The atmosphere instantly became awkward.
Sheng Jiaoyang facepalmed. What’s he doing here?!
"I-I suddenly remembered that I need to report to Grandfather, so I’m leaving first." Sheng Jiaoyang feigned a calm front and was eager to run away.
Shen Zhining, however, wrapped his hand around her waist and unfeelingly dismissed her plan to escape.
"Since everyone is here, we can take this chance to clear things up," he said.
Sheng Jiaoyang held her forehead. This was such a headache! But, since she couldn’t avoid it, she could only face it head-on.
She took a deep breath and placed her hand on the back of Shen Zhining's hand around her waist, their pose appearing exceptionally intimate as she said, "This is my boyfriend." When she said that, she didn’t look Lin Yan in the eye. She didn’t dare to look at his current expression, fearing that she’d become soft-hearted.
The corners of Shen Zhining mouth raised slightly. He stared at the expressionless Lin Yan and said, "Young Master Lin, have you heard of this saying before? When you find something you like, you should treasure the chance and go for it. Otherwise, it’s too late for regrets."
Sheng Jiaoyang glanced at him. Was he referring to her when he said 'something’?
"Mr Shen is talking about an object. I only believe in an old saying: ‘With a will, you can achieve anything’," Lin Yan said flatly.
"Heh," Shen Zhining sneered. "I never thought that Young Master Lin was such a sincere person. When Jiaoyang liked you, you kept her hanging all the time, not rejecting or accepting her. In the end, you still chose your career. I can’t help but suspect that you’re pestering Jiaojiao now only because you regard her as Jiaoyang’s substitute."
Upon hearing this, Lin Yan suddenly burst into laughter.
Sheng Jiaoyang's heart skipped a beat. Lin Yan had just confirmed that Shen Zhining didn’t know about her identity. She glanced at Lin Yan, who also happened to stare at her. His gaze contained a meaningful look that she understood at a glance.
Seeing the two staring at each other, discontentment brewed within Shen Zhining’s heart. His gaze turned cold and he softly pinched her waist, effectively bringing her to her senses.
What are you doing? Sheng Jiaoyang shifted her gaze to Shen Zhining.
Shen Zhining slightly raised an eyebrow, but he didn’t respond.
Seeing their intimate gesture, Lin Yan’s expression darkened. He then said, "Mr Shen, seeing how concerned you are about Jiaoyang’s matters, could it be that you like her?"
His question was a hidden time-bomb that only he and Jiaoyang were aware of. Shen Zhining didn’t know that Jiaojiao was Jiaoyang, so if he answered with a ‘yes’, doesn't this mean that he was treating Jiaojiao as Jiaoyang’s substitute? And, if his answer was ‘no’, then…haha.
"How does this concern Young Master Lin?" Shen Zhining coldly asked.
"It has nothing to do with me.” Lin Yan peered at Sheng Jiaoyang and smiled faintly. "But, I’m sure that Jiaojiao wants to know your answer."
Sheng Jiaoyang indeed wanted to confirm if he liked her. Although Grandfather Yang had told her before, she was still sceptical about it.
Seeing her expression, Shen Zhining understood her thoughts at a glance. And, he seemed bothered about the fact that Lin Yan had understood her so well.
"That's right,” he admitted.
Lin Yan smiled meaningfully and said, "If that’s the case, then you’re the one treating who’s Jiaojiao as a substitute."
Sheng Jiaoyang’s mind was already a tangled mess. Shen Zhining actually likes her, or better said, he likes Jiaoyang.
Shen Zhining, who’d been quietly observing her, saw the change in her expression and his heart sank. He turned her around to face him and explained, "I don't want to lie to you about it, but it's true that I like you."
Before Sheng Jiaoyang could respond, Lin Yan said, "Mr Shen, it seems that your heart is quite spacious to accommodate so many people. There’s no need for an explanation as you only explain when you have something to hide. You’re regarding Jiaojiao as a substitute because some of Jiaojiao's characteristics are similar to Jiaoyang’s. Coupled with the fact that you like Jiaoyang, you consequently treat Jiaojiao as her substitute."
Lin Yan said this to deal Shen Zhining a blow, but it was also to remind Sheng Jiaoyang.
‘Look, the person Shen Zhining likes isn’t the current you, but the former you.’
If Shen Zhining had to choose between liking the current her or the former her, she’d prefer to hear the former. When there was only one choice to make, choosing the past meant negating the present. However, they were living in the present. Naturally, she’d prefer to hear him say that the person he liked was the current her.
Shen Zhining’s expression darkened and he coldly replied, "Young Master Lin, you’re in no position to preach. Don't forget, you’re already engaged."
Lin Yan was about to say something when a gentle voice spoke from the side.
"Yan, who are you talking to?"
It was Lin Xuejun, Lin Yan's mother.
From her perspective, she couldn’t see Shen Zhining and Sheng Jiaoyang because the two were blocked by the pillar. Thus, she only saw Lin Yan, who stood right in front of the pillar.
Only when she’d walked closer did she see the other two standing behind the pillar.
"Excuse me for interrupting you guys. Yan, your grandfather is looking for you."
Lin Yan cast another glance at Sheng Jiaoyang before turning around and leaving with Lin Xuejun.
The moment Lin Yan had left, Sheng Jiaoyang quickly removed the hand around her waist and took a step back. She stared at Shen Zhining and asked, "You truly like Sheng Jiaoyang? You used to…I heard that you used to bully her a lot. How could you possibly like her?"
