Cheng Xi didn’t know what she was feeling at that moment, but it was probably something akin to the feeling of accidentally swallowing a shard of bone while eating chicken feet. It wasn’t a big piece, but it had gotten stuck in a particularly aggravating spot; she couldn’t swallow or cough it out, which made it all the more disgusting.
She looked at Meng Qingyang, who seemed to have been completely cured of her depression. Her mien was entirely devoid of her earlier gloom and reservation, her eyes bright and vivacious.
When Cheng Xi had told Meng Qingyang her own story of redemption and rebirth, she had not imagined that it would help the girl in front of her find such a “novel” path forward.
Suppressing her disgust, she asked Meng Qingyang, “Are you certain that you like him?”
Cheng Xi smiled. She sympathized with Meng Qingyang, but she refrained from saying anything more.
When she got back to her office, she received a text message from Meng Qingyang that consisted of three photographs. The backdrop of the first photograph was some hotel; in it, Lin Fan was hugging Meng Qingyang, and she had clearly used her phone to covertly take this picture. The photograph was time-stamped out of ‘consideration.’ Cheng Xi had a good memory, and recognized the date as the second day of the fishing expedition by Cheng Xi’s house. Lin Fan had originally said that he would accompany her, but then, his office had needed him for a sudden business trip. He wasn’t gone for too long, only a single day, and he had come to her house the next morning, saying he would take her to work. That was when he’d encountered Lu Chenzhou.
The backdrop of the second photograph was a bar. In the dusky lighting, a man’s hand was tightly entangled with a woman’s. This photograph was also timestamped; if Cheng Xi remembered correctly, it should have been a few days ago, when she had insisted on seeing the ill Lu Chenzhou. What had Lin Fan said when he saw her the next day? Oh, that he had been drinking with his colleagues. Then, he had pounced on her in a drunken haze.
In the third photograph, Meng Qingyang was lying by Lin Fan’s side, and their heads were propped up next to each other. Meng Qingyang was smiling towards the camera, and Lin Fan was asleep by her side.
This last photograph was the most recent one, and that day after it, Lin Fan had proposed to her out of the blue.
The phone suddenly rang, and Cheng Xi couldn’t see the photographs anymore. In their place was a screen with the characters ‘Lin Fan.’
Cheng Xi didn’t pick up. After thinking about it for a moment, she forwarded the three photos to Lin Fan. If Meng Qingyang was so brazen as to send her these photographs, then she probably wasn’t afraid of Lin Fan seeing them either.
Lin Fan quickly called again, and Cheng Xi picked up this time.
“Where are you?”
“I’ll come and find you.”
“Don’t bother.” Cheng Xi sighed. “I’m going to leave now.”
“Then I’ll go to your house!”
Actually, Cheng Xi didn’t want to see him right now. However, his voice was so ridden with anxiety that she relented. To be fair, she couldn’t just take Ming Qingyang’s story for granted—she should also let Lin Fan explain his side of the story too. Meng Qingyang’s mental condition was clearly somewhat abnormal, and what she had said might not be the whole truth.
But if Meng Qingyang were making things up, then Lin Fan’s tone should have been angry, not flustered and exasperated.
Cheng Xi went home. Because her departure had been delayed, she ended up returning a bit later than planned.
In the end, Lin Fan never showed up. He called her, saying, “Sorry, but something came up with my mom. I can’t go over at the moment.”
Cheng Xi had just reached her front doorstep when the call came. As Lin Fan talked, she smiled and thought back to Lin Fan’s mother’s “I will do my best to separate the two of you.” She was suddenly overwhelmed with the feeling that she had been blind; despite knowing Lin Fan’s mother’s attitude, she had still fallen into this situation unknowingly.
Was I too confident, thinking that I had the ability to deal with this?
