“I dare. Are you up for it?”
“Until the very end.” An Xiaoning raised her chin. “How do we play?”
He got down from the bed and took out a box. When he returned, he sat opposite her and placed the box on the covers, asking, “Take a guess, what’s inside?”
An Xiaoning shook her head. “No idea.”
Jin Qingyan opened the box and explained, “This is a lie detector. We’ll use this as a tool for our game of truth or dare. Place your hand on it — if your answer to my question is a lie, you’ll be electrocuted. If it’s the truth, you won’t be. Let’s play scissors, paper, stone. The winner gets to ask first.”
Her whole life, An Xiaoning feared being electrocuted the most. The feeling of not knowing if she would be shocked was something that really strikes fear into her heart, but it was not like her to go back on her word.
Nevertheless, she braced herself for it. “Can anything be asked?”
“Of course. Ask anything you are curious about.” He positioned the lie detector properly and declared, “Okay — scissors, paper, stone.”
An Xiaoning played stone while he played scissors. She got to ask him first.
Jin Qingyan voluntarily put his hand on the detector and pressed the button. “Come on, ask me.”
“Marrying me, was it a decision you made willingly?
The lie detector did not react. He took off his hand. “Your turn.”
An Xiaoning placed her hand on it. She could feel her heart racing like it was going to burst out of her chest anytime.
“How well do you think I perform as a husband… in that area?”
“…” She knew it. He was not going to pass up this opportunity to ask such questions — right as she had expected.
Looking at the lie detector’s reaction, Jin Qingyan broke into a delighted grin that was as warm as the spring breeze. It showed all over his face until even his ears became the color of beetroot. It was obvious how satisfied he was with her answer.
Now it was An Xiaoning’s turn to question him. This time, An Xiaoning wanted to ask him something she already had a clear answer for. She wanted to ask him this, perhaps, to verify if her answer was accurate.
“If Chi Rui’er and I were to fall into the water, who would you save?”
His gaze started to shift slightly, but he still answered, “Chi Rui’er, because she can’t swim. You learned how to swim recently. If such a thing happened, I would save her first, then go and save you.”
For some reason, hearing this answer was like a stab in An Xiaoning’s heart. All the happiness she felt within her vanished. Yet, she already knew this was the likely answer — it was akin to asking him if he loved Chi Rui’er or her.
“My turn.” An Xiaoning voluntarily placed her hand on the device again.
“What position do you like?”
“Can I reject answering this question?”
She really could not bear to answer this question, but seeing the countdown timer on the device, she still muttered, “From behind.”
The corner of Jin Qingyan’s lips curled into a faint smile, and he put his hand onto the device again.
“Do you think… I can make you fall for me in the future?” An Xiaoning was calm as she stared at him, expectantly waiting for his answer.
Jin Qingyan thought she would have asked questions related to his wealth, which was of interest to her, but little did he expect that all she’d ask were personal questions. He answered, “I think I might fall for you.”
Even though he said there was a possibility he might, the lie detector still reacted. His hand suddenly jerked intensely from the shock caused by the electric current. An Xiaoning looked at the device, feeling that it was such a great invention — a small machine like that could reveal the truth. It was indeed amazing.
“You lied.” An Xiaoning continued, “You said that you think you might fall for me, but you knew inside that you would never fall for me. I’m just your wife. It’s a mere position that has nothing to do with love.”
For the first time, Jin Qingyan saw a look of disappointment in her eyes. He suddenly regretted playing this game of truth or dare with her.
An Xiaoning noticed that his face was frozen. He looked extremely uncomfortable, so she assured him, “It’s okay. We never married out of love anyway. I already knew that.”
Jin Qingyan kept the lie detector into the box and said in a low voice, “Don’t ever fall for me. Let’s just be a married couple — I’m your husband, you’re my wife. Just as you said, it’s a marriage that has nothing to do with love.”
“But…” she replied with her head lowered, “you never said that explicitly when we got married. If you had said that, I wouldn’t have married you.”
She really meant what she said. She felt that love at first sight between two people was possible, but developing feelings over time was possible as well.
He knew that she was upset and that it was because of his answer, so he reached out to hug her. “Didn’t you want to discuss something with me? What is it about?”
“Oh, I forgot what I wanted to discuss with you.”
“When’s your birthday?” he suddenly asked, realizing he did not know when her birthday was.
“My foster parents never told me my birthday, but my Master told me: I was born on the fifteenth of July, according to the lunar calendar. She confirmed that this was definitely my birthday.”
“Fifteenth of July? Isn’t that the ghost festival?”
An Xiaoning did not want to continue this topic. “I’ve never celebrated my birthday. It’s as good as having none.”
“Do you want to find your birth parents? I can send someone to help you find them.”
“I don’t want to find them.” An Xiaoning went on, “No matter what difficulties they had, it was wrong of them to abandon me. If I were to have a child, I’ll either not give birth to it or raise it with my own hands. I would never give it away after giving birth to it.”
Jin Qingyan would have never expected that this game of truth or dare would become deeply etched in An Xiaoning’s heart. After he fell asleep, her eyes were still wide open, and she lay there not moving, looking out of the window.
She kept on reflecting on herself — why she had escaped from a horrible marriage only to enter into another marriage without love.
After thinking for a long time, she finally came to a conclusion: she was lacking love too much.
That was why she yearned for a good man to cherish and love her with all his heart.
It was also why she got married again hastily without considering carefully. This second marriage was merely more prestigious than her first one.
But both marriages were essentially the same.
For a period of time, Jin Qingyue no longer mentioned going abroad. Mrs. Jin felt something was rather strange and asked her, “Where have you been going every night? Why have you stopped talking about going abroad?”
Jin Qingyue pouted her lips. “Father, look at my Mother, she won’t allow me to go overseas, but when I stop talking about it, she thinks it’s strange.”
“Your Mother is mainly concerned about this: have you gotten yourself a boyfriend?”
Jin Qingyue found this a suitable time to tell her family and nodded, “I’ve indeed met a decent guy. He’s really nice to me, we’re still in the stage of getting to know each other.”
Her parents heard this and exchanged looks. Mrs. Jin questioned, “Who is he? What does his family do?”
“He’s still not ready to meet both of you. After some time, I’ll bring him home for you guys to see. Actually, he doesn’t even know my real identity — I’ve kept it a secret from him.”