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Jin Qingyan had his hands clasped behind his back. He turned and darted a glance at her. “How about we take a picture together?”

“Sure. Let’s go over there where there’s a long bench and some lighting,” she replied, pointing to the area ahead.

Jin Qingyan walked alongside her to the area ahead. An Xiaoning stood on the bench, flashed a wide smile revealing a line of shiny white teeth, and said, “Take it.”

Jin Qingyan aimed the phone camera at her and snapped a shot. The effect of the snow was not too overpowering or subtle. It made the shot look perfect.

Next, he took over the position An Xiaoning was standing on and let her take a shot of him too. They then finally took a shot together.

Both of them were facing the camera for the shot, but who’d have guessed, when it was five seconds before the self-timer was about to go off, he caught her off guard by giving her a kiss. An Xiaoning glared at him and immediately went to check if the picture was blurry. Surprisingly, the shot turned out pretty well.

“The solo shots were taken using your phone. You can keep them. This one of us together is in mine, I’ll keep it then.”

“I’ll just send you these two pictures and you can send me that one.”

“That’s true.”

The two headed back to the main house, using their Bluetooth to send the pictures as they walked.

Arriving back in their bedroom, there were two sets of pajamas placed neatly on the bed, one was blue and the other red. An Xiaoning noticed and asked, “You prepared this?”

“Mmm, there are two more sets in the cupboard. The blue one’s mine, the red one’s yours. I picked them carefully.”

An Xiaoning reached for the blue pajama top. There were Mickey Mouse patterns printed on it. Then she looked at her red one, which had Donald Duck patterns printed on it, and asked, “Why is yours Mickey Mouse and mine Donald Duck?”

“No reason. I like it. Also, the ones in the cupboard are different from these two.”

An Xiaoning noticed his lips had curled into a strange smile so she quickly went to take them out to see. The blue one had a pattern of Pleasant Goat, a cartoon character, printed on it, while on the red one was a pattern of Slow Goat, another cartoon character, printed.

She rearranged them into the cupboard. After trying it on, she realized it looked pretty good and fit very well. She asked, “This doesn’t look like it’s sold outside, you had it custom-made?”

“What a good judgment you have. Would it fit that well if I hadn’t had them custom-made?” He wore the blue pajamas — the soft fiber on the inside rested against his skin, and it felt exceptionally comfortable.

“But how did you know my measurements?”

“I relied on… my sense of touch.”

An Xiaoning’s face blushed slightly. She wore her socks and sat on the cushioned mat to do her yoga poses.

“Your body is great enough, what more do you need to shape?”

“A good body needs to be maintained too. Don’t be too full of yourself and think I’m doing this so that you won’t get sick of me. I’m doing this so that I’ll be in a great condition every day.”

“I didn’t think of it that way.” He lay on the bed, sipping some red wine. “Don’t flatter yourself.”

“Babylifewasgoodtomebutyoujustmadeitbetternull, Ilovethewayitstandbymethroughanykindofweathernull…” Jin Qingyan took his own sweet time before he picked up his phone, glanced at the screen, and said, “It’s from Father.”

He then answered it. “Hello.”

“Qingyan, your mother’s been hospitalized.”

“How did that happen?” Jin Qingyan got down from the bed and wore his shoes.

“I’m now in one of the wards at the community hospital. We can talk about it when you come — oh yes, bring along Xiaoning.”

The call was hurriedly ended. He turned to An Xiaoning and said, “Don’t practice anymore. Mother’s in a hospital. Hurry, get changed and come with me.”

“Okay.” An Xiaoning questioned as she changed, “Why was she hospitalized? What happened?”

“Father didn’t say, he said we can talk when we get there.”

The couple quickly rushed to the hospital by car and almost ran all the way to the ward.

In the ward, there was only Mr. Jin and Jin Qingyue, who sat there with her head lowered.

“Father, what exactly happened, what’s wrong with Mother’s head?”

“It’s like that, the last time Xiaoning met with that mishap, your mother and I went over to your place. After we came back, she fell down two steps of the staircase near the living room and hit her head. There was a bit of blood then, but your mother said she wouldn’t go out the rest of the month anymore. But this afternoon…” Mr. Jin continued, “Shi Shaochuan wanted to see your mother to talk about him and your sister. Your mother said it wasn’t nice if he brought his mother over to our house directly, so they arranged to meet at a private room in a teahouse. They finished talking and had already reached home, Qingyue opened the door for your mother, but for some reason, her head plunged past it and was injured badly. There was so much blood.”

Jin Qingyan looked towards his own sister and questioned, “You knew Mother couldn’t go out this month, couldn’t you have let Shi Shaochuan bring his mother to meet Mother next month?”

Jin Qingyue pouted her lips and sulked, “His mother already initiated this, how could I bring myself to push it to next month?”

“You couldn’t bring yourself to push it to next month, but you could bring yourself to let Mother meet with an accident?”

“I didn’t want that either…”

Jin Qingyan did not want to continue this dispute with her, so he asked, “What did the doctor say?”

“Nothing much. She just needs to be hospitalized for a few days. But I think it’s better if she rests at home — better to be safe than sorry.”

“I’ll arrange it,” Jin Qingyan replied and turned to leave the ward.

An Xiaoning moved closer to Mrs. Jin’s bedside and took out a long piece of thin yellow amulet with red markings. She reached out to loosen Mrs. Jin’s collar and pasted the amulet close to her heart, then she adjusted her collar properly again and instructed Mr. Jin, “Take off this amulet for her tomorrow morning. It’s late now — tomorrow when she’s discharged, she should be fine until she gets back home. Until the rest of this month, whatever on earth happens, don’t let Mother leave the old mansion again. It’ll get more and more serious each time.”

Mr. Jin noted this down and replied, “Alright, then what do I do with the amulet after that…”

“It’ll be useless after tomorrow morning, just tear it away.”


After Chi Rui’er was discharged, she planned on fetching her mother to her own place, so she brought two people along with her to visit her mother’s house.

Her mother was cooking in the kitchen while her stepfather lay on the bed smoking. Seeing that she was here, he immediately got up.

“Mother, stop cooking. Come and pack your luggage, move to my place to stay.”

“What on earth are you saying? I have a house, why would I go over and live with you? You’ll get married in the future, I shouldn’t create trouble for you.”

Chi Rui’er sighed. “You living here makes me keep worrying about you. Even if I get married next time, I’ll bring you along. You won’t create trouble for me. Mother, go pack your luggage.”

“I’m not going.” Chi Rui’er’s mother turned around to continue her cooking.

“Both of you pack up all my mother’s clothes and belongings. Take everything including her household register and identification card.”

Seeing that she was so bent on it, Mrs. Chi was puzzled. “This girl, now you’re trying to take me away forcefully?”

“Mother, just come with me, I’m your only family member.”

“And your father is not?”

“He’s not.”

Mrs. Chi said slowly, in a softer voice, “I know you are prejudiced against your father, but after we are both gone, he’ll be the only one left here. There’ll be no one to cook and wash for him, how lonely and pitiful will that be?”

Chi Rui’er was at a loss as to what to tell her mother. She could only reply coldly, “He’s not pitiful at all. Mother, I don’t want to say anything else — stop cooking.”

She went forward and grabbed the kitchen knife from her mother’s hands, placed it down, and insisted stubbornly, “Let’s go.”