Chapter 283: Little Xiang Ning’s requests
After saying so, Xu Tingsheng was filled with anticipation as he carefully observed Xiang Ning’s expression and reaction to his words.
In the year 2011, in a different context, he had once said virtually exactly the same thing to her.
Back then, Xu Tingsheng and Xiang Ning had been at Jiannan City’s newly opened Wandi Plaza waiting for a movie to start. The two of them had been seated right across from the escalators that directly connected the top and bottom floors of the plaza. Looking at the passer-bys travelling up and down atop them, Xiang Ning had been chattering away:
“Look, Uncle! That woman’s legs are so long.”
“Xu Tingsheng, look! Those...hers, are so big.”
“Wow, that woman’s dressed so sexily! Xu Tingsheng, do you like that type of girl? Forget it, I don’t even have to ask that to know that you men definitely all love that type. Well, I’m not that type, sadly.”
“Wow, wow! That one’s so beautiful...”
Xu Tingsheng helped her to carry the popcorn and the drinks, listening to nearly ten minutes of her chattering without saying a word.
He waited till Xiang Ning finally stopped before turning and looking into her eyes, simply gazing into them throughout as still he did not speak.
“What’re you doing, Xu Tingsheng? Looking at me like this, looking like you want to kiss me but not kissing. My heart’s all flustered, you know?” Xiang Ning said cheekily before pouting slightly, releasing a pouty noise.
“My heart itches,” Miss Xiang teased Uncle.
Xu Tingsheng remained unmoved as gazing into those eyes, he said earnestly, “Student Xiang Ning, there’s something I’d like to tell you.”
“What is it?” Feeling uneasy at being scrutinised for so long, this coupled with how earnest Xu Tingsheng looked, Xiang Ning asked softly.
“When I have you, I never ever envy anyone else,” Xu Tingsheng told her in his normalest tone directly and with no embellishments whatsoever.
Xiang Ning hesitated for a bit, suppressing her frantically beating heart as she looked up at him, “You’re lying.”
But her eyes were actually filled with anticipation as she looked at Xu Tingsheng.
Xu Tingsheng shook his head.
On the fourth ‘right’, Xiang Ning believed him as she smiled, feeling just so triumphant.
In the waiting hall that was filled with people, Xiang Ning openly gave her Uncle a kiss. Uncle wanted to evade it, wanted to resist, but to no avail. Then, she rested her arms on Xu Tingsheng’s shoulders, whispering into his ear, “Me too. Let’s go out and wait.”
“Go out? Why?”
“I still want to kiss you.”
Xu Tingsheng passed her the movie tickets, “We’re in the last row. It’ll be dark inside later.”
But the Little Xiang Ning before him was fifteen years old. While the discrepancy between she and her 22-year-old self was ever decreasing continually in terms of figure and looks, she was still just an ignorant little girl at the end of the day.
No kiss came. She frowned, carefully considering Xu Tingsheng’s words as she would a math problem that she had just heard.
“So, you don’t like Su Nannan?”Little Xiang Ning asked hesitantly.
This matter which Uncle Xu Tingsheng might just view as unbelievably trivial was viewed very seriously by Little Xiang Ning. If you fell in love with someone when you were fifteen or sixteen, thinking only for her before you started dating, believing that this would last forever, you would treat it seriously as well.
“I don’t. I already told her that just now. I already have someone I like,” Xu Tingsheng said.
Little Xiang Ning just smiled for a moment before she quickly suppressed it, trying hard to compose herself. Her good friend having been rejected, logically speaking, she should not be feeling happy. Also, if her happiness was too evident, wouldn’t a certain someone be triumphant beyond measure then?
“Who is it that you like then?” Little Xiang Ning asked, “Big Xiang Ning?”
Still submersed in his blissful memories, Xu Tingsheng smiled happily as he answered, “Yeah!”
He thought that Little Xiang Ning would definitely be happy, but she wasn’t. Her entire face fell as she puffed up her cheeks, “Oh. Only she’s good, huh. I don’t want to be like her at all now.”
So, Little Xiang Ning was feeling jealous of Big Xiang Ning?
What was this?
How was he supposed to coax her?
A momentary silence elapsed before Xu Tingsheng changed the topic, still feeling a bit angry as he inquired, “Why is it that you knew that Su Nannan was going to confess today but still helped her to call me?”
Xiang Ning hesitated for a moment before replying craftily, “I didn’t know that you don’t like her. Right, why don’t you like Su Nannan? She’s so pretty; many boys are chasing her. Really, she likes you but you don’t want her. Huh.”
“Is she very pretty?” Xu Tingsheng asked.
“Yeah, she’s the prettiest in our class.”
“But I feel that you’re so much prettier than her.”
“Wha…” Uncle having praised her so directly, Little Xiang Ning was dazed for a moment, next looking bashful for a bit before she stuttered, “This, your Mum also said it to me before.”
This answer was kind of unexpected. Maybe underlying it was: Actually, I myself think so too.
As a result, Xu Tingsheng had a need for self-reflection now. Every time Xiang Ning spoke of how pretty her good friend Su Nannan was in his previous life, prettier than herself, he would always comment, “Wow, I’ve really got to meet her then.”
From the looks of it now, he had erred. He had completely erred.
That had actually been Miss Xiang repeatedly hinting to her Uncle: You haven’t praised me as pretty for so long. You haven’t said that you won’t envy anyone when you have me for so long.
