It’s Better to be the Empress Dowager
Chapter 81 Pay Respects
When Zhao Chengjun woke up the next day, the sky was partly illuminated, and the sound of birds chirping was clear and melodious. The first glimmer of light shone through the bed curtain and brighten the inside of the babu bed.
Zhao Chengjun was also very surprised. He slept through dawn and did not wake up halfway.
Zhao Chengjun moved slightly. When the head of the person next to him fell into nothingness, she muttered dissatisfiedly, and then slowly leaned on him again. Zhao Chengjun held her head, half leaning on one side, and stared at Tang Shishi’s side face for a long time.
She seemed to be in deep sleep with her eyelashes like crow feathers, her face like hibiscus, and her hair scattered messily behind her. She was in deep sleep under the beautiful thick curtain. There was a strand of black hair on her cheek, less than an inch away from the corner of her mouth. Zhao Chengjun looked at it for a long time, slowly stretched out his hand, and pulled the strand of hair away.
Black hair, snow skin, red lips. It was nothing more than a beauty sleeping in the spring.
After arranging her hair, Zhao Chengjun’s fingers should have been removed immediately. However, when he touched Tang Shishi’s cheek, he lingered on a bit longer and was unwilling to leave like this. Tang Shishi’s smooth, soft and snowy skin was really a Heaven sent. Zhao Chengjun could still recall that feeling and her waist was like soft jade, as soft as boneless. When he held her waist in his hands, he almost suspected that he would snap it.
It was easy to get excited in the morning. Zhao Chengjun stopped straight away, heartlessly let his hand go, and got out of bed with his clothes. Zhao Chengjun had been training in the military for many years. He was no longer the pampered prince from Jinling who depended on other people. He did not call for anyone to come in but did it himself and put on his outer clothing neatly.
When Zhao Chengjun was putting on his clothes, the bed curtain was not closed well, and the wind blew in slightly. Tang Shishi was awakened by the cool breeze. She instinctively shrank into the brocade quilt, and asked lispingly, “Dujuan, what time is it?”
There was no familiar sound outside. After a while, the curtain was lifted. Zhao Chengjun stood by the bed, put the bed curtain aside with a jade hook, and said, “It’s maoshi (5 am – 7 am). It’s almost time to get up.”
Tang Shishi was startled when she heard the man’s voice, only then did she remember that she was now a married woman in terms of identity. Tang Shishi blinked and stared at the top of the curtain blankly. Zhao Chengjun waited for a while. Seeing her staring without moving, he pinched her face amusedly, “Don’t be in a daze. I’ll go to the martial arts field. Dress and wash by yourself.”
Zhao Chengjun walked out after finished talking. However, after he took two steps, he was still worried and deliberately turned around to advise her, “Walk slowly by yourself. Don’t pretend, and let the maids take care of everything that needs to bend down. Do you know?”
Tang Shishi was trapped in the bed and gave a faint “en”. Zhao Chengjun knew it was useless when he saw her expression. He gave up talking to Tang Shishi and went outside to practice martial arts with his subordinates.
After Zhao Chengjun left the room, Tang Shishi stretched her body a little and nestled in the quilt ever more confidently. She neither needed to go to school nor needed to earn money. Why did she need to wake up?
A maid’s greeting came from outside, “Wangfei, are you going to get up?”
Tang Shishi said lazily, “Where’s Wangye?
“Wangye has gone to the martial arts field. Before leaving, he ordered this maid to wait for Wangfei to get up.”
Tang Shishi replied with an “oh” and said, “You don’t have to wait any longer. I want to sleep for a while. Don’t call me any of you. I will naturally call you after I wake up.”
The maids outside the door were dumbfounded, obviously not expecting this change. They looked at each other, finally lowered their heads, and said softly, “Yes.”
Tang Shishi lay comfortably on the bed in a daze. After a while, she heard footsteps outside the door gradually fade away as if the maids had gone away. Tang Shishi was relieved, got up quietly without even wearing shoes, and ran to the chest quickly.
There were her clothes in this chest. When she moved yesterday, she used the excuse of packing her clothes and stuffed the bundle containing the heavenly book between the gap of the clothes and pressed it under the chest together. Tang Shishi wanted to find a chance to move the book to another place yesterday, but Zhao Chengjun stayed all night. Tang Shishi really could not find a chance, so she could only delay until daytime to look for another opportunity.
Many clothes were pressed on the chest. Tang Shishi searched for a long time and finally found the bundle. She grabbed the edge of the bundle and pulled it out with difficulty.
