Volume 1: Cultivation and Romance of a Mature Woman in the Metropolis Chapter 1 Stepping Stone
Chapter 1 Stepping Stone

“Luoran, this kind of man doesn’t deserve your sadness…” Baojia gives up her usual aggression and softens her voice.


Even in a softened voice, Baojia’s frowning. She is saying that to comfort Lin Luoran, asking her to put that unfaithful man behind. Actually, Baojia wishes to grab a knife, chop the bastard into bits and feed him to dogs!


Baojia looks at her friend who is sitting on the couch and staring at the television—the 27-year-old Lin Luoran. Luoran’s cheeks have long lost their gloss and smoothness back in her girlhood, while her long silky black hair still hangs by the waist. Without special care, her hair already has withered split ends.


With her empty eyes and all those cheap clothes, Lin Luoran barely looks like that comely and clever girl she used to be at high school. She clearly seems like an ordinary woman in her late twenties…


Something suddenly starts to surge in Baojia’s heart and almost drive her to tears. She gnashes her teeth in hatred, “I must go and find that bastard!” She says, picking up her handbag from the couch. Baojia turns around and heads outside. Her 10cm high heels swerve on the worn tiles.


A pair of hands grab her.


Blue veins stand out on these bony and pale hands. Only with a slight glimpse, Baojia knows whom these hands belong to—Besides, there is no other person in this house except the skinny Lin Luoran.


Baojia even cannot bear to use her strength. These arms are so thin, which seem like they could easily be broken. She bursts into tears, “What does all the self-torture mean for you? That shameless couple are still alive and kicking!” Raging tears blur Baojia’s eyes and fall down along her cheeks, messing up with her fine makeup.


However, she doesn’t have time to worry about all that now. She is sincerely feeling sorry for Luoran.


With dullness, Lin Luoran is startled by her friend’s cry. Emotions begin to appear on her face. She rolls her eyeballs and brings back some liveliness.


“Baojia…” She tries to move her lips, but her voice sounds husky due to the lingering silence.


With tears still hanging on cheeks, Baojia couldn’t hold her surprise. Lin Luoran hasn’t been speaking a word for three days! Now she unexpectedly starts to speak, which makes Baojia feels that her hands are shaking. She tries to touch Luoran’s face while being afraid to startle the girl. She worries that it might be a dream.


Lin Luoran rolls her dark eyes again. Her eyes are so dry for she hasn’t been sleeping in the last three days. No sleeping and eating for three whole days… Lin Luoran always knows that she can endure it, but she never expects herself to be so tolerant. Perhaps this is why people say that poor people have more tenacity in life?


Finding herself regaining the mood of self-mockery, Lin Luoran lifts her eyes and sees the concerns on Baojia’s face.


Baojia is looking at Luoran nervously. Lin Luoran barely simulates a smile, with her heart filled with sorrow, “Baojia, I’m hungry.” She grabs Baojia with her bony arms, wondering where her strength comes from.


Baojia takes a deep breath and forces herself to calm down. Maybe this is just Luoran’s strategy. What if Luoran tries to commit suicide once she left?


“Let me order takeout for you. Yon ho Soybean Milk, your favorite!” Baojia finds a compromise solution with her quick thinking. She immediately rummages in her handbag, takes out her shining navy-blue cellphone, dials the delivery hotline of the restaurant and orders soybean milk, vegetable porridge and Lin Luoran’s favorite kelp salad.


Lin Luoran doesn’t say no. Except hanging tightly onto her best friend’s hands, she is rather quiet. The sorrow hovering on her face during the last three days finally begins to fade.


Twenty minutes later, the doorbell rings. The takeout arrives.


The soybean milk is still steaming. Lin Luoran eats unhurriedly, paying attention not to wasting any food. After finishing eating, Lin Luoran feels that her tightened stomach begins to relax and her cold limbs have regained strength. She looks up at Baojia, “Don’t worry. I still have to support my parents. I won’t take my own life.”


Hearing this, Baojia is finally relieved.


They seem like they have been back to their college. Baojia stays in Lin Luoran’s rental house that night.


After hearing the slight breathing and making sure that Baojia is asleep, Lin Luoran, who is supposed to be in a sound sleep, opens her eyes.


Silver moonlight shines through the security window. This is a small house in an old building with at least thirty years of history. It is a high-risk building downtown but the housing demolition and relocation plan is delayed in this area. Even previous residents are loath to live here so the houses are mostly rented out to migrant workers.


Lin Luoran is one of the working girls. She has lived here for more than three years because of the low rent. For that guy… She lives in such a building and bears the hardship with equanimity. Both Lin Luoran and Li Anping come from rural areas. In their junior year of college, Li Anping’s family had an accident. His mom kneeled down in front of Lin Luoran and begged for her help.


Li Anping stared at Lin Luoran with red eyes. Her parents also said that since they were engaged, it didn’t matter which one of them could finish college. Therefore, the guileless parents of Lin Luoran made her give up the opportunity of finishing school and give it to Li Anping. Lin Luoran dropped out of in her third year of college and began to work. She did more than one jobs at the same time. She had to send money home regularly but still support Li Anping till he got the master’s degree.


Li Anping even got his current job with the help of Baojia, Lin Luoran’s best friend.


It now appears to Lin Luoran that she is so silly.


Lin Luoran looks at the photo on the bedside table. In this photo, Li Anping is in high spirit. He is wearing a well-fitting sports jacket, looking quite energetic. No one could imagine that he was once a rustic rural boy.


He is indeed an ugly duckling man that people often discuss on the internet, right?


