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88 The Fourth Miss Begins to Believe in Fate

    When the hour of Wu, or the afternoon, came around, and Yujia didn't see Xiaoyi coming in for lessons, she automatically assumed that she would be coming later or was too busy to have lessons at all. Either way, it wasn't that big of a deal. She had things to do too.

    For this two-part trip, she didn't want Hui'er to come with her. This was mostly due to the fact that last time, when she was talking with the old man and Young Master Bo, she felt like Hui'er was left out a lot. Surely, following her and watching her talk to all these people while being ignored wasn't a great feeling. So, before she left, Yujia told Hui'er to stay behind.

    Once Yujia was dressed in her nicest robes, a pale blue robe embroidered with dark blue and white thread that was clearly the handiwork of the Fourth Miss, she took her box of pencils and headed out.

    That was when she began to believe in something called fate, because it really was fate that brought people that she didn't want to meet in front of her eyes.

    Instantly upon stepping out the courtyard doors of the South Courtyard, Yujia caught the face of Yu Zixu as he walked in her direction, followed behind by a couple of servants. For a split second, Yujia considered ducking her head down to avoid meeting his gaze, but it was too late. Their eyes met, and recognition passed through his gaze.

    "Little brother!" he exclaimed, a calm smile on his lips as always.

    Yujia backed up a step. Why was he here? This wasn't even a public space- it was the Yang villa! She never wanted to run into him again after everything that happened with her impersonation attempt, but here he was, right in her home.

    Was it because of the Fifth Miss who he was engaged to, or was it... fate?

    Yujia began to wonder if what Bo Zhizhong said was correct. Fate really was a thing. Otherwise, what would explain his sudden appearance?

    And, really, why was he still calling her 'little brother'?

    "Young Master Yu..." Yujia respectfully replied, straying away from the temptation to reply to him with 'big brother'.

    Yu Zixu continued on, "What a coincidence that you're here too!" Coincidence? She was in her own villa, and he was saying that it was coincidental that she was here? "Are you heading out as well?"

    "Yes," Yujia answered, "I have places to go."

    "Then let's walk out together." He smiled a little more.

    "..." Yujia didn't have anything to say to this, so she began walking her way out of the villa. Her hope was that at one point, they would go their separate paths. Until then, she would just avoid conversation with him, since downright rejecting his invitation to walk together would be rude.

    Yet, as they walked out of the villa together in silence, headed in the same direction together in silence, and walked at the same pace for minutes in silence, Yujia began to wonder if instead of just walking together, he was following her.

    A good fifteen minutes passed, and they were still walking together towards the direction of Lingxin, not a single word exchanged between them. He hadn't started a single conversation, and she hadn't either, making for an extremely awkward stroll.

    Another three or so minutes later, where Yujia could even spot Lingxin's arch not too far in the distance, Yujia couldn't take it anymore. She stopped in her steps, turning to face him.

    "Young Master Yu, what do you want?"

    "Hm?" Yu Zixu looked at her. "What do you mean?"

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    Yujia pointed to Lingxin's arch in the distance. "Are you heading to Lingxin Pavilion as well?"

    He shook his head. "I'm returning to my villa."

    "Then, why is it that it's almost been twenty minutes, and you're still walking with me?" Yujia narrowed her eyes and scowled.

    "We happened to be walking the same path all this time. Is there anything wrong with that? My villa is right around the corner." He pointed left.

    In disbelief, Yujia spun left and walked down the path. In only a few moments, there was a grand villa labeled with "Yu villa" on a sign at the top that appeared in Yujia's vision.

    So... all along, he truly was walking on the same path as her and wasn't following her just to give her anxiety? She was overthinking it this entire time?

    But, to be fair, he really was suspicious in his actions...

    Following behind her, Yu Zixu let out a breath of air, similar to a laugh. "What did I say? It's the Yu villa, isn't it?"

    "Sorry... about accusing you," Yujia apologized. As much as she didn't want to apologize to him, she was still in the wrong, so it was only right that she acted this way.

    "It's not a big deal." He waved his hand, glancing in the direction of the opening of the path that connected back to the main road. "You still have business with Lingxin? Why are you heading there?"

    "After everything that happened a few days ago, I didn't think that I would," Yujia admitted, "but I happen to like the colored ink that one of the merchants in the marketplace sells, so I visit there once in a while."

    "Ah, so it's like that." With a nod, Yu Zixu turned to look back at her. "You really could've become a student there, though. I didn't plan on revealing your secret."

    "Considering how quickly you found out about my secret, it's probably just as easy for someone else to discover it. Sooner or later, someone who's not so intent on keeping my secret is going to find out, and then the whole school will be in chaos that a girl managed to attend." Yujia sighed.

    He raised his eyebrows. "Your skills have proven that you deserve to attend though, right? Why does it matter if you're a girl or not? You managed to get first place in the third exam, even ahead of me."

    "Young Master Yu," Yujia asked with a smile, "do you hold your painting skills that high that you find it surprising that someone beat you?"

    "No. I'm simply curious on how good your painting skills are," he answered with a similar smile.

    Yujia blinked. "I'm quite mediocre at painting, to be honest. The only reason I think I managed to win is because I happened to learn quite a few new things that others haven't."

    "If so..." Zixu leaned forward, "there's a painting convention that's happening in Lingxin, and all students are allowed to bring a guest if they wish. Would you like to go with me to show everyone the 'few new things' that others don't know of and prove to them that even as a female, your skills still soar above them?"

    Yujia paused. A painting convention sounded like a waste of time. But still... a small part of her really wanted to change society's judgemental view on women somehow, and the painting convention sounded like the perfect start.

    "Tempting offer," she answered, "though I don't think I'll go as your guest."

    "Why?"

    Because she would become the disciple of the founder of Lingxin in just a few moments, making her technically a student of Lingxin. She didn't want to tell him that though, and she didn't want to give him a definite answer either.

    "I have my own means of getting in if I really wanted to, and if I decided to not attend at the last minute, I wouldn't want to waste your opportunity of bringing another guest." She set the box of pencils in her hand down, folded her hands in front of herself, and bowed, content with the way she rejected him. "As nice as it was talking to you, I still have my business to attend to. So, allow me to leave."

    Yu Zixu clasped his hands and bowed. "Of course, Young Miss Yang. I hope that I didn't delay you too much with the conversation."

    "Until next time, then, Young Master Yu."

    Yujia gave him a polite smile, picked up her pencils, and turned, heading back to the main road.
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