The lawyer worked quickly. Before Cheng Xi could even finish thinking about what she should do next, the contract had already been written up.
After the lawyer brought the contract back into Lu Chenzhou’s office, Lu Chenzhou motioned for him to show her the document first. Cheng Xi’s original impression that this was nothing important had changed to something resembling anxiety. Lu Chenzhou’s words were simple, but the contract that his lawyer produced was surprisingly formal. It followed the standard contract format: it laid out the terms and conditions, rights and responsibilities, as well as a hefty fee for violating anything very clearly.
Upon seeing that sum, she couldn’t help but become more serious. Jut moving her eyes across all the numerous zeros was enough to make her dizzy. She then said, somewhat agonizingly, “Mr. Lu, even if we can’t be a couple, we can still be regular friends.”
Lu Chenzhou was sitting on the other side of the table, playing with a jade-colored teacup in his hands. After hearing Cheng Xi’s words, his posture didn’t change, and neither did his expression. However, Cheng Xi suddenly felt a chill creep into her heart.
Then he said, “Send Ms. Cheng out!”
“Mr. Lu…” Cheng Xi attempted to speak up, but as she opened her mouth, Lu Chenzhou had already turned to look at his lawyer. Originally somewhat hesitant, the lawyer now quickly approached Cheng Xi, insistent but polite. “Ms. Cheng, please.”
Cheng Xi didn’t move. She looked at Lu Chenzhou, but he didn’t look back at her, only coolly playing with the jade teacup in his hands. He constantly exuded a cold, chilly air that prevented others from getting close.
She had a feeling that this was her one and only chance to get close to him, a chance that wouldn’t ever happen again.
Seeing her lack of motion, the lawyer stretched out his hand out to grab her, but Cheng Xi avoided his grasp. “I can sign the contract, but can I consult my own lawyer first?” Seeing the two both turn towards her, she weakly explained, “The fee for breaking the contract is simply too high…”
Silence. After a while, Lu Chenzhou finally waved his hand at her.
The lawyer sat back down, and Cheng Xi let out a sigh of relief before quickly moving outside to speak on her phone.
In truth, she didn’t have a lawyer at all; her actions were simply to delay signing the contract. Although she had many people in her contact list, most of whom were doctors, patients, relatives, and friends, and some of them were lawyers, Cheng Xi had no actual plans of contacting any of them. Instead, her fingers moved unconsciously on her phone’s keyboard and punched in on Lin Fan’s name. Somehow, she ended up calling his number.
As she listened to her phone ring while the call was connecting, her anxiety almost consumed her. What would she say if he did pick up? But as the ringing repeated, she became calm again.
But Lin Fan didn’t pick up.
Cheng Xi put her phone away, smiled, and then walked back into Lu Chenzhou’s office. “Give me the pen.”
The lawyer handed her a pen, and Cheng Xi signed her own name on the somewhat ludicrous contract.
Lu Chenzhou looked at her lazily. “Your lawyer didn’t give you any advice?”
As she signed her name, Cheng Xi said, “His only advice was to not break the contract once I’ve signed it. But…” She put down her pen, smiled at him, and then finished her sentence. “If you end up finding someone else that you truly love and want to break the contract because of that, then I won’t force you to pay any reparations.”
He didn’t respond, merely looking at her with a penetrating gaze while smiling coolly.
And it was that smile that finally erased any doubt left in Cheng Xi’s heart. It made her feel like, even if she really did pay that astronomical fee, as long as she could reduce the despair in his smile by even a fraction, then, as a doctor, it would be worth it.
Having signed the contract as well, Lu Chenzhou brought Cheng Xi out again. This time, she was too lazy to even ask where they were going, and the result of her laziness was that they ended up going to Lu Chenzhou’s house.
Cheng Xi only realized this as she stepped inside. In her nervous haste, she stammered out some nonsense. “We’re… going to your house?”
Lu Chenzhou nodded.
“After entering a relationship, we naturally have to meet each other’s parents, don’t we?”
Lu Chenzhou’s long legs propelled him forward with just a few strides. Cheng Xi lagged behind, alone and assaulted by her thoughts.
Just a few days ago, Tian Rou and the others had joked that they were going to give her an award for being a model late-blooming wife and parent. But now, she was already at the stage where she was meeting her significant other’s parents.
But since she had already signed that ludicrous contract of her own will, the rest…didn’t seem to matter so much, Cheng Xi despondently rationalized. The next time she met her classmates, she was certain that she would receive a caring doctor award instead.
The Lu family lived close to the southern shore, not far from the Donglai Hotel, and was situated in a very prosperous neighborhood. Their courtyard was exquisite and refined: there were two gigantic cherry apple trees in the courtyard, but despite the leaves turning yellow in the autumn air, not a single fallen leaf could be seen on the ground. The entire yard was clean and tidy. The stark contrast to the bustle and noise of the city led to an unusual feeling of peace and serenity.
