Casting Nets to Catch a Husband

Chapter 129: Sweet

The wooden door closed, but neither one from the inside nor outside could bear to leave.

Liu Yu listened closely to the sound of Lu Chengxiao’s footsteps as he left. After a while of not hearing anything, she opened the wooden door slightly and peeked out. She found herself face-to-face with Lu Chengxiao, who had been leaning against the wall near the door and turned his head upon hearing the door open.

At first, they were both surprised, then they both started to laugh.

Liu Yu felt a sweet amusement in her heart and softly asked him, “Why haven’t you left yet?”

Looking at her, Lu Chengxiao smiled and said, “I wanted to be a little closer to you.”


His voice was very soft, yet it touched her deeply.

Liu Yu looked at him, then glanced back at the courtyard. Except for the lamp in her hand, there was no other light; it seemed her aunt and others had already gone to bed.

For some reason, Liu Yu became bolder and turned the lamp to its dimmest setting, tiptoed out, then carefully closed the courtyard door behind her.

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Nw Ubldtmkys oyp xsxldvyakzu pvwddle yde pvsse wraktbv wdnsdpnkswpzu. Tl oyp pvydekdt aktbv cu vbl essa, fwpv y pvlr sa vos yoyu qasx Nkw Zw. Tl alynble swv yde vssj bla byde.

Lsv nsdvldv okvb fwpv bszekdt bla byde, bkp qkdtlap tayewyzzu kdvlazynle okvb blap wdvkz vblka vld qkdtlap olal vktbvzu ldvokdle.

Mbkp oyp y dyaaso yzzlu, yde yzxspv ds sdl oswze oyzj vbaswtb kv yv dktbv. Nkw Zw rzynle vbl zyxr cu vbl essa, yde vbl qykdv zktbv oyp ldvkalzu scpnwale cu vbl essaqayxl, nypvkdt zktbv sdzu sd y pxyzz ryvnb sq taswde clpkel vbl essa. Wasx swvpkel vbl yzzlu, dsvbkdt nswze cl plld.

Fbl zlv bkx zlye bla, pxkzkdt yde psqvzu ypjkdt, “Rp vbkp nzspl ldswtb?”

“Uzspl.” Nw Ubldtmkys’p blyav oyp clyvkdt y zkvvzl qypv.

Rd qynv, vblu nswze byhl clld lhld nzspla, cwv bl sdzu blze Nkw Zw’p byde okvbswv xyjkdt ydu qwavbla xshlp. Tl psqvzu ypjle bla, “Tyhl usw clld hlau vkale zyvlzu? R’zz fwpv pvyde blal qsa y xsxldv yde vbld zlyhl. Zsw pbswze ts cynj yde alpv.”

Ohlau eyu, Nw Ubldtmkys ypjle Nkw Zydrkdt bso zyvl Nkw Zw yde vbl svblap osajle yde obyv Nkw Zw oyp cwpu okvb. Ohld vbswtb vblu byed’v bye xwnb vkxl vs xllv kd vbl rypv qlo eyup ewl vs Nkw Zw’p cwpudlpp, Nw Ubldtmkys oyp pvkzz hlau nzlya ycswv bla yqqykap.

Mbl qlxyzl osajlap nswze vyjl y eyu sqq vs nyvnb wr sd pzllr, cwv Nkw Zw bye blze lhlauvbkdt vstlvbla qsa vbl srldkdt eyu. Plprkvl oydvkdt vs prlde vkxl okvb bla, Nw Ubldtmkys qlzv xsal vldeladlpp yde rkvu qsa Nkw Zw yv vbkp xsxldv.

Liu Yu looked outside the narrow alley. Tonight, there were no stars or moon, and the alley was pitch black. She slowly withdrew her hand from Lu Chengxiao’s grasp.


As their palms separated, Lu Chengxiao thought she would turn and go back inside, but then her arms wrapped around his neck.

Lu Chengxiao’s heart skipped a beat, and his breath became erratic.

Liu Yu’s hands moved slightly on the back of Lu Chengxiao’s neck, gently pulling him closer. Without needing more effort, Lu Chengxiao obediently leaned in.

