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Qin Wanru's lips had always been bright-red in color and it was precisely why her grandmother had given her the nickname Zhuozhuo, which means 'burning'! A part of memory was gone, but she could vaguely make out that it was because of her bright-red lips which resulted in her being charged with a crime. People treated her with contempt because of them and the circ.u.mstance she was under turned for the worst.
Nevertheless, she was unable to remember the concrete details. All she could remember was that all the people around were scornful.
"Why? Could it be some secret recipe that you can't reveal to me?" Chu Liuchen teased as he saw her face drained of colors and he reached out his hand to pinch her cheek.
He was a little too rough and Qin Wanru was tearing up from the pain. While keeping her eyes on him, she lifted her hand to grab his hand that was pinching her. The pain had made her forget about the painful memory deep in her mind.
However, Chu Liuchen had retracted his hand before Qin Wanru even touched it and he started to laugh hysterically when Qin Wanru missed grabbing on to his hand.
The outrageous mockery of this handsome young man made her so angry!
Qin Wanru eyes were welling up with tears as she trained her eyes on him. Covering her cheek with her hands, she was sure it was going to swell up soon.
"Forget it, I shall not be so calculating as to hold you responsible. I will borrow this medical book from you to have a look. How about you accompany me to go around Jiangzhou in a few days. I haven't visited Jiangzhou before this!" Chu Liuchen finally stopped laughing and stared at the pitiful-looking girl for a moment, before he grabbed the medical book which Qin Wanru left on the table.
"Open the door, I'm leaving!"
"Open the door?" Qin Wanru asked in shock as she held on to her painful cheeks and continued, "Does Prince Chen intent to leave through the front door?"
"Otherwise what do you think? Do you intend to let me out through the window? You know I'm not in good health right!" said Chu Liuchen, as he let out a cough and put his hand to his chest.
"How did you come in in the first place?" asked Qin Wanru, with widened eyes as, then she looked out of the window.
"There were two guards who accompanied me here just now. But I asked them to leave once I entered the room!" Chu Liuchen answered cheekily and he stole a sideways glance at her and tapped the table with the medical book.
"What do you want me to do so you would leave through the window?" said Qin Wanru while choking back tears and biting her lips.
"If you want to me leave through window, easy, leave the seal in my care for now. If I'm happy with my tour around Jiangzhou, I will give the seal back to you, otherwise..." said Chu Liuchen as he smiled a cunning smile. Seeing how this was making Qin Wanru fret, he thought it was exactly how he had antic.i.p.ated.
"Yes, I will be happy to bring your round to see the place, as long as it makes you happy," said Qin Wanru, gritting her teeth, while in her mind, she thought Prince Chen was truly a fussy person who was so hard to please.
"Are you sure this is enough?" said Chu Liuchen as his face fell in displeasure. There was even a hint of malice in his expression.
Qin Wanru was immediately alarmed by his change of expression. She wondered what was going through the mind of this temperamental, devious prince. She quickly responded with care, saying, "What do you think? I will go along with your instructions!"
Since she was in need of his help, she had to lower herself to meet all his demands. She could not think of other excuses to turn down his requests.
"Looks like you are quite an obedient girl. Good, all girls should behave truthfully just like you," said Chu Liuchen, as the malicious look on his face faded and he began to smile. He reached out to lightly pat Qin Wanru on her head and said, "I can see you are not some dimwit. I shall stop making things difficult for you. It's getting late, I'm going to bed!"
Yawning lightly, Chu Liuchen put the medical book into his sleeve and walked to the window, when two guards appeared instantly.
"Qin Wanru, I'm warning you not to use those antics you tried on other people on me, otherwise I might get angry!" said the prince, swinging the seal with his hand and wearing a mischievous expression on his face, while his eyes sparkled with a strange light. Lastly, he said, "I'm going to bed early because people with poor health like me always sleep early."
"Yes, please rest early. I haven't seen the prince or talked to him!" responded Qin Wanru cleverly.
"That's right, that's right!" said Chu Liuchen, apparently very satisfied with her response. He pressed down on the window sill and leaped over the window when the two guards caught hold of him with caution. He paused for a moment while he allowed one of the guards to pat lightly on his back a few times.
From where Qin Wanru was standing, she could see that Chu Liuchen's face had turned pale in an instant and he was panting quickly. It was obvious that he had poor health given that he started panting after exerting just a little.
He continued panting for a while more, then looked up at a stunned Qin Wanru, smiled and waved at her. Finally, he and the two guards disappeared into the night.
By the time Qin Wanru walked up to the window, they had totally disappeared from her sight. She closed the window, then touched her painful cheek, thinking that it was bound to swell up the next day. As she realized that it was truly getting late, she got onto her bed, closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep while holding on to her painful cheek. However, there was a person who was unable to fall asleep at this time.
In Mrs. Qin's room, there was indeed one person who could not sleep. Qin Yuru had just arrived and was crying her eyes out while she put down her head on the table.
"What? You let all the people your face? What should we do now?" said Mrs. Qin, walking to and fro anxiously in the brightly lit room. She came to stand behind Qin Yuru, who had cried so much that her eyes were swollen. Upset that Qin Yuru was so careless, she scolded, "Useless! It was a simple trip made to appease Qi Tianyua and look at what happened?"
"Mother, I... I did know how it ended up in this way. I was about to explain to him and shift the responsibility to other people when a few ruffians barged in and saw me... and my hat came off on the way downstairs!"
Putting her head down on the table, Qin Yuru continued weeping to the point of choking.
