Back home

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Hooney asked for a horse carriage to carry us back to the capital. It was an exhausting travel especially when I'm dizzy constantly, having to ask the coachman to halt every so often, so I could vomit my guts out. By the time we made it to his manor, I was spent, and could barely stand on my wobbly feet, feeling as if the world is going to give way from under my feet.

It would be nice if Hooney carried me to our bed, but I found out that was far from happening. His face slowly grew tensed as we neared the manor and by the time we entered the gate, his face was rigid and his eyes glazed. Hard and solid, Hooney looked dangerous and intimidating that I felt my own nervousness rippled all through my skin.

He found me watching him, he relaxed into a forced smile. "We're almost home. You'll be able to get some rest soon."

I nodded, but that's not what I'm worried about.

Why does Hooney seem so tense?

The carriage came to a halt, and my heart raced with reckless anxiousness. I have a bad feeling something is not right.

Hooney leaned to me, I couldn't read his face. "Welcome back home." He murmured before stepping out of the carriage. He reached for my hand once he's out, guiding me to the step. "Mind your steps."

I stepped off, the courtyard was barren empty with usual bustling servants. It was quiet, eerily quiet, giving me a ghostly feeling that I came back to a different manor.

Hooney tugged my hand, distracting me from this sudden trance. I glanced over to him and he sauntered off immediately, ushering me inside the manor as though he's trying to avoid a confrontation of some kind.

His briskly walk made me pursued his long strides, jogging to keep up with him. He rushed me to a room. It had been prepared meticulously waiting for my arrival. I assumed this would be my room. Hooney shut the door quickly and held me steady on his chest. I looked up at him in the darkness without seeing his face, unable to read into him.

"What's going on?" I inquired softly.

His glance regarded me, looking me over. His eyes mapping my face blindly. He leaned over, his lips searched for mine and I met his kiss. "Don't worry, I'll have the servants prepare you a hot bath."

"That's not what I asked."

Silence, Hooney had gone deaf or he was corrupted by countless things swirling in his mind. "I'll be right back." He murmured quickly and slipped out the door, leaving me in the dark room by myself.

This was making me angry. I don't like what's going on and my out of control hormones only fueled this anger. I opened the door and meandered over the hallway tracing his steps. I searched for Hooney in the hallway, assuming he headed for the bathhouse, walking my way over when I was halted by a servant. 

It's Meiling, her eyes darting at me sharply, she rushed to me about to usher me out of sight the way Hooney did. Her hand snatched my arm and yanked me with her. 

"Master Hooney asked me to prepare you a hot bath."

I was torn between greeting her with tremendous happiness or smacking her senseless. "No, let me go. I need to go see him!"

"No, you don't." She murmured swiftly. "In the bath, you go!" And dragged me out of the hallway forcibly.

"Nope!" I pried each of her fingers off, making her wince as I bent them one by one against her will.

"Ow, ow, ow!" She cried out. "Holy crap, you brute! When did you get so strong?"

"Let go or I'll break every skinny finger of yours!" I hissed.

Her other hand clamped on me and I scowled at her. She grimaced. "I'll wrestle you to the bathroom if I have to."

"No!" I dragged her with me instead. I was much stronger and bigger than she is. At 5'5 and her being 5'0, it was easy. "You're telling me where to find him."

"Goddammit, Hui! Stop making my job harder!" She pulled back. "I'll get in trouble if I don't get back in time."

I halted. "No, I'll let them know it's my fault."

We rounded over the corner and that's when her real panic began. It's because we're nearing Hooney's quarter, getting a glimpse of his broad back as soon as we turned. He stood stern facing a woman I've never seen before. She's dressed in elegant attire that seemed to flow in her slim body eloquently. Her and Hooney were in deep conversation when she noticed me and Meiling in the hallway. Meiling clung to me with tremors of fright.

"Let's get out of here, Hui," Meiling whispered, her eyes pressed on the woman, terrified of her.

The woman inclined her head to us and narrowed her eyes. I felt a ripple of danger pour out of her quickly resulting in my uneasiness. My chest caved in and every hair in my arms stood erected. It was as if I was catapulted back at Li He's house, and she is Jiaying all over again.

I don't like this, I have a bad feeling about this.

"What's going on here?" The elegant woman spoke.

My mouth opened as to speak, but closed them again afraid the wrong things might stream out of them.

Hooney whipped his head around and our eyes met. "Hui?!... What're you doing here?" His eyes trailed down to Meiling clung desperately on me and breathed.

His shoulders slumped, burdened with invisible stress. Hooney strolled over and made his way to me. "Go, get cleaned." A casual softness in his voice. His hand cupped my shoulders. "I'll come to see you tonight." ...and kissed my forehead.

Meiling quickly got up on her feet and ran away like a terrified cat, leaving me to fend for myself.

I felt the sudden tide of danger veiled the atmosphere as the elegant woman stalked behind Hooney. Her steps controlled and quiet - that seemed to slide with perfect precision only royals and nobles masters.

"What's this?" She spoke with voice sultry as a cat's purr. Her long slender arm draped lazily over Hooney's shoulder. She smiled and it was a cunning smile meant to devour and petrify less fortunate people like me. "Tell me, husband. Is she the reason why you like to disappear days at a time?"

Hooney's throat bobbed and swallowed a lump stuck his throat.

"Who knew you were harboring a whore." The woman purred.

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