Before the Eastern Sea Banquet
Mo Yuan sensed her presence immediately while staring out the window in his chamber. Bai Qian was on Kunlun Mountain but her delay meant one thing. Conversing. She was with her disciple brothers who couldn’t get enough of her. They weren’t the only ones who felt that way. He shared their sentiments but multiplied by a million or two.
Resurrection after 70,000 years of death and hers was the first face he saw. Seventeen now Bai Qian wasn’t the young woman he’d asked to wait for him. Quite the contrary, she’s grown and ripened perfectly. Bloomed like a flower and her lovely face reflected the elegant change within her.
Tears of profound joy fell from her dark, intelligent eyes as she pressed herself to him, and Mo Yuan realized the very last piece of his shattered soul was her. With Bai Qian in his tight embrace, he knew he was back.
Mo Yuan came to understand several things about himself quickly. First, it was she. Bai Qian’s the reason he struggled so hard for tens of thousands of years to return, and it was she that made his pacing heart race almost painfully.
It was she. The Instigator. The catalyst who made the jealous man in him stir and awake from his long prolonged slumber. When Mo Yuan first heard she was engaged to his twin Ye Hua, it nearly made him physically ill. That sick, sinking, dread-like feeling in the pit of his stomach was from believing once again, that he had lost out on his chance to confess his true affections for her. After the nervous trepidation, there was endless euphoria to discover their contract was a political match between two clans and not one of love hence it was breakable. Mo Yuan didn’t feel guilty towards his twin since Bai Qian and Ye Hua never met.
And it was folly but Mo Yuan thought their courtship would be simple because nobody knew Bai Qian as he did. Due to their intimate Shifu and disciple relationship that spanned tens of thousands of years, he knew her, or at least thought he did. However strange and entirely changed was she. She’d become someone else, a foreigner during his hibernation.
The sparkling, playful, mischievous girl was gone, in her place now breathed a somber, solemn, secretive, and somewhat distant woman who was unknown to him. It was an unsolvable puzzle until Zhe Yan told Mo Yuan that, she’d just returned from her heavenly trial, and asked for an amnesia potion to forget everything she endured. The switch in Bai Qian was due to the mental trauma from her ascension to the High Goddess.
Zhe Yan privately shared his speculations that he believed Bai Qian was possibly Ye Hua’s mortal wife, SuSu. The poor woman who’d suffered and endured horrors in Nine Heavens. She had her eyes taken by him and committed suicide right after giving birth to his son.
Everything was a theory and nothing was confirmed so Mo Yuan never said a word. If the details of her trial were disturbing to the point she wanted to dis-remember everything, he merely complied. He was already entirely indebted to her and decided to help her forget.
There was also a considerable relief since there wasn’t anything definite about her possible relationship with Ye Hua, and there wasn’t a love connection anyway. If she was SuSu and still had feelings for him, wouldn’t she have gone to him right after her return? Therefore, Mo Yuan finally took the leap, confessed his love, and asked for Bai Qian’s hand in marriage. Much to his shock and delightful surprise, she willingly agreed to marry him after ending her proposed agreement with the Celestial Clan.
Only the Fox Clan with Zhe Yan and the immediate family circle knew, secretly engaged were Mo Yuan and Bai Qian for almost two hundred years.
During the two hundred years, Bai Qian never spoke – made a single move to cancel the previous arrangement – or meet with Ye Hua. Was Mo Yuan eager and ready? Definitely. However, he didn’t press the issue or make any demands on her. After all, he concluded she was probably exhausted. Her fatigue was understandable from feeding him precious blood from her heart for 70,000 years, and she used over half of her cultivation for the elixir that brought him back.
Once again, Mo Yuan didn’t put much consideration into her delay because he was purely euphoric, and couldn’t believe his incredible fortune. Breathing air anew was a wonder due to her struggles and self-sacrifices. He was miraculously back from the grave and marrying the one woman he’d loved for what felt like his entire lifetime. Bai Qian once Si Yin, his seventeenth disciple, the woman he believed he would never see again for eternity.
