Bai Qian jolted awake with a gasp, her heart pounding frantically when it took her several seconds to realize she was safe in bed with Ye Hua instead of gazing out over a chaotic and bloodsoaked battlefield, watching helplessly as an enemy soldier impaled Mo Yuan with a broadsword. She always tried to call out a warning but he never heard her in time. She could still see the image of him falling to his knees in the mud.
It’s only a dream. Ye Hua will sense it immediately if something happens to Mo Yuan. He will know.
The agonizing vision of Mo Yuan’s death faded from her mind as Bai Qian repeated those three things to herself. Finally, her breathing steadied and her heart slowed to its regular pace. The heartrending nightmare was invading her dreams more frequently, fueled by her constant worry over Mo Yuan’s safety and wellbeing. And she was growing ever more emotional with each passing day, which didn’t help calm her fears any. Her mother had assured her it was normal during pregnancy but Bai Qian didn’t like how easily even small things upset her lately.
Why did the nightmare continue to haunt her nights?
Mo Yuan was a master swordsman, an elite warrior, a powerful dragon god; both her husbands were. She had watched them spar against each other many times to hone their magic and martial arts skills. They could even control the atmosphere and weather if needed. And Mo Yuan was unmatched in understanding all the nuances of battle strategy and the art of war. That was why Heavenly Father always chose his oldest son to lead the Celestial soldiers into battle. So why…?
Because nobody is invincible, not even Mo Yuan though he often fights like he is. And, for the first time ever, he doesn’t have Ye Hua with him.
How many times had she heard Mo Yuan declare that nobody watched his back nearly as well as Ye Hua? Many times. And she had seen how ruthlessly efficient her husbands were when fighting alongside each other, their movements fluid and in balance with each other without a single word spoken between them, when the enemy had tried to sneak soldiers onto Kunlun Mountain before the war had even started. They fought as one, protecting her and eliminating the threat to their secluded mountain home skillfully, while protecting each other in the process.
But Mo Yuan didn’t have Ye Hua fighting at his side this time.
Pushing the troubling thought away as best she could, Bai Qian turned and snuggled up to Ye Hua, savoring the warmth he provided her as she pressed against his lean muscular frame, enjoying the lovely sensation of his bare skin against hers. She focused only on the feel of him next to her until she felt more settled. He moved closer, tightening his protective hold on her with a sleepy murmur, before his breathing deepened as he fell back asleep.
Ye Hua had been a patient source of strength and comfort for Bai Qian while Mo Yuan was away, doing everything he could to reassure her and distract her from her troubling thoughts even when she knew he must be worried about his brother as well. Ye Hua was needed more often in the Heavens now with the war going on but he made sure to set aside time to spend with her. And he kept her well protected in his and Mo Yuan’s palace in the Heavens when he was stuck in meetings.
No matter how hectic his day had been, Ye Hua always accompanied her back to their home on Kunlun Mountain at night where Bai Qian preferred to sleep. And where they could make love with more privacy and less chance of interruption.
Even with Mo Yuan’s absence, Ye Hua ensured their nights remained passionate whenever they weren’t too tired. Both her husbands were skilled lovers, but Ye Hua had gone out of his way to be extra attentive when making love to her in recent weeks. And when they were both too worn out from the day, he still held her close all night as they slept, trying his best to soothe her even in sleep.
Despite all of Ye Hua’s extra tender care, Bai Qian still yearned for the day she could sleep in between her husbands once again and spend her days with both of them. And feel the almost uncontrollable heat of desire that flared so brightly when the three of them were together and both her dragons made love to her, when both had control of her pleasure.
Sighing softly, Bai Qian did not allow her thoughts to dwell on her longing to have Mo Yuan home. That would only lead her back to her worry for his safety. She would never get back to sleep that way.
Instead, she attempted to coax herself back to sleep by remembering every detail of the lovely day Ye Hua had given her yesterday. He had arranged his meetings so he could leave the Heavens early. They had prepared a meal together and then eaten it outside, seated on a soft blanket under the largest blossoming peach tree in the orchard Mo Yuan and Ye Hua had planted for her on Kunlun Mountain. The tree was located on a spot where they could look out from the summit and see miles of beautiful uninhabited countryside surrounding the sacred mountain.
Ye Hua had entertained her by retelling some of her favorite stories from his and Mo Yuan’s childhood, choosing all the ones that usually made her laugh, embellishing the details wildly for comic effect since Mo Yuan wasn’t around to contradict him. Ye Hua was a wonderful storyteller, as was Mo Yuan if you caught him in one of his rare talkative moods, and Bai Qian loved listening to both of them.
They had fallen into a companionable silence late in the afternoon and had watched the sunset together quietly. Afterwards, when night had fallen, Ye Hua carried her to their bedroom where he had spent most of the night loving her. His caresses had been extra gentle last night and he had taken his time, deftly propelling her body into one intense climax after another before they had finally come together at the end in a frenetic rush of mutual pleasure.
Their lovemaking had been a memorable end to a wonderful day and yet, in some ways, Bai Qian thought the quiet afternoon had made them both miss Mo Yuan more. The special day would have been perfect only if he had been there to spend it with them. Peaceful days, just the three of them spending private time together, had always been Mo Yuan’s favorite. His absence was constantly there with her and Ye Hua now and had been for the last ten months. Bai Qian knew they were both ready for Mo Yuan to come home even if Ye Hua never voiced the thought out loud.
Still feeling too restless to sleep, Bai Qian rolled over to look at Mo Yuan’s side of the bed, her gaze finding his pillow. She smiled softly despite her melancholy mood when she felt the caress of cool silk brush against her cheek as her head settled to rest on her wrist; Ye Hua had forgotten to untie one of her hands again before falling asleep last night. She thought it strange she had been able to move so freely if one of her hands had still been tied to the bedpost.
Directing a stream of her cultivation toward the silk, Bai Qian concentrated on undoing the intricate knot, reversing the spell holding it wound tightly as she did so. It had taken her five hundred years to figure out how to untie one of Ye Hua’s knots and counteract the spell he used. But she had been determined to do so after hearing him declare nobody could.
“Your wife can now get out of one of your knots,” Bai Qian softly whispered to Ye Hua’s sleeping form, warm affection coloring her tone. She pressed a gentle kiss to his shoulder before deciding she should leave the bed to allow him to sleep. He was typically a light sleeper and she worried her tossing and turning would eventually wake him. She had no idea how busy his upcoming day might be.
Shifting her body out from under Ye Hua’s arm, Bai Qian carefully moved to Mo Yuan’s side of the bed, taking care not to jostle the mattress too much. It was only when she moved to untie the strip of silk from the bed that Bai Qian realized it hadn’t still been tied to the bedpost afterall. That was why she had been able to move freely.
