Chapter 325: Going home
In the browsing room, as Xu Tingsheng pretended to shift his chair, Lu Zhixin extended an arm and blocked him in an incomparably nervous manner, exclaiming, “You...you...aren’t allowed to come over.”
The legs of the two accidentally touched beneath the table. Because they were thinking about strange things at the moment, both of them suddenly shivered, a feeling of numbness like an electric shock spreading through their entire bodies.
Lu Zhixin gingerly raised her head and looked up at Xu Tingsheng.
Xu Tingsheng asked, “Why’re you spying on others? Can’t you diligently revise?”
He had raised his voice slightly as this was heard by the couple at the other table. The bodies of the two evidently jolted as their hands shot away from each other at rocket speed, being retracted and returned to the tabletop as they had awkward looks on their faces.
Not long after, the two packed up their things and left.
After this brief episode, Xu Tingsheng got up and went to the bookshelves to look for another book. Every time he retrieved one, he would lean against the bookshelf and casually flip through it lest he found out that he didn’t like it and had to walk back later on. In the end, he was left completely absorbed in a book as he simply forgot everything else and continued reading there by the bookshelves just like that.
Lu Zhixin had actually been rather focused after having gone in for revision. When she looked up again, she discovered that there were only a few people left beside her, Xu Tingsheng not being one of them.
When she finally found Xu Tingsheng amongst the bookshelves, she was already gasping for breath, feeling slightly pained with an extremely panicked and nervous expression on her face.
Looking at her, Xu Tingsheng asked, “Just where did you run off to to look for me?”
“The whole building,” Lu Zhixin replied, panting breathlessly.
“Why didn’t you look somewhere nearer first?”
“Maybe it’s because...I always have this feeling that you might suddenly...leave me behind and walk away. Go very far away.”
Xu Tingsheng thought inwardly, “Dang, so she’s gonna talk to me about the future? It hasn’t reached the point where I have to take responsibility, right? Why does it feel like a wife who’s speaking to her husband whom she suspects to be cheating on her?”
He asked, “What, you want to kick me away and claim Hucheng for yourself?”
Looking at him, Lu Zhixin calmed her emotions, “You scared? I’ve nearly made you redundant. Actually, there are many people in the company who say this. Most of the companies or the media entities that we’re working together with only know me, not knowing about you.”
“If you really need to do that someday, tell me about it,” Xu Tingsheng smiled, “Right, I’ve helped you to buy back your family’s villa. The relevant articles are below the coffee table in the living room. I was originally going to give it to you on your birthday, but now that I think about it, it would work as a New Year’s gift too.”
Lu Zhixin looked dazedly at Xu Tingsheng.
“It isn’t that expensive, just a few million yuan. Consider it your year-end bonus. It’s been tough on you this past year,” Xu Tingsheng said, “Due to the matter of that contract from back then, I knew that your family might face difficulties as a result. I got someone to check it out later and learnt that you had sold your house. I was overcome by sentimentality for a moment...and so bought it back.”
Lu Zhixin said, “Right.”
The cleaning aunty knocked the dustpan with the broom, shouting, “Are you leaving or not? If you want to flirt, go outside! I’m going to lock the door.”
The two awkwardly fled the browsing room in a haste.
There was a small forested area between the library and the dormitory district, with water, a bridge, and a small pavilion. Lu Zhixin had been staying at her dorm too recently. While her major had changed, she had not moved to another dormitory as she was still staying at her original one from English.
Ever since moving into the riverside residence and making that application this past year, Lu Zhixin had rarely returned there. As she had often been seen with Xu Tingsheng recently, the nighttime talk amongst she and her roommates and good friends often focused on this matter.
In asking about the two, they did not ask about Xu Tingsheng’s virtually legendary achievements in the business arena. Instead, they were more concerned with Xu Tingsheng’s private affairs, such as his likes and living habits and whether he had any eccentricities or maybe fetishes.
For that…Lu Zhixin was actually aware of some things. Still, she couldn’t say it.
