It was all too clear what his true motives were.
Siqin’s behavior had struck Qin Yining as odd from the start. As she’d just recounted, his attitude toward her in the desert was worlds away from how he was after seeing the khan. The manner in which he treated others aside, Siqin initially hadn’t the slightest interest in her–why act deeply smitten with her now?
She wasn’t so naive as to believe there was a chance for genuine attraction between them. There was definitely something fishy going on.
If one set aside Anari, his command inspired the most obedience from the Tartars, but his true self was hardly the pure and loyal front he displayed.
Furthermore, she knew two other men of equal notoriety–her husband and Ji Zeyu, and she understood what kind of people they were better than anyone. As such, she wasn't about to buy Siqin’s act.
As a stranger in foreign territory, it was imperative that she stayed vigilant, lest she find herself ensnared in someone’s traps. These thoughts unfolded in her mind in the mere span of a moment.
The ice in Siqin’s eyes also receded instantly, as if that previous murderous intent couldn't have possibly come from him. “You certainly know how to joke, Your Highness. The Faithful Prince of the First Rank evidently treats you very well.”
Qin Yining gave him a wordless smile.
“There’s no need for concern,” he continued. “Since you know you hold a special position in the prince’s heart, you must also realize that he’ll agree to anything we ask of him and that we will keep you alive. Your life will not be in danger.”
Qin Yining couldn’t help but laugh at that. “It seems that a word of thanks is in order for sparing my life then, Your Majesty.”
Siqin didn’t seem at all angered by her words. In fact, he found himself enraptured by the bright gaze of her response. He couldn't resist touching those watery eyes of hers and promptly acted on this urge.
Stepping forward, he raised a hand to stroke Qin Yining’s cheeks, only for her to turn away. All he managed to touch were the strings of agate trailing from her hat. The beads clinked against each other, tinkling melodiously as they swayed.
Siqin dropped his gaze to study her face; outright rejection and disdain were brazenly written across her indescribably handsome face.
"No need to get cross with me. If you must, direct your anger at your man for failing to protect you. He allowed you to travel alone and exposed you to so much danger, and even let me to spirit you off to Tartar.
“You should also know that it was I who had people see to your grievous wounds. That’s how you managed to crawl back to the world of the living. With all the texts on virtue you Great Zhou people read growing up, are you that unfamiliar with the word ‘gratitude’?”
Qin Yining’s temper flared at his words. She jerked her head up to fix Siqin with a furious glare and answered coldly, “Should I feel gratitude toward my kidnapper? Why do you presume I needed to be saved by you? I would have rather died on Great Zhou soil and leave my body to my husband, if it means sparing him from ceaselessly searching for me like a headless fly. Furthermore, I wouldn't have had to grovel to live and become a hostage you can blackmail others with!”
An inferno ignited in her eyes, fanning the flames of desire in Siqin’s own heart. He grabbed Qin Yining by the neck, forcing her to look up at him and face his venomous glower. His voice was so tight it sounded like he was forcing it out from a crack as narrow as a toothpick.
“You better not be joking with me. I take everything quite seriously. If you say things like that, I won’t be able to resist the desire to kill you!”
His grip around Qin Yining’s throat was so tight that she could hardly breathe, but she refused to give in to him. Glaring straight back at Siqin, she choked out, “I take everything quite seriously as well. I will be disappointed in you if you don't kill me!”
Siqin had never met a woman with no fear of death like her! Perhaps he had, but none of them held a candle to Qin Yining’s unforgettable brilliance. Not only was she noble-born, beautiful, and smart, she had quite a fiery temper.
How Siqin envied Pang Xiao’s luck with women—why didn’t he have the fortune to have such a likeable wife?
“What are the two of you doing?!”
Qin Yining’s eyes were already closed to await death when she heard the sudden furious roar from the door.
Anari rushed inside. From the doorway, it’d looked like Siqin and Qin Yining were in an act of intimacy, what with how close the two were standing together. Her mind buzzed with rage as she howled with fury, dashing forward to give Qin Yining a piece of her mind.
Yet when she drew near, she realized the two weren’t touchy-feely at all—Siqin wanted to kill the Great Zhou princess consort!
Anari disliked Siqin touching other women, but her anger died down regardless. “What is the meaning of this?” she inquired, confused. “Didn’t you plan to use her to talk terms with the prince of Great Zhou? If you kill her on a whim now, we’ll lose half of our hold on them.”
Anari’s voice seemed to snap Siqin back to reason. Fuming, he slowly loosened his grip. As soon as he let go, Qin Yining wobbled and fell to the ground in a coughing fit.
Siqin clasped his hands behind his back and looked at her. “On behalf of the khan, I will spare you. If you anger me one more time, you will not be let off so easily!”
His threats delivered, he turned to face Anari. His demeanour instantly shifted to one as gentle as a lamb. His smile curved his eyes, and his breath oozed with the sweetness of sugar.
“My apologies for alarming the khan.” Siqin tugged at Anari’s hand.
Anari squinted at Siqin with a rebuke in her eyes. “I wasn't alarmed,” she replied without hiding the displeasure in her voice. “I was just angry, as I thought this vixen had entranced you just by changing into a fresh set of robes.”
Siqin’s features instantly grew severe at her words. “The khan must not joke like this ever again. Do you still not know what kind of person I am? In all the time that we have been in love, have you ever seen me flirt with another? Not only is she nothing extraordinary, my love for you is so strong that I wouldn't exchange you for any number of fairies who descend straight from the heavens!”
Anari was so moved by Siqin’s speech that tears sprang into her eyes. She snuggled against Siqin’s chest and nuzzled at him like a docile kitten.
The khan consort wrapped his arms around Anari and hugged the woman tightly, his low voice dripping with indulgence as he cooed, “My khan, your loveliness knows no bounds. Noble blood flows through your veins, a descendent of the most superior of bloodlines. Not only do you possess an unequivocal beauty, you have a smart head on your shoulders and an acute eye for observation.”
Gross. These two. Get a ROOM. Actually, don't. Just go away.