Hearing Her Truth
Zifeng awakened, cursing softly when the bright light peeping through the curtains hit him right in the eyes. The curtains were fluttering at the window, a slight breeze coming in and cooling their bodies in the early morning hours. He moved slightly on the bed, but his movement was impeded by a soft weight resting across his chest.
Looking down, he saw the reason for his constricted movements. Yanuo was sprawled over him, as was her habit in sleep. She had an arm flung across his chest, her face buried in his neck, and a leg thrown across his lower body, doing some very interesting things to him. Wrapping an arm around her shoulders, he planted a kiss against her forehead and settled back to doze.
The two of them were on their honeymoon. They had landed on this island paradise and entered their hotel suite about a week ago, spending the majority of their time on the king sized bed. A smile grew across his face, as memories of how they had made up for lost time. He had taken the chance to explore every bit that was Yanuo, and she hadn’t been shy about returning the favor.
Today, his heart was content, because he knew that Yanuo was completely his, just as he was so completely hers. It was a place he hadn’t been sure they would reach when he’d discovered the truth about Yanuo on that day.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
“I was jealous that Du Zifeng has taken you away from me.”
“Zherui Ge, what are you talking about? Zifeng doesn’t even know that I’m a girl. I’m just a guy in his eyes–“
“Even if he doesn’t know now, but sooner or later he’s still going to find out, right?”
Zifeng looked around, surprised that he was no longer outside of Zherui’s vet clinic. When had he moved? His head was spinning, and he couldn’t get it working enough to wrap his head around the truth he had heard moments ago. Those words still rang in his head.
Yanuo was a woman. She was a she.
His heart clenched at the level of deceit. She was a woman, and had kept this truth from him for so long. He leaned against the side of the building, unable to stand on his own two feet. His heart was hurting. All that confusion . . . all that uncertainty . . . Yanuo, he-she must have seen him suffering and had done nothing.
Closing his eyes, he struggled with other emotions rising to the surface. He was angry at her betrayal. He was angry at her deceit. He was angry. He clenched his fists, trying to control the roil of emotions deep inside. He was slow to burn, slow to anger. But when something set him off, he knew that he had the tendency to explode. He was really afraid that if he confronted hi-her right now, if he said anything, he would end up breaking things between them irrevocably. Despite what he was feeling, thinking, right now, he couldn’t take that step. He wasn’t ready.
He took calming breaths, forcing his body to relax, his heart to slow and the blood to stop rushing. And in the peace that had fallen, he heard soft sounds. It was the cry of someone who had been deeply wounded. Stumbling out of the alley and onto the street, pulled by those sounds of pain, he saw her, kneeling on the floor, broken.
For a moment, he froze, his heart stopping at the sight of her in pain. And then it began beating once more, only this time it was beating so completely for her that all of his own turmoil was forgotten.
He was hurting, but so was she.
She might have deceived him, but the Yanuo he had come to know would never have hurt him out of malice.
And even if he had been hurt, really how much of his confusion and angst had been apparent to her? He had been falling in love without her participation, without her knowledge. If his heart hadn’t been under his own control, if it had even taken him so long to realize what the darn thing was feeling, then how would she have even known? How could he blame her for his own actions, his own emotions?
Her tears were too much for him. Moving forward, as if pulled by the string that connected the two of them, he went and knelt in front of her. His heart clenched when he saw how she tried to control her tears, sealing her lips closed like a little child. But it was no use. His arms and then his whispered words gave her the permission she needed, and the floodgates opened.
As her body trembled in his arms, and her arms came up to clutch at him, he only knew one thing. It didn’t matter. It didn’t matter that she had lied by omission. It didn’t matter that she was not who he thought she was. None of it mattered. It only mattered that Yanuo was in pain, and he wanted to alleviate that pain. He wanted for her to stop hurting.
As her tears lessened, and her body relaxed against his in exhaustion, he figured out another thing that mattered. Yanuo was a woman. He was a man. They weren’t the same gender. Which meant . . . a small smirk grew across his face, as he realized that there were no longer any barriers . . . no further fear of rejection.
