Chapter 300: The translucent light of spring
Li Wan’er definitely wouldn’t have guessed this: At this moment, Xu Tingsheng actually desired this child more than she did, a secret child, unbeknownst by anyone, to inherit his bloodline.
Xu Tingsheng had a traditional mindset common to the Chinese people for millennia past, that of the importance of passing down their family bloodline. This was one of the greatest regrets of his previous life.
If his previous life was actually another world, that him would actually have been unable to account for things to his already deceased father-the only son unable to pass down his bloodline, a lineage hence broken.
Then, what about this post-rebirth life?
Ever since his rebirth, Xu Tingsheng had actually been living in constant fear. He had never been someone with an incredibly strong will in the first place. Otherwise, faced with the tribulations of his previous life, he wouldn’t have chosen to give up and shrink back.
Firstly, Xu Tingsheng’s fear was of being discovered and exposed...
If that happened, the best ending might be that he would be imprisoned and isolated from the rest of the world for the rest of his life-and this was only the best case scenario. There was a ninety-nine percent chance that he would be sucked dry of all his worth and then destroyed.
Despite the great care that he took, he inevitably still felt fearful, not knowing when bad luck might suddenly befall him.
Xu Tingsheng had actually already thought about and prepared for this. After establishing a solid enough foundation one day, he would make some erroneous decisions and experience some failures lest someone notice how he never did anything wrong, always making the right decisions.
Next, Xu Tingsheng also feared a particular point in time, that in the year 2015. His rebirth had stemmed from that particular point in time.
There was no way for him to know: When his reborn self arrived at that day, what might happen then?
Was it the irreversible fate of death as an anomaly that should not exist which awaited him? Vanishing into thin air? ...Or would it be the least severe consequence of him becoming mediocre again after losing his precognitive abilities…
After which he might be unable to keep hold of all he had gained these past ten over years, even facing danger simply due to the assets he had accumulated over this period of time.
Thus, when Li Wan’er had proposed her bearing Xu Tingsheng a child, it had really been equivalent to her reminding him there was such an important thing which he had still yet to do-passing down his bloodline.
As she described the clandestine, relative freedom that she and their child would have in Milan, Xu Tingsheng was moved without the least bit of hesitation remaining. More accurately, at that moment, he had already decided that he wanted that child.
He would give this child as much as he could in secrecy, and this child would be their eternal secret.
In the plan that flashed through Xu Tingsheng’s mind, besides him and Li Wan’er, there should only be one person in this world that could also know about the existence of this child, this being his father Xu Jianliang.
Everyone else, including Mrs Xu, his sister Xu Qiuyi, Huang Yaming and Fu Cheng...he wouldn’t tell them about this. The fewer who knew the better.
Xu Tingsheng could not find a more appropriate person than Li Wan’er, a more appropriate time.
She lived overseas; she effectively had no relatives and would not be disturbed or manipulated; she did not intend to marry again; she was used to and willing to live a mild, solitary life; she did not have any other demands…
Also, she was a very good woman. Looks, personality, character...there was virtually no fault he could find.
Also, she loved Xu Tingsheng. Having a child who belonged to the two of them would be such a blissful thing for her. Also, Xu Tingsheng liked her as well to some extent. Missing out was itself a cause for regret…
Also, and of the utmost importance, was the fact that she wouldn’t affect and hurt Xiang Ning at all, aside from maybe how he would be bearing some guilt over this secret that he kept from her.
As for Xiang Ning, she was fifteen this year.
On one hand, Xu Tingsheng did not want her to be completely diverging from the life of a normal person, such as by giving birth to a child before she was twenty, such as by...she should attend senior high school and then university. Besides Uncle having appeared to protect her earlier in this life, she should live as happily and freely in his previous.
On the other hand, before that particular point in time in the year 2015, even if Xiang Ning was willing to, Xu Tingsheng would not dare let her have his child. It was destined to be impossible for him to hide Xiang Ning and their child like Li Wan’er, and he would not do so as well.
If something really happened on that day, Xu Tingsheng would rather Xiang Ning be in sorrow for a time, still having a long life of her own afterwards, as opposed to bringing along his child and suffering because of him for the rest of her life.
Therefore, at this moment, Xu Tingsheng wished for this child.
Now, however, they had met with a problem.
The problem Xu Tingsheng and Li Wan’er had met with was this. Pregnancy is often something that happens out of the blue with a couple ‘striking jackpot’ in a single go when they do not want it, even worry about and are afraid of it happening. In the end, bad luck befalls them as they end up with a whole lot of trouble.
