“Sun Weiwei, do you have the guts the reveal this vicious side of you in front of him? Give up on him, he doesn’t belong to you. You’re nothing more than a younger sister to him,” sneered Mo Li.
Mo Li seemed to have struck a sour note from how Sun Weiwei grew into an uncontrollable rage. Red with anger, she snapped, “Mo Li, you may try your luck if you don’t believe what I just said!”
As soon as she finished her sentence, she turned around and hopped into the nanny van, which zoomed off right away.
Mei Yangyang then continued to help Mo Li up. An Xiaoning could tell that Mo Li was trembling with anger instead of fear.
A huge bruise had formed on the spot on Mo Li’s hand that Sun Weiwei had stomped on. “Mo Li, are you okay?” An Xiaoning asked worriedly.
“I’m fine, thank you, Xiaoning.”
“Don’t mention it, we were having some hotpot and just happened to notice what was going on. What are you doing here?”
“I just came out for a stroll, alone.”
“Let me give you a lift home. My car’s over there,” offered An Xiaoning, pointing towards her car.
After getting into the car, An Xiaoning noticed a forlorn and sullen look on Mo Li’s face. “Where do you live?” she asked.
“Ming Yuan Estate.” Seeing that An Xiaoning was not asking her about the incident with Sun Weiwei, Mo Li decided to take the initiative to explain, “Ye Xiaotian is her Godbrother. The purpose of her threats is just to get me to leave him. However, now’s not the time yet.”
“How long have you been together with him?”
“I’m 22 this year, and I’ve been dating him since I was 18, so we’ve been together for four years now.” With a wry smile hanging from her lips, Mo Li continued, “My once bubbly and positive self has been reduced to this, all because of his fickle-mindedness and the torment he has put me through. He’ll never marry me or give me status or anything of the sort, yet he refuses to let me go. It’s probably because he just treats me like a toy and nothing more than that.”
“Why did you decide to be together with him? How did you two begin dating?” An Xiaoning bombarded her.
A gentle expression formed on Mo Li’s face as she recalled and reminisced the past while she answered, “I didn’t get together with him for money or anything. As a young and foolish teenager, I used to find stubborn and strong-headed guys like him extremely charming back then.”
“We’re the same age. I’m 22 years old too, my birthday is in July,” said An Xiaoning.
With a smile, Mo Li replied, “Mine’s in August.”
Mei Yangyang remained silent in the backseat throughout the entire journey, making sure not to interrupt their conversation.
Having arrived at the entrance of Ming Yuan Estate, Mo Li bade her goodbye, “Thank you Xiaoning, bye-bye.”
“Bye-bye,” said An Xiaoning, then she reversed the car and left.
“Sis, I kinda pity Ms. Mo.”
“Some guys are like that. They appear to be a great catch on the surface, but their true colors show only after you’ve interacted with them for some time. There’s a saying that goes ‘Men fear getting into the wrong line of business, while women fear marrying the wrong man.’ Indeed, you should consider someone carefully before deciding to get together with them. I was far too careless,” said An Xiaoning.
“But Sis, Brother-in-law seems like a gentle and well-mannered man.”
“That’s because you don’t know him well yet.” To An Xiaoning, Jin Qingyan was far from gentle and well-mannered. In fact, he was sly and extremely temperamental. Although they had only known each other for a short period of time, she had already seen for herself every flaw of his and experienced his constant mood swings.
An Xiaoning drove home alone after dropping Mei Yangyang off at her house.
Fan Shixin happened to be going about his rounds when she arrived home, and thus opened the gate for her.
“Young Madam, Boss had just left for the Old Mansion.”
In one go, she changed into her home slippers, headed upstairs for a shower before drying her hair, and finished off with a facial mask. An Xiaoning laid on the bed and rested against the headboard, dressed in thick, comfortable pajamas. She casually looked up the news and surfed the Internet, only to realize that there was not a single trace of any news about Sun Weiwei. It seemed Sun Weiwei had a rather capable public relations assistant, though there were a few discussions and posts about her on Weibo. However, they were also mysteriously deleted quickly after, as An Xiaoning could no longer find the posts when she returned to the Weibo page.
It did not bother An Xiaoning much, however. Not wanting to use her phone any longer, she got out of bed and looked for some books to read.
Truth be told, it was An Xiaoning’s first time entering Jin Qingyan’s study room ever since she got married to him.
The door of the study was closed but not locked.
The moment she turned on the switch, the entire room was filled with a bright, white light.
It was a spacious room, with three bookshelves placed against the walls, each filled neatly with books. She could not help but wonder if he had actually read all of them or if it was all just a facade, just so he would appear to be knowledgeable.
An Xiaoning leaned against the bookshelf and scanned the genres for one she preferred.
At last, the uppermost shelf caught her eye. Placing a ladder at the side, she climbed up and ran her fingers across the spines of the books to look for one she was interested in reading. Finally, she set her eyes on a book about personal experiences.
Just as she removed the book, the other books along the same row on the shelf also fell to the ground.
She had no choice but to carry the book she had chosen and climb down the ladder before squatting down to pick up and organize the remaining books on the ground. All of a sudden, she caught a glimpse of a yellow envelope in between the books.
There was not a single word written on the envelope.
She picked up the envelope and found a photograph after peeking inside.
It was an old photograph of a few children.
Looking at the photograph, An Xiaoning could roughly make out who each of them were.
From left to right, it was Long Tianze, Mo Li, Jin Qingyan, Ling Ciye, and a girl with an unfamiliar face.
In the photograph, Jin Qingyan seemed to be about 10 years old, approximately.
An Xiaoning began to ponder about why he had kept the photograph in the envelope since there seemed to be nothing unusual about it. Besides, a photograph with such sentimental value ought to be well-kept in a photo album instead.
An Xiaoning did not return the photograph to its original position and instead simply re-organized the books. She then placed the ladder aside and left the study with the book she had chosen and the photograph.
An Xiaoning was 20 pages deep into the book when Jin Qingyan returned home and opened the door of their bedroom.
“I went to your study to find a book to read, but I ended up knocking down some books by accident. And I found this while clearing the mess.”
Jin Qingyan moved forward and took the photograph from her hands. After taking a few glances, he said, “I’ll put it back.”
“Keep it in an album. Isn’t it an old photograph?”
“I can’t do that,” he clipped and headed to the study.
Holding the photograph in his hands, Jin Qingyan took a look and felt an immense pain in his heart as he kept his eyes focused on the girl next to Ling Ciye in the photograph. He then placed it back inside the envelope on the table and tucked the envelope between the books on the shelf.
An Xiaoning had thought he would bring up the matter about the photograph when he returned from the study. To her surprise, he did not breathe a word about it.
Overwhelmed with curiosity, she asked, “Who’s that girl next to Ling Ciye? I’ve never seen her before.”
With stiffened motions, he answered coldly, “A neighbor.”
“Was she your first crush?” asked An Xiaoning. It was only normal for one to think that way, given his reaction.
“No. Am I the kind of person who’d still have feelings for a girl I used to feel good about when I was a child?” he said while remaining calm and composed.
“Well, I’ll never know.” An Xiaoning had a nagging feeling in her heart that the girl had meant something to him. He would not have been so reluctant to talk about her, otherwise.
“Believe me, it’s not what you think. I’ll tell you more about it and her when the time is right. It’s a long story,” he assured An Xiaoning while looking at her earnestly.