With Lin Yan and Sheng Jiaoyang working together, an exquisite and beautiful cake with roses painted on it was born.
"How beautiful!" Seeing the results of her efforts, Sheng Jiaoyang expressed her satisfaction.
"This is the easiest cake that I’ve ever made. You did the most crucial and difficult portion." Lin Yan looked at her with a smile.
"It wasn’t done by me, we did it together. Wait, let me get my phone. I have to take a good photo of such a memorable cake."
Sheng Jiaoyang dashed out of the kitchen before returning with her phone.
Click, click! She took photos from various angles.
"Jiaoyang, let's take a photo of us with the cake.” Lin Yan also took out his phone.
"Sure!" Sheng Jiaoyang didn't think too much into it. She held the cake up and stood beside Lin Yan, waiting for the photo to be taken.
Lin Yan placed a hand on her shoulder naturally and held onto the phone with his other hand as he took the photo.
After taking the photo, Sheng Jiaoyang slightly lifted the cake and asked, "Can we eat now?"
"Hold on, bring the cake to the dining table first."
"Okay." Sheng Jiaoyang licked her lips and carried the cake out.
Lin Yan trailed behind her with dining utensils, plates, and candles. He then put a total of 18 candles around the edge of the cake, and lit them.
"Jiaoyang, make a wish before blowing out the candles!"
The only source of light in the room came from the cake. The candlelight flickered as the pair exchanged glances.
"Alright.” She glanced down at the cake before closing her eyes and pressing her palms together.
A short moment later, Sheng Jiaoyang opened her eyes, bowed her head, and blew out the candles in a single breath.
Lin Yan didn't immediately turn on the lights. Instead, he asked in the dark, "What did you wish for?"
"I wished for my family and friends to always be healthy, especially my grandfather. I wished for him to live to a hundred without any ailments."
"That's great, anything else?"
Sheng Jiaoyang paused and looked in Lin Yan's direction. It was pitch black, so she couldn't see where he was standing. She spoke in a soft voice, "I wish Lin Yan happiness."
There was only silence in reply.
"You…didn't make a wish for yourself?" Lin Yan asked in a husky voice a short moment later.
"I did, everything I said just now was my wish."
The darkness was filled with uncertainties. Sheng Jiaoyang looked around and took two tentative steps. "Where's the light switch? I'll turn on the lights."
"Aiyo~" Sheng Jiaoyang bumped into a chair.
The lights were switched on.
"Did you hurt yourself?" Lin Yan looked at her with concern. Seeing that she was crouching with a hand rubbing her knee, he became slightly nervous. "Did you injure your knee?"
"Not really, I just hit it and it hurts a little," Sheng Jiaoyang explained hurriedly.
Sheng Jiaoyang could tell he still wanted to check on her injury, so she straightened her posture and continued, "Let's eat. I'm hungry."
Lin Yan watched her for a few seconds before he smiled and removed the candles from the cake. He then turned to his side to pick up the cake knife and handed it to her.
"It's your new birthday tomorrow. You should make the first cut."
"New birthday…" Sheng Jiaoyang repeated those two words and smiled. "It's my new birthday indeed." She gripped the cake knife and slowly cut the beautiful cake with a horizontal cut, followed by a vertical cut. She then carefully cut them into slices, with almost every slice having a complete rose on it.
After cutting the cake, she took two slices and placed them on separate plates. She gave one of them to Lin Yan before she picked up her slice of cake and took a bite. Indeed, the sweetness suited her tastes. Coupled with the fact that they’d baked this cake together, she felt that the cake was very delicious.
"How's the taste?" Lin Yan asked.
"Delicious," she mumbled.
Lin Yan's smile reached the depth of his eyes when he saw her cheeks bulging with food. "Do you want to watch TV while we eat?"
Hence, they brought the cake to the living room.
"Brother Lin Yan, I realised that you’re amazing in everything you do." Sheng Jiaoyang held her plate in her hands as she followed Lin Yan and sat down on the sofa.
"You too." Lin Yan turned on the television. On the screen was a shot from the drama series ‘Redeeming my IGD Boyfriend’. "Your acting was exceptional."
Sheng Jiaoyang's gaze landed on the TV screen. "You’re watching this too?"
"You’re in it.” He looked at her with a smouldering gaze.
Sheng Jiaoyang bowed her head down and pretended to be engrossed in eating her cake.
"In terms of commitment, Jiaoyang, I can never compare to you. You’re always committed to everything, regardless if it was something or someone."
Hearing his words that were filled with complex overtones, Sheng Jiaoyang pursed her lips and quietly said, "It's not possible to be committed to everything. I’m just exceptionally attentive to things that I like."
"So, you’re able to accept someone else because you don't like me anymore?" Lin Yan stared at her intensely.
She didn’t like Lin Yan anymore? Sheng Jiaoyang wasn't certain about this. What she was certain about was the fact that she loved herself more now. She’d no longer put herself in a passive position like before, and she’d no longer allow herself to live her life revolving around one person.
