There were two hundred and forty-two little gray flecked stones paved in the rocky walkway outside the Fox Den. Now it was two hundred and forty-three. It was a little one but Ye Hua spotted another pebble, as he nervously paced back and forth, to and fro the entire length outside the Fox Emperor’s home.
Ye Hua was unsure, unknowing as to actually how to make his grand entrance. If he followed protocol then someone should come to greet him, but if he were Bai Qian’s beau then wouldn’t he be exempt from such formalities? What to do? How was he to behave? The perfectionist in him despised not knowing what to do!
Ye Hua blamed Bai Qian for his current predicament. How could she leave out such a relevant aspect? He had been in Qing Qiu nearly a week enjoying his solitude. During this time they had yet to meet, and she failed to give him insight into such critical matters through her short communication for their date.
Tsk, tsk, tsk, he judged her. Another strike against the Fox Princess. She wasn’t detail minded. Not that he was keeping score but he was, and now there were two GIANT strikes against her in total.
His mind went back to the concern at hand and he carefully weighed his options. Ye Hua deliberated if he should walk in or wait for an invitation? This issue was his quandary as he now climbed up then down the same step, as if he were performing a dance. And he wasn’t the only one that thought this, since there was someone behind him applauding his quick two-step.
He whipped around to see High God Bai Zhen slow clapping with the kind of amused smirk on his handsome face that made Ye Hua blush spontaneously. The Fox Prince wore a pale sky blue robe that complimented his fair even complexion, and shiny jet black hair. He understood why so many goddesses were madly in love with the High God.
It was something naturally instilled in him, proper manners and behaviors. Ye Hua politely shaped, circled his arms to greet the elder immortal only to have the Fox Prince whack his joined arms apart with his jadeite flute. “I understand that you’re Xiao Wu’s boy…friend for the time being.” He pronounced ‘boy’ then paused before attaching ‘friend’ and winked at him. Apparently Bai Zhen was in on the secret, and the High God declared in his informal way, “We Foxes aren’t as uptight as you Celestials. My parents will tell you to hold off on your bowing until they’re dead. So refrain from bowing.”
“Thank you, High God Bai Zhen. I’ll do as you’ve suggested.” Ye Hua’s formal, overly polite, too well rehearsed response was instantaneous. It made Bai Zhen grimace and frown disapproving. He went on to converse with Ye Hua as if they were longtime friends, “Ye Hua, consider us your family while you’re in Qing Qiu and call me Fourth Brother. My parents will expect you to refer to them as Father and Mother, especially if you and Xiao Wu are in that ‘kind’ of way. Now come inside and stop dancing in the entryway. You’re a terrible dancer by the way.”
“Didi, you lack rhythm.”
With that, Ye Hua became the sixth child and youngest brother in the Fox Clan. And High God Bai Zh…the fourth brother led the way inside. Ye Hua followed behind not knowing what to expect, but it was nothing as he’d anticipated. Greeted was he with the most casually of receiving by the Fox Emperor half yelling across the Fox Den, “Ye Hua, you have better eyesight than me. Come and help me tie this new lure on my fishing rod.” He walked toward the Fox Emperor but he didn’t make it far, before someone grabbed his arm and it was the Fox Empress, who was a known beauty even at her current age. She sang her words like a song, “Ye Hua, have you eaten?”
He responded that he had with a little head nod only to have her drag him to the dining table, and she raved, “Look at these summer squash.” She thrust a large zucchini in his face, and went on in the same melodic singsong voice, “Aren’t they simply gorgeous? Here we have some pancakes. I just made them.” A massive platter big enough to feed six people easily of fresh vegetable fritters were placed before him.
The Fox Empress tore off a generous piece and patiently held it to Ye Hua’s mouth, while wagging her perfectly arched eyebrows suggestively urging him to take a bite silently. “Leave the boy alone. Ye Hua said he ate and why is there so much? Are you feeding an entire army? You’ve always had such big hands!” The Fox Emperor yelled while shaking his head in objection. “Mother, if the boy eats all that, Ye Hua will turn into a zucchini and I don’t want any green grand kids.” He thought it was funny how the esteemed Fox Emperor called his wife ‘Mother.’ Especially considering how formal his parents were to each other.
Another voice, a feminine voice joined the conversation. “Mother, we’re going on a picnic so don’t feed him, please.” Bai Qian gently scolded, as she emerged from another chamber happily swinging a picnic basket hooked into the crook of her arm. “Oh! I forgot the blanket.” She exclaimed then ran off and the very moment when she left the room, everyone warned in their most hushed secretive voices…
“Don’t eat anything in that basket!”
“Ye Hua, tell her that you have a stomachache!”
“Tell Xiao Wu that you had your jaw wired shut!”
“Hahaha, I can hear all of you. Ye Hua, don’t listen to them. I’m a terrific cook.” Bai Qian scoffed but playfully in a facetious tone and everyone in the room chuckled, laughed in unison including him.
