Noticing the look of disappointment on her face, Mrs. An stood up all of a sudden and said, “I’ll go check if the blanket is still around.”
Mr. An really did manage to find the old blanket from the bottom of the closet.
She showed it to An Xiaoning happily and said, “This was the blanket wrapped around you back then. I kept it because I found that the fabric seemed to be of superior quality. I could tell that it was expensive with just one glance.”
An Xiaoning reached out to take the blanket from her and nodded in acknowledgment. “I’m taking this with me,” she said.
She then took out two wads of cash from her purse and said, “Here’s 20 thousand dollars, take it. I’m leaving now.”
Mrs. An hurriedly accepted it.
An Xiaoning left with the blanket, and the An family watched as her car vanished gradually.
“Mother-in-law and Father-in-law, you guys have such poor foresight. How could you mistreat such a capable daughter and send her to live in the mountains? If you hadn’t done that, both of you would be enjoying a luxurious life now. Xiaonan and I would be able to live comfortably too. Look how youthful and radiant she looks. She’s almost 30 years old but she looks even younger than me,” An Xiaonan’s wife remarked, green with envy.
“If that had really happened, do you really think we’d have let Xiaonan marry you? There’d have been a long line of women waiting to marry him and your turn would have never come,” Mrs. An scoffed.
An Xiaonan’s wife turned around and left.
Mrs. An humphed and lamented, “I really regret sending her away.”
“What’s the point of regretting it now? Don’t dwell on it any further. We’ve long cut ties with her,” said Mr. An, who was standing beside her.
After a long night of dreams, Ling Ciye woke up at almost eight o’clock in the morning.
The aroma of a delicious breakfast wafted up to his nose. He put on his clothes in an orderly manner and proceeded to freshen up.
He came out of the bedroom to see that there was a sumptuous breakfast spread on the dining table.
Ever since he began cohabiting with Jin Qingyue, she had been preparing breakfast for him every morning.
Although she did not have the best culinary skills, she had her own style of cooking.
He knew that she had never known how to cook but decided to pick it up for his sake.
On several occasions, he’d chanced upon the sight of her reading through cooking recipes while lying in bed.
He could feel her efforts and sincerity.
“Good morning, Brother Ciye,” Jin Qingyue greeted him while exiting from the kitchen with the glass of milk.
Jin Qingyue had her hair tied up into a half-ponytail. She removed her apron and sat down opposite him.
Both of them remained silent while having breakfast. Halfway into the meal, Ling Ciye spoke up. “Do we have any plans for today?”
“I made an appointment with a five-star chef yesterday and I’m going to begin culinary lessons with him today. I used to find cooking such a hassle, but I’ve recently developed a sudden liking toward it.”
“I was just thinking of suggesting to you that we hire a servant if you find cooking too troublesome.”
Jin Qingyue waved and refuted, “It’s alright, I don’t have much to do since I’m unemployed. It’s not good to be idling about every day either. Don’t stop me now that I’ve actually found a hobby I like.”
“Alright then. Since you enjoy cooking, I’ll support you fully.”
“Ever since you agreed to try dating me, I surprisingly fell in love with cooking after the first time I cooked for you. Brother Ciye, I know you’re a picky eater and have better culinary skills than I do, but being able to cook for you makes me so happy. Whenever it gets closer to the time that you’re about to come home in the evening, it seems… it seems I would get exceptionally excited and elated,” she said, staring at him intently.
Ling Ciye nodded, feeling rather moved by her heartfelt effort. For the past few days, he had been going home early and returning home late. Yet, the lights would always be on at home. He was heartened to know that he would always have a woman to come home to.
They smiled at each other and began digging in.
Ling Ciye left for work after breakfast while Jin Qingyue proceeded to wash the dishes. She then applied some makeup and went downstairs with her car keys and purse.
She rarely cooked or did the dishes ever since she was young. Neither had she ever done any household chores.
However, ever since they began dating officially, she was more than willing to do them for the sake of becoming his better half.
Perhaps she truly had fallen for him.
Although she knew that it was not love yet, her feelings for him were genuine. Ever since they were young, she had always had a good impression of him. Thus, it did not take much for her to begin seeing him in a romantic light.
She arrived at the kitchen of the five-star hotel.
The first thing she learned was the proper way of cutting vegetables under the guidance of the top chef.
After practicing for the entire afternoon, she finally picked up some skills. During noontime, she received a sudden call from Ling Ciye’s mother.
In her memory, she had never received any calls from Mrs. Ling and only met her a few times before.
The very few occasions when Mrs. Ling was present included her wedding, the time when she gave birth to Bao’er, as well as during a meal at the hotel.
Although Jin Qingyue was not surprised that Mrs. Ling had her mobile number, she nonetheless could not help but feel nervous upon receiving a sudden call from the latter.
“Qingyue, do you have time now to grab some coffee?”
“Yes… yes, I do,” she stammered nervously.
“Alright, I’ll be waiting for you at XX Café.”
After ending the call, Jin Qingyue took out her cosmetic products from her purse to touch up her makeup and tidy her hair before driving to the café to meet Mrs. Ling.
She had a hunch that Mrs. Ling had something to say to her by randomly asking her out. Could it be that she wanted to talk about our relationship? Did Brother Ciye tell her about it? she wondered.
When Jin Qingyue arrived at the café, she remained in the car to ponder for a while before finally alighting.
The 56-year-old Mrs. Ling had fair, porcelain skin with barely any wrinkles on her face, looking much younger than her actual age.
Jin Qingyue took the seat opposite hers while the waiter served the two cups of coffee they ordered. After thanking the waiter, Jin Qingyue asked Mrs. Ling, “Auntie, why did you call me all of a sudden?”
Mrs. Ling put on a courteous smile and said, “Qingyue, I heard some rumors about Ciye cohabiting with you now. Are they true?”
Jin Qingyue was reminded of the promise she made to Ling Ciye about keeping their relationship secret for now.
Her face stiffened with awkwardness, after which she answered, “Auntie, where did you hear those false rumors from?”
“Are you denying it?” Mrs. Ling asked, heaving a sigh of relief.
“I’m currently living with my brother in Wei Ni Estate. Brother Ciye has an apartment there too, which he has been living in recently. Sometimes, we’d have a meal or some drinks together at my brother’s place.”
“Oh, I see. I heard that Ciye and Song Yan have broken up, that’s why I thought…” Mrs. Ling said in a moment of epiphany.
She suddenly paused in her speech and continued awkwardly, “I thought he would be upset and depressed for some time. But seems like he’s doing fine since he often gathers and chats with you guys.”
A sullen expression formed on Jin Qingyue’s face, for she could tell what Mrs. Ling wanted to say earlier. She was trying to imply that beggars can’t be choosers and that’s why Ling Ciye would settle for her, wasn’t she?
Noticing that she was remaining silent, Mrs. Ling picked up her coffee mug to take a sip before saying, “Qingyue, you’re 28 years old, right? It’s tough being a single parent. It’s time you find a partner for yourself.”