Shen Ninghua clenched her fists, her gaze fixed on the man’s silhouette. Baili Jinze! That silhouette belonged to him! She had pictured their meeting several times but never did she expect to meet him so soon. Fearing that she might not be able to control her hatred, she bit her tongue and forced herself to look away,
Shen Linghan hurriedly went forward to help Zhao Ruyun. “Cousin, are you hurt? I’m sure sister did not mean what she said earlier……” she spoke with an awkward expression as she looked up at Baili Jinze. She blinked a few times and her face flushed a bright shade of red.
He stood straight and proud with his hair tied neatly. His eyebrows were long and thin, and his lips were curved like a cupid’s bow. He looked almost as if he was carved out of marble, eerily captivating.
Baili Jinze took a step back, his eyes widening ever so slightly at the sight of Shen Linghan’s beauty, “it was my mistake. My apologies to the two young ladies for causing such a scare.”
Zhao Ruyun raised her head, her face red with embarrassment, “no, it should be mine for being too hasty.”
Shen Dong was at the front courtyard with the Fifth Prince and Chu Junyi. He did not expect Chu Junyi to suggest a visit to the Shen house’s gardens and decided to accompany them. “Linghan, this is the Fifth Prince, and Mister Chu, mind your manners.”
Shen Linghan lifted her head slightly, a slight shock could be seen in her wide, lucid eyes. “Linghan offers her greeting to the Fifth Prince, Mister Chu. Forgive my manners.”
“It’s fine.” Baili Jinze said warmly, “Miss Shen and Miss Zhao looks very anxious, did something happen?”
Shen Linghan lowered her head in thought, her long lashes fluttering with each blink. “It’s nothing. I’m sure elder sister did not mean to anger cousin intentionally.” she said after a while. Although said, the soft and sad smile on her face suggested otherwise. The vulnerable and helpless demeanor that she displayed earned her pity from the onlookers.
Zhao Ruyun glared at Shen Ninghua, “hmph, not intentionally? I think it’s the things she learnt while being away. Otherwise, where else would gain such a sharp tongue?”
Shen Ninghua smiled. Her dark eyes remained on Shen Linghan and Zhao Ruyun, “All I did was give a few words of advice and cousin got angry. Then I shall apologize, however, I have no intention of withdrawing my advice as that loose tongue of yours is bound to cause you trouble. Cousin has to keep in mind the reputation of sister Linghan and Mother, else things will be sorted out naturally by Father.”
Panic swelled within Shen Linghan. Zhao Ruyun’s words were unkind, if it were revealed in front of the Fifth Prince and Mister Chu, then the reputation of the Shen family would definitely be damaged and it would surely anger Father. Reminding herself of Mother’s request, Shen Linghan suppressed her anger and gave a smile, “it’s just some bickering between us sisters, we do not mean to trouble the Fifth Prince and Mister Chu.”
Baili Jinze nodded calmly, and did not questioned further which made Shen Dong’s expression lightened. Yet, it was Chu Junyi who studied Shen Ninghua carefully. He could not help but sigh silently. He couldn’t get a clear look that night since it was dark, but seeing her today, he realized that based on appearance alone, the “number one beauty” Shen Linghan lacked about a third of her delicateness. If her aura of presence was also added into account, then the numerous young ladies present today were of all no match for her.
Zhao Ruyun gave Shen Ninghua a glare before looking at Baili Jinze’s captivating face. Her eyes shone brightly.
“ We were just about to try our hands at drawing today and we have long heard of the Fifth Prince’s talent in it. I wonder if the Fifth Prince could grace us with a personal demonstration?”
“Does the Shen First daughter know how to draw?” Chu Junyi suddenly asked, lightly waving the fan in his hand.
The Fifth Prince halted his actions when Chu Junyi spoke. The Xiao family held a special position within the An Imperial Court. Chu Junyi may be an adoptive son of the Xiao family, but his position was already above average. The Fifth Prince himself may be of royal blood, but he did not receive the attention from the King and was treated as if he was invisible within the palace. To increase his influence, he had attempted to garner the support of the Xiao family in secret, but failed many times. Thus, he had decided to begin, this time around, from the Xiao family’s adoptive son. And so, he let Chu Junyi bask in the spotlight.
“Ninghua has no talent in drawing. Ninghua apologizes to have disappointed Mister Chu.” Shen Ninghua looked at the smiling Chu Junyi with her expression unchanged.
“Elder sister has just returned not too long ago, so how did you meet Mister Chu?”, Shen Linghan asked innocently, causing Shen Dong’s expression to darken. People may not know, but he was clear about one thing: the fact that Shen Ninghua had spent half a year outside was very strange and the Shen family would definitely not keep a daughter that is not pure and clean.
“We’ve met on my journey back to the capital. Younger sister has also met him before, so is there any problem?” Shen Ninghua asked confusedly, rendering Shen Linghan speechless.
“I have heard of Miss Shen’s talents with the arts, may I have the honor of viewing your skills in person?” Baili Jinze said to Shen Linghan, in an effort to change the subject.
Shen Linghan lowered her head slightly, giving Baili Jinze a look of gratitude, “do guide me along, Fifth Prince.”
Baili Jinze nodded, his gaze swept to Shen Ninghua. He had heard about the First young lady of the Shen family, but meeting her today really brought him a shock.
The capital had long regarded Shen Linghan as the number one beauty, with her beauty and demeanor second to none. Yet this Shen Ninghua seemed to rival her in appearance. As he pondered, he followed Shen Linghan towards the pavilion.
Shen Ninghua trailed behind them, the edges of her lips curling slowly. Her thoughts raced. Baili Jinze and Shen Linghan had known each other for a long time and he had asked for her hand in marriage multiple times. However, it was a pity that Shen Linghan had higher aspirations. Her Mother’s younger sister was the Queen, and her Father was an extremely high-ranking official. Not to mention her unrivaled looks, so why would she bat an eye at the Fifth Prince?
Hence, she rejected Baili Jinze’s proposal using a variety of reasons, purposely presenting herself as a helpless young woman who cannot accept his love. This caused Baili Jinze to fall for her even harder. In her past life, when Shen Ninghua contracted a high fever, Zhao Shi gave her to Baili Jinze as a gift. When she woke up, Baili Jinze nursed her tirelessly and even telling her that he no longer loved Shen Linghan. That lowered her guard and made her strategized for him, but only to receive a cold-blooded betrayal in the end.
Thinking back, Baili Jinze and Shen Linghan must have had an ambiguous relationship for quite some time, unbeknownst to her.
Chu Junyi waved the fan in his hand. From an angle where nobody was looking, he gave Shen Ninghua a smile, “young lady, you do not look so well.”
Shen Ninghua kept her smile, “Mister Chu must have read wrongly. I am very well.”
Shen Ninghua turned her head, seemingly not having any intentions of talking to Chu Junyi. But that did not anger him. He merely waved his fan with his expression unreadable.
How are ya’ll enjoying it so far? Leave this lonely translator some comments please~ I’d love to hear inputs from you guys 😉
Or if you have any questions regarding character dynamics (like why is that character so weird??), do ask me in the comments too 🙂