Chapter 9 – Recognition (2)
Only the sounds of their sandals hitting the paved wooden floor could be heard as Lu Xiangzhi and Ye Zhen walked in haste. Her heart was beating erratically in rhythm with the occasional squeak her sandal made. Stepping onto the upper tier of the mansion, Ye Zhen slowed her pace, keeping herself two steps away from Lu Xiangzhi who walked forth with ease.
Upon arrival, she saw an old woman of about 50 or 60 years old sitting on the main seat. Her hair which must have been dyed appeared black and lush. The plush chairs on both sides of her was already occupied – Lu Shiming, and on the other was Pei Shi. Leaning closest to the old Madam was of course Lu Shiming, who made the old Madam laugh frequently.
Heads turned in unison when Ye Zhen entered the room and made herself known. She saluted calmly at them.
“Ah, so this is the wild girl you told me. Surprisingly, she looked very poised and clever.” Old Madam Lu said sizing her up with an approving smile on her face.
Looking around the room, Ye Zhen noticed the absence of Lu Lingzhi. Why isn’t he around? Ye Zhen’s tense mood relaxed a bit. She thought she would see him. She was overwhelmed by her hatred and forgot that she was the presence of the old madam. A ticking bomb, she might not be able to restrain herself at the sight of him.
Ye Zhen, who was absorbed in her own thoughts, did not hear the old Madam Lu talking about her. Pei Shi gave her a gentle tug, pulling her from her stupor. Upon realizing, she smiled shyly for the unexpected compliment.
“This girl has not seen much of the world aside from the border town. Apart from that, she was sick and has just recovered.” Lu Shiming explained Ye Zhen’s unresponsive state to Old Madam Lu.
Old Madam Lu didn’t know that Ye Zhen was Lu Shiming’s adopted daughter. She thought of her as a close granddaughter. Seeing her lose so much weight, she felt pity for her and hurried to her side for a moment of care. “Now, you can’t blame me for being worried about you. Look at you! You are bones and skin. I shall see you everyday until you are well, just like a flower in slow bloom!” This sudden act made Ye Zhen remember her past. She was one of the girls who are lucky enough to be born in a life of great comfort. She grew up in a luxurious environment. not only did her grandmother cherished her, but her father also doted on her. She was lovely and charming. If she didn’t fall in love with someone not deserving, she wouldn’t have lived a miserable life and lost her bright perceptive at this age.
Old Madam Lu was coaxed in a smile and hugged Ye Zhen’s small frame. “Grandma, father said the same thing about me. People really do love to see flowers bloom!”
“You little shameless…” Lu Shiming laughed and felt relieved to see that his daughter had regained her former liveliness.
Pei Shi looked at Ye Zhen enveloped by the old madam’s tight embrace with a broad smile, proud of her. She was worried that Old Madam Lu wouldn’t like her daughter but it seemed that even the most difficult persons to please could not resist Yao Yao’s charms. She was a true blessing in the family.
Old Madam Lu was shocked by what Ye Zhen said and immediately laughed out loud. Several people, maids-in waiting were also not able to hide their amusements. Little did they know that although she had a charming smile on her face, she dread the moment Lu Lingzhi shows himself. She was afraid that he would recognize her and kill her before she could do anything else.
“What is taking him so long?” Lu Shiming suddenly asked at someone behind her.
“I went to see the eldest brother in the study just now. He is trying to finish his work as of the moment and would join us as soon as he is finished.” said Lu Xiangzhi.
Ye Zhen held his breath and fisted her hands tightly, not even knowing that her fingernails were already deep in her flesh, drawing out blood.
Still witless on how to face Lu Lingzhi without losing her composure, she squeezed harder until pain brought back her cool. Lu Lingzhi tricked her into believing that he is a friend. Naivety had been her downfall. False as he was, he only used her secret to help his sister make her place in the palace. He was also the tyrant who ended her life. Does these people know the means he used? She wondered.
There is nothing more ridiculous than her becoming his cousin after her rebirth. How should she regard Lu Lingzhi as her eldest brother?