Chapter 227: We’re even (2)
Li Wan’er always said that Xu Tingsheng bullied her. However, the word “bully” can mean many things. In truth, while Xu Tingsheng had acted very realistically the last two times, there actually hadn’t really been any physical contact at all.
Now, he was really bullying her, a 20-year-old boy bullying a 31-year-old woman with his hand placed there.
This had not been part of the plan. At this moment, he lost control of his rationality, and she submitted to him, not stopping him.
To be precise, from a biological standpoint, Li Wan’er was the most alluring woman that Xu Tingsheng had ever met. It was not just because of her looks and her figure. More of it was because of the delicate frailty and captivating flair she possessed. She was different from all those undeveloped, young girls. At 31 years of age, she actually still had that perfect dash of youthfulness and delicate bashfulness...
Both Xu Tingsheng and Li Wan’er were trembling.
“Why aren’t you stopping me?”
Xu Tingsheng said as he leaned into Li Wan’er’s ear, his breath tickling her earlobe.
“Mmm,” Li Wan’er said, “I, I owe you.”
Whether these three words did reflect Li Wan’er’s actual thoughts or had simply been said in self-consolation to find herself a proper excuse, as they were uttered, they had a huge impact on Xu Tingsheng.
While he was no saint, it was not like he would adamantly insist on a reward for his assistance. He was not as shameless and villainous as that.
Having calmed down slightly, Xu Tingsheng was able to consider many more things. And he did.
Just like in stories, there seemed to be two small people arguing inside his head, one being his inborn instincts and the other his humanity. Xu Tingsheng decided to be as lenient on himself as possible this time as, still leaning in close to Li Wan’er, he asked her rather awkwardly, “Do you know how to use…”
“Huh?” Li Wan’er exclaimed before her face flushed deeply and she shook her head vigorously.
“Then, what about…” Xu Tingsheng asked, reluctant to give up so easily.
Li Wan’er shook her head again.
The heavens are out to destroy me!” Xu Tingsheng ground his teeth, tearing himself away from Li Wan’er with all his might.
Right, he had to tear himself away. It was very difficult at first. FInally, he turned and dashed out of this room of the suite at his greatest possible speed.
“I’m going to take a bath,” Xu Tingsheng said.
Xu Tingsheng suddenly left.
Li Wan’er slowly calmed down somewhat. Then, she collapsed weakly straight onto a chair.
Her mind was in chaos. She did not know if she should be feeling fortunate or disappointed.
She suddenly recalled what her cousin had taught her over the phone that afternoon, feeling a little vexed that she actually really didn’t know anything at all. She even began feeling regretful, regretting having said ‘I owe you’, She had clearly felt Xu Tingsheng stiffening up completely at that moment. He had been much more level-headed afterwards.
“But was I supposed to say: I like you, I’m willing?”
This was inconsistent with Li Wan’er’s personality and current state of mind. And in actual fact, she was indeed unsure of what it was that she had been thinking at the time, whether she had felt obliged to repay him, or if she had actually been perfectly willing, or both.
Whatever the case, the way Xu Tingsheng had reacted and what he had decided after hearing those three words caused Li Wan’er’s favourable impression of him to improve greatly, virtually rising back to how it had been before she had learnt the truth of his actual identity.
Li Wan’er felt much more reassured, and along with this actually came some guilt as well.
Hearing the sound of Xu Tingsheng in the shower, Li Wan’er bit her lips and hesitated for a long time. Finally, she undid the top two buttons of her blouse before lowering her head and awaiting the arrival of his footsteps.
Around half an hour passed.
Xu Tingsheng was already dressed neatly when he exited the bathroom, his entire suit put on.
With a rather awkward smile on his face, Xu Tingsheng stood in front of Li Wan’er again.
Li Wan’er stood up, her head lowered as she drew closer to him. She rested her head against his shoulder before quietly reaching out to undo the buttons of his suit, the buttons of his shirt…
Xu Tingsheng wanted to back off.
Grabbing him by the collar, she continued slowly undoing a button even as she told him in a soft, almost indiscernible tone, “I’m willing to give myself to you. It’s not because I owe you.”
Xu Tingsheng’s shoulders drooped as he told her dismally, “But, I just took care of it myself.”
“Huh? I, you…”
Li Wan’er was still able to understand what ‘taking care of it’ meant. She now realised why Xu Tingsheng had gone to take a bath so suddenly and what he had been doing in the bathroom.
As the guilt within her heart intensified, the current Li Wan’er was rendered somewhat at a loss.
“Sit! I’ve got things I want to say to you,” Xu Tingsheng said in a genial tone.
“Right,” Li Wan’er dared not raise her head as she submissively stepped back and sat down.
“Look, it’s all my fault. I’d just meant for you to stop by my hotel because I have stuff to do. In the end, you called me today, being fierce to me and maligning me without asking a thing. I felt mischievous all of a sudden and just had to have you come to my room. And somehow, it ended up becoming like this. I’m sorry.”
Neither spoke for a while, an awkward silence palpable within the air.
“It’s fine,” Feeling somewhat overtaken by a feeling of desolation, Li Wan’er tried her best to conceal it as she asked him, “You’ve actually got someone whom you really like a lot, right?”
Xu Tingsheng thought about it for a moment before nodding, “Yeah.”
“Are the two of you not together now then?”
“Not at the current time.”
“She’s so lucky,” Li Wan’er said, “You, just now, were you feeling disdainful of me?”
