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Chapter 645 Private Chat in the Dead of the Night
Ning Xueyan blinked after hearing several knocks on the window frame. Only then did she realize that Ao Chenyi was standing outside the window with his thin lips curved into a smile. His face looked handsome, almost enchantingly so, under the moonlight. There was a hint of impetuous languidness in his expression.
“How did you get here?” Without even thinking about it, Ning Xueyan stood up and looked out the window. Rather than asking him when he appeared here, she was asking how he came in without alerting anyone.
Ao Chenyi grabbed the sill and hoisted himself through the window, landing gently inside the room. “I told them not to knock since it’s so late. I came in myself,” he said matter-of-factly.
Why was he acting like a thief when he was just returning to his own home? She was speechless that he had to sneak in through the window.
She walked to the table, poured a cup of tea, and handed it to him. Even though he looked the same, she could see the trace of exhaustion in his eyes. These two days were likely the most important days of his life. There was much that he had to pick up, but everything wasn’t settled yet. He must be exhausted.
Ao Chenyi took the cup of tea and took a sip with a grin. He put it down and pulled Ning Xueyan into his arms. With a laugh, he said, “Did anyone come and give you trouble lately?”
“Well… The Empress tried to meet Commandery Princess Xianyun. Commandery Princess Xianyun wanted to return to her family. She said she’ll leave us in peace while she becomes a nun and lives on her own.” Sitting on his lap, Ning Xueyan reached out to knead his temples.
“She’d be that kind? Bah!” He closed his almond-shaped eyes comfortably as she kneaded his temples, but there was a sneer on his face.
She laughed. Commandery Princess Xianyun was a terrible actor. The two of them had never trusted her.
“She insisted that she’ll leave the capital and promised that we’ll never see her again so she won’t mar our eyes. Of course, she also promised that she won’t compete for you anymore. She even said that she’ll leave the backyard to me so I can dominate by myself.”
“Ha, she tried to make my decision for me, but when has she ever joined my backyard? She’s as arrogant as ever.” Ao Chenyi snorted unhappily, tightening his hold around Ning Xueyan’s slender waist.
“Then, did anyone else try to steal you away?” she asked. Her gleaming eyes were filled with mirth.
“Who’d dare?!” Ao Chenyi sneered.
She didn’t know where she found the courage to ask, but she did. Her unwavering gaze fell on his handsome face as she insisted, “What if someone dares?”
His eyes were closed, allowing his long lashes to fall gently on his skin. Looking at his tall nose and thin, red lips, one couldn’t help but think that he was worthy of being called a beauty. Of course, he was also a sharp person even when he was closing his eyes. Without a smile on his face, he looked somewhat demonic, preventing others from meeting his eyes.
Naturally, that was for other people. Ning Xueyan had never feared him. She caressed his face calmly, wanting to tease him.
Suddenly, he opened his eyes and looked squarely at her. He smiled and said, “They can’t steal me away even if they wanted to. I belong to Yan’er!”
His unwavering gaze made her blush out of nowhere. Without even thinking about it, she covered his eyes and protested shyly, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re mine. No one can steal you from me.”
His long lashes felt ticklish as they pressed against her soft palm, but what was truly ticklish was her heart. It felt a little warm and sweet too.
To her surprise, he nodded and said earnestly, “Yeah, so you have to protect me! Don’t let others steal me away!”
She couldn’t stop herself from bursting into laughter, and all of her pent-up frustration and nervousness lately seemed to disappear with the sound. She moved her hand from his eyes and leaned onto his chest, sinking deeper into his embrace. She wrapped her other arm around his slim waist.
Lying in his arms, she said in a low voice, “I think there’s a pact between the Empress and Commandery Princess Xianyun. Xianyun tried to leave the manor shortly after the Empress’ messenger arrived. I felt like she was willing to do anything as long as she was allowed to leave.”
“The Empress is childless, but she’s unwilling to repeat the late Empress Dowager’s mistakes. She’s worried that she, the first wife, won’t gain any benefit whether Ao Mingyu or Ao Mingwan becomes the Emperor. Remember, the Emperor’s mother wasn’t alive when the late Empress Dowager got her position. Even then, she only survived for three years. The mothers of both Ao Mingyu and Ao Mingwan are imperial consorts with high status. The Empress knows that if either of them becomes the Emperor, she’ll never benefit.”
Ao Chenyi closed his eyes and spoke in a cold voice. He placed his chin on the top of her hair as he hugged her.
It wasn’t that difficult to guess what the Empress was thinking with the late Empress Dowager’s precedent. The Empress, also childless, wouldn’t support Ao Mingyu or Ao Mingwan. No matter which of them inherited the throne, she wouldn’t be able to live well as their father’s first wife.
She wasn’t close to them in the first place, and their mothers, Honored Consorts Shu and Ya, were still alive. There wasn’t any point in becoming an Empress Dowager without real power.
The late Empress Dowager, with the help of Lord Peace’s Manor, had wholeheartedly helped the Emperor obtain his throne but still lost her life early. It was all too easy to kill someone in the palace.
