It was the hair raising, ‘I know it was you! How dare you deceive me!? I’m going to tell my father and brothers to kick your Dragon tail!’ glare.
That angry glare that froze him in place. Bai Qian’s somewhat intimidating, and intense stare kept him from moving forward as he delayed like a coward. And it wasn’t Ye Hua’s intention to be discourteous or rude to his guest, when he stood several steps away from her without extending a proper greeting bow.
‘Legs move!‘ Inwardly he commanded his unyielding limbs to follow his orders, but they were disobedient. He couldn’t muster the courage to move nearer, and there wasn’t any need since she quickly advanced to him. Her arms elevated and he braced himself for a sharp slap across the face but instead, she said, “Princess Bai Qian greets Crown Prince Ye Hua.” And her voice was cheerfully animated.
Radiantly she beamed at Ye Hua. Her bright gaze was one of wonderment and curiosity. She keenly scrutinized him then spoke breathlessly, “Like twins… You and your brother, High God Mo Yuan, look so much alike except for the red birthmark on your forehead.”
Instinctively he stroked the red hand print marking on his forehead, wondering what birthmark she was referring to, and Ye Hua’s brisk bordering on the rude tone of voice made her blush. “Princess Bai Qian, not like twins but we ARE twins. Identical twins.” Quietly he cleared his throat several times because his mouth had gone dry, and parched like the desert when he saw her.
“Of course you are, silly me.” Bai Qian’s reply was accompanied with rapid head nods that she agreed, and her smooth cheeks reddened like two bloomed posies. Suddenly she appeared shy as she demurely dropped her gaze, nevertheless, stood on her very tiptoes to get a closer look at Ye Hua’s face.
While she stretched up to him, he likewise stood on his tiptoes to create more space, and distance between them to get away from her. The nearer her keenly examining face moved toward his, the more Ye Hua stretched up and soon, even his neckline was fully elongated causing him to stare down his nose at her. Bai Qian stayed in this awkward stance until she lost her balance, toppled to her side after growing tired of standing on her tiptoes.
Presently, she rhythmically rocked on the balls of her feet while staring at Ye Hua, as if his strikingly handsome face was one of the great wonders of the world… But then he was used to all women leering and ogling him in this stalker-rish manner, especially since it was an everyday occurrence for him.
He curiously watched as she without discontinuing her rocking movements, Bai Qian firmly held her hands behind her back. She slightly puffed out her chest while swaying to and fro before nervously speaking, she declared, “Crown Prince Ye Hua, this is unusual and awkward for me so let me get right down to the chase. I like your older brother immensely. I met him once and it was love at first sight, but High God Mo Yuan has refused my affections. I know I should get over it and I’ve tried to forget him. I truly have but I can’t.”
Finally Ye Hua let out a sigh of relief because she didn’t recognize him, and all he needed to do was get rid of her respectfully, “Princess, what does my older brother, Mo Yuan’s, love life have to do with me?” It wasn’t his intention to speak as harshly as he did, but Ye Hua’s cool words came out sounding callous, aloof and detached.
To his surprise, Bai Qian wasn’t the slightest deterred by his unfriendly tone, further went on to explain with excitement and enthusiasm, “Yes, it has nothing to do with you and I WISH I were a part of his love life.” Ye Hua listened in silence with a facial expression that resembled one of the statues on Easter Island, because of his stone face.
She wasn’t intimidated by him. Bai Qian wasn’t flustered nor did she fret due to Ye Hua’s visible lack of interest, and went on to babble passionately, “I know we’ve only just met, but would you support me in my quest to win High God Mo Yuan’s affections by pretending to be my lover?” Innocently she fluttered her long eyelashes at him with a broad smile that hung on her ears, after making her insane request.
“What!? Be your what!?” Ye Hua couldn’t contain his confusion or shock, and there was an expression on his face for the first time, since they had begun their conversation.
Now like a swiftly soaring arrow, quickly her words flew from her lips, because Bai Qian seemed to understand Ye Hua wanted to walk away, due to the absurdity of her plea. She rambled, “My mother told me that my father refused her love but then fought Zhe Yan, who was his best friend to court my mother because he was jealous.”
