Book 22 Chapter 10 – Surrounded By Women
Tingsong Villa employs a courtyard design: The front area is used for miscellaneous activities and the rear area is used for living quarters. All courtyards are symmetrical in design. Walking in from the main door, one will pa.s.s by a small square, followed by a sitting room, the main hall and a rear living room. The rooms on the left and right are used for various purposes, such as a study room, a playroom, etc.
Beyond that is a huge garden and a ‘Sanjing’ styled residence. The residence is a cl.u.s.ter of eight courtyards, clearly allocated to different people based on their status and importance. Another well-decorated garden filled with various plants and trees surrounds the residence.
Feng Fei’s block in right in the centre of the eight courtyards, with a backdrop of fake mountains, fountains, ponds, bushes, trees and even potted plants. It is a view to die for.
It happened to stop snowing as Xiang Shaolong is leaving the main block. Behind the clouds, the moon is showing half its face. As the golden yellow rays shine down on the silvery white garden, it creates a soothing effect, allowing Xiang Shaolong to relax his tense sensations.
It will be heaven on earth if he is able to spend the night with Feng Fei in the upper floor of the main block.
Pondering on this thought, Xiang Shaolong had a shock as he stopped at the edge of the garden. If they proceeded with several more encounters in a similar fashion, he will eventually succ.u.mb to temptation and have a 5exual relationship with Feng Fei.
Letting his eyes take in the exotic and therapeutic garden sightings, he becomes even more aware of the cloak and dagger politics and evil darkness at work.
As he was br.i.m.m.i.n.g with emotions, a glib and sweet voice sounded out behind him: “Why is Manager Shen standing there for such a long time?”
Xiang Shaolong turned around. Like an angel appearing in the night, this beauty gracefully sashayed to him. Just one step away before the two bodies collide, she halted her advance and raised her delicate and exquisite face, looking at him meaningfully, awaiting his reply.
He obviously could not tell her what he is truly thinking. He spluttered: “I am immersing myself in the wonderful landscaping of the garden. Whoever designed this garden must be a top horticulturist, being able to blend man-made structures and Mother Nature into one body, creating infinite possibilities in such a limited s.p.a.ce.”
In the same instant, he detected a quick flashing of candle light from Feng Fei’s room on the upper floor. He deduced that there is someone who moved to the window before hiding at a side, blocking the candlelight and causing the alleged flashing of the candlelight. Needless to say, she is eavesdropping on their conversation.
Hearing his description, Zhu Xiuzhen became intoxicated in his words. She praised: “That is an excellent description by Manager Shen. I know nature can represent certain moods and feelings. For example, a banana tree reminds me of the falling raining, a fruit tree reminds me of the autumn harvest; a wall reminds me of a row of bamboo. But never did I think of nature as thoroughly and as penetrating as Manager Shen.”
Xiang Shaolong smiled: “Why hasn’t Miss Xiuzhen retired for the night?”
Pulling the corner of his shirt, Zhu Xiuzhen walked him to the side of a pond far away from the main block before whispering: “Sa Li came to see me today.”
Xiang Shaolong frowned: “Why wasn’t I aware of it?”
Zhu Xiuzhen explained: “Gu Ming let him in secretly through the back door. Xiuzhen (I) and him were lovers before. I cannot harden my heart to not see him.”
In his mind, Xiang Shaolong can recall the venomous look in Sa Li’s eyes as he was being dismissed. He questioned in a deep voice: “What did he say?”
Zhu Xiuzhen sighed: “I should not be telling you this but he sounded so serious there is no way I can hide it from you. He swore he would hack you and Zhang Quan to pieces. Judging from his tone, I am sure he has someone backing him up.”
As Xiang Shaolong thought of Gu Ming, Fu Yan and the rest of the gang who used to follow Sa Li’s leadership, he can feel his own fighting spirit soaring. If he does not make the first move to rid the troupe of these internal spies, in the future, a careless move could see him at a disadvantage and sustaining heavy losses.
He icily quizzed: “Did you try to find out who are his backers?”
Zhu Xiuzhen was stunned: “He is not willing to reveal his employer. Ai. Can you please give him a way out? He is a man who has lost everything.”
