I stepped inside Ming Xiang Cui Yu, handing over the emerald jadeite I had brought back from Myanmar to the shop’s owner, Nuan Chun. Sketching out a design, I outlined what it was that I wanted, and he listened in earnest, picking up the drawing for a closer look before calling a master artisan over and repeating my words.
After Liu Fei Xu’s death, Ming Xiang Cui Yu declined and went through numerous hands. The shop’s name changed again and again, but it never really profited.
By chance, I had just returned from touring the world with my family. As we had brought back quite a few precious stones, I decided to buy the shop along with its craftsmen. The reason why it is called ‘Ming Xiang Cui Yu’ is because the name has a reputation spanning over a hundred years. After one month of renovations, the store reopened, with Nuan Chun as its owner and Ruan Yu taking over his previous position as the head of the embroidery department.
I had already gifted Mei Yan Ying Ying Chu to Ruan Yu, so I might as well also give her the embroidery department. My current focus was not on money but on the emotions that money could not buy.
The master artisan withdrew, and I glanced at Nuan Chun, whose eyes were filled with deep affection. I couldn’t help but to give a small laugh. Yesterday, he had asked for me twice. Was he still not satisfied? I stretched my hand into his trousers, slowly touching him. Not too long after, a tent erected.
I raised my head to look at him. The thirty-two year old Nuan Chun was full of a manly air, and the small mustache on his upper lip was definitely worth a second look. He was originally very beautiful–to the degree that he could be appointed his mistress’s bedwarmer at a young age and assigned to serve her in her boudoir–so it wasn’t strange that the current him was a little hard to take. He had matured over the years and become steadier as his age increased, giving him a masculine demeanor.
“Nuan Chun, do you want a child? If you do, I can consider giving you one.” Escorts did not have the right to ask their mistress for children, but I wanted to give him one; give him a son that was beautiful like him. A daughter would also be fine; all so that he could have someone to depend on when elderly.
Nuan Chun did not respond, and instead, pushed his hands inside my lapel, cupping a breast with each hand. Because it had only been two months since I had given birth to a child for Jing Yan, milk started flowing a little after he started massaging, soaking his hands. He picked me up, making me sit on top of a table, before removing my top, allowing my full mounds to leap out.
Perhaps because I continued to practice yoga daily, the me who was nearly thirty years old still had a graceful figure with a chest that still retained the beauty of maidenhood. Tender and delicate–always able to arouse the love of men.
Nuan Chun lowered his head to take one of them into his mouth, lightly sucking the liquid inside. After all of these years, his oral technique had become extremely good. I felt myself becoming damp down there, a little ticklish. Limbs turning numb, I lowly moaned: “En......Nuan Chun......down there, too......”
Nuan Chun turned around to lock the door, then threw off his fetters. His robust body didn’t have the slightest trace of unwanted fat, and his wheat-colored skin was scattered with traces of a man’s breath. He stripped me, separating my legs, then knelt underneath to press a kiss upwards. The tip of his tongue repeatedly stroked back and forth while two of his fingers entered, slowly tormenting me. I trembled as current-like shivers zapped through me. Staring at the head underneath me, I saw him swallow without pause.
Gasping for breath, I grabbed his hair. More fluid leaked and was caught by him.
“Ahh!......Nuan Chun......I’m coming!......” I screamed. My entire body shaking, I gasped for air while tightly clutching his head.
Nuan Chun straightened and changed my position so that I was sprawled on top of the table. An extremely hard object entered me. My body instinctively clamped down, and I raised my white butt high, supporting myself against the table with both hands as I, little by little, catered to his movements......
Who knows when, but I came to love being taken from behind. I loved when they simultaneously used their hands to play with my front as they entered me. In this regard, they always satisfied me completely.
After a wild and passionate round, Nuan Chun poured his fiery liquid inside me.
I weakly collapsed on top of the table, my entire body still trembling before I was enveloped in a hug, his voice sounding from next to my ear: “Eldest Miss, this slave does not want any children. Truly. Since young, this slave has served Eldest Miss, and in fact, has thought of Eldest Miss as this one’s own child. This slave having only Eldest Miss as a child is enough and does not wish for a second one. If there are too many children, this slave would not be able to attend to you.”
