Chapter 88: A Frightening Omen
Translated by Gumihou
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The moment the words were spoken, Xue Zhi Lan understood: When first madam threw a fit at Spring Breeze Court, no one took noticed. Ms. Xue was not able to return and nothing changed. Therefore, she escalated. The people in the mansion thought that she had been cowed by the lack of response and dared not do anything. Heheh, Xue Zhi Lan really wanted to inform these ignorant people: You’re too naive, too naive, ah! You think first madam would just throw in the towel like that? Just wait.
But, why had she come over to look up Concubine Jing for? There was no way Concubine Jing could support her, whether through money or connections. Could it be that she was here purely for fresh flowers for her Fresh Flower Pastries? This was actually entirely possible. The flowers under Concubine Jing’s care were the best after all. More importantly, Concubine Jing was practically worthless as an ally. So what if she’s beautiful? The lord was never infatuated with her, so her looks were useless.
Xue Zhi Lan considered this carefully. The meal today was not too good, which meant there were a lot leftover. Before leaving, Su Nuan Nuan once again pulled Concubine Jing aside to speak to her, inviting her to come over to Spring Breeze Court for a chat whenever she had the time. This kind of talk was extremely intimate, even Duan Tingxuan felt a little envious of their close proximity.
“Even if you wish to ‘rope’ Concubine Jing over, surely there’s no need to utilize such effort?” Duan Tingxuan said sourly as they made their way back to Spring Breeze Court.
“This one has her own consideration.” Su Nuan Nuan flashed him a glare. “And what’s all this about roping her in? I just find that we hit off really well, we have so much in common that we might as well be kindred spirits. That kind of intimacy cannot be faked, it all comes from the bottom of the heart.”
“How is that useful to you? As the official wife, to say that you share kindred spirit with a mere concubine? If anyone found out, you’d lose face, ah. Moreover, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Though Jing’er is not high born, she has the arrogance of a queen. You might find yourself frustrated from sticking your face at a cold behind.”
The little marquis wasted no effort to ‘incite disharmony’. Though it was a man’s desire to have his wives and concubines to get along with each other, he felt somewhat uneasy about seeing those two together: How could Nuan Nuan be like this? I did my best to scheme and conspire for her sake, the only thing I have in my heart and eyes are her. To think that she would treat a mere concubine so well and still give me the cold shoulder. This is called biased, ah. It’s prejudice, ah.
“Wei, do you still want your face? You’re jealous just because I’ve spoke a few more words to Concubine Jing?” Su Nuan Nuan squinted her eyes at the scoundrel. She had no time to deal with this man’s nonsense.
With his secret heart seen through so easily, the little marquis flew into a humiliated rage. He’d already put up an uncaring, to think that he was unable to escape his wife’s palm even with this performance. He switched expressions, this time going for disdainful, “Tcheh! Who’s jealous? Me? Jealous of you? Heheh, how strange your brain works. I was only concerned over you wasting your affections on an undeserving person and complain at me later.”
“There’s no need for you to be concerned. Little Sister Jiang and I got along like a house on fire. She dreads the very existence of men. As for me, ah, before you arrived, we were chatting quite cheerfully with each other. Problem only crop up when you appeared, you make her nervous…”
“Su Meng Nuan!”
Without waiting for her to finish, Duan Tingxuan suddenly howled. Su Nuan Nuan jumped, and stared at her husband’s red face, “You… what do you want, ah? What the heck? Are… are you possessed?”
Duan Tingxuan’s face sank into deep gloom. His eyes glanced over at the passing maids and servants, grabbed Su Nuan Nuan by the arm and began to march them quickly towards Spring Breeze Court. The moment they entered the living room, he immediately threw Cong’er and Hua’er out before turning towards Su Nuan Nuan and said in a low voice, “You’re not allowed to visit Jing’er anymore. The two of you aren’t right together.”
“What’s not right?” Su Nuan Nuan asked: The person who got her to rope in Concubine Jing was this guy, now he was telling her not to go look for Concubine Jing. Just what is going on in his head?
“I heard that among the imperial concubines, there were those who, for some reason or other, was unable to gain the emperor’s favour. These group of ladies who did not dare dally with imperial eunuchs had turned their affections towards their imperial sisters instead…” Duan Tingxuan said in a low voice.
The more he spoke, the more fearful he became. This knowledge was a double edged sword. He had no idea how Su Nuan Nuan would react, but the more he thought of it, the more depressed he became. After all, Su Nuan Nuan had absolutely no interest in him at all, what does he have that could attract her? How would she react to the knowledge that she now has options?
The little marquis had sunk into a self made delusion, he was seriously thinking about casting Concubine Jing into an outside residence. Perhaps he could send her to a different country. It took him a long time to nurture even a shred of good will in Su Nuan Nuan. He had been harbouring a secret hope to one day fix the shattered mirror that was their relationship. What if he had just ruined his own chance by introducing his wife to his concubine? What’s the use of living anymore? He should just smash his head in with a tofu.
“Are you talking about… love between women?” Su Nuan Nuan couldn’t quite bring herself to believe what Duan Tingxuan was saying: Hey, this guy seemed to have some skill with novel writing. Is this man really that intelligent and super rational alpha male of An Ping heir? Just because she got along with his own concubine, this guy’s brain started to fart out ridiculous dog blood love plots?
