Xiaolian and Li Jie

   XiXi finishes her meal and pats her stomach feeling very satisfied, “Your Highness can I meet your chef? I want to compliment him on this delicious meal. Is he new since I was last here?{ah yes the old cook died two hundred years ago…}

     “Xiaolian, knowing each other for so long could you just call me Li Jie? I am not close to many people and I don’t like it when you call me Your Highness.”

     “ Your High..I mean Li Jie… what if someone heard me, it would be very disrespectful of your position as Emperor. When you select an Empress it will hurt her to hear another woman speak to you so intimately.”

     “You are overthinking, just call me Li Jie”

     “…”

     “Well how about I call you My King!”

     “Li Jie..say it..I command you as Your Emperor”

     “Li Jie” she almost whispers his name. It sounds so sensual to his ears the way she said it so softly.

     “Again”

     “Li Jie..haha..you are being silly today. Why do I feel you are teasing me! Let’s go greet the kitchen staff, I feel I haven’t had such tasty dishes in a very long time!”

     She grabs his hand and it sends a warm sensation through his body. He looks at her smiling pulling him down the hallway. If this dream could last forever he wouldn’t mind at all.

     She barely reaches to his chest as they walk toward the kitchen, her tiny steps can’t keep up with his long strides. XiXi exclaims,“Slow down, Li Jie!”

     It feels strange calling him by his name but it seems to make him happy. She glances up the handsome man beside her, he is so majestic in his dragon robes, his purple eyes are unique to this world and unfathomable. She is momentarily awestruck by his peerless good looks.I have seen him countless times why do I suddenly feel a strange sensation looking at him.

     Before she has a moment to protest he picks her up and carries her princess style. His strong arms embracing her body close to his, Xixi’s cheeks turn red as her tiny fists lightly pound on his chest.”Put me down Your Highness, what will people think!”She looks around to see if anyone is watching this scene.

     “They will think you are too slow to keep up with me..haha”

     “Errr…” she sees his childish grin spread across his face and says, ”It you want me to call you Li Jie put me down!’

     “Are you threatening this King?” she is like a little bunny afraid I  will eat her up, too cute! He can’t resist and pinches her blushing cheek, it is soft as a piece of tofu.

     XiXi begins to wiggle trying to get out of his tight embrace, her hair comes undone, her long black hair falling down covering his arm. “See now I look messy, how can I greet them now?”

     “We can fix that.”

     He stops at a room that is luxuriously decorated and XiXi sees the Dragon Bed, this must be his room, she has never seen it before. What is he thinking! this just keeps turning into a more easily misunderstood situation.

     He sets her down on a couch that is embroidered with bamboo trees , a scene of cranes at a lake. She runs her hand over the intricate embroidery, the cranes look so lifelike.

     “Sit up”

     Why do I feel nervous sitting here, my hands are perspiring. She watches him gracefully walk over to a golden table engraved with dragons. She can’t help looking at the large bed, no..he wouldn’t..we are only friends..but why do I feel he is flirting with me.

     I have known him for so long but part of me feels like I am seeing him for the first time. Strange..this feeling inside me..

     No it’s my imagination. She shakes her head to get these thoughts out of her head.

     He grabs a jade hairbrush then sits next to her on the couch.”I need to repay the favor of you combing my hair earlier I see’, He says jokingly.

     If anyone witnessed the Immortal Emperor carefully brushing her hair they would rub their eyes in disbelief. He is known as cold as ice, they say ice water runs through his veins. He has disregarded every beauty in Seven Kingdoms never taking even one concubine.

     His fingers feel cool on her skin as he picks the thick hair off her neck, it tickles and she giggles.

   XiXi shivers then laughs, “My King, you are tickling me brushing your fingers across my neck” 

     “Xiaolian, stop moving, I’m almost finished.”

     The feeling of touching her warm skin is heating up his body and he looks over at the Dragon Bed. He quickly looks away hoping she didn’t notice.

     “You can’t seem to sit still for even an instant, you are like a small child!”, he is enjoying teasing her.

     He hands her a mirror that is unlike the bronze mirrors she is used to, it is made of a shiny material and she can see her face clearly.

     “This mirror..”

     “I received it as a tribute gift from the Still Water Kingdom,you can keep it if you want.”

     “No, it is too precious”

     She stares at herself in the mirror, “You made my hair look like a princess! I can’t even twist and form a floating cloud hair design, she compliments his ability.

     “When I was young I would sit on my mother’s lap while the palace maids created elaborate hairstyles for her. I would beg them to let me brush my mother’s hair but they wouldn’t allow me. So I would sit quietly while they talked and brushed her hair. It was one of the few memories I have of my mother.This is the first time I have fixed a woman’s hair.

