9:30 am, at the headquarters of Junming Group.
The morning sun shone brightly through the massive floor-to-ceiling windows, illuminating the conference room. The long table was neatly arranged, and the major shareholders had taken their seats. The atmosphere was tense and serious.
Sitting at the front left side, Zhang Junfeng glanced at his watch and revealed a pleased expression.
In the midst of the solemn atmosphere, the meeting room’s door was suddenly pushed open, and a tall figure appeared at the doorway, surrounded by people.
The young man was dressed in a black suit, striding in with long strides. His face was grave and stern, his demeanor noble, and he seemed to have regained his former charisma.
“Apologies for being late.”
Xie Shuo strode confidently and unhindered to the front of the main seat. He scanned the room with a sharp gaze, clearly showing that he had his vision.
Zhang Junfeng’s complexion suddenly changed.
Ye An did not accompany him to the company, so she didn’t know the exact situation at the scene. However, she later learned that during the board meeting that day, Xie Shuo confronted Zhang Junfeng with evidence of embezzlement of funds, leaking trade secrets, and orchestrating a car accident with hired assistance.
With multiple serious charges stacked against him, Zhang Junfeng was taken into custody by the police directly from the company. These charges were enough for him to face a significant prison sentence.
After the board meeting, Xie Shuo publicly announced that he had regained his sight and resumed his original position at the company.
With this news, the internet once again buzzed with fervor. Many people commented on how Ye An had persevered through challenges and obstacles to finally see the light of day, even Shi Shuangshuang and Xiang Quan called to congratulate her.
However, Ye An didn’t feel much, just a slight sense of surrealness.
After a year of absence, many matters had to be restarted from scratch. Coincidentally, it was also approaching the year-end, and Xie Shuo was busy to the point of exhaustion. He left early and returned late every day, and he even went on business trips for a few days sometimes.
Often, in the middle of the night, Ye An would wake up and see him getting into bed, only to wake up in the morning and find him gone, let alone having a chance to talk to him.
As for Ye An, Xie Baiyan’s illness was still severe, and he had been hospitalized this whole time. As his daughter-in-law, she had to visit and care for him daily.
Thus, the two of them had almost no communication, and their relationship seemed to have stalled at a certain point, not progressing, and even showing signs of reverting to what it was before.
On this day, after returning home at three in the morning, Xie Shuo just took a shower and went straight to bed. When he woke up, it was already ten in the morning.
He glanced at the time, changed into a set of lounge clothes, and went to the study, planning to work from home for the day.
Ye An went to visit Xie Baiyan at the hospital early in the morning, so the mansion was unusually quiet.
The winter sunlight was warm and bright, casting a gentle glow by the window. Xie Shuo sat at his desk, his slender fingers flying over the keyboard as he typed on his laptop.
There was suddenly a knock on the door; he directly asked without looking up, “What’s the matter?”
Auntie Zhou opened the door and said, “Eldest Young Master, Miss Zhang is here.”
Xie Shuo’s fingers paused for a moment before getting up after a few seconds.
Downstairs in the living room, Zhang Muqing sat on the sofa, wearing a beige coat. Her long legs were at a Duchess slant while her black smooth hair fell over her shoulders.
On the coffee table in front of her was a cup of steaming hot tea.
She gazed at the tea leaves floating in the cup with a somewhat absentminded look on her pale face. Her whole person seemed to be much more haggard than before.
The sound of footsteps echoed. Upon hearing it, she immediately turned around to see Xie Shuo walking toward her in a light gray wool sweater with a look of indifference.
She called out pitifully.
Xie Shuo sat down diagonally across from her. Without waiting for her to say anything, he tossed a small jewelry box onto the coffee table and pushed it toward her.
It was the wedding congratulatory gift she had previously given him — a pair of brooches.
Zhang Muqing immediately turned pale.
“Your things, returned to their rightful owner. If you have any requests, there’s no need to speak.”
Xie Shuo leaned back on the sofa, his tone indifferent.
Zhang Muqing hadn’t expected him to show no sentiment at all. She clenched the fabric of her clothes tightly, and her eyes began to well up with tears.
