The sun set at the western horizon and it was soon nightfall.
Zhao Liuli and Wei Luo had dinner together. The two of them were sitting at a round ironwood table with a marble center. There was a palace meal in front of them. Wei Luo finished drinking a bowl of slowly stewed red dates, coconut milk, and snow clam congee. Seeing that the bowl of soup in front Zhao Liuli wasn't even touched, she reached her hand out and waved it in front of her. "Liuli, what are you thinking about? If you don't start eating, the dishes will become cold by the time you start."
Zhao Liuli suddenly returned to her senses. She looked preoccupied with her thoughts as she picked up a white jade spoon, scooped up a spoonful of snow clam congee, and slowly put it into her mouth.
Wei Luo silently sighed in her heart. This wasn't the type of thing that she should interfere with. She could only pretend that she didn't know anything.
But, this palace food was pretty good... She picked up a piece of osmanthus and lotus root cake and ate a bite. It was sweet and sticky. She had already eaten three of these. Just as she was about to eat a fourth piece, a shadow was cast on the round table. When she looked up, she saw Yang Zhen standing outside the door wearing black robes. His dark eyes were staring at Zhao Liuli.
(T/N: Below is a picture of osmanthus and lotus root cake.)
Zhao Liuli probably also saw his shadow. But, her heart was mad at him. She engrossed herself in picking up a piece of three-ingredients emerald roll and stuffing the entire piece in her mouth until her cheeks were bulging. She single-heartedly devoted herself to eating and refused to look at him.
(T/N: Below is a picture of three-ingredients emerald rolls.)
Yang Zhen was a bodyguard. He couldn't enter the room without her permission. He could only stand outside the door. He looked at Zhao Liuli and hoarsely called out, "Your Highness..."
A long time later, Zhao Liuli finally lifted her head and looked at him. Her small face was stretched taut as she stiffly asked, "... Where did you go?"
Yang Zhen was usually reticent and wasn't good at explaining himself. Facing Zhao Liuli's question, he only replied, "Come out and take a walk with me."
Zhao Liuli picked up her silver chopsticks and poked at the almond cheese in front of her. "If older brother Yang Zhen doesn't tell me where he wants to go, I won't go."
She was still mad at him for not appearing for an entire day.
Yang Zhen looked at her. Twilight's glow was sprinkled on his tall and lonely figure as he stood outside the door. He seemed at a loss of what to do next.
Wei Luo wasn't willing to meddle in their business. She lowered her head without saying a word and continued eating.
A long time later, Yang Zheng finally conceded. He slowly said, "Today is Your Highness's birthday. I prepared a gift for you."
Zhao Liuli's eyes brightened. She looked up towards him. Her recent unhappiness was completely swept away. "Really? What are you giving me?”
Yang Zhen's cold face slightly smiled. His thin lips were slightly curved up, "Really." After a pause, he said, "Your Highness, follow me."
Other than Liuli's trusted servant girls, there wasn't anyone else in the room. One was Yun Zi and the other was Yun Shu. Both of them knew about her relationship with Yang Zhen, but she had secretly ordered them to never mention this in front of Empress Chen.
Zhao Liuli was very moved. She tilted her head and looked at Wei Luo, "Ah Luo..."
So, she still remembered her.
Wei Luo thoughtfully said, "Oh." Her long, fan-like eyelashes fluttered. In a short while, she said, "You can go... I'll pretend that I don't know anything."
Hearing her words, Zhao Liuli put down her worries and gratefully said, "Then, I'll be gone for a bit. After you finish eating dinner, I'll have older brother bring you back."
Hearing this, Wei Luo paused in getting food. Before she could say, "No need”, Zhao Liuli had already left with Yang Zhen.
She pursed her lower lip. She had abruptly lost her appetite.
She held her cheeks and sunk into contemplation.
Yang Zhen had accompanying Zhao Liuli for so long and had always been considerate of her needs. In the end, Zhao Liuli had fallen in love with Yang Zhen. Although Zhao Jie didn't always keep her company, he was also always thoughtful and considerate towards her. Then, what did she feel towards Zhao Jie?
After she finished dinner, seeing that Liuli still hadn't return, Wei Luo wanted to go to the back courtyard to look for her and also walk around to aid her digestion.
There was a large garden behind Chen Hua Hall. There were crabapple trees planted on all sides of the garden. Each tree was near the flowering season and the entire garden was strongly fragrant. During the day, the pink flowers were gorgeous and enchanting. After the flowers were finished blooming, they would bear bright red, crisp and sweet crabapples. They were Zhao Liuli's favorite.
While it was the blossoming season, it was unfortunately evening. Wei Luo couldn't see the flowers clearly. She could only see the misty moon and the sparse, bright stars.
Wei Luo didn't let the palace servant girls follow her as she slowly walked on the limestone paved path. She hadn't walk far before she saw two people standing beneath a nearby crabapple tree. It was Yang Zhen and Zhao Liuli.
