Cheng Xi had no choice but to get dressed and follow Lu Chenzhou to his grandfather’s birthday banquet. Anyway, his family all knew what was going on and about his mental illness, so Cheng Xi didn’t mind being dragged every which way by him.
The banquet wasn’t a big affair—after all, his grandfather’s wasn’t reaching a nice round age—but it couldn’t be considered small either. There were still at least a few tables full of people, and Cheng Xi had even run into someone she knew.
“Cheng Xi.” It was Lin Fan who saw her first, and he immediately came over and greeted her when he saw that she was alone.
He wasn’t all that surprised, but his mother behind him was. “Cheng Xi?”
She actually still remembered her! Cheng Xi smiled and responded, “That’s me. It’s good to see you again, Mrs. Lin.”
“It’s good to see you too.” Lin Fan’s mother looked her up and down, a few notes of regret in her familiar tone. “How long has it been? You’ve grown more and more pretty over the years.” Realizing where they were, she asked, “You’re quite familiar with the Lu family?”
“Somewhat. My professor is very familiar with Mr. Lu’s grandfather.”
“Professor—you’re still in school?”
“No, it’s been two years since I graduated. I meant to say that it’s my professor back when I was in medical school.”
“Medical school, oh. You must be a doctor, then…… or a nurse? A nurse is quite a respectable profession for females.”
Cheng Xi smiled without saying anything, but Lin Fan was so embarrassed that he couldn’t help but interject, “Mom, Cheng Xi’s a doctor at Renyi Hospital.”
“Oh, at Renyi, huh. That’s a good place. I was even there to get my illness treated a while ago.” Lin Fan’s mother’s response was very natural, and she even rebuked Lin Fan a little. “This child didn’t even tell me that you were there.”
Cheng Xi didn’t know what to say. She could only note that Lin Fan’s mother had changed greatly since the last time she saw her. From her memory, she seemed to be a pretty but somewhat anxious woman, always wore cheap clothes, and, in order to let her and her son live a somewhat better life, worked multiple jobs a day.
But now, his mother was now wearing a white fur coat over a black silk dress. After ten years, she looked younger than ever, but the anxiety in her eyes had been replaced by an arrogance and snobbishness that left others slightly uncomfortable.
They didn’t talk for long before Lin Fan’s mother dragged him away. Cheng Xi saw that Lin Fan was being helplessly pushed toward a well-dressed man by his mother, and, not knowing why, she sighed lightly.
Besides Lin Fan and his mother, Cheng Xi didn’t know anyone else in the house—Cai Xi hadn’t come, and Lu Chenzhou was busy. Although his grandparents were somewhat close to her, their intimate way of interacting with her made Cheng Xi quite uncomfortable. With nothing else to do, she hid in a corner and started playing games on her phone.
She hadn’t played this game in a long time; it was a webgame called ‘Escape from the Apocalypse.’ The year that she graduated, she had given her account to Cheng Yang and never logged in again. As she tried to start playing again, she found that Cheng Yang had even changed her password.
Cheng Xi stared at her phone, dumbfounded. Just as she was about to call Cheng Yang to ask for the new password was, Lin Fan suddenly walked in from behind the curtain. “How did you end up sitting here?”
Cheng Xi put her phone away again, and smiled. “It’s quiet.” Seeing him, she asked, “Did you escape?”
Lin Fan could only laugh bitterly. “It seems like you always end up seeing my family’s unruliness and my difficult situations.”
Cheng Xi shook her head. “That’s not a big deal.” She changed the topic quickly as she said. “Your mother is looking younger and younger with each passing year. When you stand by her, you look more like her brother than her son.”
Lin Fan smiled, but his jovial mask betrayed the underlying bitterness. “Thank you. She remarried, and her new husband’s background is pretty good, so these past years…..” He lowered his head, held his face with his hands, and pulled on it with both hands in anguish. “I’m sorry. My mother behaved quite rudely just now.”
“It’s alright. I didn’t feel like she was rude.” After thinking for a moment, she pulled two sweets out of her bag. “I only have these two left, but do you want them?”
“You……” Lin Fan raised his head, and looked dazedly at the sweets in her hand. The colorful wrapping and the little squirrel with a smile so wide that one could see its teeth but not its eyes brought a comforting sense of familiarity to him.
In the past, he had owed her many a favor that he couldn’t return. All he could give back to her were sweets: ten little squirrels for a single yuan, cloyingly sweet.
He had found an excuse and said that, “Sweets are sweet. If you eat more sugar, you’ll find that life isn’t as hard anymore.”
From then on, she gladly took some of his sweets, and, slowly, developed her own habit of buying some wherever she went.
Cheng Xi said, “Yes, I’m still eating them. The more I eat, the more that I feel that your words back then held some truth to them.” She unwrapped the sweet and gave it to him. “What do you think?”