Suspecting now that Ye Hua had not forgotten to untie her, Bai Qian summoned the silk tie to her hands as she swung her legs over the side of the bed. She was not surprised to find the embroidered image of Mo Yuan’s golden dragon. She turned to look at Ye Hua, love and affection filling her heart as she gazed at his face, relaxed and peaceful while he slept. He had purposely left Mo Yuan’s silk strip tied around her wrist. Ye Hua must sense that nightmares about Mo Yuan were keeping her awake and hoped that small connection with her absent dragon would help her sleep better. Ye Hua was so much more perceptive than others gave him credit for and he was often very subtle about it.
Rubbing the soft crimson fabric infused with Mo Yuan’s cultivation between her thumb and forefinger, Bai Qian turned her attention away from Ye Hua and toward Mo Yuan’s favorite guqin, the one he had been teaching her to play. The instrument looked lonely to her, sitting there silent and unused. She then looked at the desk her husbands both took turns using when not working in their individual studies. Mo Yuan’s letters would appear there when he wrote to her or Ye Hua. She sighed when she saw the surface remained bare. Still no scroll from Mo Yuan. How long had it been now?
It had been three weeks since they had last heard from Mo Yuan and, even then, his letters had been short, just a few words to Bai Qian to let her know she was often in his thoughts and he hoped she was well and a quick note to Ye Hua explaining his frustration with a complicated change to the current situation with the conflict. The letter had been absent of any details but she had been able to tell from Ye Hua’s troubled expression the news meant things were not going as well as they had been.
Pushing the distressing memory aside as best she could, Bai Qian stood quietly, folding the silk in her hands. She summoned the other tie embroidered with Ye Hua’s dragon from the floor next to the bed where Ye Hua had dropped it after their lovemaking. Smoothing out the wrinkles in the silk, she folded it carefully as well before going over to her wardrobe in the corner of the spacious bedchamber, her steps silent as she walked across the oak floor on bare feet. Opening the cedar door of her wardrobe, Bai Qian tucked both crimson strips into their safe place in her favorite drawer, the small one with peach blossoms etched into the wood.
Choosing an indigo wraparound dress to wear, Bai Qian did not immediately pull it on. Instead she turned to the mirror that hung on the interior of the door. Her eyes instinctively sought the reflection from the soft glow of her husbands’ names visible on her chest for reassurance. She studied the two names written in two styles of handwriting that had become so familiar to her; Mo Yuan’s writing was bold with simple, straightforward lines while Ye Hua’s was strong with a slight artistic flare that Mo Yuan liked to tease him about. She found comfort in the fact Mo Yuan’s name had not faded at all in intensity when compared to Ye Hua’s.
Eyes drifting lower, Bai Qian’s gaze next landed on her abdomen. Was her pregnancy starting to show? According to the healer who had examined her she was eleven months along. She had been happy to discover she had conceived just before Mo Yuan had left ten months ago. While her dragons had reassured her it would never matter which one of them was the father of their children, she had always hoped all their children could have an equal chance of being either Mo Yuan’s or Ye Hua’s.
Bai Qian rubbed her stomach thoughtfully, something she tried very hard never to do for she hadn’t told Ye Hua she was pregnant yet. Knowing just how much they both looked forward to becoming fathers, she really wanted to share the wonderful news with Ye Hua and Mo Yuan at the same time. It didn’t feel right for her and Ye Hua to celebrate the new addition to their family while Mo Yuan was away, risking his life on the battlefield for the good of the realm.
There were times Bai Qian suspected Ye Hua may already know. He had been extra interested in the amount of rest she was getting and how much she was eating of late. She had been unable to always hide her morning nausea from him. And all of her unusual mood swings. If Ye Hua did know it was more than worry over Mo Yuan causing these changes, he wasn’t saying anything out of respect for her desire to wait until Mo Yuan was home.
But Bai Qian could feel a new fullness to her stomach now as she rubbed it; finding this first noticeable sign her child was there with her sent a wave of love and protective instincts flooding through her. And a stronger sense of longing to have both her dragons home with her. Soon, it would be obvious a precious new life was developing inside her womb. She could only avoid saying something about it for so long.
Please come home soon, Mo Yuan. We need you. And please stay safe out there.
Pulling on some lacy underclothes and then her dress, Bai Qian tied the indigo fabric securely as she moved to look out the window. The sun was just beginning to rise over the horizon. She could see the first rays of morning light trying to chase the darkness away as she enjoyed the calm breeze and fresh mountain air. She could think of no place she loved more than her home on Kunlun. But it didn’t feel quite the same without Mo Yuan.
Two strong arms wrapped around Bai Qian from behind as she gazed out at the beautiful landscape and she leaned back into Ye Hua’s protective embrace, feeling warmer and more secure now that he had joined her. Bai Qian reached up to rub his arm when she felt him kiss her temple gently, his breath softly brushing against the tendrils of her unbound hair.
“It’s okay, sweet fox,” Ye Hua murmured, tightening his hold on her. “Mo Yuan understands war better than anyone. And I know he wants to come home as much as we want him to. I have no doubt he will do everything he can to bring a swift end to the conflict.”
“But it’s been three weeks since either of us has heard from him. It’s not like him to stay out of touch for so long. And he never responded to your last letter.”
“I know,” Ye Hua replied with a heavy sigh. “But things weren’t going well then and Mo Yuan needed to focus all his attention on the conflict in front of him. Die Feng is there as backup, Qian Qian. Mo Yuan and I have known Die Feng most of our lives and trust him completely. He and Mo Yuan will watch out for each other. And Die Feng knows to send word to Father and I if anything happens to Mo Yuan. In the last update Father received, Die Feng was cautiously optimistic about how things were going. He seemed to think Mo Yuan had determined how to change the tide of the war back in their favor.”
“And you would know if Mo Yuan wasn’t okay, right?” Bai Qian asked, turning in Ye Hua’s arms to rest her face against his bare chest as she hugged him in return. “You would feel it?”
Ye Hua kissed her forehead lightly, kneading her tense shoulders. “Yes,” he murmured. “He’s my twin brother. I would know right away if something serious happened to him. My instinct tells me he is okay.” He paused as if weighing whether to continue or not. Then, “Unless something has changed overnight, I believe Mo Yuan will be home soon.”
Bai Qian nodded before pulling away from Ye Hua just enough to meet his dark eyes. She smiled at him. He returned her smile before leaning down to press his lips against hers for a tender kiss.
“Everything will be okay, sweet fox,” Ye Hua repeated when he ended the kiss. “I promise.”
Bai Qian nodded again, letting Ye Hua know she trusted his words. He slid his knuckles over her cheek in a gentle caress before running his fingers through her hair to break apart some of the loose tangles.
“Do you feel up to eating breakfast?” he questioned her, searching her face. “I have some pieces of bread for you to snack on while I cook something for us.”
Bai Qian didn’t immediately answer. There it was again, that sense that her very perceptive husband knew she was pregnant. He never used to save bread for her to nibble on before meals like he did now. As if he knew it helped settle her nauseated stomach. Did he know? Or did he think worry over Mo Yuan was the cause of her unsettled stomach?
“Why are you staring at me like that, Qian Qian?” Ye Hua laughed. “I just want to know if you would like some breakfast.”
