Published at 4th of February 2021 04:59:27 PM
From birth till now, Long Er had only ever had two crying lasses in his arms before .
One of them had been Bao’er . When Long San and that boisterous wife of his had gone on that long-distance trip, they had entrusted Bao’er—who had been just three-years-of-age at the time—to his care . Whenever Bao’er began to miss her parents, she would cling onto him tightly and bawl loudly . Back then, Long Er thought to himself, if anyone ever dared to place another crying, snot-nosed girl in his arms again, he would definitely beat him to a pulp!
Yet at this very moment, Ju Mu’er was tightly latched onto him, crying piteously, but he still had no desire to let go of her . She was an “old young lady” of about 20 years, with such a devious mind, and that frustrating manner of hers, but still he could not help but feel, seeing her as she was now, was equally distressing as a three-year-old Bao’er .
The only difference was, when faced with Bao’er’s tears, he knew he could use small trinkets to coax her, but as for this grown young lady—Ju Mu’er, he had absolutely no clue as to how he ought to comfort her .
Luckily, after a brief bout of crying, Ju Mu’er soon dried her tears, and Long Er let out a sigh of relief . He pulled her onto a chair, helping her sit down properly, before he pulled himself another chair . Then, he sat down right across from her, knees brushing together, the two sat face-to-face .
Ju Mu’er dug out a clean handkerchief as she tried to wipe away her tears, but Long Er took the handkerchief from her instead and he began to help clean her face . The two of them sat together for a while before Long Er finally spoke up, pulling her hand as he asked, “Are you feeling better?”
Ju Mu’er nodded her head .
Long Er added, “Shopkeepers from across the region are still at the Long Residence, waiting for me to return to continue discussing business matters . ”
Again, Ju Mu’er nodded her head in reply .
Long Er feigned unhappiness at her reply, “Shouldn’t it be time for you to try and coax me into staying behind?”
Ju Mu’er blinked in confusion, then she asked, “Stay behind? What for?”
Stay behind and accompany you ah~! Did you even have to ask this question? Does she even know what coaxing means?!
Long Er was quite miffed at this discovery, and flicked a finger at her forehead, “I knew you had no idea on how to win someone over . ”
“I do know…” Ju Mu’er began to gently tag his hand, her sweet, gentle voice oozed out like honey, “Second Master, stay and accompany Mu’er ma~”
The sudden mood change was enough to catch Long Er off-guard and her saccharine-sweetness was enough to cause his heart to skip a beat . However, he soon caught sight of the sneaky upward-curve of her lips, and he began to cough awkwardly, trying to put on a more domineering air, “Master is not free, Master needs to go back and continue my discussions with the shopkeepers . ”
“No . . . Don’t ma~ Master stay and accompany me ma~” Ju Mu’er’s voice had grown even softer, and sweeter, her smile too was even more mischievous than before .
Long Er almost laughed because of her, but he valiantly tried to hold it in, deepening his voice to say, “That’s not possible, woman, don’t try and obstruct Master from doing proper work . ”
“Don’t go… Don’t go… Just don’t go…” Ju Mu’er kept repeating this, until she could hold it in no longer, and burst out laughing . She laughed so much that her body began to grow a bit weak, and Long Er made use of this opportunity to pull her into his arms, in contrast with this caring gesture, he still commented, “If you dare try something like that again, Master will get angry okay…”
After Ju Mu’er heard this, she began to laugh even more, so much so that tears nearly came out . Long Er laughed as well, his arms still wrapped around her as he squeezed her earlobe .
The duo were a mass of entangled limbs and laughter, and when they had finally had their fill of laughter . Ju Mu’er asked, “Second Master, is this what you like?”
Long Er cleared his throat, “That’s correct . ”
Ju Mu’er couldn’t help but laugh again, “If so, then Mu’er will definitely try harder to win Second Master’s affections . ”
Long Er tried to imagine Ju Mu’er speaking like that in the future, and uncontrollably he began to get goosebumps at the idea, he still lowered his voice and commented, “Master will grant you the luxury of remaining as you are . ”
Ju Mu’er laughed, playfully shoved at him before saying, “Go on home then, didn’t you say you still had matters to discuss?”
“Mmm . ” He sat for a while longer, his arms still wrapped around her, and she remained motionless too . She didn’t try to push him to leave, and just let him hug her like that . After a while, Long Er finally released her, then he attempted to straighten her clothes and tidy up her hair before saying, “I’m really leaving now, but you must remember that sometimes, you have to tell me certain things . I prefer dealing with trouble before it happens, if every time something happens, I need to drop everything and come save you, well, I definitely didn’t sign up for that . ”
His words indicated his unwillingness, but in reality, he had been more than willing to rush to her aid . . .
