All of a sudden, Cheng Xi’s phone rang. But instead of alleviating the tension between the two, her crisp ringtone only made the atmosphere even more oppressive.
Cheng Xi didn’t pick up the call. She tried her hardest to ignore the tension emanating off of Lu Chenzhou by looking at him straightforwardly without any intent of deflection. “Do you have any particular misgivings against doctors?”
“Misgivings? Is it a misgiving to rightfully deny that I am ill?” Lu Chenzhou’s voice was steeped in disdain and an indistinct anger when he replied. “If being aloof is truly an illness, then how many people in the world are currently suffering from this incurable disease?”
Clearly, he was quite self-aware and even unexpectedly logical about his own situation. Cheng Xi was even starting to doubt her own diagnosis.
She didn’t intend to argue with him, though. For a psychiatrist, listening to one’s patients was a necessary skill to have. When she did reply, she deliberately spoke very softly and warmly. Her voice, already pleasing, became as soothing as the March wind, comfortably caressing one’s ears. “Are you disgusted when they act like that towards you?”
“Would you like to be treated differently, like a monster?”
Cheng Xi shook her head. “No one’s saying that patients who have unusual mental diseases are different or are monsters. Mental diseases are just that: diseases. Just like how we can catch the cold and become feverish and cough, mental diseases are just the result of a key part of our body malfunctioning. It is wholly unrelated to age, unrelated to level of education, and certainly unrelated to monsters or things of the sort.”
Such an explanation was feeble at best, and Lu Chenzhou’s face returned to his normal frosty expression, aloof and grim. “If that’s the case, then why are you unwilling to be my girlfriend?”
“No, it’s not that I’m unwilling. Rather…”
“Then let’s go.” He interrupted her halfway, and immediately turned around and left shortly after, leaving Cheng Xi with no time to react.
She decided to follow him. “Where to?”
He didn’t answer. The driver drove towards them, and then he opened the door to let her in.
Cheng Xi stood still, not moving.
“Are you scared?” He cocked his head back slightly as he looked at her.
“No. But I feel like you should inform me of our destination, as a basic courtesy.”
Lu Chenzhou simply replied, “My office. Are you coming?”
Even though she didn’t understand why Lu Chenzhou wanted them two to go to his office, Cheng Xi nonetheless still got into the car.
At this point, she couldn’t shirk back from her duty as a psychiatrist.
During the drive, Lu Chenzhou didn’t speak a single word. Cheng Xi, on the other hand, finally answered the call from before; it was from her colleague.
Once the call connected, she immediately heard her colleague’s exaggerated tone say, “Oh, Dr. Cheng, you’re famous! Go on WeChat, quickly!”
She refused to explain to Cheng Xi exactly what was going on, so Cheng Xi had no choice but to hang up and open WeChat, just as she had been instructed to. The first thing she saw was an image that had been posted on the psychiatry department’s group chat. It was from an unknown person’s friend group’s chat. She opened it and read the caption: “This actually happened in our hospital! In order to lighten his girlfriend’s workload, some rich guy booked all of her appointment slots for the next few days.”
The colleague who had sent out this image then said, “Someone posted this image onto Weibo, and then it started trending from there.”
The others laughed. “Hahaha, will there be reporters here to interview us tomorrow?”
“Heh, don’t talk about tomorrow. Just this afternoon, the media has already been calling us to confirm the story.”
“Then has our Dr. Cheng really become famous this time?”
“Call her out; we’ve got to get her to treat us to a meal.”
The group chat kept getting peppered with new messages. Cheng Xi looked at the shrinking scroll bar, sighing in dismay.
“Mr. Cheng,” she said as she showed him the chat messages. “Thanks to you, I’m famous now.”
Lu Chenzhou glanced at her phone, and then coolly said, “You’re welcome.”
“......” Cheng Xi’s tone was sincere as she said, “Actually, being famous is burdensome to me.”
But Lu Chenzhou only replied with one word. “Oh.”
Cheng Xi looked at him, took her phone back, and then purposefully kept her mouth shut for the rest of the drive. She hadn’t known him for very long, but she understood one point clearly: as soon as his responses devolved to be monosyllabic, it meant that he had lost all interest in that subject, and that any further conversation on that matter would be useless.
Lu Chenzhou actually did bring her to his office. His office was located at the Donglai Hotel—the hotel where Cheng Xi had spent a night earlier.
The morning after that night, Cheng Xi had finally clearly seen the face of the flourishing Donglai— it took was a whole block wide, and the lamps along its walls lit up half the sky. With the scenic river behind it, the hotel was as beautiful as a castle out of a fairytale.
Unlike the hotel’s outer opulence, Lu Chenzhou’s office was decorated quite simply in black and white colors, its furnishings practical and without any unnecessary flourish. Upon entering, Cheng Xi’s first impression was that everything was precisely placed. All the items seemed like orderly troops, arranged by height and charmingly positioned. The ambience of the office was so neat and tidy enough that it didn’t feel like anyone had ever worked here.
After sitting down at his desk, Lu Chenzhou immediately picked up the desk phone. “Call Lawyer Du over.”
Before Cheng Xi could even guess why he had called a lawyer here for, the lawyer arrived.
Lu Chenzhou gestured toward Cheng Xi with his chin as he said, “Produce a contract for us two, and it should state that Ms. Cheng Xi will be my girlfriend. We will remain financially independent from each other. If this relationship persists for a year, I’ll give her…”
As he said this, he turned around and asked Cheng Xi, “How much would be a reasonable amount to give you?”
Cheng Xi blinked, and then jokingly replied, “A hundred million yuan?”
Lu Chenzhou thought about it, and then seriously said, “You’re not worth that much.”
Her professionalism told her that, at this point, the only proper reply was, “Whatever makes you happy.”
Lu Chenzhou nodded, and then gave the lawyer a value multiple times higher than Cheng Xi’s current salary. Actually, it wasn’t too far off from her mahjong earnings from that one night.
The lawyer seemed somewhat nonplussed by his strange request, clenching his pen tightly before finally reacting after seeing that Lu Chenzhou was getting impatient. After calming down, he recorded down the conditions that Lu Chenzhou had proposed and asked, “Are there any corresponding privileges or responsibilities?”
Lu Chenzhou dictated, “One party has the right to ask for marriage, and the other party must be loyal.” He turned to Cheng Xi again. “Does that seem problematic to you?”
“......Can I even make any changes to the contract?”
Lu Chenzhou had already turned back around to the lawyer before she had finished speaking. “Then, just this.”
The lawyer looked at her somewhat sympathetically. “Is this all?”
Lu Chenzhou replied with a nod, “Yes.”
The lawyer nodded, leaving to formally draft the contract. Lu Chenzhou then explained the structure of the payment to Cheng Xi, but the information went into one ear and came out the other. Despite the unusual situations she had been seen and maneuvered through as a part of her job, this was the first time that she had ever encountered what Lu Chenzhou was doing.
In fact, she was somewhat curious as to his motives. “Why do you want such a contract?”
Lu Chenzhou looked at her, his gaze serene. “Because I like making things simple. This way, there are clear gains and losses: if we mesh well with each other, great. If not, we’ll split up. Isn’t that nice?”
Systemizing and relegating emotions to contracts is a self-defense mechanism that people often use to deal with emotional trauma. Cheng Xi noted this peculiarity down in her heart, and then asked, “Then why isn’t it me who gives you money?”
Lu Chenzhou’s tone was as if he were declaring that there were stars in the sky and the moon at night. “Because I have more money than you.”
That...was a completely irrefutable fact.