“You fool. Actually, I’ve always thought of you as a father. Ai, Nuan Chun, I’m quite fond of you, ah.” I hadn’t been given any paternal love in my past life, and though Ruan Zi Xu treated me very well, I couldn’t sense that feeling from him. I came to understand what paternal love was from Shi Yi, and also felt the same sensation from Nuan Chun. Shi Yi’s paternal love was generous as a mountain; Nuan Chun’s was warm as the wind.
Nuan Chun smiled, his eyes dazzling and full of emotion: “Eldest Miss, we grew up together. How many years has it been now? I will not demand anything of you and will not do so in the future, either. My only request is to slowly accompany you through life. I do not wish to die before you, nor do I wish to die after you. I hope......I hope to be able to accompany you in death and lie in the same coffin, our hands clasped together......” If he were to die first, then he would wait on Nai He Bridge for her. If she were to die first, he would end his own life prematurely.
“You idiot, how could I abandon you?” My heart moved, and I turned my head to smile at him.
He disentangled himself from my body and used a brocade handkerchief to clean up the remnants of our passionate lovemaking. Parting my legs, he wiped between them for a very long time, fingers fiddling with the pink petals for a while before reluctantly moving away. Picking up the clothes on the side, he helped me put on each one and then rearranged my disheveled hair.
He lightly said: “Tonight, you will be Head Yun’s, and it will be a long while before I can have you again.”
Hearing him mention Yun Shi Yi, my eyes misted over with longing. Eldest Cousin had gone to Chu Zhou to open a bank, saying he would be gone for half a month. A letter had arrived and its contents had stated he would arrive tonight. It seems he really valued keeping to his word
At noon, I was just about to leave Ming Xiang Cui Yu to breastfeed my two young sons when, to my surprise, Xiao Xi Zi came over to report: “Niang niang, a lady called Yu Lian Hua has brought her husband to Min Xiang Cui Yi for employment. The manager’s words were to ask for instruction from Sixth Master.”
Although Nuan Chun was an escort, I absolutely wouldn’t allow the servants to be disrespectful and had given him the title of ‘Sixth Master.’
Yu Lian Hua. Wasn’t she the woman who sold chastity belts? What did she come here for? It’s not as if Ming Xiang Cui Yu did business with chastity belts. Don’t tell me–she’s been having a hard time so decided to change to making jewelry?
“Have her enter!”
Yu Lian Hua’s conduct was vulgar, and she also had a bit of a crude appearance, but to the me who had become accustomed to seeing nobility, she was much more amusing. When Xiao Zhou Zi led Yu Lian Hua inside, I became shocked because I recognized the man by her side. He was one of the Four Great Masters–Feng Qing Bai.
The year we went to You Xiang Pavilion to unsuccessfully search for Shen Zong Yun, I nearly succumbed to Wei Jia’s scheme and Nuan Chun injured his hand. If Feng Qing Bai hadn’t used a chair to bash Wei Jia’s head, I might not even be in this world right now. After the incident, I repaid my life’s savior and had the authorities remove him from his brothel’s registry so that he could leave his trade and marry. I also asked Xing Yun to send him some silver, but the response I received was that Feng Qing Bai only accepted freedom and wouldn’t accept the money no matter what.
Recalling these past events, I held a bit of regret towards him. Who could have thought he would end up with this woman who sold chastity belts? Ai, it really was just like the saying: A good man can’t find a good wife; an idle man weds......Ahem, Feng Qing Bai definitely wasn’t an ‘idle man.’[a]
Yu Lian Hua’s eyes brightened, and she hollered: “Little Sister Ruan, it’s you, ah! That’s great! I can’t live on like this anymore so you gotta give me a bite to eat. My family’s chastity belt shop is done for. Ai, you know about Liu Fei Xu, right? He got infected with a lecherous disease and died and didn’t even tell anyone, causing us to also be implicated. My Pa has been banished to an army post outside the Great Wall and my shop was seized......”
“This small one humbly pays respects to the Princess of Qi.” Feng Qing Bai’s clear voice rang out, as if to remind his wife that a member of the imperial clan was in front of her. He pulled Yu Lian Hua down with him as he performed the rites.
Baffled, Yu Lian Hua swiveled her head left to right. Not seeing any other females present, she blurted out: “Princess of Qi? What Princess of Qi? Why don’t I see her? Is she a ghost?” Feng Qing Bai jumped in fright and hastily gave his wife a meaningful glance.
I let them rise and asked them to have a seat before calling for Xiao Xi Zi to bring in the tea. Yu Lian Hua continued to blankly stare at me with eyes as wide as brass bells like I was a monster.
