Only Place To Hide is His Embrace

I’m taking my aunt and them to that restaurant for dinner.

Zhou Sujin messaged Wei Lai. She had just returned from outside and probably hadn’t had dinner yet. To avoid her heading to the same restaurant, he decided to give her a heads-up.

Meanwhile, in the office on the 2nd floor

Wei Lai was showing her mom the draft of the partnership contract. She had spent the entire afternoon at Yuhui Group. The deal was settled, and the contents of the contract were also discussed and finalized.

“Mom, take a look. If there’s no problem, I’ll start finalizing the contract tomorrow, and we can start renovations next week.”

Cheng Minzhi only glanced at the important clauses of the contract. With her daughter handling things, she had nothing to worry about.

She put away the contract. “Let’s go and have dinner. No takeout for dinner today. Mom’s treating, so let’s celebrate at that restaurant.”

Wei Lai smiled. “I’ll need to order a few more dishes then.”

Slinging her purse over her shoulder, she walked arm-in-arm with her mom to that old eatery.

Her phone was in her purse, and she hadn’t had the time to check it.

Upon arriving at the restaurant, a table on the first floor had just been vacated, and the waitstaff was clearing it.

Wei Lai: “Mom, let’s just sit downstairs.”

“Sure.” Cheng Minzhi couldn’t be bothered to climb up the stairs to the 2nd floor either.

Once the table was set, Wei Lai took out her phone to order via the QR code, only then did she notice the message Zhou Sujin had sent her 15 minutes ago.

President Zhou, I just saw…

Seeing the ellipsis, Zhou Sujin guessed she was here at the restaurant. “Are you in line?

Wei Lai: “No, there just so happened to have an available table downstairs.

Are you upstairs?” she asked.

En.” Zhou Sujin glanced at his auntie across from him, who was enthusiastically discussing Uncle’s birthday celebration, and said to Wei Lai, “It’s okay, we won’t run into each other.

Besides Uncle’s 50th birthday, Auntie had no interest in anything else at the moment.

My aunt knows your name is Wei Lai, and that your family runs a supermarket. Come home with me on October 20th.

Wei Lai was completely caught off guard. “So soon?

Given that his family wasn’t an ordinary one, she couldn’t help but feel nervous even if she was just pretending to be his girlfriend. Some things were better said face-to-face.

Should we meet now?

Zhou Sujin: “How?

Wei Lai: “Let’s go to the restroom.

After half a minute passed without a reply, Wei Lai assumed he had already gone ahead, so she handed her purse to her mom for a moment and gestured toward the direction of the restroom.

The restaurant only had restrooms on the first floor, so she went to find Zhou Sujin.

There was no one at the sink in between.

He must be in the men’s restroom, she thought.

After waiting for a while and still not seeing him, she messaged again, “President Zhou, I’m by the sinks by the restrooms.

Zhou Sujin, feeling resigned, said to his uncle, “I’m going to the restroom downstairs.”

He hadn’t replied earlier because he hadn’t intended to go. The idea of waiting at the restroom entrance was too absurd, something only she would come up with.

Wei Lai was fixing her hair in front of the mirror when she saw his figure reflected in it.

He approached, and she turned around.

“Why are we suddenly meeting your family? Didn’t we agree it wasn’t time yet?”

She voiced her concern, “We barely know each other and know almost nothing about each other. It’ll be easy to mess up.” In the past few days, she had tried to act as if he were her real boyfriend and immerse herself in the role of his girlfriend, but he remained quite passive.

A solo act was hard to pull off.

Zhou Sujin walked to the sink and turned on the faucet before washing his hands. “We won’t mess up. When we’re there, just stay by my side and don’t leave my sight. If we don’t separate, they won’t have a chance to ask tricky questions.”

That seemed like the only plan.

Wei Lai: “Is the 20th a special day?”

“My uncle is celebrating his 50th birthday early.”

As soon as Wei Lai heard the word “early,” she realized that this birthday dinner was specifically arranged for her and Zhou Sujin. Her stress instantly increased.

