Private meeting was a really serious accusation no matter either for a married or unmarried woman. Xiao Gu didn’t even ask Shen Ziqiao about it in private. Instead, she questioned her in public. Besides Old Madam Qi and Qi Zheng who wore dark faces, Qi Rui and Qi Yun couldn’t conceal their smiles, clearly taking pleasure in this.
When Shen Ziqiao heard of the private meeting, she knew what Xiao Gu was referring to.
She smiled faintly, not afraid as Xiao Gu imagined she’d be. “Mother, I don’t understand this. What private meeting?”
“You want to lie? Where did you go yesterday?” Xiao Gu thought that Shen Ziqiao was just still trying to worm her way out of this. She casted a side glance at Qi Zheng, surprised that he wasn’t angry.
Any man should be furious hearing that their wife had a private meeting with another man outside, no?
“I went to the Luo Family to attend the Plum Appreciation Banquet yesterday. Didn’t I tell you this before?” Shen Ziqiao smiled. Needless to say, someone must’ve spread news of her talking to the Ninth Prince outside the Luo Family door to Xiao Gu.
“What did you do after attending the Plum Appreciation Banquet at the Luo Family?” Xiao Gu pressed sternly.
“I naturally came back. Where else could I have gone?” Shen Ziqiao replied expressionless, still smiling.
Xiao Gu hmphed. “You’re not willing to admit the truth until I expose you, hm? After you left the Luo Family, you clearly went to meet the Ninth Prince in private.”
Shen Ziqiao’s smile grew heavy. She looked clearly at Xiao Gu. “Mother, you’re going to have to take responsibility for your words. Who saw me meeting with the Ninth Prince in private? Where did we go?”
She’s still that bold and confident? Xiao Gu sneered and looked at Qi Zheng. “You’ve quite the heart. Your woman met with another man in private, yet you’re still unconcerned.”
Qi Zheng looked coldly at her. “If you have no evidence, I’ll be bringing you to the Ninth prince. He’s part of the royal family and not anyone can just accuse him.”
Xiao Gu felt a ball of anger surging from the bottom of her heart. “Hmph. Who doesn’t know about Nee Shen and the Ninth Prince? She’s married now, yet she still didn't give up. She whispered in the Ninth Prince’s ears in broad daylight. Whatever next should happen? If this spreads, where will our Qi Family’s face go?”
“How could a private meeting be in broad daylight?” Old Madam Qi asked faintly. In the morning, Shen Ziqiao had told her about meeting the Ninth Prince in front of the Luo Family door yesterday. Who knew that this was considered a private meeting in Xiao Gu’s eyes.
“What does a married woman have to say to a man? If someone else sees, they’ll naturally...naturally think otherwise and say that it’s a private meeting. The news will spread and our Qi Family will lose face as a result.” Xiao Gu said justly.
“In this case, I can’t even talk to any male relatives? If I try talking to them, that means I’m having a private meeting with them?” Shen Ziqiao looked expressionlessly at Xiao Gu. She didn’t believe that outsiders had spread rumors of her having a private meeting with the Ninth Prince. Though it wasn’t crowded outside the Luo Family door yesterday, there were still people. Plus, she didn’t even see the Ninth Prince. She only responded to him through the carriage. If this would cause a ruckus, then she might as well stay in the family and never leave.
“When did the Ninth Prince become your relative?” Xiao Gu asked sarcastically. Tao Shuilian had told her about Shen Ziqiao encountering the Ninth Prince outside the Luo Family. There were no rumors at all. But she just wanted Old Madam Qi and Qi Zheng to know that Shen Ziqiao had an extraordinary relationship with the Ninth Prince.
Qi Zheng said, “The Ninth Prince will be Jiao Jiao’s brother-in-law not long later.”
She actually forgot that the Ninth Prince was going to marry Shen Family’s fourth miss in a few months.
Xiao Gu’s expression froze.
Qi Yun sighed and said, “Sister-in-law, it’s fine if someone else talks to the Ninth Prince on the street but how could you? Back then…”
“What about me back then?” Shen Ziqiao asked coldly. “The Ninth Prince is talented and back then, I admired him for that. Everyone knows about it. Could it be that I’m misconducting myself just because I talked to him? Mother, you’re going to humiliate me like this?”
“You dare say that you have a clear conscience?” Qi Yun asked.
“I do! Though, what are your motives?” Shen Ziqiao’s gaze was on Qi Yun. Her stern and indifferent gaze made Qi Yun tremble.
Xiao Gu said, “I also heard it from outside…”
“Since you heard a rumor, how come mother didn’t even bother to hear me explain before scolding me?” Shen Ziqiao pressed.
“Mother, if she isn’t guilty, why would she be afraid? Why would she care about what outsiders say?” Xiao Gu looked towards Old Madam Qi. She cared most about reputation. If she found out that Shen Ziqiao didn’t have an upright moral character, then she wouldn’t believe or like her in the future anymore.
When Xiao Gu opened her mouth, Old Madam Qi already knew what she was up to. She asked slowly, “Do you think Jiao Jiao looks guilty?”
Shen Ziqiao’s gaze was clear and calm, and one couldn’t tell that she was guilty in the least bit.
