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There were more visits from his very attractive elder sister Ai, and those visits became more and more frequent – that master Hooney stopped throwing extravagant expenditure each time she came around.

I found out Li He enjoyed her visits as well. He said she was like a celebrity and he enjoyed feasting his eyes on her.

I scowled at him. "Does master Hooney know you drool over his sister like that?"

He scoffed. "If you only knew, Hui. How that assh..." He stopped himself and sucked a calming breath. "How Lord Hooney," Said Li He correcting himself. "...gets his way with my sister, and there's nothing I could do about it because he legally owns her, makes me want to kick his ass!"

I shrugged, "last time I checked, he's the one who kicked your ass."

A growl escaped his lips. "Shut up, Hui. Don't defend him like that, it irritates me!"

I bit my lip and said no more before I get him too riled up.

But there's one thing I noticed whenever princess Ai came around, I can't help but notice her interrogating eyes as if her visits were to purposely investigate master Hooney rather than check on his wellbeing.

I was often sent to the kitchen with the main maidservant instructed not to relieve me from kitchen duty. Or master Hooney allowed Li He whisk me away on those days his sister patrolled the manor.

I asked Li He why is that, why does master Hooney hide me from his sister?

He stared at me as if I was the most ignorant person ever. "You're too innocent, you have no idea."

"What do you mean?" I asked confused.

"He's just trying not to get you or himself in trouble. Princess Ai has a reputation for being a tattle tell. She'll tell their father anything that could incriminate Lord Hooney, and I think, I know what she's looking for."

"What's she looking for?"

He sighed deeply and gave the same empathetic look that he gave me during her first visit. "You know royals and wealthy families tends to marry off their children based on status. To make sure the wealth and power continue flourishing in their bloodline?"

"Yeah, much like how you married Jiaying. She's the daughter of a wealthy trader and you're a son of a high ranking government official."

"Yes, her father could use my family's political influence, while I could benefit from their businesses."

"Wow, sounds like you'll be rich forever." I managed bitterly.

"Don't be an ass, I'm trying to explain you something." He groaned.

"Then get to it, already. Quit extending your story. I don't want to listen to you yammer your mouth all day." He was glaring at me by this time. Li He sucked another calming breath.

"Shut up and just listen. I'm about ready to smack you."

"Spit it out, then," I said.

He breathes. "I've been working for Lord Hooney for a few years now and he's been governing this part of the country since he turned eighteen. His father made sure he has all the councilors and advisors he needed to help him succeed and I'm one of them."

"Yes." I murmured with my perpetual bored to death voice. I can't see why Li He couldn't just get to the point.

"He's been on a ripe marrying age and still has not married." He continued.

I felt my chest tightened all over again and I think I know where Li He is getting with this. He paused to make sure I was okay, and I managed to hide my face. I have not let Li He know about my feelings for my master, but I guess, he suspects the obvious anyway.

"Of course." I began. "He's royal." How foolish could I have been not to think of this..." Master Hooney is betrothed to someone else." Probably since his early childhood.

Li He squeezed my cheeks. "Should I get you some sweets?"

"I'm not a child," I said and pulled away from him.

"Are you sure? You looked like you're about to cry and I don't want to get in trouble for making you cry."

"Why would I cry over something like that?" Trying to control the quivering of my lips.

"I don't know, you cried all weekend when you thought his sister was his betrothed." Li He tried his earnest holding back his laughter, acting all sincere, but failing miserably.

"I did not cry!" I glared at him.

"If you say so..." He broke into a laughter, pushing his luck. I was on the edge of fuming at him when he switched back to his serious mood. Li He tends to go from serious to funny in a snap of a finger, just like master Hooney does. There's plenty of similarities between them. Perhaps, it was also because they're both still very young. Still in their early twenties and still has a lot of growing up to do. Even though they pretend to belong in the grown-up world.

Master Li He alone still hasn't gone past his fondness for the opposite sex and I don't know how much control he has left before he falls apart and start chasing girls again.

His eyes poured on me. "What're you thinking about?" He asked.

"A dog."

"A dog?" He parroted, lost with confusion. "Why a dog?"

"Because of you!"

He was quiet frowning at me for a few seconds while I flashed him a smile.

"Anyway..." He said as we dragged this conversation further. "Would you consider being Lord Hooney's concubine?"

My face twisted at his suggestion. "What that hell?" I protested. "That's just like me remaining a slave but with benefits!"

"Hardly." He said, exhaling again as our conversation began stressing him, or perhaps being around me cause him stress. I can imagine Li He turning grey before his time. "Honestly, Hui. I don't know where you get most of your ideas. He'll take care of you better as his concubine, you'll never have to work for him. He'll probably house you in a luxurious home along with servants of your own. You'll be well off, but you'll never have the privilege of a wife."

"What's the good in it?" I whispered quietly. "He's engaged probably to another princess or aristocrat. I don't have a place with people like him. Why even ask?"

"Because he offered and I feel that you have feelings for him. He likes you, Hui. He cares for you and I wanted to ask your opinion first before I negotiate your freedom with him."

"My life, you mean?!"

"You can't be a slave or a servant forever." He said. "A concubine is better than a slave. I would have preferred you to be a wife, but as you said, he is with royal blood."

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