The speed of her transformation as Qian Qian went from being a glowing ember before turning to chilling stone left him reeling as much as her kiss.
Just milliseconds before, Qian Qian had been burning up with pure desire and heat in his arms. Bubbling over with fiery passion, devouring his mouth breathlessly with abandonment, as if there wasn’t anything else in the world mattered except that passionate moment between them. That was until his fingertips found, then without much thought curiously followed over the raised scar only to shockingly discover it was from her torture. A branded stamp on the small of her back. Now, she was back to being his distant and reluctant Empress.
In compliant Ye Hua audibly groaned protestingly, when she abruptly ended their kiss as suddenly as it began, then forcibly pushed herself away from him. It surprised him that with Qian Qian’s delicate physique, she could break free from his powerful embrace. But she did effortlessly and his struggles were in vain, when he attempted to clutch her tighter to him only to feel her squirming, and loosen herself from his hold.
It wasn’t intentional but he had unknowingly been insensitive. Inwardly Ye Hua severely blasted himself, since he was to blame for her immediate conversion. He should have practiced more, and better effective control over his emotions, especially for her sake. Four centuries had passed since her kidnapping; nevertheless, traces of her abductor’s name – the character (璇) Xuan – remained audaciously imprinted on her silky skin still.
One of his greatest regrets in life had been not being able to tear Xuan Nu apart limb by limb. If he could restore her breath, he would have done so just to kill her again with his bare hands. The Demon Queen had branded Qian Qian to the bone with a fire hot poker like livestock. The sheer idea of Xuan Nu having such nerve to harm the mother of his children infuriated him to no ends.
Ye Hua’s body went taut and his hands tensed up into tightly fisted balls, as the aroused expression on his face went grim with rage. “My Lord, consider the bright side. It could always be worse. The Demon Queen could have done it on my forehead or face.” Qian Qian said with a well-practiced smile. Whatever bewitchment had been between them was gone, and now with her eyes dropped demurely, sounding drained she uttered, “Your Grace, I’m over fatigued tonight and exhausted so if you’ll excuse me.”
Of course, a dreaded bow of her meekness followed and how speedily, how easily with an invisible wall, she closed herself to him. “Can I stay with you tonight? Qian Qian, I simply want to hold you. I won’t do or try anything else…” Even though Ye Hua knew it was probably too late, he asked. And her clear, concise reply was as he expected, when she answered wearing her feigned smile of content before retiring inside her residence with her doors closed tightly behind her.
Like the Empress she was, Qian Qian said with aristocratic poise, “My Lord, your entire harem, all your concubines are present.” Gracefully she waved her arm toward the many ranks of subserviently bowed heads of women from his harem, and teasingly reprimanded him in the merriest, but most unwelcome tone of speech.
“All these beautiful, virtuous women have provided you with their youth and virginity. It’s your position to care for them properly, as a husband should both mentally and physically. I’m also aware many of the women are currently cycling, so it’s a perfect time to expand your legacy with more imperial children.” She stated.
Ye Hua wondered how she could say something so hurtful out loud with a radiant smile on her face, when it made him want to cry buckets of tears. Following a more depressing curtsy that created greater distance between them, Qian Qian excused herself.
The dazzling display of her High Goddess aura, and Empress reign for Ye Hua ended in sorrow. What could be more heartbreaking than hearing her speak things that he knew was tearing her apart inside, and watching his once proud Empress walk away with her shoulders slightly slumped in defeat?
More often than not, he glanced around his extravagant surroundings, and wondered how the hell a giant black Dire Wolf spirit like himself ended up in a place like Nine Heavens. Having been born in Qing Qiu’s wilderness, he was more inclined toward flowerbeds, babbling brooks, lush forests with billowy white clouds overhead, rather than these clear pink skies, palaces and endless regulations.
However, his work wasn’t to appreciate his surroundings, while he found the constant female attention from both admired deities, and servants annoying. Ming’s sole purpose was to guard Empress Bai Qian by any means through the royal command of her father, the Fox Emperor.
