It was getting late. Chu Yichen was just leaving a dinner party. After getting in the car, he received a report from Bai Xiao.
“Just now, Eldest Young Master went to Lihao because an escort girl had a dispute with someone. According to the report, the escort girl’s name is Lan Xin. She is 38 years old this year and lives with her five-year-old daughter. Her husband is a gambler. He has several loans in the loan company and some debts outside. He often beats the mother and daughter and demands money from her. This time, Lan Xin was forced to try to borrow money from a client. When the angry client got violent, Eldest Young Master stopped him. After that, he ordered Bai Yang to mobilize some of the people in the eastern district, taught Lan Xin’s husband a small lesson, and…” He paused, somewhat embarrassed. Seeing the man look up at him, he had to continue, “and brought Lan Xin and her daughter back to Qinglan Mansion.”
Hearing him mention Qinglan Mansion, Chu Yichen was slightly startled. His handsome face appeared somewhat lonely under the flickering lights outside the car window. He looked exhausted. Chu Yichen leaned back in the seat and closed his eyes, his tone emotionless, “Let him be.”
How long had he not been here?
Chu Yunhan got out of the car and looked at the European-style building in front of him somewhat confused. Since his father passed away and his mother, who could not bear the blow, was sent to a nursing home with mental problems, he rarely returned to this place called “home”.
At first, he lived in an apartment under his name, and later loitered around in hotels and holiday villas. Not that he didn’t want to come back, but every time he stepped into this place and saw those familiar people and things, he would always think of those happy days from the past, which made it even more difficult to bear for his lonely heart.
Feng Tai, the old housekeeper, who had been waiting at the door since receiving the news, caught sight of him. His eyes somewhat watery, he said, “Young Master, you are back.”
“Yeah.” He laughed. “Uncle Feng, don’t dress so officially in the evening. No need to be so formal.” As he walked in, he asked, “Did you miss me?”
“Yes, we all missed you very much,” Feng Tai’s voice was choked. He had watched Chu Yunhan grow up and watched him deal with his parents’ accident. Although they were master and servant in terms of social status, he had always regarded Yunhan as a son. He knew why Yunhan didn’t return, and was willing to stay here, waiting for him to come back.
“The young master is back?!” a mellow female voice rang out, and a fair and fat woman wearing a coat rushed out. She cried with joy when she saw Chu Yunhan and complained, “Young Master, how could you leave this house and us?” While asking, “Are you hungry? What do you want to eat? I’ll make it for you,” from the corner of her eyes she saw Lan Xin and her daughter, who followed behind. Stunned, her eyes lit up, “Young Master, you…this child will not be …”
“Aunt Song, she is a friend.” Aware that she was thinking something indecent again, Chu Yunhan didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Touching his stomach, he said, “I’m really hungry. Make us something delicious, will you?”
“Good, good.” The plump chatty woman was defeated and went to cook somewhat disappointed.
Feng Tai had already brewed tea and served it, not forgetting to prepare some cookies for Yuanyuan. Lan Xin thanked him repeatedly, and the thin Yuanyuan stared at the cookie jar in his hand timidly, not daring to take any. She was only five years old, and still didn’t know the complicated world of adults. She only knew that Dad was easily irritated and would hit her when he was angry, so she didn’t dare to do anything, not even to call him “Dad”. Her mommy was often beaten, always hugging her and crying. Mommy wanted to make money to provide for her, and she was very tired from working late, so she couldn’t ask for this and that.
Upon seeing this, Chu Yunhan squatted down, took a cookie, threw it in his mouth, and then handed one to her with a smile. “It tastes good, want to taste?”
Yuanyuan stared at Chu Yunhan with her big eyes. She remembered that this uncle came to their house with a lot of people dressed in black just now. He said, “Don’t do it in front of the child”, and those people in black dragged her drunk father out. She didn’t ask where Dad went, and neither did Mommy say. Mommy only told her that this uncle’s surname was Chu, and he would protect them. Uncle was very different from Dad. He was very beautiful, very clean, and he spoke very softly. He even asked someone to find warm clothes for her, which didn’t look ugly.
“Really not? Then I’ll take them away.” Chu Yunhan shook the jar.
Yuanyuan bit her lip, gathered her courage and reached out to take a cookie, constantly looking at the other’s face like a vigilant small animal.
Chu Yunhan didn’t move and kept smiling at her.
She finally put a cookie in her mouth, took a bite, and whispered, “Thank you.”
“Is it delicious?” he asked.
“You can have them all.” He passed the jar over. Yuanyuan looked up at Lan Xin overwhelmed. The rims of Lan Xin’s eyes turned red, and she said, “Take it.” The little girl then took the jar and thanked him promptly.
“You should send her to kindergarten to spend more time with other children,” Chu Yunhan stood up and said to Lan Xin.