Lin Fan looked at the sweet, and felt his heart surge with emotion. “Cheng Xi, I…”
“Fan’er! Why are you here?” Lin Fan’s mother found him at that moment. Originally her face had been full of reproach, but she started smiling a bit when she noticed Cheng Xi’s presence. “Ah, Cheng Xi’s here too?”
She looked at the two of them somewhat sternly. “The two of you are already old classmates, so what are you doing here hiding from the gathering? Go outside, it’s so lively! Young people should interact with others more.”
As she said this, she pulled Lin Fan up, and also was about to pull Cheng Xi up too if Cheng Xi hadn’t avoided her hand. Cheng Xi then took out her phone again, and waved it as an excuse. “Mrs. Lin, please don’t wait for me. I’ll head over once I make a call.”
Lin Fan’s mother said, “Alright, then we’ll be going first.” She turned around to look at Lin Fan, her gaze somewhat severe. Despite his unwillingness, Lin Fan could only begrudgingly follow her out.
Before he left, he looked at Cheng Xi again and said, “I’ll come find you again later. Will you wait for me?”
Cheng Xi smiled, but didn’t answer. She thought that perhaps Lin Fan’s mother didn’t want her to say yes. Evidently, as soon as she went out to catch a breath, she heard his mother lecturing him. “Why are you so impatient? What am I doing all this for? I only obtained this chance for you to be here after bothering your uncle for so long; why can’t you cherish it more? If you don’t want me to plan out a path for you, then at least do more for yourself, like Shen Wei from last time. Her background and her groom’s background were both pretty good. Since you’re all old classmates, you definitely could have taken the chance to borrow some of her influence. But what did you do? You said that you were going to invite them out to eat, but you left the lunch halfway through—you, what do you want me to say!”
“Mom, I don’t like this sort of behavior.”
“Then what do you like? That doctor Cheng Xi? Son, you can reminisce about the past with her at any time, but why must you do it now? I heard that she was only a doctor, and even one from the psychiatry department at that. She won’t be able to help you one bit—what’s the point of sticking with her?” After saying this, she suddenly remembered something, and then looked critically at her son. “Don’t tell me that you like her.”
Lin Fan remained silent.
His mother could only sigh. “Regarding matters of love, I really shouldn’t be meddling with your life, but, Lin Fan, you have to remember that love isn’t all there is to life, and it isn’t a necessity either. You’re still young. This is the best time to start and develop a foundation for your career, so I hope you’ll place more focus on that. As you know, your uncle has his own children, so the resources that he can provide you with are limited. I also don’t want him to think that the two of us need his support to do well, so please make something out of yourself and live well for others to see. If you don’t want to use marriage as a tool for advancement, then at least find someone with the same mindset as you, who can help you out in your career. Lin Fan, I don’t want your life to be as tough as mine…..”
Cheng Xi didn’t keep listening. She put on a smile and turned around to enter the house once more.
Once she entered, she found that Cai Yi had arrived and was chatting happily with Lu Chenzhou’s family. As she came in, she heard her ask, “Ah, where’s your second grandson. Is he not here on this occasion?”
“Oh, don’t mention that little brat. Being the introverted that he is, he said that there were too many people, and I really…” As Lu Chenzhou’s grandmother was talking, she spotted Cheng Xi and quickly smiled and waved at her. “Ah, Dr. Cheng’s here! Quickly, come over.” She went forward and grabbed her hand, smiling amiably. “Zhou’s father is here too. let me introduce the two of you.”
Could she refuse?
Honestly, no. She couldn’t, because Lu Chenzhou’s grandmother had already called Lu Chenzhou’s father over. “Come, this is your son’s…...um, friend, Cheng Xi. Isn’t she pretty?”
Cheng Xi was quite certain that the old lady had skipped over the word “girl,” but she couldn’t argue. Instead, she made her best attempt to smile at his father and greeted, “Nice to meet you, Mr. Lu.”
Lu Chenzhou’s father was about fifty years of age, large and tall. Lu Chenzhou looked somewhat similar to him, but younger and with more refined features.
Regardless, his father was certainly a charming silver fox.
His voice was especially nice, as it held the special charm of a man of his age. His gaze landed on Cheng Xi’s face as he smiling greeted back, “I’ve heard of you. Nice to meet you.”
Cheng Xi smiled. Trying to act like a virtuous and dignified woman was tiring on her heart and soul, and she wished fervently that an angel would come and rescue her.
As if answering her plea, just as Cheng Xi was starting to feel out of it, her phone rang. It was the hospital.
Just like a pardoned convict, Cheng Xi felt like she had been freed as she excused herself from the crowd. At that point, she had already made her mind up to find an excuse to leave after taking the call. But once the call connected, the first thing she heard was Chen Jiaman’s piercing screech. “Aaaaaahhh!! Aaaaaahh!!”
Upon hearing her sudden scream that carried with it an uncontrollable fear, Cheng Xi jumped up in fright and quickly asked, “What’s wrong?”
The nurse anxiously replied, “Come quickly, Dr. Cheng! Something happened, something happened to Chen Jiaman! Come quickly!”