The sound of the piano was brisk and melodious, and people off stage and behind the scenes were watching Sheng Jiaoyang playing the piano on the stage. No one noticed that someone had walked into the auditorium and had stopped to listen to the performance.
Once the song was finished, Sheng Jiaoyang stood up. She gave a bow to the audience, and everyone applauded. She was stunned when she inadvertently saw a familiar person standing near the aisle in the auditorium.
Sheng Jiaoyang got off the stage and walked over. She stopped two steps away and slightly looked up at the person standing in front of her.
"You…what are you doing here?”
"If I didn’t check on you in person, I wouldn’t feel at ease."
Sheng Jiaoyang lowered her head and smiled. "I’m fine, so you can rest assured now."
"I can't." Lin Yan sighed.
Huh? Sheng Jiaoyang glanced at him with doubt in her eyes.
Lin Yan was staring at her. Her silhouette was reflected in his eyes, and his gaze was so affectionate and captivating that she couldn’t resist.
"W-what?" Sheng Jiaoyang suddenly felt a little nervous.
"I don't want anything to happen to you again," Lin Yan replied.
Sheng Jiaoyang felt her heart stir and helplessly thought that she’d overestimated her resistance towards Lin Yan. She quickly changed the topic and asked, "Did you hear the song I played earlier?"
"Yes," Lin Yan answered with a slight smile. How could he not know that she was deliberately changing the subject?
"How was my performance?"
"If you’d adjusted the beat for a few notes, it would’ve sounded even better."
"Oh?" Sheng Jiaoyang was stunned. "Which notes?"
Lin Yan’s lips curled upwards. "My tuition is quite expensive, so how about we discuss this over lunch?"
Sheng Jiaoyang glanced at her watch and saw that it was around 1 PM. "Wait a moment, I'll go notify Teacher Zhou."
After bidding farewell, Sheng Jiaoyang and her bodyguard left with Lin Yan.
When they arrived at a western restaurant, Sheng Jiaoyang and Lin Yan sat at one table, while the female bodyguard sat at another table with Lin Yan's bodyguard.
"Did you come all the way here to check on me?" Sheng Jiaoyang asked as she stared at Lin Yan.
Lin Yan’s expression was gentle as he replied, "After talking to you that day, I decided that I’m not going to restrain my feelings anymore. When I’m worried about you, when I want to see you, and when you need me, I’ll appear in front of you, no matter how far away I am."
Sheng Jiaoyang picked up her glass and drank a few gulps to hide her expression.
"When are you leaving?" She changed the subject again.
Sheng Jiaoyang didn’t know whether she should feel happy or disappointed.
Lin Yan took in her expression and gently said, "I know that you’ve found a new hobby. Your drama will air soon, but I won’t be able to watch it immediately due to the time difference. Could you tell me something about the plot?"
Sheng Jiaoyang couldn’t refuse his request.
When their steaks were served, she was in the middle of introducing the plot. When she was almost done, the steak in front of Lin Yan had been carefully cut into small pieces around the same size. He got up and swapped his plate with Sheng Jiaoyang’s.
Sheng Jiaoyang glanced at him before picking up a piece of steak with her fork, appreciating his thoughtfulness.
"How’s it taste?" Lin Yan asked.
"The steak you cook tastes better." Sheng Jiaoyang froze after uttering those words.
Lin Yan looked at her and said, "Your second coming-of-age ceremony is happening soon."
Sheng Jiaoyang quietly gave a nod of acknowledgement. She remembered that the first and only time she’d eaten steak cooked by Lin Yan was on her 18th birthday. The delicious flavour and the blissful feeling she’d felt at that time was engraved into the depths of her soul, and it remained fresh in her memory.
Memories were like endless threads, intertwining one memory with another. The two of them were immersed in the same thoughts, and neither of them spoke.
After the meal, Lin Yan led Sheng Jiaoyang to the piano in the restaurant, borrowing it from the musician who’d just finished playing a song.
"Let me listen to the song once more," Lin Yan said.
Sheng Jiaoyang nodded and sat down in front of the piano. She looked up at Lin Yan and played the song she was going to perform at the New Year's evening party.
Standing not far away, the musician, who secretly cast a glance at Lin Yan, was surprised. She recognised Xu Jiaojiao. In fact, she recognised her as soon as the two of them had approached her. Presumably, many netizens knew about her all thanks to the top searched list.
The musician felt that Xu Jiaojiao had risen in fame mainly due to her constant scandals. After all, her appearance during the international fashion week was currently Xu Jiaojiao's sole achievement. And, after watching a few videos that others had posted of Xu Jiaojiao attending classes, she had to admit that Xu Jiaojiao was a high achiever in the language field. Unexpectedly, Xu Jiaojiao was also good at playing the piano, and her skills were no worse than someone who’d learned to play at a music school.
The majority of the people in the restaurant were currently looking in their direction, and some of them even picked up their cell phones to secretly record this scene.
After Sheng Jiaoyang finished playing the song, she looked up at Lin Yan.
Lin Yan, who was standing beside her, bent over and wrapped his hands around hers on top of the piano keys, closing the distance between them. He showed her a few techniques to play certain sections.
Sheng Jiaoyang’s back stiffened. His breath blended with hers and shook her heart.