Cheng Xi’s lack of response made Lin Fan even more anxious. “Cheng Xi, even though I can’t go over, can you still listen to me explain? Those photographs aren’t real. That day, the company suddenly notified me that I had to go on a business trip with Meng Qingyang. When we arrived at the hotel, she twisted her ankle and was unable to walk, so I had to carry her up the stairs. And that day, when I was drinking, it really was with all of my colleagues, and they can confirm this. I only drank that much because I was mad that you had insisted on seeing Lu Chenzhou that night. All she did was try to persuade me to not drink so much. How could I have known that a colleague sitting opposite us would take that picture, and, and that time……” In the middle of his explanation, he suddenly stopped for a moment, and Cheng Xi faintly heard him yell out exasperatedly, “Can you let me finish my call!?” Then, he continued explaining to Cheng Xi. “The last picture is something she set up. Cheng Xi, I always thought that she was just ill, and the reason I was nice to her was because, as you said, she was ill, and she needed patience and care. I only ever treated her like your patient, and I’ve never had any unfaithful thoughts about her. I don’t like her, and I won’t marry her. The person I love will always be you.”
“Ha. If you only love her, then does my Qingyang deserve to be thrown away after being used by you?” A strange voice suddenly came from the other end of the line before the call hung up in a very timely fashion.
A total mess.
She unlocked her phone expressionlessly, wanting to send him a text message. As she aimlessly stared at the screen, she realized that she had nothing else to say.
Her friend feed, however, was bursting with colors and excitement. Some people were being lovey-dovey, as usual, others were showing off their presents and purchases, others uploading pictures of the crowds on the streets, and yet others sighing. It really made her feel like everyone was enjoying themselves while she was the only one working.
In her classmates’ group, Tian Rou was sending red packets into the group chat. Shen Wei even messaged her to “Go snatch Rou’s red packets!”
Even she, who didn’t lack money, felt happy upon snatching up a red packet with 8.8 yuan in it.
As for Cheng Xi, her luck was pretty good, and she picked up one of the largest red packets that Tian Rou sent. Everyone hollered for her to give out some red packets, too, so Cheng Xi magnanimously sent out ten with 88 yuan each inside.
She very rarely snatched or sent out red packets in that group chat, so her actions caused a commotion in the chat, and everyone asked her if something good had happened.
Cheng Xi very seriously replied, “Someone tried to give me a lesson, and I realized that I’m quite dumb. Does that count?”
Everyone laughed, and someone even posted a horrified emoji in the chat. “If a doctor like you is dumb, then what about the rest of us?”
Cheng Xi laughed, and elected not to respond. Tian Rou called her and Shen Wei messaged her at the same time, both asking the same thing. “Who, who did that?”
Cheng Xi didn’t respond. She slammed her head into her desk, very much overwhelmed. She wasn’t actually all that sad, but it felt like there was an immovable fireball in her heart that she couldn’t expel.
In the past, she thought that she would succeed in anything she did. But recently, she’d suffered defeat after defeat, always having to reflect critically on her own actions afterwards.
She wanted to read a book, but couldn’t calm down enough to do so, so she posted a message on her feed: I want to go out and explore the town. Does anyone want to accompany me?
She quickly received many responses, but they were almost all persuading her against it. Going on the streets at this time—are you mad?
Cheng Yang also responded with, My sister’s finally ready to have fun! My heart’s reassured, but can you pick another time?
But the person she was waiting for never answered her. It wasn’t until around 8:30 that Lu Chenzhou suddenly called her. “Are you home?”
Cheng Xi hesitated. “What’s the matter?”
“Didn’t you want to go for a stroll?” His tone was as cool as usual.
Cheng Xi’s shock quickly turned into anger. “You left the hospital? How could you leave the hospital?” She hurriedly ran out without even changing her clothes.
Lu Chenzhou was indeed waiting outside her apartment, accompanied by old Mr. Chen. He was sitting in the backseat with a face mask and a bundle of clothes.
“How did you convince the doctor on duty to let you out?”
Despite the fact that Lu Chenzhou was responding very well to his treatment and had been transferred to the regular wards yesterday, he was still technically in a critical period. How could the doctor have possibly let him out?
Lu Chenzhou’s style was to ignore anything that he didn’t like. He looked at her disdainfully as he asked, “Why are you dressed like this? Do you think that it’s suitable to go outside when you’re this ugly?”