Jing He took a long time to get ready. For one, he had always been meticulous about maintaining his appearance. Taking care of his body and hair thoroughly was only natural. And two, he was still worried about the time when he finished and would see Qiu Ling again.
He could leave his outer robe off after he had washed up, simply leaving it on the clothes hanger where it hung right now. He didn’t have to put on a new one either. He could simply step out in his inner robe and then see what Qiu Ling would say and do. The thought made his cheeks flush though.
Jing He glanced at the folding screen. It was wooden and massive, not letting the person on the opposite side adumbrate even the slightest hint of his silhouette. It was just right for a moment like this, allowing him some peace of mind at least. It also meant that he didn’t know where exactly Qiu Ling was and what he was doing though.
Jing He lowered his gaze to his hands, looking at the pale skin that was slightly reddened by the hot water. Qiu Ling … did he think him attractive? He should, shouldn’t he? After all, the dragons paid much attention to appearances and he had pursued him for ten years. He wouldn’t have done that if his figure and face didn’t strike his fancy, would he?
He lightly bit his lower lip and glanced at his outer robe that hung at the side. To be honest, his figure was usually hidden well enough because he was afraid of how he would be perceived otherwise. And anyway, guessing and seeing for himself would be different so who knew what Qiu Ling would think?
He actually started to doubt himself a little. He had always thought that he was pretty at least, even if his character wasn’t as noble as Xing. Surely, this was what had attracted Qiu Ling so it also shouldn’t be a problem to keep his interest. But then … that was also with meticulous care being involved. He never left his palace without every strand of hair being in place, after all. At the time when his robe came off and his body was laid bare for Qiu Ling to examine closely … maybe he would have some uncharitable opinion about him?
Jing He pulled up his knees and covered his chest with his arms, feeling even more self-conscious than before. What if Qiu Ling disliked him? If things really progressed today and his lover felt that his expectations weren’t met … what then?
He knew Qiu Ling wouldn’t leave him. After getting engaged, making it more or less public, and then seeing his naked body, he would never just abandon him. He would see it through until the end, marry him, and stay with him until either of them died. But if he did so while feeling disgust toward him …
Jing He reached up and covered his lips with his fingers. He didn’t want that to happen. But it wasn’t like he could do anything about it. If he wasn’t up to Qiu Ling’s standards, then that was simply the case and he’d have to live with it. It wasn’t like he could make himself any more attractive.
He closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths, trying not to get carried away. He had no reason to think like this. Anyway, while he might not have anyone to compare himself to, there shouldn’t be anything too odd about him, right? In that case, Qiu Ling certainly wouldn’t have an extreme reaction. Even if he saw his body, he could certainly accept him as he was. It might not feel exciting to him but it should be tolerable at least.
Outside, Qiu Ling realized that Jing He was really taking his sweet time. He blinked his eyes and couldn’t help but focus his attention over there, catching onto his shaky breathing. His brows slowly climbed up and he couldn’t help but wonder if something was wrong. His beloved … might be scared to come out?
Qiu Ling rubbed his lips, thinking that Jing He was probably embarrassed about the whole situation. It was just like him. On the night before his trial, hadn’t it been similar? Now, more time had passed and he had regained some memories. Their relationship had also moved even further forward. Of course, he might feel more self-conscious.
He thought for a moment and finally cleared his throat. “My love, aren’t you done yet? I don’t mean to rush you but …” He wondered how to finish that sentence and his gaze once again wandered around the room. “Well, I’d much rather have you over here and hold you in my arms.”
Jing He’s cheeks flushed. “I … I’ll be ready in another minute.” He hurriedly got out of the water, drying his body with his magic, and putting on the thin inner robe. Looking down, the flush on his cheeks deepened.
He quickly grasped the comb lying at the side and brushed through his hair to ensure that the strands weren’t tangled. Then, he finally stepped around the folding screen, his gaze accurately finding Qiu Ling on the edge of the bed.
His heart thumped heavily but he forced himself to walk over step by step, only stopping when he had arrived next to Qiu Ling. At this moment … he wasn’t sure what to do or say so he could only keep his hands folded in front of his body and look at him, waiting for his lover to take the lead. Whatever Qiu Ling decided to do … he’d go along with it.