“Since the Empress is childless, why didn’t she adopt one and raise him herself? The child will still have a high-status mother at the end of the day and can be the Emperor, no?” Ning Xueyan asked curiously. It was obvious that the Empress, like Commandery Princess Xianyun, wasn’t the kind to succ.u.mb to fate. Even if she couldn’t bear a child, she could adopt and raise the child of one of the many consorts in the palace.
“She’ll need the Emperor’s approval for that! If the Emperor won’t let her give birth, why would he let her raise someone else’s child? If she wants a son, she’ll have to steal a child while the Emperor is too sick to talk. Then, she’ll be able to make that child compete for the right to the throne.”
Ao Chenyi spoke while caressing her lovely hair with his eyes closed. It was bedtime, so her long hair cascaded freely down her shoulders. Her lovely hair was lightly perfumed, which added immensely to his enjoyment.
Ning Xueyan blinked and confirmed his words. “So, now’s her best chance!” Wasn’t the Emperor currently unconscious? Even when he was awake, he wasn’t in the right mind.
“Yeah. The Empress is likely the most powerful person in the palace at the moment. She can adopt anyone she wants, but the only suitable candidate is the Tenth Prince. The prince is still young and his mother has a low status.”
Ao Chenyi nodded devilishly.
“Then what she was planning before was…” she immediately asked, realizing that she had forgotten a very important issue.
No matter how capable the Empress was, she couldn’t have predicted that the Emperor would fall into a coma. No one could have seen it coming. The Emperor wouldn’t have fallen ill at this time if it wasn’t for the series of events that happened. He might be old, but not so old that he would be on the verge of death because of an illness.
“The Empress might have a pact with Xianyun. Perhaps she was supposed to adopt Xianyun’s son. I was just a prince, but after the Empress adopts my son, he stands a chance at becoming the Emperor. When my father was alive, he once said that he would pa.s.s the throne to me. That means that my son will win over the old ministers, and they’ll support the Empress’ action. With the support of Lord Peace’s Manor, the Empress will become the rightful Empress Dowager, and she’ll also get the chance to preside over the court.”
Ao Chenyi sneered. His long, narrow eyes seemed clouded over. The Empress thought that she had concocted the perfect plan, but she left clues of her scheme all along. Back then, Xianyun had attempted suicide to marry him. It wasn’t just for the Princess Yi position. Everyone knew that he wasn’t the type to be kind to women. He always did things willfully, and there was also news of him having a “favored concubine” in his manor.
“Ignore her. Don’t meet her no matter what excuse she uses. It’s enough to have me in the palace. And if Xianyun kicks up a fuss again, tell her that she’s free to do so if she wants the entire Lord Peace’s Manor killed,” Ao Chenyi said ruthlessly.
Ning Xueyan raised an eyebrow. With a smile on her face, she said, “Great minds think alike! Commandery Princess Xianyun behaved only after I threatened her with Lord Peace’s Manor.”
A trace of mirth appeared in Ao Chenyi’s eyes as he imagined how Ning Xueyan threatened Xianyun with her fair little face wearing a stern expression. The more he imagined it, the cuter he found her. Emotions rippled through his pupils as he leaned in and gently kissed her delicate, snow-white earlobe. “Yan’er, I’ve asked about it. Your body is ready.”
She didn’t immediately understand his words. When she raised her head in surprise and saw his gentle but naughty smile, realization dawned on her and her face turned red. She pushed him away and said angrily, “You should be sleeping at this hour! You have to wake up early tomorrow.”
This guy! They were talking about something serious just a minute ago, but now he was in the mood for l.u.s.t.
Ao Chenyi put on a look of shock as if he had just learned something shocking. He took two steps forward and pulled her hand, teasing her, “Shouldn’t these things be discussed when it’s dead quiet at night? Or do you want me to say these things in public in broad daylight?”
He even suggested discussing such things in public! She felt deeply embarra.s.sed, especially after remembering his words earlier. He must have asked the physician about it. To think that a person like him would consult the physician about such a thing. Besides embarra.s.sed, she also felt like laughing all of a sudden. She climbed into bed and covered her head with the quilt, but she was smiling.
“Oh, all right. I was just teasing you. You’ll suffocate to death if you sleep like this. Don’t worry. I don’t have strength for it now,” he said lazily, following her to bed. He pulled the quilt off her body and pulled her into his arms. He placed his head on top of her hair, adjusted his position, and closed his eyes.
The woman in his arms was so soft and fragrant that he felt restless. However, he wasn’t in a rush. He had persevered for so many days, so he wasn’t going to be impatient now…
Ning Xueyan found herself in his arms and enveloped in his smell. A trace of shyness appeared in her eyes but she didn’t reject him. She closed his eyes and slept for a while in his embrace, but she soon opened her eyes and saw that he had fallen asleep. There was still a hint of mirth on his gloomy but handsome face, but he still looked tired. He probably never had a good night of rest since the day that they separated.
She looked at him lovingly for a long time before placing her soft lips on the corner of his mouth…