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Published at 21st of October 2017 07:11:36 AM

Chapter 35

Li Xun’s kept his hair that way until now .


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When she saw the shocking color of it, Li Lan actually felt a warmth wash over her . All things said and done, he’d dyed his hair with money he borrowed from her . Though the connection wasn’t exactly strong, and though Li Xun hadn’t given her a single word of thanks… This “secret” that no one else knew of moved Li Lan in a way she hadn’t felt in a long time .

Li Xun’s rough childhood made him mature early, and it also made him very wary . But no matter how he matured, he was still a child; he needed others’ concern . Gradually, he started to accept Li Lan’s care and concern, though he would never admit as much .

The days passed, one by one, and Li Lan realized that, as Li Xun grew up, the once calm days turned chaotic .

Li Xun often left home, though for short periods at a time . The family had been busy preparing for Li Lan’s eldest brother’s wedding, so they didn’t have time to worry about Li Xun . Li Lan’s mother actually felt it was better if he left; there would be one less mouth to feed that way .

Later on, not only did Li Xun leave, be brought Li Lan with him . Li Lan was a timid person, so she never dared to leave on a whim . Every time, Li Xun had to drag her out against her will .

The attraction of the city was indeed great . Even as Li Lan trembled with fear, she was drawn by the dazzling world and its temptations . Once, Li Xun had prepared a long while for their trip . Li Lan would ask him about it, but he never gave a hint about it . Later, Li Lan found out that he was taking her to a concert .

Li Lan was stunned . It was the band that Li Xun’s mother often let her listen to . Li Lan didn’t dare to believe her eyes . She couldn’t enter the concert arena at all . Li Xun had to drag and push her in .

The entire concert truly felt like a dream . The exciting and upbeat music pounded in her ears, and it felt like a fantasy had turned real . She kept asking Li Xun where he got the money, but he just told her not to worry about it .

At the end of the concert, Li Lan was standing at the entrance to the concert venue when she spotted Li Xun talking to another boy . He was a bit older than Li Xun, and from his clothing and the way he carried himself, the two boys were from completley different walks of life .

After they spoke briefly, the boy got into a small car and left . But before he did, he turned back and shouted, “Don’t forget the exam time!”

After that, Li Xun brought her to a small restaurant near the concert arena . As Li Lan thought over the wonderful performance, Li Xun told her, “I’m leaving soon . ” Li Lan had thought that “leaving” would be like what he was already doing, occasionally staying out to play before sneaking in back home . So, she just nodded .

It wasn’t until later on that Li Lan understood what he meant by “leave . ” Without a second thought, she rejected the idea . She grabbed onto him, trying to hold him back from doing this death-seeking thing . She knew that their family had some problems, but at least, it was something to block the wind and rain . It was something that you could depend on .

Li Xun talked to her about it once . He told her that he happened to meet some people in the city, and their houses had a lot of new and interesting things .

“Do you know about computers?” Li Xun asked . “Their houses have those really thin computers . ”

When Li Xun spoke about these new things, his eyes lit up . Li Lan didn’t know much about them, and since Li Xun was speaking so quickly from excitement, she had a hard time understanding what he was going on about .

But she did hear the end of his talk—”I want those things too, but if I stay here, I’ll never have them . ”

That was the first time that he told her what he was thinking and what he wanted . But Li Lan couldn’t accept it . She didn’t know what he was talking about . All she knew was that her little brother was just a teenaged kid . If he left home, he wouldn’t be able to survive .


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Li Xun tried to reason with her, but Li Lan totally refused to listen . She wasn’t as articulate as he was, and she wasn’t good at telling stories . Regardless of what Li Xun said, she would simply return with a “No . Just, no . ”

In the end, Li Xun got angry and had a big fight with Li Lan . He said some hurtful things, which made her feel terrible and angry .

Li Lan got sick . What surprised her was that the entire time she was sick, Li Xun didn’t leave her side . The sick Li Lan dreamt of Li Xun’s mother and her final words before dying .

Li Lan couldn’t bear to see Li Xun leave . Sometimes she felt that, even if she had her own children later, she might not love them more than she loved her little brother . Though her brain wasn’t anything great, for some reason, she remembered very clearly every word and every detail they spoke about .

But she also knew that she was part of “them . ”

When Li Lan got better, she stole some of her father’s alcohol money and told Li Xun to leave that night and never come back .

Before he left, he told her something . “I’ll pay you back in the future . ”

Her coffee was already cold, and the server had stopped by as well .

Zhu Yun was thinking . She recalled Ren Di’s words—He has to earn money to pay off his debt .

What debt?

The money Li Lan spent on Li Xun was hardly anything . So when he spoke about a debt, that must have been an emotional debt .

Zhu Yun looked over at Li Lan, trembling before her . She was a typical person whose liveliness had been rubbed away by life .

“Actually, I knew from the very beginning that he would leave,” Li Lan murmured . “He hated our family . He hated us to death . ”

Zhu Yun didn’t say anything, and Li Lan quietly continued, “I never wanted him to return any money to me . But now that my father’s gone, my mother can’t get out of bed, and my brother’s sick . We don’t have enough money for the hospital bills . My mom forced me to ask him for money… I had no choice . ” Li Lan lowered her head in a daze . “My family turning out this way must be retribution . ”

Zhu Yun looked at this thin woman . She’d had a lifetime’s worth of suffering . The suffocation and exhaustion of her life showed through . Even her pain seemed slow and dull .

