Chapter 292: First night in Milan
Xu Tingsheng leaned back against his seat and fell asleep.
When Xu Tingsheng awoke, his head was tilted to the side as the fragrance of a woman drifted into his nostrils. He found that he was resting on Li Wan’er’s shoulder and covered by a blanket.
Li Wan’er was a little shorter than Xu Tingsheng. In order to make it more comfortable for him, allowing him to sleep better, she had tried hard to straighten her entire upper body. Then, she had raised her shoulder and not moved an inch from that position…
Xu Tingsheng looked at his watch. He had slept for around three hours.
This meant that Li Wan’er had been maintaining this posture for a whole three hours.
Feeling rather awkward, Xu Tingsheng raised his head and touched the corners of his mouth…thankfully, he was not drooling.
“You’re awake?” Li Wan’er asked in a soft, gentle tone.
“Yeah, sorry about that,” Xu Tingsheng said, “You…you must be very tired? How about you sleep for a while too.”
With that, he moved away from her and sat upright, next tilting his body to the side and looking straight ahead. Finally, he patted his shoulder and covered it with a corner of the blanket.
Looking at his side profile, seeing him feign composure, Li Wan’er could not help but smile as she felt all sweet inside. She did not refuse him, instead making a soft affirmative noise. She wanted to lean on his shoulder for a while.
In the end…
Just having moved, Li Wan’er could not help but utter a delicate moan.
“What is it?”
“I…my body’s numb. Ahh, I can’t move…haha…”
Looking into each other’s eyes, the two chuckled softly just like that.
After a while, Li Wan’er regained control of her body. Silently, gently, she rested her head on Xu Tingsheng’s shoulder. The two remained silent…you lent me your shoulder for a while, now I’ll return the favour.
It was just that someone wanted this to end, while the other just could not bear for it to stop.
With a beauty by his side, in order to divert his attention, Xu Tingsheng again directed his gaze at an air stewardess even though he could only see her side profile. Then, he started estimating some specific data…
With this ‘research’ in mind, Xu Tingsheng watched on very carefully, concentrating hard.
He was finally interrupted by Li Wan’er who said softly even as she leaned against his shoulder, “You’re not allowed to look. I look better than her.”
Maybe too much courage had been needed to say this as when Xu Tingsheng looked over at her and their gazes met, Li Wan’er frantically shifted away, hiding her face beneath a blanket that she was tightly clutching.
“You do look good, exceptionally good,” Xu Tingsheng smiled, “In all your years in Italy, there must have been quite a number of people pursuing you, right?”
“There, there were some,” Li Wan’er stuttered, “Still, I didn’t go outside very often. Our school was composed mainly of girls, and as for the guys…actually, many of them were like girls too. As for inside the workshops, they were generally all old men there.”
Here, she started smiling on her own.
“You were pursued by old men? …You really shouldn’t consider them,” Xu Tingsheng thought about this for bit, “Actually, now that you’re free, you can already start thinking about this stuff.”
The two of them were on totally different wavelengths as any one sentence could be construed in totally different ways. After Xu Tingsheng had finished speaking, Li Wan’er lowered her head and made an affirmative noise in response.
“Those who pursued you-were they mainly foreign students or locals?” Xu Tingsheng continued asking.
“There was a little of both,” Li Wan’er answered.
“Well, Italian men seem exceptionally skilled in riling chicks.”
“…It means picking up chicks, or hitting on girls.”
“Oh. I guess you’re also very skilled in riling…chicks, right?”
There seemed to be no way that he could deny this, because the one who was asking him this was someone whom he had personally ‘riled’ before. To be precise, Li Wan’er was the very first as well as the one and only girl that Xu Tingsheng had taken the initiative to tease and rile ever since his rebirth, even though he had been doing so jokingly rather than seriously at the time.
Clearing his throat, Xu Tingsheng answered rather uncomfortably, “I used to be, back in the old days.”
Hearing a twenty-year-old boy talking emotionally about the ‘old days’ in a distant, reminiscing tone, Li Wan’er giggled as she leaned against Xu Tingsheng’s shoulder, her teeth all exposed.
“You can think about it,” Xu Tingsheng continued, trying to dispel the awkwardness, “Italian men are usually very handsome, right? That’s basically what I get from watching football. A figure like the statue of David, deep blue eyes, curly hair…”
“There are also those like Pavarotti who are great. They easily bring along good fortune when they’re middle-aged.” Li Wan’er smiled.
Xu Tingsheng laughed, “Right, you should find a younger one then. Old bull eating tender grass.”
“A younger one? You…what, you’re calling me…an old bull?” Feeling angry as well as embarrassed, Li Wan’er bit Xu Tingsheng on the shoulder.
Li Wan’er did not fall asleep in the end or lean on Xu Tingsheng’s shoulder for too long. The two chatted for a while. After things had quietened, Li Wan’er retrieved a notebook from her bag and started flipping through it.
Xu Tingsheng took at a look at it. It was filled with fashion designs.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to quieten down and think about these,” Seeing that Xu Tingsheng was looking at her sketches, Li Wan’er explained, “Actually, besides my parents, this was the only thing in my life before. You once said that I went to Italy as a form of escapism. That’s true, but there was also another reason, which is this. Maybe because Dad ran a factory for clothing, I’ve loved fashion design ever since young. This is the only thing I was enraptured by before. They said that other than this, I didn’t even have a life. Maybe that’s really true, or I wouldn’t be so useless.”
Actually, realisation dawned on Xu Tingsheng now that he had heard about this aspect of her life. People who were enraptured by something were more prone to forgetting about the pain and troubles of life, being able to better acclimatise themselves and adapt to a calm, dull life…
Therefore, maybe returning to that environment and again devoting herself to her passions in this area, becoming relatively numb to everything else, would enable her to live on very well.
