“How could you say that?” Gu Fangzi had never expected him to respond in such a way. Even though he said it jokingly, her heart still experienced a wave of unspeakable grief. She felt both offended and uncomfortable. Crouching on the spot, she sobbed and hugged both her legs tightly.
“Why are you crying?” Shi Fengju had always liked teasing her, but this time, she might have taken the joke too seriously and cried. Panicky, he immediately tried to coax her, “Fang’er, Fang’er, don’t cry. Please don’t cry, ah. What I said was just to tease you. Why did you take it so seriously and cry? My good Fang’er, please don’t put me on the spot! You know I’ll never love anyone except you, so please don’t cry.”
Gu Fangzi grunted softly and turned away from Shi Fengju, refusing to look at him. Only after he had coaxed her for a long time did she finally reply. “How could you joke about that? You… you already know that she — how could you use that to tease me?”
Seeing that she was alright now, Shi Fengju chuckled. “Still angry at me? Wasn’t it you who started it? Did you hear yourself when you said those unpleasant words before?”
She stared sternly at him and became silent. Then, with a grin on her face, she giggled softly. “You only know how to annoy and bully me! I’m so silly to let you bully me…” With that, her voice eventually became softer and her shyness was exposed as she turned her body towards him. The girl’s coyness was indeed moving.
Shi Fengju’s heart was overcome with warmth and he sighed softly, “Fang’er, I won’t bully you anymore, so next time, don’t say such silly words!”
Gu Fangzi’s bittersweet heart couldn’t help but feel discontent. You won’t bully me? You marrying Sang Wan into the Shi family is equivalent to bullying me! If you really meant what you said, you would have disapproved of the marriage! Whether that will affect the Sang family’s reputation or not, what does that have to do with you? What does it have to do with the Shi family?
Of course, those were only Gu Fangzi’s thoughts. On the surface, however, her face displayed a sweet smile and she softly said, “En,” to show that she agreed with him. Looking directly at Shi Fengju, she said, “Big Cousin, hearing those words is enough for me. I am a very naive person, so I’ll take your words and remember them for a lifetime!”
“Of course. Forever.” Shi Fengju smiled and nodded.
Her eyes flickered and her once steady gaze wavered. Her gaze, which carried a trace of distrust and apprehension, revealed her emotions.
“Actually, Cousin-in-law Sang Wan really isn’t that bad.” Gu Fangzi understood what he was hinting at and added slyly, “I’m sure she must have scored a few points in your heart, am I right?”
“What nonsense are you spouting?” Astonished, Shi Fengju exclaimed, “How could you think that way?” His heart had always belonged to her. All these years, he had only had eyes for her and his heart had yearned for only her. Never had his eyes left her, so how could she say that to him?
“Okay, okay. Just take it as I’m wrong!” Seeing his cold face, she couldn’t help but feel remorse as he was indeed angry. Gu Fangzi immediately apologized for being suspicious of him.
However, deep within, a shadow of doubt still remained. They had grown up together and thus she knew him all too well. The day when the marriage date had been set and especially the day before her cousin-in-law had married into the Shi family, Shi Fengju’s expression had been unsightly and cold. But today, that cold expression had completely vanished! His eyes were calm and poised, which made her feel uneasy as if something was very amiss.
Since the marriage had been arranged by the elders, the matter of Sang Wan marrying into the family was already decided. Gu Fangzi had already accepted that fact long ago. She was neither afraid nor worried, as she believed that Shi Fengju was not a heartless and unfaithful person. The bond that both of them shared was not something that could be easily broken. The arrival of Sang Wan into the family was not something that could change that fact, even if she were an angel dispatched by heaven!
So what if she had stepped into the Shi family and became a couple with Shi Fengju? The war had only just begun. Who could say that she had lost?
But for the time being, it seemed like she was a little too careless!
“In the future, don’t be cranky!” Shi Fengju sighed.
“It is only because I care for you!” Gu Fangzi pouted. “Are… are you really sure your heart won’t waver. You won’t like her?”
“Of course I won’t!” Shi Fengju answered firmly.
With that, Gu Fangzi felt delighted. “Then, do you have anything you would like to say to me?”
Startled, he almost blurted out the secret between him and Sang Wan to Gu Fangzi. However, he managed to control himself. Not because he did not trust Gu Fangzi, but because he was confident that the world was not foolproof. Naturally, the fewer people who knew of their secret the better. Also, since a year would soon be over anyway, letting the cat out of the bag now wouldn’t be such a wise idea.
Giving her a surprise in the future would also be good!
With that in mind, Shi Fengju held back the urge to tell Gu Fangzi and smiled, “Only that, I will not be unfaithful to you.”
“En!” Although disappointed, she felt happy inside and nodded with a broad smile on her face.
After the vindication between her and Shi Fengju, she half-jokingly asked, “Well, since my cousin-in-law just got married into the Shi family, don’t you want to go back and spend some time with her?”
A hesitant tone to express her unwillingness and dismay, and the gentle words to show her benevolence. Those were the principles she wanted him to see; to see the good side of her.
