He didn't know if at that time, like in his dreams, he would degenerate into a killing machine? A ruthless demon? Zhu Junyang shivered in the warm spring sun at noon. He hastily left the manor and unwittingly walked to the black brick, tiled-roof residence at the foot of the mountain.
"Your Highness, the royal prince only ate half a bowl of peach blossom soup for lunch…" When Meixiang and Lanxiang brought the lunch over, they only saw the young prince's back view and were confused about where he was going.
"Don't worry about him. He won't starve!" Princess Consort Jing was in a good mood and thus had a good appetite. After she ate a few pieces of peach blossom cakes, she also ate quite a lot for lunch.
Unknowingly, Zhu Junyang had stepped into the Yu Family's East Courtyard again. Yu Xiaocao's family was getting ready to eat lunch, so when they saw Royal Prince Yang coming in, they all stood up.
With a smile, Yu Hai rubbed his hands and asked, "Royal Prince Yang, have you eaten lunch yet? If you don't mind, would you like to eat with us?"
Zhu Junyang glanced at the table and saw that the dishes on it weren't the vegetable dishes like Yu Xiaocao had said. Steamed eggs and clams, fried yellow croaker, grilled salmon… These were all dishes that he hadn't tried before. Zhu Junyang, who was originally in a bad mood, flared up in anger again.
"Yu Xiaocao! Do you really dislike me this much? Do you hold contempt for this prince?" Zhu Junyang's tone was filled with a sense of danger.
Yu Xiaocao, whose name was suddenly called, almost choked on a fishbone. She coughed hard twice and swallowed the fish meat in her mouth. Then she quickly went to put out the fire, "What do you mean, Young Royal Prince? Uncle Shuanzhu brought the yellow croaker and salmon over after you left. As you know, if sea fish is left out for a long time, it won't be fresh anymore. So…"
"Don't make excuses! Speak!! Are you annoyed at this prince? You don't want to let me stay to eat?" Zhu Junyang was acting somewhat unreasonable for no reason at all, like a sulky child.
Yu Xiaocao stopped her family members, who wanted to come help. She said with a smile, "Your Highness, you have misunderstood! With your noble status, you have traveled far and wide and possess exceptional knowledge. So, what delicacies haven't you tried before? Your willingness to eat at our house is an acknowledgement of my cooking skills. We feel deeply honored, so why would we push away such a great honor? You're quite lucky. You came over as soon as I succeeded in making the charcoal grilled salmon with herbs…"
"If this prince didn't come today, doesn't that mean that I wouldn't be able to eat this new dish?" Zhu Junyang continued to find fault for no reason. Looking at Xiaocao's beautiful smiling face, a gloomy feeling hit his heart at the thought of how her beauty would be presented to some unknown person in the future.
Yu Xiaocao widened her eyes with a look of disbelief, "I was just planning on preparing a feast to welcome the royal prince tomorrow! This dish was prepared for tomorrow ah! Since you're here today, that's even better! Why don't you see if it suits your taste?"
After over two years of interaction, Yu Xiaocao had already gotten a good grasp of this cold-faced royal prince's temper and knew how to get rid of his anger by joking with him. But, it didn't seem to be working today!
"Stop acting in such a frivolous manner. How can you be a girl like this? With you acting like this, it would be a wonder if you can get married!!" Upon hearing Zhu Junyang's vicious remark, Madam Liu, as her mother, immediately pulled a long face. Yu Hai, who was a fool for his daughter, also glared at Royal Prince Yang with a displeased expression. Had it not been for his identity, they would have stepped forward and ripped into him already.
"That's even better! I can stay with my parents and be filial to them right by their sides. That way, I don't have to be overly cautious and restrained at someone else's house. There's also fighting with my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and other women… I'm tired just by thinking about it!" Yu Xiaocao, on the other hand, had a nonchalant expression.
Madam Liu could no longer be concerned about Royal Prince Yang standing on the side, and chided, "What are you saying!! How can a girl not get married? If you continue to speak nonsense, I'm going to hit you!!"
Madam Liu's threat didn't have any effect on Xiaocao because she knew that her mother wouldn't be willing to harm her at all! Since she transmigrated to this small fishing village, the most gratifying thing for her was that she had parents who loved her so much and allowed her to 'make trouble', and siblings who had a harmonious relationship and helped each other.
Hearing Xiaocao's words, the anger in Zhu Junyang's heart suddenly dispersed like a deflated balloon. He said without thinking, "Don't worry. If you can't get married, then this prince will kindly take you!"
Unexpectedly, Xiaocao had a horrified expression on her face when she heard this, like she had just seen a ghost. She hastily replied, "Royal Prince, please don't! I'm very grateful, but can you use your kindness on others? This lowly commoner acts in a boorish manner and looks ugly. I don't want to tarnish your saintly image of being graceful and handsome, wise and skilled in martial arts, and unattainable!"
"It's okay, this prince doesn't mind!!" Zhu Junyang was in a bright mood and felt that it was an excellent idea to take her into his household. This lass was still too young, but it didn't matter because he had the patience to wait for her to grow up.
"I'm the one who minds!!" Yu Xiaocao noticed that Royal Prince Yang was being serious, so she spoke without thinking, which caused the Yu Hai couple and Old Yu's hearts to tremble in fright! If she offended this great lord Royal Prince Yang, the entire Yu Family wouldn't be able to take the responsibility ah!