Giggling when she realized she had been studying him longer than she realized, as if she thought he might be up to something, Bai Qian pulled out of his embrace. “No reason. Yes, I would love some breakfast.” That earned her a pleased smile from Ye Hua who nodded with satisfaction before turning to choose a robe to wear.
After brushing out the tangles in her hair, Bai Qian pulled it up into a simple ponytail. She watched in the mirror as Ye Hua dressed behind her, choosing to wear a cerulean robe. Amusement appeared on her face when she then heard him curse softly under his breath when his comb hit a snarl as he ran it through his hair. She walked over to him, summoning the comb out of his hand and into her own.
“Sit,” she told him, pushing on his shoulder to hurry him up. She was suddenly feeling very hungry for some of Ye Hua’s home cooked food. “Let me do it.”
Lifting the strands of Ye Hua’s hair that were all knotted, Bai Qian began working the comb through them, carefully working the snarl out of it so she didn’t cause him pain. She could do it quicker with her magic but she chose not to because there was something soothing about taking care of Ye Hua or Mo Yuan in this way. And she knew they both enjoyed having her brush their hair.
“I gladly accept your earlier challenge, sweet fox.” Ye Hua’s deep voice broke the tranquil silence that had enveloped them as Bai Qian helped him get ready for his day.
“What challenge?” she asked with a confused frown, running the comb through the length of his thick hair a few last times to make sure it was all untangled. She pulled it up into a neat knot on top of his head, summoning some wooden pins to secure it.
Ye Hua turned to face her when she was done, a glint of mischief in his eyes. “To create a new knot that will take my wife another five hundred years to figure out.”
She laughed, surprised by his answer, a faint blush warming her cheeks. “You heard that?” She shook her head with exasperation when he nodded at her with a grin. “Of course you did. I should have known.”
Standing from his place on the bed, Ye Hua reached for her hand to pull her along with him to the kitchen, intertwining his fingers with hers as they walked.
He had heard his wife laugh twice already this morning. The joyful sound never failed to lighten Ye Hua’s heart, especially now when she laughed so little. He thought it a wonderful way to start the day. He was relieved she seemed to have an appetite and hoped the breakfast he planned to make would agree with her. And he had some good news to share with her, something he thought would make her even happier.
“My time today is all yours, Qian Qian. Father agreed to take care of everything himself today so we could have the day to spend together. If anything happens that I need to know about, he knows how to get word to me. So whatever you want to do, we will do.”
Stopping in her tracks, Bai Qian threw her arms around his shoulders with a happy laugh and hugged him tightly. She then stepped back, linking their fingers together once again, giving him a bright joyful smile, before leading him into the kitchen. Ye Hua basked in its glow; he would never tire of seeing that beautiful smile of hers. It was an even more precious sight to him these days. With Mo Yuan away, she smiled so rarely. Ye Hua continued to hope his brother would be home soon for Bai Qian’s sake. And he couldn’t deny he missed Mo Yuan himself.
Watching Mo Yuan leave for the battlefront without him had been one of the most difficult things Ye Hua had ever done. He always insisted on accompanying his brother during times of war because he knew better than anybody how completely absorbed in the conflict Mo Yuan could become. During those rare periods of calm, while other soldiers took the time to eat and catch up on much-needed sleep, Mo Yuan would spend all of that time trying to anticipate the enemy’s next possible moves and how to counteract them unless Ye Hua stepped in and encouraged his brother to take a break. It had started more than a few arguments between them but Ye Hua never backed down. Now he was counting on Die Feng to do the same in his stead.
Mo Yuan rarely lost his temper but Ye Hua knew how intimidating his brother’s anger could be when he did. Mo Yuan never raised his voice but he rarely bothered to guard his words and they could be just as sharp as the finely-honed steel blade of his sword; he could also use them just as effectively when he wanted to. Ye Hua had no qualms about pushing back and going toe to toe with his brother’s fury when needed, knowing the best ways to convince Mo Yuan to listen to him. Die Feng had fought at their side many times and knew how Mo Yuan could be during times of conflict. Would he be willing to keep insisting when Mo Yuan refused to take a break?
As he had told Bai Qian earlier, Ye Hua trusted Die Feng. Yet he still feared he might feel that sharp pain in his chest he had felt one time before when Mo Yuan had been seriously wounded, only this time he wouldn’t be close by to save him.
Despite his worries, Ye Hua did not regret staying home this time, not even for a second, for ensuring Bai Qian remained safe was essential for both him and Mo Yuan. She brought so much light and happiness into their lives, and if anything happened to her, their grief and rage would know no limits. It was no secret he and Mo Yuan both adored their wife, that their marriage to Bai Qian was one built on mutual love and affection.
When they had discovered the soldiers had successfully made it onto Kunlun Mountain, Ye Hua and Mo Yuan had realized the enemy knew their wife would make a valuable hostage. But keeping Bai Qian in the Heavens would be tough for her. She loved their home on Kunlun and neither he nor Mo Yuan wanted her to have to stay away from their mountain. So after that incident with the enemy soldiers, there was no question that one of them needed to stay behind to protect her and it couldn’t be Mo Yuan.
“Can we walk through the forest in the valley and pick wild blueberries? We can mix them in with some cut up peaches for dessert tonight.”
Bai Qian’s sudden question pulled Ye Hua’s thoughts away from his worries about his brother.
Blueberries?! Hadn’t he brought home two baskets filled with blueberries for her just the other day? They were gone already? She must really be craving them which meant he would see she got them. Ye Hua laughed warmly, squeezing her fingers with affection as her excitement washed over him. He loved his sweet fox far more than he could ever say.
“It’s a perfect day to look for wild blueberries. I’ll pack a lunch for us to eat along the way.”
The scroll arrived late that afternoon.
Sitting with his long legs stretched out in front of him, Ye Hua leaned back against the trunk of an ancient conifer tree he and Bai Qian had discovered in a quiet forest glade near the base of Kunlun Mountain. They had spent most of the day exploring the forest in search of Bai Qian’s wild blueberries. Now, an exhausted Bai Qian slept on his robe next to him, her head pillowed on his thigh. She had been asleep for several hours now but Ye Hua made no move to wake her, knowing this was the best she had slept in weeks. Instead, he sat there quietly, enjoying the hushed sounds of the forest while protectively guarding his wife’s rest.
Almost without thought, Ye Hua’s hand strayed to her stomach, exploring the change he could now feel there with a soft caress, ensuring he didn’t wake her. He would only allow himself to do so when she was asleep for he agreed with her unspoken decision to not say anything until Mo Yuan returned home. Her dress still hid it from view but there was no mistaking the tiny bulge in her otherwise slender frame. He had first noticed it last night when he was making love to her; this first evidence of her pregnancy had flared his already burning desire for her even hotter, had further driven his determination to please her.
Ye Hua sighed, moving his hand away after brushing his fingers against Bai Qian’s body one last time. Mo Yuan needed to come home soon. Ye Hua didn’t want his brother to miss any more of their wife’s first pregnancy than he already had. This was their first child and they both should be here with Bai Qian, taking care of her. Had something with the conflict changed overnight? Was Mo Yuan going to be gone longer than he had planned? Ye Hua only allowed himself to dwell on these thoughts when Bai Qian couldn’t sense his worry.
