Chapter 224: Come to my hotel tomorrow
The black Mercedes-Benz G600 drove slowly along Nanjing Street.
In just a single night, Li Wan’er had gone from despairing to having her hope rekindled. She had somehow managed to tide through this major crisis that had repressed her to the point of feeling suffocated just like that.
How many such roller coaster rides would one experience in a lifetime?
During those turbulent times, will that person appear by your side again?
“And I’d still thought I’d have to starve, that that was it for me forever,” As she sat in the front passenger seat, this was what Li Wan’er was thinking as she unconsciously tightly gripped the seatbelt that slid across her right shoulder in what usually signified unease and inner turmoil.
There was only one CD on the G500. Xu Tingsheng had taken it from Fang Yuqing’s decrepit Volkswagen.
He found it and put it into the player. Li Zongsheng’s raspy, aged voice reverberated within the car, “I truly thought that life would just be like this, that my calm heart would no longer waver…”
How coincidental that this precisely reflected Li Wan’er’s current state of mind.
Li Wan’er finally raised her lowered head, sneaking a glance at that person’s side profile.
He had said, “I’m taking care of things for you!”
In the end, just randomly messing around, he had actually really managed to achieve it.
“But why isn’t he messing around anymore, not being a scoundrel anymore? If you really can’t, you could at least bully me, right? Are you still acting? Hey, why’re you putting on such a front?”
The joy from having successfully surpassed the crisis was diminished by an inexplicable feeling.
Back then, just a short while ago, the Li Wan’er who already despaired about ‘tomorrow’ had become very brave, the 31-year-old her saying to a 20-year-old boy, ‘I’m willing to leave with you’ and ‘I’ll always remember you’.
She had even secretly made a choice in her heart, having chosen him.
Now, just thinking about those words she had said, Li Wan’er would feel completely at a loss, “Li Wan’er, you’re 31 years old and a divorcee, while he’s 20. Look at yourself!”
What’re you planning to do next?” Xu Tingsheng suddenly asked.
“Sorry?” Li Wan’er snapped out of her reverie.
“What’re you planning to do next?” Xu Tingsheng repeated.
“Oh,” Li Wan’er said, “I don’t know, I’m still deciding. Still, thank you.”
Xu Tingsheng thought about it for a moment. “So just to clarify, I was only randomly lying to help you out just now. I won’t actually be investing any money in your company. Let alone ten million, you won’t even be receiving a single cent from me.”
Li Wan’er laughed, “I know! You’re just an imposter, where would you even have that money?”
Xu Tingsheng slowly turned to look at Li Wan’er whereupon he confirmed that she wasn’t joking.
“After all that stuff that happened earlier, with everything that those guys said, that atmosphere, she really still doesn’t get it? She really thinks those old foxes so easy to deceive, thinks that a few random sentences would be enough to trick them? She really thinks that I can act so well?”
Xu Tingsheng finally realised that even now, Li Wan’er actually still believed him to be a mere imposter, “This beautiful, alluring, unbelievably obtuse creature…how much of a fool must she be?
Actually, Li Wan’er was just inexperienced, not foolish.
It was just that during all that had transpired and even up till the present moment, her mind had not been focused on this area at all. How she looked at Xu Tingsheng and the things that she had been thinking about because of him were also completely different for her than for others.
Moreover, Xu Tingsheng’s identity as a hoodlum had already been indelibly impressed upon her from their previous interactions.
As a result, she had still yet to awaken to the truth even now.
Xu Tingsheng hesitated for a moment before smiling, “Do as I said and try to think of a way to leave. One repaying their parent’s debts is just a moral concept. There isn’t any legal proof-you didn’t inherit anything, after all. So, in a few days’ time, just secretly sell some of the equipment that’s been sent back and then leave this place. Live a good, simple, peaceful life from now on.”
