“Jing He!” On the other side of the capital, the Heavenly Emperor beamed as soon as he saw his son. He hurried toward him and gently took his hands. “Did you sleep well?”
“Mn. Thank you for your concern, father. How about you?”
“Ah, if my precious son worries about me this much, how couldn’t I sleep well?” Rong Su smiled brightly but his expression soon dimmed. “Although, I have to say that I’m a little worried. Have you thought about what I said yesterday?”
Jing He lowered his gaze. “Father is talking about the issue with Longjun?”
“Mn. Precisely that. Tch, I still can’t believe that he would dare to even think about it. Is my son someone he can covet this easily?!”
“Longjun … might come over later today.”
The Heavenly Emperor smiled again and patted Jing He’s hand. “You don’t have to worry about that. Father will make sure he can’t approach you.”
Jing He averted his face and lightly bit his lower lip. Should he tell his father? But his mother might be right that his father was too opinionated in this regard. Then again she had also said to inform him. “Father …”
“Mn? What is it, Jing He?”
“Actually, Longjun already came by. I saw him when I left my palace this morning.”
The Heavenly Emperor froze. This … This shameless bastard had actually dared to lie in ambush for his son! “He didn’t do anything to you, did he?”
“Did he touch you?”
“No, he —”
“Did he take your hands again?!”
“No …” Jing He slightly furrowed his brows in exasperation but the Heavenly Emperor misunderstood completely.
“Jing He, you can tell your father the truth. I’ll have him surrounded and killed in a few minutes if he really did something!”
“Father, that’s not it.” Jing He took his hands back and stepped away.
Rong Su clutched his chest. “Are you defying your father for another man, now?”
Jing He lowered his head. Was there really a need to overreact this much? “He … He merely greeted me and then had a talk with mother. He didn’t even come close to me.”
The Heavenly Emperor didn’t calm down at all. “He talked with your mother?” He grabbed Jing He by the shoulder and gently cupped his cheek. “Your mother wouldn’t have encouraged him, would she?”
Jing He’s lips thinned. “I’m sure … mother wouldn’t do anything that is inappropriate.”
The Heavenly Emperor sighed relieved. “That’s good then, that’s good. We can’t give that guy any chances.” He shook his head and gently led Jing He to the table. “Come, come, sit down. Let’s not talk about that person any longer. We just won’t let him in when he comes knocking, mn?”
Jing He didn’t answer. He just sat down and accompanied his father for a game of qi. His thoughts drifted to the dragon king a few times though.
With a bit of distance between them and the experience of being confronted by Longjun once already, he hadn’t been as flustered today. In fact, he had been able to take a closer look at him and he honestly had to admit that Longjun truly deserved the title of being the most handsome man of the immortal realms.
He still felt that he was imposing but not as intimidating as before but maybe that was because he hadn’t been standing right in front of him this time. Once again, he had been dressed impeccably, showcasing the good proportions of his body. And his face … Jing He didn’t really know how to describe it. Maybe it was just as well-proportioned as the rest of him? At least, it was a face he liked to look at.
Just when he once again thought back to the dragon king’s facial features a servant silently walked into the study and bowed. “Your Majesty, Longjun has come and asks for an audience.”
The Heavenly Emperor pursed his lips. “Tell him I’m currently busy. If he wants, he may wait for a while.”
“Yes.” The servant went outside and relayed the words.
Qiu Ling just nodded. He didn’t mind in the slightest. In fact, he was quite thrilled that he could wait here. Mind you he wasn’t an idiot. It was obvious that his beloved was in that study. And now he was actually waiting just in front of this study. They were so close!
Ah, he felt like he could practically feel his presence and hear his heartbeat. Mn, come to think of it … Could it be that his beloved’s heart was thumping more wildly right now? It certainly sounded like that …
Qiu Ling tilted his head and listened. The sound made him feel so sweet that he closed his eyes and fully immersed himself in it, not realizing how two hours went by.
Inside the study, Jing He placed down another white stone before getting up with a smile. “Let me go and get more tea for you, father.”
The Heavenly Emperor Rong Su looked up with a happy smile on his lips. “Ah, Jing He, there’s no need to trouble yourself over this small thing. Just have one of the servants do it.”
Jing He gently shook his head. “It’s alright. You’re my father. Naturally, I should do this for you.” He nodded, turned around and left the study.
The Heavenly Emperor was so touched that he actually forgot that the dragon king still waited behind that door even though he had glared at it every few minutes.
Jing He left the room and waved at one of the servants. “Please get another pot of tea ready for my father.”
“Of course!” The servant beamed just as much as the Heavenly Emperor when faced with Jing He and hurried away. Ah, he couldn’t believe it! The Son of Heaven had just smiled at him! It really was a pity that he was just a servant …
Meanwhile, Jing He had already turned around and approached Qiu Ling. “Longjun?” He tentatively called out, afraid of disturbing him. Right now, Longjun had slightly lifted his chin as if looking up at the sky. His eyes were closed though but at a second glance that gave him the appearance of being highly concentrated. It actually complimented his good looks.
Qiu Ling slowly opened his eyes. This voice … He turned to the side and was faced with Jing He’s probing gaze. Ah! His beloved … was actually right next to him? Qiu Ling took a step closer, startling Jing He into wanting to step back but before he could move Qiu Ling had already latched onto him once more and gripped his hands. Well, one of them. Jing He had actually managed to retract the other one into his sleeve just in time.
“Did you come to see me?”
Jing He lowered his head and tried to take his hand back but it was clutched too tightly. “I just wanted to tell you that my father most likely won’t have time to see you today. It would be better to return for today and come here again at a later date.”
