The depth of one's heart cannot be conveyed through words, and Pei Xuan, an intelligent scholar, knew this well. Her voice was smooth as pear blossom wine and every word she spoke was gentle and nuanced, but also alluring and praiseworthy.
Cui Ti stared at her in disbelief, unable to fathom how this husband of hers could be so captivating and asked softly, “Really?.”
Pei Xuan's eyes sparkled with affection as she replied in a matter of seconds, "Absolutely.”
Overwhelmed with emotion, Cui Ti couldn't help but burst into tears at Pei Xuan's affectionate words. Pei Xuan, who was usually composed and dignified, immediately kneeled before her and gently wiped her tears away, "My beloved wife, why are you crying?.”
Embarrassed, Cui Ti looked away and murmured, "I'm not crying."
Pei Xuan knew she was lying, but didn't push the matter.
No matter how dull Pei Xuan was, she knew that she was annoyed with her, so she said embarrassingly with a blushing face, "You asked me, I, I didn't mean to offend you..."
Pei Xuan believed that her repeated usage of the word "like" offended the reserved and sensitive girl in front of her, and she was blaming herself, but Cui Ti did not pay any mind to it. She continued crying while stomping on Pei Xuan’s embroidered shoes that were in a worse state than when she had first worn them.
Nonetheless, Pei Xuan found her charming, even when she was angry and stepping on her feet.
As Cui Ti stepped on Pei Xuan's foot, she couldn't help but smile, but even though she tried to hide it, Cui Ti could see it out of the corner of her eye.
She wondered how her husband could laugh even when being trampled on, thinking she must be a fool.
Then, Cui Ti softly sobbed, reflecting on the many nights she spent in her previous life worrying about her relationship with Pei Xuan. If she truly loved her, why did she keep her at a distance?.
"Wife.." Pei Xuan interrupted her thoughts, pulling at her sleeve.
Cui Ti realized that she had never really had a chance to express her anger or even her true feelings that were bottled up with Pei Xuan in her past life.
If she didn't have the ability to ‘see’, she would definitely be angry with Pei Xuan who distanced herself from her.
But since her spiritual eyes were able to let her see, she knew that this person was a woman who was elegant and weak inside, and she couldn't help but excuse Pei Xuan’s attitude.
She understood that Pei Xuan's coldness towards her was not intentional, but rather a result of trying to protect the secret of her gender. It was a matter that was too important to be taken lightly and had nothing to do with her lack of love for Cui Ti.
However now, when Cui Ti thought of the lively and short word “love", her heart thumped rapidly as if a herd of rabbits were stampeding.
Cui Ti clutched her chest, causing Pei Xuan's concerned eyes to shift towards her. Her beautiful brows furrowed in worry as she asked, "Wife, are you feeling sick?.”
Trying to hide the redness on her face, Cui Ti muttered in a low voice, "No... Why do you ask?.”
On the first day of them being a married couple, Pei Xuan was caught off guard by her wife's ability to fight back. Despite feeling dazed, seeing her blushing face and red earlobes, she couldn't help but feel a sense of happiness. The corners of her lips curled up as she admitted, "There was no reason!.”
Cui Ti could see Pei Xuan's smug expression and it made her feel both angry and ashamed. However, as someone who had lived two lives, she knew there was no reason to settle scores with an innocent and ignorant person in this life. She withdrew her foot, glanced at Pei Xuan’s brocade boots, and said softly: "I'm fine, but for you, does it hurt?.”
"It doesn't hurt. But does your foot hurt, my lady?” Pei Xuan asked.
Seeing his concern, Cui Ti's face became even more red with shame.
She didn't dare to look her in the eye, and her legs and feet felt weak. Having spent three years with her in her previous life, she knew better than anyone how careful and considerate Pei Xuan could be. She never imagined that simply trying to get her to be honest would result in double the teasing.
In her previous life, Cui Ti was too afraid and timid to show herself and she never had the courage to ask the "prime minister's son" why she chose to marry her.
If she would have asked, maybe there would be an answer, just maybe…
As Pei Xuan looked at her bright red cheeks, she couldn't be more content. She asked her, "What about you? You haven't answered me yet?.”
But Cui Ti was too distracted to respond, pretending to be confused and ready to run away.
Pei Xuan, however, was quick to catch her and pull her into her embrace.
Mrs. Pei happened to be taking a stroll and spotted the couple hugging each other in broad daylight through the blooming flowers.
Cui Ti, who spent most of her eighteen years in the Xining Mansion with barely enough food and clothing, was half a head shorter than Pei Xuan. When she found herself suddenly embraced by her, she was overwhelmed that she lost her composure and blushed, resting her chin on her shoulder.
Pei Xuan gently supported her slender waist, afraid of hurting her, but she didn't know what else to do.
She was overwhelmed by the fragrance coming from Cui Ti's body and had to use all her restraint to resist the temptation to touch her, “I told you what I thought. What about you?.”
As Cui Ti felt the gentle vibration of Pei Xuan’s touch on her chest, her breathing became erratic and she was transported back to a dream from her previous life. She remembered the way Pei Xuan had undressed her, causing her legs to tremble and turn pale with anticipation. Even the slightest touch from Pei Xuan left her weak and intoxicated by the sweet aroma that enveloped her senses.
