The Divorcee is a Wicked Black Belly Chapter 110: Castor Asks A Question
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The twins went downstairs to the kitchen and found Gu Sheng there making a mess with some eggs, an empty pan almost scorched to a crisp, and what looked to be bread totally blackened and beyond rescue.
"What are you doing?" Lux asked, completely startling poor Gu Sheng who blushed scarlet when he saw her, one cheek streaked with black soot from the pan.
"I...I'm...I..I was trying....I was trying to cook breakfast," Gu Sheng finished in a rush, wishing he could sink to the floor and banish from her sight.
"Let me do it," Lux said kindly. "You're doing a mess. Just sit down there and wait. Cas, toast and eggs for you?" she asked, throwing her brother a glance.
"Hmnn...," answered Cas, again playing games in his phone.
There was silence as Lux took over the cooking and cleaning. She was very swift and in just a few minutes, the eggs were fluffed and cooked, the rice fried with onions and ham, the bread pan fried to golden crispness, and the tea warmed up and ready to pour.
Lux took out plates and mugs and served everything on the table. They ate quietly, Lux flipping through a book and Cas on his phone. Gu Sheng was left with nothing to do but go back to his favorite past time, that is, studying Lux surreptitiously under his eyelids. This time, however, he felt restless and did something he should have done the moment he set eyes on her, start a conversation.
"This is good," he said, nervously indicating breakfast. "You're a much better cook than Indian."
"Indian?" Lux asked, putting down her book.
"The guy who used to cook for us. He's into health food though. He doesn't like fat."
Lux's smile almost blinded Gu Sheng who felt like he had been kicked in the gut.
"Who does?" Lux said. "Cas doesn't like them," she said teasingly, looking at her brother.
"It's not good for the heart," Cas said, his eyes barely lifting from his phone.
"But it does boring after months of eating it though," Gu Sheng said, finally regaining his composure and spoke with assurance. "But this," he said, indicating the fluffy omelette, "it's really good."
"Know the secret to good egg meals?" Lux asked, sipping her tea.
"Fresh eggs. We have our own egg farm back home so it was easy to buy really fresh ones."
"You like to cook?" asked Gu Sheng with interest.
"I guess. It's interesting, you know? I like to experiment now and then and somehow it always ends up good. I read recipes a lot and if I like any of them then I cook them. Mom and Cas seem to like eating the results."
"You should meet Xiang Yun. You and she have lots in common."
"A girl I know back home. She's really good with magic, you know. And she likes to study and cook and other stuff. She said she likes to cook because she likes spending a lot of time in the kitchen. She's a little weird but she's okay," Gu Sheng shrugged, spooning more eggs in his mouth.
"She sounds interesting," Lux said, putting her book on the table.
"I guess. She recently married the school principal so I guess she'll stop that nonsense about magic and become a full-time scholar instead. She really likes to study and like you, she reads a lot," Gu Sheng finished lamely.
"School principal?" Castor suddenly joined in the conversation. "You have a school in... what's the name of this place where you live again?"
"Yuqui. And the school is really famous, even outside Yuqui. Mu Xing, he's our principal by the way, is famous anywhere so there's a lot of young people who want to study under him. An Ning and I decided to promote him to principal just a week or so ago. An Ning said he'll be a great asset to the school. And he specializes in medicine and research so there's that going for him."
"He's also a doctor?"
"A very good doctor," Gu Sheng said. "A year or two ago he came out with a book. The results of his study about germs. I don't really know what it's about but An Ning tells me it's really important."
"Germs? He did a study on germs?"
"That's what they said."
"But how did he do it?," Cas frowned. "I mean, I assume Yuqui is not like the modern times, right? What methods did he use? What instruments did he use to get his results?"
"You have to ask him. I'm not really sure what it is myself," Gu Sheng said apologetically.
"I'll ask mom. Maybe we can go visit Yuqui and we can meet this principal," Castor said, looking excited. He even forgot to look at his phone the whole time he was talking with Gu Sheng.
"Finish your tea," Lux said, smiling. "And I'd like to see your house, if I may, your highness? Mom said you live in this really cute house with a pond and a willow tree?"
"Call me Gu Sheng, please," Gu Sheng said, blushing a little. "Nian Zhen said I could stay there since it's very quiet and private. But I do live with two other people though. Ban Chao and Kang Jun?"
"Friends of yours?" Cas asked, giving his full attention to Gu Sheng.
"Kang Jun is my secretary," Gu Sheng explained. "Then I found out later he's really a spy sent by Nian Zhen to spy on us. Then there's Ban Chao who we thought was a guy but is actually a girl."
"Sounds fun," Lux laughed, almost choking on her tea.
"Especially when the two of them really get into an argument," Gu Sheng agreed, smiling. "Never a dull moment."
"Nian Zhen sent a spy to spy on you?" Cas asked, intrigued.
"Not to spy on me but An Ning," Gu Sheng said without thinking.
"Spy on mom?" Cas was surprised. "Why?"
But Gu Sheng had suddenly clammed up, going back to his breakfast which left a very uncomfortable question hanging in the air. Cas and Lux stared at him obviously baffled but were too polite so they didn't say anything anymore.
Ban Chao and Kang Jun were in the middle of another one of their fights when the three of them arrived in Gu Sheng's house. Kang Jun's face was red, glaring at Ban Chao who was polishing her sword. Kang Jun was talking or rather his voice was raised but Ban Chao was not listening or even looking at him. She was polishing the sword like it was the most important thing in the world, incurring the increasing ire of Kang Jun who looked like he was about to tear at his hair in frustration.
