When Chu Qing-Yan stepped into the Jade Garden's courtyard, that back view of the figure in the room greeted her eyes. A light breeze entered through the windows and gently brushed the muslin, giving someone the illusion of him being simple and elegant like mist. He leisurely sat on the chair, his straight black hair illuminated. His sharp eyes were narrowed slightly, his thin sculpted lips pursed lightly. The silver mask hid that strict icy arrogance and loneliness that threatened to come out. Standing alone, he gave off a domineering disdain of the world.
Chu Qing-Yan suddenly had the impulse to tear off that thin cold mask and glance at the face that was covered. However, this idea merely flashed by and was very quickly suppressed by her. She knew of the rumors that floated outside, that he was disfigured by a huge fire. From Xi Ning's earnest advice, she knew that this was one of the taboos in the prince's manor. It was also one of Xiao Xu's bottom lines that shouldn't be touched.
Just in this moment of daydreaming, she felt Xiao Xu cast an inconspicuous glance. She quickly put on a naive smiling expression. Who knew that after the other side saw this, his gaze shifted away in dislike.
Chu Qing-Yan lightly coughed and hurriedly sat down. So, it turned out she had unintentionally stared at the other person for a long time. Those who didn't know would have thought she was staring like a lovestruck fool. Chu Qing-Yan was somewhat vexed.
She had just pulled out the chair to sit on when she heard the person at her side lazily say, "Now there's no headache, fever or parts of the body that feel unwell?"
Chu Qing-Yan knew that he was speaking sarcastically of her actions for the past few days and couldn't help but smile embarrassedly, "This servant is indebted to His Highness for your concern, Qing-Yan has already recovered completely."
One could only see Xiao Xu lightly laugh. Unable to hear joy or displeasure in this laugh, Chu Qing-Yan was puzzled deep in her heart; this person was too unfathomable.
The dishes were already on the table. As expected, comparing them to the food this morning was simply like comparing heaven and earth.
Xiao Xu glanced at Chu Qing-Yan's appearance with the bright gleam in her eyes. She looked like a puppy that had just seen a bone and was drooling with desire. A faint smile flitted through the depth of his eyes that even he himself wasn't aware of.
Only after being drunk will you know the strength of booze; Not until you have loved will you realize how deep feelings go.
At this moment, Chu Qing-Yan finally realized, after eating something unappetizing, did she realize the deliciousness of the dish. Merely one meal was able to make her fully aware of Huang Yi's craftsmanship. In just a few short days, her stomach had already been bought by Huang Yi.
Huang Yi was still waiting on the side. Seeing her being so enthralled with her own cooking, her heart was extremely happy. As a cook, the most important thing was that her own cooking was able to receive recognition, and Ninth Miss Chu used body language to show her approval for her culinary skills. Unlike these years, when her own family's prince ate her dishes, he never revealed a joyful expression or a gasp of admiration like Ninth Miss Chu did, this had always made her feel very lonely. Now, having met a judge of good talent, how could she not be happy?
Chu Qing-Yan herself didn't know she had wormed her way into Huang Yi's heart. After eating three little bowls of rice, she finally stopped herself. Then, she somewhat regretfully stole a glance at the person in front of her. Don't know if her big appetite had shocked him. What if he felt that she was a waste of food expense, would he dock her meals?
Xiao Xu saw her putting down her bowl and chopsticks, and looked at him with a cautious expression. He couldn't help but raise an eyebrow. He dusted off his sleeves and stood up, "To the study."
It was time to grind ink again.
Chu Qing-Yan immediately stood up to catch up to him, she just so happened to have matters she wanted to ask him.
After the two people had left, Huang Yi hummed a little tune while tidying up the table. Cheng Yi coincidentally stepped in and glanced at her. Her lips curled up and said, "You seem to be in a good mood?"
Because she was in a good mood, Huang Yi didn't pay heed to the cold ridicule in her words and nodded, "Everytime I see Chu family's Ninth Miss eat the food I cooked, I will have a sense of satisfaction. Moreover today, for the first time ever, His Highness also ate an extra bowl of rice, it must be due to Ninth Miss Chu's influence. To me, this is a matter that gives me a great sense of achievement!"
Cheng Yi disapprovingly said, "Such a small thing makes you this happy? Aren't you being a little too immature?"
Huang Yi was too lazy to argue with her and said several perfunctory words before she carried the bowls and chopsticks and left.
After Huang Yi left, Cheng Yi looked in the direction of the study, a glint of jealousy flashing through her eyes. What kind of virtue or ability did this Chu Qing-Yan have to be qualified to share the same table with Master to eat meals? This was simply a toad wanting to eat swan's meat. As long as there was an opportunity, she would definitely use it to put this toad back in her place.
The window obstructed the insidious gaze that came from the main courtyard. The person inside the room simply didn't know she was being plotted against.
Hong Yi, who was standing outside the room, caught the glint in Cheng Yi's eyes and was slightly astonished. She stood there for a moment and turned around to leave, the corner of her mouth turning up to form an odd ripple.
Inside the study, the two people were as always, one standing while the other sat, white with black, small with big, soft against strong, mutually reflecting the other, unexpectedly very harmonious.
Chu Qing-Yan, while grinding the ink, was mulling over how to start inquiring about the rumors of the corruption scandal that floated outside. She wanted to know if he was innocent, because this also concerned her future lifestyle. You couldn't blame her for being concerned, because in this world where the strong devoured the weak, based on her alone, she couldn't even protect herself. Moreover, as a female and also as an accessory to a man, one slip-up would grant her a tragic ending. She had just arrived in this world and reunited with her parents. She very much treasured this opportunity and didn't want it to be snatched away by anyone. Consequently, the more she cared, the more anxious she got.
"If there's anything you want to say, say it directly. Stop beating around the bush."
A cold voice suddenly sounded, scaring Chu Qing-Yan and making her hands tremble, almost tossing the ink onto her white skirt. Waiting until she steadied herself, she blushed a little. She never expected that her thoughts would be seen through so easily. As expected, her experience and practice weren't enough!
In fact, Chu Qing-Yan's thought was wrong. It was not because she couldn't conceal her mood, rather, it was because in front of a person who meticulously observed her, even a minute change in expression was hard to escape his eyes. Let alone to say, this person in front of her was a marshal that controlled millions of fierce troops; his ability to discern her body language was down to the smallest details. To see her thoughts, he only needed to spend a little effort.
Chu Qing-Yan also didn't think too much and lifted her eyes to look at the person in front of her. After only interacting for a short time, she knew that he hated people who hummed and hawed, so she also didn't beat around the bush.
"I heard people say the reason your Highness didn't go to morning court was related to the matter of a corruption case, is this true?"
Even though she was being honest and forthcoming, she still didn't forget her current identity, and maintained a confused and lovable expression.
Hearing this, Xiao Xu raised his head to look at her, an unfathomable expression in the depths of his eyes, "Are you concerned about this king or," with a slight mocking tone, "concerned about being implicated yourself?"
This was the first time that she saw another feeling besides indifference in Xiao Xu's eyes. Ice-cold and penetrating, as if he could see through the depths of one's soul, imprisoning the soul and not allowing it to budge!
Chu Qing-Yan felt she was frozen by the cold and couldn't help but take a step back. A pity she forgot that the table was behind her. Caught unprepared, she stumbled over the table legs and her whole body fell backwards without any support. She flung her hands in fear but she knew it was going to be tragic ah, because nobody was going to pull her to a stop, especially not this person in front of her who stared at her with an ice-cold gaze.
Just as she was about to close her eyes, having resigned herself to her fate, she seemed to see a black figure entering her vision.