Chapter 58: Be More Motivated
Translated by Gumihou
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As Duan Tingxuan spoke, he swiped one of the snacks and threw it into his mouth. At Su Nuan Nuan’s disdainful snort, he suddenly remembered that Duan Xinqu was still in the room. Sudden embarrassment suffused him, but he forced his lips into a rictus of a smile and said to her, “You eat some too, it’s not easy to sample your sister-in-law’s culinary products. I can’t even get her to make an extra plate when I hadn’t have enough.”
Duan Xinqu squeaked something that sounded vaguely agreeable. Under her brother’s heavy stare she grew panicky, unsure of what message he was conveying with his eyes. Finally, after some frantic debate with herself, she stood up, only to hear her brother say, “Stupid girl, I’m telling you to help yourself to the snacks, if my dear wife sees me eat all the snacks she’ll give me even more grief about it.”
Finally understanding her brother’s meaning, she could not decide whether to laugh or cry. In the end, she picked up one of the snacks and proceeded to eat it very slowly. At this, Su Nuan Nuan remarked, “Since it’s rare for second sister to visit me, I had these especially made for her. Why are you making such a fuss over nothing?”
“You’re just trying to mess with me now.” Duan Tingxuan’s lips curled. “I know you, you’ll make a fuss over snacks even if there are a lot of it.” Ignoring Su Nuan Nuan, he turned to Duan Xinqu, “Why are you here anyway?”
“Nothing, I’m just here to see the cat.” Duan Xinqu said nervously. After a while, she stood up again. “Elder brother, elder sister-in-law, I’ve been out too long already, it’s about time I go home. Mimi has a really sensitive temper, so please take care of him well. If he runs off again he might get into trouble.”
“He’s just a cat, what kind of trouble could he get into.” Su Nuan Nuan could hear that this young girl have something more to say and kept her tone light.
As expected, Duan Xinqu grew agitated from her casual attitude, she poked the floor with the toe of her shoe and said, “Elder sister-in-law, I beg you to treat this seriously. If Mimi bites second elder sister-in-law’s cat again he might not live another day.”
Without waiting for Su Nuan Nuan to speak, Duan Tingxuan cut in suspiciously, “Which second sister-in-law?”
“It’s second sister-in-law, ah.” Duan Xinqu looked at her brother as though he was an idiot. That was when the penny dropped and Duan Tingxuan sneered, “Oh, so it’s Tingye’s wife, ba? I really can’t see her picking fights over pets.”
Duan Xinqu was stunned by her brother’s attitude over this matter, but then Su Nuan Nuan smiled reassuringly and said, “Don’t worry your head over it, little sister. Come over whenever you like to see him. I have nothing much to do most days anyway. With you here, I’ll be less bored.”
When all was said and done, Duan Xinqu was still a daughter of an aristocratic family, though Su Nuan Nuan did not say much, there were plenty of under laying messages under Duan Tingxuan’s words. Her heart rate calmed and a rare, beautiful smile bloomed across her face as she said, “Thank you sister-in-law. I shall come see you again when I can, please excuse me now.”
Su Nuan Nuan personally sent her out, and saw the young girl walked home with lighter steps. She turned and saw Zhao Chai sitting solemnly at her feet. With a smile, she smoothed down the fur on his back, “Looks like your people skill is not bad. Second sister must have been worried sick over you this whole time. She braved this place just to see you after all.”
“So, what’s the story behind the cat?” Duan Tingxuan was ambivalent about Duan Xinqu’s good mood, and had not bothered to send her out. He merely blurted out that remark at Su Nuan Nuan’s words.
“This cat is originally taken in by second sister, since he took a bite out of your brother’s cat, he was nearly beaten to death. Luckily for me, he escaped.”
Su Nuan Nuan sat down on her chair and glared at the food stealing Duan Tingxuan, who was still popping the Snow Soft Bean Paste snacks into his mouth. “You’re a real failure of a brother. That girl is your only sister, other people hold their blood relationships like precious jewels, but your stupid aristocratic mansion is really something else. Such a pretty girl, but look how depressed she is. As the older brother and heir of this family, how could not take an interest in her situation? She depends completely on you for everything, but here you are, ignoring her, blaming her for her situation. It’s too much to bear. Give me back my food, I’d rather feed the dogs than nourish such an unscrupulous cad like you.”
“Watch your words, what’s all this talk about unscrupulous cad? Just look at how I spend my days, have you ever seen me sitting idly by? There are already too many people depending on me, furthermore second sister is the one who kept to herself, not to mention I have other brothers and sisters to take care of. Take my third brother for example, he’s an anti-social recluse who sets his eyes above his station. As for my second brother, he’s a poisonous snake aiming for my position as heir, it’s thanks to my own wit and intelligence that he hadn’t taken a bite out of me yet. That husband and wife pair have no regard for anyone but themselves. You’d better not treat second sister’s remark as nothing, by taking in that cat you’ll put yourself in their path.”
His little speech over, the tray of Snow Soft Bean Paste snacks also disappeared. Su Nuan Nuan strongly suspected that this rascal had deliberately talked on and on just to give himself enough time to eat all the snacks.
