Chapter Two (Part 2 of 2)
Early the following morning, Yan Shin Ning was brushing her hair when her chamber door opened.
Immediately a strong sweet perfume filled her chamber. She didn’t need to turn around to know it was her little sister Yan Shi Ting.
Yan Shi Ting was sixteen years old, two years younger than her. Put aside her bias, she thought her little sister was a rare beauty.
Yan Shi Ting’s skin was white and delicately fragile, tiny waist, long slender legs and looked beautiful wearing any dress. Also, Yan Shi Ting was someone who knew how to wear makeup which enhanced Yan Shi Ting’s naturally beautiful face.
The first time she met Yan Shi Ting, she thought Yan Shi Ting was the epitome of beauty in the kingdom and she had predicted Yan Shi Ting’s fate correctly.
Yan Shi Ning predicted Yan Shi Ting’s beauty couldn’t be appreciated intimately by the emperor who was at an advanced age but Yan Shi Ting’s beauty was reserved for the crown prince.
The crown prince marrying the prime minister’s golden daughter secured the crown prince’s future and their marriage benefited both their families. The only obstacle in their marriage was the golden daughter’s older sister, herself. She smiled grudgingly while the golden daughter walked toward her.
‘Big sister can you dress quicker?’ Yan Shi Ting asked impatiently. ‘I waited for big sister for half a day!’
Yan Shi Ning turned her head around and saw Yan Shi Ting frowning, chin raised and wore an expensive and elegant dress.
‘Little sister, it’s been hard on you,’ Yan Shi Ning said.
Yan Shi Ting pouted and looked condescending at Yan Shi Ning. The heavens knew how much she wished her big sister didn’t exist to delay her becoming the crown prince’s consort.
Yan Shi Ting wore a bright red silk dress. She didn’t hesitate to pick up the hideous and cheap blue cotton dress.
‘Big sister are you wearing this ugly to death dress?’ Yan Shi Ting asked. ‘Aren’t you scared you’ll be embarrassed?’ She grabbed the dress her maid held and passed it to Yan Shi Ning. ‘Big sister, wear this, it’s new. I haven’t worn it before.’
Yan Shi Ning accepted the dress and forced a smile. ‘Thank you little sister.’
Yan Shi Ting sneered and left Yan Shi Ning’s chamber. If Yan Shi Ting didn’t want at least one man to be attracted to her at the banquet then Yan Shi Ting would never give such an expensive and beautiful dress to her.
Yan Shi Ning attended many banquets in the palace, the banquets were always the same. The elders would congregate in the palace banquet hall and the younger generation would use it as an opportunity to be entertained by musicians and dancers while exchanging secret loving glances with the person of their heart.
After the banquet ended the elders disappeared and the younger generation entertained themselves in the palace gardens. The younger generation would meet up in pairs in remote areas of the palace gardens to be intimate, it was a common pastime.
Yan Shi Ning was sheltered by the roof of the pavilion from the glaring sunlight. She sat waving her fan and smiled slyly. The heavens knew that her favorite time during palace visits was when the ‘gentle’ young men and ladies amused her with their unsubtle affectionate displays.
‘Big sister, don’t sit here in that state!’ Yan Shi Ting scolded scornfully. ‘If you see a man that you’re attracted to then quickly go to him. I hate big sister’s feigned innocence the most!’
Yan Shi Ning’s head suddenly ached and she sighed, her haughty little sister always love to scold others.
Yan Shi Ting was about to lecture Yan Shi Ning more when she saw someone familiar walked past them.
‘Big sister, don’t forget the purpose of you being here today,’ Yan Shi Ting warned and hurriedly followed the familiar person.
Yan Shi Ning smiled slyly, another young pair was going to meet somewhere remote in the palace gardens.
Yan Shi Ning wasn’t foolish enough to believe that her peach blossom tree that had been dead for eighteen years would suddenly bloom. All she needed to do was see the way the people in the palace gardens looked down on her existence to know the truth.
Everyone who attended the banquet at the palace knew of her situation, which was why they didn’t waste their time with her.
To maintain her elegant and docile image she wouldn’t approach a man first.
