I Rely on the Collapse of the Character Setting to Survive in the Hands of the Male Lead Chapter 25

Chapter 25

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Xu Wenze never expected to see such a scene. It literally shook his world.

Realizing he shouldn’t stare impolitely, he immediately turned around and walked away from the folding screen.

“Sorry, I…” Xu Wenze didn’t know what to say, feeling his head buzzing.

Lin Qingyang saw that Xu Wenze’s face had turned red, looking extremely embarrassed, and was about to explain.

Chu Lishu on the opposite side calmly spoke first, “Sorry, we were in the medicinal bath. Seeing you in such a hurry, we let you in first. Is there something you need from my cousin?”

“Uh… yes, there’s something! You’re taking a medicinal bath together?” It took Xu Wenze a while to find his voice.

“We accidentally fell into the water earlier and used it to ward off the cold,” Chu Lishu said casually. “It may take some more time for us to finish. I apologize for any inconvenience, Brother Wenze.”

Lin Qingyang slowly closed his open mouth, wondering how he missed the chance to speak.

“Fell into the water… Brother Lin, did you go…” Perhaps realizing that Chu Lishu had been the one talking to him all along, Xu Wenze straightforwardly addressed Lin Qingyang.

But now, Lin Qingyang didn’t know how to respond.

Previously, they had agreed to each find someone, and now the situation had become more complicated.

Lin Qingyang looked towards Chu Lishu.

Chu Lishu, seeing Lin Qingyang seeking his opinion, pondered for a moment before speaking, “If it’s not something urgent, can it wait until we finish the medicinal bath?”

Xu Wenze obviously didn’t want Chu Lishu to know about that matter, so he immediately said, “Alright, I’ll come back later. There are some things I want to discuss privately with Brother Lin.”

“Ah… okay,” Lin Qingyang quickly responded.

Outside the folding screen, Xu Wenze finally heard Lin Qingyang’s voice, hoarse and raspy, probably from the cold. Originally, when he came out, he had his back turned to the folding screen, but now he couldn’t help but glance back, only able to see a faint silhouette.

When Chu Lishu entered earlier, his back was turned to Xu Wenze, and Lin Qingyang was facing him. Although a large part of Lin Qingyang’s chest was covered by a bath towel, the fair and pristine shoulders and arms were unexpectedly exposed, pure white like premium sheep-fat jade.

The area where the neck and collarbone met showed distinct contours. In Xu Wenze’s memory, Lin Qingyang, who used to seem a bit chubby, now appeared genuinely slender, like a piece of uncut jade gradually polished to reveal its radiance and shape.

They… taking a medicinal bath together?

If it were an ordinary man, it might not be a big deal, but isn’t Lin Qingyang currently fond of Chu Lishu? Chu Lishu should be aware of this, right? Taking a bath together so easily, isn’t it a bit hasty?

Xu Wenze felt a wave of discomfort in his heart and turned away, leaving.

“It seems that Xu Wenze has made up his mind,” Chu Lishu said casually.

“He was quite angry just now. He should know that Xu Rui’er’s partner is Ying Wenlong. As for whether he knows about their affair, it’s unclear,” Lin Qingyang took off the bath towel, feeling awkward with it sticking to his body. He wrung it out and wiped the water off his face. The steam from his eyebrows had almost condensed and rolled into his eyes.

After wiping his face, he noticed Chu Lishu on the opposite side looking at him with a somewhat strange expression.

“What’s wrong?”

Chu Lishu raised an eyebrow, “The bath towel, it’s mine.”

Lin Qingyang: …

Shuncai was very attentive. When the two masters started their medicinal bath, Shuncai went to Chu Lishu’s room and brought his bath towel and the clothes he wanted to change into.

Lin Qingyang maintained a calm and composed face, but inside, he was cracking up. He said directly, “You threw it to me yourself… I thought you didn’t want it anymore.”

“I only have this one.” Chu Lishu looked at Lin Qingyang, whose discomfort was becoming more apparent. His mood inexplicably changed, as if a feather had been blown into the air. “I just did it to avoid embarrassing you in front of Xu Wenze.”

As Chu Lishu spoke, his gaze began to sweep down from Lin Qingyang’s neck.