Since it was still quite early, and Lu Chenzhou had shown up unannounced, only his grandparents were home. The two were both wearing glasses and playing poker. Strangely enough, both of their faces had been drawn on with colored markers. Upon seeing Lu Chenzhou suddenly bring a girl home, they quickly started cleaning up.
But the sofa and the table’s mess was too big to be cleaned away that quickly. Lu Chenzhou glanced at his surroundings idly as he said, “Don’t bother. I’m just here to tell you that I have a girlfriend now. There’s no more need to set me up on anymore blind dates.”
Having spoken his piece, he quickly turned around to leave, but his grandmother ran behind him, calling out, “Aiya, aiya! What’s the hurry, we’re almost done packing!” His grandfather, on the other hand, simply rushed forward and grabbed Lu Chenzhou’s clothes.
Lu Chenzhou stopped walking and lowered his head to look at his grandfather’s hand. His grandfather let go of his clothes, which now had a big black spot on them; it was a memento from the poker game the grandfather had been playing with his wife, which involved the winner drawing on the loser’s face.
Lu Chenzhou’s grandfather laughed and patted at the spot on Lu Chenzhou’s clothes. “It’s dirty, go get it washed.”
Cheng Xi saw green veins bulge out on Lu Chenzhou’s forehead. However, he managed to restrain himself, not saying anything and instead turning around and briskly walking up the stairs. Cheng Xi stopped herself from laughing. Turning around, she saw Lu Chenzhou’s grandfather smiling at her. “Come here and sit with us! That boy’s a clean freak, so he probably won’t be down until he’s washed it for at least one or two minutes.”
Lu Chenzhou’s grandmother obligingly pushed everything off of the table and the sofa before the housekeeper could get to it, kicked it all underneath the sofa, and then waved her hands at Cheng Xi. “Come, come. Sit here.”
As they said, there was usually a reason behind people becoming clean freaks. Cheng Xi suddenly felt a bit of compassion towards Lu Chenzhou. She sat next to Lu Chenzhou’s grandparents, who were adorned with benevolent faces still marked from their poker game, which stressed her out an unusual amount. “Don’t you want to wash your faces?”
“Ah? Oh!” The two finally realized the state their faces were still in, and rushed to the washroom to wash their faces. When they returned, they had become two hale and hearty grandparents, meticulous in their appearance: Lu Chenzhou’s grandfather had brushed his hair and combed it back, and his grandmother had changed into new clothes and styled her hair into a tidy bun.
The three people looked at each other, six eyes between them. Before Lu Chenzhou’s grandparents could react, Cheng Xi finally recognized them. “It’s you two,” she said, somewhat surprised.
“You recognize us?”
Cheng Xi smiled. “Not too long ago, we met at my teacher’s place.” Then, she reminded, “My teacher is Cai Xi.”
“Oh, I remember!” Lu Chenzhou’s grandmother stroked her palm as she complimented, “You were that eloquent, kind, caring, pretty doctor!”
Cheng Xi blushed at her direct praise, smiling bashfully. “Yes, I’m a doctor.”
Lu Chenzhou’s grandfather also seemed to remember her now. “Oh yes, you’re Professor Cai’s student; you treated my wife for her insomnia before. Let me tell you, my wife thinks very highly of you! She even wanted Professor Cai to introduce you to our grandson, but Professor Cai refused to do it, saying something about curing illnesses… Was she unable to cure his illness and so introduced him to you for you to try?”
His wife patted him on the back, expression serious. “What are you talking about? Our grandson’s totally normal!” She turned toward Cheng Xi with a smiling expression as she said, “Our little Zhou’s such a good man, handsome and capable and wealthy. Don’t listen to what his grandfather’s saying!”
Cheng Xi also smiled at this scene. Because they had met before, she wasn’t too surprised at their antics—one had to remember that, during their first meeting, they had already said that they wanted her to be their grandchild’s wife. So, their current behavior could already be considered quite reserved.
But despite her being willing to accede to Lu Chenzhou’s request, she had never intended to mislead others. Once the two calmed down, Cheng Xi explained the situation to them. “Actually, I’m not Mr. Lu’s girlfriend, but rather his doctor. And this was done on my teacher’s request.”
“His doctor? Impossible! He clearly said you were his girlfriend!” Both of Lu Chenzhou’s grandparents refused to accept this reality.
Cheng Xi was very patient in her explanation. “That’s false. The reason he did that was in hopes that you two stop pressuring him on that front. Actually, that’s the reason why I came here with him today—to ask you to, as his family, be more patient with him and reduce his stress.”
“There’s no stress of any sort,” Lu Chenzhou’s grandfather said innocently. “We haven’t given him any stress either. As long as you become his girlfriend, he gets married, and then you both have a little baby, we won’t give him any stress at all.”
Hearing this, Cheng Xi couldn’t help but want to caress her forehead. Goodness, did this whole family consist of generations of frauds?