Yanuo would be his.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Zifeng was pulled from his reverie by Yanuo’s movements. Looking down, he saw her grumble sleepily before burying her nose in his neck once more. His body stiffened when he felt her hands begin to rove, as was her habit in sleep. He’d grown accustomed to waking up and finding her hands in some very interesting places, made doubly dangerous by the fact that they were now sleeping unclothed. Squirming slightly, he nudged her hand off his naked thigh. If he didn’t stop her now, he wouldn’t be able to control himself from waking her up.
Looking at her sleep-softened features, the laugh lines around her lips, his heart filled with love. He had given her the power in their relationship from the beginning and had never regretted that decision. Despite the fact that they were almost strangers, he had become sworn brothers with her on the same day that they had met. Despite the fact that he barely knew her, he’d risked his own life to save hers. When she’d railed at him for risking his life, he’d willingly bowed his head and apologized to her. That was something he had never done since taking power after his father had disappeared. He’d taken care of her as if she was his own from the beginning, and had never questioned his need to do so.
Grunting as her hand came into contact with his naked behind, he grabbed it and placed it over his heart, holding it securely in his grip. Leaning down, he placed a soothing kiss on her forehead and tucked her head under his chin. She snuggled in and fell back into a deeper sleep.
He would let her sleep just a bit more. She needed it.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
“It’s the weekend tomorrow. Are you free?”
“Go somewhere with me.”
Zifeng put his phone away, his heart lightened by how quickly and unquestioningly she had said yes. Taking out the hairclip from his pocket, he stared at the small accessory musingly. He had spent years looking for the girl that belonged to this clip. When he met her, she turned out to be a he. He’d dealt with that reality, accepting it. She’d turned his world around as the male Yanuo. As he’d been handing the clip over when they went camping, he’d had to fight himself in order to let that clip go. She’d seen his struggle, understood it, and had handed the clip back to him immediately, forging another link between the two of them.
But today, she’d turned his world on its head once more. His mind still slightly spun as he grappled with the truth he had overheard today. The girl that he had spent years looking for was actually . . . a girl. A small smile played across his lips as he continued to stare at the clip. Despite what she was . . . or what her gender was, his heart told him that it only beat for Yanuo. It would only ever beat for her.
“In the future, besides Du Zifeng, you’re not allowed to cry over another man!”
“In the future, besides Du Zifeng. . . What did you say?”
“It’s because you are my . . .”
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
“Sworn brother . . . you have to make this promise.”
“In the future, besides Du Zifeng, I’m not allowed to cry over another man!!!”
He winced slightly, remembering how his true feelings had erupted, and he had made her promise that she wouldn’t cry for another man. A part of it was because he didn’t want her crying at all, but a part of the reason was his selfish desire not to see her crying for another man. Two birds, one stone.
And she’d done it. Laughing, a little embarrassed, she had yelled out to the entire world that she would never cry over another man. She would only cry for him.
Thinking about the planned motorcycle trip tomorrow, he allowed a wicked smile to escape. His mind was revolving around how he could use this newly found information to his advantage.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
It seemed that his life had been greatly affected by all of the accidental eavesdropping he’d done in relation to Yanuo. There was the conversation between Zherui and her regarding her gender. And then there was the conversation between her and Guangchao regarding her preferences.
Ever since he had overheard the conversation between Yanuo and Guangchao, he had been afraid to touch her. He had been so afraid that if he did, he couldn’t stop. And if he couldn’t stop, he would surely overpower her with his emotions, forcing Yanuo into something that she did not want. And that thought had been an anathema to everything that he was.
He couldn’t stop himself from taking care of Yanuo, feeding her or cleaning her face. He wouldn’t let her leave him, especially not when she had promised to stay by his side. But he had let Yanuo take the lead in all other things. She was the one to hug him. She had kissed him. She had told him to sleep with her.
