For a moment, Cheng Yujin was utterly speechless and suddenly admired the wisdom of the folks. Sure enough, people were correct when they said that parents should not put too much pressure on children when they are young, or they would grow up abnormal.
Cheng Yujin snorted inside, but knowing that she had no choice but to comply, she leaned herself on Li Chengjing. Li Chengjing’s neck was slender and fair-skinned. Looking at it from a close distance, Cheng Yujin suddenly was tickled with mischievousness. She began to touch the area around his collar with the tip of her fingers, “Like this?”
Li Chengjing gave her a bored gaze, “Bluffing. Think I don’t know you? You don’t have the guts to do it for real.”
Cheng Yujin could endure many things, but she couldn’t stand others doubting her ability the most. She, the dignified and all-capable Eldest Miss Cheng, must always be at the top of her game — when had she let others look down on her? Under Li Chengjing’s provocation, Cheng Yujin really loosened his collar, put her fingers inside, and slowly drew a circle on his chest.
Li Chengjing nodded, like a master satisfied with his pupil’s progress, “You are doing well.”
Hearing this, Cheng Yujin was annoyed and pinched his chest in retaliation. Li Chengjing grabbed her hand through his clothes, raised an eyebrow, and smiled meaningfully, “Do you want to pinch another place too?”
Cheng Yujin’s face turned red: “Rogue!”
“How come? I am such a gentleman; which part of me is a rogue?”
Cheng Yujin retreated her hand in anger; her ears were as red as boiled crabs. Meanwhile, Li Chengjing sighed silently, feeling fortunate to have a wife who could always lift his mood and relieve his stress.
When Li Chengjing was immersed in his thought, Cheng Yujin spoke again, “Your Highness, you are fully aware how Shou Wang ran to the Emperor every day, right? Not only did he do his best to smear your credibility, but he also managed to persuade His Majesty to free the Empress from home confinement. Why don’t you give him a small lesson?”
Li Chengjing clicked his tongue in exasperation, “So hasty to change the subject, aren’t you?”
Cheng Yujin refused to admit defeat. Seeing this, Li Chengjing sighed again and gently flicked her forehead, “Who is the real rogue here?”
Cheng Yujin glared angrily: “I’m talking serious business here. Don’t change the subject.”
Truly unjust — Cheng Yujin was the first to change the subject, but she actually accused him instead. Li Chengjing had no choice but to admit his fate. Under such a perfect mood, he was not allowed to enjoy a romantic moment together and had to fulfill his beloved wife’s dutiful heart by discussing national affairs with her. “A person’s heart may be biased, but the rest of the world will not. Shou Wang was well protected by the Yang family and Empress Yang, and he is still green enough. Even now… to put it bluntly, he is very naive. At his age, I was already admitted to the Jinshi rank and went to the province to serve as an official. In contrast, all he can do is play smart, unaware that others are watching his joke. Since I am aware that he is smearing me in front of His Majesty, the whole court naturally knows it too, so there is nothing to be afraid of.”
Without real power, without public support, without fame and reputation… what kind of spark could Li Chengjun make? All he relied on was his glib tongue, which was not worthy of Li Chengjing’s worry. Since Li Chengjun had no ability to become a threat, Li Chengjing was willing to be a good big brother and humor the former’s pathetic attempt.
Cheng Yujin couldn’t help sighing again, “His Majesty is too partial. Has he even thought whose effort allows him to recuperate in peace? He pushes all the troubles on you and enjoys life with the Second Prince.”
“It’s not the matter of partiality, but simply that I have no weight in his heart.” Li Chengjing’s tone was calm, “I didn’t grow up by his side, and when we see each other again, more than a decade has passed. For him, my existence is far better in the distant memory than as an actual person, the relationship as a monarch and subject is more prominent than the relationship as a father and son, and my identity as the crown prince outweighs that of a son. To put it bluntly, I am just a stranger he met during the palace examination and later used as a valued subordinate.”
“I’m fine.” Li Chengjing held Cheng Yujin’s hand and smiled softly, “I once thought that I cared, but after our confrontation that day, I found that I also no longer treat him as a father. In terms of feelings, he ranks less in my heart than the late Yichun Marquis. He is just an emperor to me.”
As Li Chengjing spoke, he found that the knot in his heart was loosening little by little. Indeed, it was all because he did not grow up by the Emperor’s side. Although the Emperor personally raised him as a young child — doing real work instead of entrusting his upbringing to the servants — that was all before he turned five. The memory of a child that young was not long. After being separated at the age of five, the two of them did not see each other again until Li Chengjing turned sixteen.
Five to sixteen — a bit more than a full decade had passed, enough time to completely change a person. In fact, prior to the palace exam, Li Chengjing didn’t even remember what the Emperor looked like.
He secretly took a glance from a distance during the examination, only to find that the Emperor looked completely different from the blurry image in his memory. He thought that the moment of reunion would bring him excitement, yearning, and joy, but found that he did not feel anything saved for a sense of relief after a long journey.
Presumably, the Emperor treated him even more so. Distant, unfamiliar, probing, but never truly close. Although the two were father and son, they were actually no closer than an ordinary monarch and subject. Naturally, he couldn’t be compared to the second prince, who was raised under the Emperor’s knees since childhood and truly grew up as a son.
Li Chengjing could understand why the Emperor was partial to the Second Prince and pitied Empress Yang who had accompanied him for many years. But being able to understand didn’t mean he could accept it.
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