"You are such a useless thing... can't even do one thing right," said Mrs. Qin as she pushed hard on Qin Yuru's forehead.
"Mother... what should we do now? If my cousin were to find out, he wouldn't want to marry me. What should we do?" wailed Qin Yuru and she threw her head back and grasped her mother's hand, imploring her.
"Don't panic, let me think what we can do," said Mrs. Qin, gritting her teeth as she sat down on a chair facing Qin Yuru. She was frowning deeply, unable to reconcile with what happened.
"Mother, cousin and I loved each other. I'm sure he... he would not abandon me!" said Qin Yuru nervously as she wiped her face with a handkerchief.
"Jiangzhou is, after all, a good distance away from the capital. It was also not necessary for you to live in the capital city later on. By the time the rumors spread all the way there, we could clarify our side of the story," said Mrs. Qin, gritting her teeth again. She continued, "Since you have managed to convince Qi Tianyu, he would keep his mouth shut when he goes to the capital city. As for the others, who else would find out?"
Qin Yuru nodded in agreement and she listened on. She was just worried that engagement she worked so hard for would be broken, but now, it seemed that the situation was not that bad, so she stopped crying.
"Then could you write a letter to your brother's wife to firm up my engagement to my cousin. I will also write a letter to my cousin," said Qin Yuru, who began to blush and continued to say, "When you deliver the letter to the capital, please bring my letter for my cousin along!"
"That sounds like a plan!" Mrs. Qin said, nodding. She knew better not to delay this matter. To her, the engagement with the Qi Family had been withdrawn now, so she said, "Don't mention the incident that happened here in Jiangzhou. If rumors spread in the future, just push everything to your younger sister. Anyway, your names sound so alike. We can say that they've mixed up the names."
"Alright, mother, I get it. What then shall we do with Qin Wanru? She had ruined my good opportunity, are we going to let her off just like that?" said Qin Yuru, nodding, as she refused to be reconciled by what happened.
"We're not letting her off! Don't you realize that she loves to acquaint herself with that s.l.u.t? In a few days, I will make both of them stay inside the family temple, so we don't have to bring her along to the capital city," said Mrs. Qin with an evil laugh. She continued to say, "I've brought her up, but she doesn't know to be grateful. Instead, she backbit me. She always looked so docile that I didn't expect her to bite us like a dog that doesn't bark!"
Seeing that her daughter's reputation was ruined, she was determined not to let Qin Wanru off the hook.
She said these words to justify herself, while she had forgotten that Qin Wanru's father had sacrificed his life to save Qin Huaiyong. For this reason, Qin Wanru came under Qin Huaiyong's care. Qin Huaiyong would have died if not for Qin Wanru's father's help, not to mention he becoming the Ningyuan Army General after his life was preserved!
"Not to bring her along? Would Father allow that?" Although Qin Yuru would be elated if they did not bring Qin Wanru along to the capital city, so that she and her mother could weave their story to their favor, she thought it was quite impossible not to bring her.
"Why would he disagree? He also had a part in this mistake, and he should know better to work with us to salvage the situation!" Mrs. Qin said in an angry voice. Although it was she who came up with the idea of making her husband drunk so that he would go into Shui Ruolan's room by mistake, but she did not expect that he would eventually propose to make Shui Ruolan his concubine, which provoked her to anger.
To her, Shui Ruolan was an ungrateful person who pretended to be so docile, who, unbeknownst to Mrs. Qin, had managed to seduce Qin Huaiyong.
"But... but Father would not agree to this!" Qin Yuru shook her head. She tried to remind her mother saying, "Mother, Father will not agree to you not bringing both of them!"
"Then I will let him bring that s.l.u.t, while leave your sister here to take care of that old hag," said Mrs. Qin after hesitating for a moment. She slammed her hand on the table as her anger was not abated still.
To be precise, the girl was not the only culprit for ruining their plan, the old hag had a part in it as well.
"Father had always been so filial, I'm afraid he would not agree to this either."
"Then just let the girl stay behind! She is still within my grasp. She had no choice but to obey me since she is still under my wings!" Mrs. Qin said with shrewdness in her eyes.
The next morning, Qin Wanru woke up late and she was having a headache. She sat up on the bed, touching her cheeks. Qing Yue lifted up the bed curtain once she heard some movement. When she saw Qin Wanru, she exclaimed anxiously saying, "Miss, what's happened to your face? It's swollen!"
"Pa.s.s me a mirror!" said Qin Wanru as she let out a sigh.
Qing Yue quickly grabbed a mirror from the dresser and pa.s.sed it to Qin Wanru, who looked at herself into it. She was already fairer than other girls, and now there was a big red swollen patch which looked like she had been pinched on the cheek. Over the period of one night, the bruise had not gone away. It showed that Chu Liuchen had been pretty rough with his pinch last night.
"Miss, did you b.u.mp your face into something?" asked Qing Yue, looking puzzled, as she studied the bruise. She remembered Miss Qin looked fine when she left last night.
"I have no idea too. Maybe I've b.u.mp into something out of carelessness!" said Qin Wanru, rubbing her cheek. She gave the mirror back to Qing Yue and got down from her bed.
As Qin Wanru knew it was no longer early morning gauging from the angle of the sunlight, she realized it was time for her to go to her grandmother to greet her good morning.
She headed to Old Grandma's residence in a hurry once Qing Yue was done helping her wash up and got ready. When she arrived at her grandmother's room, she could tell that something was amiss because the atmosphere was extremely tense.
Could it be because she had heard about what happened the day before?