85 Settling the Fourth Miss’s Issue With a Drink

    Yujia smiled at the shallow bowl and a jug of wine next to her. As a sign of respect, she poured a cup for both herself and for him, then raised her bowl, nodding before taking a long sip of the wine.

    The fragrance of the rice wine held a hint of sweetness inside of its light taste, reminding Yujia of the occasions where she had similar wine before. One of her old roommates used to play around with making rice wine herself, and when Yujia sampled it in the past, it tasted rather similar.

    Next to the jug of wine, there were also a few dishes to eat along with the wine that Bo Zhizhong ordered, since just drinking pure wine would be a bit boring.

    Yujia looked to Hui'er, who didn't seem to have any worry displayed on her face. She would offer her maid some wine, but considering that Hui'er was only fifteen, that might not be the best choice. Leaning to the side, she asked in a hushed voice, "Do you not really care that I'm participating in a contest to see who gets drunk first?'

    Hui'er giggled a little and replied back in a whisper, "Miss, you might not know this, but before the night you came here, the old Fourth Miss had an excellent alcohol tolerance. She spent half a tael buying the cheapest wine she could find, but the only reason why she spent that much money was because it took jugs and jugs of wine before she could fall drunk. So, considering that you two are twins, I'm assuming that you're just as good as her. You won't get too drunk easily."

    Oh? So the previous Yang Yujia was so good at drinking? No wonder when she woke up in this new body with such a bad hangover.

    In any way, that made Yujia feel a bit more confident about winning. Though, in the end, she supposed it didn't matter too much if she won or lost. There wasn't anything to hurt her in this bet.

    She finished drinking her bowl of wine and set it down. Bo Zhizhong reached over and filled both of their bowls again to ensure fairness.

    Yujia savored the taste of the wine on her tongue, a little put off by the awkward silence between the two of them since neither party was saying anything, simply drinking their wine and nearly ignoring each other's existence. If other people saw the two of them right now, it would be a strange sight a boy and a girl drinking with each other. The good thing was that their seat was at the very back of the inn, so few people were around. Still though, it would be a good idea to make some conversation...

    "So-" both of them said at the same time, their eyes looking up in synchronization at each other.

    Yujia bit her bottom lip and waved. "You go first."

    "No, you go," Bo Zhizhong replied.

    She hated situations like this.

    Yujia forced a smile on her face as she questioned, "So, I'm curious... why exactly did you agree to this entire thing of drinking? I'll be honest here: I just wanted a free drink since I used up all the money on me. Except as for you... let me rephrase my question: why do you want to invest in my invention all of a sudden? You gave me an explanation before, but it wasn't that... good."

    Bo Zhizhong rested his chin on a propped up hand, carelessly picking the jug of wine again and refilling both of their empty bowls. "My oldest brother does business, and my second brother does business as well. My father truly does want me to work with more scholarly things, but I guess there was some part of me that wanted to participate in business too like my other brothers. When I heard your proposal at first, I didn't feel that moved at first, but after a long thought about it, I realized that it would take something new and innovative like your invention to bring my true intentions to my father, not just investing in silk or spices or anything like that. Also, he really does like art, and I think he would be impressed with it."

    Yujia finished her wine and poured both of them more, nodding slowly at his explanation. This one made more sense than his pointless flattery that he said before about her "originality and skills" winning him over.

    "You asked me a question," he continued, "so can I ask you one in return?"

    "Go ahead."

    "What made you begin inventing? Your pencils don't sound like they're something created by accident. And, I know this might be a bit judgemental, but you know... normal young misses don't go inventing and all that?"

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    Yujia sighed. "But, normal young misses do learn painting, don't they? I happen to have interest in the arts, and the idea came to me to create something that no one had ever seen before. I guess, at one point in time, I got tired of what society expects from me."

    Lies, lies, lies. The lies sounded so natural rolling off her tongue. She only created pencils because she wanted something she was familiar with in this new world, so although she did agree that the current society's expectation of women was too limiting, she made her purpose behind her invention sound so much better than what it actually was.

    Like before, the empty wine bowls were filled again. Bo Zhizhong said, "I think I haven't given a proper apology for what I said before with the fact that you were female. I know that you might think that I'm doing this for the sake of being nice, but I'm genuine. I swear. I realized that the words were a bit harsh."

    "It's fine. Most people are like you too, so I guess I've grown used to it." Yujia gulped the wine in her bowl down following that statement. She refilled, then asked, "Really though, thinking back to how many times we've ran into each other, why does this keep happening? Just 'fate' doesn't explain the fact that everywhere I go, I somehow, magically see you."

    "Fate is a very real thing," he retorted indignantly, "How else would you explain it?"

    People from the ancient times really did hold such high belief in fate, didn't they? Yujia wasn't that much of a believer herself, but come to think of, many people in modern times were just as superstitious as people of this time.

    "Well, I don't know." She picked up her chopsticks and sampled a piece of braised beef. "Don't you have better things to do all day than running around the city or bathing in springs? Or..." a mischievous grin appeared on her face as she suggested in a joking manner, "are you purposefully looking for me because my good looks are just too alluring?"

    Bo Zhizhong instantly flushed red, not from the alcohol both of them had downed so far, but from her sudden statement. His eyes darted downward, avoiding eye contact while he denied, "No way. I'm already married too... why would I just go and look for you purposefully? Stop raising yourself so high."

    He was married already? Yujia's grin dropped. Teasing him was fun, but she supposed that it wouldn't be proper to make jokes like this with a married man.

    Yujia's eyes traveled back over to the plate of braised beef. The meat was tender and melted on her tongue, and the spices were balanced just perfectly as well. Paired with the delicate sweetness of the wine, the two combined to create a delicious balance.

    She thought she was already full, but it didn't hurt to eat more now with such tasty dishes that were much better than whatever she got at home, right? Bo Zhizhong didn't seem that into eating anything on the table, so if she didn't touch them, then the dishes would be wasted.

    With that thought, Yujia reached over for the largest slice of beef she saw. While she placed it in her mouth and enjoyed the flavors dissolving on her tongue, she took an empty bowl on the side and filled it with all sorts of vegetables and meat for Hui'er, who she thought might crave the food as well yet didn't know if it was proper or not to eat.

    Once the bowl was filled, she slid it over to Hui'er with a clean pair of chopsticks. Yujia didn't want her maid to starve.
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