Chapter Eighteen (Part 1)
Pei Jin understood the saying a day equals a year.
During the nights Pei Jin fisted his hands and during the early mornings his intuition warned him Bei Dou was omitting something from him.
‘Bei Dou is it today?’ Pei Jin asked.
Bei Dou silently cursed Pei Jin. Pei Jin woke him up too early in the mornings.
Pei Jin smiled, he never seen Bei Dou silently holding back words to that extent.
Bei Dou passed Pei Jin a small bottle.
‘What is this?’ Pei Jin asked.
‘Prevents pregnancy,’ Bei Dou said.
Suddenly the small bottle felt heavy in Pei Jin’s hand and his face darkened.
‘If you don’t care about the throne then you’re not impatient to have children,’ Bei Dou said.
They both knew Yan Shi Ning’s life would be endanger if she was pregnant with Pei Jin’s child. Pei Jin put the small bottle in a pouch.
‘I forgot to tell you the remedy will be harmful to the body if used over a long period,’ Bei Dou said.
‘You’ve been playing me!’ Pei Jin said.
Pei Jin realised it was safe for him to eat Yan Shi Ning long ago, but Bei Dou poured cold water on him by purposely making him wait a long time.
Bei Dou didn’t care about Pei Jin’s resentful eyes of daggers.
Pei Jin left the Bei Dou’s chamber in an angry state. When he returned to his and Yan Shi Ning’s chamber, he saw Yan Shi Ning rubbing her neck and his anger disappeared.
Pei Jin remembered he was too excited in the middle of night and suckled Yan Shi Ning’s neck.
‘Big brother, you dare smile!’ Yan Shi Ning said. ‘Tonight is the harvest festival banquet. What am I going to wear to hide this?’
Yan Shi Ning picked up a spoonful of chicken congee and ate it but she was too angry to taste anything.
‘Wear a dress with a high collar,’ Pei Jin said.
Pei Jin sat next to Yan Shi Ning at the table and he ate half of her bowl of chicken congee.
‘Big brother, that’s my bowl of chicken congee,’ Yan Shi Ning said.
Pei Jin licked his lips and smiled like a demon. ‘What can saliva do?’
Yan Shi Ning thought about Pei Jin kissing her each night and she blushed. What saliva? What prince? If Pei Jin was a prince, how could he shamelessly eat her half eaten bowl of congee?
‘Ninth prince, mistress, Lady Su’s messenger delivered a chest,’ a maid said from outside the chamber.
Pei Jin accepted the chest from the maid and showed it to Yan Shi Ning. Lady Su was the best dressmaker in the imperial city. He asked Lady Su to make a heavenly dress for Yan Shi Ning. He opened the chest and the dress inside satisfied his request.
‘Wife, come here and see if this dress fits,’ Pei Jin said.
‘Is this dress for me?’ Yan Shi Ning asked.
Pei Jin laughed. ‘Do you think it’s for me?’
Yan Shi Ning’s shaky hands picked up the light blue dress that shone like stars. She was overwhelmed by awe, she had never seen such a beautiful dress like it before.
‘This is the first dress from me,’ Pei Jin said. ‘In the future I’ll give you many dresses.’
Yan Shi Ning raised her head and looked at Pei Jin suspiciously.
‘Quickly go change,’ Pei Jin said. ‘You’re wearing this dress to tonight’s harvest festival banquet.’
Yan Shi Ning happily ran to the screen to change into the dress and warmth itched Pei Jin’s heart.
‘In the past didn’t I promise you one day I would give you the most beautiful dress in the world?’ Pei Jin asked.
The twelve-year-old Yan Shi Ning wasn’t the same as the six-year-old Yan Shi Ning who only knew how to eat, play and sleep. The twelve-year-old Yan Shi Ning slowly pass by the dressmaker’s shop in Xuan Qing and admired the beautiful dress fabrics. But her mother never accepted her father’s silver taels so all her dresses could only be ordinary.
At that time Pei Jin was only given a small monthly allowance from the palace, but it was used to build good connections. He didn’t have enough money to buy Yan Shi Ning beautiful dresses and he could only promise her, ‘one day I’ll give you the most beautiful dress in the world.’
Of course Yan Shi Ning would deny she loved beautiful dresses, ‘who would want a beautiful dress?’
Yan Shi Ning couldn’t believe she finally wore a heavenly dress. She turned around and saw Pei Jin behind her.
‘Big brother, why are you standing here?’ Yan Shi Ning asked.
‘You don’t need to be shy,’ Pei Jin said. ‘I’ve seen and touched it before.’
Goose bumps surfaced on Yan Shi Ning’s whole body. ‘Big brother, did you ask a dressmaker to make this dress for me?’
Pei Jin nodded his head.
‘Big brother, then how did you know my body measurements?’ Yan Shi Ning asked.
Pei Jin waved his hands. ‘I told you I’ve seen and touched it. Why wouldn’t I know your body measurements?’
‘Go to your grave!’ Yan Shi Ning said.
Pei Jin laughed shamelessly. Of course he would know Yan Shi Ning’s body measurements after measuring one of her dresses.
Yan Shi Ning calmed her temper, stepped in front of the screen and sat next to Pei Jin.
‘Big brother, why did you give me a dress?’ Yan Shi Ning asked.
‘I was scared you would throw away all your ugly dresses,’ Pei Jin said.
‘Big brother, you’re too generous,’ Yan Shi Ning mocked.
‘Of course, your husband is always generous,’ Pei Jin said.
‘But… this dress must be expensive,’ Yan Shi Ning said.
Yan Shi Ning knew Lady Su’s dresses were the most expensive dresses in the imperial city. At the banquet in the palace more than a month ago, Yan Shi Ting wore a dress made by Lady Su and it was almost expensive as half of the prime minister’s yearly allowance. She only needed to glance at the dress she wore to know that it was more expensive than the dress Yan Shi Ting wore that day.
‘Wife, are you sad for your husband’s lost silver taels?’ Pei Jin asked. ‘You don’t need to be sad. As long as you’re happy, your husband is willing to lose all his property.’
Yan Shi Ning suspected Pei Jin was secretly rich. She shook her head. What property? Pei Jin had little property to lose.
End of Chapter Eighteen (Part 1)