Ever since the accident last time, Manager Jin and Mu Linger had never met again. Mu Linger had been avoiding him on purpose, but never thought he’d find his way into her courtyard.
What’s he doing here?
Faced with Mu Linger’s question, Manager Jin remained silent as he examined her coldly. They were both standing very close, so Mu Linger bore the full brunt of his scorching eyes. She was perfectly self-assured, but the staring soon made her feel guilty, as if she’d done something wrong. She couldn’t help but think of Qi gege. He had his fierce moments too and was even cruel, but she had never feared him. She would still pester and harass him as always, making it impossible for her to chase her off.
So why was she afraid of Manager Jin? What was there to fear? She, Mu Linger, was open and aboveboard. Even her nasty plots were done in the open, and she admitted to all her deeds. It wasn’t like she’d done anything bad!
With that thought bolstering her strength, she returned his stare with a provoking look. Still, Manager Jin ignored it to keep staring. Mu Linger never planned to waste words on him, but she wasn’t going to take this standing down. Shoving him aside, she withdrew to one side.
“If you’re got a fart to pass, then do it!” she snapped.
“I want to ask you something,” Manager Jin finally spoke.
“Speak!” Mu Linger’s words were terse.
“If…” There was a long pause before he continued. “If I could take you out of here, would you want to come along?”
Mu Linger gave a start. Although she’d been avoiding the issue, his words reminded her of his other statement. On that night, he had cursed her and said, “Why can’t you cherish yourself more? How am I supposed to treasure you like this?!”
Mu Linger might be slow and stupid in other things, but she was adept at matters of the heart. She’d liked Qi gege for so many years that she was forced to get a clue. Despite sensing something from Manager Jin, she hadn’t want to give it further thought. Now that he was saying things like this, she had a chance to clarify things once and for all.
Irritated, she replied, “Surnamed Jin, that’s an impossible ‘if.’ Right now neither you, I, nor anyone else can leave this place. If you really want to make such a hypothesis, I can tell you know that I won’t! I’ll only follow one person in my life, and his name is Gu Qishao!”
So speaking, Mu Linger arched her brow at Manager Jin in a contemptuous challenge. Scorning a person’s feelings was the most ruthless, yet most effective way of sounding them out. Mu Linger was even ready for Manager Jin to lose it, but he only continued to gaze at her coldly. After a long spell of silence with no clues to his thoughts, Mu Linger discovered that Manager Jin had been the third man in her life after Long Feiye and Ning Cheng whom she found impossible to read.
As for Qi gege, his thoughts were clear as day to her. She never needed to figure him out. When waiting a while longer yielded no results, Mu Linger stopped dawdling. She’d spoken her piece, after all.
She turned to leave, but Manager Jin suddenly said, “Mu Linger, you don’t have the right to refuse. Either pay back what you owe me or follow me out!”
Mu Linger halted her steps. How could I...how could I forget? I still owe him a debt!
She had promised to spend the night with him so he could keep the secret of Ning Jing’s fake pregnancy. Now she spun on him, furious. “You shameless rogue!”
“You’re one to talk!” However, Manager Jin’s face seemed to relax as he crossed his arms and leaned against a pillar.
“A forcibly picked melon isn’t sweet, don’t you get it?” Mu Linger asked seriously.
“Heheh, it’s enough as long as there’s something to eat. When it comes to women, I’ve never been picky,” Manager Jin smiled icily.
“How can you treasure them if you’re not picky?” Mu Linger was still serious. “Jin Zi, I really don’t like you. I ask that you let me go.”
Manager Jin’s expression froze on his face, but his eyes quickly chilled. Straightening up, he grabbed Mu Linger by the wrist and dragged her over. Before she could struggle free, she was already in his arms. He said coldly, “Mu Linger, then I’ll formally tell you now, I won’t cherish you anymore!”
So speaking, he shoved her against the wall until she was trapped between his shoulders. “I’ll ask you one last time: are you coming with me, or paying your debt?!”
Mu Linger fumed. “If you’re not cherishing me, why ask me to come along?”
“Where do you think I’m taking you? I’ll tell you now, I can’t put any hopes in Ning Cheng, so you’re my ticket out of here! With you in my hands, I don’t fear Han Yunxi not handing over my indenture agreement!” Manager Jin hissed.
Mu Linger laughed frostily. “Can we even leave? Jin Zi, if all goes wrong, we’ll all die here!”
“I only need your answer. Are you willing to leave with me?” Manager Jin had no patience to debate the issue.
