Zhou Sujin Asked Her, “Meet Tonight or Tomorrow?”

Wei Lai had originally planned to stay in Beijing for three days, setting aside a day to treat Zhou Sujin to dinner. Even though they now had a contract between them and were officially boyfriend and girlfriend publicly, owing him a favor was a separate matter.

However, plans often fail to keep up with changes.

Around noon, her dad called her, informing her that he had managed to get in touch with the up-and-coming interior designer.

After looking through the designer’s portfolio, Wei Lai found that their design style was exactly what she was looking for, perfectly aligned with her aesthetics. It was rare to come by such a designer.

Her dad informed her that the designer’s schedule had been nearly fully booked. If it weren’t because he had previously helped the designer resolve a legal issue, she would’ve had to wait until March or April of next year to book a consultation.

“Let Dad help you with half of the design fee.”

Wei Lai smiled and declined, “Dad, it’s really not necessary. I have the money.”

Now wasn’t the time to discuss these matters. Wei Huatian gave his daughter the designer’s number.

Wei Lai immediately contacted the designer. The designer’s studio was in Shanghai, and they arranged to meet in Jiang City tomorrow morning to discuss the design proposal.

She could only abruptly end her trip to Beijing and rush back today.

There were still two years between her and Zhou Sujin—plenty of time. There was no rush to treat him to dinner.

President Zhou, I’ve bought a train ticket for this afternoon to return home and have a consultation with a designer.

I’ll treat you to dinner next time we meet.

No need to have Uncle Yan pick me up. I already ordered a ride, and I’ll be checking out of the hotel shortly.

She sent him three messages in a row.

Zhou Sujin was en route to his family home and couldn’t even have Uncle Yan send her.

He replied, “Got it.

Returning to the family home today was his mom’s suggestion. She wanted him and his older brother to come home for afternoon tea if they were free and stay for dinner.

The last time they had dinner together was during the Lantern Festival, and it was now September already. He and his brother had almost forgotten what the dinnerware and silverware at home looked like.

Usually, he would go home to spend time with his mom when he wasn’t so busy, but there was no dinner.

Today, Zhou Jiaye arrived home before Zhou Sujin as he wasn’t busy.

The several parking spaces were already occupied, with their aunt’s car occupying one.

Apart from their dad, everyone was gathered. Today’s agenda undoubtedly involved the three of them questioning why he had rejected such an outstanding blind date before subtly probing about his girlfriend.

Their uncle had brought his own tea set and was brewing tea in the dining room, filling the whole house with the aroma of tea. Mom and Aunt were enjoying tea and snacks while Zhou Jiaye chatted with their uncle over tea.

“Sujin, you’ve come at the right time. Come have a cup,” their uncle used tongs to place a cup of hot tea on an empty spot.

After exchanging greetings, Zhou Sujin sat down beside his older brother.

“With both brothers present, Ning Ruzhen spoke frankly, “I know you both dislike blind dates, but to be honest, I’m even more fed up. Whenever someone introduces a prospective daughter-in-law to me, they always introduce two. You reject once, I have to reject twice. Today, let’s have a good chat about how to decline blind dates without offending anyone.”

After saying that, she glanced at her eldest son, then at her youngest. The eldest held a snack in his hand nonchalantly while the youngest leisurely sipped his tea, neither saying a word.

“If either of you had a girlfriend, I could still stall the matchmakers. But here you guys are, with no girlfriends and refusing blind dates. How am I supposed to reject others? En?”

Zhou Sujin and his older brother remained silent.

“Say something!”

They remained silent.

Ning Ruzhen’s anger was rising rapidly.

You should come clean about having a girlfriend.

Zhou Sujin turned to his older brother and said, “Why don’t we go back first? Out of sight, out of mind for Mom, and it’ll prevent her from getting mad.”

Ning Rujiang: “…”

Ning Ruzhen was so angry she felt like grabbing a broom and chasing them out.

Seeing the situation, their uncle could only try to smooth things over for the two brothers. “I heard the tea in Jiang City is not bad. Sujin, since you’ve been visiting often, did you bring back any tea?”

He hadn’t brought any.

However, there were other types of tea in the trunk as backup.

Zhou Sujin set down his teacup. “I’ll go get it.”

Their uncle waved his hand, urging him to hurry.

Once he left, the dining room finally quieted down.

“See that? Did you all see that!” Ning Ruzhen wanted to complain to her sister and brother-in-law, but there were too many grievances, and she didn’t know where to start.

Ning Rujiang comforted her sister and shared what she knew, “Sujin has a girlfriend. I heard about it only yesterday, but I’m not sure if he just found someone to deal with the family or if it’s a genuine relationship?”

Ning Ruzhen took a sip of tea to calm her anger. Being constantly angered had become accustomed to her, so she quickly composed herself. She looked at her eldest son and asked, “Do you know your brother has a girlfriend?”