“I had saved some money before and wanted to send her, but later…” She thought of her husband, who was worse than a beast, and her heart filled with hatred and guilt towards her daughter, and her voice choked.
“Yuanyuan’s tuition fee will be settled. Your husband should not come to make trouble anymore. You’ll be staying here for the time being. Don’t go to Lihao anymore. Uncle Feng will arrange a job here for you. Cleaning or helping in the kitchen will not be very tiring, your salary will be higher than before, and you can also spend more time with Yuanyuan. If you don’t want to work here, I can ask someone to find you another job.”
Lan Xin’s tears rolled down and her voice choked, “Yes, I want to. I don’t know how to thank you anymore, really, I really…thank you…”
“Why are you crying again?” He couldn’t help but smile, and said amused, “I remember you used to say that you were a tigress. Tigresses don’t cry so easily.”
She couldn’t help laughing and wiped away the tears. In the harsh living environment, she was accustomed to wearing armor and struggling alone. When she found a solid shoulder to lean on, she revealed a woman’s vulnerable side.
Lan Xin knew that Chu Yunhan did this to pay back the favor of helping him back then. To Chu Yunhan these things may not be worth mentioning, but to her, this man pulled her and Yuanyuan out of the pit and saved their lives. Starting tomorrow, everything would be different.
Having helped the mother and daughter settle down, Chu Yunhan drank the seafood porridge made by Aunt Song happily and took a shower. It was already midnight. He lay down in his room and looked at the family photo on the bedside table, brushing his fingers over the old man’s smile and his parents’ faces, his eyes filled with gentle light. He slowly moved his gaze to his energetic self at the time, smiled, and finally stopped on Chu Yichen’s face, who was standing to the side.
He still remembered the day when the elders were laughing and talking, and the children were playing around. Standing between Chu Yichen and Chu Minran, he secretly stretched out his fingers behind their heads to make rabbit ears when taking the picture, and was reprimanded by his father.
Sure enough, in this house he always remembered the old days. He smiled bitterly. After experiencing betrayal, chasing, imprisonment, struggling, rape, and suicide, looking at the old photos again, he thought of their close relationship when they were young. It felt worlds apart.
In the photo, the young Chu Yichen looked at him silently with those black eyes. Chu Yunhan suddenly felt a little upset, and placed the frame face down on the bedside table.
He had nearly made it. If he just tried a little harder, he could get rid of that person.
Chu Yunhan buried his head in the quilt and fell asleep.
Lan Xin and her daughter were handed over to Feng Tai to take care of. Chu Yunhan felt relieved and went to work in the company early the next morning. Next, he had to focus all his energy on winning the battle for an eight percent increase in sales. The store celebration week was getting closer and he got busier, staying in the company all day long. However, the closer the critical moment, the more problems appeared. He was like an examinee who was about to enter the examination room. After a while, he discovered that his eraser was worn out and his pen was out of ink. Although it was all minor issues, his nerves were constantly strained.
A few days later, the anxious examinee Chu Yunhan finally ushered in the big exam. The seven days of the shop celebration week were probably the shortest seven days of his life. Although the business hours had been extended by four hours a day, he still felt that it was not enough.
He didn’t have much hope for an increase in offline sales. He only hoped to maintain a relatively stable state, focusing mainly on online sales. Since the beginning of the store celebration, Chu Yunhan, who was staring at the backstage information of the website, hardly ever had a break. Drinking one cup of coffee after another, after three days, the whole person had practically fallen in a strange state of confusion and excitement, with dark circles, stubble and messy hair. It wasn’t until Bai Yang forcibly locked him into the break room of the office that he reluctantly lied down to sleep.
The warm touch felt somewhat familiar, and so did the light scent in his nose. He wanted to avoid that hand, but had no strength left in his body. In a daze, he felt someone sit next to him and gently caress his hair. He couldn’t even open his eyes to find out their identity, he could only fall from one weird dream into another. He didn’t sleep well and woke up after an hour. There was no one around, only a thermos with fragrant mountain ginseng stewed chicken soup was placed on the table.
Chu Yunhan took a sip and asked Bai Yang, “Where did you say the soup came from?”
“Aunt Song did it and sent it here.”
Chu Yunhan stared at Bai Yang for a while, but did not speak. He bowed his head, drank the soup, and said, “Don’t make her send food in the future.”
He had been a picky eater since he was a child and was very sensitive to the taste of food. This soup had a mild ginseng flavour and not a strong one, and the chicken was tender. It was not prepared by Aunt Song. And he had drunk this chicken soup before.
In the old house of the Chu family. It was Aunt Wang’s cooking.
Who brought the chicken soup? Who was the person he couldn’t see clearly in his dream just now?
Since the other party deliberately concealed it, he did not want to expose him either.
Chu Yichen, you came to see if I can finally win for once, didn’t you?