Big Boss – Chapter 13

Making big money

Ye Youqing felt like strangling herself.

But she has always been calm, no matter how tumultuous her heart was, her expression would remain indifferent. Meanwhile, she casually grabbed Ci Ke’s arm, pulling her half a zhang away from herself.

Ci Ke apparently did not expect her to say that, blinking her fox-like eyes several times before stabilizing herself.

An awkward atmosphere began to spread. Ye Youqing wanted to take her words back, but the best moment had already passed. To change her statement now would seem even weirder.

Forget it, she thought, it’s just a sentence, Ci Ke surely won’t take it seriously.

“Miss Ye really knows how to make a joke.” Sure enough, Ci Ke’s lips pursed slightly as she looked at Ye Youqing with a mocking smile.

“I will pay for the lodging,” Ci Ke said, then stepped back twice, circumventing Ye Youqing towards the door. Ye Youqing, reminded of something as she followed her movement, turned her head.

She wanted to remind her to change into clean clothes but then closed her mouth again, thinking it was better to keep a distance from this person.

Ci Ke’s figure soon disappeared, and Ye Youqing glanced at the woman on the bed who was unconscious, shaking her head before stepping out of the room.

(If you're not reading on, it means this has been stolen)

The inn was quite large, but the decoration and setup were too old and frugal. Even if the young ones could prepare delicacies from land and sea, few people would want to step in to taste them. Though she had never engaged in the catering business in her modern times, mimicking and altering it a bit wouldn’t be too difficult.

With the blueprint of her business firmly in her mind, she walked away from the store with an added spring in her step, making sure to instruct the young man to prepare his signature dishes and have them delivered to the Duke’s residence before she left.

Imperial Road is flanked by red flowers against green locust trees, just as the ancient poem says. Indeed, Bianjing city is just so – shaded by green trees, neatly arranged, some so old they stretch across the Royal Street, covering the sky and ground in the middle of the road with their branches, while petals from somewhere whirl in the wind, gathering in clusters on the ground like clouds.

Imperial Street is very wide, with folks scattered about, some leading cattle and sheep, so aside from the scent of flowers, there is also a freshness in the air that one can only find in the countryside.

Ye Youqing had never seen such a scene before, so she stopped to watch someone drawing candy figures by the roadside. By the time it was getting late, she and Qin Xin joked and leisurely headed back to the house, going to bed early.

That night, Ye Youqing slept well for a change, with nothing but warmth filling her dreams. The spring evening breeze blew carelessly, and stray cats made a ruckus at the base of the wall, riding the evening wind.

In the neighboring courtyard, the atmosphere was not as serene.

A young woman wrapped in a thick cotton-padded coat of winter sat on a mahogany chair in the main hall, crying her eyes out while holding a bowl of ginger tea. A beautiful lady by her side looked on with heartache, occasionally scolding the maidservant next to her to ensure the brass incense burner at her feet burned brighter.

“Mother, the guard at the gate said that Ye Youqing has been quite pleased with herself lately, even standing on the street to watch sugar painting for half a day. Thinking of her happiness while I suffer here from the cold makes my heart ache,” Ye Chengzhu said, sneezing mid-sentence, her nose turning red.

Concubine Xiao felt a knot in her heart hearing her daughter cry: “Those two, mother and daughter, always seem to hover like persistent spirits, and for some reason, I feel Ye Youqing isn’t as easy to deal with as before.”

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“But don’t worry, your brother will soon secure an official position thanks to your father’s title. His rank won’t be low, and with that support, you won’t have to fear Ye Youqing anymore.”

“But she always ruins my chances. I liked General Qin, and then she liked him too. Moreover, she’s the legitimate daughter. With her around, who would notice me?” Ye Chengzhu said, growing even sadder. Abruptly, she put down the ginger tea she was holding on the table.

“Although she’s legitimate, she has nothing but a title. Relax your mind. At the Empress Dowager’s birthday banquet in half a month, she’s bound to embarrass herself in front of the royal family. At that time, you just need to be smart. Use what your mother has prepared for you to win the Empress Dowager’s favor and ask for a title. After that, are we still afraid of Ye Youqing?”

Concubine Xiao’s eyes brimmed with thoughts as she gently stroked her daughter’s hair, turning to a maid with blue pearl flowers in her hair, “You just said, where did the Eldest go today?”

“The Eldest Miss went to Imperial Street. There were many shops there under the name of Si Rongwang before, but now those shops have long been sold off. Some of them are still in your hands, madam.” The maid spoke softly.