Shen Zhining was amused by her questions. "Lin Yan just said that I like you because I see you as Jiaoyang’s substitute. Shouldn't you be asking about that instead?"
"…That's right. What's your answer?"
"No, you’re not a substitute." He stared her straight in the eye and earnestly added, "I like you, and it’s as simple as that. There aren’t any conditions nor factors behind this."
"You just said that when you find something you like, you should treasure the chance and go for it. Since you liked Jiaoyang, why didn't you chase her back then?"
Now that Sheng Jiaoyang had brought the topic back into their conversation, Shen Zhining was somewhat helpless. He didn't want to answer because there were many things that he didn't want to tell anybody.
"You really want to know?"
Sheng Jiaoyang nodded.
"Then, tell me about you and Lin Yan first."
Sheng Jiaoyang was speechless.
Alright, since neither of them wanted to talk, they could only stare at each other without uttering a single word.
Grandfather Lin's birthday banquet progressed to the second and final segment of the day. Lina got away and looked for Sheng Jiaoyang. Since the latter had already informed Shen Zhining, the two left the banquet hall together.
In the elevator, Lina said, "I saw everything."
"What did you see?" Sheng Jiaoyang cast a puzzled look at Lina.
Lina raised an eyebrow and teased, "Hey, don’t play dumb with me. When the lights went out, you and Demon King Shen, tsk, tsk…"
Sheng Jiaoyang inexplicably blushed at her words.
"Shoot! How did you and Demon King Shen end up together? Don't tell me things like you were confused or anything like that. I want to hear about the process! The entire process!"
Under Lina's ‘torturous interrogation’, Sheng Jiaoyang finally surrendered.
Sheng Jiaoyang brought Lina home, and the two best friends lay side by side in bed after washing up and chatted until dawn.
The sun gradually rose and lit up the sky with its mellow glow, the first glimmer of light shining through the window. Yet, Lina still wasn’t sleepy and appeared very energetic.
"The way I see it, you aren’t resisting Demon King Shen because you like him, not because you're afraid of him." Lina expressed her thoughts.
"I like him?" How’s that possible? Sheng Jiaoyang frowned.
"Does your heart beat faster when he kisses you?"
Sheng Jiaoyang thought for a moment and blushed again. She then angrily said, "Shen Zhining is a jerk, a pervert, and a kissing maniac!"
"You don’t refuse, but accept his approaches calmly!" Lina said with a smile.
"I…" Sheng Jiaoyang choked for a moment. "It's not that I don't want to reject his approaches, but that he doesn't give me a chance to. Besides, he’s so strong."
"Don't say empty words. Just admit it; you like him."
Sheng Jiaoyang turned to look at Lina lying next to her. Why does that phrase sound so familiar?
"Jiaojiao!" Lina suddenly called out in a serious tone. “In fact, you should let yourself date Demon King Shen. Look, he still likes you even when he doubts you, which shows that he’s really fallen for you. You also don’t resist him, which shows that you’re secretly quite dependent on him. Don’t be so quick to negate my words. The way I see it, your every word and action confirms this point. Dear, believe me, I’m positive about this."
She spoke earnestly, and Sheng Jiaoyang listened attentively. Lina’s words had indeed gotten through to her. Sheng Jiaoyang then started to ponder the likelihood of it being true.
"I'm not kidding, don't hesitate. Even if it doesn’t work out in the end, so what? You even managed to get over a ‘bottomless pit’ like Lin Yan. What's there to be afraid of?" Lina encouraged.
Sheng Jiaoyang suddenly cheered up. That’s right, what did she have to worry about? Shen Zhining should be the one worrying about her!
"Mei Niu, I love you!" Sheng Jiaoyang held Lina's face in her hands and kissed her on the lips.
Lina, on the other hand, shuddered. She blocked Sheng Jiaoyang's face with her hand and pushed her away.
"What? You dislike me?" Sheng Jiaoyang muttered as she took Lina's hand.
"Stop it! You kissed Demon King Shen yesterday. Don't kiss me like that again! It makes me feel as if I’m kissing Demon King Shen indirectly!” Lina shuddered again.
"…You’re too much! In the past, I wouldn’t give you the cold shoulder after you and George kissed!” Sheng Jiaoyang blurted without thinking, freezing as soon as the words had left her lips.
Lina was silent too.
"Mei Niu, is it really over between you and George?" Sheng Jiaoyang probed.
"I don't know. He hasn't shown up in front of me for a long time now."
Sheng Jiaoyang pursed her lips. She felt helpless about their situation. She clearly remembered that George wanted to patch things up with Mei Niu the last time, so why’d he suddenly give up? That was so unlike him.
"Let’s sleep, it’s already dawn," Sheng Jiaoyang said.
"Mhmm." Lina yawned and closed her eyes.
After a while, Sheng Jiaoyang opened her eyes and softly called out, “Mei Niu” Seeing that Lina didn’t respond, she got up. She then grabbed Mei Niu's cell phone and sent a message.
George, let's meet. If you see this, please reply.
Soon after, George texted back ‘Okay’. His brief message exposed his urgency to reply.
From this, Sheng Jiaoyang more or less understood their situation. She then sent him the meeting place’s location.
She believed that no matter where George was right now, and no matter how far away he was, he’d do everything he could to rush over to the agreed place.
Sheng Jiaoyang looked down at Lina, who was sleeping soundly, and deleted the text messages, one by one.
‘Mei Niu, since you don’t dare to take the first step, I’ll give you a push.’Previous Chapter Next Chapter
TL: Yuna | Editor: Purpledragon | TLC: Grace
The glossary can be found here: ROF Glossary.