The mansion they were staying at was a large and luxurious country residence situated in the outskirts of the Luoyang city, which belonged to The Emperor as his secret rendezvous place to go when he was still a crown prince. Apparently The Emperor gave Li Fei Long permission since Li Fei Long mentioned he chose Luoyang to make Jiang Xi Yu feel more ease staying close to her birth family. Not only that, The Emperor also dismissed Li Fei Long to join the Royal Winter Solstice Festival and can return to his post after winter.
The property has a natural hot spring pool. The air was fresh and some wild birds embellished the barren trees. The atmosphere was calm and peaceful.
"Where is wang ye?"
Jiang Xi Yu sat on the pavilion facing the camellia garden. The only flower plant there that blooms throughout autumn to spring. The colorful camellia with a natural pond in the center made her forget how long she has been there. She was just staring blankly and listened to the birds chipped. A very tasteful way to waste time.
"Wang ye is in the back of the main hall with Ming He gonggong and Qian Chang Xin gonggong. Over there, wang fei."
Ru Ming and Ru Qing sat close behind her. Ru Ming pointed to one side so Jiang Xi Yu could notice where Li Fei Long was.
"Wang ye always make sure wang fei always in his sight." Ru Qing giggled playfully. Then followed by Ru Ming which ended up making Jiang Xi Yu blushed. The trio switched their eyes towards the building across their seat.
An idea came across her mind. Abruptly standing up, Jiang Xi Yu walked towards the hall. "Let's check what he is doing there!"
Ru Ming and Ru Qing ran to follow her. Her steps were light and her mood suddenly filled with excitement. They walked along the bridge, passed one garden after another until they reached the main hall.
Ru Ming and Ru Qing chose to stop by the door and waited outside. The moment Jiang Xi Yu entered the back side of the main hall, Li Fei Long was ready to welcome her. He stood in front of his working table that was installed there in an instance on the first day they arrived. Some books were left opened on the top of the table. Both Ming He and Qian Chang Xin bowed silently and retreated outside.
"Why did wang ye not join me, enjoy the fresh air and listen to birds chirping outside? What's the point of this retreat if wang ye still working on something with those two…" Jiang Xi Yu cannot find the perfect word to describe the two personal taijian.
Li Fei Long pulled her closer. His strong hands held her waist right in front him. He gave her his cheeky smile and waited with his eyebrow lifted high.
"I want to say some bad words for Ming He and Qian Chang Xin but I cannot." Gave up too easily, Jiang Xi Yu touched Li Fei Long's arms and enjoyed his muscle tone there. She enjoyed Li Fei Long's body as she enjoyed his loud laugh.
"After I think again, to add more bad words for them would make me become such a big bully. They have to serve…." She continued without much thinking.
Lucky Jiang Xi Yu realized the bait. She might almost throw herself into the gutter. Quickly, she grabbed Li Fei Long's head with both her hands. She pulled his head closer and landed a kiss. Then she added one more small kiss. And after they both smiled, she gave him a long, wet, sensual tongue battle.
They both panted when they broke free from each other. Jiang Xi Yu still has her hands clawed on Li Fei Long's chest while Li Fei Long's both hands were still on her waist.
"Each day I feel wang fei getting brighter." Li Fei Long looked very much satisfied with her condition. "Without you knowing it, you are back talking informally towards me."
Jiang Xi Yu's face turned sour. She just realized that and she was also annoyed because Li Fei Long pointed that out. It was difficult to maintain formality for almost the entire time. All the titles, the names, and families she needed to remember.
She did not even realize when she started to feel comfortable near Li Fei Long. It just flew naturally and she acted more relaxed and more like real her.
"I was not telling you to stop." Li Fei Long secured her as she was going to break free from him. Struck by the confession he made, Jiang Xi Yu looked up and their eyes locked.
It was strange for Jiang Xi Yu as she felt some kind of emotion that was new for her. The bond between them was there. Invisible but she could feel it. Grew slowly as she underestimated their fate. In the beginning she knew she hated him. Then lust made her enjoy what they shared in bed, or in other places they made love. And here she was, with a strange feeling. Comfortable, safe, and wanting.
Li Fei Long put his hands on the side of Jiang Xi Yu's face. Covering her ear, not too tight, not pulling her closer. The light touch made Jiang Xi Yu's heart pounded faster. Their intimacy stepped up above lust ever since they knew they lost their child. For Li Fei Long, it increased dramatically since he knew he almost lost her.
"I grant you permission to be who you are in front of me." He whispered softly. His cocky grin made Jiang Xi Yu smile. "I want you to be free in front of me. Without fear, without formality, with... love."
Jiang Xi Yu found him sincere. The words were simple, the meaning was deep. But he was a royal blood. He might someday sit on the throne. His sincere and pleasant love towards her could change dramatically into something else.
"I wish I could freeze the time." Whispered, Jiang Xi Yu gave him a smile. Without more to say, she pushed herself on him. Hugged and gave him a long kiss on his lips.