“Your second brother and his wife are no good people, but I still think that second sister and her mother are not bad people, just weak. As for your third brother, his reclusive nature could be the result of a lack of attention and was put up as a way of protecting himself against the world. As a brother, you should care more for him. He is from the same generation as you after all, if you can get him on your side, your second brother would be more hesitant about going against two brothers at once.”
Su Nuan Nuan was thinking through the social and political situation within the An Ping household as she half muttered her thoughts out loud. When silence followed her remark, she looked up to see Duan Tingxuan’s surprised expression. When their eyes met, he smiled brilliantly at her, “Nuan Nuan, it has only been three days but you’ve gained great insight. In the past, you’ve never given any thought to matters like this, but now that you’ve move back to the inner court, you actually care so much about me.”
“You’re over thinking things again.” Su Nuan Nuan gave a cold snort, only to hear Duan Tingxuan laugh. “Ah, your words are so cold, but I know your heart is warm. You really care about me, otherwise you wouldn’t say these things.”
“I’m really not thinking of you,” Su Nuan Nuan laughed ironically. “I’m just advising you for my own convenience. No matter what, I’m stuck as the heir’s wife. My future is tied to your future, as long as you’re the heir and you can command all kinds of resources. With you in power, I will be able to eat seafood as well as all kinds of other delicacies. However, if you ever fall from grace, I expect I’ll have to give thanks for yam porridge and dry bread.”
Over the sound of his grinding teeth, Duan Tingxuan glared at Su Nuan Nuan, his finger tapping agitatedly against the table. “You know your situation too well. Since that’s the case, do look after the hour properly. As husband and wife we, we are a team, and our honour depended on each other. Therefore, please make sure to properly greet the old madam and the elder madam now and then to show your filial piety. My position as the heir might be relatively secure, but as the saying goes, ‘A virtuous wife makes a happy home’.”
“Do you really see me as a virtuous wife type?” Su Nuan Nuan shook her head. “Aren’t you the one who’s always calling me ‘that shrewish woman’, ‘violent tigress’ or whatever?”
“You sure know yourself.” Duan Tingxuan remarked, narrowing his eyes at Su Nuan Nuan. Their gaze met and electricity seemed to spark between the two. Hong Lian and Xiang Yun flinched at the crackling sound of electricity popping between the two. Master and missy are about to fight again. They threw themselves bravely forward and said, “Missy, it’s almost noon now, we should make lunch.”
“Don’t bother, just look around the kitchen and bring me whatever is there.” Su Nuan Nuan said crossly, only to see Duan Tingxuan smiled as he sat back languidly in his chair, “Hmmm, it’s really not easy to even cross the entrance of the fourth prince’s palace, ah. I had to expand great effort to even get a nod for the him to find a craftsman good enough to remake that Pearl & Plum Blossom Beauty, ah. Tsk, tsk, he mentioned in passing that it should be done in a few days.
Hong Lian and Xiang Yun had no idea what the ‘Pearl & Plum Blossom Beauty’ was, but Su Nuan Nuan immediately thought of that silver hairpin she had nearly threw her life away for. To be honest, she really liked that silver hairpin. What woman doesn’t like pearls or precious stones? However, if this man slut thought that she could be moved by this kind of trick, well, he had put his money on the wrong horse.
Without waiting for her to say anything, Duan Tingxuan continued with a laugh and a stretch, “It’s that time again, the fruits down south should be ripe soon. The weather 800 miles away is quite different, the grow some really exotic fruits called bananas, pineapples, coconut and apples in their orchard. Who knows what kind of tribute they might give to the emperor this year.”
Bananas? Pineapples? Coconuts? Apples?
Su Nuan Nuan’s eyes suddenly lit up, she searched her mind and sure enough, every summer and autumn someone from the Ling Nan from the south will send these tropical fruits to Beijing on fast horses. Though it was not quite ‘But for a concubine’s smile, no one would know the taste of lychee’, it was still quite extravagant.
“Very well, no need to hunt around the kitchen, Hong Lian.” just as the little marquis could not resist her cooking, Su Nuan Nuan could not even bother to manufacture a pretence of resistance against the lure of rare ingredients. She was, after all, just as much a foodie as the little marquis.
“Haha, I knew that my lovely wife have her priorities right.” Duan Tingxuan laughed heartily as he snapped open his fan, waving it elegantly. “What are we having for lunch?”
“Beef ball soup with Chinese cabbage.” Su Nuan Nuan levelled a Look at Duan Tingxuan which made him falter.
That look of hers meant ‘I need your assistance in the kitchen’, it was not a sexy look. It was a look that meant ‘I need a coolie in the kitchen and come help me if you want to eat something good or leave’.
Duan Tingxuan sighed quietly in his heart, looks like it was his turn to play his part. Su Nuan Nuan nodded approvingly at his easy capitulation, “Since my Lord is unwilling to freeload off me, I shall gratefully accept your assistance to mince up the beef. Many thanks for your help.”
[Gumihou: That’s the stuff, Su Nuan Nuan, don’t let him walk all over you.]