“You remember Xin Lan, don’t you?”
“Mn. He seems to have a high status in your race and … he said you saved him once.”
Jinde nodded. “That’s true. I found him heavily injured. Without me, he probably would have died that day. I didn’t even think about it. I just took him home and cared for him until he was better. There was no intention behind it.
“But Xin Lan refused to leave after that. He was always pretty obstinate, maybe even more so then Chun Yin. He had decided that he wanted to repay me so he stayed. Whatever I wanted to have done he would be the first to jump at it. If I didn’t have any task for him, he would go out of his way to find one. He often returned badly injured and I had to patch him up again but he never complained. He just handed me whatever he had gotten in return for those wounds.”
Leng Jin Yu gulped. It seemed Longjun hadn’t been that wrong when he said that the person he should worry about the most was that Xin Lan. This kind of behavior was obviously more than just repayment for someone’s kindness.
Jinde didn’t notice that Leng Jin Yu’s expression had changed. He was completely immersed in those memories. “Xin Lan was probably the person closest to me after Chun Yin. And after Chun Yin had married …” His fingers stroked Leng Jin Yu’s neck and his lids lowered. It wasn’t that easy to say this. He felt a little guilty about it.
“I felt alone. And all those suitors had already disappeared thanks to Chun Yin. There was no way to even start a relationship for convenience’s sake. It was either being alone for the rest of my life or …” He licked his lips and lowered his head a little further. This wasn’t Chun Yin but he was still embarrassed. “Xin Lan was too strong to feel intimidated by Chun Yin and we were close anyway, so I thought … If he wasn’t against it, why shouldn’t I try? It wouldn’t have been the kind of loving relationship I would have had with Chun Yin but he was already married anyway. Why shouldn’t I be able to share my life with somebody else too?”
“So you … wanted to marry him?”
Jinde stroked Leng Jin Yu’s chest. “Don’t be angry. You were married and … I didn’t even sleep with him. I had the intention though. That day we were in the palace. I had had that thought for a while and Xin Lan had just returned. Looking at him … he was pretty much what I admired in a man. I could imagine it quite well.”
He sighed. “Xin Lan probably wouldn’t even have considered it but I did think of myself as a beauty. If I wasn’t, then there wouldn’t have been so many suitors in the beginning. So I thought that I just had to try and I …” He sighed again. “Well, I went over and … I guess you could say that I tried to seduce him? He didn’t say anything or do anything but he didn’t reject me either. It probably could have worked out.”
Leng Jin Yu squirmed on his place. He had felt uncomfortable when Jinde told him about the way he had been before. But hearing about how he had considered another man was a lot worse. Unfortunately, even his past self hadn’t been taken seriously by that man and his current self couldn’t even win against Longjun who seemed to be regarded as a child by that man. What did he have to compete with him?
“I was already in his arms and about to kiss him when Chun Yin came in.” Jinde cleared his throat. “Dragons are jealous creatures and a man like Chun Yin … He didn’t take it too well. He was mad with rage but what could he do?”
“Did he … leave after that?”
“No. Quite the contrary. He couldn’t win against Xin Lan, not in a fight at least. But he had one advantage and that was my feelings for him. He just … pulled me out of his arms, picked me up and carried me to bed.”
“And Xin Lan?”
“He stood in front of the door and kept guard while we …” Jinde blushed. “I mean it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. He knew how I felt about Chun Yin for a long time. He was probably happy for me. It just felt so strange after I tried to make a move on him. Not that I had the opportunity to think about that for long. Chun Yin was really … He didn’t give me any time to consider anything that night. Every single minute was spent in his embrace. We only fell asleep sometime in the morning hours.”
“And you were alright with that?”
Jinde smiled sweetly. “Of course, I was. Chun Yin might have been a little forceful but every word he whispered into my ears that night made me feel as if I was walking on air. Ah, even now my heart races when I think back. The way he swore to love me forever, to only have me in his life, to care for me and protect me and make me his official partner …”
Jinde sighed and his smile was tinged with sadness. “Unfortunately, all of that was said in the heat of the moment. None of that was supposed to come true. When we woke up later that day he was still sweet to me, reiterating all of those promises, making me swear in return that I would definitely never lie with any other man, that I wouldn’t even look at somebody else.
“I didn’t think about it. I promised him whatever he wanted to hear. When had I ever really considered somebody else? Xin Lan had been … someone I thought of when I was miserable and desperate and couldn’t take that loneliness any longer. But now Chun Yin was with me and he wanted me. Why should I still consider anything else?
“But then somebody came over and told him that he was supposed to go home to his wife because something seemed to have happened. Chun Yin didn’t seem too happy but he still went. He did promise me to use the opportunity and break up with her. He promised he would come back soon and that the life I wished for would begin right after that. I didn’t question it.
“Not until Chun Yin came back to tell me that she was pregnant and that he couldn’t leave her after all.”
“You remember Xin Lan, don’t you?”