Zhao Ruge was wearing a brocade robe and had a refined and handsome appearance. He was standing at the entrance of the store with a smile on his face as he looked toward Bu Fang, who was curled up on a chair.
Bu Fang raised his eyebrows in surprise. He recognized this fellow who tried to tempt him with crystals on two separate occasions but he resolutely turned him down. However, despite their brief encounter, Bu Fang still remembered Zhao Ruge's appearance.
Bu Fang stood up from his chair. He glanced at Zhao Ruge and asked, "What are you ordering?"
Zhao Ruge stepped into the store and shook off the snow that had clung onto him. He expelled a cloud of breath before he sat down on a chair. After taking a glance at the menu, he realized the store had added many new dishes since his last visit.
As the delicious dishes cooked by Bu Fang involuntarily surfaced within his mind, his stomach slightly growled in response. Zhao Ruge ordered a serving of Sweet 'n' Sour Ribs and Improved Egg-Fried Rice, as well as a jar of Ice Heart Jade Urn Wine.
Bu Fang nodded. He went back into the kitchen and started cooking the dishes. After a while, a rich aroma wafted out from the kitchen. That fragrance was extremely strong, causing Zhao Ruge to sniff the air.
After a long while, Bu Fang's slender figure walked out from the kitchen while carrying a dish in his hand and he placed it in front of Zhao Ruge.
Zhao Ruge did not immediately start eating. Even though the rising steam emanating from the dish was continuously arousing his appetite, Zhao Ruge still managed to endure it. His eyes appeared to be smiling as they landed on Bu Fang.
"Owner Bu, where's Xiaoyi? Didn't she come here today?" Zhao Ruge's tone contained a trace of mockery.
Bu Fang expressionlessly glanced at him, then pulled out a chair and sat down. He sat upright in front of Zhao Ruge. Everything was completed in an unhurried and leisure manner.
"She didn't come today," Bu Fang simply replied as his pitch-black pupils locked onto Zhao Ruge's cheek.
Zhao Ruge was extremely calm. Even though Bu Fang was staring right at him, there was not even a slightest change in his expression. After suffering so many losses within the store, this was the first time he felt he was holding the initiative. He could use the attitude of a superior to face Bu Fang.
"Is Owner Bu not curious why she didn't come?" Zhao Ruge asked as the corners of his mouth curled up.
Bu Fang did not reply this time around and only watched Zhao Ruge. Zhao Ruge was not flustered either. With a faint smile, he removed the cloth cover of the Ice Heart Jade Urn Wine and poured a cup of wine for himself. The rich aroma of wine immediately spread into the surroundings. As the aroma hovered around the tip of his nose, an euphoric expression was revealed on his face.
In the past, he used to believe the number one wine within the Light Wind Empire was the imperial palace's Bejewelled Nectar Wine. However, ever since he tasted the store's Ice Heart Jade Urn Wine, he was completely subdued by this fine wine.
"Owner Bu, do you want a cup as well?" Zhao Ruge shook the blue and white porcelain wine cup in his hand as he asked Bu Fang out of politeness.
"Oh, hold on," Bu Fang softly replied. Then, under the embarrassed gaze of Zhao Ruge, he stood up and headed toward the kitchen. After a while, he returned with a clean porcelain wine cup.
"Fill it to the brim, don't be shy," Bu Fang said.
Zhao Ruge was speechless as he looked at Bu Fang. He thought, "Don't you realize I was only being polite? With our relationship, do you think I would treat you to a drink? This wine costs fifteen crystals per jar, and more importantly, there isn't much of it in the first place."
Under Bu Fang's sincere gaze, Zhao Ruge was unable to refuse his request out of politeness. He could only fill Bu Fang's wine cup to the brim with a deadpan expression.
Bu Fang raised the wine cup to his mouth and took a sip of wine, revealing a trace of contentment in his eyes.
With the cold temperature and the snow fluttering about outside of the store, warming up the body with fine wine was such a wonderful pleasure...
"Owner Bu, are you really not curious why Xiaoyi did not come?" Zhao Ruge asked once more. He finished the wine within his cup and narrowed his eyes at Bu Fang.
Bu Fang glanced at him as he placed the already emptied wine cup on the table and he took the liberty of grabbing the wine jar. After filling up his wine cup to the brim, he simply replied, "Why do I need to know..."
Zhao Ruge expressionlessly watched as Bu Fang unceremoniously drank the Ice Heart Jade Urn Wine that he ordered. He suddenly felt a touch of sadness as he regretted opening his mouth.
