“Miss, I’d say the commandery princess consort crossed her own bottom line today.” Bingtang whispered when she came up to support Qin Yining’s arm. “It looks like she’s not getting along with née Gu in the Yan Manor.”
“The commandery prince seems to pay a lot of attention to his wife and concubine,” added Jiyun.
“Pay attention? It’s more like he’s obsessed with our miss,” teased Bingtang. “If the prince knew about this, who knows how mad he’ll get again?”
Qin Yining smiled despite herself when she thought of what Pang Xiao might do. She’d never realized before, but the more time they spent together, the more she could tell that Pang Xiao was the reincarnation of a green-eyed monster. He was an all-mighty tyrant outside, but was petty to the extreme over the slightest of details when it came to her. This kind of juxtaposition was quite amusing.
The Qin fourth miss shook her head with a smile and turned to go inside.
Somehow, Bingtang turned out to be prophetic.
After dinner that night, a soft rustle sounded at rear window of the toilet while Qin Yining was leaning on a pale-blue, satin body pillow on the heated platform next to the window. She was reading by the light of the lantern.
Working on their embroidery, Xianyun and Jiyun exchanged glances. Xianyun took a position in front of her mistress while Jiyun crept to the back to scout out the premises.
The guard carefully sidled to the toilet door, but heard Pang Xiao’s voice coming from inside.
Jiyun blinked, quickly lifted the door curtain to confirm, and sighed in relief when she saw that it was true. “Your Highness.”
“Mm. Where is your miss?”
“The miss is reading.” Jiyun curtsied with a smile and led the prince inside.
Qin Yining had already put her book down and was putting her shoes on.
Pang Xiao looked around, confirmed that there really was no one else around, and waved a hand at Xianyun and Jiyun.
The two maids looked at each other and dismissed themselves with secret grins.
The prince first blew out the lamp and then helped Qin Yining sit back down. He bent over to palm her white sock clad feet in his large hands. Frowning, he noted, “Your feet are so cold. Keep them on the platform and warm them up.”
“I think it’s going to take a while for me to get used to the climate here,” smiled Qin Yining. She lifted the thin blanket to cover herself, but saw that Pang Xiao had taken his boots off and hopped onto the platform. He sat down cross-legged in front of her, grabbing her feet and hugging them to him.
“Ai! What are you doing! Let go!” The girl blushed furiously as she set foot on Pang Xiao’s warm and firm abdomen. Her toes curled up as she tried to yank her feet back.
However, the prince wouldn’t let her. Still holding onto her ankles, he undid his tunic and placed her feet on his undergarment. He hugged the rest of her legs with his arms and wouldn’t let her get away.
“How is it, warm?” He drew close with a chuckle.
The Qin fourth miss glared at him with flaming cheeks, her struggles weakening. His body was like a mini-furnace and it was really very warm in his embrace. It was also quite pleasant to feel his muscles beneath her feet. It felt like a layer of velvet wrapped around a sturdy piece of iron.
Thinking of where she was stepping on, Qin Yining kept her toes curled and didn’t dare move around. Not only was her face red, so were her ears and neck. Thankfully the lamp had already been blown out to prevent those outside from looking in; it’d be mortifying if someone saw her now.
Pang Xiao laughed from a wonderful mood and whispered, “Has your family given you a hard time over the Madame Lu’s affair?”
Not only had he lowered his voice, but he’d drawn very close to her. It was obvious that he was afraid of someone finding out that he was here. Thinking over how small their manor was now, Qin Yining also grew more careful. She wasn’t the only one living in the rear garden.
“Things have been alright. It’s understandable that people got nervous after the Lus made those threats.”
Her quieter voice held a different timbre from its usual. It had a charmingly lazy undertone, causing an itch in Pang Xiao’s ears. His voice turned husky as well.
“You can tell me about any trouble you’re in. If your family can’t take care of it, there’s still me.”
Qin Yining couldn’t help but laugh softly. “I know that you’ll back me up, but things aren’t that serious yet. Besides, the Lus have a very deep foundation. You all must’ve formed complex ties when you conquered Northern Ji, right? I know that with your strength, you have no need to be afraid of anyone. But you should still be more careful even in things that aren’t important. Don’t go attracting trouble for no reason at all.”
Listening to the warm words of care, Pang Xiao didn’t feel the disappointment of his loved one doubting him. Rather, he felt comforted from the very depths of his heart, like drinking a steaming bowl of meat soup on a cold winter’s night.
Qin Yining must also like me very much now too, right?
He’d occupied a shameless role in the beginning, doing everything he could to bridge the gap between them. He’d shed blood and hopped over walls. When thinking back to all the silly things he’d done to pursue Qin Yining, they were all things that he’d never done for anything else.
His efforts had borne good fruit; he was his darling’s one and only. All of his hard work had been worth it, and only when he grew even stronger could he take a stand forward for his girl!
Pang Xiao massaged her calves with his large hands, a smile clinging to his lips despite himself.
He was actually a bit thankful to Sir Zheng, who’d gone looking for General Pang’s progeny. If it hadn’t been for Li Qitian wanting to unfurl the Pang banner, Pang Xiao might’ve died in the chaos of war torn times or just quietly lived out his life as a little tavern’s keeper. The only sure thing was that he’d never have met Qin Yining.
How boring would his life be if such a person wasn’t in it!
He traced her calves into his tunic, palming her feet with a sigh. “You were so young when I first saw you. You’d fallen onto the ground after being thrown out of the apothecary. The items in your broken basket were spilt all over the ground. The sight just absolutely killed me. I’d thought you would cry, but you wiped your face off instead and turned to buy meat buns.”
Qin Yining started, then jerked her head up to look at the man. “What, what did you say?”
Pang Xiao looked gently at her. “Sir Zheng had just found me and I happened to hear them talk about the child they’d kidnapped from the Qins. I bugged them for details before finding out that they’d swapped you out for another girl and thrown you away, all in the name of revenge.
“I’ve always felt that a family shouldn’t be dragged into the sins of an individual. The crimes of the last generation shouldn’t be inherited by the next. So I pleaded with Sir Zheng for the longest time before finding my way to the city of Liang, where I ended up seeing you. But my position was really low and I was under Sir Zheng’s control, so I couldn’t leave too much silver with you.
“My darling, I’m sorry. You suffered on the mountain for so many years. I didn’t give you that much silver, so it didn’t last too long, did it?
“I couldn’t find you when I returned to the city the next year. I asked a lot of people and they all said that you disappeared after your foster mother died.
“I was really sad for a very long time. If it wasn’t for the General Pang affair, you would’ve been a noble daughter living in the lap of luxury at home. You wouldn’t have needed to have such a hard life at all.”
“You’re… you’re…” Lips trembling, Qin Yining clutched at Pang Xiao’s tunic and choked out, “You’re that Brother Beauty?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Extra from the author:
Pang Xiao: This prince is very satisfied with this handle. Dole out the rewards!
The author: (＾－＾)V
(limited edition Faithful Prince of the First Rank alternate handle plus super popularity, get!)