Yu Huang Rong raised his brows. That was what he wanted to hear? What was that supposed to mean? Looking at She Ning’s face, he was sure that the other man didn’t have any intention at all to explain to him though.
Well, as long as he was serious about Luan Xin, it would be alright. Maybe there would be an opportunity to bring it up later and find out more. Until then, he should just concentrate on the matter at hand.
Yu Huang Rong told him what Madam Yan had said and then asked him for his help to investigate these women. “I could probably do it myself but I’m sure that you’ll be able to do it more secretly than me. Furthermore, your investigation will likely yield more results as well and even if somebody found out that someone from the palace is investigating these women, people might just think that this is Luan Xin showing concern for his cousin’s matters. Nobody would be able to link it to Zhang Shi Lan and me.”
She Ning nodded. “I’ll work on it.” He didn’t say anything else and Yu Huang Rong could only sigh.
“Alright, then I’ll leave. You …” His gaze slid to the door to Luan Xin’s bedchamber and he raised his brows. “Just do what you were originally intending to do.” With that, he turned away and left.
Since he had managed to give that task to somebody else, he should now try to find opportunities for their parents to meet. Since his mother should still be at the matchmaking pavilion to discuss things with Madam Yan, now would be a good opportunity to go to me Zhang Shi Lan with none being the wiser.
He left the palace and then went to the house of the Zhangs. He didn’t stop in front of it though and just glanced at the entrance. Well, even though Madam Yan had said that they should meet more often, it might still seem strange if he went there while his mother was at the matchmaking pavilion. Maybe he was thinking too much but he still wanted to be a little more careful today.
He rode into the alley around the corner and then looked at the wall next to him. Ah, it sure came in handy that he happened to be such a great martial artist. He made his horse halt and turned back to the wall but then leaned over the one on the other side first, breaking off a twig from the tree that was hanging over it. He smiled to himself and then got down from the horse, jumping into the air and flipping over the wall into the courtyard of the Zhangs’ household.
He landed silently and then took cover in the garden, having a look around. Well, getting in wasn’t a problem but he couldn’t let anybody see him either. Thankfully, nobody was around so he wouldn’t have to worry for the time being. The question was which room was Zhang Shi Lan’s though. He couldn’t run through the whole house to search for him, could he?
He looked around but it wasn’t like he would be able to find out where in the house Zhang Shi Lan lived just by doing that. If he could spot him taking a stroll through his garden that would really be too coincidental.
Yu Huang Rong sighed and then rushed over to the building, ducking into one of the corridors. He glanced around, listening for any sounds close by at the same time. He had gotten lucky. He could hear some servants close by but nobody was coming in his direction. He should have enough time to look around.
He followed the corridor and moved deeper into the house, finally arriving in front of the door.
“Are you sure you don’t want to come with me?”
The voice that sounded inside was that of a woman. Judging from the tone, she should already be middle-aged. Yu Huang Rong already wanted to continue on when the second voice that answered made him stop.
“Yes, I’m sure, mother. Madam Yan didn’t invite me along so it is likely that she only wants to see you. I didn’t don’t really know her very well but she seemed to have a very clear vision of she what she wants to do with these events. Since she often doesn’t follow the normal way of doing things, then we should just trust her on this. So far, haven’t things been going well?
Yu Huang Rong smiled and looked around, finally finding a place where he could hide. Ah, it seemed it really was fate between them. He was actually able to randomly walk through the house and just happened upon his lover. It would’ve only been better if his beloved was alone right now. But judging from the conversation that was going on in the room, they had also been invited by Madam Yan and would set out today as well.
Come to think of it, this might actually be Madam Yan preparing for the future steps. She had probably sent out the invitations to both their families at the same time, trying to make their mothers meet even though she wasn’t sure that they had already reached the next step. Well, if their mothers already got along even before they had become a couple, that wouldn’t be bad either.
That woman had really prepared well. He couldn’t complain about that.
Inside the room, Madam Zhang nodded. “You might be right. Ah, I just can’t help but worry. It won’t be long now before you’re getting married. It’s very good. But I’m still a little afraid that we won’t find a decent daughter-in-law.”
Zhang Shi Lan smiled. A decent daughter-in-law … might indeed be difficult to find. “It is understandable that you are still worried about it but I’m sure that there is somebody excellent out there for me. It is just a matter of finding the person and making them fall in love. Isn’t that so?”
Madam Zhang reached over and patted her son’s arm. “You, ah! You think it’s so easy. If it was just about falling in love, then I wouldn’t worry at all. I’m sure there are a lot of young women that would fall in love with my son at first sight. But there are other men as well and their status isn’t bad.”
Zhang Shi Lan chuckled. “Mother, are you looking down on father?”
Madam Zhang clicked her tongue. “What looking down? I’m just being realistic here. Can he compare to the late Emperor’s brother? Can he compare to a General that has served in the military for decades and won countless wars? Can he compare to being the brother of the Academy’s director? You have to be honest with yourself in these things.”
Zhang Shi Lan nodded to indicate he understood. “That’s true, mother. Maybe it’s that I was influenced when I went to the matchmaking pavilion. I feel that if the person loves me enough, they will find a way to be with me. Even if their family doesn’t acquiesce right away, I’m sure that being persistent would get results. Furthermore, doesn’t Madam Yan prefer couples that are genuinely in love? I’m sure that if there’s somebody that loves me and that I fall in love with mutually, then she would lend a helping hand.”
Outside of the room, Yu Huang Rong didn’t know if he should be happy or scared. On one hand, he was happy that Zhang Shi Lan thought like this. On the other hand, he couldn’t help but feel that these words might expose them. After all, even if his mother didn’t understand right now, she might understand when it was time for them to step out and declare their love. Then wouldn’t that make trouble?
Inside the room, Madam Zhang sighed and patted her son’s arm again. “Then you better fall in love fast. Otherwise, all the good girls will be gone. Who knows if that prince won’t take a few concubines? Those girls would be so happy, their parents laughing in their sleep!”
Zhang Shi Lan smiled in return. “I doubt he’ll be able to do so in Madam Yan’s matchmaking pavilion. Speaking of which … Shouldn’t you leave now, mother? Otherwise, it will be getting late. That wouldn’t leave her with a good impression.”
Madam Zhang sighed and got up, patting his arm again. “True. I still don’t understand why that woman didn’t include a time in her invitation. Did she just forget?”
Zhang Shi Lan merely continued to smile noncommittally. He didn’t dare to assume what Madam Yan was thinking.
His mother sighed again. “Alright, then you wait for my good news. Your mother will make sure that we find a good match for you.”
Zhang Shi Lan nodded and walked her to the door, watching her leave the house. He sighed and just wanted to return to his own chambers when his hand was grabbed and he was pulled to the side. He wanted to scream but a hand covered his mouth and then he collided with a broad chest and a familiar scent entered his nose.
Zhang Shi Lan tried to glare at the person behind him but Yu Huang Rong only smiled and handed him a blooming twig.
“Missed me? I missed you very much.”
Zhang Shi Lan sighed and took the twig, shaking his head at him. “I guess you didn’t come through the front door. Let’s go to my room then. It’d be better if you weren’t seen.”
Yu Huang Rong followed him, grabbing his hand. “Ah, it is really so exciting to have a clandestine love affair.”
Zhang Shi Lan only shook his head again. There really was no use in arguing with that rogue.