Chapter 16: You must lose
Xia Chunyu was slouched on the couch, resting, when he heard Ye Jiayao humming as she made her way back to the house. “So noisy.”
Ye Jiayao shut her mouth and stealthily went over to the cabinets to hide her silvers. It was her private money and it needed to be hidden well.
Xia Chunyu opened one eye and saw her moving around like a thief. What goodie was she hiding?
“Go get a cup of tea for me.”
“What do you want a tea for? Aren’t you sleeping?” Ye Jiayao muttered as she went to get water for him.
“I want dragon well tea.”
Ye Jiayao narrowed her eyes at him, her tongue itching to give him a verbal lashing. He really just had to be difficult.?As he was a don, Ye Jiayao had no choice but to go to the kitchen and bring him hot water.
As soon as she left the room, Xia Chunyu got up and opened her wardrobe, reaching out with his hands. He touched some silvers that weighed almost five bucks.?Wasn’t that what she lost last night? Where did she get it? Did she ask them back from Song Qi and Peng Wu?
Xia Chunyu thought she had a headache and could not sleep last night. How could she possibly do that? She lacked poker skills and gambling luck. Xia Chunyu looked down at the silvers in his hand and immediately pocketed it, softly sneering. As if nothing happened, he returned to the couch and laid back down.
“Chunyu, tea is here.”
Xia Chunyu got up and took the tea to the study.
Ye Jiayao stood behind the assorted lattices and peeked at him. She saw him took out the map to study, so she tiptoed to open the wardrobe to move the silvers. She thought that it was better to hide them under the bed.
Where were the silvers??Ye Jiayao couldn’t find them! She knew for sure that this was where she hid them. He must’ve found out!
Should I ask for it back??Why not??Even though he paid the debt, it was her who won the money back. It belonged to her. After some consideration, Ye Jiayao marched to his study confidently.
“Chunyu, did you take the thing I put in the wardrobe?” Ye Jiayao asked softly, trying to stay calm.
Xia Chunyu didn’t even give any indications as to what he did. He simply replied, “What thing?”
“Where did you get silvers?”
“I… I won it back.” Ye Jiayao’s newfound confidence was slightly wilting.
Xia Chunyu finally lifted his eyes and looked at her. “You still owe me five silvers anyway.”
How is he such a stingy man?!
“I used my wisdom and tried so hard to win back those silvers. You should at least split half with me!” Ye Jiayao complained.
“Oh? With your wisdom? Could you tell me how smart you were? Enlighten me.” Xia Chunyu’s expression held a clear ridicule towards her.
“It was Rock, Paper, Scissors. Don’t look down on this easy game, it has lots of wisdom. If you don’t believe me, then let’s play one round. If you lose, return the silvers to me. If you win, you can keep it.” Ye Jiayao was angry that she had to resort to this maximum compromise to win her money back.
“It was originally mine. Why do I need to bet with you?” Xia Chunyu ignored her and continued to look at his map.
Ye Jiayao sat down sadly and complained, “When I lived at home, I should’ve been given three silvers per month, but stepmother always finds a reason to deduct. Sometimes, she said that they had less income and could not afford to spend any more. Sometimes, she said I was too easy-going that the servants might try to scam it from me. Other times, she’ll say that she forgot and she would give it all together in the next month. However, I never got any reimbursement the month after. I found it embarrassing to fight for a couple of silvers so I let it go. I got nothing while my younger sisters had new clothes made and got gifted new pieces of jewelry. My grandmother sent many things to me but they never arrived in my hands.”
“When I was 12, I had a serious illness. My father had a position in Wuzhou Council and was more than capable of having me looked at, but the stepmother didn’t even get me a doctor. It was winter, and the fever made me unconscious. Nanny wanted to put some ice on my forehead but she was afraid that the wetness could get inside my body and make me worse. So instead, she went outside to get her body cold and hugged me to get rid of my fever. She went in and out the whole night to do that for me.”
“Perhaps God pitied us because, at dawn, I finally got rid of the fever. However, it left my nanny a permanent illness. Whenever the weather changed, her whole body would get joint pain. I heard that knee pads made of tiger skin were the best thing to use to keep warm. I’ve always wanted to buy a pair for her, but it cost so much and my savings weren’t enough. It kept dragging until she retired last year. I wanted to give her more silvers so that she could spend her old age happily, but I didn’t even have enough. When they told me I was going to marry someone in Shang Dong, I thought my painful days were gone. I could finally repay my nanny, the only one who took care of me in my whole lifetime.”
Ye Jiayao seldom searched for the host’s original’s memories because they were unhappy. She was optimistic and never liked to remember the sad past. Now, she wanted to move him, so she tried hard to remember. The more she talked about it, the more heartbroken she felt. She was originally trying to save up to prepare to run away, but as she talked about my?nanny, she felt that if she had the ability one day, she must repay her.
Xia Chunyu was worried. It was not the first time that he heard about the evil stepmother and how pathetic she was. One glance at her frustrated face and he knew that she was not lying.
Ye Jiayao immersed herself into her terrible memories, her heart dropping into a dark valley. Suddenly, a thought jumped at her. Her stepmother had always been stingy and never treated her well, so why did she prepare such great dowry for her? She not only gave her dowry from Ye Jinxuan’s grandmother but also her own money. It didn’t make sense! Was it just to please Wei’s family? It couldn’t be! Why was she the only one kidnapped in the whole bridal entourage? She couldn’t help but think if there was any underhanded activity that went on.
