Chapter 9 – Love?

It has been 2 hours since she left the manor to find Li Quan. She hurried home with Zui Feng practically flying. Can't be helped, she is worried. Not because of her father, but her meddling cousin. She sighed inside, she know he cared for her deeply. Father mentioned it before, his father died when he's young. Maybe he just wished to feel the family warmth. She unconsciously arrived at the manor backdoor. It's nothing to be surprised about though, Zui Feng know his way well. She effortlessly climbs down and sneakily finds her way back to her room.

"…"

"Hmm...?"

It's really unexpected. Yu Er anticipated Yong Ming will suddenly appear out of nowhere as usual and scared her out of her wits. But since no one appears, she quietly walks back to her room. This situation worries her to no end. She knew she needs to think of some plan to avoid him as much as possible. Of course, it's easy to hide Li Quan. The only thing that she needs to do is to avoid the forest for a while. But the food and medicine that she delivered is limited. She will need to go again in two or three days at most. This, she can worried later when it happens.

Now, she'll need to compose herself to face her cousin. She realized that her lying skill is unreliable besides, it's not effective anyway. Yong Ming knew exactly when she lied. Thus, this will not work. Yu Er is getting more and more anxious that she forgets it's almost dinner time. And the worse thing is, she hasn't got the slightest idea how to explain her behaviour this afternoon.

Two hours ago, Yong Ming bed-chamber

"She has left…"

"I know she would."

"Should we follow her?"

"No, let her go. I'm going to discuss this with uncle later."

"You're sure? She's probably going to lead us to answers right now."

"I know. But I don't really wish to scare her after this afternoon. I really wish she would trust me and tell it willingly."

"Well, if you're sure then that's okay. Are you really going to tell merchant Guo?"

"I have no choice. Judging by her reaction, it's not something to be taken lightly."

Both men fell into silence. Rui Lang knows what his king is thinking about. Especially, since he has been thinking about the same thing since arriving to this manor. It's not like it's a bad thing, but he knows this is going to be a complicated matter. He knows Yong Ming hasn't realize it, but he care too much even for 'a brother' and he wonder if he should 'enlightened' his king about his feelings towards Yu Er. But after hearing what Yu Er said last time on the street, there's a slim chance she'll be willing to go with them to the capital. And the worse thing is, he know Yong Ming too well. The king won't be able to leave this place without the girl. He sighed; this is going to be a series of events later on. He just wished it won't be an unpleasant one.

Sitting quietly on a wooden chair, Yong Ming tries to think about his intention towards Yu Er. He knew he cared deeply for her, but it didn't explain his infatuation towards the little lady. He knows he fussed over her too much this past few days, more than a brother should. To be honest, it's not like he hated this new feelings, more like welcomed it. But it brought so much trouble since he can't decipher it well. All he knows right now is that he cared for Yu Er deeply and wished to protect her from harm. No choice, he just has to be a little thick-skinned and consult it. No good will come if he delayed it any longer.

"Ehmm…"

"What is it Young master?"

"I have something to consult with you. Come and sit beside me and before that, close the door."

The silence is thick in the air, Yong Ming can't even force the words to come out from his mouth. His guard noticed this this but kept his silent posture and demeanour either way. Rui Lang knows exactly what he's going to say but kept his mouth shut anyway. Finally, the young king found enough courage to speak deciding to turn a blind eye in the awkwardness of the situation. After all, it's not every day that a king consults his feelings with his aide.

"You know… I was thinking, I want to know your opinion about her. What do you think of her?"

Yong Ming chooses a roundabout ways to approach the subject and Rui Lang inwardly smiles. It's not obvious but if the king is not so preoccupied with his own thought, he might notice the tiny twinkle in his eyes and a flinch on his mouth.

"She's a good lady, an educated and noble one."

"Yes, well I was thinking maybe I'm being too strict to her. I'm worried that she might dislike me if this keeps up."

"…"

"Why don't you answer?"

"Forgive me, but I have no reply for your earlier comments for I have no idea to offer either."

Young Ming sighed. Seeing his king behaved thusly, Rui Lang finally broached the subject further.