Xiang Shaolong frankly state: “If you are dumb enough, he will still get to own you and your riches. The fact that he is working with a powerful mastermind clearly shows that he is just making use of you.”
Guilt-ridden, Zhu Xiuzhen lowered her head.
Patting her shoulder, Xiang Shaolong comforted: “Please go back to bed; I will take care of this matter. In the future, do not ever meet him alone and do come to me if you have any problems.”
Tugging the corner of his sleeve, Zhu Xiuzhen offered: “Will you allow me to accompany you tonight? You are now the hero of the Troupe.”
Stretching out his hand, Xiang Shaolong pinched her cheek, laughing: “I am dead tired and had several frightening encounters today. All I want to do is to lie down and have a good rest. I will have to defer Miss’s generous offer!”
Catching up to his departing figure, Zhu Xiuzhen charmingly suggested: “I am an expert ma.s.seuse. Shall I serve you a round of ma.s.sage? I guarantee you will fall asleep before you know it.”
Xiang Shaolong is highly aroused but he remembered Feng Fei has activated his flames of pa.s.sion earlier. If he allows himself to be further 5exually aggravated by Zhu Xiuzhen’s ma.s.sage, the small fire can burn down an entire forest. He would lose control and violate his own commandment. Thinking about this, he reached out his hand and embrace her towards himself, giving her a light peck on her lips, gently professing: “With such a fine female specimen on my bed, how can I remain unmoved and how can I fall asleep easily?”
Zhu Xiuzhen breathed heavily: “You do not love me. That is why you do not allow me to serve you.”
Trying his best to pacify and kiss her, Xiang Shaolong finally slipped away after much difficulty. Before he reached his room, he was intercepted by Zhang Quan and was dragged into his room. Zhang Quan probed: “How did you persuade Zongsun Long to release our men? Did you promise him certain benefits?”
He certainly could not be as open with Zhang Quan as compared to Feng Fei. Pretending to break out in cold sweat, Xiang Shaolong whispered: “Fortunately, the Chancellor of Chu, Li Yuan, is at the scene. He knows I represent Mistress (Feng Fei) and put in a good word for me. Zongsun Long is afraid of offending him and agreed to release our men as a result.”
Zhang Quan frowned: “Do you think Li Yuan has designs on Mistress too? Today’s troubles are all because you did not consult me regarding human resource management. Do not make the same mistake in the future.”
While he agreed with Zhang Quan on this point, he was glad to make the mistake. Otherwise, he would not know the extent of Li Yuan’s friendship. Inspired, he enquired: “Do you know who Sa Li’s employer is?”
Zhang Quan apparently did not know about Sa Li’s secret meeting with Zhu Xiuzhen and was astounded at this comment. He implored: “What happened?”
Xiang Shaolong mumbled jumbled: “Mistress (Feng Fei) told me someone has seen Sa Li loitering around.”
After a short contemplation, Zhang Quan shook his head: “I am not very sure. Sa Li is a citizen of Zhao and he could be working for someone influential in Zhao.”
Xiang Shaolong found this information to be greatly helpful. He bade his farewell and returned to his own room.
Stepping into his room, a vague fragrance entered his nostrils.
Xiang Shaolong is afraid of being poisoned by sleep-inducing incense or something related and instantly held his breath. When he was about to light his lamp, Dong Shuzen’s gentle voice can be heard from his bed: “I do not want the lights on.”
Xiang Shaolong can feel a big headache approaching. Earlier tonight, he had been 5exually tempted first by Feng Fei, followed by Zhu Xiuzhen. He can feel his willpower decreasing with each new encounter. Moreover, Dong Shuzen is a high-cla.s.s escort and even if he laid her, he need not feel accountable for this love debt. Momentarily, his mind is filled with the possibility of this one night stand.
Dong Shuzen naughtily cooed: “Why aren’t you coming over?”
With a bitter smile, Xiang Shaolong walked over to her. Under the faint illumination of the moonlight through the window, coupled with his familiarity of the room in darkness, he is able to vaguely see his way.
