Chapter 475 - Seeing Zhao Han Again
“Auntie Yu, I heard Xiaocao is back from the capital?” A familiar voice could be heard at the gate .
Little Shitou’s eyes lit up and he didn’t care that his mouth was still full of shaomai as he cheerfully exclaimed, “Older Brother Han, I heard that you’ve been assigned at the local company near our village . That’s too good! In the future, it’ll be more convenient to see you . Tomorrow I’m on my break . If you have free time, then you, my second sister, and I can go to that secret place to catch small fish . Second Sister hasn’t been home for half a year, so whenever I went there alone I wasn’t able to catch fish . Ai . . . I miss those days when we were able to catch fish in a half-broken pottery jar to make fish soup!”
“Even food can’t make you be quiet! Have we ever stinted you on food or drink? You miss the days of before, when we had to eat coarse grain flatbread, drink bean porridge and couldn’t eat our fill? What’s to miss about that?” Madam Liu heard the sound of Zhao Han’s voice and walked out of the back courtyard . She leveled a glare at her youngest son and then smiled in welcome at Zhao Han and invited him in to rest .
Little Shitou gnawed on a shaomai as he walked next to Zhao Han . He made a funny face at Madam Liu and said, “I’m trying to express the good memories I had with Older Brother Han in the past . Mother, you misunderstood me . ”
Madam Liu laughingly glared at him and then turned to speak to Zhao Han, “Cao’er’s in the kitchen taking care of breakfast . Does eating here work for you today? Have you eaten breakfast yet? Today, you should eat all three meals at Auntie’s place and don’t take yourself to be an outsider . ”
Ever since Zhao Han enlisted in the navy, his figure had become more tall and sturdy . His height was about the same as Royal Prince Yang, so he was at least 180 centimeters tall . Perhaps it was because he was constantly on patrol in the ocean, but his skin was now a healthy bronze-tan color . The added color contrasted with his handsome face, making him seem much more masculine . He was truly suitable for the title of the ‘walking hormone’ .
“Auntie, to refuse your generous offer would be impolite of me . Don’t busy around too much for my sake as I’m not an outsider here . This nephew will go into the kitchen to look to see if there’s anything I can help with . ” As he spoke, his steps became somewhat more eager as he headed out of the drawing room . He walked over in large strides towards the kitchen .
Before he could get to the entrance of the kitchen, a slender and elegant young maiden came out . She was holding a ceramic pot that puffed out hot steam . The young girl was wearing a plum-red outer small jacket that was embroidered with gold thread and cinched in at the waist . The light corset on top of it was covered in fluffy white fox fur . The whole ensemble contrasted adorably with that flushed little face and made the owner seem incredibly cute . It was her, Yu Xiaocao! She was the odd and clever little girl with a boundless source of ideas! She had grown taller and into her features . She had gotten more beautiful…
“Older Brother Han? You’re already this tall? And you’ve become more handsome . I almost didn’t recognize you!” Yu Xiaocao raised her head to look at that tall and soldierly figure . She was stunned for a second before she finally recognized the other person .
Zhao Han couldn’t help from stepping forward two steps to take the ceramic dish from her hands . His voice had a deep magnetic quality to it as he said, “Isn’t that hot? How about I carry it instead? What did you make? It smells so good ah!!”
“How could it not smell good? This was the work of this prince making sure to . . . keep the fire going . My efforts cannot be missed!” Zhu Junyang’s voice was full of displeasure . What was going on today? There were people one after another who were eyeing his little lass with a covetous interest . When he saw Zhao Han’s outstanding appearance, Zhu Junyang suddenly felt a sense of crisis hit him .
Yu Xiaocao grinned and placated the prince, “That’s right ah . You did half of the work needed to make breakfast today, is that okay now?”
Zhao Han’s eyes slightly narrowed as he looked towards the peerlessly handsome man . Royal Prince Yang? He had long heard that this prince had taken good care of the Yu Family . Originally, he had thought that the prince appreciated the Yu Family’s talents and culinary skills . Perhaps it wasn’t as simple as that . His male intuition told him that Royal Prince Yang was interested in Xiaocao in another way!
“This subject, Zhao Han, greets Royal Prince Yang!” Although Zhao Han was currently holding a piping hot ceramic pot, he still greeted the other man with utmost courtesy .
