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Of all things, after years of careful concealment and paranoid precaution, after years in squashed quarters in army encampments and months fastened at the side of a mad tyrant, after swearing a sacred brotherhood , and seducing a woman - of all things, an unlocked door was her undoing. 

“Bastard whoreson!” Qin Cangye roared. He stormed from the doorway, across his daughter’s bed-chamber, fingers itching to ring Jin Guangyao’s neck. 

The two youths had scrambled to opposite sides of the chamber at the first creak of the door. Now, Qin Su clamored back across her bed to throw herself at her father’s back. 

“No! Father, please!” She begged. Her dainty frame was nothing to the seasoned cultivator. He advanced on Jin Guangyao, still raging, driving the smaller cultivator into a corner.

Jin Guangyao restrained the urge to summon Hensheng from the outer robes draped over the chair across the room. Spilling blood would only worsen the situation, which left only words. Words that might soon die in Guangyao’s throat if Qin Cangye had his way. 

“Sect Leader Qin, please allow us to explain.” Jin Guangyao rushed out in an unseemingly manner. “This is no matter of immoral lust, we -” Guangyao was forced to dodge down and scamper between Qin Cangye’s legs like vermin to escape his clutches. 

Cursing, Jin Guangyao twisted around to cast a binding spell. The sect leader would only be more incensed, perhaps less inclined to listen, but at least Jin Guangyao and Qin Su would be given a spare moment to don more than their innermost robes. 

But Qin Cangye was a seasoned cultivator. One skilled enough to stand shoulder to shoulder with a great sect leader as best friends for decades. He struck first. And harder. 

In an instant, the spell on Jin Guangyao’s lips died. She bit back a cry instead. The young cultivator fell to the floor with tremendous force that shook both the surrounding furniture and her teeth. It felt as if Guangyao’s body had been hammered into the floor. 

Qin Cangye turned around fully to loom over Jin Guangyao. His glaring eyes grew wide in confusion. The force of his spell had rumpled Jin Guangyao’s robe further, baring her chest. 

Like her mother, she was not a generously endowed woman. Moreover, her training had cultivated impressive muscles as well as a golden core. Yet her frame was undeniably feminine underneath her unseasonably thick inner robe. 

Qin Su jumped off her father’s back and threw herself down to the floor beside Guangyao. “Father, don’t you see? You - You have it all wrong!” 

Jin Guangyao did not flinch at the words. When Qin Su looked down on her, apologetic, she twitched her lips deliberately in a false reassuring smile. There was nothing Qin Su could do to help her now. No way they could ever marry after this fiasco. The best that Jin Guangyao could do for the girl she loved was let her save face in front of her raging, disappointed, and confused father. 

“A-Yao is a woman, Father!” Qin Su declared. 

After a gobsmacked moment of silence, the Qin Sect Leader’s angry flush turned to horror and embarrassment. He spun on his heel to face the very corner he’d chased Guangyao into. 

He did not think to undo his spell quite yet.

In the distance, a mob of footsteps hurried toward Maiden Qin’s bed-chamber, finally drawn by the commotion. Jin Guangyao leaned her head back and closed her eyes, willing away tears, and bidding farewell to what little regard she had managed to garner at her father’s court. 

Her eyes flew open as warmth overtook her. She found Qin Su’s gently smiling face inches from her own. She felt the other girl’s warm hands smooth over the fabric of the outer robe she’d draped over Jin Guangyao’s body.

In that instant before Madam Qin and a small army of servants burst into the chamber, Jin Guangyao regretted nothing more than not slicing Qin Cangye with Hensheng. Nothing that would kill him - no, Qin Su would never forgive that. The aim would have been to wound him just enough so that he would not chase the couple through the window and across the rooftops to the nearest Guanyin Temple where they might wed somewhat properly. 

It would not have been the gilded Jin Sect wedding that Jin Guangyao had hoped to give Qin Su once she finished cajoling her father. It would not be the wedding Guangyao hoped to receive from her own father. But it would have meant she could marry this sweet, gentle-hearted, gently-bred girl. 

And now, thanks to a damn door and her fucking tits of all things, that was all permanently out of reach.