She stopped walking. It wouldn't be good to disturb them. Just as she was about to turn around to leave, she saw Yang Zhen taking out and opening a cloth bag. There was suddenly brightness. A countless stream of fireflies striving to be the first and fearing to be the last flew out of the bag. They brought yellow flashes of light that lit up that piece of the world.
The fireflies flew all over the place. The light started from the two people and slowly spread to light up the nearby crabapple flowers and the night sky. It seemed as if the lustrous and glories stars were falling from the sky.
A firefly flew in front of Wei Luo and circled around her head for a moment, then light as a feather, it flew away.
She looked at the two nearby people. This scene had also stunned Zhao Liuli. After blankly looking for a long time, she finally recovered and asked Yang Zhen, "Did older brother Yang Zhen disappear for an entire day so that I could see this?"
Yang Zhen nodded and asked, "Do you like it?"
"Like!" She nodded without any hesitation. She tilted her head and looked at the fireflies that were flying further and further away. There was a myriad of lights reflected in her eyes. "Really pretty..."
There were a few fireflies that hadn't flown away and were flying around them in circles.
Yang Zhen raised his hand several times, but in the end, he finally put his down. He slowly and seriously said, "Its enough that Your Highness likes it."
Zhao Liuli was smiling in her eyes. Underneath the crab tree, she looked away from the fireflies and put her hands behind her back. "Older brother Yang Zhen, lean down a bit. I have something I want to say to you."
Yang Zhen leaned down, "What does Your Highness want to say?"
But, she didn't say. Instead, she said, "Lean down more."
Yang Zhen leaned over more.
She wasn't satisfied until his head was next to her and his ears were right in front of her.
Zha Liuli slightly closed and curved her eyes into a smile. She looked at the reticent man in front of her, from his handsome eyebrows down to his cold lips. In the end, she stood up on her toes and kissed his lips without warning.
Yang Zhen suddenly stiffened.
Soft lips had briefly and lightly pressed against his. If he didn't smell her faint, residual scent, he would have thought that it had been his hallucination.
He slowly straightened and looked at the sincerely smiling, little girl. Her smile was like a kitten that had just successfully stolen milk. She had clearly overstepped the bounds of what was proper, but she didn't seem to care the slightest bit. She batted her eyelashes and said, "Older brother Yang Zhen never says anything. There's a lot hidden in your heart, but you never say it out loud. But, it's okay if you don't say anything. Just let me say it..." Slightly shy, she pursed her lips. A long time later, with a blushing face, she said, "Kiss me."
Yang Zhen stared at her in astonishment.
A short while later, he finally couldn't resist. He leaned over, wrapped his arm around her soft waist, and pressed her against the crabapple tree. His thin lips pressed against her sweet, soft, pink lips. They were touchingly intertwined.
Not far away, after Wei Luo had just seen this scene, a hand from behind covered her eyes.
At the same time, a familiar voice said, "Don't look."
Wei Luo, "..."
Her sight had been blocked and there was only darkness left, so the warmth from the man touching her was even more distinct. Not used to this feeling, she struggled. But, Zhao Jie used his other arm to hold her waist and his chin was in the curve between her shoulder and neck. She felt his warm breath on her neck as he said, "Ah Luo, I want to kiss you too."
Wei Luo stopped resisting, pursed her lips, and said, "You can't."
He had already kissed her behind the divider screen today and Her Majesty had almost discovered them. She hadn't even settled this loss with him. Now, he wanted to kiss her in front of Liuli and Yang Zhen. There was no way she would agree!
This wasn't an appropriate place to talk. Zhao Jie held her hand and brought her out of this place and under a lushly flowering crabapple tree
The foliage here was dense and provided excellent cover. He wouldn't have to worry about anyone seeing anything.
Just now, Wei Luo thought of something else. She asked, "You already know about Liuli and Yang Zhen's relationship? You're not going to stop them?”
Zhao Jie had been thinking about her the entire day. He only wanted to properly hug her right now. He stood behind her with his arms around her waist. His cheek touched her soft and delicate cheek. Towards other people's business, he wasn't willing to waste extra words. "Yang Zhen is a sincere and loyal person. He's worthy of Liuli's trust and hopes."
Only because of this? He was a little too open-minded.
She had thought he would definitely oppose this.
If Zhao Liuli knew that he thought this way, she would definitely regret being so sneaky in front of him. If she had known this earlier, what was there to be worried about?
Finished saying this, Zhao Jie didn't say anything for a long time.
He tilted his head and kissed Wei Luo's cheek. The little girl wanted to evade by turning her head, so he followed the direction of her movement. He held her soft, little earlobe in his mouth and lightly bit and sucked on it. The petite body trembled in his arms. In the end, he couldn't bear to alarm her too much, so he relaxed his hold on her and hoarsely said, "Ah Luo, this prince has to go Shanxi and probably won't be back for two months."
Then, after pausing, he touched his cheek to hers and said, "After I come back, reject Song Hui's engagement and marry me, okay?"