now nothing but someone she used to care about in the past.
Xiao Yuan then emerged with Mother Qin. She gave Lin Haihai a look of guilt, trust, and pleading. Lin Haihai nodded softly. Mother Qin’s lips twitched before she lowered her head and left with Xiao Yuan and Prefect Bu.
“Let’s go get some groceries and cook ourselves a meal, Wangchen!” Lin Haihai said to Wangchen with a smile, cheering herself up.
“Sure,” Wangchen said happily. “I’ve wanted to have your cooking for a long time. You promised us before, but you didn’t make anything!”
Zheng Feng smiled as well. They had been busy looking for her and hadn’t been eating much.
Yang Shaolun gave Lin Haihai an adoring look. She could cook every day if that was what she wanted. He would finish everything!
A few runners went up to Lin Haihai and said respectfully, “Allow these servants to shop for you, Consort Lin!”
“That won’t be necessary,” Lin Haihai said gently. “You should return to your work. You don’t have to follow us around!”
“That won’t do!” said a bailiff. “This servant is charged to protect Your Majesty and Consort Lin. If Consort Lin doesn’t need this servant to shop for you, please at least allow me to lead the way! After all, Consort Lin has just arrived here and doesn’t know the way!”
Lin Haihai nodded. “You have a point. Thank you for the hard work!”
The bailiff blushed a little. He didn’t expect the imperial consort to be this personable. “You’re too kind. This way, Your Majesty, Consort Lin!”
He and a few runners took the lead, while Yang Shaolun and Lin Haihai trailed after them hand-in-hand, strolling along the scenic street of Yangzhou.
Behind them, two handsome men looked over at Lin Haihai’s back with complicated expressions. Nangong said with a rueful smile, “You should give up now, Brother Zhou!”
Zhou Junpeng smiled faintly. “Actually, I’m relieved! Thank you for coming with me!”
“She’s my friend. I want her to be alright as well. I didn’t come solely to keep you company!” Nangong smiled warmly. He had thought she was someone fishing for a good reputation, but it turned out she was as kind-hearted as she appeared to be, which was clear from how the common people of the capital had swarmed the Prince Residence.
“Let’s return!” Zhou Junpeng smiled sadly. He had never even dreamed of being together with her. The happy smile on her face gave him peace. He didn’t need to have her just because he loved her. Someone like him wouldn’t be able to put such an expression on her face.
Lin Haihai and her companions bought some vegetables and proteins under the bailiff’s guidance before going to the imperial palace. It was located in the eastern part of Yangzhou, lying among mountains and rivers and surrounded by trees. It was a picturesque resting place for them. “Let’s spend our days here after we retire!” Lin Haihai told Yang Shaolun.
Yang Shaolun adored the scenery here as well. He put an arm around Lin Haihai’s shoulders and smiled with bottomless adoration in his eyes. “I’ll follow you to the end of the world if you’ll have me!”
Lin Haihai grinned. “I should be the one saying that!”
“But I’m always the loser in this relationship,” Yang Shaolun said pitifully.
“Shut it!” Lin Haihai laughed. He had a mischievous and adorable side!
Wangchen sighed at Zheng Feng’s depressed face. “Shouldn’t you be happy that she’s happy?”
Zheng Feng didn’t say anything for a long while. “I want her to be happy. That’s it.” That was more than enough. It had to be.
Wangchen felt a pang in her heart. She stared at Zheng Feng and said in a stilted voice, “Can’t you see anyone outside of her?” Then she walked away unhappily.
Lin Haihai was caught off guard by Wangchen’s sudden departure with the ingredients they had just bought. She turned to Zheng Feng and found him equally surprised.
Wangchen has feelings for me? Zheng Feng was stunned. Isn’t she obsessively in love with His Majesty? When did she fall for me?
Lin Haihai knocked him on the head and said, “Go after her, you stupid goose!”
Zheng Feng looked at her hesitantly. Lin Haihai continued, “Wangchen has been in love with you for a while. If you don’t feel the same, you should let her know!”
Yang Shaolun didn’t say anything. Wangchen had been his consort. He wanted her to find her happiness as well. If he spoke up, though, he would be putting undue pressure on Zheng Feng.
“Go!” Lin Haihai stomped and said frustratedly. “Talk to her!”
Zheng Feng cupped his fists at Yang Shaolun. “This guard will take my leave!”
“Go ahead,” Yang Shaolun said with a smile. “You should cook dinner for yourselves. Xiao’hai and I won’t trouble you!”
“Thank you, Your Majesty,” Zheng Feng smiled ruefully.
Lin Haihai was amused by the urgency with which he ran away. “I was going to cook for you, but the food ended up with them!”
