Bride of the Moso Prince (3 page)

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Lured by the warmth and the aroma of the smoke of the burning pine, he stopped by the living room on his way to the courtyard.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
His mother was sitting by the fire and he joined her.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
“So you’re going to pick up Summer’s sister?”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
“Yes.” He bowed his head a bit, feeling shy under her observant eyes.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
“What a sister. Decided to come just like that. I’m afraid we didn’t take good care of Summer.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
“What kind of illness did she get?”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
“Some dizziness. Doctor Yang said it wasn’t a big deal.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
“Dizziness?
 
That’s it?”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
“Yes. I feel bad that it worried her sister like that.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
“Well, it’ll be a vacation for her.” He stood up. It’s time. He didn’t want to be late and keep her waiting.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
“By the way, I let Jinmei have a few days off since she hasn’t gone home for a while and there is no tourist around anyway.”

             
“Can you do without her?” Nobul paused at the door.

             
“Of course I can. I’ve been taking care of the house all my life. I wouldn’t need any helper if it weren’t for the tourists!”

             
“All right.” Nobul smiled, “Do whatever you wish.”

             
“But Namu insisted to come over to help me make dinner.” Sadama said with a sly smile.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Nobul avoided his mother’s eyes. “That’s nice of her.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
But Sadama wouldn’t let him get off so easily. “That’s nice of her…is it all you can say? Son, she’s refused a dozen suitors since you returned a year ago.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
“Mother, it won’t work. Namu is like a sister to me.” He met his mother’s eyes firmly.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
“Why? Because you grew up together? Come on, son. That can’t be a reason. All kids in the village grow up together.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
She was right. Nobul sighed. But he couldn’t tell her that a walking marriage wasn’t for him.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
“It’s your decision, son.” Sadama sighed, “but you’re already thirty-five. Don’t you wish to have a woman to go to at the end of the day?”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
“Sometimes,” he said, turning towards the door, “not always.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Truth was that he wanted more than that.  When he was on the road he thought with a bit of annoyance. But how was he going to explain to his mother without disappointing her? He brushed that thought aside and instead thought about what to say to Snow when he saw her.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
“Hi, I’m Nobul, I came to pick you up.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
“Good afternoon, are you Miss Sharon
Liao?
I’m Nobul. It’s nice to meet you.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
“Miss Yu! Welcome to Women’s Kingdom. How was your trip?”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Unsatisfied with any of these, he stopped the attempt. What would he do when she was here? He would show her around of course. He would take her to the island. He would give her a tour around the lake. He would show her the Goddess Cave… What else? Was that it? She was coming from California, must have seen plenty of water and islands. She would probably be bored. He should take her to Lijiang to see the ancient town, if she c
ared for a bit of local culture and
architecture. Would she be picky about the living condition
?
Summer seems to be happy about it, but her sister?
He gripped the handlebars tightly, then relaxed. She would enjoy it.
Shang
ri-la was a highly rated hotel by
domestic and international tourists.
Besides,
he would make
it enjoyable for
her.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
And then the market square came into sight.

 

***************

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Vans driven by locals were circling in the square and picking up passengers from the bus. One of the drivers offered to take Sharon to her destination, Algae Village.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
“No thanks. Someone will pick me up shortly.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
“It’s going to rain in a minute.” He said.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sharon shook her head, “No thanks.” She would rather get soaked than be sold for a mountain bride. She had read from
online news
just recently that in some mountain areas in China there were men too poor or too ugly to afford bride-prices who would buy kidnapped women for that purpose. Better be cautious.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Finding nothing interesting to look at, Sharon fixed her attention at a group of women squatting on roadside sucking pipes peacefully, unconcerned with anything that passed by them. For a second Sharon wondered how it would be like to live like this, smoking her days away in a mountain village. No deadlines to meet.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
When she heard the faint rumbling of an engine she looked up to the road. It was just a motorcycle. No, it wasn’t just a motorcycle. It was a motorcycle ridden by a cowboy! Her heart leapt to her throat. Chinese cowboy? That was something unexpected.
 
When the motorcycle got closer she decided that the hat wasn’t really a Stetson, but merely a broad brim hat. Yet the person who wore the hat had a cowboy’s broad shoulders, lean body, long legs, and bronze skin. If only he were wearing a leather jacket instead of a windbreaker, and jeans instead of trousers, and of course, riding a horse instead of a shining Harley. Then he could pass for a real cowboy… Then what? It was none of her business. She tore her gaze away from that sight, and back to the smoking women.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Nobul slowed down as he reached the market square. His gaze fell on a slender body against a lamppost on roadside, with two suitcases at her feet, observing women smoking as if nothing else in town was worth looking at. It had to be her. Her hair gathered gracefully into a bun, but with a strand fallen carelessly on each side. She was wearing a black scoop neck long-sleeve t-shirt, revealing her graceful, swanlike
 
neck. Her slim-fit denims tugged over her shirt, accentuating her long legs and her slender waist. Nobul caught his breath in the sight of her. He had seen Han women with striking figures, fancy hairdos, and conspicuous clothes. But this woman
in plain clothes
dazzled him with her simply grace even on a gloomy day like this. There was nothing like the warm, sisterly look that he was prepared
 
for, but there were coolness and confidence, things that he hadn’t thought would make a woman appealing.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Searching in vain for the line he had decided earlier, he stopped next to her.

 

 

 

Chapter 2

 

             
The rumbling got beside Sharon and as she turned she found herself face to face with the most gorgeous face she had ever seen. Straight nose, well-chiseled lips, squared jaw, narrow eyes… in short, a handsome cowboy’s face! The bike was inching towards her slowly while the rider stared at her intensely as if assessing a statue. Sharon shuddered under those eyes as dark and as brilliant as black agate beads until the heat from the engine rose to her face and made her lips dry.

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