And when you finally begin to look forward to it in earnest one day, preparing for and trying hard for it...it may well be that half a year will go by with nothing at all…
This matter is just as unpredictable as that.
The few suggestions that Li Wan’er had offered seemed to have gone against her fundamental stance...wouldn’t she be as good as his lover then?
Xu Tingsheng made use of when Li Wan’er was considering the profound topic of ‘life creation’ and retreated, lying down by the side. He then took a moment to calm himself down. Suddenly, he remembered something and asked her, “Right, have you calculated the timing yet?”
“Huh? What?” Li Wan’er regained her wits and looked over at him...looking from her expression, she seemed to be rather taken aback by this question of his.
“Your, that...timing, with the safety period and danger period and whatnot,” Xu Tingsheng said in a despondent tone, “You must surely know about that. Didn’t you calculate it when you decided you wanted a child and came over?”
“I, I never thought about having a child before. I never wanted one. Then, I fled soon after getting married...so I never took much notice of it at all. Just now, I…forget about it.”
This woman seemed to think that she could get pregnant and give birth as and when she liked. Even this decision of hers had only just been made.
“...” Xu Tingsheng was rendered momentarily speechless before he said, “You calculate it now then.”
Li Wan’er really concentrated for a while and carefully did the calculations before she said, “It seems like it should be coming in the next two days.”
Xu Tingsheng said helplessly, “Then, it’s the safety period...how can you even get pregnant?!”
Men were usually afraid of the danger period. This time, Xu Tingsheng was instead owned by the safety period...and it would come in the next two days, coming for a good couple of days, and after that would be the safety period again…
Xu Tingsheng was depressed.
Li Wan’er lost the basis for her courage.
While there had been twists and turns in her mentality that night, one thing had never changed, which was that all of it was founded on her desiring a child. Without this basis, going on with it…
It would have gone against her fundamental stance of not being anyone’s lover.
She had never been a courageous person in the first place.
Feeling greatly embarrassed, Li Wan’er hesitated for a moment before sitting up with the blanket over her and saying awkwardly, “I, I’ll be going back then. Will you...still be coming in the future? I’m referring to the matter of our child. Actually, it feels like I’m forcing you. I guess...you won’t be coming back again?”
She inevitably felt rather pained and vexed. Yet, there was only blaming ‘bad luck’ for things having turned out like this.
Xu Tingsheng smiled somewhat awkwardly.
Slightly puzzled, Li Wan’er looked at him, continuing to speak though she did not understand his actual meaning, “I know, you might not want to...because of her. Sorry, I clearly know that, but I still want to force you. Because thinking about it just now, I feel that having a child of the two of us to accompany me..might really make for the happiest days of my life.”
“I know. I actually yearn very much for that type of happiness myself, just like you described. I was completely drawn in by your words earlier,” Xu Tingsheng said sincerely, “I really like kids.”
“Yeah, I already noticed that before. Though you’re clearly still so young...I don’t get it...but I can still tell,” Li Wan’er said rather triumphantly.
Xu Tingsheng went on rather awkwardly, “Because of that, just now, I was actually...also hoping for a child. With you.”
“...You, you’re serious?” Li Wan’er felt joyful whilst bashful as well.
Yet, realising how Xu Tingsheng had said ‘just now’, Li Wan’er asked, “What now? Will you still come? Also...will things be okay with her? Rest assured, I definitely won’t affect you or hurt her. I also won’t see you again...you could come once or twice every year to visit our child, at most.”
Xu Tingsheng actually had no way of explaining Xiang Ning’s matter to Li Wan’er. He was unable to explain it clearly to even himself.
He avoided the topic of Xiang Ning, saying earnestly, “I’ve calmed down a bit now, but my decision hasn’t changed. From what I heard, your decision also sounded kinda spur of the moment. I’m thinking…”
Xu Tingsheng stopped and calculated the time and the arrangements.
“What’re you thinking?” Li Wan’er asked.
“It’s currently November 2004. I’ll be coming to Milan again around July next year. If you still wish for the same then, Wan’er, then bear me a child,” Xu Tingsheng said, “I can’t guarantee much else, especially how much time I can spare for you, but I’ll do my best to take care of you and our child under this precondition.”
“...Right. I’ll wait for you then. I don’t think that I’ll change my mind, I definitely won’t,” Li Wan’er smiled.
She did not bring up any time-related issues. Now wasn’t possible, and she would need time to consider matters properly afterwards. What Xu Tingsheng had said was completely reasonable.
