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The conversation had turned irreparably awkward.
Yun Yang was clearly unconcerned about his boorish behaviour, while Ji Ling seethed with rage inwardly, a hair’s breadth away from bursting out in anger. Lao Mei, for all his dry laughter, was internally picking his young master to shreds for his lack of civility and emotional quotient. The young master and the lady sat across each other at the tea table in a moment of awkward silence, broken only by a stifled cough. No, the awkwardness was all from Ji Ling; Yun Yang was completely oblivious to the tense atmosphere. In all her years, she had never come across such a situation!
“I apologize.” Yun Yang sounded contrite.
“My humble home is extremely lacking. It has been far too long since a guest came, so we no longer have any more tea in the residence… Please pardon my lack of courtesy.”
Lao Mei felt faint.
Who said our house has no tea?
Ji Ling looked at Yun Yang’s flawlessly handsome face, and was completely dumbstruck. “Heh, heh, heh…” Ji Ling forced a chuckle, and shook her head, “I don’t mind the joke, this is Ji Ling’s first time encountering such treatment since birth; or should I say, the only time in my life.”
Yun Yang straightened up, “You’re wrong, miss.”
Ji Ling stared at him in confusion.
Yun Yang continued, “Whatever it is, once there is a first, there will inevitably be a second time! This is the law of the world. Today may be the first time that you have encountered such treatment, but mark my words, you’ll get the chance to be treated similarly in the future.”
He smiled, “In time, you’ll eventually realize that I’m actually right.”
Ji Ling’s large eyes stared unblinkingly at Yun Yang’s face, with skin so smooth that even women would be envious of it. Her thoughts, however, were entirely focused on keeping her hands from lashing out and tearing that insufferable grin from his countenance.
“I have never met such a terrible man.” Ji Ling spoke through gritted teeth. While she was generally more well bred than most of her peers, just a short encounter with Yun Yang had her contemplating murder.
“You’ll meet more in the future.” Yun Yang said slowly, “How many gentlemen are there in this world? Sooner or later, you are bound to come across those who aren’t.”
Ji Ling sneered coldly, “Looks like Young Master Yun is aware that he is not a gentleman himself.”
Yun Yang’s expression was curiously composed. “Miss, please do not insult me.”
Ji Ling replied, “Having admitted that you are no gentleman yourself, how can you accuse me of insulting you?”
In a serious tone, Yun Yang said, “What I meant was, do not mock me with the term ‘gentleman’. I do not deserve that t.i.tle, regardless of whether you believe it of me or not..”
Ji Ling was astounded. It was ironic that this man could speak of righteousness so unashamedly. Admittedly, there weren’t many people like him. She remained silent for a while before breaking out in laughter, leaving Yun Yang somewhat bewildered.
Should this woman not be angered and leave? Why was she laughing?
Ji Ling continued chuckling as she spoke, “I am aware that Young Master Yun does not welcome me, but curiosity has gotten the better of me. May I make a few inquiries of Young Master Yun?”
Yun Yang answered guardedly, “What would you want to know, my lady?”
“Before last night, we have never met. As such, I am puzzled.” Ji Ling asked with unfeigned interest, “The young master wants me to leave so badly. Why is this so, Young Master Yun?”
Yun Yang grinned but Ji Ling lifted a finger before he could speak, “Young Master Yun, speak truthfully, and then I will turn around and take my leave. I will not linger and play the part of the unwelcomed guest...”
Yun Yang looked at her questioningly as Ji Ling nodded in all seriousness. She meant what she had said.
Yun Yang smiled in amus.e.m.e.nt, “First, I dislike intrusions in my life… I appreciate peace and quiet. Secondly, but also the more important reason, your visit heralds the coming of tribulations, and I am terribly averse to trouble of any sort in my life.”
Ji Ling asked in confusion, “I can accept the first reason, but the second… how are you so certain that I’m bring with me… tribulations?”
Yun Yang’s split into a grin and started counting on his fingers, “First, our encounter last night was not a delightful one. Second, you brought along with you a Thousand Illusion Monkey, which indicates that you are far from an ordinary person.”
Ji Ling nodded slightly in acknowledgement of this undeniable observation.
“Third, the appearance that you wear now is false; fourth, the same goes for the name that you have given me,” Yun Yang spoke with the conviction of a person who knows that he is correct.
Ji Ling blinked like an owl caught in bright light, and coughed, “Perhaps not entirely real. Let us leave it at that, shall we?.”
“You conceal your name, and came here alone with a false ident.i.ty. Normally, ladies like yourself would travel in the company of a guardian… but not you. This would mean, you ran away from home. That would be number five.”