Turning off the faucet, Zhou Sujin grabbed a paper towel and slowly wiped his hands. He glanced at her and said, “There’s no need to overthink it. Just act naturally.”

“Let’s go back.” He tossed the paper towel into the trash can.

Wei Lai followed behind him. Just then, two men who had drunk too much but were not completely drunk came toward them. One was patting the other’s shoulder and saying, “Bro, listen to me.”

“Bro, listen to me, just listen to me.”

They kept repeating that same phrase for a while.

Zhou Sujin slowed his pace and extended his arm backward to shield Wei Lai, preventing her from being bumped by the two unsteady men.

Wei Lai was lost in thoughts about what would be appropriate to wear when visiting his family and what birthday gift to prepare for his uncle. She hadn’t noticed the two men walking toward them.

Suddenly, she saw Zhou Sujin extend his hand without looking back, a gesture reminiscent of how Zhang Yanxin used to hold her hand while walking. Almost instinctively, she placed her hand in his, thinking he was practicing holding hands in preparation for their visit to his family.

Zhou Sujin paused and turned to look at her before blunting saying, “I was just trying to shield you, not trying to hold your hand.”

Wei Lai quickly withdrew her hand, feeling like her fingertips had been scorched. She pretended to be composed. “Look at us, no rapport at all. Auntie is experienced; she can see through us at a glance.”

They were now back in the dining area, so she waved her hand and briskly walked toward her table.

Zhou Sujin went back upstairs. His aunt was on the phone with a hotel, arranging for a chef to prepare a birthday banquet at home.

He had no idea how long he had spent in the restroom. His aunt had no idea either.

After a few phone calls, Ning Rujiang finished arranging the birthday banquet that was in 20 days.

The birthday celebration would be held at home, with four tables of guests invited.

Under the guise of celebrating a birthday, they would invite everyone in the family to congratulate her nephew on having a girlfriend.

“What does Wei Lai like? I’ll need to prepare a gift for our first-time meeting,” Ning Rujiang asked her nephew.

Zhou Sujin didn’t know what Wei Lai liked. Currently, all he knew was that she ate seafood paella without the seafood and liked eating seaweed.

He had held her white blazer before but hadn’t paid attention to the brand.

He said, “Instead of giving her a gift, why don’t you take her to a soiree for a whirl?”

Ning Rujiang readily agreed, “No problem. Not just one whirl, I can take her on ten whirls.” But the gift still needed to be given; it was a matter of etiquette.

“Don’t worry about saving money for Auntie’s sake. Whoever you like, Auntie likes too.”

Zhou Sujin: “I haven’t made a deliberate effort to find out what she likes.”

This response was very typical of Zhou Sujin, and Ning Rujiang didn’t suspect a thing. If her nephew knew everything about his girlfriend, her likes and dislikes inside out, then she would find it suspicious.

“I’ll take care of the gift myself then.”

When they returned to Jiang’an Cloud Residences that night, Ning Rujiang started packing her suitcase.

Uncle: “Why aren’t you sleeping so late at night? Quickly go to bed.”

“I have to pack tonight. We’re going back tomorrow.”

“Leaving so soon just after arriving?”

“Tea has been bought, and the rice wine from Jiang City has been drunk. If we don’t leave now, are we planning to stay until the New Year?”

As a considerate elder, she was mindful not to intrude on the young couple’s time together any longer.

Wei Lai had been extremely busy these past few days. Even if his aunt and uncle left, she wouldn’t have had time for dates anyway.

She was busy finalizing the contract with Yunhui Group, selecting appropriate gifts for several of Zhou Sujin’s family members, and preparing for her dad’s wedding.

Her dad’s wedding was scheduled for noon on October 3rd. Strictly speaking, it wasn’t a full-fledged wedding

just a simple reception with only the closest relatives and friends in attendance. There was no elaborate wedding ceremony, and even the host was a young lawyer from her dad’s law firm, last-minute chosen for his decent speaking skills.

In essence, everything was kept simple.

Nevertheless, her dad had meticulously prepared his wedding vows and wore a well-tailored suit, donned a maroon tie and a boutonniere.

