Zhao Liuli was sitting inside the carriage. She had replaced her luxurious clothing with the clothing that a girl from an ordinary family would wear and had her hair in a simple bun. She was wearing a white silk jacket, a yellow goose skirt, and an ink-colored cloak. Although her clothes were simple, the aura around her was the same.
Still surprised, Wei Luo sat down next to her. She incredulously asked, “Why are you here? Did the empress allow you to leave the palace?”
She happily nodded as if she were a canary that had just been let out of her cage, “Big brother saw that I was bored of being shut inside the palace every day and felt that I was too pitiful, so he pleaded with imperial mother for me and also said that he would order guards to protect me the entire way. Imperial mother finally reluctantly agreed.”
She was in high spirits and raised a finger as she said, “I can only leave the palace for one day. I heard that “Male Phoenix Seeking Female Phoenix” was being performed outside the palace. Let go there together to listen okay?”
This was the first time she left the palace. It would be a novel experience no matter what she saw. She didn’t know what was outside; much less what was the new thing to do. She often listened to musicals inside the palace, so she wanted to see the differences between musicals that were held inside and outside the palace. This was why she wanted to go with Wei Luo to listen to the musical.
Wei Luo nodded her head to show her agreement.
The carriage traveled through the capital. After it passed several streets, it finally stopped at Rong Chun Fang’s entrance.
Rong Chun Fang was a place dedicated to listening to musicals. The first floor was the lobby and had several dozen chairs for the audience. The second floor consisted of private rooms used by high officials and the nobility. While listening to the musicals, they would be able to order pots of fragrant tea and a few plates of snacks. The second floor was also more peaceful and stylish than the first floor.
Zhao Liuli seemed as if she had reserved the room in advance. She followed the mama up the stairs to an elegant room, pushed open the sliding door, and smilingly said, “Older brother, we’re here.”
Wei Luo had followed behind her. She froze for a moment when she heard Liuli’s words and discovered there was already a person sitting in the private room.
Zhao Jie was sitting behind a small red sandalwood table carved with clouds. He was wearing a dark black robe with stylized lotuses pattern. He had been calmly pouring tea into white glazed teacups decorated with azaleas. Hearing Liuli’s words, he put down the porcelain teapot and looked up to see Wei Luo in the back. His lips curled up and he said, “Sit down.”
Wei Luo sat down near Zhao Liuli. When Zhao Liuli had said she wanted to come here to listen to “Male Phoenix Seeking Female Phoenix”, she thought it would only be the two of them. She didn’t expect that Zhao Jie would also be here.
Why didn’t Liuli mention that Zhao Jie would be here?
While she was looking down, a teacup suddenly appeared before her. Zhao Jie had pushed the white glazed teacup in front of her. He propped up his chin and said, “Liuli wanted to leave the palace. Imperial mother would only agree if this prince personally accompanied Liuli. And Liuli couldn’t bear to come here without you. So halfway here, she changed directions to go to Duke Ying’s residence to invite you to come here. This prince came here to wait first.”
His explanation was reasonable. Wei Luo felt relieved. She looked up with a smile and said, “Since Liuli invited me, how could I not come? Thank you older brother Prince Jing for the tea.”
Zhao Jie curved his lips and didn’t continue the conversation.
The music soon started on the stage. The heavy curtains were opened and “Male Phoenix Seeking Female Phoenix” started. Zhao Liuli held both of her cheeks and steadily stared at the actors on the stage with keen interest. Everyone was listening to the musical, but Wei Luo was lost in her thoughts and looking down. First, she didn’t really like listening to musicals. Second, she was thinking about Chang Hong’s marriage. The hunting ceremony would begin soon. How could she have Chang Hong reject this marriage in a logical manner?
She didn’t listen to what was being sung on the stage. Her pink lips were pursed. She lowered her head to drink a sip of tea. The light taste of the tea caused people to feel carefree and relaxed when they drank it. As she continued drinking, she continued thinking.
Zhao Jie stared at her. There seemed to be something wrong with her today. He didn’t know what she was thinking about. He couldn’t tell even after looking at her for a while.
What was she thinking about? Or, whom was she thinking about?
A touch of darkness flashed through Zhao Jie’s eyes and quickly disappeared unseen.
Zhao Liuli still wished to continue after the play finished. She and Wei Luo walked out of Rong Chun Fang’s entrance together. Seeing that a stall ahead of them was selling fried sweet rice dumplings, her eyes immediately brightened. Since the time that Wei Luo mentioned this item, she had been constantly thinking about it. She hadn’t expected that there would be people selling this snack after Spring Lantern Festival. She hopefully looked at Zhao Jie, who was behind then, and pointed to the front, “Older brother, I want to eat that…”
Zhao Jie looked in that direction and quietly said, “You can go. Have Yang Zhen go with you.”
She happily nodded. She pulled Yang Zhen, who was at their side, to walk over there.
Wei Luo stood in place and waited for them.
Zhao Jie stared at her and slowly called out, “Ah Luo.”
She tilted her head to look at him.
Zhao Jie’s dark eyes were calm and gentle. As he was about to open his mouth, he heard a person call him, “Older cousin Jing?”
He looked back and saw that Gao Dan Yang was only a few steps away. She was wearing a green crepe jacket and a white silk skirt. She had also come here to listen to musicals with her younger sister, Gao Qing Yang. She saw Zhao Jie’s back, but she wasn’t sure if it was him, so she had called out. After Zhao Jie had turned around, her bright eyes had curved in a smile.
Her delicate and pretty face showed a surprised smile, “It’s really you. I didn’t expect that older cousin Jing would also come here to listen to musicals. I heard from father that you had returned from Binzhou, but I didn’t have any opportunities to meet you since your return.” After she said this, she paused and looked behind him, “Whom did you come here with? I seemed to have seen Liuli a few moments ago. Where did she go?”
Zhao Jie’s eyebrows furrowed. He followed her gaze and looked behind himself.
There wasn’t anyone behind him. Wei Luo had already disappeared.