“I’ll buy you something good!” Yang Shaolun smiled. He had ulterior motives. He didn’t want anyone to be their third wheels.
“I don’t feel like eating. I had some porridge at Nestling Beauty.” The mention of food made her want to throw up.
“Look how much weight you’ve lost!” Yang Shaolun said with heartbreak. “We’re not having more children after this!”
“But you like children!” Lin Haihai remembered how excited he was when he knew she was pregnant. Thinking of his reaction made whatever discomfort worth it!
“One is more than enough,” Yang Shaolun said unhappily. “I don’t want my wife going through such punishment again!”
“Silly, that’s not punishment. Even if it is, it’s a happy one!” Lin Haihai leaned into him as they walked at a leisurely pace.
Dusk saw lamps being put on and lit, with candlelight blooming all over the imperial palace. Sparrows returned to their nests, while crows cawed in chorus. The chilling wind sweeping by made Lin Haihai wrap her arms around herself in reaction. Yang Shaolun put his cape around her and took her hands. “Buy us some food,” he told the runners trailing after them. “Then bring it to this Emperor’s room!”
“Understood!” The runners left to carry out his order.
A line of maids had been waiting at the door to the inner palace. They dropped to their knees to greet Yang Shaolun and Lin Haihai. Lin Haihai said kindly, “Rise. Please prepare a hot bath and some clean clothes for us!”
“There’s a hot pond in the palace, Consort Lin!” a maid came up to them and said in a lilting voice, bowing slightly. “The hot water circulates all day long. Consort Lin may take a bath there. It’ll alleviate your exhaustion!”
“That’s great! Lead the way!” It had been days since Lin Haihai last took a bath. Although it was autumn, she still felt uncomfortable not being able to clean herself.
“Please follow this maid, Your Majesty, Consort Lin!” the maid said softly.
The hot pond was located east of the main bedchamber in the palace, under which was a hot spring providing an endless supply of fresh hot water. The former emperor had the pond constructed here with a tunnel venting water outside. It was as big as the source of the hot spring to maintain the water level of the hot pond. Since the water was circulated all year long, it was incredibly clean and clear. The temperature of the water would change throughout the seasons. In winter, it was warmer. The resulting heat could raise the temperature of the bedchamber, making it the perfect place to avoid the cold.
Lin Haihai was pregnant. It was better for her not to submerge herself into water. Since the water wasn’t that hot, though, it would be fine for her to take a short bath.
“Turn around!” Lin Haihai was about to take off her clothes when she saw Yang Shaolun staring at her with familiar heat in his eyes.
“Why should I? I’ve seen your body before.” He slowly approached her to let down her hair. “Let’s take a bath together!”
Together? Lin Haihai chuckled. “I don’t want to. It’ll be embarrassing if someone comes in and sees us!”
“Let them. What’s wrong with having a bath with my imperial consort?” Yang Shaolun narrowed his eyes to put on an imperious look, but the smile at his lips betrayed his true feelings.
“I’m a princess consort.” Lin Haihai slowly took off her clothes. There was no need for her to be bashful. They had a child together. What was showing their bodies to each other?
“Why are your undergarments so small? And there’s an upper and bottom piece!” Yang Shaolun could never make sense of it. The fabric was unusual as well.
“Li Junyue brought them from the modern day for me!” Lin Haihai had stripped to her underwear. Her hair ran down her shoulders with her soft, fair breasts cladded by only her bra. It was an alluring sight to behold.
“Li Junyue bought them for you?!” Yang Shaolun said in a raised voice. That wouldn’t do!
“No, he doesn’t know my size. My mom - my mother - bought them for me!” Lin Haihai laughed. Li Junyue would rather die than buy underwear for her.
“Ah, Mother-in-Law has good taste!”
He gently cupped her supple breasts with his hands, his eyes burning with arousal. Lin Haihai took off her undergarments as well and stood naked before him. Her belly was still flat. She looked up at him with seductive eyes and stripped him with slightly trembling hands. Yang Shaolun put his arms around her and walked them into the pond. The warm water eased Lin Haihai. She became boneless as Yang Shaolun carefully washed her hair.
A maid left their clothes on the screen before making a silent retreat, shutting the door behind her. Lin Haihai heard her telling the servants at the door to leave.
Yang Shaolun chuckled. “How considerate of her!”
“That’s because you have a horny look on your face!” Lin Haihai poured water down her hair. The wet strands floated and scattered in the pond.
Yang Shaolun put his arm around her slim waist to pull her into his embrace. In a hoarse voice, he said, “Then you should be careful!”
Lin Haihai gasped when she felt his throbbing erection.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
"Stupid goose" is a fun friendly insult (and what a sentence to end a chapter with lol