Seeing the corners of his mouth arching, Li Wan’er was inexplicably overcome by stubbornness all of a sudden as she swivelled her head away to look out of the car window, “It’s fine you don’t want…don’t want to care about me. Why is it that you must chase me away?”
Xu Tingsheng exclaimed exasperatedly, “Li Wan’er, what’re you getting angry at?! I’m just giving you my honest opinion; you really aren’t cut out to run a business. Without any funds coming in, if you do want to go on with it, just that initial stage alone would be incomparably difficult. I hope that you won’t force yourself beyond your capabilities.”
Li Wan’er replied in a huff, “I know.”
She actually knew that what Xu Tingsheng said wasn’t wrong. It was just that for some reason, listening to him persuading her to leave, to go to Italy, she was overwhelmed by an inexplicable sense of anger. After her anger, there was also nothing she could do but simply refuse to leave.
All she could do was sulk.
The car turned into the short Jiangning Street.
Xu Tingsheng pulled up opposite the bank where he had met with Li Wan’er earlier that day.
Suddenly realising that the car had stopped, Li Wan’er was momentarily taken aback before she
saw from the window her van that was still parked across the street. Thinking back, she realised that all these events had happened on the same day, within the span of just a few hours.
That door that had been shut for thirty-one years was just so easily opened in this one short day.
Xu Tingsheng glanced at the time before asking Li Wan’er, “It’s exactly 10pm right now, not really that late. Can you drive yourself back? Or do you want me to send you home instead?”
Li Wan’er didn’t know what she was feeling or what she was thinking about right now. All she knew was that she didn’t feel like alighting here. She feigned calmness, saying, “Please send me home then.”
Xu Tingsheng restarted the engine, and off they went.
The car quickly reached the end of Jianging Street. Having been silent all this while, Li Wan’er now sat up and pointed, “Go that way. I’m not going home yet. Please send me to the hospital.”
Xu Tingsheng asked quizzically, “Are you okay?”
Li Wan’er paused for a moment before saying rather sorrowfully, “It isn’t me, it’s my mother. After things came up with my family, my mother fainted, and it was diagnosed by the hospital that she has some sort of tumour in her brain that has to be operated on. It’s all thanks to you, really. You let me be the one to make the suits, and it was because of that that I was able to pay the fees for my mother’s surgery by a specialist.”
Only now Xu Tingsheng know why Li Wan’er had mustered the courage to chase after them that day, pleading to take over the order for the three suits on her own initiative, next having slogged so tirelessly to get the suits out and send them over to him before schedule.
Thinking about this, Xu Tingsheng asked, “Was that money enough? Do you need my help?”
Li Wan’er looked at him. “It’s a little short, but I’ll think of something. Where would you even get that money? By robbing a bank? You just happen be a hoodlum anyway, and skilled at fighting.”
Li Wan’er smiled after saying so, having made a joke and brought the conversation to what Xu Tingsheng himself had been going on and on about that entire day as she secretly anticipated, hoped that he would still be that same hoodlum who was always messing around.
That was the Xu Tingsheng whom she was close with.
Xu Tingsheng smiled, but did not speak.
After they had arrived at the hospital, Xu Tingsheng followed Li Wan’er inside.
Inside the building, Li Wan’er entered the sick ward alone while Xu Tingsheng loitered aimlessly about the corridors for a while. Bumping into the nurse who was on night duty, he struck up a conversation with her for a bit, asking about Li Wan’er’s mother’s condition in the meantime.
He regretted it immediately, but it was already too late.
Li Wan’er exited the sick ward and went round three floors before she managed to find Xu Tingsheng. She found him hidden by a dimly lit corner of the stairwell, smoking a cigarette.
“I couldn’t find you just now. I even thought you’d already left.” Li Wan’er said in a low tone.
“I was waiting to send you home. Since I decided to be a good samaritan today, I might as well see through my good deed to the end,” Xu Tingsheng smiled.
