SWFM 293

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Chapter 293: I never thought you were such a Xu Tingsheng

 

Actually, Li Wan’er was finding it even more difficult to fall asleep that night.

Logically speaking, with the many things that had happened over this period of time that had left her fatigued in both body and soul, also having not slept throughout the long distance flight, she should be feeling very tired and exhausted. Still, there was something on her mind, this matter also being one that she felt so very conflicted about…

Li Wan’er tossed and turned beneath her blanket for a while but was just unable to fall asleep no matter what. In the end, she got out of bed to do some yoga…

She stretched her body and moderated her breathing, relaxing her nerves…

Li Wan’er had been practising yoga for over a decade. Whenever she had been feeling lonely or troubled in the past, she had always been able to obtain some peace and relaxation from it. Yet, she was just unable to calm herself down that night.

“Since I can’t control it and stop myself from thinking about it, I might as well think deeply into it, think properly about it, think thoroughly regarding it. What’s there to fear?!”

Li Wan’er clenched her teeth resolutely, sitting on the bed as she hugged her knees…

All the scenes that had happened between them thus far played out a good number of times in her head. That flippant hoodlum, that cold-hearted, full-of-himself young magnate…

The two faces flickered intermittently in her mind.

As she thought about it, she would feel sweetness, shyness, helplessness. Thinking more about it, she then felt vexed, real vexation as she was angered to the point of grinding her teeth.

“Why does he have to bully me so?!!”

“I…what do I do…really be his lover? No, no, definitely not.”

“Twenty years old, and you’re already this bad. In the future…”

As she thought about it, led by some scenes, Li Wan’er’s mind drifted off in the wrong trajectory.

With her 31-year-old body, some things that had never happened over the years could just be ignored. But, last time…Li Wan’er’s body tensed up and shivered as she seemed able to feel that pair of hands again. She also saw her fingers undoing those buttons one by one, heard those words she had said…

She inadvertently spied that wooden hairpin on the nightstand.

Li Wan’er remembered full well that she had been wearing it at the time. The reason she had worn it then was to guard against him. In the end…

“If I had known that things would turn out like this, I should have pricked him a few times then.”

Perhaps because of her guilty conscience, every time footsteps sounded in the corridor outside, however faint they were, Li Wan’er would feel panicked and distressed, her heart racing quickly.

The footsteps this time were especially clear. Li Wan’er patted her chest and inhaled deeply, putting on her jacket as she prepared to look reserved and stern, putting on a cold front…

“If he dares to come over, I must definitely not appear pleased.”

Yet, the doorbell did not sound in the end.

Li Wan’er huddled against the door and listened for a while before gazing through the peephole, “Could it be that he’s gone back? That’s good then…”

The footsteps were still audible, just that they were becoming increasingly distant.

Momentarily overtaken by rashness, Li Wan’er opened the door. In the distance, a waiter was currently pushing the food trolley into the lift.

She gazed over at that room door. It was tightly closed.
……

The next day, Li Wan’er who had only fallen asleep with much difficulty the previous night slept till very late.

After waiting for a while, Xu Tingsheng had no choice but to press the doorbell and wake her up.

Rather flustered, her hair strewn messily all about, Li Wan’er blearily opened the door, forgetting even that she ‘had to put on a cold front’. Luckily, Xu Tingsheng showed no intention of entering.

Seeing this rare dishevelled, indolent side of hers, Xu Tingsheng smiled, “Both our meals were on the plane yesterday. I thought that you should be hungry. Also, I still have stuff to do today. Seeing that breakfast time is nearly over already, I had no choice but to come wake you up.”

“Right,” Li Wan’er nodded dazedly, still seeming half-asleep.

“You didn’t sleep well last night?” Xu Tingsheng enquired.

“No, no, I did. I fell asleep rather early,” Li Wan’er hastily lied, “Give me a moment. I’ll be quick.”

