Chapter 226: We’re even (1)
From when he had returned to the hotel the previous night to that afternoon, Xu Tingsheng had called Li Linlin a whole five times. Li Linlin had already diligently waited downstairs for the letter as instructed, yet she had just been unable to intercept it as planned.
Unless the letter had been lost en route, the sole explanation was that it was already in Apple’s hands.
Xu Tingsheng would converse with Apple on the phone everyday, chatting with her from ten plus minutes up to an hour. With Apple not having mentioned the letter at all during this time, he was naturally at a loss as to how he should broach the topic with her.
Huang Yaming and Tan Yao had returned from Xihu City that morning. After a hasty lunch, they had asked Xu Tingsheng for his car keys before impatiently driving away ‘their’ Mercedes-Benz G500 as they had departed in a hurry to pick up some chicks outside.
Xu Tingsheng asked three things of them:
Firstly, they had to remember to return on time, punctually attending the cocktail party that night.
Secondly, he asked them to buy an IBM-T40-76C from the IBM retail shop.
Thirdly, they were not to engage in vigorous, obscene activities in his car.
Xu Tingsheng was lying down disinterestedly in his room with a remote control in his hand when he received Li Wan’er’s call. Despite repeatedly searching through all the channels, he was just unable to concentrate on watching any single programme.
Due to his encounter with Li Wan’er, Uncle had relived his 20-year-old self of his previous life last night.
Then, returning to a high-class suite in a 5-star hotel, he had inevitably returned to being the present day Xu Tingsheng, a Xu Tingsheng who bore the weight of many on his shoulders. A high-class cocktail party was right around the corner, this being something that he would never have been able to attend in his previous life, something that the current him had to get used to.
He looked at the caller ID displayed on his phone: Dull-witted dame.
Remembering Li Wan’er’s alluring look and her cute reaction those two times he had teased her the previous night, guessing her current condition-she would definitely be feeling incomparably conflicted, panicked and flustered right now-Xu Tingsheng could not help but reveal a smile.
He picked up the call to a silent Li Wan’er.
Xu Tingsheng could only take the initiative and ask, “What is it?”
Li Wan’er finally said, “I know that I’m very stupid. You must feel this to be very fun, right?”
Xu Tingsheng understood what Li Wan’er meant. She had finally realised the truth of the matter, and now she was mad.
He thought for a moment before asking, “Can you let me explain?”
Li Wan’er said, “No need.”
But then she said, “Go on.”
Xu Tingsheng said, “There was no need to introduce myself properly when we first met, right? There’s no one who goes around introducing themselves to everyone like that. Afterwards, if I had told you my situation, would you still have requested my help? Would you have felt safe?”
Xu Tingsheng nonchalantly reminded Li Wan’er that the initiative had been with her the whole time. It was she who had chased after them and requested to manufacture the suits, she who had requested to send the suits over, she who had asked him for help.
All I did was acquiesce, and help. Is there any wrong in that?
Li Wan’er pondered silently for a while before saying, “Whatever the case, I should thank you.”
Xu Tingsheng said, “Right. So, hurry up and come then! I’ve got something on tonight.”
Li Wan’er’s voice immediately turned nervous, “I, I’m not going. Why would I?”
Xu Tingsheng said, “Because you owe me! I’ve been so good to you, so you’ve definitely got to come. Didn’t you say last night that you were waiting for me to say that we’re even? I didn’t say it. You’ve got to come, otherwise we can’t be considered even.”
Hearing him say this, Li Wan’er’s first reaction was to smile, because this shameless Xu Tingsheng was just like that hoodlum who had been by her side the previous night. She immediately felt closer to him again.
But then she began crying and immediately hung up.
Around an hour later, Xu Tingsheng received a call from Li Wan’er again.
She said, “I’m at the lobby downstairs. Come on down.”
Xu Tingsheng said, “I’m in Room 618. You come up!”
Then, he hung up just like that.
Li Wan’er dialled his number again, but he rejected the call.
Around another twenty minutes passed before Xu Tingsheng heard the doorbell ring. He opened the door to find an expressionless Li Wan’er, wearing a navy blue long-sleeved blouse with the buttons done up all the way along with dark-coloured long pants and flat leather shoes.
She had even bound her hair in a way that accentuated her age, with a wooden hairpin stuck through it.
This was Li Wan’er’s ‘battle dress’, attire that clearly exhibited her strong desire to protect herself.
“Hello, Auntie Wan’er!” Xu Tingsheng smiled, “Again, I’m Hucheng’s Xu Tingsheng.”
Xu Tingsheng extended his hand.
Li Wan’er slapped his hand away before clutching her bag protectively to her chest as she entered the room.
Xu Tingsheng closed the door behind him, exclaiming, “Wow, you’ve so brave, Li Wan’er! This…a lone man and a solitary woman alone together…”
Li Wan’er turned to look at him, tears slowly welling up within her eyes.
Finally, she was unable to stop herself from crying as she sobbed, “Why must you bully me so? Why? I know that I’m very useless. You’re so rich, and so remarkable, so why did you just have to choose me to bully?”
Xu Tingsheng smiled, “So, tell me. When did I ever bully you?”
Li Wan’er was rendered speechless, because she was completely stumped. Xu Tingsheng hadn’t done anything bad to her at all! On the contrary, he had been helping her all this time. Unless, Xu Tingsheng’s motive in having called her to his hotel room was really like that.
As of now, at least, Xu Tingsheng had still yet to do anything at all. Neither had he demonstrated an unquenchable thirst, a blatantly overt desire to force himself on her.
“If you are this scared, this unwilling, why did you even come in the first place? I wouldn’t make things difficult for you even if you hadn’t come.”