After her little sister left the pavilion, she pulled out a wine gourd and slowly drank comfortably and happily. Suddenly she saw a familiar man within a close distance and her happy smile disappeared.
‘MF!’ she cursed softly. ‘Mouthy boy!’
She hurriedly stood and escaped the pavilion. The further she was away from mouthy boy the better otherwise three years of wood collection would be burned within a shichen hour.
‘But mouthy boy was supposed to be in Southern Jiang, why did he suddenly return?’ she mumbled softly.
Pei Jin saw a familiar figure fled and hesitated for a bit before following suit.
Yan Shi Ning strode past the path of willow trees while looking out in all directions for signs of anyone. Even in her paranoid state she couldn’t neglect her gentle and docile image.
She stopped in front a fake rock mountain and realised she didn’t know how long she walked for. She thought no one could see her in such a secluded area and sat down to think about why mouthy boy returned to the imperial city. While she was thinking she heard moans and groans from behind the fake rock mountain.
‘Ah… ah… can you be gentler?’ a young lady asked in a familiar voice.
‘I missed you to death,’ a young man said in a familiar voice.
‘You… ah… don’t stain this dress,’ the young lady said.
She tilted her head, peered through a hole in the fake rock mountain and her face turned red. A young man’s hand propped against the mountain and his other hand held onto the young lady’s waist. When the young lady turned around to kiss the man, she was shocked. The young lady was her little sister, Yan Shi Ting and the young man was the crown prince.
She took a deep breath and smiled slyly. She understood why her little sister was always confident the crown prince was within control of her little sister’s hand.
She hurriedly left, her eyes were looking at the clear sky and waved her fan.
‘It’ll be a shame to spoil such a beautiful life by accidently eavesdropping,’ she mumbled softly.
She didn’t look where she was walking and bumped into someone. She raised her head and saw a familiar face smiling smugly. She had wanted to open her mouth, but Pei Jin quickly covered her mouth and dragged her to another part of the palace gardens.
‘Big brother, let go of me!’ Yan Shi Ning said.
Pei Jin looked at Yan Shi Ning’s angry face and smiled. ‘In the past I said the young mistress of the Yan household couldn’t possibly be a gentle and docile young lady. In my memories, she is a little lion with sharp teeth and claws. Wait, she isn’t a little lion anymore, she’s now an old lion.’
Yan Shi Ning looked at Pei Jin’s mocking face and suppressed her desire to attack him.
‘But I didn’t expect you to secretly enjoy eavesdropping and spying on a couple’s intimate moment,’ Pei Jin teased and laughed as long as a summer’s breeze.
The faraway look in Yan Shi Ning’s eyes remembered that year Pei Jin used her as his amusement. She suppressed her anger and feigned a smile. ‘Ninth prince is right.’
Pei Jin was the emperor’s ninth son. He was twenty-four years old and was well known for his gentleness and kindness, which was why people called him ninth gentle prince.
But Yan Shi Ning knew clearly ‘gentleness and kindness’ didn’t have any relation to mouthy boy. They were only used as his mask. Underneath the mask he was a scoundrel and undisputedly the best liar in the kingdom.
After the crown prince and Yan Shi Ting ended their secret meeting, the crown prince left the fake rock mountain first to avoid suspicions. The crown prince saw one of his brothers and a young lady nearby and his heart panicked.
‘Little brother, why are you here?’ Pei Jin asked.
Yan Shi Ning saw how quickly Pei Jin wore his mask and internally cursed the expert liar.
The crown prince thought his older brother and the young lady didn’t discover what happened and sighed softly. ‘Uh, I came here from the palace’s Rui Qing. Why are big brother here with a young lady?’
‘I want to go to Rui Qing,’ Pei Jin lied and glanced at Yan Shi Ning. ‘Coincidently I bumped into Lady Yan who also wants to go to Rui Qing. We’ve been talking on our way to Rui Qing. Lady Yan is indeed beautiful and witty.’
Yan Shi Ning felt like her intestines were pulled out of her body but she smiled. ‘Ninth prince is the one who is handsome and wittier than an ordinary person.’
Inwardly she cursed Pei Jing, ‘heavens, will he die without his deceitful mask?’
End of Chapter Two (Part 2 of 2)