From the perspective of the lofty connoisseurs known as the Chinese, Italian breakfasts were truly comparatively dull. There was only coffee and various types of croissants, pitiful to the point that there wasn’t even a small bowl of porridge.

Speaking of eating, those of the Heavenly Dynasty aren’t targeting anyone specifically. Everyone, whether present or not, is trash.

The Americans who are enamoured with beef and burgers.

The British who are enamoured with potatoes.

The Koreans who are enamoured with Kimchi.

The…

They are all trash.

Actually, just speaking of food alone, France aside, there was still Italy amongst Western countries that could still barely be considered acceptable. Still, one could not compare it with China. Once you did, it was also trash. Pancakes, spaghetti, and also biscuits with fillings on the outside-pizza-that was its full content.

Fortunately, Xu Tingsheng was hungry, and Li Wan’er too.

The two wolfed down the food like there was no tomorrow.

During this time, Xu Tingsheng did mention one thing, “Bread should be coupled with soya milk! What’s with the coffee?”

But, frowning, he still ate anyway, alternating between a mouthful of coffee and a bite of bread.

Seeing him this way, Li Wan’er vaguely felt that he was very adorable. Then, her mind suddenly skipped far ahead to one morning in the future, on which the two of them were eating breakfast together. Perhaps this would not happen often, for one would be in Milan, and the other China. Still…there would be such moments between them, at least.

“Might there be…three of us? If there was a child to accompany me, maybe…” Just after this thought arose in Li Wan’er’s mind, she quickly suppressed it, feeling greatly panicked as she feared that she might commit a wrong due to an unjustified sentiment.

“I’ll make breakfast for you in the fu…I, I mean tomorrow,” Li Wan’er stammered as she hastily caught herself.

“You’ve got to hurry up and find a house then. Let’s try to get you moved in today,” Not having noticed anything at all, Xu Tingsheng said easily, “You’re more familiar with this place than I am. I won’t accompany you in finding a house later this morning. After you’ve found one, go back on your own and pack up your stuff. I’ll come over to help you move in the afternoon after I’m done with my affairs.”

Li Wan’er asked rather astonishedly, “You have…some affairs to handle in Milan?”

Xu Tingsheng nodded, “Right, some business-related affairs. I’ll be contacting two construction materials companies later.”

Li Wan’er looked at Xu Tingsheng. He was wearing a suit today…the one she had personally made. She had sewed it, stitched it herself.

“So he’s going to discuss business. I even thought that he’s deliberately wearing it for me, deliberately…evoking my memories…”

Li Wan’er thought for a moment before standing up and helping Xu Tingsheng to adjust his tie from across the table even as she said, “Let me accompany you there then. You aren’t familiar with this place and also can’t speak Italian. Also, I can accompany you to look at the stadiums. Finding a house won’t take long; I already contacted my classmates over here last night. They will be helping me to search for one.”

Xu Tingsheng shook his head, “It’s okay. We should still go about it separately. Let’s meet again in the afternoon. Actually, I came to Milan before and also visited the stadiums before. Also, the bosses of these two companies speak English…um, they should already be speaking it by now.”

Xu Tingsheng had already done some thorough research on these two construction materials companies before coming over. It was basically no different from what he understood from his previous life. Still, thinking about it now, there was still one thing he could not be certain of-had those two Italian dudes already learnt their lousy English at this time?

If there was really no way around it, they could just find a translator. Look, this ‘unfamiliar old friend’ is still helping to look after your businesses so many years ‘back’, also not forcing you guys to learn Chinese. Considerate enough, eh?

Xu Tingsheng suddenly thought of Zhang Fengping. He could speak Italian, just one word. Acclamazioni! Drink up!

In terms of alcohol capacity, he could take down a whole table of Italian dudes all by himself.

Thinking about Zhang Fengping, Xu Tingsheng recalled those days of his previous life, from when they had started out in high spirits to ultimately ending up tragically with nothing at all.

