Su Yue awoken early in the morning, looked at the clear sky and thought it was a harmless day.
Su Yue got out of bed quickly, she didn’t want Pei Jin to spend too much alone time with Yan Shi Ning. It didn’t matter if Pei Jin liked Yan Shi Ning. Of course Pei Jin would like her more, they spent more than three years together in his manor. She remembered during last night’s meal, Pei Jin didn’t punish her after he heard she ate Yan Shi Ning’s chicken soup.
Su Yue puffed her chest triumphantly. She painted her lips red and walked quickly to Pei Jin’s chamber.
Unbeknownst to Su Yue, Yan Shi Ning had waited a long time for Su Yue’s arrival.
Su Yue entered the chamber and stood close to Pei Jin. ‘Ninth prince, let me change your clothes.’
‘No, you can help my wife,’ Pei Jin said.
‘I’m scared your wife will be angry if I help her,’ Su Yue insisted.
‘Then you can stand beside my wife and wait for her instructions,’ Pei Jin said and stepped behind the screen to change clothes.
Su Yue quickly followed Pei Jin.
Beside the screen was the vanity table, Yan Shi Ning was brushing her hair.
Su Yue saw Yan Shi Ning in front of the vanity table and she frowned.
‘Heavens, my stomach hurts,’ Yan Shi Ning said and hunched over. ‘Su Yue, help me stand.’
Yan Shi Ning acted like she was about to fall and she grabbed onto Su Yue’s dress.
Su Yue saw Yan Shi Ning’s pale face, she panicked and hated to be close to Yan Shi Ning. She quickly took a few steps back. Behind her was a raised platform and she lost her balance. She didn’t know when there was a blue vase on the platform.
Pei Jin saw the blue vase wobbled but didn’t fall on the floor. He rushed to Yan Shi Ning and his elbow lightly collided with Su Yue on the way to Yan Shi Ning.
Su Yue knocked over the blue vase and it shattered on the floor.
Su Yue avoided the broken pieces of the blue vase. Her face whitened, the blue vase was a gift from the emperor. It was also Pei Jin’s favorite vase yet she knocked it over.
‘Ah!’ Yan Shi Ning cried out in pain and hugged her stomach. ‘Su Yue, why didn’t you help me stand?’
Su Yue turned her head to face Yan Shi Ning. Yan Shi Ning had fallen on the floor and Pei Jin was hugging Yan Shi Ning.
‘Su Yue, my wife is in pain, why didn’t you help her stand?’ Pei Jin asked accusingly.
Pei Jin glanced at the broken blue vase and his face darkened. ‘My imperial father gave me the vase you broke.’
Su Yue knelt on the floor and begged for mercy. ‘Ninth prince, I didn’t break it on purpose. Your wife shocked me…’
Su Yue had never seen Pei Jin angry to that extent. He ignored her and carried Yan Shi Ning to the bed.
‘Someone quickly go and bring Gentleman Bei here!’ Pei Jin ordered.
Bei Dou was exercising when he saw a distressed young maid running toward him. He thought something bad happened like the poison in Yan Shi Ning’s body had taken effect and ran to Pei Jin’s chamber.
After Bei Dou examined Yan Shi Ning’s body, her breathing and blood circulation was normal and apart from her pale complexion, her body was healthy. He didn’t understand why he was summoned. He glanced at Pei Jin, Pei Jin’s eyes signalled him to not ask any questions.
‘Your wife’s health isn’t life threatening but she’ll need further examination,’ Bei Dou said cautiously.
Su Yue exhaled. If Yan Shi Ning was seriously ill then she would be severely punished. But she was also disappointed Yan Shi Ning’s health wasn’t life threatening, it’d be better for her if Yan Shi Ning died.
Pei Jin’s body relaxed and he gently patted Yan Shi Ning’s hand. ‘Wife, I’m relieved you’re alright. You scared me to death before.’
‘I’m sorry I worried you,’ Yan Shi Ning said weakly.
Pei Jin comforted Yan Shi Ning for a while. He turned his head and glared at Su Yue. ‘I have never mistreated you or punished anyone in the manor before. But today you past your boundaries excessively. Luckily my wife’s health isn’t life threatening. If something had happened to her, how can you compensate her? You also broke the vase my father gave me! What do you think is the right thing for me to do?’
Su Yue knelt in front Pei Jin, grabbed onto his pants and begged for mercy. ‘Ninth prince, I know it was my fault. Ninth prince, forgive me.’
Bei Dou was disgusted by Su Yue’s behaviour and looked in a different direction.
Yan Shi Ning closed her eyes and acted like she didn’t see anything.
Pei Jin sighed and acted merciful. ‘Considering you have followed me a few years, I don’t have the heart to punish you. You should lock yourself in your chamber for one month to think about what you did wrong.’
Su Yue widened her eyes and panicked. If she was locked in her chamber for a month then Pei Jin and Yan Shi Ning’s bond would grow stronger without her interference.
‘You don’t need to say anything else, go to your chamber,’ Pei Jin said.
Bei Dou, Su Yue and the other maids left the chamber.
Pei Jin laughed and laid on the bed next to Yan Shi Ning. ‘Wife, are you satisfied with my performance?’
Yan Shi Ning rolled over to avoid Pei Jin’s hug and she put the pillow between them. ‘Of course, you’re an expert liar.’