As if his worried questions had somehow reached his father in the Heavens, the paper scroll bearing Heavenly Father’s handwriting suddenly appeared next to Ye Hua. He was filled with a jarring combination of hope mixed with apprehension as he reached for it and broke the wax seal securing the message. Was it good news or bad news? Holding his breath expectantly, he read the words written there.
The war had ended. Mo Yuan was coming home.
A relieved smile broke across his face when he read the announcement. Mo Yuan was unharmed and would be home either tonight or tomorrow morning at the latest. Bai Qian would be ecstatic to hear their family would be together once again. As much as Ye Hua hated to wake her, he knew this was one message he could not delay sharing with her; she would want to know as soon as possible.
His smile fading some, Ye Hua realized there was one part of Mo Yuan’s homecoming he needed to discuss with Bai Qian. None of her brothers had served as soldiers so she had no way of knowing how difficult a transition coming home from a violent conflict could sometimes be. Should he warn her? He suspected his brother would want him to explain it to her so she would understand.
“Qian Qian,” he murmured softly, giving her shoulder a gentle nudge to wake her.
“Hmm,” Bai Qian responded sleepily, her eyes still groggy as she opened them to look at Ye Hua with a soft smile. She looked around, waking up more fully when she realized where they were. “I didn’t mean to fall asleep,” she told him with a yawn as she sat up. “We were supposed to spend the day together but I slept through most of it.”
“We did spend the day together,” Ye Hua answered. “You needed the rest and I enjoyed the peaceful afternoon with you near.” He handed the scroll to her. “I would have let you sleep longer but I just received this scroll from Father and I knew you would want to hear the news.”
Hope lit up Bai Qian’s eyes as she took the paper from him. “Mo Yuan?” she asked him as she eagerly unrolled the paper to read it.
“Yes. Mo Yuan’s coming home.”
Her fatigue forgotten, Bai Qian laughed brightly as she read Heavenly Father’s message all the way through several times. She lifted tear-filled eyes to Ye Hua’s, her joy evident on her face. “Mo Yuan’s coming home.” She echoed Ye Hua’s words in a soft whisper. “That’s great news! We should go home now so we can be there to greet him.” She stood but Ye Hua halted her with a gentle tug on her hand, coaxing her to sit back down next to him.
“What is it, Ye Hua?” she questioned him, a confused look replacing her earlier smile. “What’s wrong? I thought…”
“We’ll go home right away,” Ye Hua reassured her. “I know how much you and Mo Yuan want to see each other and I will feel better once I can see for myself that he is uninjured. But there is something you should know before we leave.”
It was difficult for Bai Qian to remain sitting there in the forest when the excitement of Mo Yuan’s imminent return danced through her. She couldn’t wait to see him! It had been much too long. And as soon as he was settled, she wanted to tell her dragons they would soon be fathers. The need to tell them both about their baby was overflowing inside her. She didn’t want to wait a second longer than she had to.
But she knew how much Ye Hua worried about Mo Yuan. The fact Ye Hua was delaying their departure and the expression on his face told her that what he wanted to discuss with her was serious. So she nodded and forced herself to remain patient.
“Mo Yuan is not himself when he first comes home from battle,” Ye Hua explained, his tone solemn. “Not many soldiers are. The peace and quiet of home is so different from the violence and chaos of the battlefield that it takes time for it to feel natural again.” He released a heavy sigh. “After months or years of having to be on constant guard against attack by an enemy, turning that vigilance off takes time. I’ve even experienced it myself but it’s much worse for Mo Yuan. He spends that time not only amidst the chaos of war like other soldiers but also trying to understand it… trying to get inside the enemy’s head to predict what they will do next. It takes a toll on him. He will often go into seclusion for weeks to meditate after returning home. He claims it helps him find himself again.”
“Maybe I…” Bai Qian started, only she didn’t continue because she had no idea how to explain her thought.
“No, we should go home now so we can welcome him,” Ye Hua told her, seeming to understand her hesitation. “Mo Yuan will be happy to be home and I know he will want to see you right away, Qian Qian. He will need to see you after having been away for so long. I just don’t want you to worry too much if he is quieter than normal or if he decides to go into seclusion soon after.”
“Thank you for telling me,” Bai Qian responded, her mind a whirlwind of new thoughts. She was grateful Ye Hua had taken the time to explain this to her because she had never realized that a part of the burden of war for a soldier was coming back home again. Now that she understood the situation better the urge to get home increased. Mo Yuan would need all the care she could give him before he went into seclusion.
This time Ye Hua stood to accompany her when she moved to leave, carrying both baskets of blueberries with him as they cloud-jumped together to the summit of Kunlun Mountain.
Detecting Mo Yuan’s presence as soon as she and Ye Hua arrived home, Bai Qian dashed up the stone steps leading to the entrance of their house, not slowing her pace until she reached the threshold of the master bedchamber. There she paused to savor the sight of Mo Yuan, alive and unharmed, sitting quietly on his side of their bed.
Tears of relieved happiness welled up in her eyes and she wiped them away, frustrated with her emotional overreaction to everything. Though she tried to control her response to seeing him, to remain poised and strong for Mo Yuan’s sake, Bai Qian found herself unable to stop crying and finally the wayward tears spilled down her cheeks unchecked as she crossed the room to reach him.
“Mo Yuan.” His name escaped from her lips with a quiet sob when she wrapped her arms around his shoulders, sitting next to him to hold him close. He returned her embrace with a tight grip, turning towards her to press his forehead against hers. Bai Qian closed her eyes and drank in his presence as they stayed that way for several minutes, the silence of the moment broken only by the soft sound of her weeping, something she couldn’t stop no matter how much she tried.
“Don’t cry, Qian Qian,” he finally told her, voice hoarse and tired. “I’m okay.”
“I can’t help it,” she responded, pulling away to meet his eyes with a tremulous smile. “I feared I would never see you again.”
Watching Mo Yuan’s failed attempt to return her smile, Bai Qian realized that, like Ye Hua had warned her, he was not okay despite what he claimed. Mo Yuan was a quiet man by nature, but even on his quietest days there was life and often a glint of humor in his dark eyes. He was still very much there with her and Ye Hua without even saying a word.
Bai Qian saw none of that now when her gaze met his. Mo Yuan’s eyes shifted to the doorway and she turned to see Ye Hua standing there, silent as he looked upon his brother. Then with a quiet nod, which Mo Yuan returned, Ye Hua withdrew. When Mo Yuan’s gaze moved back to hers the full impact of what was missing hit her.
Mo Yuan’s eyes held none of their usual warmth; they were dull and lifeless as if weary from all the violence they had seen in recent months. He was here with her in their bedchamber but a part of him remained withdrawn. And the changes she noted went beyond just the lack of light in his eyes.