“That will not be necessary.” Shi Fengju shook his head and spoke without hesitation. Deep within, both of them knew they weren’t even an actual couple to begin with. What’s more, she might not even want him to always be by her side.
Hearing such a firm answer, Gu Fangzi felt happy. However, her act must go on. Raising her eyebrows gently, she whispered, “That… might not be good, right? After all, the maidservants treat people differently according to their social status and also, Cousin-in-law Sang Wan just got married into the family… which would mean…”
Shi Fengju was stunned, and soon after had an “epiphany”.
She was right! Sang Wan still had to live in the house for a year! A year… seemed neither long nor short. With her unable to rely on her own family background, if he were to treat her ‘coldly,’ her period in the household would definitely be miserable!
His eyes could not help but express a soft sweetness as he recalled her pitiful plea after they left the courtyard together, the “ouch” sound she made after twisting her ankle, and her stealing a march on saying those cleverly crafted words after they entered Ning Garden1Ning GardenSang Wan & Shi Fengju's place of residence.
Immediately, Shi Fengju understood! Since his eyes had been fixated on his cousin after the ceremony, that problem was not something he’d realize would be an issue. Sang Wan had already thought of the problem but had not voiced it to him.
His heart suddenly experienced unspeakable complexity and he felt a little bad for her.
Since she had solved the problem that had beset him for years, he definitely had to return the favor!
The consequences of giving up the position as his wife, she knew all too well, but she had still insisted on it anyway. While he felt sorry for her, he couldn’t help but also secretly feel annoyed. If only he had known what her heart was thinking, he would have stood firm and requested his mother to cancel the marriage! If so, things wouldn’t have ended up the way they were now.
As he thought these things through, he shook his head and sighed.
It was both his grandfather’s and his father’s will that his mother carried it out. Knowing his mother’s temperament, she definitely would not have agreed to cancel the marriage.
“Big Cousin, you… what’s the matter with you?” Gu Fangzi saw that her words had greatly affected her lover and secretly regretted them. I’ve really shot my mouth off and dug my own grave this time around!
“Nothing much! I’ve got some account books to check. Why don’t you go accompany my mother and have a chat with her, and maybe see if there is anything you can help her with?” Shi Fengju smiled.
After the ceremony, there was definitely chores that had to be done.
“Okay. I’ll go ahead then.” Gu Fengzi nodded. “It’s almost noon. Don’t immerse yourself in your work and forget about your lunch again!” She reminded him before taking her leave.
“En! Off you go!” Shi Fengju nodded and smiled.
Without a choice, Gu Fangzi turned and left. Deep within, she felt a little disappointed. If this were the past, he would have asked her to stay for lunch with him and thereafter head together to have a light chat with his mother!
After Gu Fangzi left, Shi Fengju thought for a while before calling for Zhan Huan, a servant. “Go to Ning Garden nearby and tell one of the servants there that I’ll be going back for lunch.”
Surprised, Zhan Huan stared at him blankly. Seeing a glaring pair of eyes staring back at him, he quickly withdrew his gaze and said, “Yes, yes sir!”
After leaving the study room, Gu Fangzi, accompanied by maidservant Lan Xiang, made a detour through the flower garden. As they drifted, Gu Fangzi suddenly turned and headed in the direction of Ning Garden with Lan Xiang following closely behind.
“Missy…” Lan Xiang’s face was pale. She looked both a little nervous and a little excited.
Missy is heading to Ning Garden. Is she going to show dominance over her lover’s wife? Her opponent has already seized the position of being his wife! Would it be appropriate for Missy to go there? Will Missy be at a disadvantage? En, that can’t be. Our Missy has both the Shi family’s mother and son protecting her; even the young lords and missies have to be courteous towards her. Certainly, she won’t be at a disadvantage, right?
“My cousin-in-law just got married into the family. Me being her cousin-in-law, I can’t not give her my greetings!” Gu Fangzi raised a corner of her lips and her face bore a huge grin.
After a long conversation with Liu Ya, Sang Wan had returned to rest on her bed. Soon after, her rest was interrupted by Zhide, who knocked and entered the chamber to inform her that Shi Fengju would be returning for lunch.
Sang Wan was surprised. But since her “husband” had already said so, she had to agree, and certainly not continue laying lazily on her bed. Sitting upright on her bed, she instructed Zhide, “Since that is the case, ask the kitchen staff to prepare a few more dishes that he likes, but don’t be in a hurry to serve them now. Only serve the food when he arrives.”
Zhide agreed with a rote reply. With another glance at Sang Wan, she said, “Zhide will have some maidservants help Young Mistress wash both face and hair!”
“That will be great.” Sang Wan smiled and nodded while resisting the urge to blurt out “thank you for the trouble.” If she said those five words to the maidservants, instead of receiving gratitude from them, they would instead look down her etiquette. If there came a time when she needed to show authority, it would prove difficult! There was a hierarchy in the Shi family, and it was not a haven like the Sang family.