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“An Xiaoning, it’s just the two of us now. Drop the act. I shall cut straight to the chase, you better not breathe a word about my past to a single soul. Besides, it wouldn’t reflect well on Qingyan either.”

“Rest assured, I can’t be bothered to wash your dirty linen in public. But do you know why I’m here today?” An Xiaoning said with a sarcastic smile.

“You’re free to do whatever you want. I don’t wish to know your reason,” Chi Rui’er answered while wiping her hands dry.

“Well, I think it’s better that you know.” As soon as she finished speaking, An Xiaoning grabbed Chi Rui’er by her hair and plunged her head into the fountain.

Chi Rui’er tried to struggle with all her might, but she was no match for An Xiaoning who was much stronger than her.

An Xiaoning pulled her head back from the water just as she was on the verge of drowning. “Do you understand now?”

“Let go of me, An Xiaoning!”

“Qingyan may have set you free, but I’m not as magnanimous as him. Chi Rui’er, forget about getting out of here if I don’t get my revenge tonight,” warned An Xiaoning as she grabbed Chi Rui’er by her hair with all her might, causing the latter to grimace in pain. She then dragged Chi Rui’er forcefully into a cubicle and locked it before letting go of her, causing her to stumble back, almost losing her balance.

She supported herself against the wall and glowered at An Xiaoning furiously. “An Xiaoning, just what do you want?” she hollered, anger written all over her face.

“Nothing, I just felt like you needed a beating.”

Chi Rui’er removed her heels and attempted to attack An Xiaoning with it. “Don’t think I’m afraid of you, An Xiaoning. I’ll disfigure you with my heels if you dare provoke me again,” she threatened.

“You really don’t have a sense of shame at all. You’re not even in the least bit remorseful for what you’ve done. Seems like the water from the basin wasn’t dirty enough,” said An Xiaoning as she stepped forward while Chi Rui’er began attacking her with her high heels.

An Xiaoning managed to dodge the attack and grabbed Chi Rui’er by her shoulders, before throwing a knee straight into her gut.

Once again, Chi Rui’er’s head was submerged completely into the toilet bowl.

An Xiaoning was exceptionally thrilled.

“The water from the toilet bowl tastes much better than that of the sink, doesn’t it?”

“You… vicious wretch… ahh…”

“I dare you to repeat yourself.”

“An Xiaoning, don’t let me out if you dare!” Just as she inhaled a breath of fresh air, Chi Rui’er was forcefully plunged into the toilet bowl again before she could even react.

Her head was submerged into the water, back and forth repeatedly.

Alas, Chi Rui’er had no choice but to admit defeat and succumb to pleading with An Xiaoning to let go of her. “Please let me off, I beg you,” she cried in despair.

“Aren’t I a vicious wretch?”

“No… you’re not. I am!” Chi Rui’er begged as she kneeled beside the toilet bowl, resembling a clown with her completely ruined makeup.

“Chi Rui’er, let me warn you, I’m not to be trifled with. If you ever dare to be so arrogant again, I won’t let you off the next time. Also, it’s fine by me if you breathe a single word about what I did to you, later on. Just don’t blame me for being ruthless when I expose all your malicious misdeeds and your true colors. You did all of those out of your own accord, after all. Qingyan was merely the victim.”

She let go of her grip on Chi Rui’er and turned around to leave.

Trembling uncontrollably in fear, Chi Rui’er sped out of the cubicle, towards the basin. She then began rinsing her mouth and washing her face vigorously, over and over again. She was utterly disgusted and could not help but feel nauseous at the thought of the scene that just took place.

She flew into an uncontrollable rage at the sight of her disheveled self in the mirror.

She rinsed her face again, though it was difficult to completely remove her mascara and eyeliner without some makeup remover. After a long while, her eyes were still stained dark with the residue of her eye makeup.

After getting a grip on herself, she returned to the room. “Why were you gone for so long?” asked Gu Dongcheng.

“I had an upset stomach.”

“Ms. Chi, my brother was about to go look for you, if you came out any later,” An Xiaoning said smilingly, as if nothing had happened earlier.

Although Chi Rui’er detested her from the bottom of her heart, she answered her nonetheless, “He’s going to become a laughingstock when others find out that he barged into the Ladies’.”

“I think you were in the washroom for too long, there’s a strange odor coming from you,” said Gu Dongcheng as he retrieved a small bottle of perfume from his pocket and began spraying some on her.

“Is… is that so?” she stuttered awkwardly, utterly embarrassed.

Noticing that An Xiaoning seemed to be in a good mood, Gu Beicheng asked, “Have you had your dinner?”

“Not yet.”

“Let’s go have some barbecue,” he suggested as he stood up.

Ye Xiaotian and Bai Ranran followed suit. “Count us in. Dongcheng, are you coming with us?”

“No thanks, you guys go ahead.”

The group of four then headed outside for a barbecue dinner while Gu Dongcheng and Chi Rui’er left.

It was snowing outside, and they began walking to a barbecue restaurant after parking the car at the carpark.

Looking as pale as a sheet, Bai Ranran sat down beside Ye Xiaotian, all prim and proper. She barely spoke and remained rather quiet throughout.

Apart from the occasional conversation between Ye Xiaotian and Gu Beicheng, everyone remained silent.

Just as An Xiaoning was casually enjoying some barbecued chicken wings, she stared out of the window and caught glimpse of a sight which shocked her greatly.

However, she remained calm and composed as she stood up and excused herself. “I have to get going, enjoy yourselves.”

“I’ll send you,” offered Gu Beicheng.

“It’s alright, I drove today.”

Gu Beicheng handed her some barbecued skewers and said, “You didn’t have much to eat. Here, take these.”

An Xiaoning accepted his offer and told him, “Thanks.”

“Don’t stand on ceremony with your brother. Drive safe.”

She nodded and hurriedly sped out of the barbecue restaurant.

As soon as Gu Beicheng returned to his seat, Ye Xiaotian said to him, “Beicheng, there’s something fishy about the way you look at her.”

“Why do you say so?”

“You know that yourself,” Ye Xiaotian said teasingly as they exchanged a smile and continued with their meal of barbecued meat and beers.

——

An Xiaoning hurriedly drove towards the north. The figure she had seen earlier was still nowhere to be found, despite her having driven along the roads for a long period of time. Thus, she had no choice but to head home instead.

Jin Qingyan had already returned and was feeding Maomao.

“You’re home so late, where did you go?”

“I went out for a walk and had some barbecue for dinner. Have you eaten?”

“Yes. Who did you have dinner with?” asked Jin Qingyan as he stood up.

“Hmm… myself,” she said, knowing that he would definitely get jealous if she told him the truth.

“Liar,” he retorted, keeping his eyes fixed on her as he cupped her face in his hands.

Could it be that he had seen me? she thought to herself. Thus, she decided to come clean with him. “Gu Beicheng invited me for dinner at a barbecue restaurant.”

Jin Qingyan pinched her face harder as he said angrily, “I knew it.”

“Let go of me, you’re about to rip my mouth off!” An Xiaoning exclaimed as she winced in pain.

“I knew you didn’t have dinner alone. I was right,” he said distastefully, loosening his grip.

“Oh, I thought you had seen us. Why didn’t you think that I went with Mei Yangyang?” she asked with a humph.

“I just had a gut feeling.”

“I had to leave hurriedly in the midst of dinner. Guess who I saw?”

“Who?”