It’s normal for men to be open and frank with each other, but under Chu Lishu’s suggestive gaze, Lin Qingyang suddenly felt like his little buddies upfront were about to uncontrollably demand some modesty cloth, whimpering away.

He’s not a woman, and Xu Wenze isn’t interested in him anyway. What’s the big deal about being looked at, huh?

Lin Qingyang was somewhat indignant, “And you’re the one who asked him to come in. Originally, he was supposed to stay outside the folding screen.”

“Wasn’t that just to see if he was angry?” Chu Lishu used Lin Qingyang’s words to shut him up.

Lin Qingyang’s head started to feel tangled. Chu Lishu’s tone was too convincing, but why did he always feel like something was off?

Chu Lishu reached out directly, “Give it back.”

Lin Qingyang twitched the corner of his mouth, holding onto the bath towel. “Aren’t you disgusted? I’ll give you a new one later.”

“Who said I am disgusted? I want this one,” Chu Lishu said naturally.

Well, Lin Qingyang didn’t actually say that; it was his assumption.

But Lin Qingyang still felt a bit aggrieved. He simply rubbed the bath towel in the water and then threw it back.

Chu Lishu didn’t say much, wringing it out and wiping his face. He then draped it over his eyes, covering half of his face, revealing only his high nose bridge, cherry-red lips, and a perfectly angled chin.

This look reduced some of the youthful vibes and added a mature and dignified dominance. Especially when he tilted his head back, relaxing his entire body, the up-and-down movement of his Adam’s apple highlighted the slender neck and delicate collarbones, unexpectedly making him sexy and alluring.

“You can use Xu Wenze.”

Lin Qingyang was stunned by Chu Lishu’s sudden suggestion. It wasn’t that Chu Lishu’s idea was shocking; rather, wasn’t the male lead supposed to be acting in front of him? How come he was straightforwardly suggesting the use of someone, the past innocent Cousin Chu seems to have stopped acting?

Chu Lishu didn’t hear Lin Qingyang’s response and continued slowly, “What’s the matter? Reluctant?”

Lin Qingyang’s skin tightened.

“How could I be reluctant? It’s for the safety of my sister’s life. But… do we really have to use him? Isn’t there any other way? It would damage our friendship.” Plus, you, the male lead, might have forgotten that you still need Xu Wenze’s help to enter the palace. “Besides, aren’t you two on good terms?” Lin Qingyang grinned.

Chu Lishu snorted lightly, “He is indeed my friend, and I naturally won’t harm him.”

In Lin Qingyang’s mind, it automatically translated to: He still has utility value, so I won’t harm him.

“Not using him means cousin will have to go through a lot, and besides, he might thank us for this matter,” Chu Lishu explained the plan briefly. After listening, Lin Qingyang could only admire him continuously.

No wonder he could overturn the entire Great Zhou Dynasty alone and become a legendary emperor in the future. With such a clever and cunning mind, it was truly frightening.

Soon, Shuncai came in with hot water.

“Young Master, Young Master Chu, you’ve finally woken up. If you hadn’t woken up, I would have had to go find a physician,” Shuncai exclaimed.

Due to Lin Qingyang’s instructions, Shuncai had to muster up the courage to request the medicinal bath for warding off the cold. He was bombarded with questions and almost couldn’t handle it.

Lin Qingyang now felt a weight lifted off his heart. After all, with the male lead taking action, there shouldn’t be any problems. He looked at Shuncai and smiled, “We’re fine now, Shuncai. I’m hungry.”

Following Lin Qingyang’s instructions, Shuncai set up a small table in the middle of the bath, placing the food container prepared by his eldest sister on top. Both of them could now sit in the tub and eat.

If it weren’t for feeling unwell, it would have been quite a pleasant experience.

Lin Qingyang opened the food container and looked at the dishes inside, most of which were favorites of the original body.

Lin Qingyang didn’t have a different taste from the original body, but he was currently in the midst of a diet and couldn’t indulge himself. So, he still assigned all the high-calorie dishes to Chu Lishu.

“Eat more, you’re still too thin.”

