Jing Yi cleared his throat and forcefully pushed those other thoughts aside, sitting up straight on the chair. “Big brother Peng, say, do you also have somebody?”
“A partner you mean?”
“Mn, something like that. You’re living with everybody else here. It must be difficult to have a relationship then.”
Peng Mu picked up the robe again now that Jing Yi seemed to have cheered up a little and continued to mend the sleeve. “Well, it’s indeed not easy but I guess it can work out. Quite a few of the others have found wives and then moved out to live with them in town.”
Jing Yi nodded while inwardly feeling stupid for bringing up two things at the same time. Why hadn’t he left it at asking whether he had a significant other or not?
“If they do, they often have to stop working in the field though. They can’t always come here in the morning and leave in the evening. The distance from the town is too far. If they find a place in one of the villages that is closer by, it can work out though.”
“Oh. So they might have to choose.”
“Mn. Well, it’s not a problem for me right now.”
“So you don’t have somebody?” Jing Yi clenched his hands into fists below the table. He was afraid that asking for a second time might make him seem a little too interested in the answer to that question but he was also afraid that he wouldn’t get the answer if he didn’t ask again. This really was a difficult situation.
“No.” Peng Mu shook his head but at the same time, his gaze became softer. “At the very least, there’s nobody like your fiance that I have an official relationship with. There’s somebody I like though.”
“Ah, really?” Jing Yi barely held back a sigh of relief but he couldn’t help leaning forward, his eyes sparkling with curiosity.
Peng Mu laughed and reached over, nudging his forehead. “You! Who would have thought you’re so interested in gossip?”
Jing Yi’s cheeks flushed and he forcibly leaned back. “That’s not it. I …” He looked away and cleared his throat again. “It’s just that I don’t know that many of the others here yet. I … I feel a bit alone.”
Peng Mu nodded and reached over, patting his head. “That’s alright. I don’t mind telling you. Actually, the situation is a little complicated. That woman recently moved to the city and I saw her on the market square one day when the steward sent me over to get some things for him. She … was remarkably beautiful. Absolutely not comparable with any of the other women I’ve seen around here. For a moment, I was even sure that my eyes had to be playing tricks on me.”
“But that wasn’t the case?” Jing Yi had a bad feeling about this. That demon was supposed to be especially beautiful. So most likely, this was who Peng Mu had fallen in love with. Looking at it from his perspective, that was quite sad.
Peng Mu nodded in response to his question. “Yes, she really was that beautiful. I didn’t think much more about it after that first meeting but I still couldn’t forget about her. So when I went to the city again when I had a day off, I did look around for her.
“Coincidentally, we really met. She was struggling to carry some ingredients from the market home so I offered to help her. On the way, she told me that she was a young widow. Her husband had died just a few months after the wedding so she felt like she had brought bad luck to him and his family. She didn’t want to rely on them, so she declined the offer to take a servant with her when she came to the city and wanted to care for herself just with her own strength.
“I couldn’t help but admire her for that. On the other hand, I also couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. She must have loved him a lot but then he was taken from her. And now, she even feels that it is somehow her fault. Isn’t that tragic?”
He looked at Jing Yi who awkwardly nodded in return. Inwardly, he couldn’t help but wonder what the truth was though. Was this woman really just an unlucky person? Was she actually cursed? Or was she a demon like Liu Cheng said?
In fact, Liu Cheng had never seen her so he might be wrong about her. Maybe what he had heard from others wasn’t the truth. That would certainly be for the best. He really couldn’t imagine how devastated Peng Mu would be if the woman he loved turned out to be a demon.
Peng Mu sighed, sounding a little lovelorn. “I went to see her whenever I could after that day. Honestly, I’m not sure myself where this will lead. I do like her but … well, she is a widow. I don’t know if she would be open to anything more with me. Maybe her husband’s family wouldn’t even allow it.”
Jing Yi was pulled out of his own thoughts by Peng Mu’s musings. “Have you never talked with her about that?”
“No. I didn’t feel like … it was the right time. I don’t want to burden her, you know? And I also don’t want to miss my chance with her just because I’ve rushed too much.”
“Oh. Yes, that … I could imagine that being too straightforward might be disadvantageous for you. At the very least, I was almost scared away because Qiu Ling came on too strong in the beginning.”
“Oh? What did he do?”
Jing Yi’s lips when he thought back to that day. He really wouldn’t want to say it out loud but being open might make Peng Mu less suspicious. “He … he asked me to marry him when we saw each other for the first time.”
Peng Mu couldn’t help but laugh. Ah, young love sure was nice!