A group of taijian rushed back and forth passing the main quarter of The Grand Chancellor's mansion. They brought some flower pots, basins filled with coal, some thick blankets in and out Pan Xi Yin's quarter. The head taijian yelled here and there. Apparently the second lady of the household was busy making sure she would always stay warm through the winter.
Li Liang Rong sat down on her sitting space along with Han Yao Ying. Together, they were enjoying warm tea that was bestowed by The Empress Dowager to them. On each side of them, their trusted yahuan stood by solemnly. All of them have been silent ever since Pan Xi Yin started her scheme.
"Mother, it has already passed mid-day." Han Yao Ying put down her tea cup and leaned back to the window. "I am afraid I cannot hold any longer. That tart made me…"
"Make you become wiser each day." Li Liang Rong cut her before Han Yao Ying could find the right word to describe her annoyance.
Quickly turning her body, Han Yao Ying watched her mother who sat still upright. Han Yao Ying admired her mother more than anyone else. Her strong build mother who was not only brilliant on military strategy but also in politics. Han Yao Ying believed that her mother would be brighter if she was a man and held the title as Grand Chancellor instead of her own father.
Her parents were a perfect pair of power and dignified. After her union with Rui Qin Wang, she adamant to be even greater than anyone in the empire.
"There would be small mice in between marriage life. If you cannot bear what is now, how will you manage your own fu in the future?"
The strict note in Li Liang Rong's voice made Han Yao Ying nod. After straightening up her back and continuing to be solemn. To have Li Qing Feng as her husband, she has to bear his appetite of beauty.
"Winter is always cold and boring." Li Liang Rong added in a calm manner.
Han Yao Ying glanced and found her mother smiling slyly. She waited until Li Liang Rong continued. "Let her enjoy her imaginary days as a peacock within our mansion. Isn't it entertaining to watch a brainless little mouse thinking itself as a beautiful peacock?!"
The mother daughter duo locked eyes and smirked at each other.
The only daughter of The Emperor and The Empress was looking at the beautiful view of the first snow of the year. Standing by the window, Li Xi Shi Gulun gongzhu watched as the snow drops slowly touched the ground. Holding the bronze hand warmer, she could not stop thinking her husband whereabout.
Lou Che Fuma was the first son of the main wife of one of the wealthiest families in the empire. His family line succeeded in trading business and possessed a low royal title before The Emperor granted marriage degree to the household.
The marriage arrangement was beneficial for both. The Emperor and The Empress did not have the heart to let their favourite delicate daughter be married for political purposes. Therefore, The Emperor and The Empress had carefully chosen the perfect household, Count He.
Came after the marriage degree, The Emperor elevated Count He to be Marquis He. His son, Lou Che, became the most favorite man within Yong'an Palace as he liked to share excellent quality of beauty and entertain products with the inner harem.
Lou Che liked to directly engage in his family trading business so this put him often travelling. His delicate manner towards Li Xi Shi made her fall in love right away. His generous side made Li Xi Shi think he was perfect. So much perfection on him until she started to believe she might be the one who was barren.
Days changed to months, changed to years. Li Xi Shi counted the days and wondered when she would be pregnant. She has urged Lou Che to take a concubine and make her pregnant so she could adopt the child but Lou Che refused.
The last approach she made caused Lou Che to abruptly leave the mansion. When Li Xi Shi heard the unfortunate news of Duan Wang Fei's miscarriage. She felt anxious again. Duan Qin Wang had just months into his official marriage and Duan Wang Fei had already been pregnant.
She picked up some beautiful peasants without discussing it with Lou Che. Basically handed them over for Lou Che to pick for that night, but it did not end the way Li Xi Shi wanted to be.
Lou Che kicked all of them away. Without a single word, he left Li Xi Shi's quarter. And the very first thing in the next morning, Lou Che notified his departure to the southern state of the empire.
The winter was cold. Li Xi Shi's heart was even colder.
"Gongzhu, please come inside."
An old mama, who has been by her side ever since the day she was born, softly approached her side. Her wrinkled hands took over the bronze warmer and gave it away to the yahuan behind her. As Li Xi Shi gave her attention, she pulled Li Xi Shi's hands and led her to lounge next to the bedchamber.
Li Xi Shi let her mama cover her with a thick wool blanket. A warm cup of tea was served right away and placed in her hands. Another yahuan excitedly fanned the burning coal to make Li Xi Shi more comfortable.
"I have so many people who care for me." Li Xi Shi sighed sadly. "Fuhuang, Muhou, Lou Che, all always give me everything that I want and need. But, it seems Heaven will not bless me with a son."
"Gongzhu, do not fall in sorrow. Even The Empress let the Imperial Taiyi to examine gongzhu and fuma's health. They even made a special prescription and both of you have been indulging it for some time. Everything needs a process. Nubi assures that the following year, this fu will get the blessing of a child."
Li Xi Shi knew that was just the old mama's sweet words just to entertain her mood. She replied with a weak laugh.
