Upon returning home from the hospital, Xin Li felt somewhat absentminded and had little appetite.
At the dining table, Xu Wanqin brought up the topic of matchmaking again, suggesting that Xin Li prepare to meet Zhou Zeyan, the second young master of the Zhou family.
Xin Li, feeling increasingly unable to eat, said irritatedly, “Mom, I don’t want to talk about this right now.”
As soon as she said that, Xin Yuanhong, sitting at the head of the table, suddenly erupted in anger. “You don’t want to talk about it now, then when do you want to talk about it?”
The harsh remark from Xin Yuanhong caught Xin Li off guard. He had always spoiled her since she was little, rarely scolding her like this. She felt a twitch in her nose.
Seeing the situation, Xu Wanqin quickly intervened and said gently, “Xiao Li, listen to Mom. Just meet him first…”
Xin Li said nothing, remaining silent for a moment before putting down her bowl and spoon, saying, “I’m full,” and quickly went upstairs to her room.
Xin Yuanhong stayed glum, and he didn’t look pleased. Xu Wanqin sighed and said, “Don’t yell at her now. I’ll go talk to her.”
Xu Wanqin went upstairs and knocked on Xin Li’s door. “Xiao Li?”
There was no response from inside.
Xu Wanqin gripped the doorknob and twisted it.
The door wasn’t locked, and with a push, it swung open. Xin Li was sitting on the edge of her bed, staring at her phone.
Xu Wanqin walked over and sat beside her before sighing and saying concernedly, “Xiao Li, it’s not that we want to force you. You’re not little anymore. You can’t always be so willful. You should consider the family…”
Xin Li parted her lips, wanting to say something, but seeing Xu Wanqin’s worried expression, the words stopped at her throat.
Although she was accustomed to being willful, there were some truths that she understood. Life wasn’t always about living freely; there were responsibilities to bear.
Xu Wanqin held her hand, saying gently, “Meet that kid from the Zhou family first. Who knows, you might just hit it off?”
Looking down, Xin Li remained silent for a while before saying, “Mom, let me think about it.”
Seeing signs of her wavering, Xu Wanqin didn’t press further. She embraced Xin Li’s shoulder and said, “Alright, go to bed early, and don’t stay up late.”
Xu Wanqin left her room, closing the door behind her.
Xin Li sat inside her room, and for some reason, she suddenly thought of Xie Yuran.
After hesitating for a while, she dug out his number and dialed.
The call connected promptly.
“Have you gone back yet?”
Xin Li felt a bit uneasy as she spoke.
Her call took Xie Yuran by surprise. After a pause, he responded, “I’m on my way back.”
“Didn’t you say you wanted to talk?”
Xin Li pursed her lips. “Give me your address. I’ll come over.”
Xie Yuran was taken aback for a bit before giving her his address.
Hanging up the call, Xin Li grabbed her purse and left her room.
Just as she went downstairs, she ran into Xu Wanqin. Seeing her with a purse, Xu Wanqin asked curiously, “It’s so late; where are you going?”
Xin Li, wrapping a scarf around her neck, replied, “I have something to attend to, made plans with someone.”
Worried that Xin Li might throw a tantrum again, Xu Wanqin didn’t press further and told Xin Yu at the side, “If you have time, escort your sister.”
Xin Li immediately refused, “No need, I can go by myself.”
Xu Wanqin frowned. “It’s late, going alone isn’t safe.”
“Really, I’ll be back in no time!”
Before Xu Wanqin could nag even more, Xin Li changed her shoes and swiftly ran out of the house.
Outside, the night had fallen, and a dense ink-like darkness pressed down, obscuring any sight of stars. Only the faint glimmer of distant lights swayed gently.
A beam of light cut through the night as they entered the residential area.
The chauffeur parked the car and turned to look at the back seat.
Xie Yuran opened his eyes and massaged his temples before getting out of the car.
Not even after walking two steps, he didn’t expect to spot a person standing near a tree ahead.
It was a cold winter night, and the air seemed to have a layer of frost. Zhang Muqing hugged herself, walking back and forth as if she had been waiting for a long time.
Seeing Xie Yuran, she hurriedly ran over and stood in front of him.
Xie Yuran’s faint smile disappeared in an instant as he looked at her. “Why are you here?”
Zhang Muqing’s fingers were frozen from the cold, and she looked a bit weary. “I called you, but you refused to answer, so I had to come here to wait for you.”
Xie Yuran remained silent for a few seconds before asking, “What do you want?”
