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    The Buddhist bed was covered with only a thin mat, making it stiff and uncomfortable to lie on. There were no curtains around it, offering no protection from the draft.

    Her elaborate canopy bed was fitted with a thick carpet, a bedspread, cushions, a backrest, and a bolster, resembling half of a small room in its entirety.

    This simple Buddhist bed couldn't hold a candle to her exquisite canopy bed.

    A lady who insisted on adding bamboo salt and floral essences to her mouthwash—could she truly find such a bed comfortable?

    With an indifferent expression, Gu Changjin said, "It's good if Lady likes it."

    He was curious to see how long this delicate flower of a girl could endure staying here.

    On the second night, Rong Shu arrived at the study at the same time as the previous evening, just as he extinguished the lamps. This time, she had someone bring in seven or eight pots of silver-veined charcoal, warming the entire study like a spring day.

    She slept quietly that night, holding her crescent pillow without moving, her profile facing him.

    The next morning, when she helped him dress, there was a faint mark on her face, its outline resembling the rabbit on her moon-shaped pillow, carved on the image of a cassia tree.

    For about ten days, on the night of the Lantern Festival, an icy blizzard swept across the entire northern region, piercing through to the bone.

    That night, the temperature in the capital plummeted. The seven or eight pots of silver silk charcoal were insufficient. Halfway through her sleep, she crawled back into his bed.

    This time, it was not just her feet slipping into his pants; her hands also reached under his inner clothing, rubbing against his abdomen.

    Gu Changjin was awakened in the middle of the night.

    If he had not been certain that the young lady was seeking warmth in her sleep due to the cold, he might have suspected there was a rogue lurking within her bones.

    He tugged at her sleeve with clenched teeth, almost growling as he pulled her hand away. Then, a ripping sound echoed—her thin inner garment, made of silkworm cocoon silk, was torn by him.

    The young lady woke up, dazedly sitting up. She touched the long tear on the right shoulder of her inner garment and looked at him, "Why did you tear my clothes?"

    Her tone was filled with confusion, and upon closer listening, a hint of reproach could be detected.

    Moonlight from the snow illuminated the floor with a layer of frost in the dark room.

    The young lady's thick, lustrous hair cascaded loosely down her shoulders. Her inner garment hung loosely, exposing half of the indigo blue undergarment hidden beneath.

    The snowfall seemed to envelop her entirely, casting an enchanting glow on her alabaster shoulders and the tiny vermilion mole by her collarbone, exuding a subtle seductive charm amidst the vivid greenery.

    Gu Changjin abruptly opened his eyes.

    Chapter 25

    In the study, half of the windows were ajar, allowing the wutong tree branches to brush against the lattice, accompanied by the rustling autumn wind.

    There was no snow, no brazier, and no young maiden lying beside him.

    It was a dream.

    Upon realizing this, Gu Changjin became aware of his unusual state.

    He had trained in martial arts since childhood, appearing refined and scholarly but possessing a robust physique. However, he had always been detached and uninterested in amorous pursuits.

    Yet, today was different. It was as if he had transformed into an inexperienced young man with a fluttering heart, all because of an inexplicable dream that left him with a racing pulse and an intense thirst.

    His mind was filled with the image of that maiden, innocently tugging at her clothing as she asked him questions.

    It was utterly absurd and laughable.

    Gu Changjin knitted his brows and got off the bed, draining half a cup of cold tea in one go. He glanced at the dark sky outside before returning to the bed, calming his mind and cultivating his breath for a good while.

    When he had recovered his composure, he called for Chang Ji to attend to him.

    Seeing that his master's expression was colder than usual, Chang Ji pondered and suggested, "Master stayed up late last night. Should I ask for a sick leave from the Ministry of Punishments? Since Li'er is no longer in immediate danger, I can escort her there alone."

    Gu Changjin replied, "We must inform Lord Justice and Minister Tan about the assassination attempt on Xu Li'er as soon as possible. Even though Xu Li'er survived, it doesn't mean that we can just sweep this matter under the rug. Those people and the officials from the Ministry of Punishments will undoubtedly pin the blame on Yang Xu's faction."

    The Eastern Depot had caused countless injustices over the years; it was time for Yang Xu's group to experience the taste of being unjustly accused.

    After explaining his plan, Gu Changjin rubbed his temples and said, "Bring me a basin of cold water."

    Pausing for a moment, he added, "Also, brew two cups of iced tea."

    Chang Ji acknowledged with a "Yes," but as he left, he couldn't help but wonder: Although Master never cared whether the tea was hot or cold, why would he request iced tea if he was already brewing tea? It was still chilly early in the morning—why would anyone prefer cold tea?

    Gu Changjin's request for cold tea and water was promptly delivered to his study.

    As the two, master and servant, left the study, the lights in the Songsi Courtyard were still extinguished.

    Chang Ji said, "I heard that Lady Heng spent the whole night talking with Miss Xu yesterday. She's probably only been asleep for an hour or so. Should I not go around the main house and directly call out to her in the eastern secondary chamber?"

    Back when Lord Gu Changjin resided in the Songsi Courtyard, Chang Ji and Heng Ping could enter freely. But now that there was a female mistress living there, they couldn't just barge in as they pleased.

    Recently, their master had established a rule that they were not to deliver messages in the corridor and were not allowed to approach Lady Heng directly. They were only permitted to convey messages through Ying Que, Yingyue, or Mother Zhang.

    Chang Ji didn't dwell on it much, assuming that their master disliked Lady Heng, hence why he prohibited them from having too much contact with her.

    With this thought, Chang Ji sighed inwardly, wishing that his master would have a maid or servant by his side. That way, entering the inner courtyard would be much more convenient.

    Unlike now, where he had to be cautious even when entering to deliver a message.

    Gu Changjin pondered for a moment before saying, "Stay here and I'll go in."

    After speaking, he stepped through the Moon Cave Gate and halfway through his journey, he noticed someone pushing open the door of the main house.

    It was Mother Zhang.

    Nanny Zhang, upon seeing him, hurriedly greeted with a smile, "Madam Rong has already woken up and is currently instructing this servant to serve breakfast to Second Master and Miss Xu. Would Second Master like to wait inside the room?"

    Gu Changjin nodded slightly. Yesterday, he had mentioned to Rong Shu that he would be taking Xu Li'er back to the Ministry of Justice early in the morning. Just now, noticing that the lights were still off in the room, he assumed that Rong Shu was still asleep.

    He had come in with the intention of waking her.

    After all, Xu Li'er was an unmarried lady. In the haste of events yesterday, she was allowed to rest in the Songsi Courtyard. However, both he and Chang Ji should avoid any appearance of impropriety.


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