“How is that possible! From the way I appeared just now, how is it even possible that I’d felt that way?” Xu Tingsheng said as graciously as possible, “You’re the most attractive woman I’ve ever seen. That is the absolute truth.”
Li Wan’er laughed lightly, saying, “Well, it’s fine then.”
She opened her tightly clenched fist to indicate to Xu Tingsheng that she was really okay.
Feeling much more relaxed, Xu Tingsheng said, “Actually, it’s good that we didn’t...otherwise, if I instead became unable to do what I’d really intended on doing, you’d definitely start overthinking things. Promise me something, Li Wan’er.”
"No matter what I do later, just accept it. Don't refuse me."
“Huh? You, you’re...ready again?”
Xu Tingsheng’s face sunk, “Li Wan’er, these Auntie thoughts of yours are very unhealthy! I’m talking about something else, which is of little consequence to me yet is very important to you. You mustn’t refuse it.”
Li Wan’er did not speak.
“You have to promise me. You owe it to me,” Xu Tingsheng said.
Li Wan’er hesitated for a moment before she nodded, “Okay.”
Xu Tingsheng returned to his room, returning a moment later with a black luggage bag that he had already prepared long beforehand.
He placed it on the coffee table beside Li Wan’er, telling her, “There’s 100000 yuan inside. It’s inconvenient for me to give you my card, so it can only be cash then.”
He did not let Li Wan’er speak as he instead continued, “100000 yuan is really very, very little to the current me. But to you, it’s money that can save your mother. I asked the nurse yesterday. You’re currently still short of fifty to sixty thousand for the surgery fees, and there’s still the follow-up medication that’ll be needed afterwards, right? And what about meals? I know that there’s nowhere you can borrow the money from. Therefore, for the sake of your mother, you cannot refuse me. I’m also not giving you much; you’ll still have to rely on yourself in the future.”
Having been conflicted for such a long time, Li Wan’er finally understood now why Xu Tingsheng had asked her to come to his hotel the previous night. She was rendered speechless, unable to compose herself as tears slowly trickled down her face.
Xu Tingsheng hardened his heart and said, “After having done all this, I can finally account for it to myself. After all, having once experienced the same thing, having been impoverished before, I know how living on is hard at times. Still, I won’t be helping you anymore after this. Live well. Take care of yourself, and don’t stubbornly try to do what you can’t do.”
The teary Li Wan’er smiled, “Actually, if you were just that hoodlum I thought you were, I would ask if you if you could take me away. I would want to leave with you, to impose myself on you. This now might really be for the best, I suppose. Thank you, Xu Tingsheng.”
Xu Tingsheng too repressed his surging emotions as he smiled, “No need to thank me! Look, I’ve helped you, but I’ve also bullied you! Just now, I even went and touched...anyway, I think that this is something other men wouldn’t be able to do however much money they have. I’ve actually profited, really. Therefore, now, we’re…”
“Let’s talk about that later," Li Wan'er interrupted him, "I know what it is that you want to say. But please, don't say it yet. Do you still have time now? If you do, can you send me back to my van? It’s still there where you left it. Send me there, there where we met, okay?”
More than ten minutes later, Xu Tingsheng arrived at that intersection in Fang Yuqing’s decrepit Volkswagen. This was the third time he was parking his car here. Those first two times, he had ended up leaving with Li Wan’er in the end. This time, however, he was dropping her off, though the location was still the same.
Li Wan’er sat in the car, crying.
“You have to live well. Most importantly, don’t try to do what you can’t do,” Xu Tingsheng said.
"I will, I promise." Li Wan'er said.
She got off the car before asking, "Xu Tingsheng, can you get off for a bit?"
Xu Tingsheng got off the car, standing before her.
Li Wan’er said not a single word. She knelt down, untied Xu Tingsheng’s shoelaces and re-tied them again, tying them very presentably. Then, she helped to smoothen the legs of his pants, carefully buttoned up every button of his coat, carefully folded his collar...finally, she undid his tie...then, carefully, meticulously, re-tied it properly.
“It’s always crooked. You’re not allowed to tug on it!” She said.
Then she leaned over and lightly planted a kiss on Xu Tingsheng’s face.
This was precisely the definition of success that the old Italian man, Mister Angelo, had explained during their first meeting, that unique, unreplicable atmosphere and that bliss.
Li Wan’er was greedy. She had done all this because she knew that she was definitely the very first person to be doing all this for him. It was precisely she who had manufactured his first suit. She was greedy, wanting to render him unable to forget it even if he wanted to. And henceforth, every single time he wore his suit, put on his tie, this memory would thus unquestionably follow.
Li Wan’er was not a greedy person. All she wanted was this once, just this once,
“Say it then,” She told him.
Xu Tingsheng said, “...We’re even.”
Li Wan’er said, “Okay.”
Being ‘even’ is not a mathematical problem which can be calculated rationally. It actually simply represents the stance of a single party and what he or she desires, ends up choosing, deciding.
Just that one party.
When the other party agrees and says ‘okay’, it is only so as to not make things difficult for the one who has made their choice.
As Li Wan’er drove her van through the streets, tears were streaming profusely down her face.
The stores along the street repeatedly broadcasted Faye Wong’s new album <Eternal Love>.
One of the songs, one of the lines, reverberated throughout:
‘I must express my gratitude
You, gifted me this hollow joy.’
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