Yan Shi Ning remembered Pei Jin’s crestfallen face when she fell on the floor, his anger while scolding Su Yue and his feigned reluctance to punish Su Yue. If Yan Shi Ning didn’t know he followed her plan then she would have believed he was sincere.
‘Expert liar,’ Yan Shi Ning praised.
‘We’re the same,’ Pei Jin said.
Yan Shi Ning knew it was her plan and she couldn’t curse Pei Jin for following her plan.
Pei Jin pinched Yan Shi Ning’s cheek while she was distracted. ‘Go wash the white powder off your face. Putting a thick layer on your face isn’t good for your skin.’
Pei Jin’s prompt reminded Yan Shi Ning about her face. She quickly got out of bed and washed her face. She smiled while remembering the panic in Su Yue’s eyes when Su Yue saw her ghostly pale face from the thick layer of white powder she put on her face.
Yan Shi Ning glanced at the platform and rushed back to the bed. ‘Big brother, I ask you to choose an ordinary item to break. Why did you choose the vase the emperor gave you? It’s a pity to break an expensive vase.’
‘The main part of a good performance is to make it believable,’ Pei Jin said. ‘If I don’t choose something valuable then how can I summon deep emotions?’
Yan Shi Ning heard Pei Jin’s indifferent tone and she didn’t understand why he didn’t care about the vase the emperor gave him. Judging by Su Yue’s reaction after seeing the broken vase, it meant the vase must have been significant yet Pei Jin didn’t care.
Yan Shi Ning looked suspiciously at Pei Jin, but he draped an arm over his face and she couldn’t see his expression clearly.
Yan Shi Ning reflected on her plan. She would pretend she had a stomach ache and ask Su Yue to help her stand. If Su Yue had helped her stand then nothing bad would have happened. But if Su Yue didn’t help her then Su Yue would step back to avoid her, knock over the vase and be forced to accept punishment. She gave Su Yue a chance to show Su Yue’s compassionate side, it was a shame Su Yue didn’t value it. But Su Yue’s reaction didn’t disappoint her, Su Yue chose not to help her like she predicted.
Yan Shi Ning felt it was a pity she had to involve Pei Jin in her plan. She needed him to contribute a suitable item to be sacrificed and cooperate with her for a believable performance.
Initially Yan Shi Ning had doubts, she thought Pei Jin truly loved Su Yue and only pretended to keep his distance with Su Yue in front of her. When he said Su Yue had a ‘special background,’ she was worried if she reprimanded Su Yue it would cause him trouble, which was why she had to think deeply for a discreet plan. But she didn’t expect him to be agreeable and praised her plan, ‘Wife, I’ll use all my capabilities to cooperate with you.’
Indeed Pei Jin kept his promise to Yan Shi Ning and cooperated excessively with her to not give Su Yue a chance to evade punishment.
Yan Shi Nang held a wash cloth and dried her face. ‘Big brother, I only intended to scare her a little. Why did you punish her severely by isolating her in her chamber for a month?’
‘Wife, isn’t it you who didn’t want to see her face?’ Pei Jin asked. ‘Of course your husband has to grant your request.’
Yan Shi Ning saw Pei Jin licked his lips, she acted disgusted and looked in a different direction. But when he couldn’t see her face, she smiled. ‘Is that so? Big brother, then it appears you chose a light punishment for her. Your heart doesn’t want to part with her permanently.’
Pei Jin stood, put on his outer robe and spoke in a fake regretful tone. ‘Everyone knows me as gentle ninth prince. Of course a gentle ninth price needs to be merciful.’
Yan Shi Ning quietly glared at Pei Jin for a while. She picked up her fan and she walked outside. She realised he was someone who never forgets to wear his mask tightly in front of other people.
Pei Jin picked up the half eaten jujube that Yan Shi Ning didn’t finish eating, ate it and followed her outside. He smiled and purposely didn’t tell her that he had been planning of a way to force Su Yue outside his manor for a long time, because he wanted her to believe she owed him a favor.
‘Little lion, you haven’t paid me for helping you,’ Pei Jin teased.
Yan Shi Ning’s body tensed and she stood still. ‘Big brother, what do you want?’
Pei Jin stood beside Yan Shi Ning, kissed her cheek and whispered in her ear. ‘I want you.’
Yan Shi Ning was speechless for a while before she aimed a kick in the direction of the scoundrel’s leg.
Suddenly a little boy ran to them. ‘Ninth prince, mistress, the palace delivered chests to the manor.’
Pei Jin and Yan Shi Ning returned to their chamber and they opened the chests. She was surprised and suspicious why the emperor sent chests of silk fabrics, expensive jewellery and makeup.
Pei Jin expected his father would give those kind of gifts to Yan Shi Ning. He remembered his father’s embarrassment when someone insulted the way Yan Shi Ning dressed. Of course his father would give Yan Shi Ning beautiful clothes and jewellery to prevent other people from insulting his father’s family members. Also for his father to fool others that he wasn’t mistreated and warn other people that no one was allowed to look down on any of his father’s sons.
Pei Jin hid his disgust and smiled warmly at Yan Shi Ning. ‘Imperial father loves you, you can accept his gifts.’
Yan Shi Ning peered closely at Pei Jin’s face for a while. ‘Big brother, do you want to fool a dead person?’
End of Chapter Eleven
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