SWFM 114

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Chapter 114: Tribulation on Valentine’s Day

 

Xiang Ning’s grandmother had secretly bought her a handphone during the Spring Festival. This was something that even Mr and Mrs Xiang did not know. However, Xu Tingsheng knew about it.

Because at this moment, Xiang Ning was currently exchanging text messages with her classmate on her phone right in front of him.

Perhaps because the two of them had grown closer and she trusted him, Xiang Ning was also beginning to act wilfully in front of Xu Tingsheng. Currently, while Xu Tingsheng had already reminded her a few times to continue with her lesson, she had still yet to put down the phone in her hand.

“Uncle, you won’t tell my parents, right?” Xiang Ning asked.

“Relax, I won’t. Then, let’s continue with the lesson, alright?” Xu Tingsheng asked.

“I’ll just play a little longer first.”

“Who’re you chatting with?”

“My classmate.”

“Male or female?”

“Male.”

Therefore, at the end of Xu Tingsheng’s first time eating dinner at the Xiang Family home, he told Xiang Ning’s parents, “Uncle, Auntie, Xiang Ning kept on playing with her phone just now.”

His tone was calm as he said this, his entire person also coming off as calm and natural after the deed, just sitting there as he finished the final mouthful of rice in his bowl.

That feeling was as though he had merely just said ‘Uncle, Auntie, I’m full’.

Xiang Ning’s action of shovelling food into her mouth came to an abrupt halt. Her mouth full of rice, she slowly swivelled her head, staring dazedly and wide-eyed at the ‘shameless traitor’ Xu Tingsheng as a disbelieving look could be seen in her eyes…Just like this, she had been betrayed?

Little Xiang Ning was ‘choked speechless’.

Hadn’t they just come to an agreement? …Just a short meal later, so simply and deftly…he had sold her out just like that?

Also, the ‘traitor’ was sitting there just so calmly and peacefully as he showed not even a single shred of remorse. Hadn’t he just said, ‘Relax, I won’t?’

Was there still such a thing as trust in this world? This little girl’s worldview suffered an immense blow.

Mr and Mrs Xiang both stood up in shock, “Why do you have a phone? Even playing with it during lesson time…take it out.”
……

During the lesson after dinner, Xiang Ning was first to enter the study room. Xu Tingsheng guarded against her as he opened the door, checking if there was anything placed on top of it, checking if anything would come falling down from above…

Fortunately, there wasn’t anything.

Actually, he was indeed feeling rather guilty, just that he was concealing it well.

Xu Tingsheng had thought that Xiang Ning would throw a tantrum or stubbornly refuse to cooperate with him, not paying attention to the lesson. According to Xu Tingsheng’s understanding of Xiang Ning’s personality, she should theoretically be wilful in that way.

However, perhaps because Mr and Mrs Xiang were just outside the door, nothing of the sort happened at all. While Little Xiang Ning’s eyes were red, she continued listening quietly to Xu Tingsheng’s tutoring, nodding and saying ‘yeah’ once in a while and bemusedly saying ‘I don’t understand this’ from time to time.

Around half an hour passed just like this. Xu Tingsheng who had still ‘narrow-mindedly’ been feeling jealous earlier was feeling guilty, feeling pained. He decided to explain to Xiang Ning and coax her a little, easing the situation between them.

If it was really impossible, he would just repay her with a new phone next time on at most.

In the end, before he had managed to think of how to phrase the words, Xiang Ning suddenly stood up, saying in a polite and respectful manner, “Teacher, I’ve got to go to the toilet.”

Xiang Ning having addressed him as ‘teacher’, this foreign form of address left Xu Tingsheng rather regretting his earlier actions as he smiled and nodded, saying cordially, “Alright, go.”

“Thank you, teacher.”

Xiang Ning opened the door, went out and closed it behind her. Then, Xu Tingsheng heard her crying voice resounding from outside, “Mum, teacher just touched me here, and here, and here.”

Xu Tingsheng’s entire body grew numb with his brain going into shock as though he had been struck by a bolt of lightning.

Xu Tingsheng’s entire body was instantly drenched in a layer of cold sweat. This was obviously not a joke. Xiang Ning’s voice could be heard loud and clear outside the door.

This was almost certainly why Mrs Xiang had been so insistent on finding a female tutor before this.

If not for Liu Xueli having assisted him earlier, Xu Tingsheng would definitely not have had a chance. However, this did not entail that Mrs Xiang had completely let down her guard. She had definitely warned Xiang Ning to be wary of such things before.

This was already no longer just in the realm of a mere squabble between Xu Tingsheng and Xiang Ning. It was already no longer a matter of whether he could retain this home tutor job, no longer a matter of him perhaps getting beaten up as a result…instead, it concerned the matter of whether Xu Tingsheng would still be able to continue being together with Xiang Ning in this life.

Mr and Mrs Xiang’s reactions had still not yet resounded from outside. Xiang Ning’s voice was gone as well, with there only being vague, indistinct noises that were audible.

Never would Xu Tingsheng have thought that the little girl might retaliate so intensely. He sat there panicked and shocked silly, not knowing what he should do at all.
……

Fu Cheng waited the entire Valentine’s Day, yet had still yet to receive the woolen sweater mailed over by Fang Yunyao.

Due to Fang Yunyao’s shyness or perhaps unease, she had told Fu Cheng earlier that what existed between them was merely a time-based agreement. They could not be considered as already being together.

