“Qingyan, I really feel like such a failure, living all alone with no one to love me. I really wish for a shoulder to lean on.”
Jin Qingyan remained silent and looked away while she cupped her face with her hands.
Chi Rui’er closed her eyes and remained still, seeming to have fallen asleep as she did not continue speaking.
A long while later, she finally mustered the courage to voice the question she had been dying to ask, “You mentioned the other time that you would marry me. Do your words still hold true now?”
Retracting his hand, Jin Qingyan answered, “But I’m already married now.”
“But I’m not the person you married.”
“Qingyan, I’m sick of being all by myself. Qingyan, have you got any ways to help me find a man who’s exactly like you?”
“I’m already married,” he reiterated.
“But you don’t love her, do you? How much longer do you want to be with a woman you don’t love at all? Don’t you think you’re just being cruel to yourself, having to face a woman you don’t love every single day? Qingyan, I don’t wish to come between you two, but neither do I wish to watch you lose yourself in this sloppy, meaningless marriage,” said Chi Rui’er, pouring her heart out.
“I don’t love her, but I don’t hate the sight of her either. In fact, I actually fancy her quite a bit. Since I’ve already married her, I ought to be responsible for my actions. Unless she initiates a divorce, I will never mention it myself. Rui’er, my grandma and parents adore her to bits, and she’s already my wife now. That’s a fact neither of us can change,” said Jin Qingyan firmly in a bid to make things clear between them.
“There is a way to change it, and it’s only up to you to decide. It all depends on whether you’re willing or not,” said an agitated Chi Rui’er, who sat upright.
An Xiaoning, who had been standing by the door, decided to head downstairs instead of entering the room. It was not that she feared to do so, but rather, she was worried about putting Jin Qingyan in an awkward spot.
It had absolutely never occurred to her that Chi Rui’er was eyeing Jin Qingyan, and she even wanted them to get a divorce.
Although his answer was not the best, it was definitely not the worst. In fact, it was rather comforting and reassuring. At least he did not blurt out anything hurtful.
Several moments later, An Xiaoning headed back upstairs and pushed the doors open to enter. Upon her arrival, Jin Qingyan stood up immediately and said, “You’re not busy anymore?”
“I heard Ms. Chi still hasn’t recovered from her cold after a long time, so I thought I ought to pay her a visit. After all, your friend is mine too. How’s her condition now?”
“Much better,” answered Jin Qingyan while he adjusted An Xiaoning’s coat, as it seemed to be slipping off.
An Xiaoning could not help but smile. Her eyes lit up immediately when she caught sight of the water spots at the entrance of the washroom, and she quickly walked towards it.
She opened the door and entered the washroom. After taking a look at the showerhead tap, she proceeded to scan the interior of the washroom and exited afterwards.
“Ms. Chi, did you take a shower last night?”
“I didn’t dare to since I’m still having a cold,” Chi Rui’er denied.
“I noticed that the tap was turned towards ‘cold.’ The weather’s chilly now, remember to turn on the heater when you shower, lest you catch a cold and suffer the pain of it.” She then instructed the servant who had entered, “From today onwards, please stay overnight to take care of Ms. Chi. You are not to leave even if she tells you to, not until she recovers fully.”
“Yes, Young Madam.”
With a sullen and worried expression on her face, she glanced towards Jin Qingyan and said, “Mother gave me a call to ask me to go back to the Old Mansion. Would you like to come along?”
The couple then proceeded to leave together. At this very moment, Chi Rui’er found An Xiaoning extremely detestable and wished she could just give her a tight slap.
Indeed, she had taken a cold shower with the intention to make herself catch a cold, for Jin Qingyan would not have visited otherwise. It was the only way she could think of to make him slowly care for her again, like he used to in the past. However, she did not expect An Xiaoning to be so alert and sharp-eyed.
In that instance earlier, she felt a strong and sudden sense of enlightenment — that is, she would forever be like an outsider, no matter how much he had loved her, so long as his wife was present.
After all, it was not perfectly legitimate nor appropriate for her to be putting up this mansion.
Chi Rui’er began to reminisce about the past, when she had all of Jin Qingyan’s heart because he was submissive and willingly gave in to all her needs and wants. Not much had changed, except it felt drastically different in comparison to the past.
Reminded of the possibility that Jin Qingyan and An Xiaoning would bear children of their own in the future, she started to realize how slim the chances of them getting a divorce would become.
Chi Rui’er began to feel a myriad of mixed emotions — just like how something unwanted seems to become more precious only after someone else had picked it up.
An Xiaoning and Jin Qingyan had driven a car each, separately, thus leaving no opportunity for a conversation within the same car. A while later, they arrived at the old mansion, one after another.
Jin Qingyan alighted and stood by the car to wait for An Xiaoning. Carrying her bag, she walked forward and swiftly held his hand, as if it was a natural reaction, though she was still not quite used to it.
The pair then walked towards the living room at a synchronized pace.
Mr. and Mrs. Jin were seated in the living room, together with Jin Qingyue.
“Xiaoning, it’s November now. I called you here to ask if there’s any taboo I should be mindful of, other than not leaving home for the whole of this month,” asked Mrs. Jin worriedly.
The pair sat side by side, leaning against each other. “There’s nothing else to look out for. As long as you don’t have a major outing, you’ll be safe for the rest of the month,” said An Xiaoning.
“If that’s the case, then I’m capable of fortune-telling too. Anyone who stays at home all day is obviously going to be safe from any mishap!” exclaimed Jin Qingyue in utmost disbelief.
Unfazed, An Xiaoning said with a grin, “Since you’re capable of doing so, you shall predict the future events and matters of our family then.”
“Qingyue! Stop your nonsense,” Mr. Jin hollered while glaring at her sternly.
Pouting her lips, Jin Qingyue leaned back against the couch and began playing with her phone.
“That’s a relief to hear. I heard from Qingyan that you had read Qingyue’s fortune. Is it really impossible to change her fate?” asked Mrs. Jin again.
“It’s indeed impossible.”
“Then could you tell us what the Shi family is like? I’d still like to know more about them, even if their marriage is bound to fail. Since you’ve lived with them before, give us an objective view of their family, Xiaoning.”
“The old Mr. Shi was a very nice person, but he had already passed on. Shi Shaochuan’s mother isn’t too bad either. His grandmother, however, is a tough one.”
“What about Shi Shaochuan then?”
“He’s extremely popular with women, and he knows how to keep them attracted to him. On the surface, he seems like a great catch, but his true colors will show as soon as you’ve known him for long enough. He’s very flirtatious and promiscuous. A playboy, to put it simply. Well, he hates me, so I’ve seen his true colors the most. All along, we’ve been married only in name.” She continued, “I swear to God, I’m speaking the truth, every single word of it is true. You may not believe me now, but you definitely will after knowing him for a while.”
“Bullshit! You said Shaochuan was a playboy, but why wasn’t he ever intimate with you even though you two had been married for so long? Doesn’t that just show that he didn’t want to settle for less?” Jin Qingyue could not help but break into an uncontrollable rage.
An Xiaoning had expected her to react that way. Not wanting to argue with her, An Xiaoning said, “Time will tell whether I am right or not. It’s up to you to decide what to do, I’m staying out of it.”