In his previous life, the three had partnered up to start up a construction materials import company, basically relying on the relationship of Zheng Fengping’s family with a certain construction corporation. Therefore, though the company was small, they had been rather high-end as they had been able to associate with various people and matters. They were the kind people would ask about, thinking at first that these three people must be really something.

“Italy, Germany, France…the whole of Europe, no matter…the construction materials will come in with Xiao Jian’s ships, saving a sizeable portion of the transportation fees, hence ensuring lower prices…right, yes, the deposit amount must be a little higher.”

This was what Zhang Fengping would say to everyone he met then.

Xu Tingsheng had visited quite a few countries during that time.

He had come to Italy twice before. Those two cunning yet soft Italians were actually not all that hard to deal with. Xu Tingsheng was aware of their bottom lines as well as habitual practices, including the problem that existed now…he could make use of their desire to break into the Chinese market considering their limited channels for doing so now and properly exert some pressure on them…

Therefore, Xu Tingsheng was actually very confident of succeeding this time.

As for the issue of transportation, Xu Tingsheng had already discussed it with Ye Qing. They would just have to make use of whatever available space was in the main ports, jostling with those long-distance voyaging ships.

Hearing that Xu Tingsheng had come to Milan before, a surprised Li Wan’er asked about this.

“Twice?” Li Wan’er’s eyes were bright with excitement, “Hey, maybe we’ve even brushed past each other on the streets of Milan before. Yeah, that might really have happened.”

Hearing her words, Xu Tingsheng’s mind wavered somewhat. Li Wan’er thought that his ‘before’ referred to before the year 2004, whereas he really had no way of asking: Were you still in Milan back in 2011 and 2012?

Even Li Wan’er herself could not possibly have foreknowledge of this.

How had her fate ultimately been in his previous life? Without him there, had she managed to surpass that tribulation? If so, how had she managed to do it?

If she had still been in Milan then, what kind of life might she have been living?…

Also, might it really have been that coincidental, with the two of them having inadvertently brushed past each other in his previous life before?

A woman living a quiet life in Milan, an ordinary youth working hard for a living. Maybe at some point in time, she had been wearing a beige windbreaker, carrying a brown paper bag with a few loaves of French bread, while his head had been lowered as he haggled over business issues on the phone. They had been at the same road in Milan City, perhaps standing across from each other at some traffic junction or zebra crossing.

Maybe when the light had been red, the two had just happened to be looking across the street, seeing others rather than each other. Then, as the lights turned green, they had crossed paths in a hurry.

Maybe Xu Tingsheng had actually glanced randomly at her as they passed, but had forgotten.

This sort of feeling was actually very subtly profound. Take for example some girl that you fell in love at first sight with in senior high or university. Actually, she could have been in the exact same train cabin as you before. You even walked past her then. Maybe there was once when you got off a roller coaster at an amusement park and she was actually just in the queue on the opposite side.

Wondering if the two had ever met on the streets of the ‘future’ Milan…

This sort of thing seemed miraculous yet without significance, causing Xu Tingsheng to smile as he thought about it.

“Who knows?” Xu Tingsheng smiled, “There are plenty of Chinese in Milan. Therefore, even if we were on the same street and walked by each other, we still might not notice each other, right? Already being overseas, I definitely would be looking mainly at Western chicks.”

Li Wan’er automatically overlooked that joke of Xu Tingsheng’s at the end, concentrating and thinking for a moment before she said, “But we still met in the end, at Angelo’s tailor workshop for the first ever suit of your life…that was also the first time I went to Mister Angelo’s workshop in Shenghai…everything afterwards too, it feels miraculous just thinking about it. Sometimes, I think that this may be fate.”

After saying so, perhaps to hide her awkwardness, Li Wan’er smiled, as if she had actually just been joking.

Actually, Li Wan’er was not merely saying this to Xu Tingsheng. She had also been saying this for her own sake. She was unconsciously trying to explain things to herself, maybe even trying to convince herself, though even she herself might not have realised this.

Xu Tingsheng did not think this way. To him, everything that was destined, that he was beholden to by fate, should have occurred or at least appeared in his previous life, even if it had been in a different form or state.