His breathing grew heavier, and as they got very close, his throat moved. Summoning the last bit of self-control, he softly called, “Yu’er?”

“We can get… even closer…,” Liu Yu whispered.

Her final words were swallowed up. Under the influence of the moment, his remaining rationality crumbled at Liu Yu’s slightest initiative.

In the darkness, only the increasingly rapid breaths and the rising heat in the air indicated something different in this narrow alley.

Unlike their first awkward encounter, the young man quickly learned about intimacy without needing a teacher. A soft thud was heard as the small bundle Liu Yu had given Lu Chengxiao to take to Yuanzhou fell to the ground.

Her lips tasted incredibly sweet, so sweet that Lu Chengxiao felt a shiver down to his bones.

Although Liu Yu initiated, she soon found herself unable to control the situation. She didn’t know how long had passed.

She could only cling to his lean waist, soft and pliant, letting him guide her.

When they finally stopped, Liu Yu’s lips were numb and tingly.


Lu Chengxiao steadied his breath but couldn’t suppress his intense desire. His blood seemed to boil. However, aside from kissing, he didn’t dare to cross any more boundaries, not even letting Liu Yu sense his body’s reaction.

He could only hold Liu Yu’s waist with one hand and tightly clasp the back of her head with the other. Their noses touched, their hot breaths mingling, as he hoarsely called out her name.

Once, and then again.

Liu Yu’s legs felt weak, and her mind went blank.

Lu Chengxiao’s eyes were tinged with red. The hand gripping her waist was so tight that it was barely enough to suppress the shuddering in his bones and blood. September can’t come soon enough1September is when they get married, I think.

He dared not let himself go further. After helping to smooth Liu Yu’s hair that he had disheveled, he whispered in her ear, “Go back now, lock the door, get some rest, and sleep well. We’ll see each other in the morning.”

Liu Yu nodded. She had impulsively wrapped her arms around Lu Chengxiao’s neck because of his words about wanting to be closer to her. Doing so in the alley was already quite bold; she wouldn’t dare to push it further. Nodding quickly, she bent down to pick up the lamp.

Lu Chengxiao caught her hand. Liu Yu thought he might have wanted more and gently covered her mouth with her hand, softly pleading, “I’m tired.”

Her voice was soft and coquettish, her eyes slightly watery and alluring, showing no signs of weariness.

But Lu Chengxiao enjoyed this side of her immensely. He laughed softly, “I meant you don’t need to get up early to see me off tomorrow. Sleep as long as you need; I’m not in a rush.”

Realizing she had misunderstood, Liu Yu’s face flushed as she nodded in agreement.

Lu Chengxiao didn’t let go of her hand. Instead, he bent down to pick up the lamp and handed it to Liu Yu, then signaled for her to go inside.


Liu Yu carefully pushed the courtyard door open, fearing it might make a noise. Fortunately, the door was well-maintained and didn’t creak. She entered, waving to Lu Chengxiao to indicate he should go and rest.

Lu Chengxiao mouthed, “You go inside first.”

Liu Yu had no choice but to close the door and bolt it.

She still couldn’t hear any footsteps outside. She figured Lu Chengxiao was waiting to make sure she left, so she headed towards the tailoring room with the lamp in hand.

Inside the tailoring room, she turned the lamp up slightly, still feeling weak in the knees and her heart racing from being with Lu Chengxiao. This secretive meeting made her smile to herself.

Not wanting to delay further and risk her aunt urging her to rest, she quickly gathered the sample fabrics and was about to return to her room when she paused, remembered something, and turned back to find some colored threads for tying knots. Only then did she leave the tailoring room and head back to her own room.

With the oil lamp lit, she didn’t rush to sleep but carefully made a lover’s knot.

Meanwhile, Lu Chengxiao couldn’t sleep either. Restless, he ended up practicing a set of boxing routines in his dark room six or seven times until he finally calmed down and could sleep.

When Lu Chengxiao left Anyi County the next day, the sachet at his waist had been replaced with a brand new lover’s knot. He was so happy he kept glancing at it.

