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96 Results of the Fourth Miss Negotiating

    At the inn, Yujia talked things over with Zhizhong. They decided that instead of being an investor, he would be somewhat of a co-owner of the art store that they planned to set up. They would start off with using fifty silver taels to commission artisans to make pencils, and another fifty taels buying other high quality art supplies. His idea was that since people were more likely to walk into a shop with products that they were familiar with, it would be a good idea to sell other art supplies too. Once they found enough of a customer base, they would be able to slowly allow pencils to dominate the main products of their shop.

    The pencils that they would commission the artisans to create wouldn't be like the pencils Yujia made at all. They would start off with making two types of pencils. One would only cost fifty copper coins to buy. This pencil would be made of cheap wood, and the formula used for the inside of the pencil wouldn't be composed of high quality graphite or clay either. With its price being fairly accessible, common people and artists should be able to afford it.

    The other one would cost a tael, and this would be a pencil made of finer materials. Not only would it look nicer than the pencil that cost fifty coins, but the formula of the pencils would make it so that it was smoother on paper too. The price was only the cost of two normal pencils, so more dedicated artists could buy it.

    Zhizhong's job was both paying all of the funds required to start of the shop, finding a plot of land that was good to start business off at, and hiring workers to run the shop. Yujia, meanwhile, would be creating some decent paintings and sketches to showcase the products of their shop. She also needed to create some rudimentary sketches of what the pencils would look like so the artisans who were creating the pencils had a diagram to follow.

    For contacting each other, they would meet up on the day after the next, during the morning at the same inn, to discuss progress. After all, it wouldn't be suitable for her to be constantly visiting the Bo Villa, and it wasn't proper for him to visit the Yang Villa either.

    The mutual goal was that at the end of the week, the pencils would already be in production, and the shop would begin to be built. Hopefully, the shop would finish being built within a few days too- Zhizhong said that he would hire the best workers- so Yujia would have a little more than a week to earn a fortune selling pencils.

    The time frame was a little pinched, but Zhizhong assured her that they would be able to earn five-hundred taels by the sixteenth. He promised her that even if they weren't, as long as business was good enough, he would lend her five-hundred taels that she could pay back later. Profits would all go to Yujia for now because of her dilemma, though once her marriage dilemma ended, profits would go eighty-twenty, with Zhizhong earning most of it.

    After the discussion they had today, Yujia gained more assurement. She was now almost absolutely convinced that her issue with the marriage could be settled, even if the pencil business didn't earn her instant profits.

    She also gained the bites of duck that she had looked forward to for so long. That was possibly something that made her much happier than she should've. The food may have been somewhat cold, but it was all very delicious nonetheless. Yujia would even dare to call it the best meal she had so far since transmigrating, and even in the past few years of her life before she transmigrated.

    Even though Yujia stuffed herself until she couldn't take another bite, there was still so much food left at the end of their meeting. Maybe it was because Zhizhong didn't eat much, something she noticed throughout their discussion. He would only eat a slice of beef or have a sip of soup, but otherwise, it was mostly Yujia doing the eating. Not that she minded, of course, but it was still something peculiar about him that she noticed. His inclination to drink tea and good wine soared over any desire to eat food.

    Once they finished discussing, Yujia stared at all the food left.

    "What are we going to do about this?" she asked.

    He cast the table a glance. "Just leave it there. I'm sure they'll clean it up."

    "Isn't that a waste?"

    "What do you suggest about it, then?"

    "Clearly, you've been living a luxurious life of waste." Yujia rolled her eyes.

    Did takeout exist in this time period? She didn't know if that was a thing yet. But for all of the plates of nearly-full dishes to be thrown away, or "cleaned up", truly seemed like a bit of a waste.

    "Can I... package the food and bring it back home?"

    The phrase was a shameless one, but Yujia wasn't sure how else she would say it.

    "If you want." To her surprise, Zhizhong didn't judge. "I'll go call over a waiter."

    Ten or so minutes of intense packaging later, Yujia left the inn with Zhizhong and a wooden box filled with plates and dishes. It cost an extra two taels, and although Zhizhong offered to pay, she really didn't want to continuously owe him things. She paid out of her own pocket.

