Chapter 153 - Compromise

Sheng Jiaoyang woke up in pain, finding the feeling seemingly familiar. However, it was so dark that she would’ve thought she was in a dream if the pain in her neck wasn’t reminding her that it was real.

"Hello?!" she shouted.

All she could hear was her echo, nothing else.

Everything was pitch-black before her eyes, and she couldn’t find her glasses.

She didn't know where she was. This place was dark, quiet, and cold like a basement.

Who’d brought her here? Why had they kidnapped her?

"Hello, is anyone there?"

"Someone, please come!"

"Is anyone there or not?!"

After shouting for a long time without receiving any response, Sheng Jiaoyang felt a penetrating chill seeping into her bones.

People who hadn’t been locked up in a small dark room before would never know how terrible it felt to be confined in such conditions. Things like an unknown fate and endless darkness in the empty and cold environment became factors that destroyed one’s willpower.

As time slowly passed, minute by minute, Sheng Jiaoyang’s rationality began to wander until it was on the brink of collapsing.

At that moment, she suddenly heard squeaking, which seemed to be coming from another world.

Tap, tap, tap…

She could hear the sound of footsteps getting nearer.

She raised her head from the crook of her arm and winced at the searing light, hastily closing her eyes. After getting used to the light, she slowly opened her eyes again. The first thing that came into view was a pair of men's leather boots. She then slowly raised her head and saw a man standing with his back to the light. It was so bright that she couldn’t see his face clearly, but she already knew who the person standing in front of her was.

Shen! Zhi! Ning!!

"You bastard!" she cursed hoarsely.

"How long can one last in a small dark room? When one’s willpower is shattered, coupled with psychedelic drugs, no matter how strong-willed one is, they’ll still reveal the truth."

His words caused Sheng Jiaoyang’s blood to run cold. Her voice trembled as she asked, "What are you going to do to me?"

"I’m planning to do exactly that," Shen Zhining admitted.

Sheng Jiaoyang was silent. She knew how stubborn Shen Zhining was and it wasn’t easy to change his mind. No matter how hard she’d tried to leave a favourable impression on him before, he still suspected that she had ulterior motives. She was now hesitating over whether to come clean about her identity or not. However, Shen Zhining was an atheist, so she didn’t know what the odds were of him believing that she was Jiaoyang. She was afraid that if she said that, he wouldn’t believe her and instead feel all the more certain that she was harbouring evil intentions.

"I now believe that…"

Shen Zhining stooped down and lifted her chin with one hand. He looked her in the eye and said, "…Witches exist in this world."

W-what was he trying to say? Sheng Jiaoyang blinked with a puzzled look on her face.

In the next moment, Shen Zhining grabbed her hand and pulled her up. It was probably because she’d been sitting in this cold place for too long, but when she took a step forward as she was dragged along, her legs gave way and she stumbled. If Shen Zhining hadn't been holding her arm and caught her in time, she would have hit the ground by now.

"My feet are numb, I can’t walk…" Before Sheng Jiaoyang could finish her sentence, Shen Zhining had already picked her up in his arms, leaving her dazed.

She held onto his clothes tightly and stared at him with an open mouth. As she studied the outline of his handsome face, she felt perplexed in her heart. The hands carrying her were very sturdy and strong. She’d recently grown taller and had gained a bit of weight. Moreover, adding on the thick winter clothes she was wearing, she must weigh at least a hundred pounds. But, he was walking steadily with her in his arms and his breathing was regular.

"Boss, Lilith has already prepared the hot water," Felix, who was standing in the living room, reported.

Shen Zhining faintly nodded and walked upstairs with Sheng Jiaoyang in his arms.

When Sheng Jiaoyang was placed on the bed, she finally couldn't help herself and asked, "Are you playing a joke on me?"

He’d inexplicably kidnapped her, made some weird remarks, and now he was seemingly letting her go without an explanation.

Shen Zhining merely stared at her with an intense look in his eyes. Instead, he instructed Lilith, who was standing beside him, to help her bathe before walking out of the room.

"Miss Xu, should I help you undress?" Lilith asked with a smile.

"What on earth was he trying to do?" Sheng Jiaoyang stared at the door with a puzzled look.

Lilith blinked. "Boss probably realised how important you are to him."

Sheng Jiaoyang turned to look at Lilith, who nodded at her with certainty, but she didn’t dare to believe Lilith’s words. With how Demon King Shen was repeatedly treating her with that sometimes good, sometimes bad attitude, it would be preposterous if she was important to him!

"Miss Xu, hurry up and take a warm bath. Otherwise, you'll catch a cold," Lilith reminded.

Sheng Jiaoyang didn’t know how long she’d stayed in that cold basement. Anyway, she was already burning up and dazed before she’d even finished her bath. She only woke up for a moment when a needle was inserted in the back of her hand, squinting in pain. She hazily saw two people standing by the bedside. One of them was Lilith, who was in the middle of inserting an IV, and the other stood a little further away so she couldn’t see them clearly.

By the time she woke up, it was already morning.

Without her glasses, Sheng Jiaoyang’s vision was blurred. She only saw a person standing in front of her oil painting ‘Daughter of the Sea’. She raised her hand to rub her eyes, but inadvertently yanked on the needle in the back of her hand and gasped with pain.

"Don't move," a voice commanded.

Soon after, someone walked to the bedside and held up her wrist to check on the needle in the back of her hand.

