Yu Huang Rong took a few deep breaths and circulated his inner energy to calm his excitement. Zhang Shi Lan continued to sit next to him in silence, not knowing what to say. He felt that Yu Huang Rong’s expression wasn’t quite right even though it wasn’t obvious at first glance. He really wanted to ask but was afraid to do so.
Finally, the servant of the General’s manor arrived with the carriage and walked inside to get his Master and his guest. Seeing Yu Huang Rong and Zhang Shi Lan sitting quietly at the table, he couldn’t help but sweat. Madam Yu had been on edge because of the scholar since he had been invited to the matchmaker’s the same day as her son. When he had to go back before to tell her that the General had invited precisely this scholar to go out after the event, she hadn’t been happy at all.
Even though it was good if her son made a few connections in the city, Zhang Shi Lan’s status wasn’t so high that it would bring any noteworthy benefits to Yu Huang Rong. On the other hand, the scholar might be able to benefit from the General’s reputation a lot.
Naturally, Madam Yu felt that this person was taking advantage of her son. And which mother would want her son to be taken advantage of? Especially after her son had needed to work so hard to get to where he was right now.
Seeing the two men sit next to each other without saying a word, the servant wasn’t sure what to think anymore. He had thought that their General must have had a good impression of this person if he invited him out after the event but now, he didn’t even talk to him. Did this mean that he had either found out that he was just being used or had they misinterpreted his intentions from the very beginning? Maybe he had wanted to tell this person off initially? Well, that was nothing he should worry about. He just had to take them home and then go and report to the Madam.
He rushed over and bowed. “General, I’ve brought the carriage. Would you like to return now?”
Yu Huang Rong nodded and got up, turning to Zhang Shi Lan. “We’ll bring you home first.”
Zhang Shi Lan also got up and bowed. “Thank you for your kindness, General Yu. It is much appreciated.”
Yu Huang Rong nodded and turned around, his stomach churning. Ah, he wanted to walk next to Zhang Shi Lan on the way out! Unfortunately, he also knew that all the servants in the General’s manor had gotten used to doing what his mother said. After all, while his father and he had both been in the war, she had been the one to lead the household. And soon, he might return to the battlefield. Who knew if his new wife would be able to take over the house? No, for the servants, it was much better to continue to listen to his mother. Especially since she might be the one who finally decided who her daughter-in-law would be.
The three men reached the carriage and the servant pulled the curtain to the side, letting Zhang Shi Lan and Yu Huang Rong get in before he went to the front and spurred on the horses.
Inside the carriage, Zhang Shi Lan finally couldn’t take it any longer. He turned to Yu Huang Rong and gave him a worried look. “Are you alright? Did I say something wrong?”
Yu Huang Rong looked back at him and gave a wry smile. He made sure that the curtain was closed and then grabbed Zhang Shi Lan’s shoulders, leaning over and kissing him. “Nothing of the sort.” His low voice sounded raspy, making Zhang Shi Lan’s brows rise.
He wanted to ask but there was still the servant who might hear them so he didn’t dare to. Yu Huang Rong smirked when he saw his look. He grabbed his hand and pressed it onto his crotch. Zhang Shi Lan’s cheeks flushed but in the dark of the carriage, it was hardly visible. He took his hand back and faced the other side. He had wondered what it could be but he hadn’t thought of this. It seemed things would be getting difficult in the future.
Yu Huang Rong gave a soft laugh. He leaned closer and kissed Zhang Shi Lan’s neck. “Don’t worry about it. I can take care of that when I’m at home. Although … I’ll miss you terribly.”
Zhang Shi Lan tensed and looked to the front. How could Yu Huang Rong say something like that? Had he forgotten that somebody was close by? If the servant heard …
Yu Huang Rong gave another laugh. “I don’t think you’re cut out for a clandestine love affair. You’ll lose sleep if you always worry like this. And if you furrow your brows while you’re at it, then what if —”
Zhang Shi Lan turned around and clasped a hand over Yu Huang Rong’s mouth.
The General raised his brows.