It was not so easy to get the bundle. Tang Shishi did not have time to check on the banknotes inside. The first thing was to see if the Heavenly Book was there. Fortunately, the Heavenly Book was still in its original place, and the three words “Biography of Shunhua” were as clear as yesterday.
Tang Shishi quietly felt relieved and opened the book that have not been opened for a long time to check the latest progress. Since she had a relationship with Zhao Chengjun, she had not watched the plot for a long time. After she got pregnant unexpectedly, there was not enough time to worry about herself every day. How could she have the mood to pay attention to the male and female leads?
Counting the time, she had not read this book for two months. Tang Shishi turned to the part she had read last time and contemplated on the latest chapter. She was left speechless.
Unexpectedly, there were many updates even after Zhou Shunhua had gone to the village. How could there still have some plot to write?
Tang Shishi was shocked. She opened a new chapter with awe. She read word by word at the beginning and then followed by ten lines at a glance. In the end, she simply opened the table of contents and went through the plot quickly.
This part was related to the mountain villa. Each chapter described in detail what Zhou Shunhua ate for three meals a day, where she went to pick wild herbs in the morning, and how she took care of livestock animals in the afternoon. In short, it was very much her day-to-day experience.
Tang Shishi flipped through the book quickly and could not believe the updated chapters were all about these. She was concentrating on searching when a voice suddenly came from behind her, “What are you doing?”
Tang Shishi was taken aback, and instinctively stuffed the book back into her clothes chest, and quickly pulled two pieces of clothing to cover it. Tang Shishi looked back as if nothing had happened, and said, “I’m looking for clothes I want to wear today.”
Tang Shishi’s tone was calm, but her hands kept trembling, which was too thrilling. Fortunately, her back was facing the door, otherwise, there would be no end today. But having said that, why was there no sound at all when Zhao Chengjun entered the door?
Zhao Chengjun walked around the screen and walked slowly to the inner room. He quietly swept across the bed, chest, and clothing, and finally stopped his eyes on Tang Shishi’s bare feet.
Zhao Chengjun frowned, and his voice suddenly turned cold, “What are you looking for? Why are you barefoot on the ground?”
At this time, Tang Shishi realized that her feet were exposed in the air. She immediately hid her feet and said, “I’m in a hurry to find clothes. I just came down…”
Tang Shishi’s face and hands were beautiful, her feet were also slender and delicate, her ten toes were round and adorable, and her nails were white and rosy. Perceiving Zhao Chengjun’s eyes, her toes shrank quietly, hid behind her clothes like a mimosa.
Zhao Chengjun did not say anything and suddenly walked quickly towards Tang Shishi. Tang Shishi was scared and instinctively blocked the chest behind her, “What are you doing? Ah…”
Zhao Chengjun carried Tang Shishi up and came in contact with her cold skin and smooth clothes. Zhao Chengjun’s eyes narrowed slightly.
Just came down? If she really just stood on the ground, why were her skin cold and no heat on her clothes? She has been standing on the ground at least for some time.
Once before, he entered Tang Shishi’s tent at night, and when he was about to touch the bundle, she was so nervous that she rushed to grab it. What was hiding in that bundle? What was she trying to hide?
Zhao Chengjun’s mind turned a hundred times, but he did not reveal anything on the outside. He put Tang Shishi on the bed. When he pulled back his hand, Zhao Chengjun secretly tried the temperature on the bedding. Sure enough, it was also cold inside.
She was lying.
Zhao Chengjun did not say anything. He held Tang Shishi’s foot and found that the sole of her foot was cold, and his expression became more and more serious, “Women should avoid cold. You have an unstable baby, and yet dare to step on the ground barefoot?”
Tang Shishi was also a little scared. She was anxious just now and on top of that, she was afraid that the shoes would make loud footsteps sound and alarm the maid outside. So, she ran barefoot to the chest to look for things. She thought she would come back soon but she did not expect to read the book much longer than she expected. If she did not pay attention, she would have stood for a long time.
Tang Shishi shrunk towards the inner bed and tried to pull her foot back. In the end, her instep did not move even though she tried for a long time. Tang Shishi was embarrassed and gently touched Zhao Chengjun with her other foot, “You let go.”
Zhao Chengjun took advantage of the situation and held her other foot. Tang Shishi’s foot was slender and white, and Zhao Chengjun could grasp them with one hand. The skin on the soles was smooth and white. Zhao Chengjun’s heart seemed to stir with desire. However, when he thought of how long she has been standing on the ground, he became so angry that he could not even let it out, “You are just messing around.”