His scent was all wrong; he still wore his leather armor and carried the smell of blood and the battlefield with him. His expression was a haggard one. There were dark smudges under his eyes and lines of exhaustion written on his face. His usually meticulous appearance was now disheveled, his topknot held together loosely, his beard and moustache no longer neatly trimmed. He wore fatigue like a mantle wrapped around him.
Her other husband was finally home with her but he appeared to feel lost and out of place. The man who understood war better than anyone else was by no means unaffected by it as she had heard others claim. It broke Bai Qian’s heart to see Mo Yuan this way but it also increased her resolve to take care of him. The entire realm had been depending on her husband to remain strong and protect them for months. Now, Mo Yuan needed someone to be strong for him in return and she was determined to be that someone, to show him how much she loved him before he retreated into seclusion to heal his soul.
Wiping her tears away, Bai Qian stood and crouched before Mo Yuan, waiting until he faced her to speak. There were no more tears spilling from her eyes now; patience and love had replaced them. “Let’s go to the hot spring together.” She gave him a warm smile when he nodded tiredly. “Stay here. I want to tell Ye Hua where we’re going. I’ll be right back.”
Hurrying to the front steps, Bai Qian found Ye Hua sitting there, carefully wiping Mo Yuan’s sword with a soft cloth. He had Mo Yuan’s whetstone next to him so he could sharpen the blade when he was done cleaning it. She knew this was Ye Hua’s way of supporting his brother while encouraging her and Mo Yuan to spend some private time together. She told Ye Hua where they would be and why after reassuring him Mo Yuan was physically unharmed.
“That’s a good idea, sweet fox. I think it will help.”
“I think we should sleep outside tonight. You will join us later, won’t you?”
“Are you sure? I can always sleep here in the house if you and Mo Yuan want to spend the night alone. You haven’t seen each other in months.”
“That’s the last thing I want. I want to sleep next to both of you tonight,” she responded, leaning down to press a quick kiss to his lips. “It’s been so long since I’ve had both my dragons with me. I don’t want to be away from either one of you for too long.”
After Ye Hua reassured her he would join her and Mo Yuan later, Bai Qian rushed back to their bedchamber to find Mo Yuan in the same place she had left him. She was relieved to see a tiny hint of the old Mo Yuan in his eyes when she approached him this time, as if the peace of the mountain and the nearness of his family were slowly chasing the horrors of war away. Wrapping her arms around him in another embrace, Bai Qian’s cultivation washed over Mo Yuan as she jumped them to their hot spring.
The hot spring was now located in a secluded spot in the forest on Kunlun Mountain. The twins had merged their cultivation together to remove it and a portion of the surrounding bamboo from the mortal realm and relocated it to the mountain. They had then surrounded it with a protective barrier that would only allow the three of them to cross. It had been a surprise gift for Bai Qian on their one hundred year wedding anniversary, allowing them to continue enjoying their special place without leaving home. The original bed remained with the hot spring all the time; the bed they shared in their bedchamber was a replica of it.
Reaching for Mo Yuan’s hand, Bai Qian intertwined her fingers with his to lead him to the edge of the pool of warm water. Allowing the soothing sound of the water lapping against the rock wall containing it to be the only noise around them, Bai Qian released her hold on Mo Yuan’s hand without a word and removed all his armor, sending each piece of blood-stained protective leather back to the house for safekeeping. She kneeled before him to loosen the ties of his leather boots and Mo Yuan lifted his feet to allow her to pull them off.
It was only after she stood and reached for the sash of his shirt to untie it that Mo Yuan spoke, breaking the quiet peace of the moment.
“I bring death home with me every time,” he murmured, his voice gruffer than normal. “There’s a little more of it surrounding me with every campaign I lead. I can still feel it around me.”
“No, don’t say that,” Bai Qian responded, lifting her eyes to meet his, her hands still now on the tie of his shirt. Her heart ached to see the dull emotionless expression in his eyes before had been replaced by a bleak and haunted one. “That’s not true, Mo Yuan.”
“It is true, Qian Qian,” he insisted, releasing a heavy sigh. “I give orders, knowing many of my soldiers will die carrying them out. And I spend days, even weeks, thinking of strategies to kill most of the soldiers on the other side. There are so many families out there right now, mourning the loss of their sons, fathers, husbands.”
“And there would be countless more mourning the loss of innocent lives if you hadn’t stepped in and stopped the invasion,” she countered firmly, her gaze never wavering from his to show him the truth of her words. “You didn’t start this war, Mo Yuan, and neither did your father. The orders you were forced to give saved the realm from destruction and even further loss of life, restored peace to the land, and the soldiers following you risked their lives willingly to see their loved ones remain safe. Those deaths you speak of… the blood of those dead soldiers stains the hands of the ones who started this conflict. Not yours.”
“You really believe that?” he asked softly.
“I know it’s the truth,” she answered without hesitation. Still refusing to break her connection with his eyes, Bai Qian pulled the tie of his shirt loose and pushed the black garment off his shoulders, baring his torso. She smoothed her fingers across his chest, stopping when she felt the strong, steady beat of his heart under her palm, covering the glow of her name on his skin with her hand.
“I know you, Mo Yuan. You’re a good man who cares about the people of this land. That is why you never hesitate to carry the burden of protecting them when there are no other peaceful options remaining. Name one other general in your father’s military who feels the deaths of those following him as strongly as you do.” She paused to let her words sink in. “There is no other. That is what makes you the best person to lead soldiers into battle. And that’s why they respect you and follow your lead without hesitation. Everybody knows you never take a single death for granted.”
Bai Qian felt the tension leave Mo Yuan’s body as he pulled her body against his, wrapping his arms around her in a tight hug, an embrace she returned just as fervently. Now Mo Yuan was truly home with her.
She heard him whisper the words “I love you” against her hair and echoed them back to him before pulling away to meet his eyes once again. She could still see his exhaustion in his strong, handsome features but that bleak hollow look had finally disappeared.
Remembering the reason she had brought him here to their hot spring in the first place, Bai Qian reached to untie the drawstring of his pants and pulled them down his legs until he was nude before her. Frowning with concern when she saw an angry looking laceration running the length of his thigh, she magically healed it with a soft caress of her fingers. She then took a moment to reacquaint herself with his lean muscular form, searching for any other wounds that needed her attention while she did so, before nudging him toward the warm water awaiting them.
Kneeling behind him on the shore, Bai Qian removed the pins keeping his hair bound once Mo Yuan had settled into a seated position on a rock in the water. She summoned a comb and ran it through his long hair, carefully removing all the tangles as she had done for Ye Hua just that morning. When his hair was brushed out, she pushed down on his shoulder and he obeyed, dunking his head under. She then summoned a jar of scented cleanser to her side and poured a generous amount onto his head, scrubbing the suds into the wet strands.
“I worried about you while you were away,” she told him, massaging his scalp with her fingers, erasing all traces of blood from his hair. “And I know Ye Hua worried about you too. Why didn’t you bring him with you this time? You always say…”
“…nobody watches my back like my brother,” Mo Yuan finished the thought for her, turning to face her.