“Alright ah! No one is an outsider here! No need to be so polite!” The tone of Yu Xiaocao’s voice hinted that she was quite close to Royal Prince Yang . This made the slight frown on Zhao Han’s face even more perceptible .
“Older Brother Han, this is the chicken soup I simmered in the ceramic pot . It’s been on the stove on low heat for the whole morning and I also added some ginseng and Angelica sinensis . It’s very good for nourishing the body! Let’s try it together!” Fortunately, Yu Xiaocao was also quite intimate and close when she spoke to him . This made Zhao Han feel slightly better . However, from the tone of her voice, there was still a slight difference . Perhaps . . . he lost out on his opportunity with her?
Although Zhu Junyang was very jealous, he knew he needed to show his magnanimous side as the future husband of Xiaocao . Thus, he spoke in a manner that insinuated he was the host here, “Xiaocao is right . No one is an outsider here so there’s no need to be a stickler to these convoluted and overelaborate ceremonies . You’re a guest here, so spend some time here and try the lass’s food . ”
Zhao Han tried to endure this but was not successful . He looked Zhu Junyang straight in the eye and sternly said, “Royal Prince Yang, although you have helped Uncle Yu, Auntie Yu, and Xiaocao a lot, you’re still an outside man . Xiaocao has grown up and needs to think of her reputation . You should stick to the conventions . ”
The expression on Zhu Junyang’s face immediately chilled and the temperature of the surrounding air seemed to have dropped several degrees . Only Yu Xiaocao was thick-skinned enough to not sense that anything had changed . Perhaps, in her mind, Zhu Junyang was the same as Little White: arrogant and cold while pretending to be cruel . In reality, he didn’t have vicious tendencies . His cold expressions no longer had any impact on her anymore .
Zhu Junyang could tell that the little lass had no clue about the surging turbulence that was rising between the two men . She had such an innocent and carefree expression on her face . His gaze towards her held a bit of helplessness and a deep desire to pamper her . Love rivals couldn’t be conquered through the usage of force . Instead, a true victory only came after you prevailed over them for your sweetheart’s love .
A smile returned to Zhu Junyang’s face as he went down that thought . Zhao Han noticed the rapid change in the prince’s expressions and felt alarmed inside . Was it possible that something had happened between Xiaocao and Royal Prince Yang in the years he had been gone? Impossible! Absolutely impossible! Xiaocao wasn’t even thirteen yet and hadn’t started noticing men in that fashion . How could she possibly fancy Royal Prince Yang, who was temperamental to the extreme?
“Platoon Leader Zhao, it’s not surprising you haven’t heard yet and this prince doesn’t blame you for your ignorance . This prince and Yu Xiaocao have already come to an agreement that we will be together in five years . In other words, when she turns eighteen, this prince will marry her . Therefore, to the Yu Family, this prince is not considered an outside man . ” Royal Prince Yang revealed a bit of satisfaction when he saw the utter shock in Zhao Han’s eyes . ‘Young fellow, if you want to take what belongs to me, you first have to decide if you have the ability!’
“Oh right! Because of my sincerity towards her, the lass finally took pity on me . Xiaocao already promised that she’ll get engaged with me when she turns sixteen . Thus, in actuality, based off of our verbal agreement alone, this prince is already Xiaocao’s fiancé! Therefore, there’s no need for Platoon Leader Zhao to worry about Xiaocao’s affairs!” It was very clear what the prince was hinting at now: ‘Xiaocao’s already taken by someone else, so quickly shove away those shameful thoughts of yours!’
At the same time, Zhu Junyang rejoiced at his brilliant decision . Fortunately, he had struck first and gained the upper hand to make sure that his relationship with the little lass was very clear . Otherwise, by the time the little lass became romantically interested in men, perhaps he would be in the same boat as Zhao Han right now and be at a loss .
“What are you two talking about huh? Why are you both standing in the courtyard? Aren’t you both cold? Older Brother Han, if you keep standing there, the soup in the ceramic pot will get cold!” Yu Xiaocao walked out of the kitchen with a stack of small steamer baskets in her hands that rocked precariously . “Hey you, come help me now, they’re about to fall down!”