There were more crude discussions about love affairs as Lu Zhixin had even been asked how good Xu Tingsheng’s performance was in that area.
The vanity of girls could never be avoided. Lu Zhixin did not reveal the actual state of affairs between the two as she neither affirmed nor denied things, tacitly hinting at some matters possibly being true. Once in a while, she even shared some interesting anecdotes about Xu Tingsheng, such as how he was great at cooking, and how he had washed all the clothes that one particular time.
Lu Zhixin felt that she was already getting more and more enamoured by this feeling of possessing Xu Tingsheng.
As they spied the pavilion in front of them, Lu Zhixin said in a very soft voice, “Let’s sit for a while.”
When the two were seated, Lu Zhixin said quite emotionally, “It’s been a year, Xu Tingsheng. I’ve clung to you for a year. I remember back when I gave you a scarf, when I duped you into confessing with me with a rose, when you said you minded when I proposed a plan for you to acquire that training institute...”
Xu Tingsheng smiled, “Hey, I’m actually not that handsome.”
Lu Zhixin smiled too, replying, “You’re just a little short, so much so that I daren’t buy high-heeled shoes anymore.”
“It’s you who are too tall, right? It should be a crime for girls to go over 1.7m,” Xu Tingsheng said, “Anyway, a young girl like you-why’d you even go buying high-heeled shoes anyway?”
“Do you know? Xu Tingsheng, I love you calling me a young girl the most,” Lu Zhixin brought her legs over and sat sideways with her back against Xu Tingsheng, “You’ve actually changed so much over the past year. You’re much more confident, and your...lofty bearing has also risen greatly. I went from thinking that I was helping you and guiding you to discovering that sometime along the way, I had actually already come to follow you and rely on you. There is a sort of blind trust towards you in our company, you know? Even I feel like I’ve been infected by it somewhat.”
Xu Tingsheng considered it for a moment before speaking like he was reading off a passage, “Actually, all my assuming of responsibilities stems from my sense of inferiority. All my heroic spirit comes from the weakness in my heart; all the confident proclamations are because my heart is filled with doubt and fear…”
“A passage from a book. Nothing you need to know.”
Actually, there might only be Xu Tingsheng who had lived two lives on two diametrically different paths who could understand this. For example, his ‘ruthlessness’ in Ding Sen’s matter actually stemmed precisely from his ‘weakness’ and fear as an all-out, no-holds-barred counterattack from a former weakling who had suffered a threat to his life.
The valiant warrior who did not fear death as he raised his weapon and battled the giant fought because...he feared death.
“Right,” Lu Zhixin said, “Over the past year, everyone’s been thinking that I’m your girlfriend. Only I myself know that I’m just a little more than your employee. Xu Tingsheng, I really feel aggrieved. I feel aggrieved to death.”
The greatest injustice was that looking at all those who stood beside Xu Tingsheng, Lu Zhixin was the one who had helped Xu Tingsheng the most, having put in the most effort in doing so. Yet, she had actually received very little in return, especially in the reciprocation of her feelings.
Not waiting for him to answer, Lu Zhixin said, “Sing me a song, Rebirth’s Xu Tingsheng.”
Xu Tingsheng turned to look at her, “Since when have you known?”
“A long time ago. I may have been one of the earliest to know. I knew it even before I gave you that scarf. I even knew then that you were in the midst of building Hucheng’s platform. So, you should understand what I want to be honest with you about, right, Xu Tingsheng?”
Lu Zhixin was being honest with Xu Tingsheng. She had once approached him with ulterior motives in mind as she sought to profit off him. This was why she had said it was a secret having been asked the reason by him.
The mystery was finally unravelled.
“Are you angry? Do you hate me even more now?” Lu Zhixin asked.
“Which song do you want to hear?” Xu Tingsheng asked.
Lu Zhixin knew that she had wagered right as she said happily, “Hmm...you knit a woolen sweater for a freaking fool…”
“It wasn’t because of this that you knitted me a scarf back then, right?”
