Soft laughter could be heard periodically from the pavillion, the people drawing there were enjoying themselves thoroughly. Shen Ninghua sat nearby, sipping tea by herself. Her expression did not exude any sense of loneliness, rather, the air around her seemed particularly serene and calm.
Chu Junyi sneaked a glance at her, his gaze intense as he looked.
After two hours, Zhao Yunxiang asked her servants to inform everyone that the meal was prepared.
“It is already quite late, would the Fifth Prince and Mister Chu like to stay for the meal?” Shen Dong asked.
“I’ve heard that the Shen family’s meals are all extremely exquisite, since we are given the chance today, it would be a waste to reject your offer. Fifth Prince, why don’t we stay and eat?” Chu Junyi suggested.
“It seems we’ll have to trouble you, Mister Shen.” Baili Jinze replied casually.
“No such thing, if the Fifth Prince is willing to join us, it would be our pleasure to have you.”
The young missies all started to leave, but Zhao Ruyun decided to stay. The discussion about drawing with Baili Jinze just now looked very harmonious: Shen Linghan quietly stood beside Baili Jinze with a wisp of a smile at her lips and she would answer a few questions occasionally, her replies thoughtful and intelligent.
Baili Jinze gave her an appreciative glance, and his eyes seemed to linger more.
Shen Ninghua stood far away and merely observed. Baili Jinze’s warm, polite demeanor, with a smile that didn’t seem to reach his eyes. Shen Linghan was always skilled at manipulating others, even Zhao Ruyun could not surpass her skills.
“Black girl, you didn’t mention that your younger sister was this beautiful?” Chu Junyi said softly from two steps behind Shen Ninghua.
“If Mister Chu is interested, you can always go up and propose.” Shen Ninghua spared him a glance. This younger sister of hers was indeed beautiful, but she had more than enough vanity to match.
“Ha, if I were to propose, it would be to an intelligent and ruthless wife, best if she had some special talents. So if I were to run out of money one day, we could still get by.”
Shen Ninghua gave him a side-eye, and walked away. Chu Junyi laughed quietly, shaking his fan gently.
With the Fifth Prince joining them for the meal, the entire Shen house was lively. Even though Zhao Yunxiang was a scheming hag, she took her duties as the housekeeper very professionally. Not long after, the maids were carrying plates of elegant-looking dishes to the table……
“To thank the Fifth Prince for coming today, the first toast would be to you, Fifth Prince.” Shen Dong said as he lifted his cup.
“Nonsense, it should be I toasting to you for troubling you.”
As the two were bantering, Shen Linghan suddenly stood up with a bright smile on her face, “Fifth Prince, Father, there is no need for such manners. Has anyone noticed that the wine used in today’s feast is very special!”
“I have been meaning to ask, the wine seem to smell different from those served by the winehouse in the capital. It’s scent is very thick, yet appealing. I have yet to taste such a unique fare. Would Miss Shen be so kind as to unravel its mysteries?” Baili Jinze looked at Shen Linghan warmly.
Shen Linghan gave a slight smile, her beauty stunned Baili Jinze for a moment, “I’m afraid that I am the wrong person to ask.”
“This wine is brought back by my elder sister.” Shen Linghan gave a kind smile, and walked towards Shen Ninghua, “elder sister, I heard that there was wine among the things you brought back, so I used two jugs without consulting you, please don’t blame me.”
Shen Ninghua’s expression remained cool, and a smile remained on her face, “nonsense, I brought these wine back as a gift to Grandmother, Father and Mother. I didn’t present these sooner because they were not ready. It is the perfect time to drink them today, I would have to properly thank you after the feast.”
Shen Linghan’s eyebrows twitched slightly, “it’s fine as long as elder sister does not blame me. Then, could elder sister tell us about this wine? I am also very curious about it.”
“It’s nothing special. I brewed this myself, but I have not gave it a name. I used some fresh pear flowers, white lotus, white hibiscus and white plum blossoms mixed with clean dewdrops that have not touched sunlight, as well as a few seasonal fruits to brew this.”
Chu Junyi swirled the wine in his cup, and sighed, “such fine wine should be served in white jade cups, such a pity… ah, I do recall owning a set of jade cups, I will send them to the Elder miss some other time.”
Shen Ninghua bowed, “Ninghua appreciate Mister Chu’s kind gesture, but I do not drink often so it would be a waste to receive such a gift.”
“Fine wineware for a fine beauty, there is no such thing as a waste.”
Shen Dong stared at Chu Junyi and Shen Ninghua, an uncomfortable feeling built in his chest. He raised his glass and said, “let’s not waste more time talking, and give this fine wine a taste.”
“Well said,” the Fifth Prince raised his glass, before tipping it towards Shen Dong and raised it to his lips. All of a sudden, a loud voice pierced through the air.
“Hold it! There is poison in the wine!”
Only the beginning of a wild ride my dears 😉