Since she didn’t understand the full story, Cheng Xi’s mother’s heart was forlorn upon seeing Lin Fan. This was the perfect son-in-law for her daughter: capable and thoughtful, possessing a good pedigree, a good education—and from abroad, no less! This was someone she’d be proud of bragging about.
More importantly, he was old classmates with her daughter, so they knew each other through and through.
But since her daughter already had Lu Chenzhou, she could only restrain her feelings and say, “Picking up Cheng Xi? How could we trouble you to do something like that? Her boyfriend’s already here to pick her up.”
Although Cheng Xi couldn’t see Lin Fan’s face, she could imagine what kind of expression he was making. It was undoubtedly a complicated one, impossible to describe.
She quickly walked out, already exasperated with her mother. “Mom, what are you saying?” And then she looked at Lin Fan. “Ah, you’re here? Why don’t you come in for now.”
She couldn’t just leave him standing outside; if she did, his questions would only increase.
Her mother and Lin Fan both looked at her with very different expressions. Her mother looked like she was blaming her, as she probably felt that she was being too intimate with Lin Fan. But Lin Fan, on the other hand, was quite calm and was even smiling at her.
Her mother sighed in her heart again, and she reluctantly opened the shoe cupboard to retrieve a pair of slippers for him. When Lin Fan walked in and saw Lu Chenzhou, who was draped in a quilt and lying on the sofa, he clearly became flustered; in his confusion, he looked at Cheng Xi once again.
Cheng Xi looked back at him hopefully, but he didn’t say anything. With his eyes half-closed, he remained silent for a while before putting the things he was carrying on the table.
They were fruits that he had bought on his way over. There were some farmers growing strawberries by a shed on the roadside. He had seen them and specifically picked them out himself, choosing the freshest ones that were bright, vibrant, and still glistening with morning dew.
As if her mother was afraid that Lin Fan’s misunderstanding wasn’t deep enough, she introduced the other man in the room. “This is Lu……”
Lu Chenzhou finished Cheng Xi’s mother’s sentence for her. “Lu Chenzhou.”
“Right, Lu Chenzhou, Cheng Xi’s boyfriend. Lin Fan, if you’re here so early, then you must not have eaten yet, right? I’ll go and make something for you to eat.” After saying this, she ran to the door to do exactly that. The rumors that the neighbors were spreading outside left her incapable of staying in the shop, so after Cheng Xi’s mother had finished all her errands in the morning, she used the excuse that she needed to bring her daughter breakfast to go back home and see what Lu Chenzhou and her daughter were up to. But right as she entered, she had been so shocked by what she heard and saw that she had completely forgotten about bringing them food.
Before she could enter the kitchen, Cheng Xi’s mother even called her over. “Come help me, quickly. Old Li’s helping too, but I’m afraid that your dad won’t be able to handle the diner on his own.”
Cheng Xi looked at Lin Fan with a somewhat helpless expression, but she still followed her mother into the kitchen.
As the two of them worked, her mother initially didn’t say anything. But when breakfast was almost ready, she softly said to Cheng Xi, “There’s nothing going on between you and Lin Fan, is there?”
Cheng Xi didn’t respond. The situation outside was way too complex to explain right now, and while her mother was trying to help, she was only making matters worse.
Her mother clearly misunderstood her and sighed---not to scold her, but to express her sentiments. “I don’t care what you’re planning, but since you’ve already got someone and aren’t planning on ending the relationship, you should wrap up all your other intentions. Do you hear me?”
As a closing remark, her mother even earnestly said, “In life, what’s most important is knowing when you have enough!”
Cheng Xi looked at her mother, her feelings complicated. After the lecture, all she could say in response was, “……Oh.”
Breakfast was particularly quiet. Lu Chenzhou ate from the sofa, Cheng Xi and Lin Fan ate at the dining table, and as for Cheng Xi’s mother, once breakfast was prepared and her husband called for her, she had left hurriedly.
Once Cheng Xi’s mother left, Lu Chenzhou put down his bowl of noodles and used his chopsticks to pick up a little steamed bun. He ate it slowly as he watched Cheng Xi and Lin Fan.
Cheng Xi was trying her hardest to pretend that he didn’t exist. After a few bites, she felt that the atmosphere in the room was too strange, and she talked to Lin Fan in an attempt to disperse it. “Didn’t you say that you were going to go on a business trip for a few days? Why did you end up returning so quickly?”
“After arriving, I realized that they didn’t need me. So, I took the overnight flight back.”
As he explained, his expression was somewhat strange. Cheng Xi noticed it and thought that he was still offended by Lu Chenzhou’s presence. To assuage him, she quickly reached out and grabbed his hand. “Lin Fan, do you trust me?”
Lin Fan looked at her in a daze.
“Lu Chenzhou and I really aren’t what you think you’re seeing, I’ll explain it to you later, but for now, will you believe me?”
As she said this, even Cheng Xi herself felt pale and feeble. Lin Fan strove to smile, but was unsuccessful. He put down his bowl and chopsticks, rubbed his face, and said, “I’m sorry. I just got off the plane and am still a bit tired. If it’s fine with you, I’m going to leave first. Is that okay?”
Cheng Xi stared at him for an indeterminate length of time before finally quietly saying, “Alright.”
Lin Fan got up very quickly. Cheng Xi sent him to the door, and he didn’t even turn around as he left.
When she returned to the living room, Lu Chenzhou was still nibbling at his little steamed bun. With a casual glance at Cheng Xi, he said, “He’s mad.”
“All thanks to you.” Thinking about it some more, she sat in front of him and seriously asked, “Mr. Lu, what exactly are you trying to do?”
“I told you already. I want to have sex with you.”
“And besides that?”
“I want to marry you.”
“As for whether I should marry you first and then have sex with you, or have sex with you first and then marry you, I’m still considering.”
She took a pillow by the sofa and threw it savagely at him. “What do you mean you’re considering?! Have you ever stopped to consider how I feel? I don’t like you, so I’ve never even considered marrying you! Can you stop thinking about yourself? And it must have been a while since you last had any sexual activity, right? As a fully grown adult, if your body is normal, abstinence is harmful to your body. In serious cases, both males and females might experience symptoms such as insomnia, loss of appetite, reclusive and eccentric behavior, violent tendencies, and so on. You should consider releasing your pent-up desires appropriately and not just fixate on a single person or a thing, okay?!”
Lu Chenzhou stared at her, his gaze profound.
She returned the stare fiercely. “What’s the matter? Do you not understand?”
Lu Chenzhou asked, “Are you like that?”
“Do you experience insomnia, loss of appetite, reclusive and eccentric behavior, or any violent tendencies?”
Originally, out of concern for his feelings, she had tried to be tactful, but he had used those exact words to mock her.
Cheng Xi glared at him, a feeling of helplessness washing over her yet again. She shrugged her hands, too lazy to say any more, and got up to wash the dishes.
She only had one notion in her mind now: to hurry up and tell Cai Yi that she was of humble talent and shallow learning; that surely she couldn’t treat this fellow.
Behind her, Lu Chenzhou was still looking at her back, and he was unable to stop himself from clutching at his chest. When he heard her say that she didn’t like him and that she wasn’t planning on marrying him, he had felt his chest suddenly start throbbing. It was an indescribable and strange feeling, as if the blood coursing through his heart was overheating, or as if someone was gently, subtly, and incessantly poking him with a needle.
It hurt so much that he couldn’t calm down.