Yan Shi Ning awoken early the following morning.
She immediately saw Pei Jin staring at her with eyes that looked like it wanted to play with fire. The heavens knew it was the first time he smiled lecherously endlessly.
Pei Jin pulled the blanket off Yan Shi Ning. ‘Wife, we need to leave the bed and greet the elders in their palace chamber.’
Yan Shi Ning glanced at the dim sky outside the window and she frowned. ‘I’ll go find an appropriate dress.’
Yan Shi Ning opened a chest. Inside the chest were her scarce belongings. She chose the best dress out of the ordinary dresses she owned.
Pei Jin glanced at the items inside Yan Shi Ning’s chest and he frowned. Although a few of the fabrics of her dresses were of acceptable quality, most of her dresses couldn’t compete with the beautiful dress she wore to the banquet in the palace a month ago.
‘What is it, something wrong?’ Yan Shi Ning asked.
‘Nothing,’ Pei Jin said. ‘I was remembering my wife looking heavenly the last time we met.’
Pei Jin diverting Yan Shi Ning’s attention dampened her heart a little more. ‘Whether I looked heavenly or not, I can’t compare with ninth prince.’
Princess Kang Hua had asked a dressmaker to make the few new dresses that Yan Shi Ning owned. In the last two years Princess Kang Hua treated her coldly and she never fussed over the poor quality fabrics of her dresses. Each month she was only allowed to have one request granted. She remembered the dress she wore to the banquet a month ago. Indeed her best dress inside the chest couldn’t even compare with Yan Shi Ting’s most ordinary dress.
Yan Shi Ning thought that the quality of her dresses were insignificant compared to living a peaceful life.
Pei Jin watched Yan Shi Ning stepped behind the screen to change into a dress and his eyes gleamed brightly. He shook his head, smiled and stepped to the bed. Then he lifted the white blanket, bit a finger and drops of blood dripped onto the blanket.
‘Ninth prince, can I come in?’ a flirtatious voice asked from outside the chamber.
Pei Jin let go of the blanket and looked at a dressed Yan Shi Ning who stepped out from the screen before he replied to the flirtatious voice, which gave her goose bumps all over her skin.
The chamber door was pushed open and several maids appeared with a basin of water and wash cloths. The maid leading them inside the chamber looked between seventeen and eighteen years old. The maid’s long hair was let down with a jade hairpin adorned on the left side of the maid’s hair and the maid walked in a sensual manner. Yan Shi Ning praised the maid’s beauty in her heart, but she wondered who the beauty was.
‘Ninth prince, let me help you change your clothes,’ the maid said.
Yan Shi Ning recognised the flirtatious voice belonged to the maid. She was suspicious why a maid would act like the mistress of the manor. She watched the maid smiled flirtatiously while helping Pei Jin change his clothes and she realised the maid wasn’t an ordinary maid.
Pei Jin’s heart was weary of Su Yue’s inappropriate closeness. He looked at Yan Shi Ning and he smile warmly. ‘Su Yue, I can change my clothes on my own. You should serve my wife.’
‘But I always serve ninth prince,’ Su Yue said and pouted.
‘You don’t need to,’ Pei Jin said. ‘Quickly help my wife. It’s getting late, my wife and I need to greet the elders.’
Su Yue couldn’t refuse Pei Jin’s request and she grudgingly stepped toward Yan Shi Ning.
Yan Shi Ning looked at the cold contempt shown on Su Yue’s face. Her intuition protested that Su Yue was too daring by looking down on her.
Yan Shi Ning thought Su Yue must be favored by Pei Jin, which was why Su Yue dared to act haughty. She glared at Pei Jin, it would be strange if there wasn’t intimacy between him and Su Yue. What was there to deny? He didn’t need to pretend he had no relation to Su Yue in front of her. Why else would his beauty reek of jealously while standing beside her? She smiled coldly.
Pei Jin’s eyes met Yan Shi Ning’s gaze and her spring smile, yet his back turned cold.
Su Yue felt jealous seeing Pei Jin and Yan Shi Ning exchange loving glances with each other while acting like she was a dead corpse. Su Yue thought about how since she entered Pei Jin’s manor three years ago, she was always the one serving Pei Jin and didn’t need to serve anyone else. She felt it was demeaning to serve a worthless Yan Shi Ning.
‘Ah!’ Yan Shi Ning cried out.
Yan Shi Ning glanced at the comb in Su Yue’s hand and she mourned for her lost hair.