Even Lu Xun, who came to see him off, noticed it and saw that it was a lover’s knot, realizing Liu Yu had given it to him that morning.

Feeling both happy and amused for his youngest son, Lu Xun patted Lu Chengxiao’s shoulder and said, “As I always say, safety comes first when you’re away. You’ll be getting married in September, and then you’ll need to take responsibility for your own family.”

Lu Chengxiao nodded, glanced towards the embroidery shop, and saw a mule cart parked outside, indicating the presence of guests. Realizing it wouldn’t be appropriate to visit now, he bid farewell to his father and brother and rode off towards Changfeng Town.


Liu Yu was indeed very busy. Early that morning, Madam Zhang, five embroiderers, Liu Datian, and Liu Chunshan’s wife had all returned to work. Some of the clothes sold the previous day needed slight alterations, while others required customization. Liu Yu busied herself distributing tasks. Among the custom orders, two were her own creations. Since Madam Zhang hadn’t been present the previous day and didn’t know which items had sold, Liu Yu had to handle the tailoring herself.

More than twenty outfits had been sold the previous day, and sample garments needed replenishing. Liu Yu led the female workers, keeping everyone busy.

The red vouchers distributed by Liu Yanqing continued to draw customers. Early in the morning, people arrived, and Wei Shi attended to them. Having managed the store the previous day, she was now quite adept, handling most matters independently except for custom orders which required Liu Yu’s input.

They were busy until mid-afternoon, at which point the outfits for Magistrate Zhang’s two daughters were finished. Wei Shi was sent to deliver them.

This was Wei Shi’s first visit to the back courtyard, but it went smoothly. After being announced at the door, an attendant named Yu Ma escorted her inside.

To Wei Shi’s surprise, Madam Zhang was very courteous, inviting her to tea and conversation while her daughters tried on the outfits. Although Wei Shi was quite nervous, Madam Zhang mainly talked about household matters and the embroidery shop’s garments. Occasionally, she asked about Liu Yanping’s brothers, wondering if what her husband had heard about them was true.

Wei Shi responded carefully, and before leaving, she was gifted two packages of pastries by Madam Zhang, returning home in a daze.

As she was leaving, Magistrate Zhang returned from the front courtyard. Seeing Yu Ma escorting someone out with packages, he casually asked his wife after drinking the tea she brought him, “Who was that just now?”

Madam Zhang smiled, “It was Mrs. Liu from the Ruyi Embroidery Shop, Constable Liu’s mother.”

Due to the busy farming season, Magistrate Zhang had spent the previous day visiting nearby towns to inspect the fields, staying overnight in a villager’s home. Thus, he was unaware of his wife’s visit to the embroidery shop. Upon hearing that the visitor was Liu Yanqing’s mother, he asked, “Did you find out if the Liu family is related to the Lu family?”

Madam Zhang nodded, “The Liu family’s daughter is remarkable. If it weren’t an off-year for imperial selection, I believe this girl could easily marry into royalty if reported.”

Magistrate Zhang was surprised, “Is she that beautiful?”

“Absolutely. I’ve never seen a more beautiful girl. She’s truly like a celestial being. If the Flower Goddess from the heavens were to stand next to her, even the Peony Fairy would pale in comparison.”

Understanding the situation, Magistrate Zhang said, “I’ve met the third young master of the Lu family once. Though he comes from a merchant family, he has excellent looks and refined manners. I wondered what kind of girl could captivate him so. It seems even heroes fall for beauties.”

He then asked his wife, “What brought Mrs. Liu here today?”

“This is why I say the Liu girl is extraordinary. The Ruyi Embroidery Shop, which I visited to support on your advice, turned out to be a great find. The young ladies in the family and I all bought something, and even our daughters had two outfits custom-made. Mrs. Liu came today to deliver those clothes.”

Magistrate Zhang raised an eyebrow. “Is the embroidery shop the handiwork of Liu Yanqing’s sister?”

Madam Zhang nodded. “You have no idea how reluctant Mrs. Qin and her daughters were to leave after seeing the clothes. If it weren’t for my presence, they would have bought more than five sets.”