"How to get the blessing of a child when the bedchamber is empty." Li Xi Shi turned her gaze toward the bedchamber.
The number of their marriage consumption was getting lesser and lesser. Lately, Lou Che travelled more often. Even though Lou Che always made sure he was back at the fu for all grand occasions at the palace. Li Xi Shi found her husband seemed excited to be on the road instead of warming their bed.
"Gongzhu, all women envy your marriage to someone as loyal as fuma. Not even once fuma attracted to other women. To force someone as loyal as fuma to have another woman to warm his bed, nubi worries it will keep fuma more distant away from fu."
The old mama's words made Li Xi Shi feel even more guilty. She regretted her initiative that caused her husband to leave the fu in the middle of the cold winter. She was the one who made her own husband uncomfortable in his own place.
"Mama..." Li Xi Shi put down the tea cup and excitedly squeezed the wrinkled mama's hands. "Let's sew some dresses to wear for the coming spring. Take out all the precious fabrics that have been stored away. I have been gradually changing my appearance to be as simple as I choose to be devoted to Heaven. But that only made Lou Che get apart from me."
"I should appear more pleasing. Just like on the day when Lou Che first saw me. Cheerful and radiant. I want to be attractive again in his eyes. I want Lou Che to be excited again on the day he returns home."
Seeing the spirit has returned back on Li Xi Shi's face, the old mama was relieved. She gave firm nods then ordered both yahuan to quickly storm out to the storage room.
Meanwhile, in a warmer climate, Lou Che was not thinking about his wife.
He was on the south east part of the empire. He has correctly chosen the perfect city to visit. As in one of the port cities in the south east, Lou Che used his royal title and his work position to please himself.
For the outsider, he was an elegant man. Each day he was there, he assisted the trading business his family owned by himself. Business was in his blood. He mastered it even before he knew anything about love and lust. His hard working character and his skillful way of extending the business was extraordinary.
But every man has weaknesses.
A sin he hid ever since he realized his manhood. The burden got heavier after he officially wed Li Xi Shi. He needed to keep his family line secure every time he made decisions and acted.
At the beginning of his marriage, Lou Che was very much cautious. After some time he was able to learn Li Xi Shi's weak character and he became looser. As long as he did not get caught, he would be fine. Until business travel became the activity he was looking forward to.
Lou Che was staying at the biggest boarding house in the cities. The local city magistrate offered him to stay at his mansion but he rejected the offer. Because he found that staying at the boarding house gave him much flexible access to what he liked. So he booked the whole place for himself and his entourage.
The owner and the housekeeper of the boarding house were allowed to accept customers for meals and drinks only. But all the rooms at the boarding house were fully booked by him. No one allowed to pass the room floors beside his trusted men.
The night was young and Lou Che already returned to the boarding house. His personal taijian welcomed him with a tub filled with warm goat milk and sprinkling of rose petals on the tub.
Lou Che stood in the middle of his room with a wide smile on his face. He spread his hands wide as his personal taijian took off his clothes one by one. His eyes fixed on a young lad who was standing on the side of the tub.
"Is he the one who will help me with my bath tonight?"
His trusted old taijian bowed as he retreated. "Yes, fuma."
Lou Che walked to the tub in complete naked. "Take off your clothes."
His command was soft and gentle. The young lad looked very much surprised by the order. Meanwhile, Lou Che was getting himself to sit in the tub.
The young lad glanced at the old taijian. But the taijian ignored him. The taijian quickly ran out from the room with Lou Che's dirty clothes. The sound of the lock by the door made the young lad shivered. This was not what he was told to do.
Originally thought he could get extra money that the taijian promised he would get, he thought he was just to be a servant. He was a poor commoner who accidentally was picked out of the street when he begged for money around the boarding house. The old eunuch scanned him up and down, offered to work to serve his master only for a night. In return he was promised a gold coin.
He was supposed to be suspicious when the eunuch let several servants scrubbed his skin sneakily clean and fed him some delicious food. But the thought of a gold that he will get pushed his prejudice aside. He even planned to beg this lord to take him as a servant at the end of the night. Turned out this was what they planned him to be.
"Take off your clothes." Lou Che repeated his order. This time his voice was more irritated than before.
Leaned his back inside the warm tub, Lou Che spread his hands on the edge of the tub and watched the young lad start to unbutton his clothes.
"Do it slowly." He whispered as Lou Che started to enjoy the naive performance in front of him.
Both were in silence. After the pants were off his body, the young lad shyly covered his private part.
"Come closer." Lou Che whispered sensually.
The young lad did like he was told to. When he reached the side of the tub, Lou Che's hand reached his thigh. Touched his skin while Lou Che closed his eyes. The touches slowly moved away from the young lad's hand and finally groped the one thing he covered.
As Lou Che's hand moved sensually on that private part, a low moan started to be heard. The young lad slowly peaked out of his control and Lou Che enjoying it as his hand stroked getting faster.