‘What happened?’ Pei Jin asked and rushed over to Yan Shi Ning.
Su Yue knew she had committed a wrong and forced herself to apologise. ‘I carelessly pulled mistress’ hair… I’m used to serving ninth prince, it’s not easy for me to serve someone else.’
Yan Shi Ning’s eyes darkened briefly. She quickly turned her head around and smiled coldly at Pei Jin. ‘Is that true? Then Su Yue should continue to serve ninth prince.’
Pei Jin didn’t get a chance to explain before Su Yue interrupted.
‘Mistress is right,’ Su Yue said. ‘It’s better for a maid who mistress is familiar with to serve mistress. I’ve always been a maid close to ninth prince, it’s more efficient if I continue to serve ninth prince.’
Yan Shi Ning felt repulsed when Su Yue emphasized ‘close.’ When Yan Shi Ning was unwed there were a few maids who were forced to occasionally serve her at the Yan Manor, but none of them were close to her. She lived for eighteen years without a personal maid.
In the past Yan Shi Ning lived with her mother in Xuan Qing. Her father did deliver silver taels to her mother. But her mother didn’t spend a single of his silver taels and returned all his silver taels. Her mother worked hard to support their family in Xuan Qing. Although they were fed and clothed, they were not rich and only had one maid who was a widow.
After Yan Shi Ning’s mother died, she wanted to bring the widow to the imperial city because she was only familiar with the widow apart from her mother. Unexpectedly the widow said that there were relatives the widow wanted to be reunited with and didn’t want to go with her. In the end she travelled to the imperial city alone.
At the Yan Manor everyone followed Princess Kang Hua’s lead and treated Yan Shi Ning coldly and looked down on her. Before her wedding her father asked her if she wanted to bring a maid to Pei Jin’s manor. She didn’t want to have a personal maid that wouldn’t be loyal to her and politely declined her father’s offer.
Yan Shi Ning understood Su Yue emphasized ‘close’ to boast that Pei Jin and Su Yue’s relationship wasn’t ordinary. Yan Shi Ning only smiled coldly at Pei Jin to silently ask him to deal with Su Yue.
Pei Jin felt his back turned colder. In his manor the most troublesome person was Su Yue who had a special background so he still hadn’t found a suitable reason to kick Su Yue out of his manor. He had anticipated Yan Shi Ning would deal with Su Yue on his behalf to kick Su Yue out of his manor. Unexpectedly Yan Shi Ning didn’t reprimand Su Yue and Yan Shi Ning appeared like she was watching an amusing performance. He sighed inwardly. He almost forgot about Yan Shi Ning’s gentle and docile image that she maintained in front of others, and understood he had to get rid of Su Yue himself.
Since Pei Jin didn’t deny anything, Yan Shi Ning thought Pei Jin did favor Su Yue. That meant Yan Shi Ning needed to avenge her lost hair on her own. When Su Yue’s back was facing her, she stepped on the hem of Su Yue’s dress.
‘Ah!’ Su Yue cried out and fell on the floor.
Yan Shi Ning stood up abruptly and feigned concern for Su Yue. ‘Why did you fall? Did you twist your ankle? Are you hurt?’
The collar of Su Yue’s dress opened and revealed an ample chest above a tiny waist.
Su Yue pushed away Yan Shi Ning’s hand and she looked tearfully at Pei Jin. ‘Ninth prince, it hurts.’
The smile inside Pei Jin’s stomach was longer than his intestines. He knew the little lion wasn’t an easy opponent, if anyone provoked her then she would repay them. No matter how often he provoked her in the last twelve years, she didn’t begrudge him because she always immediately took revenge after being wronged. He felt it was indeed an amusing morning.
Pei Jin acted shocked and concerned. ‘Why did you fall? Someone help Su Yue up and take her to Bei Dou to examine her. A thousand times I hope nothing bad happened.’ He turned around to face Yan Shi Ning and he spoke in a gentler tone. ‘Wife, are you ready? If you are then let’s depart. I don’t want the elders to wait long. Come here, I’ll support you outside.’
Su Yue looked resentfully at Pei Jin and Yan Shi Ning’s retreating backs. Wasn’t Pei Jin supposed to carry her off the floor and fuss over her? Why did Pei Jin support another woman? Yan Shi Ning wasn’t the one injured, what was there to support? Su Yue remembered the moans from Pei Jin and Yan Shi Ning’s chamber last night and it made her angrier.