“So you were worried about me.” Qiu Ling felt immensely touched and stepped even closer. “You don’t have to. Actually, I didn’t come for him. I just … longed to see you.” Jing He’s hand was pressed against a warm chest so that he could feel the wildly beating heart of the other man.
He blushed and finally managed to retract his hand. “Longjun …”
“Yes, my love?”
Jing He’s brow twitched. Didn’t this man have any sense of decorum at all? “I’m called Jing He.”
“Jing He …”
Jing He blushed even deeper. He had believed reminding him of his name would force him to use it instead of any inappropriate nicknames and make this situation less awkward but somehow the dragon king had managed to turn his name into something that sounded even more intimate.
“Jing He, my love, I couldn’t wait to see you. I haven’t thought of anything else but you since we met yesterday.” Qiu Ling didn’t feel that he was doing anything wrong. Quite the contrary, he felt like he was doing exactly the right thing. And maybe, if this had still been in the dragon realm, then he might even have succeeded with this approach.
But in this case, the one opposite him was the Son of Heaven who had spent half his life learning how to behave properly. To say he was shocked at Qiu Ling’s words was putting it lightly.
“I … I already told you what needed to be said. Please excuse me now. My father is still waiting.” Jing He nodded and wanted to leave but Qiu Ling grabbed his arm and pulled him back.
“Jing He. How about marrying next week?” His breath tickled Jing He’s cheek, once again flushing his cheeks that had just managed to return to their original color.
Before Jing He could say anything else the door to the study opened. The Heavenly Emperor had only wanted to see where his son had vanished to after he had made his move. Seeing the scene in front of him he jerked to a halt as if struck by lightning.
This … What was happening here?
His poor son was being held captive by that evil dragon king! Not only that the bastard was even indecently clutching onto his arm, making his innocent child blush in shame!
“You!” The Heavenly Emperor pointed at Qiu Ling, his chest heaving. “Guards! Guards!”
The sound of heavy footsteps sounded and in less than a minute the Heavenly Guards that were stationed in front of the palace had entered, their hands at their weapons. They hesitated to pull them out though.
This was obviously the scene of a bandit molesting a pure maiden! But … the bandit was the dragon king. They couldn’t kill him, could they? Well, they would need to win against him first to kill him anyway but even if they did: Could they do something to him?
Their eyes were bloodshot at seeing this scene though. How dare this bastard treat their Son of Heaven this way?! They had to teach him a lesson at least!
Qiu Ling frowned seeing all those extraneous people. He gently turned Jing He around and smiled. “How about leaving here, my love? Actually, there’s no need to wait a week for our wedding. You can just return home with me and marry me as soon as we’re there.”
Jing He had no idea what to do or say. Unfortunately, this kind of silence was once again interpreted as acquiescence. Qiu Ling pulled him completely into his arms and wanted to storm out of the encirclement.
Seeing him take their crown prince hostage the guards finally didn’t hesitate any longer. Even if they’d have to pay with their lives, they wouldn’t let this bastard kidnap their Son of Heaven!
Two dozen swords were drawn all at once and several of the men lunged themselves at Qiu Ling. The dragon king frowned. How dare they endanger his beloved?! He took Jing He into one arm and drew his own sword with the other hand, easily deflecting every blow. He even had the time to turn to Jing He.
“My love, no need to worry. I’ll keep you safe. I won’t let them lay even a finger on you.”
“Long … Longjun!” Jing He finally found his voice again. “Please stop!”
“Ah, you don’t have to worry about me!” Qiu Ling smiled while parrying another strike. “I’m capable of keeping the two of us safe.”
“No, this … this is madness!”
“Mn! I know. I’m also madly in love with you!” Qiu Ling’s eyes formed happy crescents. Ah, so it turned out his beloved was just as crazy about him!
The Heavenly Guards howled and started another attempt. They had to make this bastard let go of their Son of Heaven somehow!
They didn’t manage to even scratch him. They did provide somebody else with an opportunity though. A wind blade struck Qiu Ling from behind. He lost his grip on Jing He and only barely managed to stay on his feet. Jing He stumbled to the side and fell into the arms of one of the Heavenly Guards.
The man looked at the delicate person in his arms and his face instantly flushed beet-red. This … This was their crown prince! “Ah … Your Highness!” He tried to help Jing He back to his feet but before he could even grab his waist, the person was already wrenched from his hands.
The Heavenly Emperor agitatedly patted Jing He’s body, making sure that none of these bastard had done anything to him. “Jing He, my darling, are you alright? Did they do anything outrageous to you?”
“Father …” Jing He tried to wrap his head around the things that had just happened. “I … I’m alright.”
The Heavenly Emperor took a relieved sigh before standing straight and glaring at the Heavenly Guards. “You still haven’t escorted Longjun out of the palace?”
The guards hastily cupped their fists and turned to Qiu Ling. The dragon king seemed to think that things weren’t complicated enough yet though.
“Father-in-law!” He stared at the Heavenly Emperor full of reproach. “Why are you doing this to me?”
“Who are you calling your father-in-law?!”
“You, obviously. Jing He promised to marry me next week.”
All eyes fell on Jing He who shrunk in his father’s arms. Seeing him like this the Heavenly Emperor and the Heavenly Guards were enraged. Look at this! Their pure Son of Heaven had obviously been bullied until the point where he didn’t even dare to lift his head!
“Throw him out!”
Thus the dragon king was thrown out of the Nine Heavens that day and had to return to the dragon realm without having achieved anything. Well, that wasn’t completely true. At least he still had his mother-in-law’s promise. He just had to make the crown prince fall in love with him somehow. Unfortunately, that person had already raised his guard against him.