Clearly, there had to be a careful discussion before coming to an appropriate decision.
The Gu family was insistent on saving An Xiaoning, whereas the Jin family was bent on rescuing Jin Qingyue as well.
It was a tough decision to make.
The two families continued arguing over who to save but could still not come to a consensus in the end.
The matter continued to drag on as they found themselves stuck in a difficult dilemma.
In fact, Jin Qingyan was in a dire state of turmoil.
One was his wife, and the other, his sister. He would have to face the music either way, regardless of who he chooses to let live.
He had never been put in such a difficult position before.
This was the very first time in his life that he had ever experienced something like this.
If he could pick, he would rather be the one who had been abducted than to have to choose between two of his dearest kin.
He wished he could shred the two hitmen into pieces.
He sat on the couch, staring blankly at the two families breaking into conflict before him.
The argument began to get heated.
From the looks of it, it would be a long time before they cut it out.
Grabbing his phone with him, Jin Qingyan returned to his room and locked himself in, refusing to open the door no matter who it was.
At this point, An Xiaoning finally began to realize how helpless she was.
Jin Qingyan had also discovered how much An Xiaoning mattered to him.
His mind was flooded with the memory of her — her sweet smile, her blank expression, the little tantrums she’d throw, her sometimes willful self, her everpresent confidence, all of which were deeply etched in his mind.
To the worry of Mrs. Jin, he had been locking himself up the entire day.
At this point, An Xiaoning and Jin Qingyue were parched and starving beyond imagination.
Thinking that it would be a hassle to have to bring them to the washroom every now and then, the hitmen decided not to allow them much to eat or drink.
Freezing and famished, the two of them laid helplessly on the ground, akin to cattle waiting to be slaughtered.
Jin Qingyue could not stop crying. After all, she was born with a golden spoon in her mouth and had never been subjected to such abuse all her life.
She was petrified yet distraught at the plight she was in.
God knows how long they had been being held in the basement, isolated from the outside world. Red welts had formed on An Xiaoning’s wrist due to her repeated struggle to free herself from the chains.
However, her efforts were futile.
She could not manage to break free at all.
“Me too, but there’s nothing we can do, all we can do is just wait,” said An Xiaoning, staring at her though she could not quite see clearly in the darkness of the pitch-black room.
“Why hasn’t Brother come to save us?” Jin Qingyue whined, her voice turning hoarse from all the crying.
All of a sudden, the door opened once again and they hurriedly kept quiet.
The lights were switched on again as the two hitmen in black began walking towards them. They stood beside Jin Qingyue and An Xiaoning, sandwiching them in the middle as they glared down at them from above.
An Xiaoning stared at them with a straight face while remaining silent.
“Your husband will be giving us an answer tomorrow. We’ll know then if he decides to save you or his sister. Would you like to know his choice?”
“What do you mean?” An Xiaoning asked, her stomach twisting into a knot.
“An intelligent woman like you should have understood what I meant,” he said with a sarcastic laugh. He then glared at her menacingly and continued, “Only one of you will get to make it out alive, while the other shall perish here. Our boss thinks it’ll be more thrilling to kill either one of Jin Qingyan’s wife or sister. It’d be so boring to just take his life.”
“Let her stay here, I want to get out, please. I don’t want to spend another minute in here. Please let me off, just take my sister-in-law instead,” Jin Qingyue pleaded in fear.
An Xiaoning’s face stiffened upon hearing her words, though she had already expected her to react that way. This darned Sister-in-law of hers…
“Haha. Yet another coward who shows her true colors only on the brink of death. You’re really so much more timid and cowardly compared to your Sister-in-law,” the hitman scoffed.
In this life-and-death situation, Jin Qingyue could not care less about the humiliation she was suffering. All she wanted was to make it out alive.
“Your brother’s answer tomorrow will decide if you get to survive. We’re just informing you in advance that one of you is bound to die here when tomorrow comes. Just prepare yourself mentally,” said the other hitman beside Jin Qingyue.
“Please let me go, I don’t wish to die here,” Jin Qingyue begged as her face turned as pale as a sheet.
“Cut the crap. Didn’t we already tell you? Wait for the news tomorrow.” The two hitmen then returned upstairs as soon as they were done speaking.
The basement turned pitch dark yet again. An Xiaoning laid on the ground with a stiffened body, feeling more flustered than ever. Pangs of anxiety overwhelmed her, although she appeared to be calm and collected on the surface.
“Sister-in-law, please let me be the one to survive even if Brother decides to choose you. I’ll burn you lots of joss money if you die.”
Jin Qingyue’s insensitivity and selfishness had driven An Xiaoning to her wits’ end. She wanted nothing more than to strangle her to death. “Shut up!” she snapped.
Jin Qingyue broke down into tears again. This was the most she had ever cried in her life.
“I don’t want to die, I really don’t want to die,” she muttered under her breath.
“You think I want to?” An Xiaoning retorted in utmost annoyance.
“I think my brother will choose me, for sure. He can just find another wife, but I’m his only sister whom he can’t replace,” said Jin Qingyue, in a bid to comfort herself.
An Xiaoning felt a strong urge to smack her to death with her shoes. If only she could move about freely.
“Sister-in-law, why aren’t you speaking?”
“I don’t have anything to say to you,” An Xiaoning answered, cocking her head towards the side.
“My parents won’t let me die. Sister-in-law, don’t blame my brother if he chooses to save me.”
Wishing she could just block all the noise out, An Xiaoning closed her eyes and tried to ignore what Jin Qingyue was saying.
“Sister-in-law, did you hear what I said? If my brother has no choice but to choose me, don’t bear a grudge against him even after you die. Please forgive him, he didn’t want you to die either.”
“Jin Qingyue! What right have you got to be so selfish as to only care about your own life? My life is just as valuable as yours. Let me tell you, I’ll do my best to stay alive, no matter what. I won’t give up even ’til the very last breath,” An Xiaoning snapped, unable to tolerate her any longer.
Jin Qingyue was startled by her sudden outburst and snapped out of her thoughts. She then stopped talking and stared blankly at the ceiling.
They could not fall asleep after hearing the hitmen’s words.
How could they fall asleep knowing that only one of them would make it out alive in less than 24 hours? It was as if they had just received a death sentence.
An Xiaoning pondered over the matter for a long time. She thought to herself that it would be the end of their marriage if she managed to escape alive. Although she was aware that the Jin family would be put in a spot, she still wanted to fend for herself and stay alive. It is only human nature to be selfish anyway. Anyone else would have done the same.
If she managed to survive, she would spend the rest of her life repaying the Jin family, although it was never her fault, to begin with.
If she died, he would probably be guilty for the rest of his life, but still, he would go on to marry someone else and start a fresh marriage.
She would then become nothing more than just a sacrificial object.
It was completely pointless to die.
She would risk everything she had in order to stay alive!
At least there would still be some hope if she lived on, whereas she would end up with nothing if she died.
An Xiaoning could already guess the outcome indefinitely, perhaps because she knew it was a matter of fact that they had only been married for a short amount of time.
With each passing minute, she began to lose every last bit of her rationality as she approached the brink of death.