“If I could make High God Mo Yuan jealous, it’s possible that he might accept my heart and I know this sounds crazy but…”
Bai Qian didn’t even take a breath and went on to chatter further, “I know you want to know why I chose you. It’s because Mo Yuan is far more superior than other men, so his competitor must be of the same caliber. Who would be a more suitable love rival than his twin? You would be the perfect man for the job! What do you think?” Vigorously she nodded her head ‘yes’ as if hoping Ye Hua might follow suit just from watching her.
However, the dumbfounded expression on Ye Hua’s face was genuine. His full brows snapped together before slightly furrowing, and he shunned Bai Qian’s idea, “I’m sorry to decline, but I’m far too busy and involved in my official obligations to play games with you. Princess, allow me to summon a swan to escort you to either the main hall, or the southern gates.”
Ye Hua bowed his departing greeting, turned to leave and took one full step before she bellowed, “The Sword of Saturn! I’ll give you the Sword of Saturn for your help!”
The Sword of Saturn? Those four words got his attention and Ye Hua halted in his tracks. The legendary sword of Qing Qiu forged in Saturn’s rings. A one of a kind, and irreplaceable treasure handed down the royal line of Qing Qiu emperors… Tempting…but no.
Without spinning back to face her, Ye Hua shook his head in the negative and declined her offer when Bai Qian shouted, “Three months maximum. Two times a week… That’s only 24 fake dates! We’re immortal and in the scheme of things 24 days is a drop in the ocean! I’ve already spoken to your grandfather, and he’s agreed to release you from all your usual duties for the next three months!”
Three whole months without any Celestial responsibility? How in the world had Bai Qian convinced Heavenly Lord? It was an astonishing feat and she piqued Ye Hua’s interest considering influencing, or persuading his grandfather of anything wasn’t amateur work.
Slowly Ye Hua spun around to be greeted by the broadest smile. Bai Qian beamed the same ear to ear grin as before and blurted, “Flattery! My father complimented you on your exceptional talents with diplomacy, and foreign affairs, then shared his concerns about me taking the throne next year with Heavenly Lord. He told your grandfather how lucky he was to have you, and how jealous he was and BOOM! The next thing you know, your grandfather readily volunteered your services for the next three months.”
“Let me try to understand this. I’m supposed to stay in Qing Qiu with your family for the next three months to prepare you for your coronation?” He asked, and there was a brand new feeling of growing excitement that made Ye Hua feel bubbly. His insides felt like butterflies were fluttering around in his stomach, but he kept a deadpan poker face.
Contrarily she couldn’t hide her enthusiasm, and euphorically Bai Qian gushed with happiness, “No, of course not! My father and I will make all the arrangements for your accommodations, privacy and freedom. The part about you training me was a pretense. You merely need to meet me for our fake dates two times a week, and the rest of the time is all yours to do as you please.”
“Crown Prince, please consider all the possibilities? Three whole magnificent months of absolute liberation, and complete independence from your family, commitment, chores, responsibilities and of course, the renowned Sword of Saturn in exchange for 24 brief encounters with me?”
In all honesty, there wasn’t much to consider and it didn’t take long for him to decide. Ye Hua chose and he didn’t make his decision based on her incredible beauty, or the desire to become better acquainted with the Fox Princess. He didn’t have any ulterior motives, but Bai Qian’s proposition was tempting if not thoroughly irresistible.
In many ways, it was what he’d wanted precisely. Had Ye Hua not made this wish?
‘If only I could be free without being tied down to find myself. I don’t even know what I like or dislike.’
He had almost everyday for the last 10,000 years.
Three entire months of independence, and freedom in Qing Qiu was precisely what Ye Hua desired and needed. The Crown Prince was at that precise age in a young man’s life, when he yearned for more. He wished to explore and taste all the many flavors in life. He craved to discover and learn more about himself, the world and determine what his world should be.
Therefore, he accepted her offer and for the next three months, Crown Prince Ye Hua became Bai Qian’s pretended boyfriend, Ye Hua.
To be continued…..