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*** = Scene change
***** = Timeskip
Looking forward to it.
Xu Nianyang paused and looked at her with a small smile on his lips. Reaching out, he tapped a finger against the tip of her nose.
“Mhm, I have to go.” Then, he resumed walking and simultaneously pulling her along.
It was during one of the daily reeducation sessions in prison that Xu Nianyang’s genius talent in the biopharmaceutical field was discovered. Subsequently, a certain organization took notice and decided to bail him out and foster his talent, all for the purpose of using him to topple the Zhang family.
Despite knowing that it was a selfish thought, Qingruo didn’t want him to return to the Zhang family. He would not have to go to prison then, but he might never discover the talent that he was so proud of otherwise.
If she had the choice of whether or not to let Xu Nianyang return to the Zhang family, she would be gambling with the entirety of mankind at stake. The information given by the storyline had been vague about his three years in prison.
But the choice was not hers to make.
In order to have a scapegoat for their heir, the Zhang family needed Xu Nianyang to go back with them, and they would undoubtedly resort to force if he refused.
Qingruo pursed her lips and didn’t speak. Her chest felt hot, like her heart was being roasted over a scorching fire.
She thought about the brimming tenderness that would fill his cold eyes every time he saw her. Every night for the past four years, she had looked down the steps of her home to see him looking up at her from the bottom of the staircase.
His departing back surfaced in her mind, painted against a verdant stage, stepping onto the humid wind of summer, and entering an encirclement of golden autumn leaves before finally breathing out the white mist of winter…
It was only when Xu Nianyang turned around and wrapped his arms around her that she realized she was crying.
Cool tears seeped into his shirt as she burrowed deeper into his embrace. She didn’t speak, nor did she know what to say. She didn’t want to see him destroy the world, but more importantly, she didn’t want to watch him fall into hell.
She could easily feel the warmth of his broad palm through her hair as he cradled her head against his chest.
For the first time, she was crying in front of him. He had not seen her so sad for him before.
But he didn’t feel sad at all—his face was wreathed in smiles. He felt ecstatic.
“Ruoruo, be good. Don’t cry,” he comforted merrily.
Choked by her own sobs, Qingruo shook her head and couldn’t speak.
Tears continued to flow and course down her flushed cheeks until suddenly, Xu Nianyang bent down and slid his arms beneath her legs. Before she could react, he was already holding her in a princess carry and her arms were instinctively wrapped around his neck.
A few years had passed since he started living in the factory dormitory, safely away from the Xu family and their abuse. The long respite, coupled with the exercise he got from walking to and fro her home every night, had given Xu Nianyang a lean but strong physique.
She lifted her head, baring her red-rimmed eyes. ”What?” she hiccuped.
He leaned down and kissed her forehead. “Be good. Look at me, and stop crying.”
They were currently standing on the main street. Quite a few people were already hooting and whistling at them.
Qingruo instantly turned red. She buried her face in his chest and sulkily bit him through his shirt.
“Where are you taking me?” she demanded meekly.
‘Like a small kitten,’ he mused.
He didn’t respond and continued to carry her as he made his way down the street, completely unfazed by the numerous stares they were receiving.
There was a huge amusement park in City K, built only two years ago. It had an aquarium and several other venues. Nearby, a social housing area was under construction, and on the hill behind that was a stretch of villa houses. Needless to say, the latter was a sector for the rich.
By the time Xu Nianyang reached the social housing area, Qingruo had finished wiping away her tears. After he let her down, she grabbed his hand.
“Gege, you can go back, but you have to take good care of yourself. Wait for me to grow up, I’ll look for you,” she promised.
Xu Nianyang smiled gently and rubbed her head. Once again, he didn’t respond. Instead, he pointed a finger at one of the unfinished buildings in the social housing area ahead.
“Second building, third floor. Our home in the future,” he said.
This seemingly desultory1 statement drew a sudden peal of laughter from Qingruo’s lips.
She knew what he was referring to.
Two years ago, they visited the amusement park when it first opened. She had pointed to a house in the same area and told him that she wanted to live there, because then, she would be able to play at the amusement park every day.
It was nothing more than a child’s fanciful desire, said in the passing. The topic had closed after Xu Nianyang nodded and replied that it was a good idea.
Who would’ve expected him to still remember that?
A small smile appeared on Xu Nianyang’s face when he heard her laughter. Then, he pulled her away to buy an ice cream. After taking the first bite, he handed the rest of the treat to her.
Neither had much money on them, so whenever they bought ice cream, they would only be able to afford one. Yet, despite being a glutton herself, she would always insist on giving him the bigger chunk of the treat. It had eventually become routine for him to take the first bite and coax her into having the rest.
Qingruo accepted the ice cream as their intertwined hands swung gently between their bodies.
“Ruoruo,” he started. His voice sounded flat and impassive. “I met with my real father. I agreed to go back, but only if he gives the Xu family a sum of money.”
Qingruo took a bite of the ice cream before turning to stare at him strangely. She tilted her head slightly to the side. “Why? They’re so bad, and they used to hit you all the time! They even take the salary that you work so hard for! And that Xu Chaoyang, he’s always insulting you and stealing your stuff!”