She laughed, adding, “Mrs. Qin kept eyeing a few expensive outfits. She must have looked at them a dozen times but didn’t buy them because she was wary of the prices I was choosing. I bet her servants will go back to the embroidery shop today and buy those items. The household of the registrar is indeed wealthy.”

Magistrate Zhang smiled but said nothing. The positions within the yamen were passed down through generations, making their backgrounds much stronger than his, having earned his rank after years of studying. It wasn’t surprising to him.

Madam Zhang continued, “I think the Ruyi Embroidery Shop is doing very well. The Liu family’s future looks bright. After returning from the shop yesterday morning, I sent someone to inquire about the Liu family. Do you know that Liu Yanqing’s two younger brothers are now trading in the Zhejiang region with that third son of the Lu family? This embroidery shop was funded by the profits they earned in a month.”

Magistrate Zhang raised an eyebrow. He wasn’t surprised by a constable’s brothers making money through trade but was curious about why his wife mentioned it.

After more than a decade of marriage, Magistrate Zhang only needed to give her a look. Madam Zhang understood immediately and explained, “Our elder brother and sister-in-law, as well as our second brother and sister-in-law, asked us to help find matches for Xiaofu and Xiaorong.”

Magistrate Zhang’s expression became serious. “You’re considering the Liu family?”

Madam Zhang knew her husband well. The family wanted him to find scholarly matches for the girls, hoping they could become official wives in the future. But the imperial examinations were fiercely competitive, and becoming an official’s wife wasn’t easy. Her husband was only a county magistrate, not a high-ranking official, and while Xiaofu was pretty and gentle, marriage wasn’t just about looks. Moreover, she wasn’t as stunning as Liu Yu, who left a lasting impression on everyone she met.

Given these conditions, finding a good match for Xiaofu and Xiaorong wasn’t easy. Scholars interested in marrying them might do so to advance their own positions, which could lead to an opportunistic relationship. Conversely, those with true ambition and ability might not be interested in such alliances. Thus, it was hard to find suitable matches for the sisters.

In contrast, a family like the Liu’s seemed promising. From what Madam Zhang learned from Yu Ma, they were a solid match—not necessarily wealthy, but certainly stable. Wei Shi’s good character also suggested a positive environment, and if the Liu sons were well-mannered, any smart and sensible girl would have a good life with them.

Madam Zhang liked Xiaofu and wanted the best for her, but she knew she couldn’t make decisions alone. So, she smiled and said, “Not necessarily. It’s just another option. The Liu family seems decent, and Wei Shi has a good temperament. But I’m not familiar with the Liu boys. Ultimately, the decision is yours, whether it’s a scholar or a merchant’s son. And, of course, we need to consult with our elder brother and sister-in-law.”

Magistrate Zhang nodded. “You are thoughtful.”

He was indeed very concerned about his two nieces and asked more about the Liu family, including the embroidery shop, the family’s character, and his wife’s impressions.

He knew his wife cared for the two girls and had a good understanding of finding matches. An affectionate husband, he trusted her judgment.

As he asked more questions, Madam Zhang didn’t hold back and shared her thoughts. Magistrate Zhang didn’t fully agree with everything, but he kept the Liu family in mind. When he thought of the Liu family, Liu Yanqing came to mind first, as he didn’t know Liu Yanping and Liu Yanan well.

Reflecting on his impressions of Liu Yanqing, he thought the young man was quite talented. Even though he was a constable, there were ways to help him advance.

Magistrate Zhang wondered if Liu Yanqing was already engaged. He decided to have Assistant Li discreetly inquire about it the next day.

He had several thoughts but was still inclined to find scholarly matches for his nieces. Therefore, he nodded and said, “I’ll keep an eye on it.”

Madam Zhang saw that he had taken her words to heart and smiled without pressing further. She only needed him to consider it; it wasn’t necessary to overstep her role. After all, they weren’t her daughters. Thinking about it for them was enough; forcing decisions wouldn’t be appropriate.

Sansukini: It’s a sweet chapter. We now changed the schedule to everyday, except when I feel really tired or really lazy, which might not happen often.

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