Yun Suyin's face lit up with a furious blush. Because he was standing, she received a decent eyeful of his tightly packed abs, the defined lines down his hips, and…a certain part of him, that was particularly eye-catching.
She was stunned speechless by the sight. It had taken a good moment before she managed to shift her gaze away, the blush on her cheeks deepening. She did her best to restrain the pounding waves of excitement about to burst from her heart.
Her voice wavered as she whispered softly, "Can…Can we bathe together?"
When An Sun's dark gaze set on Yun Suyin's figure, the furrow between his brows deepened. Outwardly, his expression was unchanged, but inwardly, his blood was boiling and he was on the verge of exploding. He took some deep breaths and barely managed to control himself. He had to find composure.
"You can bathe by yourself, I'm leaving." There was no change in his expression as he grabbed the towel by his side and wrapped it around his waist. He walked forward to leave the bathroom.
Yun Suyin was startled by his words. She hadn't thought An Sun would be so cold and indifferent towards her. Here she stood with nothing but a simple cloth covering her chest, and yet his gaze hadn't even lingered a second longer over her.
The more she thought about it, the more unpleasant she felt. The hands clutching to the small fabric held against her chest squeezed. When he walked past her without even sparing her a glance, she could no longer bear it. She bit her lip and made a decision in her heart.
"Wait! Please don't go!"
Feeling the girls bare and soft body press against his back, An Sun's expression turned ice-cold.
"Let go." There wasn't any trace of emotion in his magnetic voice, but it still sent chills down Yun Suyin's spine.
But she didn't let go.
"No! An Sun, I love you! I don't care about anything or anyone else! I can do and be what you wish as long as I can stay with you, the man I love!"
Suddenly, a strong force caught Yun Suyin's jaw and pulled her forward, forcing her head to look up. Only then did Yun Suyin see An Sun's slightly chilled gray eyes sweep over her face. The indifferent look in his face was the same.
However, his expression had changed.
"You are not the one I wish for." His voice was abnormally calm, yet it bore a sense of chilliness, piercing into her bones and making her tremble.
Yun Suyin stared with wide eyes at the man before her, as fear washed over her entire body. Overwhelmed by the feelings, her body trembled as his hold on her jaw tightened, turning her fresh, white skin red. The expression on his face, it was terrifying and cruel.
With whatever courage she had, she looked up at him with an unyielding gaze and said: "That doesn't matter to me! Either way…I love you!"
The depths of An Sun's eyes darkened. Beneath the icy mask on his face, his eyes sparked violently. The words that came out of his mouth were like daggers as he laughed mockingly. "To love someone you barely know…that way of thinking will get you killed someday."
His handsome face was slightly contorted into a chilly expression, and his deep eyes were like ancient glaciers.
"I'm warning you, do something like this again and it'll end with my hand pulling out your heart."
He forcefully pushed her back, causing her to stumble back a bit. He turned around, leaving her alone in the steamy room. Yun Suyin continued to stare at his back with frightened eyes. When he was finally no longer in sight did she allow her legs to weaken and collapse on the floor. Numbness overtook her.
She lifted a hand to her face. She could still feel his hand on her face. It hurt.
The trembling in her hands had grown worse, and her arms were shaking too. She could sense his indifference as well as that hateful, cold look in his eyes as stared at her. For the first time, she found An Sun to be terrifying.
When An Sun stepped out of the steamy bathroom, dressed and into the Bai Manor courtyard, he looked up to the dusk sky slowly giving way to the dark of night. The cold aura that he had kept under control suddenly burst out in full force.
His heart was filled with disgust and rage. He was really tempted to kill that girl. Had it been before, he would have. His nostrils flared just a bit as he let out a frustrated sigh.
He wished he could kill her. However, he wouldn't dare to in the Bai family's home.
He had gone to the bath to cool off, and now he was even more stressed than before. He wasn't one who enjoyed a simple walk but to avoid a killing spree, he couldn't see why not to. Loosening the collar of his robe, An Sun's wet long hair draped behind his back, drying as he walked.
After circling the manor an endless number of times until he cooled off, he finally decided to return to his room when his footsteps paused. He was surprised to see a figure propped up against a pillar in the open garden.
It was Rin.
With her eyes half-shut, her long lashes hid the pools of emotion in her gaze. Somehow, seeing the peaceful aura around her brought a sense of relief in his chest.
However, his brows very quickly furrowed upon identifying the expression on her face. With her short hair length, he could visibly see the slight knit in her brows.
"I take it the talk didn't go too well," An Sun walked over before sitting himself down next to her.
Rin's eyes widened a bit in surprise, the affliction in her eyes vanishing. After a few seconds, she let out a sigh and shook her head.
"That would be a kinder way of putting it."
An Sun propped his hand on his knee and looked at her with a lifted brow. "That bad?"
Rin looked at him before sighing once more. "As expected, they both objected to the idea of my going. But…"
She fell silent. Biting her lower lip, the hands wrapped around her knees squeezed.
