Hearing so, Wang Shi hesitated for a while before she spoke again, “You are right! There is no reason for a missy from our Shi Family to be a concubine in another family! Her mother is no longer around; the people out there with malicious intent will think that I am ill-treating her and spread rumors about it! However, with the Hong family so polite with their proposal, would it be rude for us to refuse them?”
Sang Wan answered, “Marriage should only be discussed when there is a mutual consent between both families, so it will not be a problem for us even if we refuse them. Furthermore, their proposal is for Shi Lian to become their son’s concubine, not as his lawfully wedded wife! Old Mistress Hong will definitely be able to understand where we are coming from if we refuse them.”
Wang Shi nodded slowly, but she remained silent.
Sang Wan did not dare to speak any further, and forced a smile, “This is only your daughter-in-law’s small insight. Mother, please do not take it to heart if I have said anything wrong. Why don’t we wait for Lord to be back to discuss and make a decision together?”
Wang Shi was pleased with her words. Seeing that Sang Wan knew to take Shi Fengju’s opinion into consideration, Wang Shi smiled, “You have a point there. A matter of such gravity should be discussed with Fengju since he is the most familiar with the world outside!”
“Mother is right!” Sang Wan laughed and bade farewell after exchanging a few more words.
Sang Wan exhaled deeply when she stepped out of the courtyard, feeling slightly downcast. Wang Shi did not seem to be against the marriage with the Hong family, and it was not an insult to Shi Lian, who was a concubine’s daughter, to marry an official’s legitimate son.
However, the son was an insolent who failed in his attempt to take advantage of her. With this problem present, would Mister Hong still treat her well when she gets married to him? And because it was Shi Lian, her life ahead would definitely be miserable!
Sang Wan had first-hand experience with an unfortunate marriage. Deep down, she understood what it was like for a maiden to be married to the wrong man. As such, she did not think twice when it came to rejecting the marriage in front of her mother-in-law on Shi Lian’s behalf. However…
Sang Wan’s heart sank a little. A thought suddenly came to her; she did not actually ask Shi Lian for her opinion on the marriage. What if Shi Lian was actually willing to marry into the Hong family, which was reputable and influential?
Sang Wan hesitated for a while before making a turn to Fu Qu Lodge with the servants.
Shi Lian’s heart was slightly settled. When she heard the news of her sister-in-law making her way to her residence after a visit to Wang Shi’s place, she hurriedly went out to welcome Sang Wan.
The two went into the house, and Sang Wan gestured for the servants on duty to leave before she told Shi Lian about the Hong family asking for her hand in marriage.
Before she could finish, Shi Lian’s face turned pale and she fell onto her knees as she clutched onto Sang Wan’s sleeve like it was her last option, “Sister Sang Wan, I do not wish to marry him! Please help me, Sister Sang Wan! I would rather marry into a commoner’s household or become a nun for the rest of my life than to marry that lecherous man! Please, Sister Sang Wan!”
“Hurry and get up quickly!” Sang Wan’s heart ached when she saw Shi Lian fall into despair. She leaned over to help Shi Lian up, and repeated the conversation she had with Wang Shi before sighing, “You and I have always gotten along very well, and I do understand a thing or two about your personality. Initially, I thought that with his insolent attitude, it is highly possible for him to ask for your hand in marriage because he harbors ill-intention, which was why I persuaded Mother against the idea without asking you for your opinion. Who knew that you’d think the same way as well. However, you have to understand that the final decision lies in Mother’s hand, should her mind be made up, even I would not be able to change her decision.”
Shi Lian’s tears continued to fall as she pleaded Sang Wan for help.
Of course Shi Lian understood. Sang Wan was the only person in the household who would willingly speak up for her, but when it came to her marriage, Sang Wan had no say in the decision made.
“Sister Sang Wan has always treated me well, and I am very thankful to know that you are keen on helping me out. No matter the final outcome, I will never blame you and will only be grateful towards you! But please, Sister Sang Wan, please try and help me again! There is nothing I can do to make it up to you, but I will use the rest of my life to pray for your happiness and that you and Big Brother will remain as a devoted couple until both your hair turns grey as you enjoy a long and blissful life together!”
“Silly lass, don’t be so formal!” Sang Wan raised her handkerchief and wiped Shi Lian’s tears away before she forced a smile, “the marriage has not been confirmed yet, so don’t be hasty! Don’t we still have your big brother? Mother always takes his words into consideration!”
Shi Lian’s face brightened as she held onto Sang Wan’s hand thankfully, “Thank you, Sister Sang Wan!”
In order to ask her big brother for help to persuade her mother, she could only request Sang Wan to do so as it would be inappropriate if she did so directly.
“Don’t worry,” Sang Wan patted her hand and comforted, “The reason why I’m telling you about this is because I want to know how you feel about the marriage and to get you mentally prepared. Third Sister, do not act recklessly and turn the situation worse, alright? Pretend you are clueless and let your big brother handle the rest!”
“Okay!” Shi Lian nodded.