Hearing this, Concubine Xiao covered her mouth and laughed a few times, as if she had heard a huge joke.

“Presumably, this mother and daughter are already unable to hold on, left with a rundown eatery that’s losing more than it earns. They can’t stir up any trouble. Just waiting to see if Zhao Qingrou’s illness can worsen a bit more.”

Concubine Xiao said this, then picked up the teacup on the table, stuffing it into Ye Chengzhu’s hands again, looking at her lovingly as she drank, a flash of malice in her eyes beneath her delicate eyebrows.

For several days, Ye Youqing’s mood has been quite pleasant. For a moment, she was free from the modern pace of life, left with the leisurely relaxation. Waking up in the morning, what waited for her wasn’t a flurry of messages from WeChat like snowflakes but hot tea and porridge brought over by Qin Xin, enjoyed amidst birdsong and floral fragrance, blissful like a deity.

Although Ye Youqing knew well the dangers hidden beneath this happiness, it didn’t stop her from enjoying life to the fullest.

(If you're not reading on, it means this has been stolen)

Yet, she indeed was not idle, hurrying to draft several plans, selecting them one by one.

The weather was exceptionally fine that day. Ye Youqing sat under the pear tree in the courtyard, tidying up a table full of papers. Suddenly, she heard footsteps, lighter than usual, approaching. She quickly got up to support Zhao Qingrou.

“Mother, why have you come?” Ye Youqing said as she helped her to sit down.

These past few days, Zhao Qingrou’s illness seemed to have worsened. The old ailment that had healed had relapsed, and the family doctor had examined her several times without finding the cause, which made everyone increasingly anxious.

“The spring scenery is too good to miss by lying in bed all day,” Zhao Qingrou said with a smile, tenderly stroking Ye Youqing’s cheek with her hand, a trace of reluctance in her eyes.

Ye Youqing sensitively caught this hint of reluctance, as if Zhao Qingrou was about to leave, which made Ye Youqing’s heart skip a beat.

Recently, she even persuaded Zhao Qingrou to check out other doctors in the city, but they still couldn’t pinpoint the problem, only saying that her body was too weak, which made her somewhat suspicious.

“You’re thinking about that shop,” Zhao Qingrou picked up a paper from the table and flipped through it, not understanding the messy scribbles on it, before putting it down again, “Qing’er, you should practice your writing.”

Ye Youqing couldn’t help but touch her nose feeling a bit ashamed; she really couldn’t write with a brush.

“Qing’er, I heard from Qin Xin last night that you encountered some difficulties,” Zhao Qingrou gently said, then took off the purse from her waist and stuffed it into Ye Youqing’s hand, even such a small motion seemed to drain her energy.

That big mouth Qin Xin. Ye Youqing felt a bit frustrated. Renovating the shop did require money, and she indeed was worried about this.

(If you're not reading on, it means this has been stolen)

Ye Youqing opened her purse and was shocked by the amount of silver notes inside.

“Mother…” she hurriedly began to speak but was interrupted by Zhao Qingrou.

“This is the silver left from selling my jewelry and what I’ve saved over the years. I originally planned to give it to you when you got married. It’s always not good for a woman to be without money.” Zhao Qingrou paused to cough, then continued slowly.

“However, since you are in need now, take it and use it.” Zhao Qingrou smiled, her thin cheeks lighting up with eyes as bright as Ye Youqing’s. “I once thought of seeing the world too, but it never came to be. A woman spends her life confined to a house; trying a different life is always a good thing.”

Ye Youqing suddenly felt a twinge in her nose.

The love a mother pours out is the most fervent; even the coldest of hearts cannot help but soften in its presence.

“Thank you, Mother,” she said.

“My body can’t take it anymore; I start to sweat coldly after being out for a while.” Zhao Qingrou smiled, and then, with Qin Xin’s support, she stood up. Before she slowly walked out of the courtyard, she touched Ye Youqing’s face.

Ye Youqing stared at her retreating figure for a while. Never has she felt such a strong desire to hold on to this mother, who originally did not belong to her.

“Cough cough cough.” Ye Youqing coughed a few times, snapping back to reality. When she looked towards the stone table, she noticed a piece of paper that wasn’t there before. It seemed like Qin Xin had left it while she was focused on Zhao Qingrou’s words.

Picking up the note, she saw a line of handsome and strong characters.

“Cuihong Zhuang, waiting for you.”

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