“Surely you haven’t fallen for her? Didn’t I tell you already, Jing’er has no interest in…” men, Duan Tingxuan was about to say ‘men’, but the word evaporated in his mouth. His wife was not a stinky man. She was a gentle, warm, beautiful woman. Concubine Jing had suffered hardships ever since she was a child, for her to suddenly meet up with such a warm, wonderful and sincere person… if Su Nuan Nuan were to hook her fingers a little, she would fall deeply, right? Right?
After some more thinking, the little marquis’ mood actually worsened. He shook his head vigorously and blurted, “You know what, Jing’er never did like living in the mansion. It just so happens that our hot spring place at Zhuang Zi is almost completed, I think I’ll send Jing’er over to live there.”
“Wait, why Concubine Jing and not me?” Su Nuan Nuan felt that this Duan Tingxuan’s attitude needed a whole research facility to understand: That Concubine Jing is like an immortal from a painting. To think that he would reject an immortal beauty for a tigress to cause trouble at home, just what was going on in his mind, ah?
“Why should I send you out? So that you can fly over the sea and sky?” Duan Tingxuan stared at Su Nuan Nuan blankly for a moment, before grasping her by the arm. In a fierce, never heard of before voice, he said, “Don’t you even dare consider it, how could I let you get away from my side?”
What’s all this snarling about? Is he being weird again? Could a scheming man with a belly full of blank water really be so emotional? Is he afraid that I will leave him? Is that why he’d rather send Concubine Jing away and not me… wait, for real? He really fell for me? Wu! He probably just didn’t want the source of his good food to get away.
“Really, if good food is all you want, Ms. Xue is actually really talented. I can transfer all my skills…” She knew she was playing with fire, but Su Nuan Nuan was feeling particularly daring and out of control now.
“No matter how greedy I am, I wouldn’t actually get down to this level.” Duan Tingxuan looked at Su Nuan Nuan with earnest eyes. “My favourable impression certainly came from the food, at first, but after all this time can you not tell? My love for you is different from my love for food. Even if you suddenly can’t cook anymore, I will still love you and wish to stay with you. Nuan Nuan, do you still remember my words? If one day I fell in love, really fell in love with you, I will care for you and pamper you and protect you, and slowly earn back your heart.”
As he spoke, he quietly stepped closer. By the time Su Nuan Nuan realised what was happening, they were so closed they were practically breathing the same air. She immediately panicked and pushed Duan Tingxuan aside. Shaking her head, she demanded, “So what if you love me? What happens to your other wives and concubines?”
Duan Tingxuan puzzled over Su Nuan Nuan’s answer for a moment before understanding: His wife must have come from a culture with different societal rules. If people were to love one another, importance was not placed on a harmonious marriage, but a monogamous one. Though this was something that was unusual for his social status, if he could not fulfil this cultural baseline, she would never consider him as a partner.
“I don’t know.” Duan Tingxuan sighed. “If I had met you earlier. That is to say, if we had reconciled earlier… perhaps, we might not encounter this issue.”
“Or perhaps, nothing changes.” Su Nuan Nuan’s mouth quirked up briefly: She had enough of playing with fire. Let’s stop before this turned into a forest fire she can’t put out. Yes, let’s stomp out this small flame first.
“What do you mean nothing changes?” the little marquis looked at his wife curiously, and saw her rubbed her forehead with a sigh. “Ah, men. You all share the same inferior thinking. Oh! What I meant to say is that, this is fine. We don’t need to be husband and wife. We make reasonably good friends. Moreover, I can tell you this now, Concubine Jing and I might well become great friends in the future, but will not become that thing you fear most.”
“How could you be so sure?” Duan Tingxuan was depressed. “You don’t like me, Jing’er also dislikes me. The two of you got on like a house on fire, as for the future… hump! Who could say?”
“People of the same gender could also be good friends.” Su Nuan Nuan rolled her eyes. “Like you now… wu! Wait, let me see, it’s been more than half a month since you’ve visited Madam Lan or Madam Ran, right? Are you going to tell me that your options now is to either become a monk, or to get into a same sex relationship with the crown prince, or the fourth prince, or that second prince…”
“How could I?!” Duan Tingxuan howled. Then, he spat. “Pei! Pei! Pei! This lord have been very busy these few days, and, what’s this about me becoming a monk? Su Nuan Nuan, even if you hate me, there’s no need for you to curse me like this, ah.”
“Are you happy now? I’m just drawing a comparison. If I want to curse you, I’ll have my expert do it.” Su Nuan Nuan frowned. Luckily she had managed to distract him from a rather tricky topic. Lucky!
“Expert?” the little marquis was suspicious.
“Hong Lian, ah. Her crow’s beak is incredible. If it doesn’t work, don’t need to pay.” Su Nuan Nuan declared, putting up her thumb, apparently very proud of her maid’s unusual ability. The little marquis’ face was so black that it looked like a bunch of crows had shed their feathers over him.
“Since it’s like this…” Duan Tingxuan once more found himself relieving some especially bitter memories. The unconcerned first madam had no interest in his tales of woe and quickly pull the topic back on point. “Anyway, I’m about as interested in women as you are interested in men.”
“Make sure you it is as you say, I’ll be keeping a close eye on you.” Duan Tingxuan felt much more relieved with Su Nuan Nuan’s guarantee, but nevertheless still left her with a warning.
 Fresh Flower Pastry – Here’s a video of this incredible pastry is made. Very soothing…
Fresh Flower Pastry
 Stick a warm face to a cold bum – Wasting one’s affections
[Gumihou: Oh, Master Duan, care to think where you are sticking your warm face into? Or wish you’re sticking your face into anyway…]