Zhang Shi Lan glanced to the front and lowered his voice as far as possible. “How can you say that? It’s dangerous! If he hears and tells your family, then …” He shook his head and took his hand back down.
Yu Huang Rong smiled happily and his eyes curved into crescents. “You’ve really become daring after confessing. I like that.” He leaned forward and pecked Zhang Shi Lan’s lips. “As for your worry, there’s no need. As long as we whisper, he won’t hear. Just think about it. He’s sitting right behind the horses. And there’s still the noise from the streets. Will he really be able to hear what we say? Even if a few words get out, would he be able to piece it together?”
Zhang Shi Lan nodded but he still wasn’t too sure. Could they really trust that? If Yu Huang Rong was wrong …
The General continued to stay close. “If you’re afraid to speak, then we could also just kiss. I wouldn’t mind at all.”
Zhang Shi Lan glanced at Yu Huang Rong’s crotch and furrowed his brows. If they really did, then wouldn’t it be obvious what happened when he got out?
Yu Huang Rong sighed when he saw his gaze. Alright, that might not be such a good idea. He couldn’t help but wonder just how long he’d have to wait. Ah, he shouldn’t be too hasty! If Zhang Shi Lan was a woman, then he also would have to wait until after they were married. He glanced at the scholar and couldn’t help but raise his brows. Thinking about it like this … Who had been the one who said before that he didn’t want to be treated as a woman? In that case … He reached over, his hand brushing Zhang Shi Lan’s thigh.
The scholar tensed and gave him a panicked look. Yu Huang Rong sighed. Ah, it seemed he couldn’t go through with this. Zhang Shi Lan wouldn’t be happy. He really worried too much. Well, maybe that worry wasn’t without reason. It really might be too much of a clue if both of them got off the carriage in this kind of condition.
And even if people didn’t talk about them doing something unspeakable with each other, they would probably wonder if he as a hot-blooded General had dragged this pure-hearted scholar to the flower house for some fun. If that kind of rumor came up, then never mind his own family, Zhang Shi Lan’s similarly would be completely against their marriage if it was ever brought up. He really didn’t want to be a scoundrel in the eyes of his in-laws.
Yu Huang Rong sighed and took his hand back. “Seems like I can only wait.”
Zhang Shi Lan gave him a look but didn’t say anything. If he just kept quiet, then maybe they could drop the subject? It seemed he could only try.
Thus the two men kept quiet until the carriage finally stopped. Yu Huang Rong had managed to calm down in the meantime and could get off without giving any hints to his true thoughts.
He didn’t wait for the servant to do anything and held the curtain aside on his own. He also gave Zhang Shi Lan a warm smile. “Scholar Zhang, I was really happy that you took me up on my offer today. I hope we can go out together again soon.”
Zhang Shi Lan nodded and cupped his fists, bowing to Yu Huang Rong. “It was my pleasure, General Yu. I’m honored you even thought of inviting me even though I haven’t accomplished anything.”
Yu Huang Rong gave a bright smile and also cupped his fists. “Scholar Zhang is too humble. I’m amazed at what you’ve managed to do. When you have the time, you should teach me about the ways of the scholars. I would really like to further my wisdom.”
Zhang Shi Lan’s cheeks flushed. “General Yu really is praising me too much. I’m sure General Yu is a very knowledgeable man himself. I’d be embarrassing myself if I dared to presume I was able to teach General Yu anything.”
“Then at the very least, I hope Scholar Zhang will be able to show me a few places in the city where I could go and further my studies.”
Zhang Shi Lan looked at him with a complicated expression. “I don’t know much but I’ll try my best. I can also try and introduce General Yu to few people in the capital.”
Yu Huang Rong nodded. “Then it’s set. I’ll give myself into Scholar Zhang’s hands then.
He nodded and the two of them bid farewell. Yu Huang Rong got back onto the carriage and finally left for the General’s mansion. Zhang Shi Lan watched him leave before he gave a light sigh and returned home.
Stepping into the house, he couldn’t help but feel a little lightheaded. Had all of this really happened? Now that Yu Huang Rong wasn’t at his side anymore, it sure seemed like it was only a dream.