"Young Master, do you intent to bring her with us back to the capital?"

Yong Ming is startled. His friend knows him so well! He is thinking of doing just that, but the problem is, he's not sure how the girl will react. Furthermore, there is no way he'll bring her along without understanding his pull towards her.

"I guess I can't hide anything from you huh? I do intent to do just that. More importantly, I am confused about my feelings towards her. As a third person I was hoping you could advise me on that."

"…"

The king waits for his reply. Rui Lang know even a blind man could see how much the king is infatuated with Yu Er. Not that he couldn't see why, and to be honest, Yu Er deserves every attention that the king poured to her. If Rui Lang can choose who he wants to serve as a queen, he will shout Yu Er's name without a second thought. Guess, it's time to finally 'enlighten' his king about this.

"From my observation, I could only say one word that befits your condition."

"Really? And what is that?"

"Love."

His words struck him like thunder. His heart beats furiously as to acknowledge that comment, his head becoming clearer and clearer while his body maintain a rigid position as to releasing control to his mind. Yong Ming could only stares at his friend's face, seeing everything but at the same time seeing nothing at all.

"Love? You mean I love her?"

"Yes, and not the platonic or brotherly kinds either."

Both fell into silence as the king contemplated about this fact, and his guard slash childhood friend stay watching his face change colours every now and then.

Mr. Guo finally comes home after his tiring day of work feeling thoroughly exhausted. One of his partners in business is acting up demanding more that his agreed share of profits. As a true businessman he could not let this matter passed so easily, though his mind could care less about it. He was once a scholar, a very distinguished one to boot. He holds important position as the king's advisor long ago, but chooses to abandon all of it few years back and pursue a path to become a merchant instead.

The Guo family's business is large, that the name is widely known everywhere. The business did not focus on one thing but everything. It has shares in silk, foods, transport, medicine, education, and many more. That is why people fear someone from Guo family so much, having many connection and enough power and finance to build a small country of their own.

"Uncle you're back."

Hearing his nephew's voice rings in the air, he smiled in a fatherly manner towards him. Yong Ming has always been his favourite among many of the king's children. He knows with a glance that he will make a fine king even in early age. That is why he will lend his power when Yong Ming asked for it in the future.

"Yes, how is your day today? I heard you went strolling to the lake with Yu Er this morning."

The young king's face turned a bit red upon hearing his daughter's name, and Mr. Guo sharp mind immediately find a connection. He is not thrilled to find what he sees in Yong Ming's eyes and knew in the near future, there will be trouble brewing.

"That's the thing that I wish to discuss with you. Can we talk this in a more private place?"

"Of course, come to my room nephew, I'll ask someone to bring us tea."

After the tea is served, Mr. Guo opens his mouth to begin their conversation.

"So, what it is that bothering you so?"

"It's Yu Er. She's behaving strangely these days as I'm sure you have noticed it too. I'm worried she has explored into dangerous waters and doing something extreme to warrant the concern of officials."

"Tell me about your suspicion."

Yong Ming begins to tell him all his suspicion and some evidence that led him to think that way. He could see concerns radiated from his uncle's face matching his own.

"I really don't know what to do. Thus, I come to you for advice."

"Hmmm…I believe the best thing to do right now is to leave her be."

"What? How could you suggest that uncle? She might be in trouble that she could not comprehend right now!"

Mr. Guo couldn't help but chuckled despite the graveness of the situation.

"I'm not telling you to drop the matter just to let her be as we 'lure the tiger to leave the mountain'"

"!"

"You mean…"

"Yes, I see you finally grasp my meaning. She will lead us to answer that we seek nephew."

"But that might be too late! What is something happens to her while we wait?"

"…"

"I believe in her. She is my daughter after all, I believe in her judgement. Besides, that child is special."

Yong Ming saw his uncle's determined eyes and for the first time he sees the bond between father and daughter. He understands what his uncle is trying to convey to him but his heart is screaming in agony. His uncle is telling him to stay put and trust Yu Er despite his worries. He sighed, and with difficulty decided to follow his uncle's advice.