"What the heck is wrong now?" Gu Sheng's voice stopped Kang Jun's litany of woes.
"I told her to get back to bed because she has a fever but she won't listen. What the fuck is important about that sword being polished? You deal with her, your grace. I am so frustrated I am about to kill myself."
Pollux who was watching them suddenly burst into laughter.
"I think what she has is short attention span. She listens to you for about sixty seconds then her attention latches on to something else. Give it another minute then she'll turn right back at you like nothing happened."
"Short attention span? Is that contagious, your grace?" Kang Jun asked, studying Ban Chao as if she was a particularly obnoxious yet interesting specimen.
"No, it's because her mind works on a much faster beat than normal people. She can't sit still. So, to prevent being frustrated just do something else while she organizes her thought muscle."
"Hmnn.. interesting," Kang Jun mumbled, narrowing his eyes at Ban Chao who seemed not to notice him as she continued to polish her sword.
"I'm sorry about this," Gu Sheng said, glaring at both his house mates. "They're actually idiots. "And I have to put up with them like this every day."
"That's why you were at the palace cooking breakfast," Lux said, suddenly understanding his strange behavior.
"But not succeeding, unfortunately," Gu Sheng grimaced. "But I guess that was better than putting up with these lunatics early in the morning."
"The willow tree is very beautiful," Lux said, looking out the window at the porch and the tree outside.
"Do you have fish in that pond?" Cas asked, walking over to where his sister was standing.
"I think Nian Zhen stocked it before we arrived," Gu Sheng said, joining them.
"The king seems to be very concerned about your well-being," Cas said, resting his forearms on the window sill.
'We're his visitors of course he has to take care of us."
"My mom know him long?" Cas casually threw out this sentence at Gu Sheng.
'You could say that."
"I don't know."
"Back in our time perhaps?" Castor's tone was still casual but the gaze he turned to Gu Sheng was sharp and penetrating.
Gu Sheng was startled. He knew he was a year or two older than the twins but he could almost believe the young man confronting him was about his age or older. Castor knew he wasn't being polite with his inquisition but Gu Sheng didn't intend to satisfy his curiosity by casually betraying his stepmother. Whatever his feelings were about Lux and the liking he has for her brother, his loyalty will always be with An Ning and that will never change.
"You'd better ask An Ning about that. It's not my place to say anything," just as casually Gu Sheng answered.
Cas nodded as if he understood.
"This is place is very beautiful," Lux said, still looking out the window. "You could almost believe it's real."
Gu Sheng was startled.
"Of course, it's real. Why would you think otherwise?"
"Oh, perhaps because it exists in another dimension. Like someone imagined it."
"I'm here and I'm real," Gu Sheng said then he hesitated. "I didn't imagine An Ning, you know. The emperor my father married a woman named Li An Ning who died. We were mourning her death when she suddenly woke up. She wasn't Li An anymore but someone who looked like her, had the same name as her, the same memories like her but she was someone else, from another time that exists maybe parallel to this world."
"I've offended you. I'm sorry," Lux said, looking contrite. "I didn't mean to."
"No, you did not offend me," Gu Sheng smiled. "I perfectly understand how you feel. When An Ning woke up and told me she was someone else, I didn't believe her either. It was too fantastic a world she described, things like cars, and boats, and trains and the internet, and something called soccer. I didn't believe her at all but how to explain her knowledge of things. The woman my father married was young, smart but I don't think even she was smart enough to have possessed a wild imagination. Either An Ning and I were both crazy or what she was saying was actually true. Once I accepted that, I learned not to question the rest."
"Aren't you curious to see our side of this parallel dimension?" Cas asked.
"I go where An Ning goes so yes, I will most likely get to see it."
"Go where mom goes?" Lux gazed at him aghast. "You don't mean you'll abandon Yuqui, do you?"
"Why not?" Gu Sheng shrugged. "An Ning is my friend. There's nothing that anyone can give me that will change that."
The twins gaped at him then they looked at each other with worried eyes.
"You like mom?" Lux was the first to voice the thought out.
"What? No! Of course not!" Gu Sheng was alternately shocked and angry. "Not that way!" Why do these people always have the same reaction when he tells them he likes An Ning. She's his stepmother, for hell's sake. Was that difficult to understand?
Cas laughed uproariously.
"You should have seen your face," he said, eyes streaming with amusement. "You almost choked, dude. Mom is really not that bad, surely?" he continued. his shoulders shaking with merriment.
"I like An Ning because she is my big sister. She saved from certain death several times and that is something I won't be able to repay in this lifetime. Besides, before my father died he made me promise that whatever happens, my duty is to protect An Ning. There is nothing between us that should worry you. Anyway, you're not the first to be suspicious about my relationship with her. You should have seen Nian Zhen when he asked me the same thing."
"Why? Because he's that Richard asshole who's responsible for dragging mom into this parallel dimension?"
Gu Sheng was stunned. Instead of answering Cas' question, he just stood there like someone had cut off his tongue. But before he could gather his thoughts and give an answer, Kang Jun's loud and irate voice broke the uncomfortable silence.
"Ban Chao, so help me, if you don't go back to bed this instant, I'll...I'll...I'll kiss you till your head spins!"
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