His Grace had personally selected the Wolf out of his entire militia to protect his daughter, which was a fantastic recognition of his abilities. Standing at 6 feet 6 inches in height, and 225 pounds of solid brawny muscle in his human form, Ming was the largest Dire Wolf known to exist in the world.
The wise, keen eyed Fox Emperor recognized his intelligence, brute strength, physical size likewise to Mo Yuan and Ye Hua, the young, highly decorated commander had never lost a fight. The flirtatious Fox Empress recognized him for his striking appearance, and had called him ‘Ming the handsome’ or ‘Ming the sexy cherub faced giant.’
Dire Wolves were also known for their loyalty, and that went for Ming as well. To him, it would be an honorable death. He would willingly die for her royal highness Bai Qian. And if anything ever happened to her by nature’s law, his lifeline would come to an end shortly after, because the young Dire Wolf had imprinted on her. He bonded to her when she was a young Princess the first time he saw her face, and he belonged to her much like a spouse would minus the physical intimacy.
Every Sovereign in Qing Qiu had a royal emblem that was unique to them alone. Ming had Empress Bai Qian’s royal seal tattooed above his heart in her Fox’s blood to show his loyalty. The Fox Emperor had instructed him after discovering he had imprinted on then Princess Bai Qian, “Ming, going forward, Bai Qian’s life is yours to defend. She is your mother, sister, wife and child. She is your life.” Ming noted the Emperor purposely did not use the word ‘mate.’
Either way, such an esteemed, meaningful position from the Emperor brought great honor and wealth to him and his family, when Ming accepted his life’s task and made a blood oath to secure her, then after their births, her children’s lives with his own. Serving Qing Qiu’s Fox Emperor granted him a unique passage. Though in Nine Heavens, he moved of his own accord, and wasn’t bound to accept orders from anyone even the Sky Lord. His one and only master being Bai Qian.
Ming was her protective shadow and similar to her shadow, it was he who stayed closest to Bai Qian at all times. 24/7. Always lurking in the background as her unseen bodyguard was his place, and being continually near to her was often very much like a double edged sword.
Heaven and Hell. Intense joy and agony all deliciously swirled together.
A perfect example being earlier in the evening, Ming had smiled before retreating into the darkness, when he saw her jumping into Ye Hua’s arms. If anyone deserves some joy, it was those two. They had suffered long enough without each other, and seriously merited some pleasure in their lives. Ming wanted her to be happy more than anything else, but there was a dark side of him that aches endlessly to see her with other men.
Still, Ming did wholeheartedly hope for her and Ye Hua to reconcile. He saw the way the young Black Dragon, the Sky Lord stared at her with yearning when she slept. For hours, he had watched her sleep with their children in her arms, and understood the misery behind his longing gazes, because Ming often looked at her the same way.
Therefore, it’s both disheartening and shamefully relieving, when Bai Qian returned to her bedchamber alone. Now she was sitting on her bed sadly staring off into the distance, but Ming saw the falling teardrops on her face that caught the light like diamonds from the candlelight.
Bai Qian had always and forever been beautiful but when she cried…when she cried, it broke him down and went undeviatingly to Ming’s heart, head and crotch leaving him throbbing hard for hours. It didn’t help matters she was almost nude only wearing a flimsy robe that was virtually transparent, and did nothing to conceal.
However, instead, the sheer material brought increased attention to her curves. Especially her full, jutting milky cream-filled breasts and dark, hardened rose hued nipples that turn up perky like young women’s breasts. Such a perfect combination of delicate, and voluptuous along with her luminous skin was mouthwatering.
What he did next could be perceived as an overstepping of his boundaries and functions. But after adjusting his pounding erection and without being summoned, Ming stepped forward from his position a few measures away. He had been saving potent 1000 years aged loquat wine from Qing Qiu for a special occasion, but today seems like a good day to share it with her.
From his thick cowhide belt, he pulled out his prized wine carafe and held it out for her wordlessly. “Thank you, Ming.” Bai Qian whispered with tears still streaming down her cheeks, then took several deep swigs — her capacity to drink wine better than most men, including himself, had always impressed him.