The Fox family’s loving, and easygoing interactions were like nothing he’d ever experienced. The feeling in the den was warm and intimate to the point he was a bit sad to leave, when she hauled Ye Hua up from his seated position at the dining table.
With her small palm which was amazingly warm, Bai Qian grabbed his and braided, intertwined her little fingers into his automatically as if they had always held hands. The sensation of their clasped hands felt strange and foreign, since Ye Hua had never held a woman’s hand. It wasn’t terrible but unfamiliar and his uneasiness came out in his curt speech. “Bai Qian, do we need to hold hands if there isn’t anyone around?”
He wasn’t trying to be rude but it was a genuine curiosity on his part, though after seeing her flustered response Ye Hua regretted saying anything. “No. Of course not. I’m sorry. I guess I’m excited that you’re here.” Bai Qian swiftly released his hand, but strangely her gaze didn’t and lingered on his hand almost wistfully.
Now it was that giant ears hanging, that broad every perfect tooth exposing smile across her face, and her dark eyes widened, rounded like saucers when she spoke. Bai Qian had an extremely animated face that revealed whatever she was feeling, and thinking. It was cute.
She was adorable.
“I thought an unplanned picnic for our first meeting would be nice. Unless you’d prefer something else?” Bai Qian chirped cheerfully strolling beside him, but her bouncing steps had buoyancy so she hopped instead of walking, and Ye Hua noticed her appearance for the first time.
Maybe it was the way the sunlight caught her hair, but she had many different shades of chocolates, and browns even tawny ranging from dark to golden strands in her hair. Her silky tresses were long as most goddesses, although, Bai Qian wore it in an unconventional way. She donned a braid that started with two matching side braids by her ears, and connected in the back to form one thick long fishtail-like twist.
Her face was beautifully heart shaped. Bai Qian had big, round, brown eyes that sparkled, and reflected the glow of the sun. And perhaps her warm heart. Those optic windows to her soul surrounded were they by a lush forest of the thickest, longest, dense eyelashes that branched out like trees. She had an adorable, little, perky nose that she especially wrinkled when the glare of the sun got in her eyes. Her generous mouth resembled a baby sucking on a pacifier due to its constant pink pucker, and she frequently licked her pouty lips leaving her mouth looking glistering.
Bai Qian’s bright attire was different from most goddesses. She wore a colorful coral undertone dawn tinted gown that wasn’t loose, flowy and relaxed. However, fitted and displayed her blooming figure which was like an hourglass or a figure eight.
Bai Qian’s contours were exceptionally feminine. She was the perfect height on the petite side, perhaps a half foot shorter than himself and came to his shoulders. The way she walked made her ample breasts bounce, and when Ye Hua purposely fell behind to check out her backside, she moved with an enticing swing or sway to her voluptuous hips. She was perfect for Mo Yuan.
She was a knockout.
“Is this alright? This spot here?” Bai Qian asked pointing to an open grassy spot by the lotus pond, and her question pulled him back from his introspective study of her backside. He nodded that it was acceptable, sat distantly from her while she busily pulled different colored, and shaped foods from the lavishly packed picnic basket. “Ye Hua, how are things? How are your accommodations?” She asked without taking her eyes off the culinary spread.
“Thank you for putting so much consideration into my preferences.” Ye Hua answered too stiffly. Much stiffer than he’d intended. It wasn’t that he didn’t like her but he barely knew her. “It was nothing and I didn’t do anything in particular, but if you’re pleased that’s good enough for me.” Bai Qian smiled, as she enthusiastically handed him a warm square shaped item wrapped in a lotus leaf. He opened the package and it looked palatable. It was sticky rice wrapped in a lotus leaf. One of his preferred nibbles as he took a big bite and swallowed.
Bai Qian had been intently watching him take a bite, now she was all over him for a compliment. “Well? How was it? What do you think about the flavor, Ye Hua?” He lightly cleared his throat and spoke in his usual mono-toned way, “I’m wondering how all the sea creatures are faring?” Her stare intensified before blinking rapidly in confusion and he continued, “I’m concerned about the sea creatures, because I think you’ve used all the salt from every sea for this one piece of sticky rice. I worry for the sea life that is now struggling with the bio imbalance in the water.”
“Don’t ever cook for Mo Yuan.” Ye Hua advised, as he pitched the sticky rice in the lotus pond to re-balance the ocean’s salt level, and asked, “Bai Qian, what was it about my brother, Mo Yuan, that made you so…” She quickly finished his sentence, “So in love with him?” She giggled behind her hands and whispered in her shy voice, “He’s unique and there’s only one of him. Even if he had a million identical siblings, I would be able to pick him out.”
What a riot was she? Ye Hua firmly pressed his lips together so not to laugh at her. He found great private humor in her absurd claim, since she fell in love with him thinking he was Mo Yuan. This Fox Princess Bai Qian was much dumber than he’d imaged, and she just earned herself another strike.
To be continued…..