WEI LI LIAN
Li Lian laid the sheet on her mattress and straightened it out. She could not bear the fact that they had expensive sheets in empty rooms, yet the maids slept on bare mattresses without covering. To her, it did not matter whether what she had done was considered stealing.
Crossing her legs she sat down on the plush mattress to recollect her thoughts. The past few weeks had been hectic and she sought to reconcile her thoughts.
The emperor was still unseen. Grand General wanted her in his bed. General Feng was in love with the princess man. None of this helped to propel their plan forward.
Li Lian realized she still had not seen the emperor alongside his entourage. It was out of the ordinary as it would be expected that they would run past each other in YiYuan.
Her mind went back to the time General Feng implied he had seen her with the emperor. He warned her of the possibility she could be discarded to a secret woman if not careful. Regardless, the place he mentioned he saw her with the emperor was the rendezvous location she had met with the Grand General, not the emperor. Furthermore, it was weird the Grand General had been more willing to protect the princess man instead of her. Would it not make more sense if he did it because they were related? Hmmm… but it could also have been that for a man like him, duty comes first.
She also pondered why Luo Meng was always around the Grand General when he was only the emperor's the shadow guard. Unless, in actuality, the Grand General was the emperor.
Thinking about the possibilities gave Li Lian a headache. She had not been the proper lady Mistress Kei raised her to be with the Grand General. Thus if he was the emperor, how would she rectify herself? Though he seemed to desire her, she would not be considered as empress material. Nevoria was vain like that.
"Aiyah! Elora, what have you done?" she groaned as she sank into the mattress and pulled the blanket over her head. If the Grand General was the emperor then her fantasy of the Grand General escaping with her to a faraway place where they could live normal lives was not only impossible, but improbable.
She hoped he was who he and everyone else said he was.
A couple of hours after dozing off, she was awakened by the door opening. Normally, she would have heard an intruder a feet away from the place she resided, but maybe her senses had been marred due to her head injury. She fisted her hands ready to fight.
The door quietly closed and she heard the procession of a few steps as they proceeded into the room. The person started to shuffle as if they were undressing. At this sound she kept her body still, as if she was asleep. She was waiting to see why the person was there and if the answer was unsatisfactory, the perfect opportunity to attack.
Next she heard what she assumed to be a robe falling on the floor followed by her blanket being pulled back.
Li Lian was about to kick the person when she realised it was the Grand General; the first name on her blacklist at the moment. She was all too familiar with his figure and aura now that it was easy to tell that it was him.
He fidgeted as he slid himself on her mattress, trying to get close to her. What in the world was the man who had just hit her doing in her room like they were on good terms? He casually took her waist causing her to hold her breath. Her body had built an invisible wall against him. He pushed her to the other side in order to make space for himself before reaching for her head.
The Grand General pulled her near and began to place tender kisses on her bandaged forehead. Her heart beat loudly, she was afraid the secret hid in her heart would be a secret no more. They felt like drops of rain long awaited for in a desert place; yet instead of hot sand, they fell on an open wound.
She rolled over and shook him off of her. However, as soon as his hand slipped off her, he wrapped his arm around her small body again, reaffirmed his position.
To be honest with one's feelings or to be feign ignorance?
"I was beginning to like you." The yearning evident by the soft spoken tone of her voice.
"I still do." He rushed to say.
Although this tampered with her heart a little, she continued on, "But that was before you hit me. Now my feelings are the opposite. I have lost respect for you, Yuwen Hong."
"Shh…" He snuggled her closer to him and his body heat began to warm her up. "Let's not fight shall we?"
Was she hearing right? He had the guts to say that after everything? "And yet, you are the one who slapped me hours ago," she scorned.
He did not say anything back, his hand still stroking her arm. Even the waves of desire that he would normally ignite whenever he touched her were gone. A frustrating silence dominated the room and Li Lian's mind began to go crazy because of the stillness. How could she lay with someone who felt so close yet so far from her?
"This won't do. You have to leave."
"I find that I do not sleep well in any place where my empress is not."
Even when she felt nothing but disdain for him, he wanted to play around. Now was not the time. "That is not of my concern."
"Why are you being so difficult?"
Her mouth gaped in shock at his words. He had hurt her yet he treated it as if it was nothing. Enough of being the 'proper' woman Mistress Kei raised her to be, she was letting her emotions take over.
"You cannot do that."
"I can do anything I want, especially considering that these are my sleeping quarters. Get out now!"
"I am staying."
She rose and sat up, forcing him to do the same. Fumbling around, she found a lamp and hurriedly switched it on. He was leaving this room, even if she had to carry him out to do so. May the heavens give her strength. "Yuwen Hong, you will leave this room."
He roughly exhaled. "Every woman is the same."
"Look around all Nevoria. You will find no other like me." No one woman in Nevoria was a princess from Huticah aspiring to be empress.
"Alright." his voice was croaky, indicating his lack of sleep. "What can I do to make things right?"
"Nothing is sufficient enough to make up for you abusing people. I will not allow myself to be one of your victims. You have to leave now." She began to forcefully bulldoze him off her mattress, though he was barely budging.
"Li Lian calm down," he took her hands and twisted them hoping she would relax.
"Ah!" she squealed to the pain; before she knew it, she was bursting into tears. Like water bursting from a dam, the tears spilled down her cheeks. Her own sounds of distress and heartbreak rang, and she sounded stentorius. She was like a kid crying because someone stole her sweets.
"Are you crying?" He nervously let her go and drew her close as if to determine whether she was truly crying.
She wiped her tears, stopping to sniffle for a second, before going at it again. In her ears she sounded like a whaling donkey.
"But why are you crying?"
"You hit me and now I don't like you and I wanted to keep liking you."
"I did it to protect you."
To this she cried louder. She could hear some talking from outside. Their loudness awoke the others, probably curious to know what was going on. "You are lying, you abusive monster!"
He was at a loss for words, opening his mouth as if to speak then closing again. He had no idea what to do with her.
"Quiet now. Listen, why don't you slap me back? That will make it fair."
"Can I?" she asked as she lowered her voice. "Do you mean it?"
"Yes, I do."
Her insides were dancing around in excitement, though she was still sore from pinching herself in order to cry. It was a sweet dish of revenge, the only thing that would make it sweeter would be if it was sevenfold. "One will not do. Only seven can do," she insisted.
"That is ridicul―"
Her throat warbled as if she was about to cry again.
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"Alright, seven will do," he hurriedly changed his mind.
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