“A’Shuo, can’t you consider our past friendship…”
Xie Shuo looked up, giving a cold glance that seemed capable of piercing through everything.
Meeting his gaze, Zhang Muqing felt her words caught in her throat. She had actually anticipated this outcome long before, but she had reached a dead end, unwilling to accept it, wanting to give it a try.
If he had truly cared for her, they wouldn’t have ended up like this. Zhang Junfeng wouldn’t have had such an ending, going so far as to trap and destroy him.
After a long while, Zhang Muqing pursed her lips and got up, grabbing the small jewelry box from the coffee table before walking out, her eyes tinged with red.
Once she left, Xie Shuo turned to Auntie Zhou and instructed, “In the future, if she comes again, you don’t need to let her in.”
Auntie Zhou nodded in acknowledgment.
4 PM. Hospital.
After inquiring about Xie Baiyan’s condition with his primary doctor, Ye An packed up her things and prepared to head home.
Just as she stepped out of the hospital, she bumped into Zhang Muqing at the entrance.
The two of them locked eyes, both coming to a halt.
Zhang Muqing had come to visit her adoptive mother. Since Zhang Junfeng’s incident, her adoptive mother’s health deteriorated, but she was about to be transferred to a general hospital. The reason she had met with Xie Shuo earlier this morning was for this matter.
Remembering Xie Shuo’s coldness earlier in the morning and now facing Ye An, Zhang Muqing’s deep-seeded resentment surged within her. She smirked and said, “So it’s Miss Ye. What a coincidence. When I met A’Shuo this morning, I even asked him about you.”
Her smile was meaningful, clearly implying that she and Xie Shuo had met earlier in the morning, hinting at something dubious.
However, Ye An didn’t pay her any mind at all. She couldn’t be bothered to spare even a glance at her and continued walking ahead.
“Don’t you want to know what we talked about?”
Surprised by her lack of reaction, Zhang Muqing added.
Ye An’s steps didn’t pause as if she hadn’t heard her words at all.
This wasn’t Romeo and Juliet. After all the outrageous things Zhang Junfeng had done, with Xie Shuo’s temperament, how could he possibly continue to have any involvement with his adoptive daughter?
Unless he had suddenly lost his mind or got possessed by someone else.
Seeing her dismissive attitude, Zhang Muqing grew even more resentful. She used to maintain a dignified front in front of others, but now that the Zhang family had fallen, she saw no need to hide anymore, tearing off her facade and said mockingly, “You just took advantage of the situation and got yourself a good chance. Do you really think he genuinely likes you?”
Finally, Ye An paused in her steps. Turning around, she smirked. “For all those years before me, how come you didn’t take advantage of the situation?”
Her words hit a sore spot, and Zhang Muqing’s expression instantly turned sour, infuriated to the point that she trembled with anger.
Since she was a teen, Zhang Junfeng had instructed her to get close to Xie Shuo and find a way to marry into the Xie family. However, no matter how hard she tried to please and hint, Xie Shuo’s attitude toward her remained cold and indifferent, unmoved.
After her sarcastic remark, Ye An glanced at her and walked away without looking back, ignoring her.
Night fell early during the short days and long nights of winter. It was just a little after 4 pm, yet it was already sunset.
Sitting inside the car, Ye An gazed at the street outside, bathed in the warm glow of the sunset with Zhang Muqing’s words echoing in her ear…
“You just took advantage of the situation and got yourself a good chance. Do you really think he genuinely likes you?”
A faint pang of pain transmitted from her heart as many memories flashed through her mind uncontrollably.
Her eyes welled up, but she forcefully suppressed her emotions. Leaning against the seat, she slowly closed her eyes.
Outside the car window, the scenery blurred past as they continued onwards.
Ye An was still somewhat absentminded when she arrived in front of the mansion. She walked through the garden, entered the mansion to change her shoes, and coincidentally bumped into Xie Shuo in the living room. He was dressed in a black coat and seemed to be getting ready to leave.
Their gazes met, and Ye An paused for a moment, slightly taken aback.