So, such affirmations of love could never stop.
Thinking of how disappointed Xiang Ning must have felt then, Uncle decided that he had to hurry and try to make up for it now.
“Mum was right,” Xu Tingsheng said confidently.
“Right. But you already said that I don’t...have...that,” Xiang Ning thought for a moment before saying, “Su Nannan’s are very big, much bigger than mine.”
Xu Tingsheng carefully glanced over twice, appraising. Such a lie...really could not be given.
“But I feel that it’s already very good this way. Actually, those...don’t have to be very big. Also, you’re still young. You will still grow a little,” Xu Tingsheng said.
“Just a little?” Disappointment could be heard in Little Xiang Ning’s tone.
Xu Tingsheng thought, “From your normal rate of development, it really will be just a little. Still, still, if you’re willing to let Uncle help you now when you’re still in your growing phase, just maybe, perhaps...it’s rumoured that constant massages are advantageous for growth.”
The scenes were about to play out in his head.
“What’re you thinking about, Xu Tingsheng?” Discovering that Uncle’s mind seemed to have drifted away, Little Xiang Ning asked.
“Oh, nothing. It’s nothing,” Xu Tingsheng responded nervously and composed himself before saying, “I was just thinking that Mum also seemed to have said something else.”
Just thinking about it, Little Xiang Ning understood as she said bashfully, her face all red, “It’s not like yours is a family of bandits. Why did she want to take me home as soon as she saw me? Also, I’m still so young.”
Xu Tingsheng wondered how he could help to defend his ‘bandit’ mum.
“Xiang Ning, Ningning...where are you? Can you hear me?” The voice of one of Xiang Ning’s classmates grew louder with her approach as she might be feeling worried about her, having already been away for so long.
Little Xiang Ning looked up at Xu Tingsheng, asking, “I’m gonna go back. Are you going back?”
“Yeah. You’re drunk, I’ve still got to send you home later,” Xu Tingsheng said.
Little Xiang Ning shook her head, “You can’t! If you send me and Mum or Dad sees you...they’ll bully you again. I’m already being lectured to and nagged at by Mum once every week now, saying that I’m not allowed to, not allowed to...it’s okay, I’m together with my classmates anyway. Relax, I’ll be going back soon.”
Xu Tingsheng’s footsteps halted.
He could only say, “Okay.”
Little Xiang Ning looked at Xu Tingsheng.
Xu Tingsheng tried his best to smile at her.
For just that one moment, the little girl’s heart ached. Xiang Ning turned back and walked over to Xu Tingsheng’s side before silently and gently hugging him at the waist, burying her face in his chest.
“What is it?” Xu Tingsheng asked in a gentle tone.
“I was wrong, Xu Tingsheng. Sorry. I shouldn’t have called you here today. Actually, I called you because I wanted to see you. Also, I felt very sad when I thought you were going to get together with Su Nannan just now. I don’t know why, but I just felt very sad. Don’t be her boyfriend, okay? You’re not allowed to.”
“Yeah, I won’t,” Xu Tingsheng said.
“Also, what you said now about not envying anyone else. I don’t really get it...but I’ve thought about it, and it was that way when you were tutoring me and you treated me well. It was also like that when you came to celebrate my birthday for me. At that time, I didn’t envy anyone. I thought that I was the luckiest. I felt like everyone should envy me instead.”
“Yeah,” Xu Tingsheng said.
Actually, even the him of his previous life, despite his ordinariness, had been someone Xiang Ning felt that she should be envied for. She always magnified his good points, magnified her happiness.
A girl like this should really be happiest. Sadly, she had met with someone who had ‘fled’.
With her face buried just like that, Little Xiang Ning continued, “Now, I so wish I could go back to those times where you come every weekend. Just like you said, I’m envious and jealous of the me of back then, and regret all those times I threw tantrums and refused to speak to to you.”
“You even scared me very terribly once before. I broke out completely in a cold sweat that day,” Xu Tingsheng smiled.
“You don’t remember?” Xu Tingsheng narrated that incident, when it had been Valentine’s Day...
“I was wrong,” Little Xiang Ning said in a piteous manner, “So now, I will work hard to get into a first-tier school. Promise me two things, okay?”
“The first thing is this. You’ve got to get Mum and Dad to like you again, okay? They actually really liked you before. I don’t know what happened afterwards, but you’re so capable. You’ll definitely be able to get to them to like you again, right?”
Xiang Ning looked up at Xu Tingsheng, who was actually able to understand what she must be feeling. She was feeling caught in between him and her parents, having to face a problem that even grown-ups would feel incomparably troubled by at the age of fifteen.
Xu Tingsheng’s heart twinged as he said, “Okay, I will definitely make sure to do that.”
“Yeah,” Xiang Ning said, “The second thing is-can you please not like Big Xiang Ning anymore?”
Indeed, it was still the later one minding the earlier one? She with herself! But Xu Tingsheng had no way of explaining this to her and no way of replying as well as he could only give a vague, ambiguous noise in reply.
“You’re not allowed to go back into that room. Su Nannan wouldn’t give up so easily.”
Xiang Ning did not question him as she just instructed him on that before moving away from him with a reddened face.
Now, shyness finally overtook her as she avoided looking at Xu Tingsheng and called ‘I’m here!’, running over in the direction of her classmate.
Xu Tingsheng raised a hand but refrained from saying anything in the end, just thinking, “I still hadn’t asked, but really, you call that a confession?”
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