A gust of wind passed by, causing Zhang Muqing to shiver. She forced a smile and softened her voice, “Can we go upstairs and talk?”
Xie Yuran glanced at his watch and said, “It’s too late, not convenient. Whatever you have to say, say it here.”
Zhang Muqing was taken aback, her complexion turning paler. She found it hard to believe and said, “Yuran, even you…”
Xie Yuran remained calm. “I know why you came; I can’t help you.”
After he said that, he continued walking forward.
Just as they were about to pass by each other, Zhang Muqing completely panicked. She grabbed his arm pleadingly. “Yuran, don’t go…”
She held onto him tightly, tears welling up in her eyes.
“Consider it a favor for me, please? I really have no other options…”
Xie Yuran halted in his steps but didn’t look at her. Instead, he gazed ahead, seemingly lost in thought.
Seeing him appear to be moved, Zhang Muqing struck while the iron was hot, “I know you have feelings for me, right? Yuran, remember, in the past…”
The night was dark, and a Bentley was parked not far away.
Through the car window, Xin Li could see the intertwined figures near the tree.
At a distance, she couldn’t hear their conversation, but she could see Zhang Muqing holding onto Xie Yuran’s arm, and he didn’t shake her off.
What a perfect scene of a melodramatic love; she came just in time.
After being perplexed for so long, enduring the pressure from her family, she finally made up her mind to give him another chance. Now, it seemed like a complete joke.
Fury surged in her heart. Xin Li turned back and gripped the steering wheel tightly before restarting the car.
Perhaps sensing something, Xie Yuran suddenly turned around and looked in her direction.
Seeing the figure inside the car, his expression changed abruptly. He hurriedly pushed Zhang Muqing aside and walked briskly toward the car.
Unfortunately, Xin Li had already driven away, and he attempted to chase after her, but it was futile. He was left with exhaust fumes in his face.
Behind him, Zhang Muqing persisted and caught up, calling out, “Yuran…”
As she called out, she was interrupted by the look in Xie Yuran’s eyes.
He looked at her and said, “Some things are better left in the past. There’s no need to bring them up again. You knew very well what intentions you had back then.”
Xie Yuran paused for a moment before continuing, “Zhang Junfeng raised you all these years, treating you as a tool for climbing the social ladder. In the past, you could argue that you had no choice. But what about now?”
Zhang Muqing seemed to be struck in a sensitive spot, and her face turned pale instantly.
Xie Yuran ignored her and turned around, taking out his phone to call Xin Li.
With the last bit of hope shattered, Zhang Muqing looked at his back and smirked self-mockingly before turning around to leave the residential area, looking disheveled.
Along the long road, lights zoomed past as Xin Li drove faster than when she came.
Her phone, thrown to the side, vibrated continuously, yet she acted as if she didn’t hear it.
Xu Wanqin’s words, coupled with the scene from earlier, replayed in her mind, causing a splitting headache.
Passing through a particular four-way intersection, she nearly ran a red light due to her distraction. After braking, she grabbed her phone and swiftly turned it off.
Upon reaching home, she parked the car in the garden, sitting in the driver’s seat in a daze, reflecting on everything since she met Xie Yuran.
Since meeting him, she felt like she had changed, no longer herself.
Why did I like him so much?
To the point of being a bother, giving up even my dignity.
The shadows of the trees cast gentle sways on the car window.
After a while, Xin Li got out of the car and walked into the living room.
Xin Yuanhong and Xu Wanqin were already asleep, and it was quiet all around. She went upstairs and bumped into Xin Yu, who was coming out of the study.
Xin Li called out, “Ge,” looking a bit listless.
Looking at her, Xin Yu asked, “Did you go find Xie Yuran?”
Surprised, Xin Li blurted out, “How did you know?”
Xin Yu glanced at her meaningfully… Your little tricks could easily be seen through.
Xin Li silently complained: You must be a mind reader.
Seeing her looking defeated, Xin Yu asked again, “Judging by your appearance, rejected again?”
Xin Li: “……..”
Life is already hard as it is; can’t you be a bit more tactful?
Are you even my real brother?
Xin Li felt a sense of mockery and angrily said, “No, it’s me who doesn’t wanna deal with him this time, and I won’t in the future either!”
Xin Yu glanced at her with obvious skepticism, as if saying, “Really?”
Xin Li felt a bit guilty and insisted, “This time, I mean it! I won’t bother with him anymore!”
