Chapter 407: The Xiang family’s backbone
Looking at the back figure of Little Xiang Ning who was shivering slightly out of nervousness, Xu Tingsheng felt rather mortified indeed. He pinched himself good and went into his room to put on some clothes, taking the chance to clear his brain and rid it of wrong, improper thoughts.
Only when he felt that he had calmed down somewhat did he emerge from his room, pretending that nothing at all had happened.
Little Xiang Ning too pretended that nothing at all had happened. She was having a look around the house while casually avoiding eye contact with Xu Tingsheng.
Xu Tingsheng followed her silently. He opened the door and showed Xiang Ning the room that he had prepared for her.
As she had not said that she wanted to live there yet, Xu Tingsheng could not very well say it expressly and treat it like a given.
As for Xiang Ning? Feeling shy, it was only natural that she too would not say anything openly.
Even so, the room was chock full of girly things. The flower-patterned curtains, the white and apple-green desk and chair with their cute design, intricate desk lights, slippers for females by the door...along with girly cartoon bedsheet and blanket, and finally that bear placed on the end of the bed, with another at the front…
Could it have been any more obvious?
The two both revelled in the feeling of shared bliss and slight awkwardness, their hearts being in sync despite the external silence.
Little Xiang Ning was smiling as she hugged one of the bears and kissed it, thereby expressing how much she loved it.
If not for what she had witnessed earlier, this kiss might have been planted on Xu Tingsheng’s face, even.
After touring the place for around twenty minutes, Xiang Ning finally sat down again, mustering her courage as she looked up at Xu Tingsheng, saying softly, “Our house is pretty nice. It looks nicer than my house.”
Our house? My house?
Little Xiang Ning had reminded Xu Tingsheng of something.
“Right, I still haven’t asked you. Why have you come over on a Saturday? Do your Mum and Dad know? Have you eaten lunch yet? What if they look for you?” Xu Tingsheng launched a barrage of questions.
“They know about it! It was they who said I could come. There was only me at home anyway,” Little Xiang Ning said.
“You were alone? Are your Mum and Dad busy with something outside?” Xu Tingsheng asked.
“Yeah,” Little Xiang Ning nodded, “It’ll just be me at home on the weekends in the future. They’ll both be busy, leaving in the morning and only coming back very late at night. Sometimes twelve, sometimes even 1, 2am…”
A befuddled Xu Tingsheng asked, “Why? What are they so busy with?”
“They’ve started a restaurant with Uncle Niu’s family. They have to work during lunchtime, dinnertime and even suppertime...they’re positively swamped with work,” Xiang Ning sounded rather saddened as she said this.
How long had it been since they last met? How was it that Mr and Mrs Xiang had gone off to open a restaurant just like that? And they were working so laboriously too…
Bemused, Xu Tingsheng asked Little Xiang Ning, “Is your family in tough straits right now?”
He was worried that their flat was the problem. While they had bought it at half-price, it amounted to a 200000 yuan deposit nevertheless. The Xiang family would surely have borrowed some of that.
Having caused problems as a by-product of his good intentions, Xu Tingsheng wished to remedy it as he really wanted to help. Still, it was actually very difficult for him to talk about things like money with Mr and Mrs Xiang, much less take the initiative to execute something without consulting with them first. He might very well end up accidentally hurting their pride in trying to help.
“Are they being pressured to pay back some money?” Xu Tingsheng asked Little Xiang Ning the first thing that came to mind.
Little Xiang Ning shook her head, replying, “No! They actually even borrowed more to open their restaurant. Everyone seemed very happy to lend it to them. Even eldest uncle’s wife came over and lent us the money herself. All of them are suddenly treating our family soo nicely right now.”
Hearing this, Xu Tingsheng basically understood what had happened. The Xiang family's relatives must have caught a whiff of the relationship between they and Xu Tingsheng. Because of that, they were hastily altering their attitude, hoping to mend their relationship as soon as possible.
In that case, should he consider helping the family of Xiang Ning's eldest uncle with his housing purchase? There were actually some flats left over from Ning Garden's first phase which had been privately kept in reserve.
Additionally, seeing how laboriously Mr and Mrs Xiang were working, should he help them out a little?
It would actually not be difficult to handle this matter. He could simply put a word in over at Hucheng and Zhicheng and get those of the Black Horse Club to bring their employees there for some company dinner or whatnot. If a dozen companies went to Mr and Mrs Xiang's restaurant to eat, it would be difficult for their business not to be booming even if they wished for otherwise.