As Xu Nianyang listened to her indignant complaints, he gently touched the corner of her lips. ”Eat quickly, it’s going to melt,” he said, licking the dab of ice cream he caught on his finger.
At his prompting, Qingruo looked down to see the ice cream dripping onto her fingers. She glowered at him before stuffing the cone in his hand. Whenever she wanted a bite, she would lean down to get it.
“How much money did you ask for?”
“A few million. After all, my real father is rich.” Xu Nianyang shrugged.
Qingruo couldn’t stop the corners of her lips from twitching.
‘That doesn’t seem right.’
According to the information she had read, Xu Nianyang neither agreed nor disagreed when the Zhang family asked him to go back with them. It was the Xu family that started to fawn over the Zhang family, and they’d done it with so much enthusiasm that they might as well have packed up Xu Nianyang with his few belongings and delivered him to their door.
In the original story, the Zhang family only gave the Xu family one hundred thousand yuan2. The sum was merely a drop in the bucket for the former, but for the latter, it was a lot.
Given the way they’d treated him, it was impossible that Xu Nianyang felt any sort of fondness towards the Xu family.
“Gege, what’s the reason?” Qingruo asked him directly, her tone colored with skepticism.
Xu Nianyang didn’t want to tell her too much, so he laid a kiss on her forehead and said, “Ruoruo, believe in Gege, alright?”
Qingruo nodded without hesitation and continued to eat the ice cream without pursuing the topic any further.
Actually, she had managed to figure it out herself.
Having a lot of money was not necessarily a good thing, and this was especially the case for a family like the Xus.
An extra one hundred thousand yuan would fill them with delight, then they would start to plan out the expenditures of that money. An extra one million yuan3 would allow them to somewhat satisfy their immense greed.
Then what if they got a few million at once?
An extra two or three million would only magnify their greed and blow them up. Then Xu Nianyang would just need to stand back and watch as the Xu family self-destructed.
At the same time, he would be seen in a favorable light. Anyone who was an acquaintance of the Xu family knew how they treated Xu Nianyang. They would praise Xu Nianyang for requiting injury with kindness, and once the Xu family self-destructed, they would say that the family had simply reaped what they sowed.
Her lips drew a soft arc.
She was looking forward to it.
The Zhang family needed Xu Nianyang to return with them immediately, as several of their unsightly dealings had recently been exposed by their opponents. They were desperate for a shield and more than willing to pay for one.
The next day, the Zhang family head himself visited the Xu family to give them the check, and in just one night, the Xu family became the hottest topic in the neighborhood.
No one would’ve imagined that Xu Nianyang, who’d lived a life worse than a dog’s with the Xu family, would one day bring around such an important figure. Although he was an illegitimate child, he was nonetheless connected to the affluent Zhang family. In the eyes of the “common people,” he had transformed from a sparrow into a phoenix.
It was even more surprising that Xu Nianyang would ask his biological family to give the Xus as much money as he did. The neighbors all agreed that Xu Nianyang’s ancestry was too good, for he was benevolent enough to requite injury with kindness4. Meanwhile, they cursed that the Xu family was worse than pigs or dogs. Some were modest with their insults, but most of the neighbors were envious and thus made their words extremely ugly.
The Xu family was rich now—too rich to stay and listen to the insults. In less than a month, they bought a fancy new duplex house and moved away.
In order to spite the neighbors who’d cursed them, the Xu family invited the whole neighborhood to a housewarming party. The Xu couple even made sure to emphasize that red envelopes5 were unnecessary, and the attendees could eat as much as they wanted.
The moving company was also invited, as well as Qingruo’s family. Her parents had long been aware of their daughter’s close relationship with Xu Nianyang. They were naturally opposed to it at first, but it was hard to stop her from seeing him. Now, they felt rather satisfied with Xu Nianyang’s character. Not only did he remain untainted by the Xu family’s influence, but he also managed to develop a good personality on his own.
Not many neighbors accepted the invitation, but the majority of the moving company did. The Xu family moved away with grandeur and puffed up chests.
Mr. Xu quit working and turned to the stock market. He was referred to as President Xu and looked like a new man. Mrs. Xu took it upon herself to get a makeover, while Xu Chaoyang was swathed in brand clothing from head to toe. He even wore a mechanical watch worth about a hundred thousand yuan around his wrist.
Qingruo sat in her bedroom with her elbows on the windowsill, and her cheeks between her palms. The Xu family had not moved far away; as a matter of fact, she could see them celebrating in their new house from her window.
Her eyes curved as she watched. She tilted her head to the side and thought spitefully, ‘I wonder what state this disgusting family will be in when I see them again?’
The Xu family was actually not set up for complete destruction.
With so much money, they could live comfortably for the rest of their lives, even after buying a new house and a new car.
However, that was only if they knew restraint.
Xu Nianyang had given them a multiple choice question with two choices. One would lead them to a sweet and mellifluous hell, while the other would take them to heaven.
Alas, the Xu family was destined for hell, as they were completely blind to the other option.
When I hold her,
They will think that she’s dirty too.
I must wash my clothes first.
VIN: So I just finished the two AP courses I signed up for this summer, and it was hella work. A year’s worth of AP material crammed in 1.5 months with a final at the end, basically. I’m done with that and have two more weeks until school begins, phew.
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