Pei Xuan held Cui Ti tightly, her desperation evident in her expression, "Wife, why are you so quiet?" she asked, hoping for an answer.
Cui Ti was taken aback when she spoke, her voice trembling as she tried to compose herself: "I...I married you willingly..."
But as soon as she replied, Cui Ti pushed Pei Xuan away and tried to step back, only to find her legs failing her. Pei Xuan caught her before she could fall and steadied her arms.
Feeling humiliated and indignant, Cui Ti asked, "Are you satisfied now?.”
Pei Xuan felt more than satisfied, but he also felt regretful for upsetting her and apologized sincerely.
Although they were married, it was still inappropriate to embrace each other in the garden in broad daylight. The rules of ethics were strict in Xijing, especially when it came to relationships between men and women. Even holding hands in public could draw criticism and accusations of being "shameless."
Despite Cui Ti's initial courage in asking Pei Xuan if she liked her, she was now at a loss as to how to proceed, standing awkwardly in the garden.
Mrs. Pei watched them for a moment before deciding to give them some privacy, leading the servants in the opposite direction to avoid disturbing the couple's intimate moment.
As the bright afternoon sunlight shone, Bai Ge opened the window’s room and turned to see her mistress lost in thought, a warm expression on her face. With an ambiguous smile, Bai Ge teased her, "Oh, mistress, you're still daydreaming even though you're now Madam Cui. It seems some things never change. But it's springtime, and I won’t ask you to fix that habit of yours.”
Cui Ti felt embarrassed and stumbled over her words. "Don't talk nonsense," she said as she turned to gaze at her.
"How can I talk nonsense?,” Bai Ge rushed over, counting with her fingers. "The sun hasn't set yet, and I've seen you laugh seventy-eight times. Your face must be stiff by now, mistress.”
After being reminded by her, Cui Ti was secretly annoyed.
As old friends who had supported each other through hard times, Cui Ti didn't mind Bai Ge's teasing. She squeezed her friend's cheek and asked, "Did I really laugh that much?.”
Bai Ge nodded. "Even a blind person could see that you're happy with Pei Xuan."
Cui Ti was at a loss for words. "..."
Bai Ge continued, "But don't show it too much. On the first day of marriage, even if you're thrilled, you shouldn't make it too obvious. Otherwise, it will look like we're just trying to impress the family. Mr. Pei is a great guy, but you, my mistress, are just as excellent. In my opinion, there's no woman in the world as demure and loyal as you."
"We've known each other for so long, of course I’m loyal," said Cui Ti, blushing at the compliment from Bai Ge. She didn't want to dwell on the topic, but Bai Ge was insistent, "Did the mistress and master... you know," she trailed off with a suggestive wink.
Pei Xuan’s hand fell slowly as she listened in from behind the curtain. Eavesdropping was not honorable, but she couldn't resist the temptation to listen to their conversation.
In her previous life, Cui Ti was often instigated by Bai Ge to think about things that made her blush and her heart race. But since she got married and became a wife, Bai Ge had returned to her mischievous and fun ways.
It was pitiful to say that Cui Ti had never had a close friend before, except for Bai Ge in her boudoir.
"Shh, keep your voice down, someone might hear us," warned Cui Ti.
Bai Ge lowered her voice, and asked again, "So, have you and Mr. Pei…consummated the marriage?.”
Cui Ti couldn't help but laugh at Bai Ge's suggestive tone, and she shook her head while pinching the handkerchief in her lap.
(T/L: A handkerchief is a cloth with the blood of the woman, indicating that they indeed consummated)
"No?!" Bai Ge muttered quietly, "I’ve said it before, but matter how gentle the man is, how can he not leave marks on the mistress? If there is no consummation, then the handkerchief that Mrs. Pei took must be a fake.”
Hearing their voices suddenly became low and weak, Pei Xuan's heart itched, wanting to eavesdrop on their conversation.
"The young mistress doesn't know, but having such a lively and fragrant beauty sleeping next to him, how can he bear his lascivious intentions? This is clearly unreasonable!.”
But then, a gentle voice like water flowed out, calming Pei Xuan's nerves. "My husband treats me well.”
Cui Ti continued, “He's a good man. Don't worry about such things, Bai Ge.”
Pei Xuan held a bouquet of flowers and breathed in their fragrance, hoping to purify her soul. Just as she was about to make herself known, Bai Ge spoke mysteriously: "I have a wonderful method here, the master won’t be able to bear it if you dive into his arms and give a cute smile!.”
A cough interrupted from outside, and Pei Xuan entered the room confidently, put her fist to her lips and pretended to be choking,”Bai Ge," she said softly. "They're looking for you. Go see them."
When Bai Ge heard the voice, her face flushed as red as a monkey's backside. She quickly bowed to Cui Ti and rushed out of the room without looking back.
As Pei Xuan approached, Cui Ti's heart pounded like a drum. After a few moments of silence, she mustered up the courage to ask, "Did you overhear everything?.”
Pei Xuan's expression was complicated, and her voice was faint as she replied, "Don't learn from her."
Seeing her agreeing happily, Pei Xuan felt a little more relaxed. She put down the bouquet of flowers, but she didn't know that Cui Ti was thinking of something more interesting than smelling the fragrance of flowers.
She gazed at Pei Xuan's straight, delicate nose, and her eyes fixated on her slender fingers.