With his eyebrows raised, Zhu Junyang stared at her seriously with his phoenix eyes and asked, "Do you think that this prince isn't good enough for you? I was personally bestowed the title of royal prince by the Emperor of the Great Ming Dynasty, and I was also granted the authority to govern a piece of land. If you consent, you will be the mistress of the entire Tanggu area. You can open a shop anywhere you want and buy land wherever you want. Even if you don't want to do anything, this prince will be able to support you! Although I'm six to seven years older than you, people often say that older men know how to pamper women more! Moreover, this prince looks pretty decent, so you won't lose face when going out with me! So in what way are you unsatisfied with me?"
Xiaocao felt another headache coming when she saw him promote himself in such a serious manner, "My Lord, you are absolutely perfect! I am the one who isn't good enough for you…"
"This prince has already said that I don't mind!!" At the beginning, when Zhu Junyang blurted out this idea, he was being slightly impulsive. However, after carefully thinking about it, it wasn't a bad idea to keep the only source of light in his life by his side. In this way, he had resolved all the troubles that he had earlier at the mountain manor.
Yu Xiaocao had the urge to bite someone. Seeing the stunned expression on the faces of her family members, she knew that she couldn't count on them. She thought about it, and then seriously said, "Young Royal Prince! You should also know how much my parents value me. They won't agree to let me be someone's concubine. You won't use your authority to force me to be your concubine, right?"
"Who said I'll take you in as a concubine?" Zhu Junyang looked at her contemptuously. If this tactless girl got married into a disordered household, she would be tortured to death in a few days. Fortunately, the inner court of the Prince Jing's Household had always been rather peaceful. His lord father had acted in an absurd manner when he was young, but, at present, his mother was his father's only woman.
After his eldest brother married his eldest sister-in-law, he had sent away all his former bed-servants. As for himself, he didn't even have a single bed-servant. He was still a virgin at the age of eighteen or nineteen. If those profligate sons of wealthy families in the capital found out about this, they would definitely laugh at him. What exactly was this stinky girl unsatisfied with?
With a foul expression, Yu Xiaocao said, "To me, the position of ranked concubine and equal wife is the same as a concubine. I have a slightly domineering temper and I like to guard things that belong to me, so I won't permit anyone to share my man!!"
The Yu Family members all covered their faces, 'This shameless girl. How old is she that she's already casually talking about men? This won't do. When the royal prince, who is suddenly acting crazy, leaves, we must properly discipline her to let her know what can be said and what can't be said!'
"That's great! This prince hates those pretentious and ill-intentioned women! It's enough to have only one woman in the inner court. If there are more, it would be a disaster to the family!!" Zhu Junyang still remembered the source of his great change in temperament—that b*tch who wanted to harm his lady mother! She normally pretended to be a pure white lotus flower, but she was actually a black-hearted snake!
Yu Xiaocao didn't know if he was really being serious. Why was he playing with her, a little peasant girl, for no reason? She wrinkled her face and tried to reject him, "Young Royal Prince, since ancient times, one's marriage is decided by the orders of the parents and the words of the matchmaker. Your marriage needs to be decided by Imperial Prince Jing and Princess Consort Jing. Aren't you being too disrespectful of our family by making such a rash proposal?"
Yu Hai finally had a chance to interject, "Cao'er is right! Had it not been for your status as a royal prince, we would have already kicked you out with a beating for your absurd behavior! Although we're just commoners, Cao'er is also a pearl in our eyes—our beloved daughter. How can we just let you take her with merely a few words?"
Zhu Junyang looked at his future father-in-law with a serious expression and nodded, "Uncle Yu is right! This fellow is being rash!! Rest assured; I will make my own decisions regarding my own marriage!! I'll immediately go write a letter to ask my lord father to come to the mountain manor. On a later day, I'll come with my parents to discuss the matter between the two families…"
"Wait! Wait a moment!!" If Yu Xiaocao continued to remain silent, then her marriage was about to be settled. She shrieked and interrupted her father and the young prince, "Young Royal Prince, please carefully reconsider and don't act on impulse. How can two people without feelings stay together for a long time?"
"Xiaocao, do you dislike me?" Zhu Junyang felt uncertain in his heart. Many of the noble young ladies in the capital, who had heard of his reputation, would always have the complex emotions of fear, panic, and adoration when they met him. He was afraid that Xiaocao would dislike him after hearing about his past.
Yu Xiaocao shook her head, and Zhu Junyang's eyes suddenly lit up. Yu Xiaocao's head slightly ached as she looked up at the royal prince, who was suddenly in a good mood. She helplessly said, "Not disliking you doesn't mean that I like you ah! I want to be a couple who loves each other, and not a couple who always acts courteous to each other."
"As long as you don't dislike me, then it's not a big problem! Isn't there something called 'familiarity breeds fondness'? My lady mother had also only seen my lord father several times before they got married. Aren't they happily married now? At present, which noble madam in the capital doesn't envy my lady mother for having the sole love of her husband?" What Zhu Junyang didn't say was that his lord father had seen his lady mother by chance and fallen in love with her at first sight. This marriage was requested by his lord father himself!
"Not all men are as devoted as Imperial Prince Jing!" Yu Xiaocao felt very helpless. Could someone come save her? Could someone please take away this royal prince who had suddenly gone crazy!
"Like father, like son! I'm my lord father's son, so if my father can do it, then so can I!!" Zhu Junyang exclaimed with determination. Although he still wasn't completely clear about his feelings toward this lass, he had finally met a girl who he didn't hate and wasn't annoyed by. She was a little too young, but he didn't want to let her go!