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Soon, the fragrance of freshly prepared dishes wafted up her nose.

In less than half an hour, a sumptuous spread consisting of three dishes and a bowl of soup was served.

Jin Qingyan brought her a pair of chopsticks, which she then placed onto the table. After putting on her home slippers, she said, “I’ll go wash my hands.”

Jin Qingyan waited for her to return.

An Xiaoning headed to the bathroom upstairs and stood by the basin. Staring at her reflection in the mirror, her eyes glistened as she beamed with happiness.

She removed her makeup and rinsed her face before going downstairs again.

“Why haven’t you started eating?”

“I was waiting for you.”

An Xiaoning picked up her chopsticks and began eating.

She knew that he had superb culinary skills, based on the food cooked by him which she had sampled in the past.

However, this time, it somehow felt different from the past.

The two of them barely spoke to each other throughout the meal. However, neither of them felt awkward and instead polished off all the dishes.

An Xiaoning was stuffed by the end of the meal. A warm, fuzzy feeling filled her heart as she watched him bring the empty dishes and cutlery to the kitchen.

Jin Qingyan exited from the kitchen and sat down beside her. “Xiaoning.”

“Yes?”

“May I sleep over tonight?”

“No.”

“I won’t sleep in the same bed as you. Will that do? I’ll sleep on the floor, and I promise I won’t climb up to your bed in the middle of the night,” he swore.

“It’s not like you haven’t sneaked into my bed at midnight before. Go home,” An Xiaoning refuted.

“At home… the pillows at home are cold, so are the sheets and the duvet. In fact, everywhere is cold and empty at home,” said Jin Qingyan, sounding aggrieved.

“It’s not wintertime now, why would it be cold?”

“To me, it’s winter whenever you’re not around.”

“When did you get such a glib tongue?” said An Xiaoning, clucking her tongue.

“You didn’t kiss me, how would you know?”

“…”

“Xiaoning, let’s start dating all over again. Be my girlfriend, won’t you?”

“No.”

“No…? Then I guess I’ll have to come up with another solution…” Jin Qingyan said with a sulk, though he was glad to see that she was less aloof towards him.

“Go home, quick. Drive safe,” said An Xiaoning as she stood up and walked upstairs.

Jin Qingyan had no choice but to leave. Although things had gotten better and more amicable between them, he knew that he should not push it.

Besides, she had just had a miscarriage and he did not want to upset her any further. Thus, he decided to just go home.

An Xiaoning was rather relieved to see that he did not insist on staying behind.

She proceeded to lay down in bed and catch up on some reading. Before she even realized, one hour had already passed.

She squeezed a few drops of eyedrops onto her eyes and closed her eyes to take a short nap. Just as she was about to fall asleep, she received a call from Mei Yangyang.

“Hello, Yangyang.”

“Sis, we filmed a night scene today and the director praised me for doing a great job. He said my acting was really natural and convincing,” Mei Yangyang said confidently.

“That’s great, I’ll visit you guys in the next few days when I’m free. I still have to carry on with investigations tomorrow. I’m going to bed early.”

“Oh by the way, Sis, have you seen the news? The one about Mr. Jin,” Mei Yangyang said all of a sudden as it came across her mind.

“News? No, I haven’t.”

“I’m not sure if I should tell you, but the piece of news reported that Lin Mingxi had paid Mrs. Jin a visit, bringing along several gifts with her. They even went shopping and visited the beauty salon together. They seem to be on good terms and really chummy with each other. From the looks of it, she has gained Mrs. Jin’s utmost approval to become her daughter-in-law.”

An Xiaoning felt her heart sink, though there was no change in her tone when she answered, “Oh, I see. I didn’t come across that piece of news. Okay, I’m going to bed.”

“Alright, goodnight.”

“Goodnight.”

Is Jin Qingyan aware of that piece of news? An Xiaoning wondered.

He did not mention it during dinner, though.

She browsed through the latest entertainment news on her phone and found that what Mei Yangyang said was true.

There were even photos taken by reporters which showed Mrs. Jin and Lin Mingxi linking arms, appearing to be rather close with each other.

An Xiaoning exited the entertainment news page and placed her phone onto the table. She continued to lie in bed, greatly affected by what she had just read.

Given her character, this was not how she had planned for things to go.

She was well aware that she was the one whom Jin Qingyan was fully devoted to and loved wholeheartedly, at the moment.

However, that does not mean that she could take it for granted, since things may not remain that way forever.

It also did not mean that things would work out as long as she remained single for the rest of her life.

She indeed did not wish to put him in a difficult spot and cause him to live a life of regret because of the child. Although he detested children, he would still be obligated to have some of his own eventually.

If Jin Qingyan’s family insisted that he marry someone else, did that mean An Xiaoning would have to give the man she loved away to another woman who’s nothing more than just a baby-making machine?

Would he even be happy that way?

If he truly loved An Xiaoning to bits, then such an arrangement should cause him a ton of misery as well, wasn’t that so?

An Xiaoning felt somewhat relieved as that thought crossed her mind.

She felt as if someone had pulled her out of a muddy swamp she had sunk into.

As if a heavy weight had been lifted off her chest.

Although she was still a little troubled, she had at least managed to figure things out, more or less.

She decided to leave the rest to the gods and just let nature take its course.

If Heaven wanted the two of them to stay together for the rest of their lives, then it would happen gradually. Otherwise, things would definitely find a way to fail their wishes sooner or later.

——

As soon as Jin Qingyan arrived home in his car, he was greeted with the sight of Fan Shixin scampering towards him. “Ms. Lin has been waiting for you inside for an hour,” he reported.

“Why is she waiting for me?”

“She wants to see you. She said that she called you multiple times but you did not answer.”

“Who allowed you to let her in? Does it seem like anyone can enter my house as and when they please?” Jin Qingyan rebuked.

“Madam was the one who especially instructed me to. What was I supposed to do?” Fan Shixin retorted.

“Do you take orders from me or my mother? You have to ask for my consent before letting anyone enter in the future.”

“Yes, Young Sir, got it.”

Jin Qingyan then made his way to the living room. Upon hearing his footsteps, Lin Mingxi quickly stood up from the couch and walked towards him. “You’re back.”

“What’s the matter? You actually waited so long.”

“I wanted to ask you to have dinner together but you didn’t pick up my calls.”

“I’ve already had my dinner. If there’s nothing else, you may take your leave,” said Jin Qingyan as he made his way upstairs.

Lin Mingxi hurried forward to grab his arm. “Let go,” Jin Qingyan said coldly, glaring at her hand.

She let go and said, “Don’t go up yet, I still have something to say to you.”

“Get straight to the point.”

“Jin Qingyan, I adore you.”

“I don’t fancy you.”

“But feelings can be nurtured. Didn’t you not fancy An Xiaoning either when you got together with her at the start?”

“Why would I marry her if I didn’t fancy her at all? I can tell you confidently that I felt good about her the very moment I laid my eyes on her. As for you, I don’t feel good about you at all.” Jin Qingyan scowled as a frown creased his forehead.

“Why are you behaving like this? I’m already taking the initiative, are you blind?” Lin Mingxi lamented with a sigh.

“I didn’t tell you to take the initiative.”

“Jin Qingyan, your mother adores me.”

“So what if she does? You can’t marry her anyway,” Jin Qingyan retorted. Lin Mingxi turned pale upon hearing his harsh words.

“Jin Qingyan, you’re being too much.”

“This is considered being too much? You’ve yet to see how I can make you cry instantly,” he scoffed.

“You… hmph!” Lin Mingxi grunted before turning around to leave.