“No, I’m not admiring them,” Cheng Xi said as she coughed lightly, “I don’t have a hobby of watching others publicly display their affection.”
Lu Chenzhou looked at her, smirking slightly.
Cheng Xi’s head drooped.
Alright, she could only admit that she was wrong. Lu Chenzhou wasn’t an ordinary man, and he could clearly see through her facade. What she truly admired wasn’t Baldy and Tian Rou’s public affection, but rather their understanding atmosphere; she admired the fact that they were such a free and unconstrained couple that showed their love for each other without fear.
It was something that Cheng Xi and Lu Chenzhou’s relationship didn’t have.
She suddenly felt that it had been an abominably bad idea to drag Baldy and Tian Rou over today…… Even though Cheng Xi had seen them recently, she no longer knew how far their relationship had progressed.
A few days ago, they were still waving knives at each other, weren’t they?
Cheng Xi smiled wryly as she tapped her racket against the floor. “I really don’t admire them,” she said, trying to convince herself. “Love comes in many shapes and sizes. Some people love their enemies, some are soulmates for life, some ignite with a fiery passion, and naturally, there are also others who are as calm as water.”
Lu Chenzhou asked, “Which type do you like the most?”
“I like our type.” She looked at him with a faint smile on her face. “I understand what
you say, and you know what I’m thinking.”
She was hoping that he would one day come to understand love, for him to empathize and learn what loving someone actually meant. One day, he would not love just because it was what he was supposed to do.
Lu Chenzhou’s expression relaxed, and he didn’t say anything more. Meanwhile, after Baldy and Tian Rou finished their fight and wrapped up their intimacy, they happily got up and walked over to play some tennis. Two men and two women made for an even pairing. When Baldy played against Lu Chenzhou by himself, he’d get wrecked any day of the week. However, now that he had a girlfriend, he clearly didn’t want to be destroyed so badly. Before the match, he wrapped his arms around Lu Chenzhou’s shoulders and sneakily said, “Chief Lu, give me some face. Please don’t defeat me too badly.”
Whether Lu Chenzhou actually agreed or not, Cheng Xi didn’t know, but Lu Chenzhou didn’t play overly fiercely today. Cheng Xi and Tian Rou were roughly evenly matched in their tennis abilities, and Baldy was barely able to hold on against Lu Chenzhou.
In the end, Lu Chenzhou and Cheng Xi won by a small margin, the game’s conclusion leaving everyone delighted and satisfied.
As Cheng Xi hadn’t exercised vigorously for quite a while, she felt physically drained after the match, but surprisingly, also emotionally rejuvenated. Her state of mind had calmed down significantly, and when they returned home, she even praised Lu Chenzhou for his actions. “You’re really quite nice to Baldy! You even gave them a chance to play today.”
Lu Chenzhou thought for a moment before obliviously saying, “Isn’t it because you wanted to play longer?”
“……So you were actually thinking of me? Were you afraid that if you went too hard that they’d stop playing with us?” Cheng Xi felt like she had lifted a heavy rock only to drop it on her own feet. If she had known about Lu Chenzhou’s thoughts earlier, she would have fallen down much earlier. She had almost died from exhaustion, alright?!
Her words about them understanding each other was clearly just a wishful desire.
And so, Cheng Xi decisively said, “Nice job! Let’s come back again later.”
From then on, Cheng Xi would regularly play a few matches with Tian Rou and Baldy from time to time. As someone who didn’t like exercise, even if she didn’t play that badly, these games were almost like torture to her. But for Baldy, it was a fun time. Honestly, both he and Lu Chenzhou enjoyed exercising, and they often played tennis when they were free, and cards if they were even more free. In terms of lifestyles, they had quite a healthy one compared to most other people.
One day, perhaps because Tian Rou really couldn’t stand playing without breaks any longer, Baldy called Xu Po over as well. And Xu Po also brought his girlfriend along. Thus, Cheng Xi and Tian Rou both found some time to rest as reserve players.
Once Tian Rou got off the court, she throttled Cheng Xi’s neck. “If you call us over to play tennis one more time, I’m going to strangle you to death!” She then leaned on her shoulder as she complained, “I feel like I’ve played an entire lifetimeapos;s worth of tennis in the past month.”
Cheng Xi rubbed Tian Rou’s face comfortingly. “A lifetime’s a lot longer than you think.”
Tian Rou felt her vision grow dark from Cheng Xi’s stubbornness. “You’re not planning on dragging me to tennis for the rest of your life, are you?”
Cheng Xi smiled playfully. “No, I won’t.” When she saw Tian Rou noticeably relax, however, Cheng Xi went on to say, “But your Baldy might.”