She nodded, waiting for him to explain. Instead of saying anything he dipped his head back under the water to rinse his hair before surfacing with a splash of water, wetting the fabric of her dress. She could see clear droplets of water now clinging to his facial hair and eyelashes.
“Will you join me, sweet fox?” he questioned in a soft voice, a genuine smile on his lips now.
Eager to be closer to him, Bai Qian stood and disrobed herself with a wave of her hand, not at all bothered by the feel of his gaze caressing along her bare body. She slipped into the hot spring next to him, enjoying the sensation of weightlessness that came with being submerged in the pool of warm water.
A bar of soap and a soft cloth appeared in Bai Qian’s hands. She worked the soap into a rich lather on the cloth before running the soapy cloth over Mo Yuan’s shoulders and chest, along his arms, and then down the ridges of his abdomen, scrubbing away the blood, dirt, and grime left behind from the battle. She felt comforted when the stench of war no longer masked his familiar scent from her. As she lovingly bathed his body all over, she listened to him explain the reason Ye Hua had stayed behind.
“It was difficult not having Ye Hua with me,” he finished, tensing ever so slightly when she moved the soapy cloth down between his thighs to gently wash his groin. “It’s true that he watches my back like no other and he works hard to keep me grounded when I get absorbed in the battle. But ensuring you were safe was what was most important to both of us. If anything happened to you, sweet fox, we would be lost. We would …”
“I can take care of myself, you know,” Bai Qian said indignantly when he didn’t finish his last thought, moving behind him to scrub the length of his back firmly the way he liked before coming back around to settle on his lap facing him again. “I’m not defenseless. Father taught me how to be impossible to catch and how to be even harder to hang on to.”
“I know that,” he reassured her, “but we didn’t want to take the chance that someone may catch you unaware. We both would have worried about you constantly if Ye Hua hadn’t stayed behind to protect you. And I wouldn’t have been able to concentrate like I needed to.”
Bai Qian nodded her understanding with a sigh, knowing the question of her safety was one argument her husbands would never back down from. How much more protective would they be once she shared the news of her pregnancy with them? With a wave of her hand, she made all the soap residue vanish from the water, returning it to its pristine clarity.
As silence descended over the clearing again, Bai Qian lifted her eyes to find Mo Yuan studying her intently, a hint of gold now swirling in his irises. He captured her lips in a gentle kiss, sweeping his tongue against hers in a soft caress when she opened to him. The kiss deepened in intensity as she returned the gesture, his arms enveloping her slender shoulders as he pulled her close to him. After being apart for months, the heat flared hot and bright between them. She could feel his body responding to her nearness, growing erect and pressing firmly against her mound, where she straddled him.
Wanting to feel as one with him again after so long, Bai Qian shifted her position until she felt the tip of his thick length nudging in between her swollen folds, demanding entrance. With a press of her hips, she pushed herself onto him, whimpering softly as he filled her, hearing the rumble of his low groan when his turgid erection was seated fully inside her channel.
Without hesitation, Bai Qian started rocking on his lap with a firm and steady rhythm, enthralled by the sight of the everchanging expressions on his face as his eyes closed and his breathing quickened, as he became lost in the passion between them. He grabbed her sides for leverage and thrust his hips up into hers every time she rocked her pelvis against him. Bai Qian picked up her pace when he started panting heavily near her ear, reaching the edge of his climax quickly.
“I can’t wait…” Mo Yuan’s voice was breathless and desperate. Bai Qian could feel him trying to slow the movements of his hips and hers unsuccessfully. “I’m too… it’s been too long.”
“Let go, Mo Yuan. Now,” she whispered in his ear, the soft order reversing their roles during lovemaking for the first time ever.
“Qian Qian.” Mo Yuan shuddered, growling her name as his body stiffened and he spurted his essence into her with a powerful jerk of his hips.
The flood of his warm fluid filling her core pushed Bai Qian the last little bit she needed and her muscles clamped around him forcefully with a sharp gasp of pleasure. She could feel Mo Yuan pressing tender kisses against her neck as she trembled in his arms, still recovering from her climax.
Closing her eyes when Mo Yuan nuzzled his nose in the curve of her neck, Bai Qian listened as his breathing grew steady again. She held him tightly, remaining motionless, his softening length still cradled inside her body for the longest time. Neither was in a rush to break their renewed connection.
“I’m so happy you’re safe and back home, Mo Yuan,” Bai Qian murmured with a soft sigh, meeting his eyes when he lifted his head to look at her. She pressed her lips against his cheek. “I missed you every day you were gone.”
“I’m happy to be home with you again, sweet fox,” he responded, caressing her cheek with the tips of his fingers as he studied her face. “Being apart from you for so long is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever experienced.” Then he kissed her again with a caress of his mouth against hers, nibbling on her lips in a playful gesture before sucking on the bottom one softly. He finally broke their connection after another few minutes, pulling himself out of her body and reaching for the cloth she had dropped.
“My turn,” he told her, his gaze soft with love and warm affection.
She smiled and closed her eyes as he rubbed her body everywhere with the soapy cloth, cleansing her skin with sweet caresses, lingering on all her most sensitive places while pressing a stray kiss here or there as he did so. The soap and cloth disappeared when he was done and Bai Qian opened her eyes to find him watching her again, as if he couldn’t bring himself to look away from her for too long. She smiled.
“Finally, I have both my dragons safe at home with me. It hasn’t been the same without you. Even Ye Hua has noticed it.”
“Where is Ye Hua?” Mo Yuan released her gaze to look around the clearing, which was now growing dark with the fading light of nightfall.
“He’s cleaning and sharpening your blade,” she answered with a smile, noticing the pleased expression in Mo Yuan’s eyes even though he tried to look annoyed about it. “He should be joining us any minute now.”
“Did he manage to stay out of trouble while I was gone?” Mo Yuan asked, gathering her into his arms and lifting them both out of the water with ease, the water streaming off their bodies as he stepped up onto dry land.
Laughing at the lighthearted change in the conversation, she summoned two towels and some clothing for them after Mo Yuan lowered her down to the sandy soil. “Of course not,” she responded, drying Mo Yuan thoroughly with the thick cloth before handing him a pair of silk pants to wear.
Pulling on the black pants his wife handed him, Mo Yuan turned his attention to drying his wife all over, not bothering to use the cloth she tried to give him, enjoying the feel of her slender curves under his fingers instead as he removed the water from her skin with his magic.
The night air was refreshing and Mo Yuan could see fog rolling onto the mountain. The light mist starting to surround them led his thoughts back to the night he and Ye Hua had gone on their hunt that fateful night so long ago, the night they had found the one woman that could capture both their hearts, the beautiful fox goddess that had brought so much love and laughter into their lives.
Mo Yuan turned his focus away from the past and back to the graceful woman standing before him. It still amazed him to realize his and Ye Hua’s sweet fox was now their wife, that she would be a part of their lives for all eternity.
