After grabbing Mu Linger by the hair, Uncle Cheng pushed her harshly to the ground. She never expected the black-robed man to raise his hand against a woman. Now she began to feel afraid and turned to flee.
“Damned girl, you can’t tell good from bad!” Uncle Cheng dashed over and grabbed her by the arm. Scared, she screamed and squeezed her eyes shut, struggling for her life. But soon enough, she heard another icy voice cry out.
At the same time, a large, warm hand pressed against her shoulder. She looked up and saw none other than the younger masked man.
“This damned girl was leaving a message for help!” Uncle Cheng fumed. He was angry because Mu Linger had written “the Myriad Merchant Hall traitor” on the cloth strip. He detested such a name because he’d never planned to betray anyone in the start. This path was forced onto him. Now he was going to Ning Cheng, so he couldn’t count as a backstabber!
Manager Jin lowered his eyes to Mu Linger and asked, “How many messages did you leave behind? Tell the truth!”
“Just this one! Only this one here!” Mu Linger’s eyes were filled with tears as she grew pitiful. For some reason, she sensed that the younger man wouldn’t cause her too many difficulties.
“Let her go and clean up our things. We’ll leave immediately,” Manager Jin told Uncle Cheng.
Uncle Cheng only snorted. “You can’t believe that damned girl’s words. If we don’t interrogate her properly, she’ll never tell the truth! Who knows how many messages she’s left behind on this trip!”
“I didn’t! I only left one here! I’ll never do it again, please, let me go! I really won’t dare,” Mu Linger pled as she struggled to break free of the older man’s grasp. But no matter how she fought, she couldn’t get loose. His hand on her wrist hurt!
Uncle Cheng looked icily at Manager Jin and spat, “Don’t get involved. I have my ways to make her tell the truth!”
But Manager Jin only grew more adamant. “She’s mine. If there’s anyone who’ll question her, it’s me!”
“You!” Uncle Cheng sputtered.
But when he saw the determination in Manager Jin’s eyes, he ended up relenting. They were still making their escape and both of them were men on the same boat, so he didn’t want to have a falling out with him here. Compared to Ning Jing, Mu Linger really was more valuable. If Ning Cheng could see the counter they’d brought him, he’d be pleased as well. Uncle Cheng harshly cast Mu Linger aside and went to deal with the bloody message she’d left behind. Once he was far away, Mu Linger immediately removed the hand from her shoulder.
“Respected sir, I really did only leave a message here. I won’t dare try again next time, just let me go.”
Manager Jin glanced at her bruised wrist before his line of sight trailed down to the signs of blood on her dress. He grew alarmed. “You...your child…”
Mu Linger glanced down and saw the marks of blood before she realized she was supposed to be faking a pregnancy. After all that shoving, her womb should have been affected by now! She immediately put on a show of panic and met gazes with Manager Jin before dropping her head and slowly lifting her dress. Manager Jin had never run into this situation before and had no idea what she was doing. As soon as Mu Linger lifted her dress, he stared at her nervously, not even realizing this was a breach of etiquette. But by the time the dress reached her shins, he sighed in relief. It looked like she’d only scraped her knees, which were now bleeding.
Mu Linger stole a peek at Manager Jin before she feigned joy and sighed. “Thank goodness, thank goodness!”
She’d never gotten pregnant before, so she had no idea how it felt. Using her own imagination, she clutched her flat stomach and said hoarsely, “Child, mother is sorry! Sobsob...you’ll definitely be alright. Be stronger than your mother!”
After the false alarm, Manager Jin grew incensed again. “If there’s nothing wrong, then get back onto the carriage! Hand over all of your hidden cloth strips!” He was no fool, so he wanted to know if Mu Linger had hidden any strips in other places. Once they got them the pieces and matched them up to the torn parts of their clothing, they could see if any were missing--or left elsewhere, perhaps.
Besides their handkerchiefs, the only thing these women could use were their dress hems. It’d be easy enough to match the ripped pieces. Mu Linger grit her teeth and nodded pathetically. She had hardly left when Manager Jin turned away first. Actually, she’d wanted to thank the man because her woman’s instinct told her that the younger man was taking rather good care of them. Manager Jin was already far away when he saw Mu Linger dragging her feet and limping along. He hesitated before doubled back.
“Sir, you…” Before Mu Linger could finish, Manager Jin had picked her up bridal style and headed for the carriage. Just as they were about to reach it, he suddenly changed directions and set her down below a tree.
Could it be he regrets it and wants to question me? Mu Linger began to fret. But Manager Jin simply leaned her against the tree trunk and asked coldly, “Do you have medicine?”
“What kind of medicine?” Mu Linger was still reeling.
Manager Jin’s eyes flashed unhappily before he ignored her to lean close. Mu Linger instinctively pushed him away. “What are you doing?”
Manager Jin sprawled on the ground as his gentle gaze grew angry again. Instead of speaking, he rose and approached Mu Linger again.
“What are you doing? Move aside!”
“Don’t touch me! Get lost!”