Sang Wan offered a few more words of comfort before she took her leave.
As this was a matter that would affect Shi Lian’s entire life ahead, it was nearly impossible for her to stay calm and she cried silently after Sang Wan left. Cai Yun, who later knew about the situation, was dumbfounded and accompanied her missy solemnly.
“Missy,” All of a sudden, the thought about Sang Yufei popped up in Cai Yun’s mind, and she lowered her voice, “Why don’t you be honest with Young Mistress about your relationship with her family’s Second Young Master? She might even use all her means to prevent the marriage!”
“Absolutely not!” Shi Lian panicked to the point where she forgot to cry. Displeased with Cai Yun, she explained sternly, “Such a thing must not be said. Don’t you act rashly! Sister Sang Wan has always treated me well and often offers her help if it is within her ability. Telling her about our relationship might cause the situation to turn from bad to worse instead!”
“Missy…” Cai Yun could not understand.
Shi Lian let out a deep sigh before smiling bitterly, “Second Young Master Sang has a very reputable identity, while I am just a humble daughter of a lowly concubine. If Sister Sang Wan knew of our relationship… would she still help us?”
Cai Yun’s expression changed, and she blurted out, “Then what if Second Young Master Sang has a change of heart…”
“He won’t!” Shi Lian shook her head. “His feelings for me will not change! And even if he does, I can only blame myself for having misjudged him!”
Feeling dejected, Cai Yun lowered her head and went silent.
In the evening, Shi Fengju returned home from work. Sang Wan welcomed him back with a smile as she helped him untie his cloak and remove his coat. She took the silk robe that he usually wore at home from a servant, helped him wash his hands and face, and poured him a cup of tea to drink after they went into the warm room.
Throughout, Shi Fengju smiled and spoke with her about the various happenings within the household while enjoying her soft voice. This was the time he enjoyed most after his work. He would feel the warmth of being home with a wife who was understanding and caring.
“Did you miss me, mhm?” Shi Fengju signaled to the servant to leave before he pulled his wife into his embrace to enjoy their alone time.
“Aren’t you tired of asking the same question everyday?” Sang Wan teased him with a slight push.
Shi Fengju smiled. He held her slender and fair fingers in his hand and pulled them closer to his lips for a kiss. “Why would I? I love to hear you say ‘I miss you’ to me! Sang Wan, you should know how much I think of you at every moment!”
Sang Wan’s face turned red-hot and she pouted at him shyly. She pulled her hand free and took a step forward before turning to give him a smile, “Are you tired? I’ll give you a little massage before we go for our dinner!”
Shi Fengju nodded and rested against a chair behind him. Sang Wan went to his back and massaged his shoulders and neck. Shi Fengju exhaled comfortably as he closed his eyes to further relax himself.
After a short while, Liu Ya shouted from behind the screen to ask whether dinner should be served. Sang Wan answered her before nudging Shi Fengju up. He stretched his shoulders with a little twist and turn, then hugged Sang Wan, “My wife is the best, I feel so comfortable and relaxed now! Let’s turn in early tonight, shall we?” He approached her and ended his words in a seductive tone.
Heat once again crawled up Sang Wan’s face and she chided him gently, “Has Lord gone through the account books yet? There should be a lot to handle with the newly opened store!”
Shi Fengju laughed, “there are the shopkeepers, it’s not like I have to do everything myself. Right now, I just want to spend quality time with my lovely wife!”
Sang Wan did not respond, and instead pulled him out to have dinner. Shi Fengju curled his lips upwards, his eyes only filled with her.
After dinner, they stood at the hallway to appreciate the flowers and encourage better digestion. In a short while, Shi Fengju urged the servants to prepare a hot water bath.
The sky had turned dark when they were finally done bathing and drying their hair. Shi Fengju grumbled about being weary from work as he dragged his wife along with him into their chamber. Once the doors were closed, he pulled her closer towards him and they started getting intimate.
Sang Wan drowned herself in his kisses, and her half-inviting actions turned Shi Fengju on even more.
“Sang Wan, are you tired?” After some cleaning up and wiping, Shi Fengju laid down beside his wife and pulled her into his embrace. Pecking her face, brows, and nose, he felt an indescribable tenderness for her.
Sang Wan’s mind was on Shi Lian’s marriage. She wanted to bring up the matter to Shi Fengju tonight, but who knew they would end up having an intimate moment with each other. She did not want to throw a wet blanket over such an occasion. However, who knew what the situation would turn into the next day? It may already be too late for any changes to be made if her mother-in-law had her mind made up.
“Ouch!” Sang Wan was lost in thoughts when she felt a sudden sting on her fingertips. She looked down to witness her husband, who was the culprit, smiling innocently at her.
Annoyed by him, Sang Wan pulled her hand away and chided, “Are you a dog? Why are you nibbling at my fingers?”
Shi Fengju laughed deeply as he placed a kiss on Sang Wan’s lamenting lips, “That’s because you were so lost in thought!”