While Mo Yuan was in bliss, regrettably for him, it wasn’t the same for Bai Qian. She didn’t appear unhappy and seemed content, but didn’t illuminate the glow of a woman madly in love either. At times his sentiments felt entirely one-sided, but he was beyond caring because his deep affections for her were blinding, dazzling, and all-consuming.
The delicious scent of her wafted into his room before her physical arrival. Mo Yuan’s heavy ornately embroidered saffron robe swished from his rapid movement, as he turned just in time to see Bai Qian walking into his room. The lovely sunny smile on her beautiful face made him feel as if he was melting. Reaching out for her hand, he pulled her in front of him and fondly wrapped his arms around her waist. Inhaling the sweet fragrance of her as he brushed her graceful neck slowly with his lingering lips. Lightly licking and savoring the delicious candied flavor of her flawless skin.
“My Shì qī.” Mo Yuan murmured directly in her ear. Yes, he called her Shì qī instead of Shíqī. Bai Qian was a woman, his future wife and Seventeen didn’t suit her anymore.
He lightly, teasingly sucked on her earlobe while Bai Qian raised her shoulder to block his access. Mo Yuan’s mustache tickled her sensitive skin. Adoringly he asked, “Shì qī, did you miss me?”
A soft, amused chuckle came from her full rosebud-hued lips with a perfect Cupid’s bow as Bai Qian responded, “No, Shifu. It’s only been two days since we saw each other last.”
Instantly Mo Yuan’s body stiffened when she informed him, “I saw Ye Hua. I’m going to spend some time in Nine Heavens as I planned.”
Concerned with what she was intending on doing which wasn’t safe, sensible, or prudent. Mo Yuan sighed distressed with a deep exhale and inquired, “Are you sure? There are other ways to retrieve your eyes. Let me help you.”
Bai Qian recently confessed and honestly told Mo Yuan everything that occurred during her heavenly trial, and her relationship with Ye Hua. After hearing her tragic story, Mo Yuan indeed felt guilty for wanting to marry the woman his twin apparently still loved, but he couldn’t walk away from her either. He deeply loved and desired her for so very long, ever since she became his student 90,000 years ago.
Also, her brief unpleasant relationship. The fleeting tragic union with Ye Hua was too damaged beyond repair, undesired and unalterable. Or at least that’s what Bai Qian told him and what he wanted to believe. Although privately Mo Yuan still had his inherent uncertainties, concerns, and doubts. Particularly after hearing of her calculated plans to claim back her eyes and repay the debts owed to her, he couldn’t stop worrying.
He was sensible and wise enough to know when one aims for revenge it’s best to dig two graves because most often both parties become destroyed in the end. There was another grave concern. If there was one issue that troubled Mo Yuan most, it was A-Li, caught in the middle of an ugly adult conflict.
In a low voice and his worries were noticeable when he asked, “Ye Hua has agreed to your plans?”
Mo Yuan’s jaw involuntarily tensed jealously at the very thought of Bai Qian being so close, too near, and always around Ye Hua. It was only natural and expected to feel reluctant, unwilling to send his future wife to her ex-husband, even if they married only briefly during her temporary trial.
Bai Qian quickly caught his cautious tone and heard Mo Yuan’s teeth grind ever so slightly. She stated, “Yes. He’s agreed to the three years charade.”
“Does he know about me? Us?” Mo Yuan asked tensely. He believed it would be best for Ye Hua to know the truth.
Her tone was flat and indifferent when Bai Qian answered, “No. I don’t consider it a necessity for him to know. He’ll find out when everyone else does after I’ve canceled my engagement with him.”
Securely with all his might, he pulled her back into his body, hugged Bai Qian tighter, and growled in a low voice, “What if he wants to be intimate with you again?”
“He knows everything is an act. Pure performance. Ye Hua knows not to become confused.” Bai Qian’s voice sounded distant and far suddenly.
Mo Yuan’s tense tone reflected his uneasiness. “You are aware Ye Hua is still in love with you, aren’t you? He hasn’t given up. He only put the lamp away because of Bai Feng Jiu’s prank. He does and will want you back. Are you sure you’re ready to end things with him altogether? No lingering feelings or affections for Ye Hua? What about A-Li?”