Now that this matter had finally been agreed upon, the atmosphere in the room instead turned awkward...what next?
Continue? When a child definitely wouldn’t be produced, Li Wan’er had no basis for going on with that. Such would go against her fundamental stance. It was pretty much the same for Xu Tingsheng too...what, could he tell himself to treat it simply as practice? Taking a run-through?
Li Wan’er was the first to speak, “Well, I’ll be going back then. My...clothes...can you help me.”
As Li Wan’er spoke of her clothes, she tugged at the blanket around her, wrapping herself up more tightly. She actually felt very awkward in this get-up, especially with how things had ended up. She pointed at her blouse and jacket at the foot of the bed. Having no way of getting up and retrieving them herself, she could only ask Xu Tingsheng to help her with it.
Xu Tingsheng sat up and considered for a moment, asking as he checked the time, “It’s past 3am now...how about, you stay behind?”
Li Wan’er looked at Xu Tingsheng, hesitating for a while before she lowered her head, shaking it as she said distressedly, “No, I said it earlier...I won’t be a lover. I’ll only do that for my child. You aren’t allowed to laugh at me. I know that this may sound very silly and self-deluding, but I really have no way of persuading myself.”
Xu Tingsheng smiled and explained, “That isn’t what I meant. What I mean is sleeping, for real. Lie down in my embrace and sleep for a few hours, and then the sun will be up. Didn’t you say that you want to lean in my embrace, that you’ve never before?”
Li Wan’er looked into Xu Tingsheng’s eyes.
“I want to be good to the woman who will bear me a child in the future, to care for her. Can I?” Xu Tingsheng smiled brightly.
Li Wan’er smiled too. This sort of happiness was simple and self-evident. She nodded quietly before shrinking back beneath the blanket.
Xu Tingsheng lay down as well, moving an arm aside.
Li Wan’er did not lean in against him.
“What is it?” Xu Tingsheng asked her gently.
“My...clothes,” Li Wan’er answered softly.
“...They’re pretty nice. I already saw them just now,” Xu Tingsheng smiled.
Li Wan’er shot him a furious glare before saying, “I forgot to bring pyjamas. What do I do now?”
“I brought two sets. You can have one. It may be a little big, but just make do.”
Xu Tingsheng got up and fished about for pyjamas in his luggage, casually asking in the meantime, “Right, these clothes of yours...when did you prepare them?”
He had already previously discovered that Li Wan’er was different from last time.
She had learnt some new things. While she had still been unable to let herself go, compared to how she had been back in Shenghai previously, she was totally like a ‘demoness’ this time...be it in terms of her clothing, movements or tone, all of which had changed greatly.
“My cousin bought them,” Li Wan’er said softly.
Xu Tingsheng grasped some new information. Li Wan’er had already mentioned this cousin of hers twice that night.
“Apart from buying you clothes, what else did your cousin teach you?” A curious Xu Tingsheng asked.
“Um...noth, nothing,” While Li Wan’er was saying that there was nothing, her expression clearly showed that there was something.
After a while, she seemed to have resolved herself for something, made some decision.
Li Wan’er said, “Actually, there was also…”
Xu Tingsheng asked, “What else was there?”
“Some...movements,” Now, Li Wan’er glanced at Xu Tingsheng, first switching from upright to prone position before calling him back to the bed, carefully reaching out to grab a hand of his.
That hand was placed on her waist.
Then, the person under the blanket with a decade of experience in yoga was like a small boat amidst the waves, rising and falling and rocking along with the winds and tides...rocking about choppily...that vessel swayed, oh swayed amidst the turbulent waves...
She had originally wanted to let the youthful, hot-blooded him have his way for a bit, just a bit, not letting him see it, just letting him feel it…
Yet, the smooth blanket slid off her body...
Li Wan’er raised her head and glanced up at Xu Tingsheng. He was looking.
Li Wan’er was blushing a deep crimson. She looked discomfited indeed...embarrassed beyond compare. Still, she bit her lips, forcibly bearing these feelings of embarrassment and humiliation as she allowed that small boat to continue rocking, rocking to the point that one’s mind could not help but be shaken along with it.
Xu Tingsheng spoke in a hoarse, repressed tone, “Your cousin taught you very well.”
Li Wan’er finally stopped, panickedly pulling up the blanket to cover herself before she reached out and pinched the tender flesh at Xu Tingsheng’s waist, “Don’t laugh! I’m so old already...and yet I’m actually doing this sort of thing.”
Xu Tingsheng said, “I’m not laughing. Is there anything else?”
