Gu Qishao’s words brightened up Mu Linger’s world even as his next ones sent it crashing down.
He said, “Tsk tsk, my family’s foolish lass has finally grown up and stopped clinging to Qi gege.”
He was smiling so happily. People might be constrained by helplessness and compulsions, but their hearts were always free. Perhaps that was why they had so many troubles! Even if she left with Jin Zi and stopped chasing after Qi gege, he was still the only one in her heart! But now she didn’t even have the chance to answer him. Mu Linger even wanted to laugh at herself.
Even if he gave her no chances, she still wanted to fight. This would be her bravest night. She looked into Qi gege’s eyes and said sincerely, “Qi gege, you...don’t want Linger either?”
Gu Qishao gave a start before he laughed out loud. “Foolish lass…”
“Qi gege, Linger is being serious! Linger isn’t joking with you!” Mu Linger interrupted. She knew he was going to laugh again and treat her words as a joke.
Gu Qishao suddenly turned gentle and leaned over to rub her head. “Foolish lass, how could Qi gege not want you anymore? No matter who you marry, you’ll always be Qi gege’s foolish lass.”
His soft gaze and warm words were like the antidote she’d thirsted for years of her unrequited love, but now they tasted like toxic poison without a cure. The kind and gentle Qi gege was within reach, but her heart hurt beyond words.
She knew it! Knew it knew it!
She knew Qi gege only saw her as a little sister! It had always been this way!
Her eyes started to flow with tears. “Qi gege, how about you help me and Jin Zi run away?”
Gu Qishao wiped her tears and said seriously, “Be good. Your sister and brother-in-law still haven’t figured out what kind of man Manager Jin is. Suppose he really turns out to be the direct bloodline descendant of the Black Clan? Would you still marry him then?”
“What if he’s not? What if he won’t become enemies with my big sis? Could I marry him then?” Mu Linger asked next.
Gu Qishao chuckled. “Foolish lass, even if he was the direct bloodline descendant of the Black Clan, you can marry him as long as he’s sincere and you like him! Isn’t Qi gege just worried you’ll be tricked? We don’t have to rush. Wait until we investigate him thoroughly. Then when it’s time for your wedding, Qi gege will give you a huge dowry gift!”
Mu Linger sniffled and nodded nonstop. “Ok, okay...I’ll listen, I’ll remember. I don’t want anyone’s dowry gifts except Qi gege’s.”
Gu Qishao stroked her hair again and grinned. “Go on, rest early.”
Although there was nothing else to say, Mu Linger was still reluctant to leave. But Qi gege had even told their carriage driver to stop, leaving her with no options but to get off. Once she was gone, Gu Qishao exhaled and glanced at Gu Beiyue, assuming he’d speak up. But the doctor only remained sitting with his eyes closed as if he’d really fallen asleep. Gu Qishao sat for awhile before he couldn’t resist scooting to Gu Beiyue’s side.
In a low voice, he murmured, “That lass has be pestering this old man for years.”
Gu Beiyue didn’t speak, so Gu Qishao stretched lazily and added, “I’m finally free!”
Gu Beiyue remained silent.
Gu Qishao stretched his arms to circle around Gu Beiyue’s shoulders and chuckled. “Sir Qi’s feeling happy today, so I’ll keep watch for you. Go sleep!”
At last, Gu Beiyue opened his eyes and intoned, “Qishao, I believe Miss Linger was trying to provoke you on purpose. What are you so happy about?”
Gu Qishao understood Mu Linger all too well, so of course he was aware. He replied, “If she hadn’t provoked me on purpose, how could I have the chance to give it to her straight? Now that I’ve returned everything, Sir Qi here feels light all over!”
Gu Beiyue had no interest in meddling, but since Gu Qishao spoke up, he piped in with, “Miss Linger must have been pressured by Jin Zi, right?”
Mu Linger might be simple, but she wasn’t stupid enough to be fooled. It was very likely that she was being threatened somehow, which was why she’d hide the truth from everyone else.
“She has her older sister,” Gu Qishao laughed, then added, “And her brother-in-law. There’s no need to worry.”
Gu Beiyue arched his brow at him and wanted to say something else, but ended up smiling without a word. Gu Qishao might be a scatter-brained, unconscionable man who was even cruel and ruthless, but he was also straightforward and to the point. He wouldn’t hurt someone for a lifetime.
Though when it came to being clear-cut, Gu Qishao might not even be a match with Gu Beiyue. Gu Beiyue skipped the topic and removed the hand around his shoulder before he remarked, “Go take the night watch if you can’t sleep since we’re still within Northern Li territory.”
Gu Qishao went out and looked around. He was about to head for the rear of the party when he spotted Mu Linger sitting outside her carriage and crying. Immediately, he withdrew and pretended not to see anything before slipping off to join the shadow guards in the rear.
In the darkness of night, the carriages moved on. Manager Jin kept waiting despite multiple urges to act. He had agreed to give Mu Linger a year’s time, so how could he lose his patience with one night? He sat quietly with his eyes shut, unaware that Mu Linger was sitting outside with tears dripping down her face. How much did she have to cry to finish her farewell ceremony? How much before she could convince herself to keep acting strong?