Chu Lishu looked at the meat in the bowl that he didn’t particularly like, but in the end, he didn’t say anything. He tasted each bite carefully, managing to discover flavors he hadn’t noticed before. The food didn’t seem as bad as he remembered.

After finishing the meal, Chu Lishu felt much more comfortable. However, Lin Qingyang looked even more listless, and his complexion worsened.

They soaked for another two hours until their bodies radiated a healthy warmth from inside out before getting out of the tub.

Lin Qingyang felt that he probably stayed in the cold water for too long, so he ended up catching a chill. Unwilling to use the medicine from the store, he decided to consult a physician, which he had planned to do.

Chu Lishu didn’t return to his own courtyard. Instead, he stayed behind in an empty room where no one would disturb him, perfect for examining the envelope.

The person who designed the secret room had initially considered the possibility of escaping from the cold water, so everything left behind, including the package containing the secret letter, was waterproof.

The envelope was taken out from the damp clothes and remained intact.

Chu Lishu opened each letter and saw familiar names leap off the paper, one after another.

How many conspiracies and tricks did they go through back then? How many people conspired against them, and how many sacrifices were made for the ambitions of others? It seemed countless.

Why didn’t he perceive it? Why was he manipulated by those people without realizing it?

The killing intent on his face grew heavier, and his eyes turned bloodshot.

Suddenly, Chu Lishu recalled a statement his father made to him a long time ago.

“Yuan Ran, you are very clever, adept at everything. Even the most difficult tasks, you can handle them well. Unfortunately, everything goes too smoothly for you.”

At that time, he didn’t understand. Wasn’t it good to have everything go smoothly?

Now, he seemed to have a bit of understanding.

Because everything went too smoothly, he tended to trust the people around him too much. No matter how intelligent someone was, without experiencing the schemes and traps of conspiracies, how could they resist them?

He lost because his life went too smoothly.

Chu Lishu closed his eyes, suppressing all his emotions. He had been tasting this level of hatred day and night for three years, learning to turn that hatred into motivation.

He focused on the secret letters. In less than a quarter of an hour, he had completely memorized the contents of the letters.

Chu Lishu carefully stored the letters, still hiding them within the damp clothes. Keeping the letters on his person was certainly not safe. The original secret room would have been the best place, but Lin Qingyang knew about it. It wasn’t that Chu Lishu doubted Lin Qingyang’s loyalty, but he was afraid that Lin Qingyang might unintentionally reveal it to someone else, raising suspicions. So, he couldn’t put the letters back there and would need to find another place to hide them. It seemed he would have to go out for a while.

As for the secret codes left in the library, he would also need to find time to deal with them.

Once Chu Lishu had everything in order, Lin Qingyang returned.

Upon entering, Lin Qingyang seemed more ethereal in his footsteps. Chu Lishu furrowed his brows slightly, “What did the physician say?”

“It’s just a chill. I’ll be fine with a few medicinal patches. Shuncai has already gone to brew the medicine,” Lin Qingyang said.

Although he didn’t feel much right after, the longer the time passed, the stronger the reaction in his body became.

“And you… do you feel unwell? If you do, you should see a physician” Even though Lin Qingyang knew the male lead wouldn’t see a physician, it wouldn’t be right not to express concern.

“I’m fine. Do you need to rest?”

Lin Qingyang waved his hand. “No need. After dealing with Xu Wenze later, I’ll go to eldest sister’s place. This matter can’t be delayed. They’re leaving tomorrow, and we must ensure everything is foolproof.”

As he spoke, he took out a packet of medicinal powder from his pocket and examined it.

Chu Lishu looked at Lin Qingyang’s pale face. “You didn’t try the medicine, did you?”

Lin Qingyang’s face turned a bit awkward. “You can tell?”

Chu Lishu frowned instantly. “Nonsense. With your condition, trying it is unnecessary. This is just a basic medicinal powder. The physician wouldn’t make a mistake.”

“I’m still not at ease. I’m a man, trying it won’t do any harm.” Lin Qingyang smiled casually, not thinking it was a big deal.

However, the expression in Chu Lishu’s eyes changed. “You’re really… kind to your family.”