“You’re Qi Family’s madam so you should be helping out your family. Even if people are babbling nonsense outside, you have to stop that. How can you help outsiders and misunderstand your daughter-in-law as well?” Old Madam Qi scolded.
Xiao Gu’s face flushed from embarrassment.
“Mother, I understand. I’ll know what to do next time.” Xiao Gu clenched.
Don’t mention that Old Madam didn’t feel like scolding Shen Ziqiao in the least bit, but even Qi Zheng wore an indifferent expression. It seemed as if she was the one that framed his wife. Shen Ziqiao was clearly the one that misconducted herself. They’re both crazy. They were both enchanted by Shen Ziqiao!
Xiao Gu was unhappy. Instead of driving a wedge between their relationship, she ended up getting scolded. She got up and bid farewell, leaving instead.
Not long later, Duke An had someone call Qi Zheng to the study.
Shen Ziqiao got on her knees in front of Old Madam Qi. “Grandmother, I used to be young and ignorant. If it was someone else, even if they were talking to the Ninth Prince, there wouldn’t have been rumors. It’s all my fault.”
Although Old Madam Qi had been protecting her today, Shen Ziqiao could tell that she was unhappy.
This was because she ruined her reputation for the Ninth Prince. She thought it was normal that Old Madam didn’t believe her either.
Old Madam Qi looked at Shen Ziqiao and said in a low voice, “Everyone was once young and ignorant. You’ve lost your mother at a young age. Your grandmother neglected and didn’t teach you either. This is pardonable. Now that you’re the First Madam of the Qi Family, your every action will be watched. You have to think before acting. Don’t let what happened today happen again. Don’t let someone create something from nothing and then cause you to be in a bad situation.”
Shen Ziqiao didn’t dare to refute, nodding.
“Get up. The ground is cold.” Seeing how obedient Shen Ziqiao was, Old Madam Qi indicated Nanny Tian to help her up.
She hinted at Shen Ziqiao not because she didn’t believe her but that she was worried Shen Ziqiao was too young and didn’t understand human hearts. Yesterday, it was more than normal that when she coincidentally met the Ninth Prince, she greeted him. However, in some people’s eyes, it was an unpardonable crime.
Shen Ziqiao knew that Old Madam Qi wanted her to be more careful in the future. She didn’t expect for Xiao Gu to incite disharmony in front of her today. It seems like Xiao gu hated her to the bones.
“Grandmother, I’ll be more careful in the future and make sure no one can use any information against me.” Shen Ziqiao kept her head down and exclaimed obediently. “Even more, I won’t do anything to cause Qi Family to lose face.”
Seeing that Shen Ziqiao understood right away, Old Madam Qi was comforted inside. “As long as you understand.”
Shen Ziqiao quietly sat in bed after returning to Qianlin Courtyard. She was thinking about who told Xiao Gu about what happened yesterday. The people by her side...never. Hong Yu was hers. The driver belonged to Qi Zheng’s people. Someone must’ve seen them then.
But she had left the Luo Family already. How did she know?
It must’ve been someone by Luo Zhaohua’s side!
Shen Ziqiao called Hong Yu over and had her go to the Luo Family tomorrow. She wanted her to tell Luo Zhaohua about what happened today. She’d naturally know what to do afterwards.
Hong Yu felt unjust for Shen Ziqiao. She cursed Xiao Gu out, “We must have Eldest Miss Luo pull out the tongue of the spy.”
“I neglected this. It’s my fault.” She took things for granted. She thought that nothing would happen if she just talked a bit to the Ninth Prince. The issue was with the original body’s past actions. Many people had their eyes on her, wanting her to make a mistake right then right now.
“It’s in the past. Only people who have ulterior motives will keep that in mind.” Hong Yu said.
“That’s why we need to guard against...those who have ulterior motives.” Shen Ziqiao said faintly.
Qi Zheng pulled the curtains over and heard Shen Ziqiao’s latter half of her words. In a solemn expression, he asked, “What’s the matter?”
Hong Yu retreated with her head down.
Shen Ziqiao walked over and helped place Qi Zheng’s overcoat to the side. “What did father want?”
“He asked about the palace matters.” Qi Zheng said and pulled Shen Ziqiao to sit by his side. “After I left, did the Old Madam say anything?”
“She just reminded me of some things. It’s fine.” Shen Ziqiao smiled.
Qi Zheng cupped her face, cherishing. “Sorry you had to endure this.”
Did he feel bad that she had to endure the past for the original body? Shen Ziqiao smiled and shook her head. She didn’t feel bad at all. After all, she had taken over the original body and the happiness that belonged to her. How could she not endure this? “Besides you, no one else can make me suffer.”
As long as he didn’t misunderstand her, she didn’t care about what people said.
Qi Zheng was touched inside. He lowered his head and kissed her. “Xiao Gu has been too idle lately. It seems like I should find some work for her to do.”
Shen Ziqiao smiled and asked, “Like what?”
For example...the mistress that had been arranged for in the capital. If Xiao Gu finds out that she returned, they wondered if she’d continue to deal with Jiao Jiao every day.
Qi Zheng carried Shen Ziqiao and placed her on his thighs. “I just mentioned to my father about letting us move out of the residence to live.”
Shen Ziqiao’s eyes brightened. “What did father say?”