Ju Mu’er blinked her eyes, suddenly feeling teary again . She nodded her head in reply, adding, “As for me and that Lord Yun, there really isn’t anything . He once told me that he wanted to marry me, but I didn’t agree to that then . After that, he didn’t come around so often . Every time he came, I had nothing much to say to him, and he would just sit around for a bit before finally leaving . A while later, Madam Yun came by once, and I thought she was actually here to confront me about it, but to my surprise, it turned out that the reason she was here was to gain some favour from Lord Yun, by forcing me to marry . ”
“Then, why did you call off your marriage with Chen Liangze?” Long Er still had yet to determine if this matter was also related to Yun Qingxian .
Ju Mu’er hesitated for a moment, then answered, “I turned blind . ”
Long Er glanced at her . He truly didn’t know what to feel about this, after all, she was still blind now, but yet she wanted to be married to him?
Ju Mu’er was unable to see Long Er’s expression, but she could clearly feel the pressure from his stare . She lowered her head, she didn’t know where to put her hands and ultimately decided on interlocking them together .
Long Er decided that he would look on the positive side of things, in his mind, he told himself that it was highly unlikely for him to meet another girl that complemented him so well . Perhaps all of this was part of Heaven’s plans, otherwise, out of everyone else, why had it ended up being him and her?
If she wasn’t blind, she would have become someone’s wife long ago . If she had been someone’s wife, then she would never have been pressured by Yun Qingxian to be married to him, and if she had never been pressured into marriage, then she wouldn’t have asked him (Long Er) to marry her . Also, if the younger sister of her neighbour hadn’t fallen sick, she would also have never come looking for him, if Shopkeeper Lu hadn’t been involved in that case, then that might have been the extent of their interactions .
Therefore, everything must have been a part of Heaven’s plan .
Even though Long Er knew that such thoughts were quite childish and completely against his own principle of always having the worst in mind, he was still completely willing to continue believing this .
Either way, she was definitely the one .
Long Er cleared his throat, continued to caress Ju Mu’er’s hair, then lightly commented, “I’ll come and see you later tonight . ”
Ju Mu’er nodded her head, heaving a sigh of relief at the fact that Long Er did not intend to press her further about that . Still, she couldn’t help feel like she had wronged him, and feelings of sadness and self-guilt began to form in her heart . How well did she have to treat him before she would be able to make it up to him?
“I’m leaving now . ” Long Er said .
Ju Mu’er replied in acknowledgement . Long Er looked at her again, then moved to squeeze her earlobes, just as he moved to turn around, she suddenly fell forward and embraced him .
“Second Master . ”
“Farewell Second Master . ”
“Alright . ” If she let go of him now, then he could truly leave .
But she was still holding onto him .
“Second Master, why aren’t you leaving yet?” the young lady holding onto him asked what he thought was quite a silly question . He was still being clung onto by someone, how could he leave?
“The minute Second Master leaves, then I’ll let go . ” Ju Mu’er seemed to know what Long Er was thinking of inside .
“If you let go, then I can leave . ”
Ju Mu’er didn’t say anything, but still she didn’t let go . Long Er continued to wait, and as he waited his heart began to melt, just as he thought of lifting his arms to embrace her again, Ju Mu’er suddenly released her hold of him . She took two steps back and shot him a smile, “Farewell, Second Master~”
Unprepared, Long Er was dazed for a moment, had he just fallen for this girl’s trick? She had the nerve to tease him, and now she wanted to get rid of him?
Long Er looked at how sweetly Ju Mu’er was smiling, and had the sudden urge to purposely do the exact opposite of what she asked, thus, he replied that he wasn’t leaving anymore . Still, in the back of his mind, he knew that a hall full of shopkeepers were still waiting for him, and that he had to go back .
Long Er strode out of the wing where Ju Mu’er stayed feeling quite vexed . As he walked, he mulled over all the details of the conversation he had just had with her, as well as every tiny action that she had made . In the process, his deep thinking brought him an uncontrollable urge to laugh .
Long Er finally walked to the outer hall of the winery, and immediately his persona as the shrewd and strict Master Long Er was back again .
He left behind two guards, with the purpose of protecting the winery, his reasoning for this was that this way if anything else were to happen they could come in handy . He also left word that if anything severe were to happen, then he had to be immediately alerted to this . Finally, he told Old Father Ju and Mómo Yu, that from now on, every matter ought to be handled with the utmost care and attention, and that he didn’t want them to repeat something like this . Plus, he also commented that for every matter they decided upon, they would also need to inform it, and the two elders agreed to all of Long Er’s demands .