"She's your employee! As an employer, shouldn't you be worried about your employees?" Zhao Ruge asked.
"I am very concerned," Bu Fang replied.
"How is this the appearance of someone who is concerned?" Zhao Ruge was somewhat speechless as he pursed his lips.
As Bu Fang finished the cup of wine once more, a touch of faint redness appeared on his fair cheeks. This was a sign that the alcohol was taking effect.
However, once a person started drinking the Ice Heart Jade Urn Wine, they would get the feeling of not being able to stop themselves. Therefore, Bu Fang poured another cup for himself...
Zhao Ruge's eyes that were directed at Bu Fang were almost spewing fire… He thought, "There isn't much wine in the jar, yet you're still pouring even though you've already drunk two cups! Do you feel no shame?!"
Bu Fang placed the wine cup on the table and heavily breathed out before he replied, "I am very concerned, but I am not worried since you won't do anything to her."
Bu Fang indifferently looked at Zhao Ruge and the latter's pupils constricted in response. He did not think Bu Fang would immediately guess that he was the one who abducted Ouyang Xiaoyi.
"You came here to tell me about this matter for no particular reason, that's no different than admitting that you're culprit… However, I am not worried since you wouldn't dare to do anything to her. You can't afford to offend the Ouyang family," Bu Fang said.
"Hahaha! Owner Bu has completely seen through me. I was really too reckless. I wonder if Owner Bu has any interest in joining hands with me. Now that the imperial city has descended into chaos, it's a good chance to choose a side. As long as Owner Bu is willing to join hands with me, I can guarantee that Fang Fang's Little Store shall become the most famous restaurant within the imperial city and even the entire Light Wind Empire."
Zhao Ruge's eyes suddenly became fervent as he stared at Bu Fang.
"Cooperation?" Bu Fang expressionlessly looked at Zhao Ruge. "Not interested."
"Owner Bu, don't be in a hurry to refuse me. My father is the current dynasty's Minister of the Left. We definitely have the ability to make Fang Fang's Little Store the number one restaurant within the Light Wind Empire. With your powerful puppet and supreme beast companion, it'll be easy for us to assist one of the princes into becoming the emperor," Zhao Ruge said.
Bu Fang shook his head after giving Zhao Ruge a single glance. He poured himself another cup of wine and a jar of Ice Heart Jade Urn Wine was finished just like that.
After finishing the cup of wine, Bu Fang did not even give a response to Zhao Ruge. He stood up while slightly swaying and slowly walked into the kitchen.
His silence meant refusal.
The fervent expression on Zhao Ruge's face gradually disappeared, and then, he began tasting the Sweet 'n' Sour Ribs and Egg-Fried Rice with a composed expression. However, when he picked up the Ice Heart Jade Urn Wine, he discovered the jar was already empty...
At that moment, Zhao Ruge really wanted to throw the empty jar at Bu Fang's head! That fellow was truly outrageous!
After he finished his meal, Zhao Ruge threw down some crystals and left in a huff. He only managed to drink a single cup of wine out of an entire jar of Ice Heart Jade Urn Wine that costed him fifteen crystals, and the rest ended up in Bu Fang's stomach. How infuriating!
Inside of the Zhao manor, Zhao Musheng was slowly walking within the garden while wearing an overcoat made from crane feathers. However, there was nothing beautiful about the garden that was covered by a layer of snow.
A figure glided into the manor, landed in front of Zhao Musheng and respectfully said, "The secret letter has been delivered into the hands of the crown prince."
Zhao Musheng imperceptibly nodded. He raised his hand and a lump of pale yellow true energy that gave a feeling of tranquility and harmony hovered on his palm.
"Very good. Has the young Marquis Yang been captured?" Zhao Musheng indifferently asked.
"He has already been caught. We've placed him into the same room as Ouyang Xiaoyi," the figure respectfully replied.
Zhao Musheng lightly exhaled a cloud of white breath. A snowflake drifted into his palm and was instantly shattered into pieces by the true energy gathered there.
A terrifying force was actually hidden underneath that tranquil and harmonious true energy.
"With both the young marquis and the Ouyang family's girl on our hands, the crown prince won't be able to reject our offer… The emperor of the Light Wind Empire, very good."
Zhao Musheng dispersed the true energy gathered within his palm. He slowly stepped on the snow and left the garden, leaving behind meaningful words that lingered in the surroundings.