One couldn’t tell that her dad was already 49. If she told people that he was just in his early 40s, they would surely believe it.

Wei Lai sat in an empty seat on the edge, watching her dad interact with the photographer. She couldn’t help but imagine what it must have been like when he first got married.

Back then, he was only 24, in the prime of his youth.

Her mom wasn’t in the city lately; she had taken advantage of the National Day holiday to go on a trip with her friends.

In her memory, her mom had never traveled during holidays before. The holidays were always crowded, and her mom wasn’t the type who enjoyed the crowds. Yet, this year, she chose to join in on the excitement.

The reason she gave was that she was getting older and had come to like the liveliness.

She couldn’t quite gauge how much of her mom’s feelings for her dad remained, but surely at one point or another, she must’ve had a hard time reconciling them.

After all, the person she had loved since she was a teenager was now marrying someone else.

“Lai Lai, come here,” her dad waved her over.

Wei Lai snapped out of her thoughts and adjusted her expression before walking over with a smile.

Turning around, Wei Huatian said to Zhao Mei, “Call Yihan over too. Let’s take a family photo.”

It had been five or six years, maybe even longer, since he had taken a picture with his daughter.

Today was a special day, and taking a family photo seemed perfectly fitting.

Wei Lai and Zhao Yihan wore the same dress in different colors, prepared for them by her stepmom. It was this dress that Zhao Yihan brought over to her that started their subsequent interactions.

During the photo session, the photographer repeatedly told them to smile, to look happier. He was probably directing that at her, as she felt her smile was forced.

Zhao Yihan, who was taller than her, placed her hand on Wei Lai’s shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze.

After the family photo was taken, relatives began to arrive one by one. Her dad and stepmom went over to greet them.

Wei Lai initially didn’t want to sit at the head table but was called over by Zhao Yihan.

The head table was the closest to the stage, and as the wedding ceremony began, the host invited her dad and stepmom up onto the stage. From her vantage point, Wei Lai could see every expression on her dad’s face clearly.

When her dad started reciting his wedding vows, she gently touched the corner of her eye with her finger.

She wanted her dad to be happy, but she couldn’t deny the sadness she felt inside.

“Let’s also invite Lai Lai and Yihan up on stage,” the host announced to the audience below. Wei Lai and Zhao Yihan both startled slightly. No one had informed them beforehand about this part of the ceremony.

But since the host had said so, they couldn’t refuse to go up.

Once on stage, Wei Lai realized it was a moment to showcase their harmonious family dynamics.

Wei Lai’s eyes were still moist. While the host interacted with Zhao Mei and Zhao Yihan, Wei Huatian quietly asked his daughter as he gently wiped her eyes, “Why are you crying?”

Wei Lai smiled. “Your vows moved me.”

Wei Huatian hugged his daughter close. He could tell that she wasn’t genuinely happy today. Just like moments ago when he finished reciting his wedding vows, both his and Zhao Mei’s eyes were red. Their relatives and friends in the audience were blessing them, but only they knew that the tears shed at that moment had nothing to do with today’s happiness—it was because they were thinking about the past.

The past.

The insurmountable past.

Yet a past that can never be returned to.

After the wedding reception, Wei Huatian couldn’t tend to see off the relatives; he was in a hurry to find his daughter.

“Lai Lai, come home this afternoon. Your grandparents will be there too.”

“I’ll come over another day.” Wei Lai had already prepared an excuse. “The supermarket is entering the shopping mall complex at the industrial park, and renovations are about to start. I need to attend a meeting with the renovation company.”

Wei Huatian: “Isn’t your mom helping with it too?”

Wei Lai wouldn’t tell her dad that her mom wasn’t in Jiang City. “Mom and I are responsible for different things. I’m handling all the design and renovation aspects. She won’t know that part.”

Wei Huatian nodded, remaining silent for a few seconds. “Lai Lai, do you… resent me?”

“Of course not.” Wei Lai stepped forward and hugged her dad. “I’ve always wanted you to be happy, really.”

She took a deep breath. “I need to go now. I have a meeting at three.”