The problem was-what if Mr and Mrs Xiang saw through this? Would they accept it?
“Is your parents’ restaurant doing well?” Xu Tingsheng asked after a moment's hesitation.
“It's doing great! It's doing too great, in fact, so much so that I've nowhere to sit even if I go there to eat. I even had to help serve the dishes, and then they wouldn't let me go anymore. I wanna go, actually, because it's really too tiring for them,” Little Xiang Ning said somewhat aggrievedly.
Hearing this, Xu Tingsheng temporarily cast that earlier idea aside for the time being. Since their business was already doing so well, there was no need for him to add in to the commotion.
“Well, since their business is doing well, why don’t your Mum and Dad hire more employees as opposed to taxing themselves out like this?” Xu Tingsheng asked uncomprehendingly.
“They're afraid of not being able to earn enough money in time,” Xiang Ning said, “I overheard the two of them discussing it. Let me tell you, what Mum and Dad are thinking is that before I, I, I...marry you, they should finish repaying their loans for the flat at Ning Garden. Next, they also want to save up the half-price discounted for the flat and buy a car or something with that money when the time comes, giving it to me along with the flat as a dowry. They even said that while this surely wouldn't mean much to your family, they still have to do it. They don't want me to be looked down upon.”
Xu Tingsheng was taken aback by this as he immediately chastised himself somewhat. He had not thought that Mr and Mrs Xiang were so stubborn, had so much pride and 'backbone’. As much as they could, they wished for Xiang Ning to be able to raise her head and jut out her chest proudly as she married into the Xu family which, in their eyes, they could not be considered a worthy match for.
They had never once brought up refusing and returning the flat. Yet, they had already long since made up their minds that they could not just easily accept this windfall from nowhere. Not only would they not do so, they would even pay that money for their half flat discount, all this just being for the sake of Little Xiang Ning.
On the one hand, Xu Tingsheng was actually rejoicing inwardly somewhat. It seemed that they had truly placed their trust in him as they intended to hand Xiang Ning over to him.
On the other hand, he was feeling rather troubled too...what should he say about this? Should he pretend that he didn’t know and simply let Mr and Mrs Xiang suffer so?
“Mum and Dad said that I can stay at your place sometimes in the future…” Little Xiang Ning suddenly said.
“Huh?” A startled Xu Tingsheng nearly sprang to his feet. Hadn’t they said that she was still young?
“When I return for the weekend, they’re both especially busy, and they don’t feel safe leaving me all alone at home till so late at night...that’s what they said,” Little Xiang Ning explained somewhat bashfully, “They also said that since you can even give up your life for me, you definitely won’t hurt me.”
Sensing how her mind seemed to have drifted off somewhat as she said this, Xu Tingsheng ventured a guess, “The last sentence was something your Mum told you you definitely had to say to me, right?”
Little Xiang Ning was all wide-eyed as she stared at him, visibly wondering: How did he know?
Xiang Ning nodded slightly hesitantly, replying, “When I went home last week, Mum asked me to sleep together with her and asked me a whole bunch of questions, especially about the day we were in Xihu City...don’t be nervous, you! I know what can’t be said. After that, Mum, she...I’m not telling you. Anyway, Mum told me afterwards to say this to you. Also, I heard her telling Dad the next day that ‘Nothing happened. Tingsheng’s willing to risk his life to be good to Little Ning at the end of the day. We should be able to place our trust in him’.”
Hearing Xiang Ning’s words, Xu Tingsheng suddenly felt a real headache coming on. What a ‘lofty reputation’ had been granted to him, that forced him into compulsory sainthood! Faced with such great trust, he really did not dare to have even the least bit of improper thoughts.
Additionally, since Xiang Ning’s mother had deliberately asked Xiang Ning to mention this to him, there was definitely a ‘threat’ underlying it too.
“This is too tragic…” Xu Tingsheng wailed inwardly.
Seeing his pained expression, Little Xiang Ning suddenly smiled, “But you wanted to hurt me just now, right?”
“Me? I...no! Right, I’ll go cook for you. After eating, you can take an afternoon nap, and when you’ve woken up, you should go study properly...you can ask me if there’s anything you don’t understand…”
Xu Tingsheng beat a hasty, panicked retreat.
Little Xiang Ning was chortling behind him.
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