Zhou Jiaye: “Yes.”

Then, he added “Knowing or not knowing makes no difference; I’ve never met her.”

The only person who probably knew the truth was Lu An, but he kept his mouth shut tight. There was no way to pry even half a word out of him.

Ning Ruzhen pondered for a moment, “Here’s a deal: if you find out whether your brother’s relationship with his girlfriend is serious or if he just found her to fool us, I’ll spare you from blind dates for a year.”

Zhou Jiaye: “…”

This temptation was strong.

However, the idea of backstabbing each other was out of the question for him and Zhou Sujin. They had reached a consensus to cover for each other since childhood, seamlessly cooperating every time without any mishaps. Whenever they encountered a problem, they would deflect it to each other or sabotage each other, leading their family to believe they didn’t get along. In reality, it was all part of their strategy.

“Sis, I think we can start by investigating Sujin’s watch.”

“What watch?”

“He’s been wearing a rather ordinary watch quite frequently in the past couple of months. It doesn’t seem like something he would buy himself.”

“What watch did he wear today?” Ning Ruzhen, still feeling a bit muddled from being angered, hadn’t paid attention to her youngest’s watch.

Ning Rujiang: “He didn’t wear that one today. I’ll take a picture of it for you next time I see him wearing it.”

If you don’t want the family to find out who your girlfriend is, erase any relevant information about your watch.

While their aunt and mom were engrossed in chatting, Zhou Jiaye quickly wrote a message and sent it over.

Zhou Sujin: “As I told you before, it wasn’t a gift from her. Auntie and Mom can investigate all they want.

At 8:30 p.m. the high-speed train stopped at Jiang City Station.

Wei Huatian stood at the exit, scanning the crowd for his daughter’s figure.

“Dad!” Wei Lai’s voice sounded from behind him.

Wei Huatian swiftly turned around. His daughter had grown up, and their time together had become scarce compared to before. With her wearing new clothes and a different hairstyle, it would be challenging for him to spot her in a crowded place.

She passed right by him in the stream of people, and he didn’t notice her.

He took her luggage. “Why didn’t you call me if you couldn’t find me?”

Here is the rest of the text with italicized portions kept with enclosing quotation marks:

Wei Lai had assumed her dad was waiting for her outside the station. She had nearly reached the parking lot without seeing him. “I called you, but you didn’t answer. I figured you must be in the lobby, so I came back.”

Wei Huatian suddenly remembered, “I had my phone on silent when I was talking to a client this afternoon and forgot to turn it back on.”

As usual, it was the chauffeur driving today, and Wei Lai sat in the back with her dad.

Once in the car, Wei Lai yawned.

Wei Huatian said distressedly, “You must’ve been exhausted. Take a nap; I’ll wake you up when we arrive.”

Wei Lai shook her head. “I’m not tired. It’s just that my circadian rhythm is a bit messed up.” Going to Beijing and suddenly having a pseudo-boyfriend had disrupted her sleep for the past two nights.

She leaned against her dad’s shoulder and dozed off, inexplicably reminded of leaning on Zhou Sujin’s shoulder last night while asleep.

“Tomorrow, Dad will be busy, so you’ll have to meet the designer on your own.”

“You don’t have to accompany me.” Wei Lai joked, “It’s not like when I used to go to preschool—if you don’t accompany me, I won’t go.”

Wei Huatian smiled wistfully but didn’t respond.

Sometimes he felt like his daughter was growing further and further away from him, a feeling he couldn’t quite describe.

Over the next week, Wei Lai was so busy that she barely had a moment to rest.

With a total of 15 stores, each varying in size, layout, and consumer preferences, Wei Lai took the designer to visit each store one by one, explaining the situation and describing the design effect she desired as thoroughly as possible.

As her dad had said, this design project was a big undertaking.

The designer stayed in Jiang City for six days before returning on the seventh day.

Wei Lai finally had a chance to catch her breath, returning home from work at a normal time today.

But it hadn’t been long since things quieted down when that dark blue sports car appeared again outside her condominium.

Yuan Hengrui leaned against the car door with his hands in his pockets. After standing for a while, his back started to ache, and his legs felt sore, so he decided to lean his entire back against the car, resting his head against the roof.

Before him, the night sky stretched endlessly, so dark that it seemed to swallow everything whole.

With a slight turn of his head, he could see the lights of countless homes.

His car was parked in Wei Lai’s parking spot, and suddenly, two high beams flashed a few times, nearly blinding him.

Wei Lai’s back.

Wei Lai said coldly, “What are you doing again!”

What was he doing?

What else could he be doing?

He missed her.

He finally found an excuse to see her.

During this period, he had been locked up at home by his dad to reflect on his actions. He couldn’t even come out to show off because he couldn’t even walk properly, thanks to his dad nearly breaking his leg.

