Shen Ziqiao followed the group back to Minyue as Du Ji’s coffin was brought back to the capital.
The Ninth Prince and Sheng Peiyin accompanied them.
They hadn’t found the spy yet and Du Ji was also murdered by the Jin thieves now. Although they were just ordinary merchants, they felt really remorseful as Dazhou’s common people.
Sheng Peiyin was sure that Shen Xiao was the spy so she felt even more disgusted with Shen Ziqiao. Especially when she saw how much people cherished her along the journey. She was so jealous and wanted to let everyone know that Shen Ziqiao was the daughter of a traitor so badly.
“After passing Liulong City, we still need to buy some leather. After all, we have some empty carriages so we can use them to transport some leather back.” Pan Lize exclaimed softly to Shen Ziqiao in the courtyard of the relay station. They had bought quite a bit on their way back already.
Shen Ziqiao had the same thought. Liulong City was best known for its different types of animal skins. They could process the different animal skins to turn them into clothes that every woman would like. Business was considerately good in the winter.
“We can buy some good-quality fur for grandmother and turn them into overcoats for her.” Shen Ziqiao smiled.
“Ah, the Old Madam cherished you for a good reason.” The third uncle chuckled.
Shen Ziqiao scrunched her nose and purposely stated coquettishly, “Of course. I love my grandmother, first and third aunt too!”
Third uncle chuckled and eyed a tall and straight figure walking over. His smile slightly faded and he sighed inside. “I’m going to count the commodities.”
Third uncle brushed past the person after finding an excuse to leave. It was unclear what they talked about in hushed whispers.
He Chen’s expression froze. His gaze dimmed but he still walked to Shen Ziqiao, determined. “Jiao Jiao, I want to talk to you.”
Since they were attacked that night by the Jin people, the two had experienced life and death together. Although they didn’t cultivate any deep relationship as a result, he became more mature and steady than before.
Shen Ziqiao originally disliked He Chen. But after that time, she changed her mind on him completely.
“Talk. I’m listening.” Shen Ziqiao smiled, thinking that He Chen was going to talk to her about the trading companies.
He Chen looked at her round face and rosy cheeks. His figure was reflected in her clear and bright eyes. Unlike different ladies, her eyes were lively and mischievous, incapable of forgetting easily.
“Hey, Eldest Master He, what exactly do you want to say?” Seeing that he was staring at herself, she called him again.
“I…” He Chen wanted to talk but he didn’t know what to say. He ended up staring at her with a burning gaze.
Shen Ziqiao avoided his gaze. It wasn’t that she didn’t know his thought but that it was better if she didn’t know
Okay. She actually didn’t know why He Chen suddenly took a fancy to her. Didn’t he always hate her?
He Chen took a deep breath. He knew that she was different from the other ladies. She either wouldn’t understand or would pretend to be ignorant if he explained it too vaguely.
“Jiao Jiao, I want to invite a matchmaker over and propose marriage to your family after we return to Minyue.” He Chen looked right into her eyes, exclaiming deeply what he had been thinking about the past few days.
“Huh?” Shen Ziqiao almost choked on her saliva. “Eldest Master He, you must be joking.”
He Chen’s expression turned cold. It didn’t seem like he was proposing to the lady he loved but rather talking business with an opponent. He was waiting for Shen Ziqiao to reply so that he could counter her move.
“I’m not joking. Old Lord Pan and our He Family made a promise a long time ago. After we go back, the two families will start preparing a wedding…”
“Wait!” Shen Ziqiao hurriedly cut him off. “He Chen, no one told me about this. I had no idea. Plus, I won’t get married with you.”
“Why?” He Chen asked.
What do you mean why? Wasn’t this a very simple question? She didn’t like him. She had been avoiding him because she didn’t want to face the gaze in his eyes. Who knew that man would be so straightforward and end up just proposing to her?
“I...where are all these questions coming from? I just don’t want to marry you.” Shen Ziqiao felt a headache coming. “You can’t just marry someone just because someone wants you to marry them. Look at me. I’m careless and unruly. I don’t act like an unmarried daughter from a noble house at all. You’ll only lose face by marrying me. You should marry a woman that is worthy of you.”
“Indeed, you’re careless and unruly. You don’t even know the rules…” He Chen smiled bitterly. “But I like you.”
When he didn’t like her, he thought that everything she did was irksome. However, when he did end up liking her...he thought that she was cute and lovable no matter how.
Shen Ziqiao froze. Was...this was a confession?
Shock! Did she successfully replace Sheng Peiyin and counterattacked? From a cannon fodder to a lovable female lead? This was too deceptive!
“Just because you like me doesn’t mean I have to marry you.” Shen Ziqiao murmured. “I don’t want to get married.”
He Chen stared fixedly at her and asked, “Because you want to marry Qi Zheng?”
How could he not tell that she liked Qi Zheng? However, he was unresigned. Therefore, he wanted to hear straight from her so that he could give up too.
Shen Ziqiao’s face flushed. True, she did like Qi Zheng. She never thought about marrying someone else other than him.
Didn’t her reaction explain everything?
He Chen felt as if something had tightly clutched his heart and he felt suffocated. “Without Qi Zheng… do you think you’d marry me?”
“But Qi Zheng exists in this world.” Shen Ziqiao exclaimed softly. Because she had Qi Zheng and she also liked him, she never thought about marrying anyone else.
“But what if I encountered you before him?” He Chen asked. If he only lost to Qi Zheng because of the timing, at least he can give himself some hope even if he was unresigned.
Shen Ziqiao sighed. “How do I know? I already encountered him first so I liked him. Who knows what might happen to something hypothetical? Maybe you would think that I act like a tomboy if I encountered you first or that I am disobedient. Who knows? Maybe you’d only hate me? And not like me?”
“There is no maybe in this world. He Chen, thank you.” Shen Ziqiao said truthfully.
He Chen lifted his hand, hesitatingly reaching for her hair In the end, he placed his hands down. “If...he bullies you, you can come and find me.”
Shen Ziqiao smiled. “If he dares to bully me, I’ll bully him back. Don’t worry.”
Seeing her sweet and splendid smile, He Chen also smiled. As long as she was happy.
However, he refused to give up like this.
Half a month later, the group finally returned to Minyue. Pan Family was still immersed in the joy Shen Ziqiao brought when news of Shen Xiao being the spy that betrayed Du Ji had spread in the capital. The emperor had announced a decree to conduct a serious investigation.
How could Shen Xiao be the spy?! The entire Dazhou was in shock.