Chit chatting wasn’t his forte. He wasn’t much of a talker but forced himself to console her, and hopefully raise her spirits. “Empress, I was thrilled to see your High Goddess aura anew, and you scared the living daylights out of the women, while showing them nobody could outdo you. Nobody in their right minds would dare touch any of the children in a malicious way ever again. It was due time for you to remind everyone who the real Empress is, and why.” Proudly Ming declared, because the moment had been spectacular to witness, and he hesitated to do so but also made a little appeal for Ye Hua.
“Ming thought for sure, tonight would be the blessed night for you and His Grace to finally make amends. That kiss between you two will go down in history.” Ming paused, hoping for just one smile from her, and he wouldn’t want for anything else. Instead, in huge gulps, she swallows more of his precious wine, and a part of him wants to stop her but said nothing. Ming felt he owed Bai Qian for not being able to save her from Mo Yuan, or Xuan Nu.
The scars on her body from her torture, the sadness in her eyes from her time with Mo Yuan living as his plaything, Ming knew she was ashamed of herself both physically and emotionally. If only he could honestly tell her that she was even more desirable, and sexier than she had been before because she was a survivor.
The intoxication was instantaneous. The robust and heady wine proceeded straight to her head, but regrettably failed to wash away any of her embarrassment. “Ming, I feel like such a damn fool. There I was acting all high and mighty but how ignorant of me.”
There weren’t many who offered such comfort but with Ming, she could turn her filter off, and speak freely without worry of judgment. Ming was much more of a friend than a bodyguard. No, he was a family member like another older brother. Much to both Mo Yuan and Ye Hua’s displeasure, the children even called him Uncle Ming. And being around him brought on a sense of ease, when nobody else could. Like now or maybe it’s the wine; either way, her mouth was rambling loosely.
“I really can’t win.” Most bitterly Bai Qian complained. “I’ve been Mo Yuan’s sex toy for hundreds of years, while Ye Hua has been bedding only virgins. How can I possibly compare? Also, let’s not forget, I birthed twin Dragons vaginally, and they were incredibly big for being twin girls!”
Thirstily gulping more wine even though Ming was shaking his head disapprovingly, she inhaled before barking, “Ye Hua’s virgins are like perfectly unblemished flower petals that have only known his touch! I bet their near virginal female canals feel like tight vices, and he came within seconds! Which says a lot because he can usually go for a long time.”
She ignored Ming’s uncontrollable blushing, and went on to argue with great excitement, “Furthermore, it doesn’t help that he and Mo Yuan are twins if you get my drift! It’s regretful I didn’t spend the last 400 years with an earthworm-like tiny dick sized man. If I had then I too would be as tight as a virgin!” She lamented then screamed with balled hands. “I wish Mo Yuan was standing here so I could kick his fucking ass! I hate him! He is the bane of my existence!”
Ming’s sudden, and booming laughter was powerful enough to stop her mid rant. She found herself laughing with him in spite of everything, and her tirade ended. “Empress.” Ming spoke in his usual polite but friendly style, “If I may be so bold and forthcoming, I think you’ve bloomed more beautiful over the years. And nobody, no other woman can or will ever hold a candle to you.”
“You are the most desirable woman in the world, and the fact you had three beautiful children makes you more sought after. Extremely prolific and fruitful. Men love fertile women. Moreover, it would be a shame if you retreated in a distant temple, as if you had something to hide. If you and the Sky Lord remain separated and apart, then wouldn’t you be letting that scoundrel, High God Mo Yuan, win? You should open your heart, and mouth to tell the Sky Lord what you told me the other night.” Ming ended in a tender whisper, the twinkle in his amber eyes made her blush rosy at both his compliments, and words of profound wisdom.
“What would I do without you? Ming, you always know just what to say to bring me back to center. Thank you for the wine. I know it’s from your private stash. Can I repay you with a hug?” Bai Qian asked, but another remarkably grumpy voice answered instead of Ming, and Ye Hua grumbled in an annoyed tone full of jealousy, “No, you can’t hug him.”