Lin Qingyang was a bit surprised by the wistful and envious look on Chu Lishu’s face. Suddenly, he realized why Chu Lishu had such emotions. It was probably because he saw something related to family in the secret letters, and it wasn’t something good.

Lin Qingyang couldn’t help but think of his own family in the modern world. He could empathize with Chu Lishu’s feelings.

If it weren’t for the genuine kindness and love he received from his mother and eldest sister in this life, allowing him to taste the long-lost affection of family, Lin Qingyang might not have been so meddlesome.

Thinking about this, Lin Qingyang smiled and said, “Aren’t you my family too? I’ll treat you well too.”

Chu Lishu was momentarily stunned, and his expression was hard to describe.

Lin Qingyang’s eyes flickered. Could it be… another misunderstanding? He quickly clarified, “I wasn’t good to you before, but rest assured, in the future, I’ll treat you as well as a real younger brother.”

He wanted to establish their relationship clearly, proving that he didn’t have any inappropriate intentions.

Chu Lishu’s eyes flashed, “Is that so? Thank you, Cousin.”

Was this tone one of happiness or unhappiness? Or did he think Lin Qingyang didn’t deserve it?

Unable to decipher the male lead’s thoughts, Lin Qingyang could only respond with a silly smile.

However, Lin Qingyang’s pale and unattractive complexion paired with the silly smile wasn’t very appealing.

Soon, Shuncai came in with the medicine. Ancient medicine was indeed exceptionally bitter. With one sip, it felt like drinking bitter melon juice mixed with a dash of coptis root water. The bitterness made Lin Qingyang’s face scrunch up like a bun, and tears welled up in the corners of his eyes.

Once the bitterness faded, he felt revived.

“Next time… before drinking the medicine, be sure to prepare some sweet preserves for me. The super sweet kind,” Lin Qingyang insisted.

Shuncai quickly agreed.

After finishing the medicine, Lin Qingyang sat down, leaning against the back of the chair, feeling a bit light-headed.

Seeing him like this, Chu Lishu couldn’t help but say, “Since I’ll be leaving soon, I can tell Xu Wenze for you. There’s still some time before evening. After taking the cold-expelling medicine, it’s better for you to lie down for a while.”

Upon hearing this, Lin Qingyang instantly became happy. Friendship forged through shared hardships was indeed different. He felt like he was getting closer to the male lead.

“That would be great trouble for you. I’ll take a rest for a while then.”

Chu Lishu nodded and left with his belongings.

Upon returning to his residence, he found Xu Wenze looking like he was about to leave.

“You’re back. Is Brother Lin available now?” Xu Wenze’s expression seemed a bit awkward.

“Cousin caught a severe chill and isn’t feeling well. He’s resting now. However, he invites you to join him at the banquet set by Lord Ying in the evening. He said he would discuss matters with you then.” Chu Lishu relayed the message.

Xu Wenze’s face darkened upon hearing about the banquet set by Lord Ying. “I see. Thanks for conveying the message, Brother Lishu. How is Brother Lin doing?”

Chu Lishu hesitated, pretending to be reluctant. “Cousin isn’t in a very good mood.”

Xu Wenze paused, immediately associating it with the relationship between Ying Wenlong and Xu Rui’er. Lin Qingyang must have figured it out too; otherwise, he wouldn’t have invited him to Ying Wenlong’s banquet. His poor mood was probably due to feeling aggrieved on behalf of his sister.

With these thoughts in mind, Xu Wenze felt even more conflicted.

On the other side, Lin Qingyang slept for a while but was soon awakened by abdominal pain and diarrhea, startling Shuncai, who was keeping watch.

“Young Master, are you okay? Shall I fetch the physician again?”

“No… no need. The physician said it’s a normal reaction to catching a chill.” Lin Qingyang, clutching his stomach, staggered out, his face now as pale as a sheet.

It seemed that the symptoms had come on quite urgently.

In reality, Lin Qingyang was not only experiencing abdominal pain and diarrhea but also nausea, muscle soreness, fatigue, weakness, and intermittent chills and fever. He didn’t even have the strength to put on clothes.

“This won’t do, Young Master. It’s better if you don’t go. Please rest properly,” Shuncai pleaded with a hint of desperation.

