“Mommy …” Jing Yi called out. He really couldn’t understand why the strange uncle was hugging his mother. This was his mommy! He couldn’t just hug her!
Qiu Ling who had finally managed to get Jing Yi’s attention … was already too drunk to notice. Instead, he complained to Madam Zhong. “Mother-in-law, it’s all your fault! You said I shouldn’t interfere and now look! He kissed somebody else. He’s going to forget about me.” He rested his head on her shoulder and sniffed. Ah, his beloved! How could Jing He have forgotten about him this easily?
Madam Zhong sighed. Her son had never been in love with him in the first place. He hadn’t even seen his true appearance yet! So what was the Daoist Master expecting? Naturally, she didn’t utter any of these thoughts. The man was already drunk and moody. Confronting him with the truth wouldn’t make things better. Instead, she patted his back. “Yes, yes. It’s my fault. I shouldn’t have done that. Now, how about we get you upstairs into one of the rooms?”
“No!” Qiu Ling gripped her tighter and tried to see the counter. His gaze met with Hong Bao’s for a moment but it didn’t linger. He searched further. Where was his beloved?
“Why that? It’s a little quieter there. You’ll feel better.”
Qiu Ling kept mum and pursed his lips, his gaze still roaming about. “I want to see him.”
Madam Zhong sighed again. She wouldn’t really mind if he was sober but considering how drunk he was … Who knew what he would do? She couldn’t let him have his way.
“What are you even saying? You’re drunk. Would you really want him to see you like that?”
Qiu Ling tensed up, his grip tightening further. Madam Zhong winced. His grip was starting to hurt.
She patted his back. “There, there. Let’s go upstairs. You can sober up a bit and then I’ll bring him upstairs to see you, alright?”
Qiu Ling was torn between nodding his head and protesting. He wanted to see Jing He. He wanted to see him so badly. But his mother-in-law was right too. He would regret if his beloved saw him like this. He always … always only wanted to show him his good side. The ugly things he hid from him … there was no need for him to know.
Someone tugged at his robes. Qiu Ling looked down and found Jing Yi’s scrunched up face below.
Ah! There he is. There he …
Qiu Ling frowned. No, something wasn’t right. His Jing He … he wasn’t supposed to look like this. Qiu Ling closed his eyes. He could see him with his eyes closed.
Jing He was looking at him, his dark eyes clear and beguiling. He smiled gently with a touch of misery. But he still extended his hand, still let himself be swept up in his embrace. That slim body … Qiu Ling hugged it tighter and ran his hand over Jing He’s back. His fingers somehow slid into that black hair, curling up, tilting his head back. Qiu Ling leaned in, wanting to kiss him. If another man could do so, why couldn’t he?
Qiang Wei face-palmed. He grabbed his king’s shoulder with one hand and his forehead with the other to stop him from advancing. “Your Majesty, you’re about to kiss your mother-in-law in front of his Highness.”
Qiu Ling’s eyes flew open and met with Madam Zhong’s startled ones. His senses sobered a little. The strands of hair he was touching were not Jing He’s silky ones. And in which way was this tiny, thin frame similar to his beloved’s graceful figure?
Jing He might not have been very muscular but he was at least a head taller than Madam Zhong and despite being slender he couldn’t be described as thin. Everything on his body was well-proportioned as if it had been sculpted by Heaven himself. How could he have mistaken this body in front of him for Jing He’s perfectness?
“Your Majesty, let’s go to the upper floor after all, alright?” Qiang Wei tried to pull Qiu Ling back but his king stubbornly clung to his mother-in-law even though he seemed to have understood that she wasn’t the crown prince. “Your Majesty, people are already talking. Even if you don’t care for your reputation, take your mother-in-law’s into consideration, would you?”
Qiu Ling blinked and tried listening to those conversations. His head throbbed and he only managed to catch onto a few scraps:
“Unbelievable! Marrying the daughter and still making a move on the mother! The father must be regretting letting him marry his daughter!”
“Right, right! Getting so drunk in broad daylight, beating people up when they only mean well and being so indecent with your own mother-in-law. What a lowlife!”
“Why is that woman not even resisting? It couldn’t be that there’s something unspeakable going on between them, could it?!”
Oh Heavens, what had he done? Qiu Ling dropped his arms. Unfortunately, his streak of bad luck didn’t end there.
A row of sharp teeth sank into his hand. The flask he had been holding fell to the ground and shattered, the heavy fragrance suffusing in the air. Just smelling it made the mortals in the room intoxicated.
Qiang Wei grimaced. Damn, this shouldn’t have happened. He motioned and a breeze rushed into the room, spun around the broken flask and rushed out again, taking the heavy fragrance with it to the sky. This was just making it less threatening though.
This wine had been brewed from ingredients solely found in the immortal realm. It was meant for dragons and gods. Especially dragons with their sturdy bodies. If even their king could get drunk from less than one flask, then this wine was potentially deadly to mortals.
Jing Yi, who had stood right next to Qiu Ling, swayed on the spot, his fair face flushing red. Qiu Ling swept him up into his arms. Finally! Finally, he had an excuse to get close to him!
“Ah, my love! I missed you so much!” He didn’t care one bit about the people around him. He leaned in and kissed him.
He got a bite and a punch in return but at least, he was on even grounds with that damned merchant’s son again. More or less.