With angry steps, Ye Hua stomped up the dais to the elevated bed. First, he glared at Ming then her and demanded, “Qian Qian, am I interrupting something here like a date? Did you blow me, your husband, off in front of the harem so you could drink wine, and giggle with your oversized bodyguard?”
Bai Qian deliberately looked down to conceal her reddened face, and the signs of her unexpected arousal. Because nothing in the world turned her on more than a jealous, and possessive Ye Hua.
The friendly, close dialogue between Qian Qian, and her guard like a raging bull left him seeing red. Was it the conversing, laughing or their intimate relationship that bothered him most? All of it. Everything. It was all of the above! Why couldn’t she understand his intentions, his desires? There she was spilling out her heart with her Dire Wolf, when Ye Hua wanted to be the one she could be so free with. How could she not see he wanted to be the one who made her laugh, got her drunk and wiped away her tears.
The jealousy was eating him up alive. Ye Hua took a moment, and cleared his throat to gathered his lost composure, as the Wolf moved back away to his usual place. But with him, went Qian Qian’s joviality leaving her somber again. It was hurtful. Here he was, her adoring husband in her room but she was looking down, avoiding his gaze as usual.
“Qian Qian…” Without waiting for an invite, Ye Hua sat on the bed beside her, held her hands and asked straight faced, “Would you honestly kick Mo Yuan’s fucking ass if he were here?” She snorted then beamed a heartfelt smile. Perhaps the first since she had returned to him. “Well, there’s the beautiful smile that melts my heart.” Ye Hua murmured as he brought her hands one, then the other to his lips and covered them with kisses. Her luscious skin smelled of roses from her bathwater.
“Your Grace, I’m not one of your virgins. I’m not an unmarked flower petal.” Her faint voice suddenly faded out, and Qian Qian took a few breaths before continuing, “I have very unladylike defects on my body and mind. Some you can see and others you can’t.”
“Show me.” His breath bounced off her skin, when he spoke breathily against the backs of her hands. Qian Qian hesitated, exhaled a shuddered breath, then allowed her robe to slid off her body before straining her right shoulder out toward him, pointed to a three maybe four-inch long mark, and spoke without emotion, “An eight-inch hand blade. There was a series of rubies on the handle. It was a beautiful piece of weaponry. They heated it over a fire first so it was both a cut and a burn. They did it repeatedly until they hit bone. I think that’s why the scar won’t go away.”
Gently, most gently, he took hold of her arm with both hands, then tenderly caressed the raised and puckered skin with his lips. This time he controlled his rage but hot, fresh tears overflowed his eyes then trickled flowingly down her skin. Ye Hua kissed down her arm and below on the same limb, discovered there were indents like bite marks on her wrist.
Qian Qian explained in the same monotonous voice, “I have marks on all my wrists and ankles. From the shackles. My limbs were bound the whole time, and the hole was a puncture from the spike. You already felt her branding on my lower back.”
The scent of roses filled the air, when she flipped her semi wet hair forward to reveal what had once been an open gash where her head met her neck, “When they shaved my head and cut off a bit more than my hair, then the rough table edge tore it further. But it was the sound of the water that seems to have traumatized me most. When I hear rushing water, I find myself back on that cold slab, chained like an animal and unable to breathe, due to the spiked collar around my neck as they took turns choking me out.”
Were there even words? If so, why couldn’t he remember any? How could Ye Hua accurately explain how incompetent, and helpless he felt to relieve her distress? “What can I do for you to ease your pain? Is there anything I can do…” He asked though he was nervous she would reply, ‘Yes, go away and leave me alone forever!’
However, Qian Qian’s hard expression softened before she wordlessly, lightly pressed her lips to his then whispered. “I want you to understand because I never told you, but I wouldn’t have survived the calamity without you in my heart. You don’t have to do anything other than stay with me and I love you, Ye Hua. I’ve always loved you.”
To be continued…with NSFW!