“Willing? Do you think I look like someone who wants to leave?” Mu Linger picked at his choice of words.
Manager Jin sucked in a breath. He didn’t know himself why he’d chose “willing” in the first place.
“Are you going or not?!” he snapped.
“I don’t wanna!” Mu Linger gritted her teeth.
Manager Jin’s eyes flared up against beneath his bangs. He lowered his body to draw closer and kissed Mu Linger on the lips. Scared to death, Mu Linger bit him until the taste of blood flooded between their lips. Manager Jin was forced to let go, but pressed one hand behind her head and the other on her neck, warning her not to thrash about. Mu Linger was really frozen stiff. She could sense killing intent radiating off his body, making him seem like one of the wild beasts around Tiger’s Prison. It was as if he could bite her dead in an instant.
Manager Jin didn’t look at Mu Linger, but suddenly buried his head in her shoulders. “Mu Linger,” he said word by word, “You don’t have to decide. I can go tell Ning Cheng now that Ning Jing’s pregnant! The inspection guards should still be touring Su Xiaoyu’s courtyard.”
Mu Linger was now alarmed. She weakened in response to his words and didn’t dare to gamble. Quickly, she agreed. “I’ll go with you! I’m willing to go, alright?!”
She didn’t know why Manager Jin would ask her such a question, almost as if he could take her away at any time. When he gently released her, she exhaled in relief and probed, “When are you taking me away?”
Manager Jin didn’t answer before an icy order. “Remember your promise today!”
So speaking, he turned and left without a second look. Mu Linger quickly wiped away the blood on her lips. For some reason, its scent reminded her of another fragrance from that fateful night. She furiously shook her head, cursing herself for being shameless. Why am I thinking about that? She had no idea what Manager Jin was planning.
Just then, it didn’t seem like he was joking. Could it be that he only wanted a promise from her lips? Was he going to make her stick to her word after they were rescued? Where were they supposed to go? Didn’t he want his indenture agreement anymore?
“He’s got problems!” Mu Linger cursed. When she heard the sound of a door opening nearby, she quickly got back to her senses and wiped the blood clean. Fortunately, it wasn’t Ning Jing, but a servant girl delivering the meal to her rooms. Mu Linger suddenly envied Ning Jing intensely. Although Tang Li wasn’t by her side, she still had his love! She couldn’t help but wonder whether...Qi gege would help her get revenge if he knew Manager Jin had bullied her.
In the past, Mu Linger would have answered “no” without hesitation. But once she found out Qi gege put his Pill Fiend Valley at stake just for her sake, she couldn’t help but hold out hope. In the end, she resolved to wait for spring. When Qi gege came to rescue them, she would definitely complain to him. As for her promise to Manager Jin, she’d pretend nothing ever happened if he couldn’t beat Qi gege in a fight!
After comforting herself, Mu Linger’s flustered heart finally calmed down. What would Manager Jin think if he knew her thoughts now? Currently, he was sitting on the courtyard wall, spacing out as he stared at the surrounding woods. He had always been sensitive to the roars of the tigers outside. That night, he had secretly slipped into the wood directly behind the compound. No guards stood watch there because two poison tigers laid in wait. Even they feared the beasts, so the places they guarded were untouched.
He didn’t know why he’d approach them, but felt that a mysterious force was urging him on. By the time he ran into the tigers, the duo actually stood at a distance to watch him instead of attacking. If the tiger roars were familiar, the sight of them was even more nostalgic. Ever since that night, he had slipped into the forest multiple times. Now he was very familiar with the two tigers. At the very least, they were willing to sprawl at his feet now so he could pet them.
He had no idea where this feeling of familiarity came from, but felt like he was beginning to understand their cries. If these two tigers were willing to grow intimate with him, would the others as well? Could he have a chance to avoid the guards and escape Tiger’s Prison?
Manager Jin had yet to meet any other tigers or tried slipping past their guard, so he wasn’t 100 percent certain. He still needed some time to make the final decision. At this thought, he suddenly looked up as his handsome brows creased.
Why did I go find Mu Linger when nothing’s been set yet?
Manager Jin grew annoyed with himself. He was about to jump off the wall when he spotted Uncle Cheng headed for Su Xiaoyu’s courtyard.
What’s he doing going over there? What does he need Su Xiaoyu for?Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Catch up, catch up, the neverending game...
Author foreshadowed this bit about Manager Jin the last time he showed up in the story, if you recall! Considering he's from Wintercrow Country as well, is it any surprise that he has an affinity for animals? :)