After all, there were even some prospects in this. Who knew, she might even strike it rich.
Of course, this did not mean that Li Wan’er should have continued running the factory in the first place. Businesses were very complicated entities. However great a designer Li Wan’er was, it would still be impossible for her to run a factory. This was determined by her personality and socialisation skills.
Considering this, Xu Tingsheng asked, “Can you earn money with this?”
“Huh?” A puzzled Li Wan’er asked, “I had a salary when I worked in my former teacher’s tailor workshop before. Once in a while, when some of my designs were bought or won some award at a competition, I would get some money from that as well.”
Xu Tingsheng felt more reassured with that as he exhaled slowly, “That’s good then. Right, have you won many awards before?”
“A couple. For example, this, and this…I didn’t enter this wedding dress at a competition, but it was bought by someone. Also, there’s this…”
Li Wan’er flipped through the notebook in her hand, pointing out the designs to Xu Tingsheng.
She flipped to a wedding dress at the end. Xu Tingsheng found it to be very special and very nice, but it was only this that she did not explain and made no mention of. After reaching that page, she paused for a moment before quickly closing the notebook.
Taking the notebook, Xu Tingsheng asked as he flipped through it, “What material is this made of? Why don’t you use…If this collar is a little wider and sloped…How about adding a few folds and pleating this? This trouser pant, this skirt hemline, this shoulder, this collar…have you ever considered using another colour for this article of clothing…”
Tilting her head towards Xu Tingsheng who was currently gesticulating about wildly, Li Wan’er was left dumbfounded as she gaped at him.
“I don’t really get everything you’re saying right now, but…you’re familiar with fashion design?”
Xu Tingsheng thought: The heck I’m familiar with it. Even my own clothes are the simplest kind that’ll never change in a hundred years.
Actually, he had just been momentarily filled with enthusiasm after seeing those designs. Xiang Ning had liked looking at fashion magazines from time to time in his previous life. To quote her, although she couldn’t afford them, the Paris Fashion Week and whatnot were still things that she needed to feign having done some research into…
Xu Tingsheng thought that the clothing in the Fashion Week was very ugly, the kind with very little fabric in it aside.
Still, when Xiang Ning had been reading the magazines while resting in his embrace, sharing her insights with him, while his attention had mainly been on those models, he had inevitably still seen a little and noted down some special details.
His earlier words had been him describing his rather indistinct impressions of that in an even more haphazard manner.
It was different for the listener, Li Wan’er. Having been captivated by fashion design for so many years, she was able to grasp many striking points from Xu Tingsheng’s words. A man might not feel much regarding changes in fashion trends of over seven to eight years, but for women…it wasn’t difficult at all for clothes to go out of season and out of fashion…
These changes might not be so obvious and immediate. As a whole, though, the clothing from those Fashion Weeks that Xu Tingsheng felt to be very ugly represented the progressing times.
Therefore, when Xu Tingsheng shamelessly said ‘I know a little about it’, Li Wan’er believed his words without question.
In the time that remained, Xu Tingsheng described and Li Wan’er drew. Xu Tingsheng would take a look at the finished sketch and point out the incongruent parts. Li Wan’er would draw again, changing the minute details…
One page after another just like this…
Seeing Li Wan’er’s enraptured, focused state as well as irrepressible joy and excitement, Xu Tingsheng felt a sense of accomplishment…
Actually, Xu Tingsheng’s memories were very blurry and his descriptions even worse. Many things had to be interpreted and expanded on by Li Wan’er herself. Not understanding much about it anyway, not being confident, Xu Tingsheng simply went along with what she grasped.
The plane landed at Milan Linate Airport.
Xu Tingsheng got onto a taxi with Li Wan’er. More than an hour later, they arrived at the place where she had lived before. Just as she had said, despite being a bit old, it was very beautiful as there were slopes like those in Life Is Beautiful where one could ride their bicycles and just zoom all the way down.
“I paid the rent for this place for quite a long time. Because I was in a rush going back, I didn’t have time to un-rent it.”
Li Wan’er opened the door to the apartment. There were only two tiny rooms. The sights of a bustling city could not be seen from the window as there was only the tall spire of a church in the distance as well as old walls carved of stone…
This place was very suitable for her.
LI Wan’er was rather flustered as after opening the windows and turning on the lights, she put her things in order while saying awkwardly, “I was in a rush going back, so it’s very messy. Sit down for a while. I’ll tidy up.”
Actually, the room was very neat aside from some gathered dust. If one were to say that it was messy, the only thing that was messy were all those fabrics and designs lying around…this was actually a very beautiful kind of messy, just like visiting and viewing the workshop of a sculptor.
“You don’t have to tidy up,” Xu Tingsheng said.
Li Wan’er said, “It’s fine. I’ll be fast. I’m not tired.”
“It’s not that,” Xu Tingsheng said, “We should both stay at a hotel tonight. You go look for a new apartment tomorrow. You’ve gotta move house.”
“Does anyone in Shenghai know your residential address here?”
“Yes, my cousin and a few others send things over to me.”
“I’m afraid that someone with malicious intentions might learn about this address,” Looking at Li Wan’er’s expression, Xu Tingsheng frowned as he continued, “So, you should still go elsewhere to stay. You look for a place tomorrow morning and then pack up your stuff. I’ll come over to help you with your move.”
Li Wan’er thought about it for a moment before saying, “Okay.”
“Let’s now go look for a hotel first then.”
On this first night in Milan, Xu Tingsheng went nowhere in this city that many aspired towards. He lay down alone on the bed in his hotel room. Perhaps it was because he had already slept on the plane and the time difference too, but he just could not fall asleep.
Soon, he would be able to return a person’s fate to her own hands.