Xin Yu didn’t express whether he believed her or not. He walked to her side and changed the topic, saying, “The one our parents picked for you, Zhou Zeyan, I know him. He’s not bad; you can meet him first.”
Xin Li’s anger instantly subsided and fell silent. Xin Yu had always spoiled her, and if he said someone was not bad, he wouldn’t dig a hole for her to fall into.
Perhaps she should step back and try getting to know someone else.
“If you don’t like him after meeting, then we’ll find another one.”
Xin Li: “Are you choosing a consort? If you don’t like one, just find another?”
Xin Yu continued, “If you really want to choose a consort, I will help you too.”
Xin Li chuckled, her nose twitching a bit.
Xin Yu patted her head gently and said, “Alright, go to bed early. Don’t frown all day. If he doesn’t like you, there naturally will be someone else who does.”
Xin Li nodded before entering her room.
That night, Xin Li practically didn’t sleep at all, and when she woke up the next day, she was muddle-headed.
She picked up her phone and turned it on, noticing the missed calls.
Seeing the name on the screen, she stared at it for a while before throwing her phone aside. As she was about to get up, another call came in.
It was still from Xie Yuran.
This time, Xin Li didn’t decline the call and answered it.
She brought the phone to her ear, remaining silent.
After a brief silence, Xie Yuran finally spoke, “Xiao Li, what happened last night wasn’t what you saw…”
Xin Li interrupted him, “You don’t need to explain to me. We didn’t have much of a relationship anyway. It’s been me persistently pursuing you. Whoever you like and want to be with is your choice…”
Hearing the coldness in her words, Xie Yuran finally felt a sense of urgency. “Xiao Li…”
“Don’t worry, I won’t disturb you anymore.”
After saying that, she abruptly hung up the call.
To prevent herself from changing her mind, she decisively blocked all of his contacts.
After blocking him, she took a deep breath and threw her phone aside before getting up to freshen herself.
When she came downstairs, Xin Yuanhong and Xin Yu had already left, and only Xu Wanqin was in the living room.
Seeing her come down, Xu Wanqin cleared her throat and said, “Up already?”
Thinking about her resolution just now, Xin Li hesitated for a moment before saying, “Mom, I agree to the blind date. I’ll meet Zhou Zeyan.”
Surprised that she agreed so quickly, Xu Wanqin happily pulled her over and said with a smile, “It’s good that you’ve come around. There’s no harm in meeting him.”
Xin Li barely forced a smile.
Xin Li and Zhou Zeyan agreed to meet at a restaurant on a Saturday afternoon.
Before the meeting, Xu Wanqin had sent Xin Li a photo of Zhou Zeyan to avoid any confusion like last time.
Xin Li arrived at the restaurant punctually and immediately spotted the man sitting by the window.
He looked at his watch as if he had been waiting for a long time.
Xin Li hurriedly walked over. “I’m sorry for keeping you waiting.”
Zhou Zeyan looked up and smiled. “No worries; I just arrived too.”
His appearance resembled Xin Yu’s, with a gentle and polite smile that easily created a favorable impression.
Xin Li’s resistance to this blind date lessened a bit as she put down her purse and took her seat.
Zhou Zeyan called the server over and asked her, “What would you like to eat?”
Xin Li politely smiled and ordered two dishes she liked.
As Xin Yu mentioned, Zhou Zeyan was a gentleman who knew how to take care of a girl. After the dishes were served, the two of them chatted while eating, and the atmosphere was not as awkward.
However, Xin Li felt that it was a bit dull, perhaps because she hadn’t completely moved on from Xie Yuran.
After lunch, Zhou Zeyan offered to drive her home. Suddenly, he asked, “Did you not want to come today?”
Xin Li was taken aback, momentarily unsure of how to respond. She could only say, “I’m sorry…”
Zhou Zeyan, understandingly, smiled and said, “It’s okay. I’m not in a hurry for marriage. If you’re not ready, we can be friends first. We can discuss the future later.”
Becoming friends with someone like him was indeed a comforting prospect. Xin Li finally showed a genuine smile and agreed, saying, “Okay.”
And so, Xin Li and Zhou Zeyan reached a mutual agreement to be just friends for now, dealing with their respective parents.
Time passed quickly, and before they knew it, the Spring Festival was over. On a certain day in mid-March, as Xin Li left her studio, she suddenly noticed a familiar car parked by the road.
The car door opened, and Xie Yuran stepped out, looking at her.
Xin Li paused in her steps. It had been over three months since she had blocked him, and they hadn’t seen each other since.