     Actually, I see I am quite talented”, he starts laughing as he looks at her admiring her hair in the mirror.

     “Bully!” I just have never seen my face so clearly, she taps him with the handle of the mirror.

     Their laughter could be heard in the hallway outside. Several servants passing by were curious who had found their way into the Immortal Emperor’s bed, but didn’t dare linger to see who came out of the Dragon Chambers.

     “After we go to the kitchen, do you want to begin cultivating in the Ice Flower Cave? We can stroll through the flowers then go directly to the cave?” He opens a chest and takes out some gold to reward the kitchen staff. Normally he doesn’t do it personally but he wants Xiaolian to see his generosity after he snapped at Huang Howan.

     “ That sounds like a good plan I need to walk for awhile after that meal, I think I ate too much,” she rubs her stomach again.

     “You did eat as though you hadn’t seen food in awhile, haha. Wang Li Jie hasn’t been this happy in five hundred years, he sees her face with an expression of embarrassment.

     “ My King should you insult a loyal subject like that!” she teases him.

     Only the kitchen manager and Lan An are left in the kitchen when they arrive, they were discussing Huang Howan. When they see His Highness they both jump up from their seats and bow in greeting.

     “Your Highness”

   He waves at them to get up.

     “I’m Zhang Xiaolian I wanted to meet you, the food you prepared was delicious and spicy much to my taste!”

     Yang Chang and Lan An look at her in amazement did this noble lady just come into the kitchen to compliment them? She looks like a goddess descended from the Heavens. Her flawless beauty in that enchanting white dress with golden stars embroidered on it.

     Wang Li Jie gives them a look from behind XiXi..be courteous or die.

     “I enjoy cooking and will be staying here for a few days, would you mind if I used your kitchen? I would like to prepare Li.. errr..His Highness.. some dishes I created. I would appreciate your guidance and help in your kitchen here.” she sweetly smiles at them.

     They look at his young girl speaking so nicely to them and glance at the cold Immortal Emperor who is looking at her with a pampering gaze. Where did she come from? His smile is reaching all the way to his frightening eyes, giving off a feeling he is a tamed wild beast.

     “It would be our honor to assist you anytime!”they both say in unison while bowing towards her.

     Wang Li Jie approves of their attitude and tosses Yang Chang a pouch of gold, more money than they have seen in a lifetime.

     XiXi reaches out to take Yang Chang’s hand to express her gratitude when Wang Li Jie steps in front before she can touch his hand.

    “Continue your cleaning” he coughs and gives Yang Chang a look, it’s good you didn’t touch her hand old man..

     They leave, Yang Chang and Lan An look at the gold, “I can’t accept any, Huang Howan intercepted me and took in the tray.” Lan An has a bitter face thinking of that nosy Huang Howan.

    “Forget about her, you cleaned up the room right?”

     Lan An nods.

    “She is a blight here in the palace acting as though she is special because of His Highness being kind to her in respect of her mother. She is forever bullying and being spoiled. You are a hardworking girl and deserve this reward. Her mother never instructed me to have her take the tray. She was scheming to see the girl, I can sense that much.” Yang Chang can see right through Huang Howan.

   “Go now, I am splitting up the gold with the other assistants tomorrow, you will receive your share then. I know you want to marry that He boy, now maybe you two can buy your freedom and start a life. Go..”

    Lan An is excited to find He Peng and tell him of their good fortune.

Wang Li Jie takes hold of XiXi’s hand gently as they walk to the Ice Flower Garden. She feels for some reason he seems needy right now and doesn’t pull her hand away. She has known him since she was ten and he is like an older brother to her. Really her Savior when she recalls her home, family being destroyed by Demons. They wanted to capture her father alive to get his Sorcerer’s secrets but he killed himself and his wife before they could take him.

He flew down out of the sky like a god, picking her up with one arm and transporting her to the top of a nearby mountain. He then returned to the battle that was raging down below, she watched from the mountaintop as he vanquished the demons. His Black Ice Sword freezing them as it struck them, their bodies then splintered and fell to the ground melting away. It was a horrific sight, but she can picture him his black and silver hair blowing in the wind as he ascended back to where he left her after destroying her enemies.

He dried her tears and comforted her, “I will never let you be alone.”

Wang Li Jie then helped her restore her home and furnished her with shadow guards and servants. When relatives tried to steal what was hers he struck them down, the remainder he imprisoned.

She looks up at him lovingly as she thinks of all he has done for her and squeezes his hand. Wang Li Jie doesn’t know where this sentimental action came from but he smiles down at her.

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