Ji Ling coughed, nodding in resignation as she realized that she had been exposed...
“Simply these observations alone would indicate that you will be a whole lot of trouble,” Yun Yang sighed.
“There’s more to it?” the girl asked.
“Of course.” Yun Yang continued, “Sixth, although you’ve changed your appearance, I’m not utterly blind. Your gaze is clear and your features distinct, but the skin tone of your neck under your chin is different; one side is slightly paler while the other side is that of your normal skin tone. The difference, though miniscule, is there.”
Ji Ling flushed, “And what of this?” If Yun Yang had not mentioned it, she would not have noticed it herself.
“This only means one thing; you are a terribly proud person. There aren’t many people that you hold in high regard.” Yun Yang continued to elaborate, “Therefore, you’ve formed a habit of tilting your head, unconsciously or otherwise, lifting one side of your chin when looking at people.”
Ji Ling frowned and acquiesced that this man could, unfortunately, be right in that aspect. She usually looked at others with a tilted head, lifted chin and slanted gaze..
“With your personality, you’d leave haughtily once there’s a disagreement.” Yun Yang continued, “And you cannot be wrong. Am I right?” Yun Yang looked at the lady and smiled.
“All that you’ve said… well, you’re almost there,” Ji Ling answered guiltily because Yun Yang was, of course, spot on. She could tell that he had even held back from saying that she was proud, conceited, and somewhat spoiled.
“However, despite your proud and stubborn character, and even after our rather unpleasant encounter last night, here you are today. You managed to keep your temper in check, in spite of the treatment you have endured. It must be a terribly difficult undertaking for you. Since you’re still here despite being provoked repeatedly, then… it must be for something pressing.” Yun Yang spoke, “The eighth and final reason allows me to form my conclusion… this pressing matter that made such a stubborn lady run away from her n.o.ble home and hold her temper even when mistreated; if it’s related to me, what else could it be but a whole lot of trouble?”
Ji Ling was stunned, this man had judged her based on these deductions? It didn’t help that he was irrevocably right in his observations.
“You are absolutely correct. I am here to seek your aid.” Ji Ling gave a small smile. “I guess you would also know that by now.”
Yun Yang frowned, “As promised, I have spoken clearly and truthfully. I believe that you have agreed with my observations, and admitted the truth of them. Now, I ask that you fulfil your part of the promise and leave quickly…”
Ji Ling winked coyly. “Wouldn’t you at least want to find out what I came here for?”
Yun Yang was unaffected by her charms. “My apologies, but I do not wish to know. What I desire most, is for you to leave and not to become that unwanted guest that you spoke of.”
Ji Ling laughed dryly, carefully choosing her words, “Right. As I said, as long as you’ve explained yourself, I’ll turn and leave. The problem is, well, I haven’t turned just yet.”
Yun Yang’s eyes bulged with indignation. For a moment, he was at a loss for words, looking at this girl who had reneged on her promise.
Ji Ling grinned mischievously. “See, how can I leave without turning first? Am I not right?”
So saying, she turned to Lao Mei. “Excuse me, your young master must be parched from all this talking he’s done. Look at the sweat beading on his forehead! Do bring some tea over, that’s a good man.”
Lao Mei reined in his laughter while looking at Yun Yang’s expression; it was indeed the first time in his life he had seen his young master routed in a war of words.
Young master, sweating? He’s not thirsty, he’s infuriated! How could he not be when you’ve broken your promise?
“Why do you not honor your word?” Yun Yang was exasperated; he had too many secrets, too many things to be done, and he could not afford to be hara.s.sed by this girl.
“Young master, why,” Ji Ling looked around, “… do I have to honor my word?”
Yun Yang was almost apoplectic with rage. “Why, not honoring your word is simply not the behavior of heroic men!”
“Never claimed to be.” Ji Ling chuckled righteously, “I’m just a girl, not some heroic man.”
Yun Yang rubbed his temples, feeling the onset of a terrible headache. Seeing this the Thousand Illusion Monkey thought he wanted to play with it and climbed up his head happily, its b.u.t.tocks lowering right in front of Yun Yang’s eyes and blocking his view. “Oh my…” Yun Yang groaned in despair.
Lao Lei had actually gone to prepare tea. Absently, Yun Yang wondered if he should deduct Lao Mei’s pay for leaving his side without express permission. The effrontery of the man knew no bounds.
“Please, be patient and listen to what I’m here for, Young Master Yun,” Ji Ling grinned. The grin was cunning, like a fox that had successfully stolen a chicken from the coop.
In this case however, Yun Yang was obviously the poor chicken and he wondered if he would share the same fate.