As Mu Linger shouted and smacked him, Manager Jin caught her wrists and stopped her. She extended her leg and prepared to kick him when Manager Jin actually took out a few vials of medicine from the small pouch at her side. Now she quieted down as she realized she’d misunderstood him.
Manager Jin picked one of the medicine bottles before saying icily, “Leg.”
Finally, Mu Linger understood that he was helping her with her injuries. She carefully dug out a different bottle and said, “This one’s more effective.”
Manager Jin was about to accept it when Mu Linger avoided him and said timidly, “I can apply it myself. Just then...sorry about that.”
Manager Jin only snorted and said nothing.
Mu Linger paused, then murmured, “That, um, that is...can you look away for a sec?”
Just then, she’d lifted her skirts to prove that she didn’t have a miscarriage so this man wouldn’t really call for a doctor. Now she was going to apply medicine, so he naturally had to avert his gaze. How could just anyone be allowed to see her legs? With her words so blunt, Manager Jin understood what she meant and instantly turned his back on her to sit on the ground. Only then did Mu Linger feel relieved and started to wind up her dress carefully. Both of her knees were covered in blood, a miserable sight. Thank goodness she could hide them beneath her robes, because they looked absolutely ugly.
Silence reigned around them as they sat one behind the other. Mu Linger was now certain she was a valuable hostage, which meant this young kidnapper wouldn’t hurt her. She’d even forgotten the shock and fear she’d felt minutes prior as she focused on her wounds. Manager Jin had his head bowed, his fine bangs shrouding his eyes in shadow. After a moment of silence, he suddenly turned around and spotted Mu Linger’s small, white shins before mocking, “Mu Linger, why do you object to anyone watching when you’re so loose?”
Mu Linger gave a start before covering her knees with a huff. “What do you mean by that?”
Manager Jin only snorted. “You can even get pregnant before marriage, but you’re still afraid of others seeing your legs? What’s with all the pretending?”
Mu Linger flared up, but she forced her temper down. “I’m only loose when it comes to Qi gege! Not with anyone else!”
Manager Jin’s gaze grew cold before he cursed her. “Cheap whore!”
Mu Linger had been through her share of cursing and gave him a provocative look. “If I want to, what’s it to you? Did I ask you to care?”
Manager Jin wanted to say more, but stopped. He prepared to leave when Mu Linger’s next words stopped him in his tracks.
“Hey, you’re Manager Jin, aren’t you!”
“I’m not,” Manager Jin denied.
“You are! You have to be! I wouldn’t guess wrong!” Mu Linger insisted.
Manager Jin wasn’t planning to pay her any attention, but Mu Linger added, “That old man’s from Myriad Merchant Hall, right? Who is he? Do you know he’s tricked you?”
Although Manager Jin didn’t answer, he stopped walking. Without a doubt, he was interested in Mu Linger’s words. Seeing this, Mu Linger hastened to add, “Manager Jin, you kidnapped me to threaten my big sis to help repay your debt, right? You were never planning to kidnap Ning Jing, right?”
She continued to speak. “Think about it. What’s that old geezer kidnapping Ning Jing out of the blue for? He has selfish motives! He’s washing himself free of guilt and putting the blame on you, a scapegoat! But everyone in the Di Clan knows that kidnapping Ning Jing wouldn’t threaten them in any way. Thus, he brought her away on purpose to create a false impression and detract suspicion from himself! Right now, he’s bringing you north with him and you don’t even know he’s just using you!”
Of course, it had been Ning Jing who came up with the analysis, or else Mu Linger would never consider such deep implications given her limited knowledge of Myriad Merchant Hall. As it turned out, Uncle Cheng really did have such motives when kidnapping Ning Jing. He didn’t want to leave any blemish on his person at Myriad Merchant Hall, but never suspected that Jia Dai’s gift of 100 million had long sold him out. Of course, Ning Jing only knew so much. Although she had figured out that the Di Clan had a mole, she had no idea who it was.
Manager Jin turned to face Mu Linger. “Ning Jing told you this, didn’t she?” He could more or less see through Uncle Cheng’s designs, but that personal letter from Ning Cheng made him steel his resolve to meet with the man instead of blackmailing Han Yunxi.
“You...you admit it!” Mu Linger was stunned.
Manager Jin avoided her gaze. “Ning Jing is wrong. I’m not Jin Zi!”
“You are too!” Mu Linger said hastily. “Manager Jin, I’ll sell off all the things I got from the auction hall to help repay your debt. If that’s not enough, I’ll find ways to make up the differences. Just let us go, won’t you? I can swear on my life that I’ll definitely convince my big sis to give you your indenture agreement!”
Manager Jin rose to his feet, completely uninterested.
“Manager Jin, I can tell you outright, my big sis is already in control of Myriad Merchant Hall! Ning Cheng’s whereabouts are unknown, so no one except for her can help you repay your debt, much less return your indenture agreement. Don’t trust that old man anymore, I’m not lying to you!” Mu Linger said seriously.
“Han Yunxi controls Myriad Merchant Hall?” Manager Jin exclaimed in surprise.Previous Chapter Next Chapter