This was actually what he had told himself following his chat with that nurse just earlier. Since he had stuck his nose in this matter, he should see it through for today, though only just today.
Li Wan’er apologised, “Because the surgery will be next week, my mother’s currently feeling a little nervous. I’ve decided to accompany her tonight, so I won’t be going home today.”
“Oh…” Xu Tingsheng thought about it, “I’ll be leaving now then.”
“Right,” Li Wan’er said.
Xu Tingsheng began walking down the stairs.
Then, separated by two flights of stairs, he heard Li Wan’er calling loudly from behind, “Hey!”
Just that one ‘hey!’.
Xu Tingsheng looked up and saw Li Wan’er peering down at him as she gripped the banister.
Not wanting their raised voices to affect the patients, Xu Tingsheng went back up. Seeing him turn back, Li Wan’er walked down towards him as well…
They met on another landing.
Seeing Li Wan’er’s conflicted expression, thinking that she should be feeling troubled by that sticky situation of hers, Xu Tingsheng asked her gently, “What is it? If there’s anything, say it.”
Li Wan’er hesitated for a while before raising her head to look at Xu Tingsheng, seeming to have to muster up great courage before finally being able to speak, “It’s nothing. It’s just, you forgot to say that we’re even. Did you forget to, or, or…”
This day in Li Wan’er’s life had been like no other at all. She had met someone who was out of the ordinary, experienced something that was special. While she desperately wanted to deny it, she clearly knew that her heart had been moved by him.
And the other party was actually a hoodlum who was only twenty years old.
This made Li Wan’er feel fearful as she shrunk back from facing it head on.
Li Wan’er had actually thought about many things when she had been in the sick ward with her mother earlier.
It was only having wiped her tears away that she had come looking for Xu Tingsheng, thinking that this might perhaps be farewell forever.
If Xu Tingsheng had used that phrase which he seemed to love using, ‘we’re even’, Li Wan’er would not have uttered that ‘hey’. And now that he hadn’t, Li Wan’er’s heart had begun acting rebelliously, again throwing her into chaos.
Xu Tingsheng asked jokingly, “Can’t bear to have me go?”
Li Wan’er looked down, shaking her head in denial, “No.”
Xu Tingsheng moved in closer to her.
Li Wan’er moved back.
Then, she found herself backed against the wall with no available path of retreat. Yet, Xu Tingsheng was still in the midst of closing in. This time, Li Wan’er did not extend a hand to stop him like she had in the banquet hall. She clenched her hands into fists, pressed tightly against the wall with the rest of her body. Then, she closed her eyes tightly, her body trembling slightly.
Having faced too much dirty scheming with too many people deliberately approaching her with feigned concern recently, Li Wan’er had actually been cautiously protecting herself all this time.
The only exception was now, when she knew not what she should be doing any longer.
She hesitated, unsure if she should push him away.
Feeling Xu Tingsheng’s warm breath tickling her nose, Li Wan’er knew that he was already leaning in very close. She also seemed to know…what he was intending to do.
Then, an incomparably nervous Li Wan’er waited, and waited. It might’ve been a few minutes…
Yet, nothing happened.
When she finally could not but open her eyes, what she discovered was instead him watching her intently with a meaningful smile on his face. Li Wan’er was frustrated now. She ruthlessly pushed him aside with all her might and stomped off down the stairs.
Xu Tingsheng’s voice resounded from behind her, “Come to my hotel tomorrow if you’ve got the time! I’m staying at Royal Dynasty Hotel. Call me when you’ve arrived.”
“Uhuh,” A dazed Li Wan’er replied mechanically as she continued going down the stairs.
When she finally comprehended what had just been said, realising that Xu Tingsheng had actually just asked her to go to his hotel, he had already hurried past her in descending the stairs, his figure now slowly disappearing into the distance.
She could actually still have shouted for him to stop.
Yet in the end, not a sound was uttered from Li Wan’er’s half-opened mouth.