Lin Qingyang hadn’t expected the symptoms to be so severe. The old physician hadn’t described it this dramatically, had he? Could it be that his own body was inherently weak, leading to these reactions?

With no other options, and time running out, he had to resort to using the medicine from the marketplace.

Powerful Cold Relief Medicine: 2 points.

Lin Qingyang had Shuncai pour a cup of tea and then discreetly took the medicine. Soon, his body experienced some relief, but it only achieved a mitigating effect. The fundamental symptoms persisted, although he could now move without hindrance.

Having spent only two points, Lin Qingyang was already quite satisfied with the results. Shuncai couldn’t help but feel that his young master was a miracle worker—recovering just by drinking a cup of tea.

After changing into fresh clothes, Lin Qingyang instructed Shuncai to inform Chu Lishu and let him know that he was heading to the guest house first.

At this point, some scholars had already gathered at the guest house, being entertained by Ying Wenlong in the outer courtyard. Lin Qingyang approached and greeted each of them respectfully.

Meanwhile, inside the house, the younger guests were present.

Everyone had brought friends along, and unsurprisingly, Lin Qingyang saw Ying Xiaodie openly bringing along Xu Rui’er.

Looking at Xu Rui’er in the midst of a group of girls now, smiling coyly, it’s hard to imagine her appearance in the library this morning.

“Second Brother is indeed a busy man. Waiting for you at noon, everyone suffered from not having a good meal.” Lin Qingwei, upon seeing him approach, immediately sarcastically remarked, showing no concern for her brother.

“I heard that Second Brother fell into the water with Lishu? Brother-in-law said that you even had a medicinal bath together when you returned. Were there not enough bath buckets? Second Brother is accustomed to enjoying himself. How could he be comfortable sharing a bath with others? I live close to Second Brother’s courtyard. If he had called me, I would have definitely brought a bath bucket to help,” Lin Qingxu, who had always avoided confrontation, couldn’t resist making a teasing remark this time.

Lin Qingxu knew about the original body’s plan against Chu Lishu, so the implications of his words were naturally different.

Sure enough, as soon as he spoke, the men who came with him instantly understood the situation. They had likely heard some rumors from Lin Qingxu, and now they looked at Lin Qingyang with disdain and curiosity. “Qingxu, you don’t understand. Your brother is anxious, worrying about his own brother. Where is there time to think so much?”

On the women’s side, there was no immediate reaction. They thought that they were mocking Lin Qingyang for being foolish. After all, they were cousins, and they couldn’t imagine anything so exaggerated.

“Falling into cold water together naturally leads to a medicinal bath together. In case someone is delayed and catches a cold or falls ill, I’m afraid some unscrupulous people will spread rumors again, accusing me of persecuting my brother,” Lin Qingyang sneered as he sat down, patting Lin Qingxu’s shoulder. “Moreover, Third Brother is my brother after all, even if he’s born out of wedlock. Carrying a bath bucket, the work of a servant, how could I degrade him?”

Lin Qingxu’s face changed slightly, feeling uncomfortable with Lin Qingyang’s pointed words. It seemed that Lin Qingyang would say whatever he disliked: “Second Brother is joking.”

It seems that Lin Qingyang is not as easy to deal with as before. He has changed a lot recently. Has he truly realized something? Not only has he stopped bothering Xu Wenze, but he also doesn’t even go to the Secluded Courtyard Pavilion anymore. How can his weak-willed body endure not meeting with Yu Zhang? Could it be that he’s truly enchanted by Chu Lishu?

Thinking about it, Lin Qingxu said, “Second Brother, they say you can bring friends over. Why didn’t you bring Qi Yan? Even if not Qi Yan, you’ve been getting along well with Xu Wenze recently, right? Why didn’t you bring him? His sister is even here.”

This remark caused quite a stir among the women.

Ying Xiaodie was the first to exclaim, “Young Master Xu is refined and elegant. He usually doesn’t like such lively occasions. Moreover, being invited by Second Young Master Lin, he would be even less likely to come, right, Rui’er?”

Xu Rui’er did feel a bit guilty upon hearing Xu Wenze’s name, but she still had to support her sister, “That’s right, my brother won’t come. My brother doesn’t have any relationship with Second Young Master Lin.”