Pulling the bed curtains to one side, he saw Dong Shuzen sitting on his bed with a blanket wrapped around her body. She coquettishly smiled: “Please do not be mistaken. I am only here because I have some secrets to tell you.”
Xiang Shaolong secretly thought to himself: What if underneath that blanket is her naked body? He can feel a sense of disappointment.
Xiang Shaolong took off his shoes and readily dumped his overcoat on a chair. Climbing onto his bed, he sat down cross-legged facing her and examined: “What kind of secrets is it that has to be revealed on the bed?”
Dong Shuzen’s aura of exquisiteness may be inferior to Feng Fei’s but she is not too far off. Her beauty is comparable to Dan Meimei. In addition, she is at the prime of her youth, fresh and at an ideal age. Regardless of how you look at it, she is certainly an erection-inducing beauty, a person who will make you lose your self-control. Moreover, Xiang Shaolong is filled with perverse thoughts and he would be lying to himself if he said he is not tempted at all.
Dong Shuzen released her grip and allow the cotton blanket to slip off, revealing her perfect hourgla.s.s naked upper body.
Under the hazy moonlight, her prominent and high nose became more outstanding, as did her firm and protruding b.r.e.a.s.t.s, evoking countless mesmerizing sensations.
The killing point is due to her fast breathing, her supple flesh are quivering minutely, causing Xiang Shaolong to lose his soul in this seducing rhythm.
As Xiang Shaolong was highly agitated, Dong Shuzen’s smooth and warm body snaked into his bosom, letting him enjoy the slick, fragrant and soft female body sticking onto his own, creating intense excitement.
Although Xiang Shaolong unconsciously hugged her tightly in return, his mind remains clear and sharp. He whispered: “Can you first state your intentions?”
Dong Shuzen unwilling wriggled, causing Xiang Shaolong to become even more disconcerted. Gritting his teeth in endurance, he refocused his mind and warned: “If you are using your body to bribe me, you will earn nothing but my disdain.”
It is not often that he employs such cruel words to a female but if not for this; he will unquestionably fall into this flesh trap.
As antic.i.p.ated, Dong Shuzen’s body trembled and she withdrew herself from him.
Xiang Shaolong’s mind is still filled with connotations of himself cuddling her tender and slim waist. He could not help but advance his lips towards her, enjoying the taste of her ruby lips.
Soon, Dong Shuzen has entangled herself around his thick and muscular neck but after they stopped kissing, she did not try to seduce him with any suggestive actions.
Seeing that he was silent, Dong Shuzen slowly asked: “You do not love Shuzen?”
Even if he did not love her, Xiang Shaolong could not bear to say it out for this is against his own conscious. He bitterly laughed: “A man who does not love you is not an ordinary man. But we are now in an unusually dangerous situation and surrounded by enemies crying for our blood. If we enter into a relationship without making sure of each other’s agenda, it will only complicate matters and worsen the situation.”
Dong Shuzen sat up straight. She apologized: “I did not think about this point. I only wish that after giving my body to you, I would be able to enjoy some of your love and attention in the future. You are truly exceptional, even Zongsun Long has to make allowances for you.”
Xiang Shaolong was curious: “Unlike the others, why didn’t you suspect Zongsun Long and I came to a secret understanding?”
Dong Shuzen sweetly chirped: “Because I know you are more than that.” Xiang Shaolong immediately felt that she is a friend whom he can confide in but is also concerned that she is just trying to sweet-talk him. He proposed: “If I am able to let Mistress (Feng Fei) retire peacefully and allow you to inherit her business, forming your own Troupe, how would you feel about that?”
Dong Shuzen’s body greatly quavered but she recovered as quickly and shook her head: “That is impossible. I have just received news that Mistress (Feng Fei) is giving us away as presents and our new owner is someone influential within the Six Eastern States. Right now, I only pray for someone to take me and my savings away from this place. It does not matter where I end up.”
Xiang Shaolong smiled: “You should have known this matter much earlier and did not just receive the news!”
Dong Shuzen nodded: “Your deduction is correct. But it is only today that I am able to accurately conclude that we will be presented to the influential Duke Han Chuang from the State of Han. This man has an incredible network of friends from high places and is on excellent terms with Second Prince Tian Jian. We cannot hope to defeat him nor escape his evil clutches.”