She waved goodbye and didn’t look back again.

After leaving the hotel where the wedding reception was held, Wei Lai drove to a quiet cafe. She wasn’t meeting anyone in the afternoon and had no meetings scheduled.

She had just taken a few sips of her coffee when Zhou Sujin called.

Wei Lai took a few deep breaths before answering, “Hi, President Zhou.”

Zhou Sujin could tell she had been crying. “What’s the matter?”

Wei Lai chuckled. “It’s nothing, just a bit emotional because of my dad’s wedding today.” She then asked, “President Zhou, do you need something?”

Zhou Sujin had an overnight flight to London and needed to head to the airport in an hour. Her blazer was still at his place.

“Where are you? I’ll have your blazer sent over to you.”

Wei Lai first asked, “Are you bringing it yourself?”

“Uncle Yan will drop it off. It’s just a piece of clothing; does it matter who delivers it?”

“It’s not the same.”

Zhou Sujin realized that Wei Lai always had endless reasons and excuses. She said, “You’re leaving Jiang City tonight. It wouldn’t make sense to Uncle Yan if you don’t see me before you go.”

He asked for her location and went over to deliver the blazer himself.

Wei Lai took out a compact mirror and saw that her eyes were swollen from crying. Ever since her parents’ divorce, she had bottled up all her sadness for the past 15 years and hadn’t cried once.

If her mom had acted indifferent toward her dad’s wedding, she would’ve pretended to be happy, just as she always did. But this time, her mom couldn’t hide her feelings, and Wei Lai suddenly couldn’t hold back anymore.

She felt more sad for her mom than she did when she broke up with Zhang Yanxin.

I’m here.

So quickly?” Wei Lai paid the bill and quickly walked out of the cafe.

Zhou Sujin had been in the area for a meeting, and Uncle Yan, now familiar with Jiang City, had taken a shortcut and driven over in just four minutes.

In the past, Zhou Sujin wouldn’t have gotten out of the car. He would’ve simply handed the blazer to her through the car window.

With only 17 days left until he had to bring her home, he consciously tried to spend more time with her, so they wouldn’t still feel like strangers by the time they went.

Zhou Sujin pushed open the car door, carrying a men’s tote bag that contained her blazer.

Knowing why she had been crying, he said nothing more and handed her the bag.

Wei Lai hooked the bag with two fingers and stayed silent for a few seconds before asking, “I’ll go to Beijing on my own on the 20th then?”

Zhou Sujin: “I’ll come to pick you up.”

Knowing they wouldn’t see each other again for another two weeks, Wei Lai said goodbye, “Safe travels.”

After speaking, she looked past him with a slight frown.

“Who did you see?” He asked.

Wei Lai quickly looked away and lowered her voice, saying, “It’s Mu Di and her dad. They were about to get into their car, but now they’re heading this way, probably to say hi to you.”

She hadn’t brought her sunglasses, and if Mu Di saw her with puffy eyes, who knew what stories she’d concoct. It would just fuel the rumors about her going to Beijing, crying to win back Zhou Sujin. Pointing to her still-swollen eyes, she asked, “What should I do?”

Zhou Sujin said flatly, “There’s nothing we can do.”

In front of Mu Di, Wei Lai always cared more about appearances than anything else. Without sunglasses and nowhere to hide, she had no choice but to seek Zhou Sujin’s help. She pointed to the space in front of him and said, “Let me hide here for a moment.”

Zhou Sujin lowered his gaze and looked at her.

Wei Lai explained, “I really don’t want to see her right now.”

Zhou Sujin: “Oh, now you don’t want to see her? You were looking for her all over the place at the gala.”

Wei Lai met his eyes. “President Zhou.”

Mu Di and her dad were getting closer and closer.

The only place she could hide was in his embrace.

Zhou Sujin raised his arm. “Come here.”

“Thank you, President Zhou.”

Zhou Sujin wrapped his arms around her, lowering his gaze to meet hers. “Isn’t it tiring to compare yourself every day?”

Nestled in his embrace, she felt completely safe, shaking her head. “Nope.”

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