Li Lan rubbed her face . “I’m sorry . I just said all this nonsense…”

Zhu Yun shook her head .


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Li Lan quietly said, “No one at home wants to listen to this stuff . ”

“Maybe he doesn’t hate you that much,” Zhu Yun suddenly said .

Li Lan replied, “You don’t know him . You don’t understand him . ”

Zhu Yun silently thought to herself that, maybe she understood just a tiny bit…

Li Xun was very proud, even to the extent that he was prejudiced . Often times, he didn’t speak out his true thoughts . He would never be threatened by anyone, and no one could force him to do what he didn’t want to do . If he really hated her, no matter what tricks Li Lan pulled, she wouldn’t be able to get any money from him .

Additionally, he spent so much every month, and he supported a money-losing band…

After her story, Zhu Yun understood a lot of things .

All hearts needed consolation .

“Thank you for listening to me . ” Li Lan couldn’t think of any kind of gift . She thought left and right, and quietly said, “I-I’ll show you my brother . ”

!?

Zhu Yun had been deep in thought about ethical matters, and when she heard Li Lan, she nearly jumped out of her seat .

Li Lan pulled out a laminated photo from her bag . It looked rather old, and the colors were faded . “This is our only family photo . We took it at New Year’s one year . Look…”

Li Lan pointed for Zhu Yun to see, but she didn’t really need it pointed out . The moment Li Lan pulled out the photo, Zhu Yun’s eyes had already landed on someone .

“How old was your brother here?”

“Nine . ”

Zhu Yun took a deep breath . How cute…

The child Li Xun had been very thin, but his bone structure was good . His face was taut, a faint forced smile on his lips . That unyielding and arrogant personality could even be seen when he was so young .

Zhu Yun nearly forgot to blink . She kept staring and staring at the photo, as if it meant she’d be able to add ten years to their relationship .


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In the photo, Li Xun looked lonely . He stayed a bit aways from everyone else, and only Li Lan stood behind him .

“Your little brother likes you a lot, right?” Zhu Yun said .

Li Lan shook her head . “He likes girls like his mom . ”

Zhu Yun glanced at Li Lan, silent .

Awhile later, as curfew approached, Zhu Yun went to the counter to pay . When she returned to their table, Li Lan said, “Can I keep sitting here?”

Zhu Yun paused and then said, “Sure . ”

Before leaving, she secretly bought Li Lan a steak set meal . She told the waiter, “If she asks, tell her it’s a gift from the store . ”

After leaving the coffee shop, Zhu Yun kept thinking back to the conversation she’d just had . She headed back to the project base, and when she pushed open the door, she saw Gao Jianhong .

It was then that she finally realized . It seemed that she’d stood him up .

Zhu Yun quickly apologized, “Sorry, I—”

“It’s fine . ” Gao Jianhong packed away the books on his desk . “I just spoke to Wu Mengxing a bit, and he seemed pretty interested in the competition . We should talk about it together tomorrow . ”

Zhu Yun nodded, and Gao Jianhong stood up . He said, “Then, I’ll head out first . ”

“Where’s Li Xun?”

“He just stepped out, but he should be back soon . ”

After Gao Jianhong left, Zhu Yun was the only person in the project base . Zhu Yun closed the door and walked over to Li Xun’s seat . She opened up the bag on his desk, the one branded with the downtown stadium’s name .

As she’d expected, there were concert tickets for the weekend inside .

He was going to take her?

Just then, she heard a sound from the hallway . Zhu Yun put the bag back in its original position .

When Li Xun saw Zhu Yun on his return, he raised his brows . “What are you doing here?”

Zhu Yun shook her head . “Nothing . I just need to tidy up, and then I’m leaving . ”

Li Xun sat down in his seat, but he didn’t turn on his computer . Instead, he asked Zhu Yun, “Where were you this evening?”

Zhu Yun’s heart skipped a beat . She told herself to calm down . “I had something to do, so I went out a bit . ”

“Really . ”

“Mmh . ”

With a calm face, Zhu Yun grabbed two books on her desk and put them in her bag . Then she saw Li Xun wave her over . Zhu Yun took two steps towards him, and Li Xun leaned over .

She stood there, and he sat there . With his face turned like that, his ear nearly touched her chest .

……

!??!?!?!?!?!?!?

As the weather warmed, her clothing had gotten thinner . With such a thin layer of cotton between them, Zhu Yun could clearly feel the contours of Li Xun’s cheek .

Her bra felt a bit tight .

A burst of warm air hit her back, spreading across her limbs and her ears .

She couldn’t step back because Li Xun had his right hand on her waist . She nearly couldn’t breathe anymore . What was one plus one equal to again…

Just as Zhu Yun felt like she was going to faint, Li Xun looked up . He didn’t straighten up, but instead just looked up from chest-level, his eyes sweeping over her . His brows raised slightly, as if he were smiling, but not quite . “With your heart beating this fast, you must be lying . ”

Zhu Yun’s whole body felt numb .

That’s definitely not why my heart is beating so fast .

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