Cheng Xi…… Cheng Xi pretended to be dead.
Actually, Cheng Xi’s mother was all right with this, although she was a bit surprised and resentful that Lu Chenzhou had moved into her daughter’s place so quickly. Her aunt and uncle, on the other hand, were genuinely shocked to the core.
My goodness! While they were in the car, they were even worried that if Cheng Xi waited any longer to get a boyfriend, she might become too old to be marriageable. But when they entered her apartment, a man had appeared out of nowhere and shamelessly called them aunt and uncle. Their surprise had reached its peak!
Cheng Xi’s aunt and uncle looked at each other, and then simultaneously turned toward Cheng Xi’s mother. She had already regained her senses, and was doing her best to put on an amiable appearance. She coughed to dispel the awkwardness and said, “Let’s all sit down first.”
After they did so, Cheng Xi asked, “Do you want anything to drink?”
Cheng Xi’s aunt glanced at Lu Chenzhou, who was sitting there bright and clear, and went straight to the heart of the matter. “Cheng Xi, who is this? Aren’t you going to introduce him to us?”
“Aunt, uncle, this is my boyfriend.” She looked toward her mother. “My mom has met him before.”
Cheng Xi’s aunt and uncle looked critically at their sister-in-law. Why did she tell them on the car ride over that Cheng Xi couldn’t find a boyfriend even after meeting her future husband?
Cheng Xi’s mother, on the other hand…… her heart cried out indignantly. Didn’t Cheng Xi say that they were just trying out a relationship and that they didn’t know what was going to happen? So, she had said those words to plant some seeds in preparation, thinking that she’d be covered for any occasion. However, who could have known that the two of them had already started living together without letting her know!
But no matter what, this boyfriend of Cheng Xi’s had still called her “mom” and Cheng Xi’s aunt “aunt.” So even if she had to pinch her nose, she still had to recognize him—luckily, she didn’t even have to pinch her nose to do so, because Lu Chenzhou’s appearance was very presentable.
Cheng Xi’s uncle was the first to break the silence. He smiled as he said to Lu Chenzhou, “Nice to meet you. Are we bothering the two of you?”
He was polite, and so Lu Chenzhou also responded politely, a bit of the coldness dissipating from his eyes. “A bit.”
Cheng Xi’s uncle was caught off guard by his response. “……”
This fellow isn’t very polite, is he?!
Black streaks lined Cheng Xi’s forehead as the atmosphere soured, and she quickly pushed Lu Chenzhou into the kitchen. “I’m hungry, so can you make something for me?” Then she turned around to look at her mom and the rest of her visitors. “Have you all eaten breakfast yet?”
“You still haven’t, at this hour?” Cheng Xi’s mother shot back as she fiercely glared at her.
Cheng Xi stuck her tongue out at her in defiance before pushing Lu Chenzhou into the kitchen and closing the door behind him.
By now, Cheng Xi’s mother and the rest had recovered from their shock. They started by asking about the drastic change in interior decoration. “What’s the matter? Did you renovate the place? And you even changed the lock?”
Cheng Xi intentionally ignored the last question and vaguely answered, “That’s right.” She looked at her aunt and silent cousin. From start to finish, her uncle’s hand had been laid on his cousin’s, and she naturally asked, “Did you come over with something in mind?”
Let’s quickly change the subject, please.
At this point, a worried expression crept over Cheng Xi’s aunt’s face. She stood up and anxiously said, “Come, Cheng Xi. Come over here, and I’ll tell you what’s going on.”
She pulled Cheng Xi toward the old guest room, which was now a big study. When she saw the rows of books lining the wall, she gaped in amazement. “So many books……” She put this aside, as she was in a hurry to tell Cheng Xi about what had happened.
It turned out that there was a problem with her cousin, Yuan.
The eighteen-year-old high school senior was in his last semester, but the previously excellent student now refused to keep studying.
“Did something happen to him?”
“In his last mock exam, he did really poorly, ending up around thirtieth in his class, which isn’t even in the top 200 in his school. His father scolded him for that, but that only exacerbated his behavior. His temper also grew worse, and he started breaking things, yelling at people, and howling in rage all the time. Yesterday in class, he even fainted all of a sudden, but when we brought him to the hospital, he wasn’t ill. I honestly don’t know what to do anymore, so when I thought of you, I had to see if you could help. Please, what’s wrong with our son…… Is he suffering from mental illness?”
