Qiang Wei examined his king for any changes. Lao Chun had promised that one flask of this wine would get him dead drunk. In fact, he had been positive that it wouldn’t even need the full bottle. Half of it might suffice.
Seeing the king down the first cup in one go, Qiang Wei became hopeful. Maybe he’d collapse right after? That would save him a lot of trouble! Unfortunately, nothing happened. Qiu Ling didn’t even seem dizzy. He just filled his cup again and downed it in the same manner.
Qiang Wei’s lips twitched. So that was the effect of the rumored strongest wine that could make their king fall unconscious after half a bottle? Why did it seem nothing like that? Was their king just so much better at holding his liquor than Lao Chun thought? Or could it be the effect was delayed?
“Your Ma—” Qiang Wei coughed again to cover up his mistake. “Maybe you should slow down.”
Qiu Ling looked at him with a deadpan expression and demonstratively filled his cup for the third time. Slowing down? Never! The only way to stop him was to make him forget the sight of his beloved kissing another man.
Qiu Ling gulped his third cup down. The wine’s strong flavor was lost on him though. He could have been drinking water instead and wouldn’t have noticed the difference. He only waited for his mind to get addled. He didn’t want to think anymore.
Please, just let him forget!
He frowned and refilled his cup a fourth time. The alcohol started to set in and a warm sensation filled his body but deep inside he still felt cold. He couldn’t stop his thoughts from wandering.
He might lose him. He might really lose him. Jing He couldn’t remember him so it wouldn’t be surprising if he fell in love with somebody else. Moreover, Jing He was a child now. Falling in love with another child was normal. How could he even fall in love with a grown man? That wasn’t the way things went.
Another cup was downed.
If Jing He really fell in love with that boy and his family stayed in the capital, then the two of them would grow up together. With each day, with each passing year, their feelings might get stronger. They’d be inseparable when they came of age. What would prevent them from marrying? And even before that …
Qiu Ling’s mind conjured up the image of Jing He with another man. He saw him smiling at that man, hesitatingly reach out, wanting to touch him but not daring to. Faced with that gentle approach, would any man refuse? Of course not! They would pull him into their arms and savor that touch for as long as they could.
Qiu Ling didn’t even look and blindly filled his cup, gulping the wine down without putting down the flask. His expression twisted, turning even gloomier. Ah, his beloved …
Qiang Wei examined his king’s face while holding onto his own cup. He hadn’t touched any of the wine. He knew he couldn’t. Just one look at his king was enough to know that he wouldn’t stop drinking any time soon. And who knew what he would do when he was really drunk? As long as he didn’t collapse anything was possible.
Qiang Wei sighed and looked around. It had been a week and a half in the Nine Heavens so the crown prince should be around nine or ten years of age now. There were indeed two boys that age. They were sitting at the counter, looking quite intimate. Just at this moment, the slightly taller one was breaking a little cake in two, sharing one half with the smaller child.
Realization dawned on Qiang Wei’s face. So it was like this. The crown prince fell in love for the first time in his mortal life. No wonder the king behaved like this. Qiang Wei put down his cup and turned back to Qiu Ling. Talking wouldn’t help. He should just watch over him while his king got drunk.
He wasn’t the only one who worried. Madam Zhong came over and bent down next to him. “Is he alright?”
Qiang Wei tensed. He didn’t want to talk to any of these mortals but his king had called her his mother-in-law. So this should be the crown prince’s mortal mother. If that was the case, he should treat her with respect. His king would expect as much.
Thinking like that, Qiang Wei nodded. “He’s in a bad mood. Just let him drink a while. It’ll be better when he wakes up.”
Madam Zhong nodded. She straightened up and wanted to leave but she couldn’t help and look at Qiu Ling again. He hadn’t even noticed her. He was staring vacantly, filling his cup over and over again and guzzling down the alcohol like water. As of now, about half of the bottle had been emptied.
Unfortunately, Qiu Ling didn’t feel better. Instead, it got worse. He could picture it perfectly: That man holding his beloved in his arms, these rough hands brazenly touching his slim body, those lips tasting what wasn’t meant for them.
He could even imagine Jing He’s reaction since he had fantasized often enough how it would be when he finally made his move on him: His cheeks would flush with a faint pink shimmer and that quiet sound escaping his lips would entice that man to passionately kiss him.
Damn, he could understand! He would do exactly the same. He had always held back to give Jing He some more time, just a little bit more so he would feel secure with him. But then this damned trial had come along and his beloved forgot all about him and dared to kiss another man!
Qiu Ling slammed his hand down on the table. “Damn this! How could you do this to me, Jing He?! I love you so much. How can you get intimate with another man right in front of my eyes?!”