“I really hadn’t heard this song at the time.”
After Xu Tingsheng had finished singing the song, it was already very late.
“Walk with me to my dormitory building,” Lu Zhixin said.
Xu Tingsheng sent Lu Zhixin to the entrance of her dormitory building.
After saying goodbye, Lu Zhixin tugged at him, venturing, “Also…”
“My roommates said that you haven’t invited them for a meal yet. All their boyfriends have invited our entire dorm room for a meal before. They’d like to have dinner at the riverside residence tomorrow night, is that okay?”
The next day.
Xu Tingsheng personally cooked a great many dishes.
Hearing her roommates praising Xu Tingsheng, even if they were trying their hardest to pick out tiny faults of his, Lu Zhixin was very happy. She consumed a lot of alcohol that night…
A year had passed.
After finals were over, Xu Tingsheng set off straight for Shenghai. He had quite a few matters to handle there which would take him around a dozen days or so.
When Xu Tingsheng was packing his things at the riverside residence, Dongdong ran over with a bead of dog food in his mouth and dropped it into his luggage. Then, he nudged him with his head.
Xu Tingsheng was greatly touched by this rare display of closeness.
Xu Tingsheng met up with Little Xiang Ning that afternoon. He told her that he was going home and narrated Dongdong’s lovable action from earlier. He also gave her the handmade necklace which he had brought back from France.
As the school did not allow her to wear accessories, Little Xiang Ning put it on and looked at it for a while before putting it inside her pocket and asking innocently, “Have you finished taking care of those things you said last time?”
Xu Tingsheng did not know how he should respond to this.
“What about those things I asked you to do then? Can you do them? Looking into his eyes, Little Xiang Ning asked.
Xiang Ning had previously mentioned two things. One of them was that she would not allow him to continue liking Big Xiang Ning. Xu Tingsheng only felt this to be interesting. He had no way of accomplishing this, nor was there a need for him to do so.
The other matter that Little Xiang Ning had asked of him was: Can you get my Mum and Dad to like you again?”
Xu Tingsheng told her, “It’ll be very soon. I’m working on it.”
Before he left, Xu Tingsheng terminated Hucheng’s contract with the team which had previously been given to him using the authority of Hucheng’s boss. Then, he brought these eleven people over with him to Shenghai.
Tang Yufei had considered asking Lu Zhixin about this before, but Lu Zhixin had been happy as a lark over this period of time. She eventually still decided against asking her.
Huang Yaming would be staying behind in Yanzhou to continue the preparations for his and Tan Yao’s upcoming bar. The design team which had been introduced by Tianyi had already arrived.
He might only be returning on the last few days of the year.
As for Tan Yao, few people knew that he actually had no home to return to in the first place.
Xu Tingsheng asked, “How have you passed the past New Years?”
Tan Yao forced a smile, “I return to the welfare institute for a look sometimes. Most of the time, I will work at a place where room and board is provided. People usually pay more during the New Year, and so I’m able to earn some money.”
“It’s the worst on the last day of the year. All the stores are closed and I can’t manage to ask any chicks out too. I can only eat some cup noodles while others are eating their reunion dinner and then go to the streets to watch the fireworks alone.”
“You should follow Huang Yaming back to Libei. Come to my house to pass the New Year,” Xu Tingsheng offered.
“I’ll think about it,” Tan Yao replied.
Fu Cheng took that sweater which had once been stained in blood and set off once again for Ms Fang’s hometown in Hunan.
“I think that she might go back to her hometown for the New Year. Now that she’s married, she’s got to bring her husband back for a look around, right? Relax, I won’t disturb her. If that really is the case, I’ll just watch on from afar,” He said.
On the train back home, Song Ni sent a text to Xu Tingsheng, Huang Yaming, Fu Cheng, Apple and Ms Fang’s old number which was already no longer in use now.
“It was the eleventh then, and there were six of us. There’s just me this time. The people sitting over there are playing cards. I want to play too…”
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