“That’s not necessarily true. Did you forget about the refined arts classes yesterday?” Lin Qingyang said with a smile.

“You!” Ying Xiaodie seemed angered by Lin Qingyang’s words.

“What are you talking about? It’s so lively.” Suddenly, a gentle voice interrupted everything. The bead curtain was lifted, and Lin Qinglan walked in slowly with her attendants. The attendants brought delicate tea snacks to the table.

“I heard that the head master has been delayed and will arrive a bit later. If you’re hungry, you can have some tea snacks first.”

After saying that, Lin Qinglan reached out and pulled Lin Qingyang’s arm, as if soothing him, fearing that he might cause trouble. After all, Lin Qinglan’s impression of Lin Qingyang had not yet changed.

“How’s your health? What did the physician say? Is it okay to be here now?” Lin Qinglan bombarded Lin Qingyang with three consecutive questions. “I’m fine, eldest sister,” Lin Qingyang replied, and all the previous unpleasantness vanished.

Lin Qinglan wouldn’t let the opportunity pass and, after expressing her concern, started to educate Lin Qingyang with earnest advice. Lin Qingyang listened with a smile; he enjoyed this kind of care.

On the other side, Ying Xiaodie, who was holding back her anger, heard someone praising the exquisite tea snacks. She immediately made a sarcastic remark, “Of course, you haven’t tasted them. These were made by my sister-in-law herself.”

Others who were not familiar with the situation were surprised to hear this comment, but they didn’t say much.

However, Ying Xiaodie continued her sarcastic comments, “Not only today’s tea snacks, but several delicious dishes in the evening were also crafted by my sister-in-law’s hands. Everyone should savor them properly, after all, our Madam spends her time in the kitchen daily, and our family is the first to enjoy such a privilege in the capital.”

At this point, Lin Qinglan’s face had stiffened, and everyone felt awkward. In fact, a woman’s interest in cooking was not a disgrace, but the concept of a Madam avoiding the kitchen was a customary rule for noble women. It seemed as if anyone who got involved with culinary activities was no longer considered a fairy. Lin Qinglan, full of enthusiasm to make the guests happy with her cooking, fell into the rhythm set by Ying Xiaodie and ended up depreciating herself.

Someone tried to change the topic, but Ying Xiaodie persisted, whispering to Xu Rui’er in a low voice, “We have servants; there’s no need for her to do it herself.”

Surprisingly, Xu Rui’er couldn’t help but smile, as if this kind of banter had become commonplace. She seemed to have forgotten that she was just a concubine’s daughter, ridiculing the legitimate daughter of the Marquis An Nan, the eldest daughter of the Lin family.

After these words were spoken, the atmosphere instantly cooled down. However, Ying Xiaodie seemed completely unaware that she had said something wrong, and her expression became even more arrogant. This irritated Lin Qingwei, who was equally proud.

“If you don’t like it, then don’t eat it, so as not to waste my sister’s craftsmanship.”

“Who cares.”

The two girls immediately started quarreling. Seeing Lin Qingwei protecting Lin Qinglan like this, Lin Qingyang couldn’t help but admire her.

Lin Qinglan naturally hurried to stop the argument between the two girls. She tried to appease them in a gentle and friendly manner, as if she had no temper at all. Once the atmosphere stabilized, she continued to sit next to Lin Qingyang and express her concern for his health, fearing that he might be forcing himself.

Lin Qingyang dealt with it and then picked up a pastry, sniffing it quietly. He softly said to Lin Qinglan, “Sister, this smell is a bit strange, is it spoiled?”

Lin Qinglan was surprised, “How could it be? All the ingredients are the freshest.”

“Then you try it. In case there’s a problem, you can still remove the pastries.”

Lin Qinglan didn’t dare to be overconfident. She directly took the pastry from Lin Qingyang’s hand and ate it. “No problem.”

Lin Qingyang smiled, “Maybe it’s because I caught a cold, and my taste buds are affected.”

Upon hearing this, Lin Qinglan began to express concern for Lin Qingyang again. Just as she was speaking, she suddenly felt uncomfortable. Lin Qinglan couldn’t help but cover her mouth, her face turning pale.