Xiang Shaolong was stupefied: “How did you conclude he is the one?”
Dong Shuzen coldly laughed: “Han Chuang paid Feng Fei a secret visit today and you are probably the only one who is unaware of it. If not for some sort of agreement between Feng Fei and him, why would she meet this pervert privately? His repulsive acts in bed make me want to puke whenever I think about it.”
Only now did Xiang Shaolong know that Han Chuang had slept with Dong Shuzen in the past. No wonder he had such a deep impression of her. He gently coaxed: “You can put your mind at ease. I naturally have my ways of resolving this issue.”
Dong Shuzen gingerly stared at him for some time before sighing: “This is not a small matter and I will not blindly believe your empty words. Unless there is some way you can prove to me otherwise, I can only depend on myself to find a way out.”
Concerned that she may catch a cold, Xiang Shaolong embraced her and lay down underneath the blanket with her. Biting her ear, he declared: “If you are banking your hopes on Zhang Quan, you are only befriending a man-eating tiger. This man has no integrity and his heart is evil. Regarding the details of my methods, unless you bare your soul to me, there will be things I cannot reveal to you.”
Misunderstanding his intention, Dong Shuzen hugged him zealously and kissed: “I can do whatever your heart desires.” At the same time, she reached out her hand and began stroking his back.
Xiang Shaolong almost exhausted his willpower and halted: “That is not what I meant. I want you to tell me all the vested relationships you have with Zhang Quan or any other individuals, as well as all related events.”
Dong Shuzen stopped teasing him and made a big frown: “But how should I know if you are a die-hard loyalist of Mistress (Feng Fei)? Frankly speaking, my wealth is secondary to hers. In terms of looks, I lose out by an even greater margin. And you are not the least interested in my body. How can I have the confidence to align your interests with mine?”
Xiang Shaolong challenged: “I thought you said you know what kind of person I am?”
Dong Shuzen bitterly laughed: “But you have always been very aloof towards me!”
Xiang Shaolong sincerely pledged: “Things have changed. In actual fact, I never had the intention to deceive you. For a long time I already knew about Zhang Quan’s relationship with you but I want you to personally confess to me about it to prove your authenticity.”
Dong Shuzen divulged: “Fine. I did spend a few nights with him before. He is a fairly resourceful man and even Mistress is afraid of him to some extent. He wanted me to make a copy of Mistress’s (Feng Fei) latest two songs and he would arrange for me to stay in Qi instead of being sent to Han.”
Xiang Shaolong was flabbergasted: “What!”
He instantaneously inferred that the song sheets would eventually fall into the hands of Tian Dan because Lan Gongyuan is working for him.
If Lan Gongyuan gets to perform before Feng Fei and uses a similar tune, it would severely disrupt Feng Fei’s performance. This is a truly nefarious plan.
Rewarding him with another kiss, Dong Shuzen proudly announced: “You never saw it coming, did you? As long as I can bring harm to Feng Fei, there is nothing I will not do. I will slip away before the performance, teaching her a painful lesson that not all the credits belong to her alone.”
Xiang Shaolong got worked up: “Have you given it to Zhang Quan?”
Dong Shuzen commented: “I would not have mentioned it if I had given it to him. There, I have confessed everything to you. Master Shen, what are you giving back in return to appease me?”
Xiang Shaolong finally grasped the devilish methods of these famous courtesans.
Their forte lies in their understanding of the psychology of men. Pretending to be helpless creatures to evoke sympathy and protection, they do not mind using their bodies and their glib tongues to negotiate for a.s.sistance. Regardless of whether it is Dong Shuzen or Zhu Xiuzhen, they are masters of their own game.
Dong Shuzen is currently using the tactic of indirect confrontation.
She has a.s.sumed that Xiang Shaolong is working for Feng Fei and is delivering a message to Feng Fei through him. If Feng Fei refuses to let her go, Feng Fei will have to face undeniable defeat at the Song & Dance showdown between her and the other two famous courtesans.
Due to her unique talent, she is unafraid of Feng Fei pressuring her into submission.