“Why did you think of Ming Xiang Cui Yu to look for work?” I smiled, directing my question towards Feng Qing Bai. Towards the one who saved my life, I was still very courteous.
“Because Manager Yu had worked here before. At the time, Liu Fei Xu was still alive. After his death, Manager Yu was implicated and banished outside the Great Wall.” Feng Qing Bai glanced at his still-stunned-silly wife, his eyes flashing with light: “This small one has forgotten to say that Manager Yu is my father-in-law. This small one wed Lian Hua not long after leaving You Xiang Pavilion. Before our marriage, Lian Hua’s principal husband had passed away from sickness; thus, I logically succeeded his position as principal husband.”
This was truly the female version of ‘The Oil Vendor and the Queen of Flowers,’ with Yu Lian Hua as the oil vendor and Feng Qing Bai as the queen of flowers.[b] A fresh flower was inserted into a pile of dung. Poor Feng Qing Bai.
I sincerely felt sorry for him, but maybe he was happy? It could be seen from the expressions in his eyes. The year I transmigrated, I came across Yu Lian Hua by the Lan River and heard her speak of the Four Great Masters. She greatly worshiped every single one of them and was a faithful fan. Now that she had received one of them, she surely must treasure him, right?
In this situation, it was reasonable for me to give Feng Qing Bai a job.
“Nuan Chun, what positions are left in the store that are higher? Arrange one for Mister Feng and don’t make it too difficult.”
Nuan Chun distinctly remembered what had happened that year in You Xiang Pavilion and had a good impression of Feng Qing Bai: “I can dismiss the accountant and arrange for Mister Feng to manage the ledgers.”
“Many thanks to niang niang, many thanks to Mister Nuan Chun.” Feng Qing Bai stood up and cupped his hands in salute.
“If you are currently facing difficulties, you may collect a portion of your wages in advance. That’s that, then! Xiao Xi Zi, lead Mister Feng and Madam Feng out.”
Feng Qing Bai performed the rites once again before pulling Yu Lian Hua outside. Yu Lian Hua was still dazed, but when she reached the door, a wail suddenly came from her throat and she kneeled in front of me: “Little–uh, whatchamacallit, niang niang–give me a position in the Prince of Qi’s manor to do odd jobs, okay! Looking after the yard, protecting the residence, cooking–I can do all of that. I’ll definitely work properly and won’t humiliate you.”
I stiffened my expression, deliberately not giving her any face: “Yu Lian Hua, my princely residence is not lacking in unskilled laborers and has even less of a need for chefs and sentries. You should leave!”
Feng Qing Bai was utterly embarrassed. His wife often lost his face outside, and he had grown accustomed to it. But her being so unbridled in front of the Princess of Qi truly made his face burn with shame, and he quickly pulled her hand, dragging her out.
I waited until they had all left before turning towards Nuan Chun: “You should treat Mister Feng just like any other employee, but you must remember that one sheng of rice brings gratefulness; one dou of rice brings hatred. If you are thinking of his past actions and wish to repay him, then simply have him smoothly and steadily work in Ming Xiang Cui Yu until the end. If you want him to leave earlier, then regard him as an ancestor and provide for him. Let him eat well, dress well, and receive a high salary without needing to work. As the days go by, favor will give birth to arrogance; thus, when problems arise, he would have to leave even if he was unwilling, and no one would denounce you for being in the wrong.”
“This slave understands, Eldest Miss.”
“Ai, Nuan Chun, you grew up in the rear courtyard so there’s lots of things you still have to learn, ah!” I threw myself into his arms. This chest that felt so paternal and brotherly always made me want to cling to it. I stroked him: “Nuan Chun, what should we do? I want you again!”
[a] Complete saying is: 好汉无好妻，懒汉娶花枝 A good man can’t find a good wife; an idle fellow weds a beauty.
[b] 《賣油郎獨占花魁 The Oil Vendor and the Queen of Flowers 》is a short story by Feng Meng Long (Ming dynasty). According to the Chinese Wikipedia entry, the FL is separated from her family and sold as a prostitute, where she uses her talents to become the Queen of Flowers (a nickname for famous courtesans/beauties). She meets the ML, who is an oil vendor but pretends to be a noble in order to spend the night with her. He later saves her and to repay him, she vows to marry him, using her hard-earned money to buy her freedom and they live happily ever after.
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