The him of this life was fundamentally moving against fate, resembling the battle of a caged beast as he continually worked to break through the fate that had originally been his…in that case, could such an encounter still be considered fate? An accident, more like.

“What is it?” Seeing that Xu Tingsheng looked out of it, Li Wan’er asked.

Xu Tingsheng snapped out of his reverie, saying, “It’s nothing. Thinking back on it now, I think that we shouldn’t have met before.”

Li Wan’er asked, “You’re still thinking about that? Actually, it was just a passing thought. I was just curious.”

“I’ll stop thinking about it then,” Xu Tingsheng stood up and asked, “Are you full? When you’re done eating, we can set off individually then.”

“Yeah, I’m full,” Li Wan’er stood up as well, “Well, I still think I should accompany you. Things aren’t that urgent for me…I’m surely more familiar with Milan than you. If you want to discuss business, how about I go as your assistant?”

Now, Li Wan’er looked at the clothes she was wearing, “Just give me a moment. I’ll go up and change to some younger clothes.”

“There’s really no need to. It’s fine, how you’re dressed,” Xu Tingsheng smiled, “Still, how come your side’s not urgent? You should be feeling urgent. If things are successful over on my side, I may be leaving Milan tomorrow afternoon or evening.”

“Tomorrow? You’re leaving tomorrow?”

Li Wan’er had not asked about Xu Tingsheng’s schedule and intentions at all. In her own mind, she was still considering where she might bring him to have fun, yet he…was leaving so soon?

Li Wan’er felt as if her heart was being mightily wrenched as that feeling of completely losing everything appeared and overwhelmed her. Even her voice had momentarily changed at this.

“Right, so it’ll only be one day. Don’t let it go to waste,” Xu Tingsheng did not notice anything as he simply smiled.

After saying so, Xu Tingsheng turned and left the table, walking towards the doorway. Li Wan’er stood there in a daze as she did not follow after him.

“It’ll only be one day. Don’t let it go to waste.”

As Li Wan’er ruminated on these words, that heart-wrenching feeling from earlier was gone as it was replaced by another feeling, a very complicated feeling. First, she felt reassured, heaving a sigh of relief as she felt rather fortunate. Then, this was replaced by anger and embarrassment.

“Is he forcing me? One day…to make my decision. Either I agree to what he says, accepting the fullness in dullness, also adopting a good mindset with joy even in suffering…or I refuse, and he leaves tomorrow, and we possibly never ever meet again.”

“He’s only twenty…so direct, domineering and forceful…so audacious…so hasty…”

“Is he really that confident? …Fully assured of victory? …Just knowing that I’ll definitely be unable to bear to part with him? …”

After reaching the door, Xu Tingsheng finally realised that Li Wan’er was not following him.

Returning to the table where they had eaten, seeing her still in a daze, he jumped in front of her just like how one would usually startle a close friend and joked, “Hey…what’s with you? What’re you all zoned out for?”

Li Wan’er leapt up in fright, her body shaking as she snapped out of it. She saw Xu Tingsheng who was currently smiling relaxedly at her. “He’s so relaxed? Does he think that he’s won for sure or is he just indifferent?”

With tears in her eyes, the 31-year-old Li Wan’er sniffed, “I’m fine. I just never thought that you…were like this…”

Xu Tingsheng could not understand what she was saying at all. Still, seeing the tears welling up in her eyes, he pointed at himself rather hesitantly, “I…what is it? What have I done wrong now?”

“Nothing,” Li Wan’er insisted stubbornly following a moment’s hesitation, “Anyway, I’ve got it. One day…I’ll be off finding a flat and packing up my things. You go handle your matters too.”

With that, Li Wan’er directly brushed past Xu Tingsheng and left.

Left there all alone, Xu Tingsheng just could not get his head around it, “Never thought that I’m like what? Never thought that I am such a Xu Tingsheng? …This phrase doesn’t seem to have become popular yet.”


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