Her presence alone was a soothing balm for his injured soul. The intoxicating scent of his female fox mixed with peach blossoms chased away every last remnant of the stench of battle lingering in his senses. He kissed her neck, purposely rubbing his beard against all her ticklish spots so he could hear her giggle. The sound of her laughter was music to his ears. And he would never tire of watching the play of emotions on her lovely, expressive features, especially when they were filled with love and happiness.
Mo Yuan had missed his sweet fox more than he could ever say. He hoped to never have to be separated from her for so long again.
Mo Yuan pulled the thin robe she had summoned for herself around her, tying the sash carefully around her waist. He frowned thoughtfully as his hands lingered there. Something felt different about her. Was it just his imagination or…?
“Ye Hua almost killed one of your peach trees,” she shared with another laugh, distracting Mo Yuan away from his curiosity before he could figure out what it was about her that had changed. His head lifted with a snap. “And Father was there to see the whole thing.”
“What?!” Mo Yuan cringed inwardly as he imagined how angry the stern fox god must have been. Bai Qian’s father didn’t like either him or Ye Hua to begin with. Mo Yuan was beginning to think that would never change. Killing a peach tree right in front of the man certainly wasn’t going to help things.
He watched Bai Qian nod very solemnly before a wide smile broke across her face, ruining the effect. It must not have been so bad if his wife was smiling about it now.
“He claimed he was trying some new growth spell he had discovered,” she continued as she led him over to sit on the bed, kneeling on the mattress behind him to dry and comb his hair. “Then, right before my eyes, the tree turned brown and wilted.”
“He would have to choose one of my trees to experiment on,” Mo Yuan commented drily.
“I could have strangled him,” Bai Qian told Mo Yuan, her words speaking of exasperation but her tone was warm with affection.
Mo Yuan savored the feel of her fingers running through his hair when she was done brushing it, smiling when she kissed his cheek, wrapping her arms around his shoulders in a hug as she leaned into his back before continuing her story. “And I thought Father was going to do something dreadful to him. Zhen Zhen and I were all set to step in and distract him. But then the most amazing thing happened. Instead of Father yelling or becoming angry with Ye Hua, Father started teaching him how to bring the tree back to life and how to care for the orchard.”
Pulling her around to sit next to him when Bai Qian loosened her embrace, Mo Yuan wrapped his arm around her shoulders to hold her close when she snuggled into his side. He was pleased to find her body still fit perfectly against his. And he enjoyed hearing so much happiness in her voice.
“They ended up spending the whole day together, Ye Hua patiently listening to everything Father had to say. It was only after I watched the two of them for a while and heard Ye Hua ask questions that he already knew the answers to that I realized Ye Hua had done it on purpose.”
“Only my brother would try something so risky and potentially disastrous to finally break the ice with your father,” he commented with a chuckle, unable to keep the admiration out of his voice. “And make it work in his favor. He’s always able to find that one perfect way to connect with somebody. It’s a gift he’s always had and it serves him well in negotiations. I’m glad Ye Hua’s scheme worked. It has always bothered him that your father never liked us.”
“Father likes you and Ye Hua,” Bai Qian protested weakly.
“Qian Qian.” Mo Yuan laughed. “You know that’s not true,” he pointed out, his voice incredulous. “At best, he’s merely tolerated us for the last five hundred years because he has no choice. And that’s only because he knows we love you so much.”
“Okay, fine,” she agreed, acknowledging the truth of his statement. “But he seems to like Ye Hua now. You should join them the next time Father visits.”
Mo Yuan merely grunted a noncommittal response to her suggestion, earning himself a playful jab into his side from his wife’s elbow, the reprimand making him grin.
“You haven’t heard the best part,” Bai Qian told him, a mischievous glint in her eyes. “Father invited Ye Hua to join him for a drink.”
“Oh no,” Mo Yuan groaned with a deep laugh. His brother’s tolerance for alcohol was nonexistent. “Please tell me he didn’t accept.”
She laughed. “He did accept. It didn’t go well. I’m not sure whether Father was pleased he could outdrink one of the two young dragons,” she observed, lowering her voice in an almost perfect imitation of her father’s gruff voice, “or if he was appalled to find out his daughter could easily outdrink one of her husbands. He’s now determined to teach Ye Hua how to drink properly.”
“Heavens help us all. I’ll have no choice but to join them then,” Mo Yuan agreed with feigned annoyance, curious to find out if he could keep up with his father-in-law. “The last thing we need is a drunken Ye Hua wandering around unsupervised. That will eventually lead to disaster.”
They both cracked up at the thought of all the trouble an inebriated Ye Hua could get into.
Ye Hua entered the patch of bamboo expecting to say a few quick words with Mo Yuan before his brother went into seclusion only to be greeted instead by an unexpected miracle… the rumbling sound of his brother’s laughter filling the night air. Amazed by the sight of Mo Yuan sitting with Bai Qian on the bed, laughing without a care in the world, Ye Hua did not immediately make his presence known.
Mo Yuan was already back to his old self again. Bai Qian had managed to accomplish in a few hours what usually took several weeks of meditation. And even then Ye Hua didn’t necessarily think Mo Yuan was truly feeling better when he emerged from isolation. He always had the impression his brother found ways to mask his feelings while meditating more than actually resolving them. But the version of his brother in front of him right now looked tired but happy and at peace.
His and Mo Yuan’s sweet fox truly was an amazing person. She revealed it in the small things she did everyday.
“Da Ge,” Ye Hua called out, finally approaching the bed.
“Ye Hua.” Mo Yuan looked his way with a grin, standing to greet him. “I was wondering where you were hiding.”
Ye Hua grabbed his brother for a hug, slapping his palm against his back roughly with affection, smiling when he received the same gesture from Mo Yuan, along with a painful squeeze on the shoulder.
“I’m relieved you’re home,” Ye Hua said when Mo Yuan broke their embrace. “Your last letter really had me worried.”
“I was worried while writing it,” Mo Yuan responded, returning to Bai Qian’s side, stretching out on the bed, leaning his back against his pillow where it was propped up against the headboard. Ye Hua joined them, leaning back on his own pillow on the opposite side of the bed.
“I was caught off guard by an unexpected move by the other side,” Mo Yuan finished explaining. “To my frustration, it took me a few tries to find a way to get around it.”
Sitting in her usual spot in between her husbands, Bai Qian settled into a lotus position facing them so she could listen to Mo Yuan’s brief explanation of the battle and how the tide had turned back in his favor. Her mind wandered as Mo Yuan and Ye Hua discussed some of the finer details of the conflict, feeling a little misty eyed as she remembered their greeting. She had been so happy to see her dragons back together again, twin brothers reunited. Everything felt better now that her family was whole again.
“I’ve brought your blueberries and peaches, Qian Qian,” Ye Hua told her, a bowl of freshly washed and cut fruit appearing in his hands.
Reaching for it with a grateful smile, Bai Qian kissed Ye Hua softly before taking the bowl from him. “Thank you,” she murmured, popping a blueberry into her mouth as she sat back down, enjoying the juicy burst of flavor on her tongue.
“I hear we’re going to have to start stocking up on herbs for easing hangovers,” Mo Yuan teased Ye Hua with a wide grin.