Suddenly Yan Shi Ning turned around and looked at Su Yue. ‘I almost forgot. Su Yue, you shouldn’t wear long dresses. If you change your dress then you’ll prevent falls in the future.’
Su Yue ignored Yan Shi Ning. She looked pitifully at Pei Jin and sulked. ‘Ninth prince, you said that I look beautiful in this dress. That’s why I wear this dress often.’
Pei Jin glanced at Su Yue. ‘Is that so? Su Yue, you’re naturally beautiful. It wouldn’t matter what dress you wear you’ll still be beautiful, go ahead and change into a different dress.’ He smiled at Yan Shi Ning. ‘Wife, let’s go.’
After Pei Jin and Yan Shi Ning left the chamber another maid helped Su Yue stand up. ‘Big sister Su, do you want to go to see Gentleman Bei and let him examine you?’
Su Yue puffed her chest. ‘I don’t need to see that demon physician!’
Bei Dou had been a physician in Pei Jin’s manor for many years. But Bei Dou had a scary aura that apart from Pei Jin, everyone feared Bei Dou.
Outside Pei Jin’s manor, Yan Shi Ning sat inside a horse carriage and she smiled coldly.
Pei Jin propped his chin on a hand and he smiled at Yan Shi Ning. ‘Wife, were you jealous before?’
‘Your wife wouldn’t dare,’ Yan Shi Ning said without looking at Pei Jin.
Pei Jin pulled Yan Shi Ning to his chest and kissed her deeply. ‘Is that so? Then why did you step on her dress to make her fall?’
Yan Shi Ning pushed Pei Jin’s chest. She knew he had noticed her stepping on Su Yue’s dress before. ‘Is that so? Why don’t I remember? Perhaps ninth prince was mistaken.’
Pei Jin happily looked at the denial on Yan Shi Ning’s face. He regretted there wasn’t enough time to tease her body inside the carriage.
‘Her name is Su Yue,’ Pei Jin said. ‘My adoptive grandfather Huang Guo who is a court official sent Su Yue to me. She is the niece of the head caretaker of Huang Guo’s manor. She relies on her special background and acts haughty.’
Yan Shi Ning understood that Pei Jin’s adoptive mother Consort Chen’s relatives’ generosity would be hard to refuse. But she also heard Pei Jin emphasized ‘special’ and she smiled coldly. ‘Isn’t she someone ninth prince dotes on?’
Pei Jin wanted to explain but Yan Shi Ning stopped him.
‘You don’t need to explain,’ Yan Shi Ning said. ‘I understand. She doesn’t want to serve me and only wants to serve you well. It’s admirable she is someone who pursues her dream.’
‘What?’ Pei Jin asked. ‘Wife, don’t you care if another woman wants to climb into your husband’s bed?’
‘Of course not,’ Yan Shi Ning said. ‘It’s good for you to have many women in your bed.’
Pei Jin stared at Yan Shi Ning’s calm face and he wanted to strangle her to death. He had hoped she had eaten vinegar before.
A while later Yan Shi Ning remembered something and she pulled out a jade pendant. ‘That night you dropped this on my bed. Last night I forgot and earlier there was no opportunity to give this to you.’
Pei Jin knew Yan Shi Ning misunderstood but he didn’t explain and put the jade pendant back on her hand. ‘This jade pendant is from Southern Jiang. It looks like you. The moment it saw you it didn’t want to leave you. If it feels close to you then you should keep it.’
‘Big brother, you’re the one that’s close to it,’ Yan Shi Ning said. ‘Your whole household is close to it.’ She paused for a while. ‘Big brother, why did you take my undergarments?’
‘I don’t remember taking your undergarments,’ Pei Jin denied. ‘Perhaps they feel close to me and secretly followed me.’
Yan Shi Ning glared at Pei Jin and she wanted to bite him.
‘Wife be good,’ Pei Jin said. ‘If you want to bite me, you need to wait until we return home tonight and you can slowly bite me. Remember not to glare at me in front of the elders. You’re known for being gentle and docile, don’t accidently reveal your true tail.’
‘Ninth prince, remember to wear your mask tightly,’ Yan Shi Ning said. ‘If you’re not careful you’ll drop it and expose your true lying scoundrel self.’
‘We’re the same,’ Pei Jin said.
The horse halted and the perfect gentle newlyweds stepped out of the horse carriage.
End of Chapter Seven