Just as Lin Qingyang was about to ask what was wrong, he heard Lin Qinglan retching a couple of times and then hastily ran out in a panic.

This situation alarmed the others.

“What’s wrong with my sister?” Lin Qingwei frowned.

“Could it be that the pastries are not clean?” Ying Xiaodie took the opportunity to add insult to injury.

Lin Qingyang frowned, “Strange, when I visited eldest sister this morning, she was also retching from time to time. At that time, I even suggested that she see a physician, but she just smiled and said she knew what was going on and asked me not to worry. Seeing eldest sister look relaxed, I don’t think it’s a big problem.”

With Lin Qingyang’s words, those who didn’t understand assumed it was a stomach problem, but the more clever women in the room had a drastic change in their expressions.

However, Lin Qingyang appeared genuinely concerned as he got up to find Lin Qinglan.

“What do you think is happening to my eldest sister?”

“Could it be…”

Lin Qingwei and Lin Qingyao began to discuss in hushed tones.

The expression on Xu Rui’er’s face turned increasingly grim, anger gradually accumulating. Eventually, she couldn’t help but stand up, as if she were about to leave.

Ying Xiaodie quickly grabbed Xu Rui’er, shook her head, and leaned in to whisper, “I’ll go check. Maybe it’s just that her health is not good. You can rest assured; I’m your good sister, and my brother cares deeply about you. He will definitely not let you down.”

Xu Rui’er finally managed to steady her breathing and looked at Ying Xiaodie helplessly, “Make sure to investigate thoroughly.” She didn’t want to become someone else’s stepmother, especially once they had children – that would surely lead to more trouble.

Ying Xiaodie nodded firmly, reassured her, and got up to follow her out like a female warrior on a mission.

Meanwhile, Lin Qinglan had finished vomiting.

“How are you, eldest sister?” Lin Qingyang asked with concern.

Lin Qinglan, still catching her breath, looked up and said anxiously, “There might really be a problem with the pastries. Quickly remove the ones I just ate and don’t let others have them.”

The maid hurried to handle the task.

“Yang’er, luckily you didn’t eat anything,” Lin Qinglan gasped and started drinking tea.

“I’m sorry,” Lin Qingyang looked at Lin Qinglan this way, feeling a little guilty inside.

“Why are you apologizing to me?” Lin Qinglan was amused, wiped the corners of her mouth, “Alright, you hurry back. Don’t pick fights with others casually.”

Lin Qingyang nodded and turned away. Indeed, on the corridor outside, he saw Ying Xiaodie approaching surreptitiously, trying to eavesdrop on information. After all, her brother was too busy now, and she couldn’t get close.

“Hey, what are you doing? My sister is not feeling well right now. Let her rest. Don’t disturb her,” Lin Qingyang warned.

“She’s my sister-in-law. Can’t I show some concern? Do you need to call a physician?”

Lin Qingyang was amused by Ying Xiaodie’s self-righteous attitude. “Sister-in-law? You still consider her your sister-in-law?”

“What do you mean by that?” Ying Xiaodie seemed embarrassed and angry, as if someone had exposed her.

“Don’t worry, your sister-in-law is perfectly fine. There’s no need to see a physician. Soon, there might be significant changes in your household.”

Upon hearing this, Ying Xiaodie’s face changed drastically. It wasn’t the expression of anticipation she expected.

Lin Qingyang sneered. Ying Xiaodie was even more disgusting than her brother, she was no less despicable. Helping her best friend secretly meet with her brother and engaging in such reprehensible behavior showed her lack of upbringing.

Ying Xiaodie must have known that her brother intended to abandon Lin Qinglan, which gave her the confidence to create trouble for her sister-in-law. However, she might not be aware of the specific method Ying Wenlong intended to use—abandoning his wife instead of divorcing her.

“You’re lying, aren’t you?” Ying Xiaodie couldn’t help but say.

“Why would I lie about such a good thing to you?” Lin Qingyang responded with a smile.

Ying Xiaodie was so angry that not only did her eyes widen, but her nostrils also flared. “I don’t believe you. I’ll go ask my brother.”