Ye Hua laughed, looking at Bai Qian. “You told Mo Yuan about your father and me already? No wonder the two of you were over here laughing so much.”
She nodded with a smile. “Somebody had to warn him. He was going to find out about it sooner or later.”
“For the record, Da Ge, I did not realize that was one of the trees you had planted until after I had hit it with the spell,” Ye Hua explained, reaching for a piece of a peach. “And I’m almost positive I could have reversed it on my own and saved the tree if needed.”
“Almost positive?” Mo Yuan questioned with a raised brow before shaking his head at Ye Hua. He chuckled. “You did a good thing, Ye Hua, even if you did almost kill one of my trees. I’m happy you made progress with Qian Qian’s father.” He breathed in a contented sigh, then added. “I’ve missed this. It’s so good to be home.”
“I hate to leave so soon after you’ve returned home,” Ye Hua spoke up, his face turning serious. “But Father wants to start negotiations on the peace treaty with the north right away and he wants me to lead the talks this time. I’ll be leaving early tomorrow morning and I’m not sure how long I’ll be stuck in the Heavens. You know how complicated negotiations always seem to go on and on.”
“Qian Qian and I can stay in the Heavens then,” Mo Yuan responded. “At least until the bulk of the talks are taken care of.”
“Yes,” Bai Qian agreed with a smile, the sinking feeling of disappointment she had felt at hearing Ye Hua would now be the absent one lifting at Mo Yuan’s statement. “That way I can still see you when you have a break. And then you can still join us at night when you have a chance.”
Ye Hua nodded before frowning. “I’m nervous. I’ve never been in charge of such an important negotiation before. I don’t want to lose the momentum you gained for us when you defeated them, Da Ge.”
“There’s nothing for you to worry about,” Mo Yuan reassured Ye Hua. “You’re the best person to lead the talks. Father knows this. That’s why he chose you. One thing I learned about the northern clans during the battle was ….”
Munching on her blueberries, Bai Qian’s mind wandered again as she listened absentmindedly to her husbands discuss the important concessions Ye Hua wanted to make happen with the opposing side. Should she tell them now? The upcoming peace treaty was crucial and Ye Hua would feel better after running through the arguments he needed to make with Mo Yuan beforehand. She should give them time to talk about it and then tell them.
But Mo Yuan was exhausted; their bath and lovemaking had given him a small burst of energy but the dark smudges under his eyes were still present. She could tell the lack of rest was starting to catch up with him again. It was only a matter of time before he crashed for the night. Maybe she should wait.
She really wanted to tell them before Ye Hua became tied up in the negotiations though. It was important to her that she share the news with both of them at the same time. Ye Hua had said he would be leaving early in the morning. Even though Mo Yuan was usually an early riser, she doubted that would be the case tomorrow. He needed to make up for months of poor sleep so he likely wouldn’t be awake before Ye Hua left.
She had to tell them tonight.
Looking up at Mo Yuan’s voice, she found him watching her with a puzzled expression on his face. Ye Hua merely appeared amused.
“Since when do you like blueberries so much? You’ve barely touched the peaches.”
Eyes widening with surprise, Bai Qian looked down to discover she had almost finished the whole bowl of blueberries. She glanced back up and found Mo Yuan studying her body thoughtfully. Remembering the way he had paused when tying her robe, she gulped. He was about to put the two things together and figure it out. Nothing seemed to escape his and Ye Hua’s notice for long.
“There’s something I need to tell you both,” she blurted out, catching the light of happy excitement flashing in Ye Hua’s eyes, confirming he had indeed known this whole time. “I’m pregnant.”
There was an extended pause and Bai Qian groaned inwardly. That was not the way she had wanted to tell them about their first child.
“You’re pregnant?” Mo Yuan questioned softly, wonder building in his eyes.
Bai Qian nodded shyly, meeting his gaze first and then Ye Hua’s.
Mo Yuan let out a loud pleased laugh, making Bai Qian jump with surprise. Her quiet dragon never acted that excited about anything. Quicker than she could see, he reached for her to pull her onto his lap for an excited hug. “That’s wonderful news, sweet fox.” His gaze locked onto hers as he caressed her cheek gently with a joyful smile before his lips captured hers for a long kiss.
“Just when I thought I couldn’t be any happier,” Mo Yuan whispered against her mouth, moving his palm to her stomach to softly rub the small fullness she knew he must feel there, “you tell me I’m going to be a father.” His hand lingered there as if he were already connecting with their baby. “I never imagined I would be blessed with such a special gift so soon upon my arrival.”
Bai Qian’s smile was shaky now as emotional tears welled up in her eyes. “Stupid tears. I cry so easily over everything now.” She sat up quickly on Mo Yuan’s lap to wipe them away only to find her hand caught gently by Ye Hua’s. He pressed a tender kiss to her palm.
“These particular tears are beautiful, sweet fox,” Ye Hua told her softly, reaching to stroke them away with his thumbs.
“You have never been more beautiful than you are right now,” Mo Yuan murmured in agreement.
“You’ve given Mo Yuan and me the greatest gift we’ve ever received,” Ye Hua continued, pulling her into his arms to hold her close. Loosening his embrace just a little, he reached his hand up to smooth some stray strands of hair away from her face with a small smile. “I already love that precious new life so much.”
“Thank you for not saying anything,” Bai Qian told Ye Hua with a light brush of her lips against his.
“I didn’t want to celebrate without Mo Yuan here either,” Ye Hua responded simply.
With a happy sigh, Bai Qian laid back against the mattress between them, appreciating the sensation of being surrounded by both her dragons once again. It had been so long. Warm love filled her chest when Mo Yuan lay down next to her and wrapped his arm around her stomach and Ye Hua intertwined his fingers with hers.
“I knew there was something different about you tonight, sweet fox,” Mo Yuan told her as he tightened his arm around her protectively. Then, “Have you been eating enough, Qian Qian?”
“Yes,” Bai Qian responded with a light laugh. Here it comes, she thought to herself with love and amusement. Her other protective dragon was definitely back home with her.
“Don’t worry, Da Ge,” Ye Hua spoke up to elaborate on her answer, giving her hand a gentle squeeze. “She’s been suffering from nausea and wasn’t eating well. But I’ve found if I give her some bland bread to snack on before meals she is usually able to eat and keep it down.”
“Has she been getting plenty of rest?”
“Yes,” Bai Qian answered with a patient smile. “She has.”
“That’s been tougher,” Ye Hua explained. “Qian Qian’s been having trouble sleeping but I think that will change now that you’re safely home. She did take a long nap this afternoon.”
Bai Qian sighed with a shake of her head. Both her husbands grew quiet and she glanced between their faces to find them sharing one of their moments of silent communication. This was one of those times she could read the two of them perfectly; they were planning ways to keep her well-fed and in bed as much as possible.
Affection filled her voice when she spoke up, interrupting their plotting midstream. “The two of you are impossible sometimes, you know that?” She received two tender smiles in return. “But I love you both anyway.”
⇚ Previous part: Hunting 7: Claiming Their Fox, part 2