Remembering how brazenly he had told her parents that he would sleep with her still got a laugh out of him. But once he’d found out the truth, he had taken every opportunity to touch her. He’d convinced her to dress as a girl, his heart melting at the sight of her in a wedding dress. He had quickly confessed and made her his own.
Yanuo moved, pulled out of deep slumber by his laughter. Raising her head, she blearily looked around, flinching when her eyes were hit by the rays of sunshine coming in through the window. She cursed softly, rising up to glare at the fluttering curtains before looking down at him. Her hands clutched the sheet to her chest, pulling it slightly off of him and leaving his chest bare. Her eyes were caught by all of that naked skin, a speculative look entering her eyes. “Good morning,” she said, her voice husky.
“Good morning.” He grinned and tried to pull her back over him, wanting to kiss away the sleep that he could still see in her eyes.
“No,” she said firmly, putting a protesting hand to his chest. “We’re going to leave this hotel room today,” she said. “I want to see the island.”
He groaned unhappily.
“Please,” she murmured, pouting at him.
“How could I say no?” he murmured, letting her go.
She got up, pulling the sheet with her to wrap around her body. Seeing that she had left him uncovered on the bed, she flushed a fiery red and raced toward the bathroom, slamming the door shut behind her.
Zifeng’s gaze followed Yanuo’s slender figure, his eyes falling on the stack of material by the bathroom door. A wicked smile grew across his face.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
They had ridden to this park on the bike, and he’d quietly arranged for it to be picked up while they sat here. Yanuo had insisted on coming here. He looked around, familiarity tugging at his senses.
This was the same place he’d come to her after their first kiss at his mother’s birthday. A flush spread across his cheeks, as he remembered that first contact. Lips against lips. He had violently pushed her away because . . . despite the fact that he knew her as a man, he had felt something and it had made him uncertain.
That first moment in each other’s arms. Flashes of memory nudged at his consciousness . . . him teaching her how to shoot, practically wrapping himself around her . . . seeing her naked back in the shower and turning away. He hung his head low, silently groaning. He had barged in on her in the shower. They’d slept together on the same bed. Three times! He knocked his head against the chain of the swing. He’d been so shameless, and he hadn’t even known it.
He glanced over, and saw her quietly sipping her can of beer with nary a worry. Here he was angsting himself over all of the shameless things he had done to a woman, and she, the recipient of all of his shamelessness, worried about nothing. Had she trusted him that much? Had she never felt fear being so vulnerable around a man?
Tipping his head back, he took another swallow of the beer. He turned and gazed at her once more. They had been at the swings for hours, and she had progressively drunk more and more. He stared down at the stack of cans in front of him. She had drunk all of those. Just what was worrying her?
Glancing at her cute face, flushed cheeks, and the softened look of her eyes, he just wanted to grab her in a hug and tell her he knew.
“Do you know?” she said, finally breaking the silence. “Ever since I was young I didn’t have any friends except for Fan Xiaojing. So, when I was sad or unhappy, I would go to the swings. Because by flying high, I could forget all of my worries.”
“So, you have always been alone and without friends, too?”
Is that what she had meant? When she had asked him that question at the dinner, it had been a question from one lonely soul to another.
“In the future, you can tell me anything. I’ll keep you company on the swings and listen to you,” he’d happily promised.
He saw her quiet joy at his words turn into a depressed silence. And then he saw her anxiety and near panic as she pleaded with him not be angry with her.
“This secret . . . “
He froze, wondering at her next words. Would she tell him now? How would he . . . how could he react? His heart was beating uncomfortably fast, as he shifted in the swing.
“Can I tell you after my 26th birthday?”
He sighed heavily. She would tell him on her 26th birthday. He stiffened slightly, his mind wondering if that meant that she had been hiding this truth from everyone for all 26 of those years. How had she suffered? Not having friends, was that just the tip of the iceberg? She called it “torture”. His heart hurting for her once more, he promised her that he would wait. That he would not be angry.
“You are so nice to me,” she breathed out gratefully, holding out her hand.
