SWFM 158

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Chapter 158: The cousin destined for tragedy

 

On a rare Saturday on which he didn’t have to go for home tutoring, having settled his matters on hand, Xu Tingsheng had just been thinking about whom he should find to go for dinner with, after which he would go take a casual look at Hucheng’s office in the evening, when his handphone rang. The display on the screen indicated that the call was from the Xiang Family.

“Could it be that tonight’s home tutoring is still on?”

Xu Tingsheng hurriedly picked up the call. It was Mrs Xiang who had called.

“Auntie, is it that Xiang Ning and I have gotten it wrong and there’s still home tutoring tonight?” Xu Tingsheng hurriedly asked.

Mrs Xiang smiled, “No, Little Ning is still rehearsing in school. Her Dad will only be going over to fetch her later on. It’s actually that the two of us would like you to come over and have a meal with us to thank you for Little Ning’s great improvement in her midterms this time…are you free?”

Mrs Xiang said that they wanted to express their gratitude. Still, hadn’t they already done so last time? Xu Tingsheng had even drunk wine with Mr Xiang that day.

Xu Tingsheng felt rather puzzled. Still, the one who was asking him whether he was free was Mrs Xiang. Without a doubt, he had to be free even if he wasn’t.

That was his future mother-in-law, after all.

“I’m free. Wait for a while, Auntie. I’ll be right there.”

Xu Tingsheng hung up, changed his clothes and ‘extravagantly’ took a taxi straight to the Xiang Family home. Having rushed all the way there, he only realised that the atmosphere was a little strange after having reached the living room. There was an additional person sitting there, a girl who looked like a university student.

“Sit, Tingsheng,” Mrs Xiang warmly welcomed him, “Let me introduce you. This is my cousin’s daughter, my niece. She’s also Xiang Ning’s cousin. Her name’s Li Meng, and she’s from the same academy city as you…”

“Hi, I’m Xu Tingsheng,” Hearing that she was a relative of the Xiang Family, Xu Tingsheng greeted her politely.

“Hi, I’ve heard about you before. I’m Li Meng,” The girl said, smiling.

Standing by the side, Mrs Xiang said, “The two of you talk first then. I’m going in to cook.”

Then, she turned and walked into the kitchen, turning back and calling as she reached the doorway, “Xiang Ning’s Dad, what’re you doing standing there? Come in and help with the cooking.”

As Mr Xiang left, Xu Tingsheng’s suspicions were confirmed. He wanted to weep yet lacked the tears for such…this was his future in-laws intending him to shove him over to someone else!

The girl before him, Xiang Ning’s cousin, didn’t really resemble her greatly. After all, she was just the daughter of Mrs Xiang’s cousin. Still, she could still be considered a beauty overall.

The problem was-what use was there being a beauty? Let alone the fact that it was merely that she could still be considered a beauty, however pretty she was, how could it compare to Apple?

“Wanting to get their daughter, yet getting kicked over to their niece in the end,” Xu Tingsheng was currently in a really heavy mood as he didn’t feel like speaking.

Yet, this girl, Li Meng, seemed to be an extrovert. She was enthusiastic as well as talkative, taking the initiative and striking up a conversation with Xu Tingsheng.

“I’m from Jianhai Technological University, second year. I’ve heard many good things about you recently. Coming over to Auntie’s house today, I realised how great a coincidence it is. You just so happen to be our Little Ning’s home tutor. So, being able to meet you in person for the first time, it’s an honour. I’m feeling very happy right now,” Li Meng said politely.

“Thank you,” Xu Tingsheng responded in a simple, polite manner before ceasing to speak.

If it wasn’t for the fact that it was Mrs Xiang who had arranged for this, the person before him also being a relative of the Xiang family, he actually really didn’t feel like speaking at all.

Still, he actually had more words that he didn’t voice out, “What your Xiang Ning? It’s my Xiang Ning, okay? What coincidence? With just one look at Mrs Xiang’s attitude and expression, with her having purposely asked me to come over to eat as well, isn’t it obvious that this matter isn’t normal at all? …I’m in a terrible mood right now. I’m not happy. I want some alone time…”

Li Meng took Xu Tingsheng as simply feeling awkward as she continued speaking, “Everyone feels very curious about you, and it’s the same for me as well. Then, apart from history and entrepreneurship, what else do you usually like?”

“I like your cousin.”

This was what Xu Tingsheng was inwardly roaring.

But what he really said, what he could only say was, “I don’t really have any unique interests. All of them are pretty normal, and there’s nothing I really like.”

At the end of it, he added silently within his heart, “Your cousin aside.”

In the kitchen, Mr Xiang cautiously tugged at Mrs Xiang’s apron, asking her in a low tone, “This isn’t good, right? The two of them are still in university.”

Mrs Xiang appraised Mr Xiang with a glance, an incredulous look appearing on her face, “So what? People are getting into relationships even in senior high now. What of university? It isn’t early at all. Moreover, my cousin personally called me. Could I have refused to help?”

If Xu Tingsheng had heard this, he would probably have been overcome by emotion. So Mrs Xiang was actually so liberal-minded. Didn’t this mean that he would already be able to make his move when Xiang Ning was in senior high?

Actually, for many people, the standards they had for others and the standards they had for themselves were whole different things altogether.