Tang Shishi was worried, and said, “No matter how much I am messing around, you can’t hold my feet without letting them go? Quickly let go!”
Tang Shishi raised her legs to kick with her foot. Unexpectedly, with such an unstable center of gravity, Tang Shishi could not support her arm properly, and the whole person fell backward. Zhao Chengjun was frightened and promptly stretched out his hand to protect the back of her head.
“Report to Wangye…” Liu Ji’s voice appeared behind the screen and then paused as if someone was strangling his throat. Liu Ji looked at the situation in a dumbfounded manner. It was not until Zhao Chengjun glanced back that Liu Ji woke up like a dream. He quickly dropped his eyes and stepped back, “I’m rude. Wangye, please forgive me.”
At the moment, Zhao Chengjun held Tang Shishi’s neck at the back in one hand and her right foot in the other. Their posture looked very strange, but this was definitely not a normal talking posture. After Liu Ji withdrew, Tang Shishi also reacted and kicked Zhao Chengjun angrily, “You let go!”
Zhao Chengjun did not dodge and let her go willingly. After being freed, Tang Shishi quickly rolled in, covered her feet with the quilt, and looked at him like guarding against a pervert.
Zhao Chengjun was speechless. He sighed helplessly and decided not to explain. The more he wanted to explain this kind of thing, the shadier it would get.
Zhao Chengjun resumed his dignified and solemn sitting posture and asked calmly, “What happened outside?”
Liu Ji stayed behind the screen and dropped his eyes, “Wangye, Shizi and Shizifei are here to pay respects.”
Zhao Chengjun and Tang Shishi were slightly stunned. Zhao Chengjun’s eyes moved and showed a surprised look, “I almost forgot that today is the tenth day.”
The Imperial Court officials were given a rest day every ten days, and Zhao Zixun also came to pay respect every ten days. Today was Zhao Zixun’s day to pay respect.
As soon as Tang Shishi heard that all her body hair stood up, and asked quickly, “They are coming to greet you? At what time?”
“Shizi and Shizifei are waiting outside the room.”
Tang Shishi’s eyes became dark, but Zhao Chengjun treated it as not a big deal, and made a sarcastic comment, “It’s not convenient to meet the younger generation with the appearance you are now.”
Tang Shishi was already anxious at first. When she heard this, she pinched him out of anger, “It’s all your fault! Quickly get my clothes.”
Zhao Chengjun thought that it was obvious she did not know what she was looking at and wasted time. Why did she blame him? But never try to reason with Tang Shishi. Zhao Chengjun stood up in silence and went to the chest to get clothes for Tang Shishi.
“Anyone.” Tang Shishi had never experienced this kind of predicament where someone standing outside the room while she still has not dressed yet. She quickly put on her brocade socks by herself. When she looked up, she saw that Zhao Chengjun came back in a dark dress and she was burning with rage, “Who asked you to take this one?”
“Well, you said anyone.”
Zhao Zixun and Lu Yufei were waiting outside the room. This was Yan’an courtyard, and neither of them dared to be careless. Morning and evening visits to parents were etiquette. Zhao Chengjun did not ask them to pay respects very often, but every time they come, both Zhao Zixun and Lu Yufei were full of energy.
In the past, Zhao Chengjun’s work and rest were usually very stable, and the time when they came to pay respect was basically fixed. Unexpectedly this time, Liu Ji actually said that they could not enter after they arrived for a long time.
This… Zhao Zixun lowered his eyes, pretended not to know anything, and stood quietly under the steps. Lu Yufei did not have such good awareness. She thought that Tang Shishi moved to Yan’an courtyard yesterday, and Jing Wang’s work was late today. The kind of cause and effect… could not imagine.
Lu Yufei stood under the steps for a long time, so long that she almost suspected that Tang Shishi was deliberately showing her power. Finally, a eunuch came out and bowed with both his hands together to the two of them, “Shizi, Shizifei, please come in.”
Both of them quietly felt relieved. Zhao Zixun nodded and said gently, “Thank you, Gonggong.”
Zhao Zixun and his wife walked into the formal hall. They saw Tang Shishi sitting at the seat of honor, wearing a silk brocade with flower damask dress and a red horse-face pleated skirt underneath. A pair of cloud-cluster patterned shoes stuck out of the skirt, with a circle of fine pearls on the edge.
Tang Shishi changed into a woman’s bun, but the bun was very sloppy. She just pulled up her hair in a hurry and tied it tightly with a hairpin to show her married status which was different from that of a young lady.