"I've never seen that expression on my grandfather's face before. He looked really…" Her lips tightened.
The two didn't speak for a while. The ghostly wind broke the peaceful sound of silence. An Sun kept his eyes fixed on her, not willing to miss the tiniest change of expression on her face. He was unable to describe the look in her eyes.
His eyes narrowed briefly, before he finally said in a low voice, "What about you? If this choice bears you so much suffering as well as to the ones you love, is it all worth it?"
Rin stiffened up to his words. She narrowed her eyes. The light in her normally clear, bright eyes instantly darkened.
Was it all worth it?
For years, she stopped being a woman. She killed numerous people through the last few years she could no longer keep track.
All of this was done to become stronger. To get closer to killing Li Chang and overtaking the Eastern Empire.
She had given up so much. To let it all go without a thought…she never considered it.
Rin suppressed her turbulent emotions and took in a deep breath, shoving all her terrifying thoughts to the bottom of her heart.
"When I fell off the cliff that day, I thought I died. I thought everything finally was coming to an end. But life continued. My life that day didn't end but continued. It had begun all over again."
"Since then...I'm terrified of dying and letting everything be in vain."
The people she lost...her mother, Governor Tao, Jia...all of them would be in vain.
"I care about my family, more than anyone else. More than anything, I want to protect them. Even if my attempts to succeed my purpose are in vain, I have to try."
Her throat suddenly felt dry to the point that speaking was painful. "I know it's a thoughtless and cruel decision on my part, but I don't…I don't want to lose someone again…"
The words left her mouth on their own, bursting out from deep within her heart. Rin's eyes were sore. When she closed and re-opened her eyes, her blurred vision became clear as hot tears flowed down her cheek.
Her heart was in too much pain for words, and she couldn't bear the feeling that threatened to swallow her from head to toe. Rin tucked her head into her knees.
At the same time, An Sun's expression fluctuated. He was looking at her with an expression as if he was struck by lightning. Never had he heard her reveal her thoughts in such lengths.
He felt a mix of emotions flood his chest. Surprise, pain, confusion, and…joy?
However, those feelings quickly went away upon noticing the slight trembling in her shoulders.
She was crying.
He frowned as if he was hurting somewhere, then his expression turned heavy. Once more, he was always uncertain of what to do in these situations. Even more so now that he knew she was a girl.
Had it been a man, he would have roughly patted them on the shoulder and spoke some short, reassuring words.
Now, however, he strangely felt the need to be delicate. Cautious if you must.
An Sun stared intensely at the top of her head. Slowly, he extended his hand when he suddenly paused. He stayed there for a few seconds before his hand clenched into a fist and he retracted it back to his side.
He leaned back against the pillar and let out a deep sigh. "Sacrifice is a part of life. It's supposed to be. It's not something to regret. It's something to aspire to."
An Sun's voice managed to summon some of Rin's wits back. She blinked at him in a dazed manner with tears in her eyes, as if urging him to continue his explanation.
His eyes remained unseeingly fixed on her. At length, he said in a low voice, "It's not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. What's hard, is figuring out what you're willing to give up to do the things you care about. If you want peace, it demands the noblest labor and the most difficult sacrifice. Regardless of what those you love think, choose the path you believe is best."
Rin stared at him with wide eyes. She was shocked by his unexpected, yet sincere words. Suddenly, she let out a loud laugh.
"If that was your way of consoling me then it worked." Her eyes and cheeks were all wet with tears and her smile seemed like an illusion. "Thank you, An Sun. I hope you follow what your heart wishes for as well."
An Sun's throat felt sore, so he stopped talking and audibly cleared his throat. Rin stared at his stiff expression and couldn't help but smile further. While she knew from previous situations that An Sun was awkward during emotional moments; she never knew he would be so shy.
It was charming.
Suddenly, in a low but firm voice he said: "But while following your purpose, you must live well. Take care of yourself. If not for you then for…your family's sake."
Rin blinked her eyes before lowering her gaze. "I'll try."
Not very pleased with her response, An Sun frowned. He opened his mouth to speak but decided to keep silent.
At the very least, he was glad she agreed.
[I hope you follow what your heart wishes for]
An Sun suddenly seemed to recall the words he said to Yun Suyin in the bathroom.
[You are not who I wish for]
What his heart wished for…What did his heart wish for? Or more so, who?
From the corner of his vision, An Sun glanced at the girl sitting beside him. The tears from her cheeks had been wiped, however, her eyes were still a little red. It oddly made her appear softer, more delicate.
His throat tightened, and his eyes deepened. He quickly looked away and covered his eyes with a hand.
Rin noticed his odd behavior and tilted her head.
"What's wrong?" She looked up at him with her lovely eyes, which contained an intelligent glint.
An Sun lowered his hand from his eyes and sighed. He gazed up at the sky with a bitter gaze.
"I need a drink."