Mr Xiang pondered on it for a while before saying that indeed, Tingsheng was really a good kid, also being sensible and capable…

Mrs Xiang continued, “Right? Didn’t you hear what Li Meng said to us just now? The girls in the entire Xishan Academy City who like Tingsheng could line up all the way to the door of our house. Therefore, really, we shouldn’t let fertile water flow into the fields of outsiders.”

Xu Tingsheng couldn’t have heard this, but if he had, he would definitely have wept to the heavens and cried to the earth: Auntie, don’t you have a field yourself? While it’s still a little small now, I’m willing to wait!

In the living room, however cold Xu Tingsheng was, he still had to maintain some semblance of civility at the very least. Thus, Li Meng didn’t stop. Along the way, she had already touched on all her real interests, and all her fake interests as well.

“What do you usually like to read? Which author do you like?” Li Meng asked.

“I usually like playing games. I don’t usually read books,” Xu Tingsheng answered.

“Oh. I especially like Haruki Murakami. I’ve always been waiting for him to get a Nobel Prize.”
……

“Do you like watching movies? Who’s your favourite actor?” Li Meng asked.

“<Notting Hill>, I guess. Hugh Grant,” Xu Tingsheng answered.

“After watching <Titanic>, I especially like Leonardo Decaprio. I feel that while he’s rather obscure now, his acting skills are actually great. He’ll definitely be getting an Oscar very soon.”
……

“I hear that you like football? I’ve heard my classmates mention that football match between our universities before,” Li Meng asked.

“Yeah, I rather like it,” Xu Tingsheng answered.

“My Dad really likes football as well. I watch it together with him once in a while. With that, I ended up liking the Holland team. I feel that they’re definitely going to win the next World Cup.”

It was evident that Li Meng didn’t actually know much about football. She was just trying to find a common topic to discuss.
……

At this point, even Xu Tingsheng felt a little sympathetic for Xiang Ning’s cousin, “Girl, it’s really destined to end in tragedy for you.”

Having returned from the year 2015, Xu Tingsheng knew that in the upcoming years, Haruki Murakami had repeatedly failed in all his attempts for a Nobel Prize. Little Leo had repeatedly failed in all his attempts for a Best Actor award at the Oscars. Holland had repeatedly failed in all its attempts to win the World Cup…

“Coincidentally, you ended up liking all of them, placing your expectations on them…could this be the real, ultimate reason for their pain and hardship?”

“Come, let’s eat.”

As they were feeling troubled over how to continue the conversation, Mrs Xiang called them over to eat. After having eaten, Xu Tingsheng entered the kitchen and helped Mrs Xiang out, delaying his exit from the kitchen for more than an hour.

Just a short while after he returned to the living room, Mr Xiang returned with Xiang Ning.

“Un…Mr Xu!” Xiang Ning called happily.

Xu Tingsheng was very happy as well, because after that, with the little girl chattering on about her rehearsal and how Rebirth would be participating in her school’s anniversary performance, he finally no longer had to continue awkwardly dealing with Li Meng.

Sadly, not long after, Mrs Xiang found an excuse and called Xiang Ning away.

When the two of them were alone, Mrs Xiang secretly told Xiang Ning about the reason for her having invited Xu Tingsheng today. She said that they were introducing him to her cousin, asking her not to spoil things for them. At this sudden news, Little Xiang Ning was struck by an inexplicable emotion. Anyway, she just felt unhappy.

Thus, following this, Little Xiang Ning who should have been studying by herself in the study room would run out once every few minutes.

“Mr Xu, I don’t know how to do this question.”

“Mr Xu, how about I write out that passage from last time now? I’ve already memorised it.”

“…’

The fifteen-year-old girl wasn’t actually thinking too much. All she knew was that in doing so, in constantly interrupting the conversation between Uncle and her cousin, the unhappiness within her heart…just seemed to be alleviated greatly.

Mrs Xiang directed quite a few glares at Xiang Ning, but the stubborn girl pretended not to have seen them.

Finally, when Xiang Ning was about to ask him another question, Xu Tingsheng interrupted her, “I see that you basically don’t understand anything about this at all. How about we just go to the study room. I’ll explain all of it to you once over in detail.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Little Xiang Ning’s eyes radiated light as she happily nodded repeatedly.

Xu Tingsheng was Xiang Ning’s home tutor in the first place. Now that he was being concerned about her studies, there was naturally nothing that Mrs Xiang could say about it. She could only sit there and chat with Li Meng herself.

In the study room, both Xu Tingsheng and Xiang Ning didn’t mention the living room, that cousin of hers or Mrs Xiang’s super obvious intentions at all. One of them just earnestly explained that question while the other paid similarly earnest attention to it.

At this moment, their inner thoughts were really rather in sync.

Xiang Ning didn’t actually know what she was thinking, also being unwilling to think more about it. Anyway, she had been feeling unhappy earlier, but was feeling happy now. Xu Tingsheng too didn’t know what Xiang Ning might be thinking. She was still young, after all. Was it jealousy? Was it love? Or was it just that monopolisation desire of a child, much like being afraid of one’s favourite toy being snatched away?

After the lesson had ended, it was already time for Xu Tingsheng to return to school. Mrs Xiang saw him out to the doorstep.

Seeing that Mrs Xiang wanted to say something yet was refraining from doing so, Xu Tingsheng just told her outright, “Auntie, see…I actually already have someone I like.”


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