"Do you remember what I just showed you?" His breath lightly brushed past her ear.
Lin Yan chuckled. His laughter sounded even more pleasant than the melody of a piano, fascinating everyone. He then dotingly asked, “You don’t remember?”
Sheng Jiaoyang lowered her head and silently scolded herself. She truly had no self-control.
Afterwards, she quickly stood up. "You can play, and I'll watch from the sidelines."
Lin Yan swept a glance over her before sitting down gracefully. He played the song, his demonstration at another level entirely.
As Sheng Jiaoyang watched Lin Yan play, her gaze uncontrollably returned to his face.
His serious expression as he played the piano was more attractive than any other painting she’d seen in this world, and his slender fingers dancing on the keys were like excellent works of art that ought to be treasured. Had it not been for his family situation, he would’ve become a great pianist.
Once the last note was pressed, Lin Yan turned to look at her and asked, "Remember it now?"
"…I think I'm hopeless," Sheng Jiaoyang replied, deciding to give up on paying attention.
Lin Yan slightly shook his head with an amused look on his face. She hadn’t changed at all. Every time he let her watch him play the piano, she’d become absent-minded.
He stood up and asked, "Can you send me to the airport?"
"Didn't you say that you’re leaving tonight?" Sheng Jiaoyang blurted out.
Lin Yan looked at her with a smile and asked somewhat teasingly, "You can’t bear to part with me?"
Sheng Jiaoyang remained silent and didn’t answer him.
Seeing that they were about to leave, the musician hurriedly approached them and asked Lin Yan, "Are you a pianist?"
‘Pianist’, what a pleasant term… Lin Yan smiled and replied, "No, I'm just a piano enthusiast."
"But, the piece you played earlier is comparable to that of a pianist."
"Thank you." Lin Yan nodded to express his thanks and left the restaurant with Sheng Jiaoyang.
When they arrived at the airport, Lin Yan looked at Sheng Jiaoyang and spread his arms. "Can you give me a hug? Think of it as seeing off an old friend."
Sheng Jiaoyang felt complex emotions stir in her heart. She took a deep breath and stepped forward, giving him a hug.
"Goodbye, Lin Yan."
Lin Yan hugged her tightly before letting go.
He stared at her with his bright, charming eyes and said, "You can go, I’ll watch you leave before going in."
Sheng Jiaoyang nodded and turned around.
"Jiaoyang!" Lin Yan suddenly called out.
Sheng Jiaoyang turned to look at him.
"I didn’t want to come back to see you yet, but I was so worried about you that I couldn't help myself and came anyway."
Lin Yan paused before adding, "The next time we meet, you’ll see a brand new me. By then, I’ll have removed all the labels on me. I’ll neither be anyone’s son nor anyone's fiance. I’ll just be a simple man who loves you."
"I hope that this day will come soon."
"Give me another chance and wait for me one more time, alright?"
On the way home, Sheng Jiaoyang sat absent-mindedly in the car. All she could think of was the last few words that Lin Yan had said to her earlier, his words echoing non-stop in her mind.
In her eyes, Lin Yan was like a cream cake placed in front of a sweets enthusiast who was trying to lose weight.
To eat or not to eat? That was a rather complicated question.
As such, Sheng Jiaoyang arrived home with complicated feelings.
"Wasn’t it just a dress rehearsal? Why are you back so late?" Grandfather Yang asked.
"A friend came to visit, so I accompanied him to lunch and took him to the airport before coming home," Sheng Jiaoyang explained.
"You came back in time for dinner. If there’s anything in particular that you'd like to eat, ask the chef to cook it for you."
"No, I’m fine. I had a late lunch and I'm not hungry yet. Grandfather, I'm a little tired, so I'll go back to my room to rest."
Grandfather Yang cast her a few glances before saying, "Go ahead, let me know if you feel unwell."
"Got it!" Sheng Jiaoyang shifted her gaze to Xiao An, who was staring at her, and patted him on the head. "Xiao An, stay here and eat dinner with your great-grandfather, alright?"
Xiao An nodded.
Sheng Jiaoyang then headed upstairs. She first went back to her bedroom and changed into casual clothes before entering her studio.
Outside the window, the sky had already darkened, so she turned on the light and looked for the portrait of Lin Yan. However, she couldn't find it anywhere in the studio.
Who took her painting?!
Sheng Jiaoyang went downstairs and asked with a slightly unhappy expression, "Who entered my studio today?"
Xiao An looked at her and whispered, "Dad took a painting away."
Sheng Jiaoyang was immediately filled with rage. She stormed back to her bedroom and called Shen Zhining, asking him why he’d touched her painting without approval.
Shen Zhining calmly replied, "Yes, I was the one who took it. Say, who did you draw?"
"You’re clearly asking the obvious!" Sheng Jiaoyang was extremely annoyed.
"Alright, let me rephrase my question. You’re currently asking me for another man’s portrait, have you considered my feelings?"
Sheng Jiaoyang choked. She then retorted, "That’s two different matters!”
"No, it's the same."
In his study, Shen Zhining looked down at the stack of photos spread on his desk with a dark expression.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
TL: Yuna | Editor: Purpledragon | TLC: Grace