    The two were headed in separate directions, so with a few bows and words of farewell, Yujia headed in her own way towards the Yang Villa.

    The moment she arrived in her courtyard and room, she noticed that Xiaoyi seemed to be having a conversation with Hui'er while her maid, A'ling, stood behind them. Seeing that they were absorbed in their own conversation, Yujia gently set the wooden box on top of a cabinet and walked over, leaning in and asking, "What are you all talking about?"

    Xiaoyi's eyes lit up when she saw Yujia. "Older Sister, I was just asking Hui'er where you went!"

    Hui'er nodded back at Yujia. "I told her I wasn't sure."

    "I was just meeting up with some acquaintances," Yujia explained. "And speaking of that, have you three had lunch yet? We happened to have a big meal, so I brought some extras back."

    Both of them answered that they ate already, meaning that Yujia was likely going to have the same meal again for dinner, though that wasn't anything bad.

    Xiaoyi moved a little closer to Yujia and said, "Older Sister, I have a secret to tell you."

    "What secret?" Yujia looked around at the two other present, and waved her hand. Hui'er and A'ling saw this as a moment to leave, giving Yujia and Xiaoyi their privacy. Now that they were alone, Yujia asked again, "What secret?"

    The cheerful smile on Xiaoyi's face fell into something more serious. She placed her hand over her stomach and said, "I'm pregnant."

    Yujia blinked.

    It took a few seconds for the sentence to register in her mind. The moment she truly comprehended what Xiaoyi said, she stood up, her eyes widening. Behind her, the chair she was sitting on a moment ago scraped loudly against the floor.

    "What? You're pregnant?"

    Yujia thought back to last night, where Xiaoyi said that she was nauseous. Could it really be that... her younger sister was pregnant?

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    Her eyes met with Xiaoyi's, and Yujia took in Xiaoyi's unwavering expression.

    But then, in the next second, Xiaoyi was laughing, clutching her stomach, and laughing so hard that tears were springing to her eyes. When she looked up, and Yujia's confused eyes met hers again, she only laughed even harder.

    In between laughs, Xiaoyi managed to say, "It's- a joke- ah, you should've seen your expression-"

    "You're joking?" Yujia took a step back, looking at how much Xiaoyi was laughing.

    Did she really fall for a joke that simple?

    "Yep!" Xiaoyi grinned, casually reaching over for the teapot and pouring herself a cup of tea. "That was the joke part of the secret."

    Yujia shook her head in disbelief while sitting back down. "Still, why would you joke about that?"

    "I thought it might be funny to see your reaction. Your face was funnier than how I imagined it. Though, about the actual secret, it's actually not much of a secret. I just wanted to talk to you about something."

    "And that is...? You were joking about joking, and you're actually pregnant?"

    "No, no, no." Xiaoyi shook her hands in front of her. "A certain someone saw her fiancé today!"

    "Oh?" Yujia thought back to who Xiaoyi was engaged to. Yu Zixu's face appeared in her mind, which caused her to grimace on the inside because of unpleasant memories of extreme panic from the fear of being exposed surfacing in her thoughts. Xiaoyi didn't know about the history that Yujia shared with him though, so she could only pretend like she didn't know who the First Young Master was. "How is he? Do you like him?"

    "He seems okay so far." Xiaoyi beamed with happiness. "His looks aren't bad; his family background is good; he's very polite... oh, and he likes painting too! Talking to someone who really understands art makes me happy, sort of like when you're teaching me!"

    "That's good." Yujia stiffly smiled and folded her hands on her lap.

    Only compliments seemed to come out of Xiaoyi's mouth about Yu Zixu. On the other hand, to Yujia, she wasn't sure how Xiaoyi wasn't put off by the fact that Zixu always had a calm smile on his face and that he never seemed to be expressing his true emotions. In fact, most of the people that she saw interacting with Zixu didn't seem uncomfortable around him either.

    Maybe Yujia was being a little too cautious, or maybe Zixu was just a very good liar. It had to be one of the two.

    Thinking about it, though, what really mattered was that Xiaoyi liked him. It didn't matter if Yujia found him off-putting. She wasn't the person marrying him, anyways.

    With that thought, Yujia smiled more of a genuine smile. Right. As long as Xiaoyi was happy, then all was well.
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