Cheng Xi’s aunt was really anxious, and she seemed like she was about to burst into tears as she spoke. Cheng Xi patted her lightly on the back. “It’s fine, don’t worry. Let me first talk with Yuan before I comment on his condition, alright?” And then she wiped her aunt’s tears away for her. “Don’t cry. If you do, Yuan will become more anxious as well.”
After Cheng Xi comforted her aunt, the two of them went back out together. There was just her uncle and Yuan in the living room, and the two of them were currently playing tug-of-war: Yuan wanting to break free from his father’s grasp, and his father obstinately stopping him. They seemed about ready to explode into a fistfight right then and there.
Cheng Xi’s mother wasn’t there. When Cheng Xi glanced around some more, she saw that her mother was in the kitchen, talking to Lu Chenzhou about who knew what.
At this point, Cheng Xi didn’t have the bandwidth to think about what she was doing. She focused her attention on Yuan and his father by smiling at them before calmly saying, “I’m sorry. You must have waited for a while.”
Cheng Xi’s uncle and Yuan looked at each other, quickly put down their hands, and while Yuan’s father wasn’t paying attention, he slipped out of his grasp.
Cheng Xi’s uncle’s expression sank, and he was about to say something when Cheng Xi stopped him. She turned to Yuan and asked, “I bought a new game for my laptop. It’s pretty fun. Do you want to try it?”
Yuan unhesitatingly nodded, but his father anxiously protested, “The reason his grades have slipped so much is because he keeps playing games. And now when he doesn’t even want to study anymore, you’re still letting him play?!”
Cheng Xi ignored him, brought Yuan into the study, and then turned on the laptop for him. When she came out by herself, Cheng Xi’s uncle criticized Yuan without even stopping to take a breath. “Such a disappointment! He must have mixed with a bad crowd, because he wasn’t like this before! What illness, what worry? They’re all excuses. The way I see it, he’s just degenerating!”
Cheng Xi listened to him quietly for a while, and after her uncle let out all of his frustrations , she went over and sat down besides him. “I was the one who asked him to play games, Uncle. Are you angry at me?”
“I’m not angry at you. I’m angry at him!” Her uncle sighed ruefully. “There are only a few days until the gaokao  I’m really worried about him.”
“Then, if Uncle trusts me, please leave him here with me for the moment.”
Cheng Xi’s aunt and uncle looked at her in surprise.
Her aunt said, “I’d be reassured if he could stay with you for a while.” This was her intention from the very beginning; if Yuan’s condition couldn’t be easily resolved, then the next best thing would be to let Cheng Xi treat him. However, she didn’t expect that Cheng Xi would have a boyfriend living here as well. “But would it be too much of a bother?”
Cheng Xi smiled brightly. “It’ll be fine.”
In truth, Lu Chenzhou was very unhappy with her decision, because he was one of those people who hated troublesome things. Cheng Xi’s mother and the rest didn’t stay for very long, so he was able to bear their visit, but he was truly unhappy with Yuan’s presence.
And when Mr. Lu was upset, he wouldn’t even get mad. He showed it by merely sitting on the sofa and pouting as he played with his jade tea pet.
Cheng Xi called out to him. “Hi!”
He ignored her.
He didn’t even look at her.
“What did my mom say to you? She looked so happy when she left, and she wasn’t even mad at me anymore.”
Lu Chenzhou continued to feign ignorance.
“Alright, then I’ll go and play games with Yuan now.” Helpless, Cheng Xi could only get up and leave.
When he heard her footsteps fade into the distance, Lu Chenzhou grasped his tea pet tightly, the coldness in his eyes startling. He threw the tea cup to the side and prepared to leave, but just as he stood up halfway, there was a tightening sensation around his waist. A soft and gentle body was clinging to him, forcing him back down.
“Are you really angry?” she whispered into the side of his ear. “If you’re angry, then you need to let me know. If you don’t, then how would I know? And if I don’t know, then I’ll only make you even madder.”
“Yes.” He shut his eyes with restraint before suddenly opening his mouth, pushing her hand aside, and coldly saying, “I don’t like too many strangers being in my life. I’m surprised enough that I could accept someone like you. Cheng Xi, don’t be so arrogant. Just because I pamper you doesn’t mean that this will work on me.”
1. The high-stakes high school exit examination of China, for which students aiming to get into the top universities spend their last two years of high school studying day and night. Lauded and criticized in equal measure, the gaokao is at once a quintessentially meritocratic opportunity and an archaic system with an arguably misguided emphasis.