Xu Tingsheng said mildly as he poured Li Wan’er a glass of water.
Li Wan’er found it even harder to answer this question. She had been repeatedly asking herself this question from the moment she had walked out of her house an hour ago. Yet, she dared not even consider the answer to it.
She was afraid that she would be unable to face herself as soon as she thought about it.
She was afraid that she might discover that she really still harboured hope, was still unable to forget about that hoodlum, was still hoping beyond hope that…Xu Tingsheng was actually him, merely him. Therefore, she had come to see him.
Xu Tingsheng handed Li Wan’er some tea. She hesitated for a while before finally accepting it.
“Let me tell you something that I’ve never told anyone else before,” Xu Tingsheng said casually, “I’ve actually also been swept clean of all my money before, becoming debt-ridden as a result. I even gave up on that which I treasure the most due to that.”
Xu Tingsheng’s tone and attitude having suddenly changed, Li Wan’er was momentarily taken aback as she was somewhat unable to believe his words. Xu Tingsheng was just twenty years old, after all, also looking so successful. Just how might such an experience have come about?
“I can’t really go into detail, but it’s the truth,” Xu Tingsheng added.
Li Wan’er chose to believe Xu Tingsheng, because she was able to empathise with his tone and his mannerisms as he had spoken of this. Looking at this Xu Tingsheng who was different all of a sudden, no longer resembling a hooligan, no longer resembling a wealthy young tycoon, she decided to sit down.
“Was that why you decided to help me?” Li Wan’er asked.
Xu Tingsheng sat down as well, “That was part of it. It was still primarily coincidental, how I just happened to meet you under such circumstances. As for me giving you a hand, it didn’t actually cost me anything, right?”
Li Wan’er nodded rather dazedly.
Xu Tingsheng continued, “Without having to spend a single cent, I was able to help someone who can be considered a fellow sufferer. I even got to properly tease a beauty. Yo, why not?!”
Li Wan’er had originally wanted to express her gratitude. However, hearing Xu Tingsheng saying ‘properly tease a beauty’, she thought of the two times when she had been pressed against the wall by him, especially the second time, when she had actually already exhibited willingness and acceptance…
Therefore, she was rendered at a loss again, her cheeks gradually turning red.
Xu Tingsheng stared at her for a while before laughing as he said, “Li Wan’er, Li Wan’er, you’re not young anymore, and you’ve also been married before. Why do you still blush so easily? You’re very alluring like that, you know? My resilience is not as high as you think it is.”
Hearing his words, Li Wan’er panickedly hugged her bag again, unconsciously shrinking back.
“Now you’re even more alluring. It’s the ‘enticing one into becoming a criminal’ level of alluring.”
Li Wan’er was rendered increasingly helpless till Xu Tingsheng just laughed at her.
“Now I can’t even tell what kind of a person you are anymore,” Li Wan’er said.
Xu Tingsheng thought for a moment before saying, “Just take me as a man who is just a little bit experienced, not being as young as I look, not being completely like how I appeared yesterday, but even less completely like the guy discussed on the internet. Actually, you can say that you are the first person to see the actual me. Although it isn’t completely actual as well, there are some things which I may never be able to say. Therefore, I can never be my actual, true self.”
While Li Wan’er was still bemused, she was able to feel the melancholy amidst Xu Tingsheng’s words and the loneliness in his eyes. Also, he had just said that his past experiences included hardships and losses.
The thing he treasured the most which he had mentioned earlier should refer to a person.
“About that, you, are you okay?” Li Wan’er asked gently.
She let down her guard, sitting up straight with her chest held high till the buttons of her blouse seemed almost ready to burst. With her slender waistline and her tight pants which accentuated the perfect contours of her legs, she actually looked far more alluring than she would have had she been wearing a skirt.
This posture, coupled with her still flushed cheeks, her eyes that were still wet from crying and the stark contrast with her conservative attire…
It was an unspeakable temptation.
Xu Tingsheng felt like he was going to explode. He was twenty, at the vigorous peak of his youth, having already been repressing his desires for more than a year now. Meanwhile, resisting the inadvertent temptation of a gentle woman like Li Wan’er, drawn by her delicate frailty, was actually far more difficult than when faced with the blatant teasing and enticement of Yu Xinlan.
Also, his experience told him that if he were to ask anything of her now, even if he directly went and did something, Li Wan’er would actually not refuse him. From the moment she had made up her mind to come, her defenses had already been frail beyond compare.
It was precisely because of this that she had appeared exceptionally nervous initially. She had been thinking about this question this whole while.
Li Wan’er discovered how Xu Tingsheng suddenly stopped speaking, his breathing becoming increasingly heavier. Then, she saw his fiery gaze fall on her. His gaze was like a torch; wherever it passed, she felt as if that area had been set ablaze, next growing warm, blazingly warm…desire gradually accumulating…
Li Wan’er was 31 years old, and had once been married. She knew what it was that might possibly happen now.
If she were to abide by her initial thoughts, what she had comforted herself with back then, she should be storming out of the room now, or perhaps removing and clutching her hairpin in her hand as she expressed to Tingsheng her stance on the matter.
Yet, she suddenly discovered that she did not wish to do anything at all. Even his gaze-she wished not to avoid it now. She had also not done so, in actual fact. Their gazes collided in mid-air…
Xu Tingsheng stood up, walked over to Li Wan’er and clasped her hands. Li Wan’er obediently stood up as well.
The sound came from Li Wan’er’s throat, forcefully halted before it could go on.Yet, she did not resist. Xu Tingsheng placed a hand between them, before her chest, while the other snaked around her back, now grasping something simultaneously.
Li Wan’er shivered, her breathing intensifying.