Chapter 25: Entanglement
The small boat swayed on the river. Tonight, there was no moon, only a few scattered stars in the sky. The lights from the riverside were reflected on the water, and faintly, one could see their own shadows on the surface.
The guard rowed the boat towards the exquisitely decorated boat in the center of the river.
He Yan hung her head, remaining silent. The guard couldn’t help but glance at her from time to time. He saw the girl sitting at the stern, her back straight, and her hands tied behind her with ropes, motionless. As if sensing his gaze, she lifted her head and gave him a cold look, causing the guard to shiver, almost dropping his oar into the river.
That look was genuinely chilling. He couldn’t describe the feeling; it was like a dead person staring at him lifelessly. The sound of the waves on the river seemed like an eerie dream, adding to her ghostly aura.
It was really strange. The guard felt uneasy. She hardly spoke or asked anything, unusually quiet. Normally, wouldn’t a girl at this moment be asking a question or two? But He Yan didn’t. She seemed like a silent doll, not like a living person.
The water shimmered with ripples under the night sky, appearing like whirlpools, bringing her thoughts back to the day when she was drowned by He Wanyu in the pond.
In the past, she could swim and was a decent swimmer. But now, at this moment, her nerves were tense all over, telling her that she was afraid of water.
She was afraid of falling into the water from this small boat, afraid of being sucked into an endless vortex, afraid of struggling helplessly underwater, seeing the sky getting farther away, and being powerless to do anything. She feared that her life would come to an abrupt end just like in her previous life.
She felt disgusted with her own weakness and fear at this moment, but couldn’t think of any other way. She could only sit in the boat and silently let the guard bring her onto that magnificent boat.
The boat should belong to a wealthy family, slightly smaller than a luxury boat but much larger than a fishing boat. The guard sent He Yan onto the boat, lifted the curtain of the cabin, and brought her inside. Then, he rowed the small boat away, apparently obeying someone’s orders and not daring to approach.
He Yan stared at the person in front of her.
Today, Fan Cheng was also dressed up in an extravagant manner. The interior of the cabin was filled with incense and colorful lanterns, making it warm and fragrant as she entered.
He Yan struggled to free herself from the whirlpool in her mind and looked at Fan Cheng, saying, “Young Master Fan.”
Fan Cheng walked over and pressed her down onto a chair, saying, “Ah He, you’ve been wronged.”
He Yan remained silent.
“I never thought that woman would be so malicious, actually tying you up and locking you in a room. If it weren’t for me secretly ensuring your safety and finding out about this, then immediately sending someone to rescue you, the consequences could have been unimaginable. Ah He, by now, you should understand the sincerity of my efforts, right?” Fan Cheng lamented.
He Yan looked at the ropes around her feet and shook her head, saying, “I don’t understand.”
From beginning to end, Fan Cheng’s guard did not untie the ropes for her, whether when he took her out of the mansion, onto the carriage, or brought her onto this boat.
The coarse ropes had already rubbed her wrists raw, but she didn’t feel any pain, just silence.
“I was afraid you would have a misunderstanding and refuse to board the boat, so I didn’t untie the ropes for you,” Fan Cheng explained, following her gaze. Although he said so, he made no other move.
“We’re on the boat now,” He Yan smiled, “I won’t run away. You can untie me.”
She smiled like the glow of the morning sun on snow, bright and radiant. Fan Cheng was momentarily captivated, thinking that He Yan had grown more beautiful. She exuded a sense of heroism and elegance that she hadn’t had before.
The thought made him itch, and he reached out to touch He Yan’s face. She turned her head, evading him, and his hand fell through empty air. His smile faltered slightly, so he simply squatted down, gazing at He Yan and said, “It’s not that I don’t want to let you go, but Ah He, you need to understand your current situation.”
“My wife is naturally jealous, and she will never let you off. Even if you return to the He family today, she will find a way to come after you. My father-in-law is a Cheng Wulang, and your father is just a low-ranking military officer; there are plenty of opportunities for her to cause trouble. But not mentioning that, the most important thing is you.”
“You, as a young lady without anyone to protect you, will suffer endlessly if she catches you. I… I can’t bear to see you suffer. I…” Fan Cheng looked at her affectionately. “How can I just stand by and watch you in pain?”
“Oh?” He Yan secretly untied the ropes that bound her hands and calmly asked, “So, what do you plan to do?”
Seeing that she seemed to be loosening up, Fan Cheng’s eyes lit up, and without hesitation, he said, “I want to hide you in a safe place. You will still have maids and servants to attend to you in your daily life, so my wife won’t find you. When the time is right, I will divorce that woman and bring you back to the Fan family. By then, you will be the Madam of the Fan family, and no one will dare to bully you.”
“The legitimate wife?” He Yan asked.
“Yes,” Fan Cheng placed his hand on his heart, “Ah He, I swear, my heart only belongs to you. If it weren’t for this arranged marriage, I would never have married her! Trust me, I will only love you in this lifetime. You will be the only wife of Fan Cheng. You just have to wait a bit…”
He Yan chuckled softly.
Fan Cheng was taken aback.
“You… Do you want me to be your concubine?” She said lightly.
If it were the real He Yan, she might have been moved to tears by these vows. However, she wasn’t the real He Yan. Onlookers see most clearly. When a man tries to deceive a woman, he can say all kinds of nonsense. How could Fan Cheng really marry her as the legitimate wife? He was just trying to deceive her.
Who knows if back then, when she was infatuated with Xu Zhiheng, He Wanyu looked at her the same way she was looking at the real He Yan now, equally ridiculous and pitiful.
“Ah He, you…” Fan Cheng furrowed his brow.
“Young Master Fan, I’ve made myself very clear. Since you’re already married, I’ve let go of the past. Let bygones be bygones. I have no intention of becoming your legitimate wife, and I hope you won’t continue to entangle yourself with me.”
As she said this, her hands loosened, and the ropes fell away.
Fan Cheng didn’t notice the ropes falling to the ground. He looked at her with surprise, and after a moment, he suddenly laughed coldly, “He Yan, you really are someone who is offered a toast but drinks the penalty wine. I tried to reason with you nicely, but you’re still being stubborn! Entangle? There are countless women in the world. Why would I bother with someone like you? But the time and effort I’ve spent on you can’t go to waste!”
“Young Master Fan, are you asking me to pay you back with silver?” He Yan chuckled.
“I’m not short of money. You can repay me with yourself.” He flashed a lecherous smile. “If you serve me well, I might even reward you with some silver.”
Before He Yan could respond, an angry voice suddenly thundered, “What nonsense are you spouting!”
He Yan looked in surprise as the curtain was lifted, and a drenched figure marched in. It was He Yunsheng.