"Jiaoyang, I'm single now."
"I broke off our engagement."
Sheng Jiaoyang and Lin Yan locked eyes.
Sheng Jiaoyang's feelings were extremely complex. Lin Yan had actually given up Julia, who could help him become an inner core member of the Bruno family, for her.
Breaking off an engagement was easy, but it wasn’t so simple with Julia's family background. Moreover, Julia had feelings for Lin Yan, so she certainly wouldn’t break off the engagement so readily.
"What's the price that you paid?" She didn't believe that he could get out of the engagement unscathed.
However, Lin Yan avoided her gaze and turned to look at the television screen. After several moments, he answered softly, "My conscience, perhaps."
Conscience? Sheng Jiaoyang was perplexed.
"Let's not talk about that.” Lin Yan turned to look at her. "Jiaoyang, I no longer let other factors dictate my feelings. So, everything I say truly comes from the bottom of my heart."
He paused momentarily before he continued, "Before meeting you, I always felt that my path in life was to work hard to strengthen my abilities and devote myself to the power struggle in my family. But, eventually…you appeared. I finally felt that there was something else worth looking forward to every day.”
Lin Yan had never told her any of this before. It was clear that these were his heartfelt words, yet Sheng Jiaoyang felt a little sorry for him. In the past, she felt the sorriest for Lina, because although her parents were alive, she’d never received much concern or love. Ever since she was young, Lina had been sent to boarding school, which was completely different from what Lin Yan had experienced. Not only had Lin Yan received all the concern and love from Aunt Lin, but he was also brought back to the Bruno family by his philandering father to acknowledge his roots and become one of the third-generation heirs recognised by the head of the Bruno family. In the eyes of others, Lin Yan led a pretty great life. It was at least a much better life than Lina’s as she was never showered with any concern since she was young, and no one cared about her even when she was sick with a fever of forty degrees. But, unbeknownst to others, behind the scenes, Lin Yan lived a lonely life as well.
On second thought, Sheng Jiaoyang could understand. Lin Yan's mother, Aunt Lin, wasn't able to give him the status of a legitimate child. Furthermore, Aunt Lin poured all her heart and soul into him, hoping that he’d have a bright future. She was desperate for him to grow up rapidly into a towering tree able to shelter her and Lina from future storms. Therefore, one could imagine the amount of pressure he’d had on him since childhood.
"I started to look forward to the girl who would lean over the windowsill to greet me all the time. I started to look forward to seeing what kind of excuses she’d cook up to approach me the next time." Lin Yan looked as though he was reminiscing about something as a faint smile spread across his face.
He looked at Sheng Jiaoyang with tenderness in his eyes. "I knew she liked me. She made it so apparent. The way she looked at me was similar to that of a greedy little cat seeing its favourite food, all cheery and excited. Back then, I didn't know what it meant to like someone. I only knew that I wanted to see her again."
Sheng Jiaoyang stared at him blankly. So, he’s known since long ago that I liked him.
"Mother would constantly remind me about the weight of responsibility resting on my shoulders. Emotions would only get in the way. Since my goals haven’t been achieved, everything else was just empty talk. Regardless of how much I wanted to be alone with her, how much I wanted to live the rest of my life peacefully and quietly in a world with only the two of us, I was unable to do it."
Lin Yan sighed as the smile on his face disappeared. The lines between his brows were stained with melancholy.
Sheng Jiaoyang raised her hand, hoping to rub away the melancholy between his brows. However, no sooner had she raised it that she realised what she was doing and quickly dropped it back onto her lap.
Lin Yan's gaze swept over her hand before it landed on her face. He didn’t miss her slightly pursed lips and the wavering look in her eyes. A glint flickered in the recesses of his eyes as he said, "According to the supposed plan, Julia and I should’ve been engaged long ago, but I wasn't able to get over the void in my heart. I never thought that I’d experience a time more miserable than my childhood. After what happened to you, I even lost interest in playing my beloved piano. All I could think about was you."
"It’s hard for a person who’s always lived in the dark, but in comparison, it’s more painful for one who’s seen the light and lost it. I belong to the latter. But, what could I do? What's lost is lost. Life had to continue. I had no choice but to step on the planned path and become Yan Bruno, who only lived to fight for power and benefits."
As he spoke, he suddenly smiled helplessly. "God always loves to play jokes on us. Just when I was about to give up on myself, you appeared in front of me again."
Sheng Jiaoyang's heart was shaken. Compared to the deep feelings she’d had for him, Lin Yan's love for her ran even deeper as his had lasted through psychological burdens and external pressure.
Lin Yan wasn't done. He looked at her and slowly enunciated the last few words of his heartfelt confession, "God played an even bigger joke on me, probably because He was displeased with my indecisiveness. Just when I wanted to give everything up and seek the person I want, she doesn't like me anymore."
"Jiaoyang, what can I do to make things right?"Previous Chapter Next Chapter
TL: Cosy | Editor: Purpledragon | TLC: Grace