When he placed his hand in hers, he marveled at how small it was. A smile spread across his face, when she said it a second time.
“You are so nice to me,” her voice was slightly tipsy, a silly grin spreading across her face.
Nice? He wasn’t nice. He was selfish. His eyes watered a little, thinking about the pain she had suffered after a lifetime of lying. She was the woman he loved. The person he had loved before he even knew that she was a she. And even though he knew now, he didn’t care. He didn’t care that she was a woman. Her being a man hadn’t stopped him, so why would this? He just wanted her to be happy. He just wanted her to be content. He wanted her to at least know that he wouldn’t let her down.
Wrapping his hand tightly around hers, he held on. He would never let this hand go. Just as she had trusted him, even knowing about his past . . . his being a triad boss, an abandoned orphan, and an outcast . . . just as she had trusted him knowing all of his dark secrets, he would trust her. Whatever her reason was, he would wait. And he would listen when she finally told him.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
They were married now and linked forever. He’d rushed her, held onto her because of his somewhat irrational fear that she might not come back to him if he gave her time. But he would make sure that she would get a chance to explore, learn and choose her future. And he would be with her every step of the way.
Reaching out a hand, he smoothed it over her side of the bed. It didn’t matter how they had gotten here. It didn’t matter that he was the son of a triad member. An abandoned orphan. A person who had lived a life of violence for more years than he cared to remember.
It didn’t matter that she had spent the first 26 years of her life as a man. It didn’t matter that she still sometimes found it difficult to be in her own skin, now that she was a woman in the world’s eyes. It didn’t matter that she would never be a ‘normal’ woman.
Which was perfect for him, since he wasn’t a normal man, either.
“Zifeng?” she called from the bathroom.
He looked to the closed door, an expectant smile growing over his face.
“I forgot my towel. Can you bring it in for me?”
Chuckling softly, he got up, stretching his arms above his head and running a hand through his hair. Moving over to the door, he reached down and grabbed a towel before entering the bathroom. Steam hung heavy in the room, the shower going strong. Her body was behind the glass doors, the condensation keeping most of her hidden.
Hanging the towel on the rack, he opened the stall door and stepped inside. He shut the door behind him, wrapping his arms around her waist.
She gasped softly, and turned to look at him over her shoulder. “Zifeng, what . . .?”
Leaning down, he placed a kiss in the junction between her shoulder and neck, nipping at the wet skin and then soothing the sting with his tongue.
She silently moved her head to side, giving him greater access to her body.
He hummed softly in satisfaction, his hands moving up her body, caressing, reveling, loving.
Arching into his touch, she moaned softly, a wet hand coming up to cradle his head. She gasped as he placed kisses up her neck and the side of her jaw, his teeth nipping at her earlobe. “I wanted to go see the sights today,” she breathed softly, her disappointment quickly being replaced with the fiery passion he was igniting inside her body.
“Later,” he murmured, turning her to face him and carefully pushing her against the wall. Moving her arms up, he draped them over his shoulders.
She smiled at him, shaking her head at the wicked pleasure she saw in his face.
Gently pushing her legs apart, he made a place for himself, leaning into her body. He exhaled heavily as her body cradled his, amazed every time at how perfectly she fit him.
“Promise?” she murmured, hooking one leg over his waist, bringing him closer to her body.
“Promise,” he breathed against her lips. One hand holding her leg to his waist, he bent his head to her, kissing her delectable lips, drinking in her taste. This would never be something he could ever become accustomed to. She would always be someone to be appreciated . . . to be loved . . . to be worshipped.
The water was beating against his back, soaking him. Her hands clutched at his shoulders, her nails biting into his skin. Her heel dug into him, as he slipped slowly inside, her body welcoming him home. Their eyes met for a couple of heartbeats before he began to move. His head fell onto her shoulder, and she cradled him lovingly to her.
As he lost himself in the primeval rhythm, only one thought remained. Yanuo would always be his, and he would always be hers. And that was all that really mattered.