“Unforgettable, that's what you are.”
--Nat King Cole
Chapter 169 – Irresistible
“A spy? I see…” Qiong Ying commented calmly.
“Are you not surprised?” Huang Ming asked, slightly disappointed by her lukewarm reaction to his reveal.
Qiong Yong rolled her eyes exasperatedly. “You said so yourself: she’s the former maid of General Yin Yanzhao, a person whom we are most suspicious of. Anyone who is connected to him would be suspect.”
Huang Ming nodded.
“But do continue. What made you think that she’s a spy?” Qiong Ying encouraged as she slowly poured cups of tea for them.
“Well, like you I was already suspicious of her. A young woman living on her own out in the plains, within raiding distance of Jin? How did she survive for so many years?”
Qiong Ying pushed a cup of tea towards him. “She was tending to the graves of the Yin family. Maybe the Jins simply avoided that area, out of fear or respect. Or both,” she offered an explanation.
“Those things only happen in operas and folktales,” Huang Ming scoffed and drained his cup.
“You are such a pessimist,” Qiong Ying chided.
“A realist,” Huang Ming countered. “The real world is not as kind as in those stories. She would be raped and killed by a roaming Jin patrol… and how coincidental for me to have found her in my very first excursion out of Beihai.”
Qiong Ying shuddered at his brutal imagery. “You are terrible,” she murmured.
‘I have seen and done terrible things,’ Huang Ming thought quietly.
Instead, he said, “She may be thin and tired-looking, but the little details were missing. She is too delicate to have been living and surviving on her own in such conditions.”
Qiong Ying arched an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”
“Her hands,” Huang Ming smiled. “There are too few callouses on them. They are still soft and tender, not the signs of someone who have to cook and clean by herself for several years.”
“Oh? And you know this how?” Qiong Ying asked, showing immense interest in the topic.
“What? Right, you wouldn’t know,” Huang Ming said knowingly. “You have never cooked or clean anything yourself, did you? Well, if you did, then your skin will grow tough and wrinkly over time…”
Qiong Ying narrowed her emerald eyes. “I do know how to cook and clean, but that is not what I meant,” she said in a considerably flat tone. “How exactly did you find out that her hands are soft and tender?”
“Oh,” Huang Ming replied intelligently. “I, er, held her hands.”
Qiong Ying’s smile did not quite reach her eyes.
“Only briefly, while she cried. In front of the soldiers!” Huang Ming hastily added.
“I see,” the green-eyed monster’s pressure receded.
Huang Ming felt as if he had dodged a bullet.
“If you knew she’s a spy, why would you invite her back?” Qiong Ying asked.
“To send back misinformation, of course. What other possible reason would I have?” Huang Ming said smoothly.
“Mmm, I thought you were preparing, what was it that you said earlier? For a new ‘model’?” Qiong Ying thought aloud.
Huang Ming grinned wolfishly and pulled her close into his embrace.
“I did say that, didn’t I? I also said it’s for after I break you in,” he whispered into her ear. Despite her protestations, he turned her body and smacked her fragrant buttocks, causing her to yelp girlishly.
Qiong Ying flushed and glared at him. “You have changed quite a bit since we met,” she said accusingly.
Huang Ming laughed. “Where is the woman who had bitten me so ferociously when we first met officially?”
“I don't go around biting people, you know... unless it's called for,” Qiong Ying grumbled as a way to cover her embarrassment.
“And only people whom I’m intimate with can see this side of me,” Huang Ming said meaningfully, looking deep into her eyes.
For a moment it seemed that their lips would touch, but then Qiong Ying reached out and squished his face with her hands.
“New model?” Qiong Ying repeated.
“I was only joking,” Huang Ming said solemnly.
“You better be. Your mother set a limit of us two, and no more,” she reminded him.
Huang Ming rolled his eyes. “I know, I take it very seriously.”
“Mmm. I would need to report this to Sunli,” Qiong Ying said airily.
Huang Ming gave her the stink eye. “Stop stirring trouble, I have more than enough on my plate.”
She nodded in agreement. “Since you are so busy, leave the matter of the spy to me. I will sniff out the truth, and harm her scheming owner.”
“Are you sure? It might be dangerous.”
“She won’t stand a chance against my ‘Quan Lu’,” Qiong Ying boasted. She narrowed her eyes once more. “Or do you have some other objection?”
Huang Ming shook his head. “Very well. But be careful, this is someone who waited patiently in the plains to spring her trap. You think you can handle her?”
Qiong Ying linked her fingers behind his head and smiled charmingly at him. Huang Ming marvelled at the way her eyes twinkled with mischief.
“Who can resist me?” she laughed softly.
She is to handle,
The potential scandal.