Sheng Jiaoyang dazedly stared at the person fixing the needle’s position. If the cool fluid wasn’t flowing through her veins, she would’ve thought that nothing had happened yesterday.

"You…have you changed your approach?" Had he switched to a honey trap?

Shen Zhining looked down at her with a rarely seen trace of complex emotions in his eyes. He murmured under his breath, "I simply compromised."

Because of his proximity, Sheng Jiaoyang heard him clearly, so she asked in puzzlement, "What did you compromise?"

Shen Zhining didn’t answer.

No one knew what he’d compromised except for himself.

His initial plan was to keep her locked up in the basement and let the endless darkness and stillness destroy her willpower. He didn't have to do anything else and could simply wait until she couldn’t stand it anymore and would willingly tell him the truth.

However, Felix had walked in with a cup of coffee and happened to see the scene on the surveillance monitor. He’d then said, "The basement is very cold. She won’t be able to stand it if she stays there for a long time."

At that time, one of his nerves seemingly snapped.

"Zhining, are you tired? Shall I give you a massage?"

"Good morning, Zhining."

"Come back and we’ll eat dinner together!!"

"Zhining, are you free tonight? If so, then how about we go to the movies?"

"Zhining, Grandmother Andy told me that you suffer from indigestion. Remember to eat on time, and you must eat three meals a day."

"Zhining, you’ll regret this!"

In the end, Grandfather Yang’s angry words fervently echoed in his mind.

Afterwards, all those memories suddenly shattered to pieces, leaving only the image of a figure curled up in the corner on the computer screen in front of him.

He broke his own principles and gave in to his already soft-hearted self.

Sheng Jiaoyang had a confused expression on her face and her lips were very pale. As their gazes locked, Shen Zhining’s silhouette was reflected in her big, round eyes. At this moment, she appeared totally harmless, making his heart go soft.

Rumble!

A strange gurgling sound suddenly filled the room.

Shen Zhining glanced at the spot where the sound had come from, and then looked at her again.

Sheng Jiaoyang's pale face suddenly flushed. She raised her other hand to cover her eyes and weakly said, "I'm hungry."

Shen Zhining put down the hand with the IV in it before turning around and walking out of the room.


On the beach, a group of people disembarked from a yacht.

"Old Yang, calm down…"

"How can I not worry? If Zhining dares to hurt Jiaojiao, I won't let him off!" Grandfather Yang interrupted Grandfather Shen.

Grandfather Shen frowned. "Old Yang, that’s enough! Are you really going to disregard our friendship for an outsider?"

"Jiaojiao isn’t an outsider, she’s the person dearest to me! If Zhining was the one kidnapped, would you still be here talking about friendship with me?" Grandfather Yang almost came to blows with his friend.

"How can you compare it like that? Zhining is the Shen Family’s sole descendant, while Xu Jiaojiao has no blood relation with you whatsoever. I really don't know what’s gotten into your head, it’s like you’re possessed or something. Jiaoyang ought to be the one dearest to you. She was just buried not long ago, yet you’re already acting like this. Don't you remember what you said to Xu Jiaojiao at Jiaoyang’s funeral that day? You said that you didn't want to see her ever again! Why are you treating her like she’s more important to you than your biological granddaughter? Hey, the more I say, the more I feel that something is wrong with you. Did someone cast an evil spell on you or what? Looks like Xu Jiaojiao isn’t that simple. How could Zhining fall in love with someone like her, who’s not even as pretty as Daisy?"

"Don't talk nonsense! In my opinion, Jiaojiao is a good girl," Fu Lailin hurriedly interrupted her husband.

Grandfather Yang coldly snorted and stopped talking to his buddy. He just urged the driver to go faster.


Bam!

The door was forcefully pushed open and hit the wall loudly.

Sheng Jiaoyang, who was eating porridge, was startled by the sudden racket and choked on her food, her face turning red as she coughed.

"Jiaojiao!" an anxious and worried voice called out right after.

"Grand-, cough, cough, -father, cough, cough…" Sheng Jiaoyang’s eyes widened in surprise as she looked towards the doorway, but she couldn’t see things clearly.

As for Grandfather Yang, when he saw Jiaojiao coughing and hooked up to an IV, he became increasingly agitated.

No one expected the next scene.

Bang!

The porcelain bowl fell to the ground, porridge splashing everywhere.

"Zhining!"

"Grandfather!"

Two shouts sounded simultaneously.

Grandfather Yang fell to the side, but luckily, An Jing was quick on his feet and helped him back to the wheelchair.

Shen Zhining, on the other hand, had a big red mark across his face. Grandfather Yang had stood up angrily, punching Shen Zhining in the face.

If this had happened earlier, when Grandfather Yang was still able-bodied, Shen Zhining would’ve been beaten worse than this, most likely with one or two teeth knocked out.

"Old Yang, have you gone mad?!" Grandfather Shen was furious.

Grandfather Yang was gasping for breath as he said, "An Jing, get Jiaojiao and let’s leave."

"Grandfather, are you feeling unwell anywhere?" Sheng Jiaoyang completely ignored the uncomfortable feeling in her throat and leaned forward to check on Grandfather Yang with a concerned expression.

Grandfather Yang slid the wheelchair forward and took Sheng Jiaoyang’s hand in his, anxiously asking, "I’m fine, don’t worry. How about you, are you hurt?"

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Yuna's Thoughts

TL: Yuna | Editor: Purpledragon | TLC: Grace