Fu Cheng respected her opinion, not daring to take the initiative to give her a call too lightly. It was naturally even less likely for Fang Yunyao to take the initiative. Therefore, the two of them seldom communicated via phone.

However, even though Fang Yunyao had not expressly said so, Fu Cheng was still able to guess that the woolen sweater should probably already have been sent, being likely to arrive that day.

At night, when he had still yet to receive his woolen sweater for Valentine’s Day, Fu Cheng steeled his resolve and called Fang Yunyao’s number. Fang Yunyao’s phone was turned off.
……

Two days ago, Fang Yunyao had made a rare trip out of Libei Senior High.

Fang Yunyao had actually already not left campus for a very long time. Her fear was one she had not dared to speak to anyone about, Fu Cheng included.

In truth, Zhang Junming had never ceased in his harassment of her.

From his initial apologies and begging to his cursing and scolding when he had found out that there was no longer any hope to the eventual threats by him to her personal life and safety, Zhang Junming had been persistently hounding Fang Yunyao like a crazed madman.

He unceasingly called Fang Yunyao’s mobile phone using many different numbers. Due to her identity as a teacher, Fang Yunyao was unable to keep her number private at all…

During the holiday back in 2003 when Fang Yunyao had travelled with Xu Tingsheng and the others back to Libei via train, the reason she had turned off her phone at the time was not that she had been panicked over losing at cards like all of them had thought.

Instead, it was because Zhang Junming had been repeatedly dialing her number. She had been afraid that the kids, especially Fu Cheng, might go finding trouble with Zhang Junming if they found out about it.

Over that holiday period, she had not dared to stay in Libei for even an extra day. It was the same for the winter holidays as well, because so long as Zhang Junming was unable to get through to her, he would think of a way to find her, stopping her on the roads outside.

Fang Yunyao had called the police once. However, Zhang Junming had not received any investigation or punishment at all, instead having stepped it up with his harassment.

Afterwards, as an out-of-towner who had came to live alone in Libei for work, with her parents and relatives all far away in Hunan, the fearful Fang Yunyao who had no one to support her chose to stay silent, to give way, to escape.

Perhaps she was just not a brave person at heart. Otherwise, in Xu Tingsheng’s previous life, she would not have silently borne four years of familial abuse just like that.

In the day, Fang Yunyao dared not to step out of crowds. At night, she would firmly lock the great iron door at the first level of the staff dormitory before locking the door of her room and piling things up in front of it. Unless it was absolutely necessary, she would definitely not leave campus at all.

Today, Fang Yunyao was very happy, perhaps feeling rather sweet as well.

She folded up Fu Cheng’s woolen sweater neatly and wrapped it up in a few layers. Next, she prepared to go out to post it.

Other than the woolen sweater, there was actually also a letter in the package. Fang Yunyao had a piece of good news for Fu Cheng. Due to the revolutionary thesis in the field of education that she and Xu Tingsheng had previously published and the resultant influence from the related supporting study materials, she had received quite a few invitations from many schools abroad.

Out of the ten over schools, Fang Yunyao had chosen a first-rate senior high of Yanzhou City. After this semester had ended, she would be leaving Libei Senior High and heading to Yanzhou.

Whether it was for her prior agreement with Fu Cheng or in order to shake off Zhang Junming’s harassment, this truly couldn’t be any better at all. To Fu Cheng, this might be a Valentine’s Day present that was even better than the woolen sweater.

Because the package would be mailed to Fu Cheng, Fang Yunyao did not dare to entrust it to anyone else to post it on her behalf.

This being a rainy day, Fang Yunyao thought that Zhang Junming would probably not appear. Even so, in the weather that had already eased from the seasonal coldness, she still wore a woolen hat with a scarf wrapped around her neck as she walked cautiously out of the back gate of the school with an umbrella in her hand.

Zhang Junming emerged from behind a patch of shrubbery beside the gate. As he walked, he gripped a glass bottle in his hand.

Without any hesitation at all, Fang Yunyao flung her umbrella away, turned and ran. The liquid substance that Zhang Junming had flung towards her scattered on the ground. He chased after her, flinging the remaining substance in the bottle towards her.

A portion of the liquid splattered onto Fang Yunyao’s scarf and clothes. Fang Yunyao knew what it was-acid. Due to fear, she could not help but stop to remove her scarf and take off her jacket.

Zhang Junming made use of this chance to catch up with Fang Yunyao. He took out a small knife from around his waist, stabbing repeatedly towards her back.

The flow of blood was mixed in with the rainwater.
……

Not being able to get through to Fang Yunyao, Fu Cheng began feeling worried. He exerted all means, finally learning the news.

This incident was being kept strictly confidential for the time being. While Fang Yunyao had avoided the acid, the stabs from that knife had affected her internal organs, nearly having been fatal. She was currently still unconscious and receiving treatment in Jiannan City Hospital…

Meanwhile, Zhang Junming’s elderly mother, who was in her fifties, turned herself in at the police station. She said that she had flung acid at Fang Yunyao due to not having been able to tolerate her having broken up with her son. The acid not having hit, she had wielded a knife instead.

There had been no eyewitnesses at the scene, yet someone had promptly turned herself in.

While Zhang Junming was himself suspicious as well, he was currently safe for the moment.

Perhaps before Fang Yunyao had awoken, there were only Xu Tingsheng and Fu Cheng, those meagre few people who could be a hundred percent sure that this incident had been Zhang Junming’s doing.

However, even if Fang Yunyao woke up and testified against Zhang Junming, even under such circumstances, the police might still not be able to easily indict him of the crime.


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