Ye Jiayao forgot about the silvers Xia Chunyu took from her as she thought about this question. She quietly walked back to the bedroom and sat on the couch, still in deep thought. If she could only go to Wei’s family, all the secrets might be revealed.
Xia Chunyu saw her walk away quietly and instantly felt horrible. He did not take the money away because he was stingy. He just didn’t like the way that she earned the silvers. If she wanted money, she could’ve just asked him for them.
Xia Chunyu put the map away and locked it inside the cabinet. He followed her to the bedroom and placed the silvers in front of the pier table. “I’m returning your silvers. In the future, if you want money, you can ask me directly. Stop coming up with street smart.”
Ye Jiayao found it ridiculous that she won the money fair and square, yet he was treating it as a street smart. A bandit was lecturing her about stealing. Ha!
Ye Jiayao slouched and said in frustration, “Whatever! I will never see my nanny again in this lifetime. What would I do with the silvers?”
Xia Chunyu felt even guiltier. “You don’t know the future. Just take it! What if you have a chance and you don’t have money, wouldn’t that be a pity?”
Ye Jiayao intentionally hesitated for a while before taking the silvers away.
“Don’t play Rock, Paper, Scissors with other people anymore,” he warned.
“Okay.” Ye Jiayao nodded obediently and asked, “Can I play with you?”
Xia Chunyu snorted. “I am not that bored.”
“Are you afraid of losing?”
“I will lose?”
Did she think I was an idiot like Song Qi and Peng Wu?
“I assure you that you will lose,” Ye Jiayao stated, smiling cheekily.
Xia Chunyu was provoked. “What if I win?”
“If you win, I will massage you for 15 minutes. Deal?”
Xia Chunyu pictured himself lying down on the couch and leisurely reading books as she kneeled next to him, using her soft little hands to massage his legs and back. She would be smiling at him, eager to do anything to please him.?Hmm. This bet is interesting.
“Half an hour.”
Ye Jiayao hesitated for a second before agreeing. “Okay, half an hour. What if you lose?”
“If I lose, I will give you five more silvers,” Xia Chunyu said generously.
Ye Jiayao’s eyes brightened, seeing her freedom one step closer. “Deal! Let’s play! One game.”
Xia Chunyu’s lips almost curled up into a snarl. His woman was a gold digger.
A moment later, Ye Jiayao were 10 silvers rich as she laughed on the couch, while Xia Chunyu walked out, looking ferocious.
Peng Wu followed third-in-charge carefully.
“You and Song Qi both lost to your big sister?”
Peng Wu said honestly, “She took away what we won last night.”
“What did you play?”
“Hammer,” Peng Wu answered sullenly.
Xia Chunyu was puzzled because he also played hammer. How did it happen? Coincidence? Or did she play a magic trick on them? How else could she win? It wasn’t like she was sure that he would play hammer.
Peng Wu thought carefully. Did the third-in-charge also lose to sister-in-law?
“Third brother, third brother!” Second-in-charge called, walking briskly towards Xia Chunyu.
Xia Chunyu greeted, “Second brother.”
“Third brother, I am looking for you. The spy we sent to Xin Yi came back, but he was severely wounded and could not go up the mountain. Big brother asked us to go down the mountain immediately,” second-in-charge said.
Xia Chunyu turned to Peng Wu. “Go back to the house and tell your big sister.”
Ye Jiayao, upon hearing the message Peng Wu carried, asked, “Did he say when he will come back?”
“No. Though most likely, if they go down the mountain now, the earliest they can come back will be tomorrow.”
Ye Jiayao secretly rejoiced inside. She could finally be free tonight!
After dinner, Song Qi and Peng Wu went to play Double with the other bandits. The yard was empty and Ye Jiayao did not like it. She felt uneasy, so she hid inside the room with the windows closed.
Despite her joy to finally be alone, Ye Jiayao was unable to sleep. After what felt like the hundredth time of tossing and turning, she gave up on sleep. She walked to Chunyu’s study, hoping to find a book to read to help her doze off. Yesterday, he told her not to enter his study without permission. However, he was away tonight. She was only here to find a book and she wouldn’t make a mess. He would never know.
There weren’t many books on the shelf and they were all unfathomable art of war. Ye Jiayao could not understand any of them so she left them alone.
Suddenly, a thought occurred to her. She needed to get the map! If she wanted to run away, she would need to know where she could go.
Ye Jiayao started to look for the map but she couldn’t find it anywhere. She glared at the cabinet with a lock. It must’ve been locked inside. Chunyu was certainly not taking any chances on her.
Ye Jiayao slumped on the chair, tired and frustrated. Why must that donkey be so annoying and lock up her chance at escape?
She idly played with the brush pot on his desk. Judging from his things and the way he acts, her husband definitely had a fondness for the finer things.?The bamboo brush pot alone, that was carved with the 12 zodiacs, was a work of art and must’ve cost a fortune. Ye Jiayao spun it around haphazardly and it caught on the edge of the desk, making it snap. The bottom and the pot separated from each other, revealing a paper that’s folded into a small square.