C47 – There will Always be a Time When You Cry
Upon returning to the temple’s side room, Zuo Shaoqing cautiously pushed open the door and stepped into his own quarters. As he set foot inside, a startling sight in the darkness caught him off guard.
In the moonlight filtering through the door, half of a figure came into view. It wasn’t until the room’s oil lamp flickered to life that Zuo Shaoqing could discern his elder brother Zuo Shaoyan’s inscrutable and somber expression, causing his heart to skip a beat.
A cup of chilled tea sat before Zuo Shaoyan, who had been sitting there for an unknown duration. He inquired with genuine concern, “Third brother, why have you returned so late?”
Having recovered from his initial shock, Zuo Shaoqing adopted a formal posture, placing both hands in front of him, and lowered his gaze as he replied somewhat evasively, “What brings Big Brother to Little Brother’s room?”
“Naturally, I became worried when I noticed your delayed return, so I waited here,” Zuo Shaoyan explained.
Zuo Shaoqing approached Zuo Shaoyan with a sincere smile, saying, “Thank you for your concern, Big Bro. I had an evening session with my teachers earlier and then ventured to the mountainside. The moonlight tonight is truly exquisite.”
“Oh? You went with Master Lu?” inquired Zuo Shaoyan.
Zuo Shaoqing’s heart tightened. What had Zuo Shaoyan observed? He responded cautiously, “Why…”
He blinked innocently and continued, “Brother, Master Duke always wears such a stern expression; it’s quite intimidating. I can’t help but feel nervous around him.”
Although Zuo Shaoyan still harbored some suspicions, this was the second time he had seen Zuo Shaoqing and Lu Zheng together. However, he found it difficult to believe that his younger brother was involved with Master Lu.
“Don’t make baseless claims! Master Duke is simply more serious,” Zuo Shaoyan asserted.
“Yes, but I’m still quite apprehensive around him,” Zuo Shaoqing confessed. He trembled slightly and looked at his elder brother with a plaintive expression.
Zuo Shaoyan’s lingering doubts were dispelled by Wu Tie’s meek demeanor. He stood up and reassured, “Alright, big brother was merely concerned that you might inadvertently offend Master Duke. In the future, just be more respectful towards him.”
Zuo Shaoqing mumbled, “I always greet him when I see him.”
Zuo Shaoyan patted his brother’s shoulder, offering comfort, before issuing a reminder, “If… Master Lu inquires about our family matters, remember to be cautious and provide careful answers.”
“Huh?” Zuo Shaoqing questioned. “What might Master Duke ask?” After a brief pause, he nervously clasped his brother’s hand and pleaded with a teary-eyed expression, “No wonder, earlier Master Duke asked me how many siblings we have at home.”
Zuo Shaoyan’s countenance changed as he gripped Zuo Shaoqing’s wrist and inquired, “Did he truly inquire about that?”
Zuo Shaoqing meekly shrunk back, disregarding the discomfort in his wrist, and nodded emphatically. “Elder Brother, I divulged our family’s truth to him. He…” What was he aiming for? Did I say something amiss?”
Zuo Shaoyan, not in the mood to respond, inquired instead, “What else did he inquire about?”
Zuo Shaoqing firmly withdrew his hand and, with lowered head, replied, “He even inquired about our siblings’ ages.”
Zuo Shaoqing pretended to ponder and shook his head after a lengthy pause, “No, that’s all.” When he noticed Zuo Shaoyan’s slight disappointment, he exclaimed, “Oh! Wait, I remember! Master Duke mentioned something to himself.”
Zuo Shaoqing patted his forehead, “I didn’t catch it clearly either. I only caught a few words, something about being ‘appropriate for your age,’ ‘continue searching,’ or something of the sort.”
Zuo Shaoyan’s eyes gleamed, and after pondering those words, he fixed a gaze on Zuo Shaoqing. “Shao Qing, from now on, never bring up the subject of Big Brother Cao and your elder sister’s marriage again, don’t say anything to anyone, and keep your distance from Big Brother Cao.”
“Why’s that?” Zuo Shaoqing was perplexed.
“No particular reason. Your elder sister hasn’t married him, and it’s not good for such rumors to spread. Besides, given the relationship between our families, Big Brother Cao won’t stay at our home for long.”
Zuo Shaoqing nodded as though comprehending, “I get it. The groom can’t see the bride before the wedding. I’ll call him brother-in-law after they get married.”
Zuo Shaoyan’s lips twitched, and he spoke with a hint of playfulness, “Alright, it’s good that you understand. Go to bed early.”
“I’ll see my elder brother off, and he’ll go to bed early too.” Zuo Shaoqing obediently escorted the visitor out of the room, locked the door, and slowly raised the corner of his mouth, forming a sly smile.
Laugh, laugh now, for you’ll soon be shedding tears in the future!
Poor Big Brother Cao, I apologize sincerely. Zuo’s Mansion will soon discuss the annulment of the marriage, and alas, I won’t be your in-law for the rest of my life.
In Cao Zongguan’s previous life, Zuo Shuyu had been introduced into the equation. Initially, Zuo Shaoqing had plans to set up Zuo Shuyu and Lu Zheng together, but now… He believed Cao Zongguan should wed a woman of higher status rather than haphazardly marrying a merchant’s daughter.
As for his elder cousin, he would arrange a suitable marriage for her. Lu Zheng, he wouldn’t let anyone else lay claim to!
Zuo Shaoqing’s heart clenched. What had Zuo Shaoyan discovered? He tried to explain, “Why…” “I encountered Master Duke on my way back.”