“Your brother doesn’t know yet. Asking him won’t help. Just wait for the announcement later. I guarantee it will shock you,” Lin Qingyang cryptically replied before turning and leaving.

Suddenly, he felt a strong pull from behind. With his weakened body today, he couldn’t resist the force and collided with the nearby wall, causing him considerable pain.

“Are you an Ox? So strong.”

Ying Xiaodie, feeling even more angry, retorted with determination, “I think you don’t look like a man at all.”

“What did you say? Do you want me to undress and show you?” Straight male Lin Qingyang couldn’t tolerate such comments.

Unexpectedly, Ying Xiaodie was unfazed. “You never looked like a man, always clinging to Brother Xu. You’re like a pretentious young attendant from the South Wind Pavilion, shameless. Don’t think Brother Xu, with his good temper and agreeable nature, has any interest in you. You’re delusional. Now, didn’t Brother Xu kick you out of your original courtyard? He must have nightmares just thinking about sharing a room with you, disgusted to the max.”

Oh, the resentment was even stronger than when dealing with her close friend’s situation earlier.

Lin Qingyang began to understand that Ying Xiaodie was trying so hard to help Xu Rui’er because she wanted to exchange her brother. The realization that these siblings, in pursuit of their own desires, disregarded the well-being of a woman who had become a part of their family and was earnestly taking care of them, left him thoroughly disgusted.

“Lin Qingyang, I warn you, stay away from Brother Xu. Otherwise, I’ll expose your dirty secrets! Brother Xu isn’t someone you can fantasize about.”

Lin Qingyang wanted to retort, but considering Ying Xiaodie’s twisted values, he figured that pointing out her hypocrisy wouldn’t have much impact. Since that was the case, he decided to test the waters with the original body’s persona.

“I fantasized about him, so what? I’ve lived in the same courtyard with him, know all of Wenze’s preferences, and I’m familiar with his habits. We’ve even taken a bath together. Are you envious?” Lin Qingyang said with a smile.

Ying Xiaodie was stunned, her face turning red with embarrassment. “You… you have no shame! Deceiving him just because you’re a man.”

“And I haven’t mentioned yet, we’ve even stayed on the same bed. Don’t believe me? Go ask him,” Lin Qingyang continued, enjoying the discomfort he was causing Ying Xiaodie. “Even a resolute man can be tempted. With my persistent efforts, Wenze has gradually changed his opinion of me. Look, he’s willing to team up with me for painting. It’s a treatment you can’t get even by colluding with his sister.”

“You! You’re talking nonsense. Brother Xu doesn’t like men at all. He could never accept you!” Ying Xiaodie’s tears were already swirling, feeling all kinds of grievances.

“Likes or dislikes, what’s the difference between men and women? Wenze is open-minded and accepting of all. Although I’m a man, he sees my sincerity. Even though you’re a woman, he can’t be bothered to look at you,” Lin Qingyang said mercilessly, laughing. “I’m close to him, and there’s plenty of time and ways to win his heart.”

“You despicable person! Shameless, despicable!”

“Well, it’s better than some women who can only daydream but can’t get anything in their entire lives,” Lin Qingyang retorted, reveling in the satisfaction of provoking her. It seemed like he had mastered the art of playing his character well. Look at how he got under her skin; it was truly delightful.

“Lin Qingyang!” Ying Xiaodie was so infuriated that she lost her composure, raising her hand to slap Lin Qingyang.

Lin Qingyang hadn’t expected this woman’s reaction to injury wouldn’t involve tears but rather an attempt to physically strike him. He was just about to raise his hand to block the blow.

Suddenly, Ying Xiaodie seemed frozen, as if someone had pressed the pause button on her. Lin Qingyang thought she had backed down, but when he looked at her, she wore a face of horror, staring past him.

Feeling a sense of foreboding, Lin Qingyang turned his head slowly to see what had captured Ying Xiaodie’s attention.

At the corner of the corridor stood two handsome young men—one poised and elegant, the other strikingly handsome. However, the poised one had flushed red, his eyes flickering, while the handsome one had a face that had turned completely dark, his eyes sharp as knives.

Lin Qingyang: Save me! Save me! Save me!

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