Long Er then returned to the Long Residence . He didn’t rush to the hall to continue discussing matters of trade, instead he summoned a spy . The task assigned to the spy was to investigate all recent developments regarding the Yun Family, as well as the Yun Family’s reaction once the two matchmakers returned . Long Er also instructed Steward Tie to prepare some gifts, stating that he wished to send both the Yun Residence and the Ding Residence early greetings of the new year over the next two days .
Apart from that, he also entrusted Li Ke with another task, this time it was to find some people to uncover the weaknesses of both Yun Qingxian and Ding Sheng .
Li Ke was taken aback by this, “Second Master, why do you wish to go against the Ministry of Justice?”
“I’m not interested in dealing with the Ministry of Justice . The one I want to deal with is Yun Qingxian . However, that fellow has always been quite rigid and set in the way he deals with matters, so he probably has very few skeletons in his closet . Ding Sheng on the other hand, he has been a government official for a very long time, and has long since lost his ‘innocence’ . Make sure you inform your subordinates, let those undercover spies in the government gather information on these two, I want to know if there is anything I can use as leverage against the duo . If you can’t find anything on Yun Qingxian, then focus on Ding Sheng . Ding Sheng, that old fox, if he gets ‘stabbed’ by someone, he’ll definitely try to push one of his own followers out to take the blame . Not only is Yun Qingxian his subordinate, but he’s also his son-in-law, if not him then who else?”
Immediately, Li Ke understood, Second Master was taking action in retaliation for that marriage-stealing issue . He listened attentively to Long Er’s instructions, making sure to note everything down before formally taking his leave .
Long Er returned to the hall, and continued his discussion of trade matters with the rest of the shopkeepers . While listening to the shopkeeper from Phoenix City report on the pecuniary matters of said shop, his mind began to drift away, and was soon filled with thoughts of how shiny, black, and smooth Ju Mu’er’s hair had been today . Oh that’s right, enough days had passed, it must have already reached the time for her to wash her hair . Since she had already removed the bandage covering her injury, then today he should have taken some time to check on her injury, somehow it had totally slipped his mind just now .
Here, Long Er was half-heartedly listening to the discussion on trade, elsewhere, in the Ju Family Winery, both father and daughter Ju Mu’er and Ju Sheng were also discussing something .
Old Father Ju was the culprit behind today’s mayhem, and was currently filled with guilt . If it hadn’t been for Bodyguard Li’s timely entrance with those other men, then he and the other store runners would have been hard-pressed to keep those matchmakers and other manservants from escaping . If the BaZi Card and the ‘return-gifts’ had successfully made it to the Yun Family, then all hell would have broken loose .
Just the thought of this was enough to give Old Father Ju shivers of fear .
Thus, after all matters had been dealt with, and the things had been cleared away, he had hurried over to discuss things with his daughter .
“Daughter ah~, what did Second Master talk about with you? Did he mention anything about Father?”
“Relax Father, Second Master doesn’t blame us for today . ”
“Oh, oh, that’s good, that’s good . ” Old Father Ju was hugging a jar of wine, and hearing that no one was faulting him for the incident, he felt extremely relieved . He hastily took a large gulp of wine .
Ju Mu’er heard the sounds her old father was making and laughed .
“Daughter ah~, to be honest, Second Master really isn’t that bad, you chose well ah~ Your eye for people is just as good as your mother’s . ”
Ju Mu’er smiled, and nodded her head .
“I used to think that in this life, you would never be able to be married, I had already prepared myself to take care of you forever . Who would have guessed, I would one day gain such a good son-in-law . ”
Ju Mu’er nodded again .
Old Father Ju gulped two mouthfuls of wine, then looked at his daughter, “Daughter ah~, are you unhappy? Do you blame Father?”
“Nonsense . ” Ju Mu’er reached out her hand and felt around for her father’s hand, took hold of it, and affectionately leaned her head against his shoulder .
Old Father Ju felt his heart settle again, he patted his daughter’s head, and took another mouthful of wine .
At this moment, Ju Mu’er suddenly asked, “Father, tell me, if I am to be married to Second Master now, would it be a grievance for him?”
“Why would it be? My daughter is the best young lady in the lands . ”
The best young lady who is blind, troublesome and even a danger-magnet?
Ju Mu’er self-deprecatingly laughed, she wanted to be married to him, was she being too mean?