Was she that obvious?
There was sense of uncertainty in Wei Luo's mind, but there wasn't the slightest change in her expression. She looked directly at his eyes, shook her head, and said, "I'm not."
Zhao Jie raised his eyebrow. It was apparent that he didn't believe her words.
When they were in Zhao Yang Hall, she was sitting right across from him, but she didn't look at him from beginning to end. She seemed opened, but she kept avoiding his gaze. Did she think of him as a decorative item? Or, had she done that intentionally?
She used to never hide from his gaze or politely call him "older brother Prince Jing", much less avoiding accidentally touching him. Now, she was deliberately keeping a distance between them. Could it be... she knew something? Had she been awake or woken up midway during that day in Qian Temple?
At the thought of that memory, Zhao Jie's eyes darkened. He looked at her without saying a word.
Wei Luo turned a blind eye towards his searching gaze. She hadn’t taken back her stretched out small, soft, white hand. She repeated, “Older brother Prince Jing, give me an umbrella."
Zhao Jie didn't continue looking into her answer for his previous question. He handed her one of the two umbrellas and casually asked, "Did you answer imperial mother's questions honestly?"
Wei Luo took the bamboo umbrella, opened it above her head, and walked into the curtain of rain. She didn't have much of an impression of Empress Chen's questions from earlier. "Which question?"
This time, she didn't take that narrow path to leave Qing Xi Palace. Instead, she took the wide limestone-paved path. The raindrops fell onto their umbrellas and there was a pitter-pattering sound. The palace was a quiet palace and there usually wasn't any sound to be heard when walking outside. The silence of the palace was enhanced by the contrasting sound of the falling rain. The pitter-pattering sound didn't feel noisy. Instead, it gave off a sense of tranquility.
Zhao Jie held up his umbrella and walked behind her.
There wasn't anyone else on the path. There was only the two of them. Occasionally, a palace maid or eunuch would pass by them and salute Zhao Jie. He would respond with "No need to salute" and continued walking behind Wei Luo.
A little while later, he slowly asked, "Is your hobby growing flowers at home?"
Wei Luo slightly paused in her steps. Empress Chen had asked had this question and that was her reply.
Just now, Empress Chen had asked all sorts of questions about her daily life. She seemed as if she was very interested about her life. Not only did she ask about what she normally liked to do, she also ask about her favorite foods, books...
Wei Luo had replied one by one. Unexpectedly, Zhao Jie had actually remembered her answers!
She stared at the ground beneath her and absentmindedly said, "En... Daddy built a flower shed in the backyard for me. When I have free time, I go there to pass the time.
Zhao Jie looked at the girl in front of him and continued asking, "You like to eat yuanbao wontons from Yu He?"
(T/N: Below is a picture of those wontons on the left and yuanbao (ancient Chinese currency) right. The wontons’ name comes from having the same shape as yuanbao.)
She lightly nodded.
"Is it tasty?"
"... Tastes pretty good."
One by one, Zhao Jie asked about the answers she had said. By the end, Wei Luo was too lazy to explain her answers and only nodded in reply. Without being aware, they had arrived at the palace gates. The carriage to bring her back home was right in front of her. She couldn't wait to get on the carriage. Just as she had taken two steps forward, she suddenly thought of something, turned around, and faintly smiled at him with her pink cheeks. The soft glow on her face would move a person. "I'll be going first. Older brother Prince Jing, we'll separate at this point."
Zhao Jie was standing in place. As she was turning around, he called out, "Ah Luo."
She looked at him. Failing to understand why he called out, she asked, "Hmm?”
He lifted the corners of his lips and said, "In a few days, Liuli will be leaving the palace. She wanted this prince to pass on this message to you. She wants you to accompany her on her trip outside."
Wei Luo's response was sluggish, "Is there a reason why she’s leaving the palace? Did Her Majesty agree?"
Empress Chen had already been making an exception when she allowed Liuli to leave the palace last time. She hadn't expected there would be a second time. Last time, it was because Zhao Jie pleaded for Liuli. What happened this time?
Zhao Jie explained, "En, this was Liuli's only request before her hairpin ceremony, so imperial mother agreed."
Oh... since it was like that, then there wasn't a reason for her to refuse. But, she thought about the last time that Zhao Liuli had left the place. She had said it would only be the two of them, but when they arrived at Rong Chun, Zhao Jie was also there! Would that happen again?
The doubt on her face was too obvious. Even if he wanted to ignore it, it wouldn't be possible. Zhao Jie curved his lips into a smile and said, "I have to protect Liuli's safety, so naturally I'll also be going."
Wei Luo slowly said, "Oh." It wouldn't be good to be too obvious in her refusal. After hesitating for a time, she still nodded her head in agreement at the end, "Okay, I'll go. Just have her tell me about it when the time comes."
After saying good-bye, she stepped on the carriage's pedal and went inside the carriage.
She sat down in the carriage, put down the carriage's curtain embroidered with golden thread and cut off the line of sight between them.
For a long time, Zhao Jie watched as the flat-roof, black carriage went farther away before getting onto his horse and slowly riding in the rain.
Zhu Geng was following behind him. Seeing that Zhao Jie wasn't heading in the direction of his residence, there was burst of uncertainty in his heart. However, he didn't asked. Wherever the prince went, he only needed to follow.
Not much time later, he saw Zhao Jie stopping on a street on the western side. Zhao Jie closed his umbrella and walked inside Yu He.
It was raining outside, so there weren’t many people in the restaurant. Zhao Jie casually found a table and sat down. The waiter came by to greet him and smiled as he asked, "What would this guest like to eat?"
He brushed off the water on his shoulder and said, "A bowl of yuanbao wontons."
The waiter said, "Okay." Seeing that he didn't want anything else, the waiter turned around and walked to the kitchen to place the order.
After tying the horses up, Zhu Geng went inside the restaurant. His noble prince was actually inside eating a bowl of wontons! He walked forward in astonishment and stopped behind Zhao Jie. He tried opening his mouth to speak a few times before finally asking, "Prince, are you not going to... reveal the truth to House Wei's Fourth Miss?"
Zhu Geng had followed Zhao Jie for many years. Zhao Jie didn't hide anything from him, so he knew the feelings that his prince had towards that girl. After Zhao Jie had endured for so long, even he felt anxious as a bystander. Today, the prince had an opportunity to reveal the truth. So, why didn't he say anything?
He couldn't figure it out. After hesitating for a long time, he finally couldn't resist asking.
Zhao Jie's slightly paused in his movement. Soon after, he put down the porcelain spoon and thought about her expression today. He stroked his chin, thoughtfully smiled, and slowly said, "Can't you tell? She already knows."
(T/N: Advance chapters have been updated on Patreon.)