Looking at him, Li Wan’er hesitated for a while before she nodded.
...Some time passed. She stopped, panting delicately.
Xu Tingsheng asked, “Your cousin taught you this?”
Li Wan’er buried her head in Xu Tingsheng’s chest, saying, “Helping me to compete with other women to win your heart. I’m not going to do that anymore…”
“Not going to compete, or…”
“I want to be good to the man I will be bearing a child for in the future, to care for him. Can’t I?” Li Wan’er looked up at Xu Tingsheng, mimicking his earlier tone as she smiled brightly.
“Your cousin’s awesome,” Xu Tingsheng said, “So...the way you spoke earlier, your expression and all that, I’m guessing that was her too?”
Li Wan’er nodded rather embarrassedly.
“Then, is there anything else?” Xu Tingsheng’s gaze was fiery hot.
“The rest were all words...those I can’t say,” Li Wan’er said nervously.
“Such as bully me, right?” Xu Tingsheng asked.
Li Wan’er shook her head, “No, I thought of that myself. That wasn’t what she taught me. Those things she taught me are much more difficult to say…”
“Devastate me,” The conflicted Li Wan’er struggled for a long time before she finally managed to force these words out of her mouth.
The originally heated atmosphere immediately changed. Xu Tingsheng was unable to keep himself from laughing as he clutched his stomach, “Well… your cousin and her husband are really valiant people indeed. Is there anything else?”
Li Wan’er angrily reached out and pinched him, pursing her lips as she vehemently shook her head to indicate that she definitely wouldn’t say it.
Xu Tingsheng pushed her a little, “Auntie Wan’er, don’t be so petty! Say it out and let me laugh!”
Li Wan’er glared at him for a good while before swiftly saying exasperatedly, “Abuse me.”
Xu Tingsheng nearly ended up rolling on the floor laughing with that. He raised his hand in surrender, proclaiming, “I’ve been conquered by your cousin.”
When he finally calmed down, Li Wan’er no longer seemed as awkward as before as she took this as a fun, relaxing topic, continuing, “You were right. There was conquer. Cousin also taught conquer me…,...me,...me dead.”
She said the final two phrases.
Xu Tingsheng’s breathing fell into disarray.
These two phrases were much in the same vein as they were actually very crude. However, his breathing became heavy.
He looked at Li Wan’er for a long while, the latter only then losing her teasing mood from earlier as she asked softly on sensing his rather strange mood, “What’s with you?”
Xu Tingsheng directly reached out and embraced her, pressing her close to his ear as he said in a commanding tone, “I want to hear you say those last two things again.”
Li Wan’er looked at him and could be certain that he was very serious, his expression no longer being that joking one from earlier.
“...me,” Li Wan’er hesitated for a long time before softly, slowly leaning into Xu Tingsheng’s ear and repeating that phrase.
With that, Xu Tingsheng seemed like he had been entirely lit ablaze.
Li Wan’er felt like she herself seemed to have been lit ablaze as well. Awkwardness, shyness, rashness...these feelings surged all at once. It was overwhelmingly different from when she had said this very same phrase earlier, the difference between the two instances being worlds apart.
Li Wan’er was unable to stop herself from breathlessly, slowly saying another phrase into Xu Tingsheng’s ear, “...me dead.”
This woman was shy, sometimes even seeming like she was aloof to the happenings of this world as she was mild, quiet, elegant...yet, she had said the crudest thing to a man who was eleven years younger than her.
Xu Tingsheng clenched his teeth and pulled the blanket off him in a single motion, saying, “I’ll take a bath.”
Li Wan’er knew what this meant. Back in Shenghai, he had taken a bath as well. She hesitated for a moment before reaching out and grabbing his arm, whispering, “No need. Let, let me help you.”
Xu Tingsheng was surprised as he asked, “I thought you didn’t know...well, I guess your cousin taught you this too?”
Li Wan’er bashfully nodded, “Yeah.”
“What about you? Do you need me to help you too?”
“Huh? But I’m not…” Li Wan’er shook her head vehemently.
“I can tell.”
Li Wan’er turned off the lights.
“To be good to the woman who will bear me a child in the future,” He said.
“To be good to the man I will be bearing a child for in the future,” She said.
The house was illuminated by the translucent light of spring.
Till things gradually fell silent.
“We seem to be deceiving ourselves,” Li Wan’er said.
“Yeah,” Xu Tingsheng said.
“Remember not to treat me too well.”
“Sleep then. Lean against me,” He said.
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