Bai Qian’s lack of reply only added to his anxieties. It would be a lie to say he wasn’t troubled about her designs and Ye Hua’s undisclosed intentions towards her. Mo Yuan knew his twin well enough to know and he would never stop trying to regain her love. He knew this because he too would never quit if he were Ye Hua. His younger twin’s youth was another cause of insecurity for Mo Yuan, but he couldn’t make her stop because he had secret hopes.
Mo Yuan hoped her quest for revenge would give her closure and be able to move on from her hurtful past. Perhaps be able to love a man again without reserves, without fear, even if her new man looked identical to her previous.
It was saddening but he saw it. The rigid, strict restrictions Bai Qian placed on her emotions were visible. Especially every time she donned her mask to hide herself and the way she forcibly held back physically. Mo Yuan knew this because he knew her.
During the times when she and Mo Yuan were intimate physically. They’d done everything but her defloration. Regardless of the intimate act. Whether it was deep kissing, touching, or oral pleasure, there was never any fire or passion in her eyes. Ever. She was silent and never made a single sound. Bai Qian never climaxed and he knew it wasn’t from lack of effort, skill, or experience on his part.
He concluded the reason she felt nothing was because she just refused to grant anyone access to get too near. Bai Qian purposely smothered. Intentionally suffocated, choked and extinguished the flame within her. Her frigid behavior was another reason Mo Yuan couldn’t allow Ye Hua to have her again. Her time with him was the cause of her deadening. The painful time she spent with him, destroyed and killed something inside her. Mo Yuan would spend his life nurturing, caring and fostering her body’s resurrection as she did his.
“Do you love me?” Mo Yuan asked. His dark, warm, expressive eyes were sad and the corners of his eyes crinkled ever so slightly. A frown would have been more fitting but he smiled.
There were a noticeable delay and detectable pause when she answered most automatically, impassively, “Yes.”
He chuckled because there wasn’t any love in her voice or her gaze. Mo Yuan wanted to ask how she loved him but was afraid of her answer. He was entirely aware she respected him as her Shifu, and mostly saw him as a father figure but still decided to marry him. Perhaps it was because she knew. She would always be safe and she was correct. He would forever be her safe harbor and that was enough for him. Plenty.
There was a feeling of indisputable defeat but he hid it. Instead, Mo Yuan just placed his forehead lightly against hers, prayed her endeavors weren’t in vain and the result would give Bai Qian the closure she needed. After her conclusion, hopefully, her revival. Her return and resurrection would be next.
Still, the disconcerting knowledge, that she would be with Ye Hua weighed heavily on him. It was merely performance but pretending to be his blissful, and loving fiancée for the next three years was completely disturbing. It instantly induced and ignited uncontrollable possessiveness and jealousy to flare inside Mo Yuan fiercely.
There was also a painful secret only he knew. Some night. Many nights Bai Qian frequently called out a name that wasn’t his. She cried out. No, she moaned his brother’s name. She moaned ‘Ye Hua’ in her sleep and the fear that she still loved him. That she was dreaming and yearning for him burrowed into Mo Yuan’s troubled mind.
Often it made him question his selfish desires but he couldn’t release her either. Bai Qian was the only one he ever wanted for himself. Mo Yuan’s only greedy, and self-indulgent desire in life and he couldn’t resign from his wishes even for his twin brother.
The Voracity. The Thirst. The need for a physical confirmation Bai Qian was his unveiled itself suddenly. His hungry body demanded to touch her silkiness. His craving mouth required him to taste her sweetness. Mo Yuan’s rapacious brain commanded he watch himself come on her creamy skin, and inside her beautiful mouth. He wanted to tear her open. Explore her inner warmth and fill her within.
From their first kiss, and intimate rendezvous to their current moment, Mo Yuan’s ravenous appetite for her was endless, perpetual, and everlasting.
“I love you.” Mo Yuan whispered hoarsely with desire and as usual, she said nothing in return.
Bai Qian didn’t stop him when his hands urgently, frantically pulled at the fastening that held her dress closed as his greedy lips crushed down on hers. Inwardly, privately Mo Yuan tried to quiet his silent insecurities and reminded himself repeatedly like a mantra. She was his, would always be his and she belonged solely to him.
To be continued…