Zhu Xiuzhen is positively the source of her knowledge regarding Han Chuang’s involvement. And Zhu Xiuzhen probably got this piece of news from Sa Li. However, Zhu Xiuzhen chose not to tell him, Xiang Shaolong, about this critical piece of information.
Xiang Shaolong is able to come to these conclusions because he knows about the special relationship between these two ladies.
They are still working together, perfectly matching each other and doing their best to execute the plan from different angles. In the eyes of Dong Shuzen and Zhu Xiuzhen, they have already a.s.sumed that Zongsun Long has successful bribed Xiang Shaolong, explaining the eventual freeing of their troupe members.
They could not be bothered with Feng Fei’s destiny. Zhu Xiuzhen did not ask him about it and Dong Shuzen used it to indirectly praise him, making him feel good about himself and herself.
Even Feng Fei, who is behaving like she totally trusts him, did not reveal about her meeting with Han Chuang. The most suited phrase to describe her is: Unpredictable with hidden agenda.
With all these thoughts running through his mind, Xiang Shaolong felt that his head is about to explode. He surrendered: “Your candid admission is chilling to my bones. Ai. Second Mistress, do you know that your words make me feel like leaving here and forgetting about everything for the very first time?”
Dong Shuzen pa.s.sionately served him another warm kiss and smiled: “Shuzen knows Master Shen is not someone who does not finish what he started.”
Xiang Shaolong secretly admitted to her precise judgement. Unexpectedly, he strongly grabbed her waist, nearly spraining it, and icily snorted into her refined ear: “Dong Shuzen, if you continue a.s.suming that I am blindly helping Mistress (Feng Fei) and using these tactics against me, I guarantee that you will regret it for the rest of your life. Do you believe me?”
A frightened Dong Shuzen softly wailed and protested: “I am only pulling a fast one on Mistress. With regards to you; I am only hoping that you will pay more attention to me!”
Xiang Shaolong can feel her body rubbing all over his body like a water snake. He almost lost it and push her slightly away before gently challenging: “If I were Feng Fei and I found out that you have an extra copy of the song and lyrics, I would arrest you and Xiuzhen and conduct a search for the song sheet. The song sheet will surely be found in either of your possession. Do you dare to bet on it?”
Like a startled bird, Dong Shuzen shuddered violently, signaling to Xiang Shaolong that his words have struck her vulnerable spot, which is the secret alliance between her and Zhu Xiuzhen.
All along, Zhu Xiuzhen is using the soft approach while Dong Shuzen is using the tough-within-soft approach. These approaches are specially formulated to attack Xiang Shaolong’s weakness.
If Xiang Shaolong is lacking in willpower, he would have immersed himself in their fantasies and become one of their p.a.w.ns. By then, it will be beyond redemption.
Fortunately, he had made up his mind earlier to not succ.u.mb to their 5ex traps, allowing him to maintain his present clarity.
It might be possible that the two ladies are working together with Sa Li against Feng Fei and himself.
From the standpoint of Dong Shuzen and Zhu Xiuzhen, they will cooperate with whoever that they can derive the most benefits from. If Xiang Shaolong had a.s.sumed that the ladies genuinely appreciate him, then he will be the greatest fool on earth.
Both of them exchange looks with each other under the dark and dimly lighted surroundings.
After some time, Dong Shuzen sadly asked: “What makes you think in such a manner?”
Xiang Shaolong sighed: “Why don’t you go back and think about it? I will not say anything about the song sheet to Mistress. If you want to threaten her, threaten her directly. One day, when you can place your complete trust in me and stop working together with despicable cads like Zhang Quan, Sa Li, please come and talk to me. Only then will I do my best to help you and I ask for nothing in return.”
Dong Shuzen tried to dispute further but Xiang Shaolong angrily bellowed: “Get out!”
Two rows of teardrops began to roll down the corner of Dong Shuzen’s eyes. She noiselessly left his bed.
Beyond the bed curtains, Xiang Shaolong saw her covering her milky, jade white body with her clothes and nearly wanted to call her back to his side. Ultimately, he hardened his heart and watch her take her leave.