That day, his dad took him to Zhang Yanxin’s office and kicked him hard in one of his legs in front of He Wancheng and Zhang Yanxin, giving Zhang Yanxin an explanation.

But he would rather have his leg broken by his dad than apologize to that scoundrel Zhang Yanxin.

If given the chance again, he would still punch Zhang Yanxin. After all, it was because of him that Wei Lai was hurt so deeply.

Yuan Hengrui opened the car door and grabbed his phone from the passenger seat before opening a photo.

“See for yourself,” he said, handing his phone to Wei Lai.

Wei Lai’s gaze fixed on the photo, which showed a woman with exceptional looks and demeanor.

Yuan Hengrui glanced at the wind direction and took a few steps back, creating some distance between himself and Wei Lai before pulling out a cigarette box and a lighter from his pocket.

“That woman comes from a family compatible with Zhou Sujin’s. They will get married. They even went on a blind date and met each other. Don’t tell me you’re not bothered by it at all.”

Wei Lai had been so busy lately that she barely had time to sleep. Besides, knowing about Zhou Sujin’s blind date, she didn’t pay much attention even when her plastic sisters tried to pry into the situation.

“Many people have been talking about you behind your back these days. And you? No reaction at all, pretending to be deaf and blind! Someone even saw you showing off that Cullinan yesterday. Wei Lai, do you not care about your reputation anymore? Or do you think your pride and reputation are worthless compared to connections and resources?”

Wei Lai couldn’t be bothered to respond.

Seeing her silence, Yuan Hengrui felt uneasy. She was admitting it.

“So, you’re willing to be Zhou Sujin’s girlfriend in Jiang City, knowing full well that he’s engaged to someone else, just to enjoy the prestige and connections he brings you, right?”

“Since you only care about fame and fortune and don’t care about feelings, would you finally take me seriously if I made it into the top three of Jiang City’s richest list?”

He added, “I’m not bad-looking either.”

Wei Lai shoved the phone back into his arms. “Go wherever you want to cool off!”

Yuan Hengrui took another step back, trying not to let the smoke choke her. “Don’t be mad. I’m just sharp-tongued. I know you’re not that kind of person.”

Wei Lai: “You act like you know me so well.”

“Of course. I know you better than Zhou Sujin, better than Zhang Yanxin, better than you know yourself! Do you believe me, Wei Lai?”

Yuan Hengrui stubbed out his cigarette and tossed it into the trash. “I know you don’t believe me.”

“It’s inevitable. I’m not a big shot, so my words carry little weight. But when I become one of the top three richest people in Jiang City, you’ll definitely believe what I say.”

Wei Lai: “…”

“I’ll get going. Get some rest soon,” Yuan Hengrui retreated before irritating her, driving away in his flashy sports car in a cloud of smoke.

At this moment, mixed emotions flooded him. He was glad Wei Lai’s relationship with Zhou Sujin probably wouldn’t last long, but he was saddened that it would take him ages to make a fortune.

Just a couple of days ago, he consulted a fortune teller to have his fortune told, inquiring about his financial prospects.

The fortune teller assured him that he would naturally become wealthy and prosperous in the future.

As if it needed to be said; he had been wealthy and prosperous since birth. So he asked the fortune teller if he could become one of the top three richest in Jiang City.

The fortune teller suddenly fell silent…

After the sports car left, Wei Lai parked her own car in its spot.

Regarding Zhou Sujin’s blind date and the rumors of her dreams of marrying into affluence being shattered again, she ignored them.

She hadn’t anticipated that over the past few weeks, the rumors would become increasingly absurd. They claimed she willingly wronged herself, unwilling to leave Zhou Sujin, and even went as far as to take an overnight train to Beijing to tearfully salvage their relationship, only for Zhou Sujin to remain unmoved, who eventually grew annoyed and dismissed her with that Cullinan.

You’re not even part of that circle anymore, yet they still obsess over you, caring about how you’re doing, whether you’ve been abandoned, and even worrying over how much you could sell that car for. Look at how much they love you. (smirk).

During her break, former colleague Tang Zhi couldn’t wait to share the gossip she overheard in the kitchen with Wei Lai.

Today, Wei Lai was driving the very same car, the Cullinan, and she was currently sitting inside it.

As for the rumors, she simply laughed them off.

It had been over three weeks since she returned from Beijing, and she received the initial design draft for her first store today. The book cafe and study room she had envisioned were faithfully recreated by the designer.

She shared this pleasant surprise with her parents and forwarded the renderings to Zhao Yihan; these three people were now the people she cared most about.

After some thought, she opened her chat with Zhou Sujin and sent him a copy of the renderings too.

I rushed back just to design this.

He didn’t reply.

An hour later, Zhou Sujin called.

After three weeks, he was almost like a stranger.

Wei Lai answered, “President Zhou.”

Zhou Sujin: “I just arrived in Jiang City. I’ll be having meetings here for the next few days. Should we meet tonight or tomorrow?”

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