Zhao Chengjun sat beside Tang Shishi, who was often dressed in prince’s clothing.
Zhao Zixun only took a quick look at them, then retracted his gaze shortly by lowering his gaze and saluting in a proper manner, “I’m here to pay respect to father and pay respect to Wangfei.”
Lu Yufei also saluted promptly afterward, “Wangye and Wangfei are well.”
Zhao Chengjun did not speak. Tang Shishi looked at Zhao Zixun and his wife and then looked back at Zhao Chengjun again. She widened her eyes, and mouthed suspiciously, “Me?”
Zhao Chengjun nodded faintly. After Tang Shishi got the affirmation, only then did she know that Zhao Chengjun deliberately did not speak but gave her power to confirm her status in front of everyone. Tang Shishi was overwhelmed by such unexpected favor. Learning from Zhao Chengjun’s previous tone of indifference with neither pampering nor insulting, she said, “Shizi and Shizifei have worked hard. Please get up.”
Zhao Chengjun sat at the side with a vague smile in his eyes. Tang Shishi was still too young to learn. If it was Zhao Chengjun, he would not use a respectful title for Zhao Zixun. He could only say two words at most which were “get up”.
She was still young and has just become a Wangfei. She was not used to the privileges represented by this status. As Jing Wangfei, she no longer needed to say “please” to anyone except Empress Dowager Yao.
“Thank you Wangfei.” Zhao Zixun stood up slowly with his eyes still looking at the ground. In his field of vision, he could only see a red skirt hanging down to the ground, a pair of delicate hands folded on her knees, and her wrists looked unusually slender against the skirt.
She did not look like someone who was four-month pregnant, or even a married woman. In fact, until now, Zhao Zixun has no realism about Zhao Chengjun’s marrying a wife, let alone imagine that Tang Shishi was his nominal mother.
Lu Yufei’s mood was also indescribable, and it was really embarrassing. Not long ago, Lu Yufei also took pity on these beauties who served on the bed and on the other hand, played them wantonly as chess pieces. Lu Yufei even considered letting Tang Shishi be Zhao Zixun’s concubine to divert Zhou Shunhua’s favor. She took into account that Tang Shishi was Jing Wang’s maid, and would give Zhao Zixun a bad reputation, only then did she regrettably let it go. Who would have thought that in the blink of an eye, Tang Shishi turned into a master in one stroke and became Lu Yufei’s immediate superior?
A mother-in-law who was not her biological but separated by a layer of adoption. In Lu Yufei’s perspective, was not she a living ancestor who control life and death?
Lu Yufei was only glad that she did not propose to take Tang Shishi as a concubine. Otherwise, the former concubine became her mother-in-law, and Lu Yufei would not be able to pass this hurdle with this alone.
In the past, there was not much conversation when Zhao Zixun came to greet Zhao Chengjun. Now the atmosphere was even more so stagnant with one more Tang Shishi. Zhao Zixun was silent for a long time before he found a topic to ask, “I heard that Wangfei was unwell before. I wonder if you are better now?”
Tang Shishi was still thinking about when she was unwell, and then Zhao Chengjun took over and said, “Her stomach is not so good. She has been having it over and over again and needs to rest. If you don’t have anything else, you don’t have to come to look for her.”
Tang Shishi turned her head to look at Zhao Chengjun silently. So, she has one more ailment now, stomach discomfort?
Zhao Chengjun was really unwilling to let her come in contact with people. At first, Tang Shishi thought that Zhao Chengjun did not like her background and wanted to hide her as an exclusive property, but later he happily made her Wangfei, but he still refused to let her see people.
Zhao Zixun answered. After he finished speaking, the four of them were silent again.
This kind of scene was really embarrassing. Even if Lu Yufei did not want to face Tang Shishi, she has no choice but to say something to ease the deadlock at this moment, “Wangfei is pregnant and it’s extremely arduous. I am blaming myself for not being able to help as the younger generation. How dare I come to disturb Wangfei to rest? After going back, I must strictly restrain the servants. If there’s any wrongdoing that I have provoked Wangfei before, I ask Wangfei to be magnanimous enough to forgive me.”
Tang Shishi sneered in her heart at the second half of Lu Yufei’s vague apology for what happened before. She almost killed her fox, destroyed her unborn child and now she wanted to get away by saying “provoked Wangfei”? How can there be such easy things in the world?
Tang Shishi wanted to enter the harem before but could not do anything to the legitimate wife and the future empress. Who could have imagined that Tang Shishi would turn from a contestant to a judge overnight?
The encounters in life were truly wonderful.