Zhu Junyang had already advanced towards her before she could speak . He took over the steamer baskets from her and stated in a voice that was filled with tenderness and complaint, “How can you possibly transport this much stuff with your skinny arms and legs? Let this prince take over! Little Shitou, go help your Second Sister to bring out the bowls and chopsticks . She was busy the entire morning in order to make us breakfast so she should rest now!”
Not bad, at least he knew how to take care of his girlfriend and took over the work of his own volition . Her man was quite warm and considerate now . Yu Xiaocao revealed a smile that seemed to glow with light and the dimples on the side of her face appeared, which enchanted the people around her .
Zhao Han lowered his eyes to conceal the sense of loss in them . Perhaps… . this time, he had truly come back too late…
The breakfast spread was extremely sumptuous and everyone in the Yu Family ate to their heart's content and praised the food constantly . The only exception was Zhao Han, who seemed to eat without tasting any of the food .
After they finished breakfast, fellow villagers came one after another to visit the Yu Residence . On one hand, they were expressing their happiness to Yu Hai and the others that they had the good fortune to celebrate the New Years in the capital . On the other hand, they also wanted to show their ‘reverence’ to the newly-appointed feudal princess . Everyone thought that the ancestral graves of the Yu Family were now sprouting smoke . Not only did they produce an official in this generation but they also unexpectedly produced a feudal princess!
Along with Old Yu, Yu Hai and his wife bustled around receiving their fellow villagers and close neighbors . Zhao Han sat for a bit but soon used the excuse of having duties to do to leave . When he left, Little Shitou and Xiaocao escorted him to the gate .
Zhao Han had hesitated for a moment but could no longer hold back . He asked, “Xiaocao, just what is your relationship with Royal Prince Yang?”
“What’s the matter? Royal Prince Yang is Second Sister’s benefactor and superior? What else could there be?” Little Shitou supported his round little belly and unhurriedly followed behind the two of them to allow the food he ate to digest . When he heard Zhao Han’s question, he looked at the two of them with a puzzled look and had to inquire further .
Zhao Han didn’t follow up with Little Shitou and instead gazed deeply into Xiaocao’s eyes as he stated in a very solemn manner, “Xiaocao, forgive me for being forthright . Royal Prince Yang . . . he’s too wealthy and powerful to be a good match for you! He’s not an ideal husband candidate!”
“Ideal husband candidate? Second Sister, you and Royal Prince Yang…” The one hundred thousand watt light bulb in Little Shitou’s head suddenly lit up completely . If Royal Prince Yang was at this scene, he would definitely praise the boy with, ‘Youngster, you did a good job!’
Yu Xiaocao was silent for a short period of time . She wasn’t the least bit shy when she had to talk about the relationship between her and Zhu Junyang . She only discussed what was necessary, “I am also not certain at this point whether I like him that way or not . Although he seems cold-hearted and cruel in other people’s eyes, he is never like that with me . He’s always gentle and considerate around me and is very magnanimous . He treats me incredibly well and I can tell it is very sincere and comes from his heart! Currently, I can’t think of any other man who can be better than him . Therefore, I have decided to give him a chance . If he still treats me well in the years before I turn eighteen and even treats me better than before, then why shouldn’t I marry this kind of man?”
Zhao Han felt like his heart was currently in the middle of winter as it felt icy cold . He tried to backtrack and softly said, “Xiaocao, you’re still young . Perhaps you don’t understand the type of feelings we’re talking about right now . So, don’t make a hasty decision right now . I believe you should discuss this with Uncle Yu and Auntie Yu first . Having an adult’s perspective on all of this might be able to help you see the whole picture . ”
“Thank you, Older Brother Han! I will be careful! We’re going to stay in Dongshan Village for a few more days . If you’re not busy during that time, come over and visit us!!” Yu Xiaocao had an innocent expression on her face as if she hadn’t detected that his eyes held more than friendship in them .
”Zhao Han let out a deep sigh inwardly and turned around, “Recently, the battalion has been patrolling the nearby waters and I may not have an opportunity to visit . Let me first congratulate you guys and wish you all a pleasant journey to the capital…”
After he finished talking, he took one more deep look at Xiaocao and then turned around to resolutely leave . However, that tall and sturdy figure seemed a bit distracted…