RSH Stratagem 44: Have an Honest Talk (4)

Jing He saw his gaze and his heart leaped with an unknown feeling. It wasn’t fear or joy, neither was it apprehension. It seemed to be some kind of suspense as if he was expecting something to happen that put him in a state of excitement but also worry. He wasn’t sure what that something was though, he only watched as the dragon king’s eyes narrowed faintly.

“You were saying?”

Jing He took another flat breath, unsure of how to continue. It seemed he owed him the last half of that sentence but then, what he had wanted to say was too … too direct, wasn’t it? “It was … nothing much.”

“It didn’t seem like that to me.” Qiu Ling leaned even closer, his gaze brushing over Jing He’s face. Ah, somehow, he felt like a rogue taking advantage of a maiden. But then, maybe that was exactly what he was. Yes, the more he thought about it, the more he felt that there was no doubt about it.

Jing He’s gaze darted around, trying to find a way to speak his thoughts that wouldn’t make it too obvious how he felt. Anyway, these were the words he was supposed to assign to his mother. How could he let even a single word of them be wrong?

His fingers rubbed the hem of his sleeve as if he could find the right response among the threads. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything embroidered there and he came up empty-handed, still not knowing what to say.

Qiu Ling leaned in closer, his brows faintly raising. “What did you think I was?”

Jing He pulled back in a hurry, feeling even less able to think with Qiu Ling so close. The sudden movement made him lose his balance and he fell back, staring up with wide eyes.

Qiu Ling looked at him and blinked in surprise, his own eyes widening as well. Somehow, he couldn’t help but think of how odd this whole situation was. They were out here, all alone, his beloved on his back, him almost leaning over him, almost as if … “Is this an invitation?”

The words were out before he had thought them through and he very much felt like slapping his face right afterward. It seemed that just a few moments earlier, he had made a high-sounding promise such as ‘won’t kiss you, won’t touch you, won’t do anything you don’t want me to do’, and now, here he was, trying to take advantage again.

Qiu Ling sighed deeply and shook his head. “Ah, if only. But I guess I’ll have to wait for that until we get married, right?” Although, come to think of it … “You know, this type of thing, it’s part of the dragons’ wedding ritual. So, if you wanted to get married, now would actually be the perfect time.”

Jing He stared at him in a daze. He felt like he understood what Qiu Ling was saying but then, it seemed too outrageous even for him so he didn’t dare to believe it. No, Qiu Ling might try to steal a kiss here and there but he would never …

He hurriedly moved his gaze to the side but his whole body felt hot at the thought. Actually, Qiu Ling absolutely would go further than just kissing him as long as he let him. Although he was pretty sure that in that case, Qiu Ling would require him to do more than just silently let him go ahead.

Yes, for this type of thing, Qiu Ling would likely require an invitation just as his words had suggested. So, right now, if he were to suggest that …

Jing He’s thoughts trailed off until he was in a complete daze, not sure what to think or do. Of course, he wanted to be with him. He wanted to marry him and do all the things that should only be allowed between spouses.

To hug him, to kiss him, to be held by him … of course, all of that should happen. Among the gods, it would require a previous ceremony but clearly, it was different among the dragons. And one of them … one of them was a dragon so who was to say that they shouldn’t follow their customs?

Qiu Ling looked at Jing He and felt that something was a bit wrong. Just now, had he gone too far? But then, he hadn’t even done anything but say a few words. Alright, maybe leaning in until his beloved toppled over did count as doing something.

Ah, he really was a beast trying to take advantage of the smallest of opportunities. Hadn’t today been supposed to show his sincerity? This sure was an odd way to do it. Surely, his beloved would be evasive again after this. Hopefully, the sunrise would be able to dispel some of that awkwardness later.

He sighed and then took Jing He’s hand. “I’m sorry. Please, don’t take it to heart.” He wanted to pull him up but realized that Jing He wasn’t reacting at all. He blinked his eyes in confusion and looked at his face, only to realize that the gaze Jing He looked back at him with was completely wrong.

Qiu Ling gulped. This … was not a good situation. He wasn’t some saint. If Jing He were to tell him that he wanted to proceed further right here, right now … he’d probably do it. Yes, he absolutely would, even though he was well aware that his beloved deserved better.

His lips opened and he hesitated for a moment before finally speaking his true thoughts. “You know if you wanted to … I could bring us to the dragon realm in no time. My palace is … actually quite nice. Definitely the perfect place to do that kind of thing.”

Jing He was finally pulled out of his musings. He hastily sat up and pulled back his hands, lowering his head so far that Qiu Ling couldn’t see his face at all. “This … No, I … I should probably return to my palace.”

Qiu Ling hung his head. Well, look at that! Now, they were back to where they had started. He sighed before looking back up and then reached out, gently grabbing Jing He’s shoulders. “There is no need for that. I promised I wouldn’t touch you if you didn’t want me to, didn’t I? Blame it on me for misunderstanding you just now. Since you don’t want to, then I won’t do it. In the future …” He coughed, feeling that now really wasn’t the right moment to say that. Who knew if he wouldn’t drive his beloved off after all if he did?

On the other hand, Jing He tightly pressed his eyes shut, blaming himself as well. This … was no misunderstanding. After all, that was precisely what he had thought of. Qiu Ling had simply managed to see through the veneer he put up for others to see and now, he couldn’t believe what he saw beneath so he blamed himself. It truly was … almost comical while also making him want to break down in tears. After all, just as expected, his true self was not attractive to Qiu Ling at all.

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