The grouch

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I found that Li He was impossible to speak to ever since Niang's visit that night like a switch turned on him and it hasn't turned back off. He's jumpy and easily irritated. I learned to tiptoe around him constantly if I don't want his grouchy ass growling at me.

"What the heck's gotten into you?" I snarled one night after he lost his temper with me one more time. I hardly did anything to piss him off, but his temper flew like a deranged old man.

"The shit I had to do for you, Hui. You have no idea!" He spat.

"What're you talking about? You haven't done anything for me lately!" I was fuming at him by this time, and his retort only fueled my rage. I endured days of his hellish mood swings, and frankly, I've grown tired of him. I looked him up and down. "What is it, you're having to do for me, huh?" 

He peered at my swollen belly and breathe. "Nothing you'll understand."

"Try me!" I snarled.

"Forget it!" He growled. 

"Tell me instead of being mad at me." I insisted.

"Nothing you need to know, Hui. Just go back to your quarter." He sucked a calming breath.

"What're you getting rid of me for?" We hung out in each other's company since Hooney left the manor, but since the last couple nights, ever since first wife Niang's visit, Li He had been sending me away at a certain time at night as though I'm still a little child he's telling to go to bed because it's late at night.

"It's late! You should go to bed!"

See what I mean!

I glared at him and refused to sink in.

I played close enough testing his anger. I was not supposed to defy him when he's mad and I had never defied him in my life. Li He was my master growing up before taking the role of an older brother. I had never held my ground and challenged him before.

My legs spread wider, squaring my shoulders.

He scoffed, amused. "What're you going to do? Wrestle me? You're almost five months pregnant."

"No, none of that." My head shook, never taking my eyes from him. "You're telling me exactly what's gotten into you."

His glare softened, and stepped forward, closing his distance. He stopped, his head inclined to me, his eyes shone even under the dark veil of the night. "Have you ever thought about life at the other manor? How it might suit you better?" He glanced up at the elegant house and I recalled Hooney's exact words not too long ago. Him and Li He had the tendency of thinking alike. "Get away from here, get away from the first wife."

"You know I'll never get to see Hooney if I move back."

"Am I interrupting something?" Came Niang's sultry voice, seductive as a cat's purr. She crept out from the darkness, like a huntress prowling her territory. Li He and I were so deep in our quarrel that I hardly noticed her when she came around.

Her eyes glided in between Li He and me, then held mine. Niang is about Hooney's age which made her over half a decade older than me. She's taller, more elegant, attractive and dominant which made her a lot more intimidating. She paused and hovered Li He near enough that their hips touched together.

I watched the unsuspecting body contact and her body language told me more than I needed to know.

I realized instantly why Li He had been such a tyrant.

I looked at Li He with disbelief and searched his eyes. Has he had any idea what would happen if Hooney were to find out?

"Go back to your quarter, Hui. I'll see you tomorrow." He demanded.

My mouth opened to protest but was interrupted by first wife Niang. "Better do what he said," she purred. "This man is only looking out for you." Her small beady eyes rolled over to my brother and admired his profile.

"You shouldn't!" I told Li He. "You have no idea what Hooney will do if he found out."

"What're you talking about?" Li He declared his ignorance, his voice stern and solid as though he was talking to one of his men. He had never used this tone of voice on me before that I was instantly offended, hurt by his attitude.

I closed my mouth, too stunned to come back with a response.

"Go." He said.

He needn't have to tell me twice, I turned around, couldn't wait to get away from him tonight.

The next day I was woken up by someone leaned over me blocking the sun, he pressed his body over my chest and smothered me with kisses that I could hardly breathe. Hooney missed me so much, he couldn't get enough of my sweetness. He smelled like dried sweat clung on his robe, days-old dirt, and body odor in desperate need of a bath.

Hooney had just arrived from his long journey from the palace eager and horny.

His first stop was me – much to my delight.

"Hooney!" I gasped and yanked him into my arms. "You're back!"

"I know..." He said, holding me. He slapped a wet kiss on my lips, not minding my foul breath this morning. "Not for long though, I have to get back."

"What?" I released him from my hug, but he dove right in for my chest and pushed me flat on my back, clearly excited beyond himself this morning. "You're leaving again?"

He yanked my nightgown freeing me from it. "You don't need that." He moaned while unwrapping layers of his own clothing.

"You stink," I complained. "You need to take a bath before...."

He ignored my whine, Hooney was inside me rolling his hips back and forth before I could take another breath. Never mind.

"Yes, but I'm taking you with me this time. It's my cousin's birthday and I thought it'd be a good time to take you to the palace." He continued while he rocked back and forth, filling me in and out.

I followed the movement of his flow. "B-but..."

"No, buts." He groaned "I already said yes to cousin Julong, and I don't think I could be away from you anymore."

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