Recently, their schedules had completely misaligned, and it had been a long time since they had crossed paths during the daytime like they did today.
Since he regained his vision, the time they had spent together was not even half of what they used to have.
“Did you go to the hospital?”
Xie Shuo halted and asked calmly.
Ye An nodded. “His condition has improved over the past two days. He should be able to be discharged before Chinese New Year.”
Xie Shuo had initially intended to go to the hospital, but at her words, he changed his mind and followed her back instead.
Ye An tossed her purse onto the sofa and sat down as well.
Her complexion seemed a bit poor. Xie Shuo sat down beside her and reached out to take her hand, holding it in his palm. “If you’re not feeling well, just rest at home. You don’t have to go to the hospital every day. There are people there taking care of things.”
She hadn’t expected him to worry about her. Ye An was taken aback for a moment before looking at him with a hint of suspicion. She wondered if he had done something to deceive her again.
Xie Shuo’s expression was as normal, holding her soft fingers and lightly massaging them in his habitual manner.
Ye An’s fingers were cold from being outside, but with his gentle massaging, they quickly warmed up.
Seeing their hands intertwined, a myriad of emotions welled up within her. After a moment’s pause, she slowly withdrew her hand.
“Are you in a hurry to leave?”
She suddenly asked softly.
Xie Shuo clearly hadn’t anticipated her retracting her hand and seemed slightly taken aback.
“If you’re not in a hurry, there’s something I’d like to talk to you about.”
Meeting her gaze, Xie Shuo had a slightly uneasy feeling. He asked, “What’s the matter?”
Auntie Zhou was still busy in the kitchen. Ye An glanced in that direction, then picked up her purse and got up. “Let’s talk in the room.”
With that, she turned around and headed upstairs.
Looking at her slender figure, Xie Shuo got up and followed after her.
As dusk settled, the sky was adorned with fiery clouds on the horizon. Ye An entered the bedroom and took a seat by the floor-to-ceiling window. Her hands rested on her lap, with the setting sun casting a radiant glow beside her, illuminating her fair and bright complexion.
Xie Shuo caught a glimpse of the serious expression on her face, and a faint sense of unease stirred within him.
Lately, she seemed a bit off. She had become quieter and less cheerful.
Ye An looked up at him.
It had been over a month since she found out that he had regained his vision. They had both been busy with various matters and hadn’t had a chance to sit down and talk properly.
But there were some things that did not just disappear if you ignored them.
Instead of dragging things out and avoiding them, it was better to address and resolve them sooner.
After a moment of deliberation, she tried to open the conversation in a casual and calm tone…
“Do you still remember our previous agreement?”
As Ye An’s words fell, the entire room suddenly fell into silence, so quiet that one could hear a pin drop.
Xie Shuo remained silent, frowning.
Seeing his silence, Ye An thought he might not have understood, so she added, “I mean, once you regained your sight, we would get a divorce.”
Xie Shuo’s expression changed as if he was contemplating something. After a while, he finally said, “Do we really have to get divorced?”
Ye An was momentarily taken aback by his words. She had thought that since she was the one who had suggested the divorce, he would be relieved and readily agree.
After all, he had always been reluctant about this marriage.
“Didn’t we agree on this in the beginning? You…”
“What if I say I don’t want to get divorced?”
Xie Shuo suddenly looked up, interrupting her.
Ye An was once again taken aback.
She looked into his eyes, her emotions swirling within her. In a daze, many scenes from the past year flashed through her mind — from his initial indifference and mockery to his gradual familiarity and now…
Her fingers trembled slightly as she asked him, “Why?”
Without much thought, Xie Shuo said, “The way things are between us now, I don’t see anything wrong with it. There’s no need to go that far…”
His tone was flat, and his expression remained neutral as if he were discussing business with a partner.
Nothing wrong… Isn’t it just because you’ve gotten used to it?
Ye An felt like laughing. She paused for a moment, and suddenly, a thought crossed her mind that even she found hard to believe. “Don’t tell me you lied to me about your vision because you didn’t want to fulfill our agreement to divorce?”