In the end, the driver couldn’t take it anymore and coaxed, “Miss Linger, don’t be like this. Who bullied you? Tell the princess and have her be your judge. Don’t be afraid…”
Hearing this, Jin Zi immediately lifted the curtains. Mu Linger unconsciously looked back and saw his ice-cold pupils. He, on the other hand, spotted her puffy, bloodshot eyes and tear streaked face. His fists clenched as he glared at her, then flung down the curtains without a word.
But soon enough, he asked, “Are you coming in or not?”
“I….” Mu Linger trailed off, then tossed back, “Who cares?!”
At this, Manager Jin lifted the curtains again and rudely pulled Mu Linger inside to sit on the seats! She began to struggled. “What do you want to do? Don’t forget, you’re in my big sister’s hands right now!”
Manager Jin didn’t care and demanded, “Did Gu Qishao bully you again?”
“He didn’t!” Mu Linger denied.
“Then why are you crying?” Manager Jin asked.
“Why should you care if I’m crying? Let go of me, or else I’ll call for help!” Mu Linger refused stubbornly.
Manager Jin glared at her before letting go. But before Mu Linger could get up, he suddenly pressed her down against the seat and kissed her on the lips. The kiss was full of his fury and domineering air. Rude and unreasonable, it gave her no chance to struggle as their tongues tangled together. Mu Linger couldn’t even bite him if she wanted to and furiously shook her head. In the end, Manager Jin ended up holding her head still with his hands.
Mu Linger could only hit him viciously and even began to scratch him. Finally, Manager Jin let her go and rest his forehead against hers while panting for breath. She shoved him aside and gave him a resounding slap that left his face with a red palm print.
“Miss Linger, are you alright? What’s wrong?” the driver asked.
Mu Linger sat dejectedly and said, “Nothing, we were just fooling around.”
At her words, Manager Jin laughed and helplessly shook his head. He murmured, “Mu Linger, you can just tell the truth. No need to yield to me.”
Mu Linger didn’t answer him.
After a while, Manager Jin asked, “Mu Linger, can I take that to mean...you care about me?”
“No!” Mu Linger rejected.
“Then why?” Manager Jin asked. “We only had an oral agreement at most, you can just go back on your words.”
Mu Linger glanced at him and retorted, “You knew I had a chance to go back on my word, so why did you agree to my request back then?”
Manager Jin brushed his bangs aside to reveal his handsome forehead. He laughed mockingly at himself and muttered, “Because my damned brain’s damaged.”
Of course Mu Linger understood what he meant, but her heart felt stifled at the sight of him as she wondered what to say.
Manager Jin only asked coldly, “And you? Is your brain damaged too?”
“Jin Zi, you’re a good guy. I can’t hurt you,” Mu Linger said seriously. Her big sister was already on guard against him. If she told her the truth, then how cold she ever spare him? She didn’t understand him at all, but she could tell---and feel---that he thirsted for his freedom, yearned for his homeland. Whenever he talked about the grasslands of Wintercrow Country, his sentimental expressions weren’t lies.
“Jin Zi, I promised you I’d get the indenture agreement, so I definitely will. I don’t like you, so stop causing me trouble, okay?” Mu Linger asked.
Manager Jin only laughed coldly. “Mu Linger, you want me to believe your promise even as you go back on your words. Do you really take me to be a fool?”
Mu Linger looked at him speechlessly.
Manager Jin averted his gaze from her small face and said icily, “Mu Linger, unless you go back on all your words, I won’t give up.”
He had given her two choices: 1) do as they planned and go back with him or 2) expose him and strip away his freedom forever. He was staking the freedom he so coveted to gamble for her heart.
The next day, Han Yunxi had rested enough and summoned Mu Linger over. She used a mixture of both soft and hard tactics, but Mu Linger obstinately insisted that she and Manager Jin were truly in love with each other. Han Yunxi didn’t force her, but sent people to Wintercrow Country while waiting for Ning Cheng to regain consciousness. Manager Jin was bought by the Di Clan in the past. If there were really clues to his origins, they were probably in Ning Cheng’s hands.
News of Jun Yixie’s death quickly spread throughout Northern Li, sending its southern regions into fear and panic. A few days later, Three-Way Pass delivered good news: the Ning Clan troops had broken through and led their 30,000 cavalrymen into Northern Li proper.
As soon as Long Feiye heard, he had the shadow guards make arrangements for everyone to settle down in a nearby courtyard and await the Ning Clan troops’ arrival! But they’d hardly moved in when Ning Cheng woke up. Currently, Gu Beiyue was the only person by his side.
Thrilled, he prepared to call the others when Ning Cheng caught his hand…Previous Chapter Next Chapter
I have more fun reading Tang Li and Ning Jing's/Mu Linger and Manager Jin's evolving relationships than the hot-cold-hurdles of Ye-Xi's tumultuous history, haha~