Misunderstandings

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I was given a proper servant uniform and a place to sleep. I will be sharing a room with three other servants. It was a small room with two bunk beds barely have any room to move around. I've always had my own room, but I will not complain, this is better than having to stay in a large manor with a woman who has a grudge against me.

I woke up the next morning and briefed with my chore for the day. I finished them right away. All I could think of at the time was Li He. I wanted to see him, I wanted to find out if he was okay, but most of all, I wanted to talk to him. I wanted to explain what happened. I knew he already found out about me turning on his wife, but I wanted to tell him my side of the story. Even if he doesn't believe me, even if he doesn't take my side, at least I'll get to let him know why I did what I did and justify myself.

I wandered over to the courtyard, searching fruitlessly unable to find him there. That's when I went back inside the manor, snatching a tray of cups and kettle of fresh tea pretending to be on my way to serve. It took more than a few minutes of meandering aimlessly inside when I finally located a large room filled with important looking men.

I got a glimpse of Li He. His broken nose, swollen lip, and scratched face. He looked pathetically banged up. I peeked over the small slit of the door and called out to him.

"Li He!" I whispered.

He turned, his eyes widening at the sight of me, but I could tell he was relieved to see me as well. He rose abruptly from his chair and excused himself from the other men, rushing to the door.

"Hui!" He rasped and shut the door behind him quickly.

I anticipated a scolding, but what I got was a tight swoop of his arms around my chest. "I've searched for you, I was so worried."

I gasped in his arms. "You have?"

He pressed me closer. "I didn't know what happened, when I came home you were already gone. I've looked for you in and out the manor and when I didn't find you, I confronted Jiaying. She told me she and mother sold you to a young gentleman and they didn't know who he was. I didn't know what to do, I was in a panic, angry at them for selling you and not waiting for me to come home to resolve the conflict. But then, I also saw how bad Jiaying was, the bruises in her arms, and her body, you beat her up and I finally understood why you were angry at me those days when I was home. My wife was abusing you and you didn't tell me." He paused his hold on me squeezed tighter. "You should've told me, Hui." I felt his hard breathing on my chest, his anguish, I could tell he was upset. "I would have put a stop to it before it escalated! I didn't know what she was doing."

"I kept telling you to stay away from me when you're home, but you wouldn't listen. Your wife gets jealous. She's a very jealous woman."

"I realize that now."

There was a groan in the hallway and we both turned to see who it was. We've forgotten we're still in the open without the privacy of walls around us.

"I apologize for breaking up a romantic reunion, but I can't allow any of my advisors to have a romantic relationship with my property." Master Hooney purred the word property and closed his hand around my arm, pulling me away from Li He's embrace.

He turned to me with arrogant casualness. "What're you doing here, Hui? I've been looking for you all morning. You know you were supposed to be with me." His eyes glided over to the tray of tea I'm still balancing on my hand. "Is that for me?"

My mouth parted, I wanted to tell him, yes but then, he'd known immediately it was a lie. I stammered while he flashed an expectant look, waiting for my response. "Yes."

"Very good!" He crooned. "I'll take the tea in my office." Master Hooney turned the heel with his hand still on my arm and walked away with me while Li He remained standing silently as he watched us leave.

He led me to his office and closed the door behind us. Only then he let go of my arm, master Hooney kept going until he was behind his desk and took the seat, picking on the piles of parchment scattered messily on his desk.

I wasted no time setting the teacup for him, pouring a serving of warm tea. My hands trembled as the stream of brown liquid poured out of the kettle.

"We were better off extending our adventure out in the field." He sighed. "Now you're afraid of me."

I tucked my head and kept my gaze to the ground, stepping a few steps back as soon as I got done. I don't know whether he was expecting a response, but I was still distraught from the night before and I couldn't open my mouth to him conversationally.

"Do I scare you?" He asked softly.

I shook my head.

"Are you scared of me?"

I shook my head again.

"Do you hate me for doing what I did?"

I sucked my breath, finding the courage to look at him, master Hooney stared at me solemnly. "Are you going to fire Li He?"

He smiled. "Even after all that happened, your concern was with him." He put the open parchment aside and dedicated his attention to me, his elbows leaned on the table, his gaze devouring and intimidating. "Would you hate me if I did?"

"H-he, he didn't know his wife was abusing me. I kept it from him. Li He didn't deserve to be punished."

"Is that so?" His voice darkened and groaned while I swallowed and turned pale afraid he'd punish me for telling the truth.

"Yes, Li He had always been nice to me."

"Even so, I cannot allow what you two have going on in my manor." He leaned back, his voice cold, and the expression on his face hardened. "No romantic affairs between my subjects and my servants."

"There was nothing going on." I managed bravely in my small voice.

"That hug told me otherwise." He countered sternly.

"You assumed wrong."

He loosened a breath and picked up the parchment back, he raised it high enough to his face, blocking the sight of me. "Don't argue with me, Hui. I know what I saw."

"Makes you no different from his wife assuming things you don't know." I murmured beside my mouth.

"Oh yeah?" An air of annoyance evident upon the way he spoke.

"Yeah." I murmured annoyed with him just the same.

He lowered the parchment and glared at me.

My head whipped over to the window avoiding his daring eyes.

"Just for that, you're stuck with me." He said. "So much for trying to sneak around getting together with your lover." His voice a childish mock.

I knew master Hooney can be childish, but I had no idea how childish he can truly be. My eyes glided over back to him admiringly, he didn't look at me - irritated. Although I couldn't help the tender curl of my lips forming a smile as I watched him pout behind his parchment.

"He's. not. my. lover."

"So, you say."

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