Tian Rou rubbed her face and sighed lamentably.
As the two of them continued chatting, Cheng Xi eventually shifted the topic to Shen Wei. “Is she doing alright?” Out of their shared group of friends, Shen Wei was the only one who was pregnant, so Tian Rou often went over to see her.
“Pretty well. She’s able to eat and sleep now. Oh, right, she’s divorced now. Did you hear about that?” Tian Rou lowered her voice as she whispered, “She didn’t want me to tell you that, so just pretend that you don’t know.”
Cheng Xi made a soft “Oh” sound.
Tian Rou shot a sidelong glance at her as she remarked, “You don’t seem to be surprised at all!”
Cheng Xi pretended to be surprised. “Really? I just didn’t expect it at all!”
But her acting skills were so bad that Tian Rou brushed her excuses away with a shake of her head. “Did you hear something after all?”
“For example, something like ‘Fu Mingyi had an affair.’”
Cheng Xi looked at her seriously. Tian Rou clearly wasn’t aware that Fu Mingyi had contracted AIDS—it seemed like this had all been buried deeply. She nodded.
“When did you hear that?!” Tian Rou’s eyes went wide with excitement. “Gosh, you never mentioned that to me!”
Cheng Xi could sense that Tian Rou was about to pounce on her, so she evasively answered, “What’s there to say? It’s Shen Wei’s own business.”
Tian Rou mulled over Cheng Xi’s words for a moment, and found that she had no choice but to nod in agreement. “That’s true. Given Shen Wei’s personality, if she knew that we were talking behind her back, then she’d certainly get mad. However, you must have no idea just how surprised I was when I saw her! Even though Fu Mingyi was the one who cheated, the two of them don’t seem to be on horrible terms. When I last visited her, I saw Fu Mingyi bring her a gift, and the two of them even seemed to be talking calmly. If Shen Wei hadn’t personally said that they’d divorced, I wouldn’t have believed it!”
After saying all this, Tian Rou even went on to remark, “It seems like motherly love really can change a person. If even someone as proud as Tian Rou can actually bear to be with a bastard like Fu Mingyi, even friends, then motherly love must be incredible. If it were me……” She glared at Baldy, who was running around haphazardly on the court, as she fiercely said, “I’d castrate him without a doubt! After all, my motto is, ‘If I cannot bend the heavens above, I will move Hell!’”
Tian Rou had come up with this motto while flipping through Cheng Xi’s book; it was a classic statement from Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams. After Cheng Xi briefly mentioned it, Tian Rou had flipped through the book and saw the statement at the end. It struck a chord with her and from then on, she had started using it as her motto, telling others about it from time to time.
But Cheng Xi felt that Tian Rou was only tomboyish in appearance; her inner self was far softer and gentler than even Cheng Xi’s. She looked at Tian Rou, who was smiling at Baldy. When Baldy, that funny fellow, saw his girlfriend raise her fist at him, he even thought that she was cheering him on, and he became so happy that he raised his fist too.
The two of them smiled at each other in surprising harmony, and Cheng Xi couldn’t help herself from joining in. She was about to say something when her phone rang.
When Cheng Xi took her phone out, she hadn’t even looked at the called ID when Tian Rou cried out, “Lin Fan? What’s he doing calling you?”
Cheng Xi panickedly clutched her phone.
But Tian Rou continued to chatter away. “Do you talk to each other often? My goodness, this fellow’s really disloyal! He didn’t even send out a wedding notice, but he’s also ignoring all of us when we asked him to hang out, huh!? Why didn’t I notice that he was such a dedicated husband before? Pick up! Pick up and scold him well for us. Even though he’s your idol, you can’t be softhearted toward him.”
Cheng Xi really couldn’t bear to hear any more of Tian Rou’s words, and she quietly shushed her. Only when Tian Rou calmed down did Cheng Xi finally pick up.
“Jiaman wants to see you.” Lin Fan’s voice seemed faraway. To Cheng Xi’s ears, however, it just sounded somewhat fake.
She looked up. On the court, Lu Chenzhou was facing a tennis ball flying towards him. His expression was calm and his posture perfect, but his returning volley had a particularly vicious spin.
Then, he suddenly looked at her as he swung violently with his racket, sweeping away the ball that was just about to touch the court.
The yellow ball spun through in the air, landing by Xu Po’s side of the court with a heavy thud as if in slow motion. Cheng Xi’s mind filled in the heavy “Peng!” sound as it struck the court, as if it were also hitting her heart.
Over the phone, Lin Fan asked, “Are you free?”