“Since you believe him, then just continue dating him. I’ve already said, I won’t poke my nose into your business. It’s all written in the books of fate, you’re destined to be toyed with by him.”
“Written in fate? I refuse to buy it!” objected Jin Qingyue, adamant about the matter.
“That’s up to you.”
“You guys are always so busy, it’s rare that you’re home together. Stay for dinner,” said Mrs. Jin.
At the dining table, everyone avoided the topic of fortune-telling and instead focused on discussing bearing children.
Grinning from ear to ear, the old Mrs. Jin said, “Xiaoning, hurry and bear some children while you’re still young. It doesn’t matter if it’s a boy or a girl, we will dote on them very much, as long as they’re a Jin. Besides, you’re going to have an easier time returning to your prenatal state if you give birth early.”
An Xiaoning nodded with a smile and shot Jin Qingyan a glare. She had not forgotten what he said about detesting children and not wanting them to come between him and her.
“Grandma, we’ve only just gotten married, what’s the rush? We’re not eager to have children just yet,” said Jin Qingyan in disapproval.
“Of course you’re not eager. But I am. It’s going to take a few years until your child can speak and call me ‘Great-grandma.’ You don’t have to take care of the child after he or she is born. You two are free to roam wherever you’d like. Isn’t that great?” argued the old Mrs. Jin, a frown forming on her face.
An Xiaoning had no choice but to say coaxingly, “We’ll try for it, Grandma.”
Upon hearing An Xiaoning’s words, the old Mrs. Jin beamed with joy, her initial displeasure subsiding. “Yes, yes, alright. I’ll be looking forward to good news from you two,” she said merrily.
They managed to have a peaceful meal that day.
An Xiaoning was stopped by Jin Qingyan while she was getting into her car, “You don’t actually plan to have children, do you?”
She found it rather amusing that Jin Qingyan could not tell that she was merely trying to coax the old Mrs. Jin earlier on, despite his intelligence and wit.
“Didn’t you see how eager Grandma was?”
“Haven’t I mentioned before that I don’t like kids?”
“Do you really plan not to have any in the future?” she said as soon as she saw how serious he looked.
“At least not for now.”
“Alright.” An Xiaoning opened the car door and hopped on without saying another word. She was at a loss for words.
He then stopped her from closing the door and said again, “Xiaoning, let’s discuss having kids later in the future.”
“It was just a casual comment. Can’t you tell? It’s your call whether or not we’ll have kids. How can we have children when you’re always so stringent with contraception? Don’t make it seem like I’m so desperate to bear you children. I’m still so young, I don’t actually want to be tied down by you and our child,” groused An Xiaoning, seemingly a little disgruntled.
“I was just…” said Jin Qingyan. The frown on his forehead began to disappear.
Before he could finish his sentence, she pushed him away and slammed the car door shut with all her might before driving off as quick as she could.
As soon as she arrived at the store, Mei Yangyang seemed to be able to tell from the expression on An Xiaoning’s face that she was in low spirits. Since there was no one else in the store, Mei Yangyang went forward and asked, “Sis, what’s the matter?”
“Yangyang, under what circumstance do you think a married man wouldn’t want to have kids?”
“In my opinion, there could be a few reasons. First, he could be financially unprepared, thus, the child may become a burden on his shoulders, and he’s planning to have one only after he’s more financially stable. Secondly, since he’s already married, it could be that he doesn’t like children and wants to be a DINK[1: DINK: acronym for “Dual Income, No Kids,” which is used to describe someone who does not wish to have children.]. Lastly, perhaps he doesn’t love his wife. Think about it, Sis, if he loved his wife dearly, why else would he not want to have children, who are supposed to be a testament and proof of their love? In a nutshell, these should be the main reasons why a man would refuse to have children.”
Mei Yangyang had hit the nail on the head, for Jin Qingyan had indeed mentioned that he didn’t like children, though An Xiaoning was convinced that it was instead because he did not want to have children with her.
Leaving Mei Yangyang to tend the store, An Xiaoning left for the shopping mall and returned with bags full of items and furniture she had needed for her house on Dongpo Road.
She laid in bed beneath the covers, with the heater in the room switched on. She had initially planned on listening to some music and take a nap, but she ended up oversleeping.
The sky had turned pitch black by the time she woke up.
She actually had such a long nap.
She checked her phone and realized she had received two missed calls from Jin Qingyan.
Since she was already going to make her way home anyway, she decided not to call him back.
Just as she was driving out of the house, she received a call from Gu Beicheng. “Where are you?” he said, sounding extremely anxious.
“What’s the matter?”
“Wherever you are, make your way here now. Grandpa is not going to make it.”
“What?! I’ll be there at once,” An Xiaoning answered hurriedly.
She sped along the roads and managed to arrive at the Gu family mansion in 10 minutes, as opposed to the usual 15-minute journey.
She quickly alighted from the car and zoomed towards the mansion.
The butler had intentionally gone outside to wait for her. An Xiaoning picked up her tracks and eventually began running.
All the members of the Gu family had gathered in the old Mr. Gu’s bedroom.
Upon the sight of An Xiaoning’s arrival, they began to part like the Red Sea, one after another, and made way for her to enter.
Walking forward, An Xiaoning noticed the paleness of the old Mr. Gu’s face and asked for his birth characters.
She then gained a clearer picture and proceeded outside the room to brief Mr. and Mrs. Gu on what they should do.
“Go and prepare a coffin right away. He’s going to pass away in seven minutes.”
Mr. Gu checked the time on his watch instinctively and ordered for someone to bring a coffin, as instructed by An Xiaoning.
“Grandpa, I’m Xiaoning,” she said after she returned to the room and sat by his bed.
With glazed eyes, he gave a nod and struggled to speak as he tried to voice his thoughts.
He kept his eyes fixed on An Xiaoning, seemingly having something to request of her.
“Grandpa, what would you like to tell me? Go ahead and say it. No worries, don’t rush it, you can tell me slowly,” An Xiaoning said gently.
“The Gu… Gu… Family…”
An Xiaoning understood right away what he wanted to say. “I’ll definitely lend a helping hand should the Gu family face any crisis or difficulty in the future, as long as it’s within my means, for they’re my maiden home from now on. Rest assured, Grandpa,” An Xiaoning reassured comfortingly.
The old Mr. Gu could finally rest in peace after having her reassurance. A single teardrop streamed down his face as he closed his eyes after thanking her. He had not made another sound since.
An Xiaoning reached out to grasp his dry and coarse hand tightly, remaining silent as time crawled by.
An Xiaoning knew at the instant she felt his once-weak grip loosen completely that he had passed on, there and then.
A somber mood filled the air, as everyone in the room cried and wailed in agony.
With the exception of An Xiaoning, who remained unperturbed and stood rooted calmly, without saying a single word.
Mr. Gu immediately checked the time again. It was exactly seven minutes later, like she had mentioned.
After helping the late old Mr. Gu change into a fresh set of clothes, they lowered him into the coffin and set up an altar. Word about his death had also spread quickly to tabloids and news broadcasters.
All the members of the Gu family, apart from those who were still abroad, were present in the living room of their home at that moment.
While they began discussing the burial matters, An Xiaoning was surprised to hear that the old Mr. Gu’s death wish was to be buried next to Nun Jingxin.
In the ordinary course of events, members of wealthy families were usually subjected to the customs of being buried together with their spouses.