The ugly duckling man who successfully flies out of the mountain should match with a rich girl as a girlfriend, while Lin Luoran is just the stepping stone for Li Anping to make his way to a rich world…


Lin Luoran keeps her eyes wide open. Teardrops fall silently.


She clenches her fist—She still has her parents and Baojia. She still owns something in the world!


******


Fortune House is the largest jewelry company in R city.


Baojia works as a jewelry designer in the company. After Li Anping gets his master’s degree, he is hired by the company as an administrative assistant with the introduction of Baojia.


Li Anping has worked there for half a year. Last month, Baojia joked to Lin Luoran that a beautiful woman recently became the new superior of Li Anping and Lin should take precautions. Lin Luoran didn’t take it seriously.


Lin Luoran has been with Li Anping for over seven years. There were some other girls that had tried to pursue him during these years. However, Lin Luoran did not believe that a “beautiful woman” could pose too much threat to her at that time—What she didn’t know was that this beautiful woman was not only the superior of Li Anping, but also the only daughter of the boss of Fortune House!


Such a soap drama, isn’t it?


Standing in front of the administration building of Fortune House, Lin Luoran’s heart is filled with self-mockery.


It’s time to get off work. The glass door opens and Baojia comes out in her high heels. Lin Luoran moves into the shadow of the corner, keeping herself out of Baojia’s sight.


Half an hour later, most of the employees of Fortune House have left. Finally, a familiar figure appears in her eyes.


In a well-fitting suit and with that well-groomed hair, Li Anping looks vigorous.


Right after him, a gorgeous woman in a career suit comes out of the building. She has a plain face, but all that luxury clothes and makeups indeed make her stunning.


It must be Li Anping’s new girlfriend.


Lin Luoran bites her lips. With her advantageous origin and appearance, this woman surely has an extraordinary temperament. But Lin Luoran cannot hold back. This has to be done.


Standing in front of this ornate building, the down and out Lin Luoran is incompatible with everything peripheral, which makes her easily spotted.


However, instead of Li Anping, it is the princess of Fortune House with curly eyelashes who first notices the presence of Lin Luoran. She pouts to Li Anping, “Look. Your old lover is here.”


Li Anping turns around and sees Lin Luoran.


With a flash of disgust, Li Anping turns to his girlfriend and says, “Elly, I have told you that my engagement with her was arranged by parents. I have broken up with her a long time ago…” with his eyes filled with tenderness.


Elly takes her handbag from Li Anping and interrupts his explanation with a faint smile, “Broken up a long time ago? This means that you two used to have a relationship… Well, you have five minutes to deal with her.”


Elly never takes rivals like Lin Luoran seriously. She doesn’t even give another glance at Lin Luoran and directly walks towards her new Audi TT. This car is not very expensive, but Elly likes it. Just like men. They don’t need to have a good origin. Under her title, these men should receive higher ranks.


Li Anping is sullen-faced. He walks to Lin Luoran, unwillingly.


“I thought I had made it clear enough. Luoran, we are not right for each other. Our personalities are conflicting…” Li Anping says impatiently, hoping to settle this in five minutes.


Lin Luoran suddenly looks up, “Li Anping, you think too much.”


Lin Luoran is not blind. She can see the disgust in Li Anping’s eyes. She no longer has trust in him, and she is aware that the fact that Li Anping has chosen to be with the rich woman is a foregone conclusion. Therefore, even wallowed in grief, she will never show it in front of this bastard!


“Since we are broken up, you should return my heirloom.” Lin Luoran tries to stay indifferent, pointing at the bracelet on his wrist.


It is the heirloom of Lin Luoran’s family for countless generations. The style of this silver bracelet is simple, which makes it suitable for men and women to wear. Silver wires intertwine on the bracelet and there is a 2cm bead spinning inside of a hollow ball made of silver wires.


Lin Luoran’s mom put the bracelet on Li Anping’s wrist on their engagement party.


Hearing that Lin Luoran only came to reclaim the bracelet, rather than crying to make it up with him, Li Anping’s face purples with anger, “Lin Luoran, aren’t you being stingy too much? You really come all this way to get back the shitty bracelet!”


Is this raging man the one she used to love? Lin Luoran feels strange and sorry. However, the bracelet is indeed the heirloom of her family for generations, and she must get it back.


She sneers, “A shitty bracelet. Li Anping, when did you become so double-faced?”


Mixed expressions rise on Li Anping’s face. He can’t tell Lin Luoran that Elly’s birthday is around. Among everything he owns, only this antique bracelet might be valuable. He has taken it to the antique shop the other day and the owner offered him 30,000 yuan, saying that he liked its style. Li Anping is cunning likes every petty man. Since the shop owner’s first offer was 30,000 RMB, Li Anping certainly wanted to hold it on and wait for the price to go up… Now, unexpectedly, Lin Luoran comes to take the bracelet back. If he does return it, where on earth shall he go to find another birthday gift for Elly?


A harsh sound of car horn draws Li Anping back to reality.


Elly rolls down the window of her red Audi TT. Over half of her face is covered by the sunglasses. She smiles, “You still didn’t get enough of the reunion with your old lover, hum?


Li Anping replies at once, “I have nothing to do with her. I’m coming.” He actually walks away from Lin Luoran and gets on the car.


Elly rolls up the car window and puts her foot on the gas. Suddenly, a shadow casts on her—Lin Luoran has grabbed the rearview mirror. With blue veins standing out on her hand, Lin Luoran said slowly, “I just want my bracelet back.”


Elly looks to Li Anping. She knows that he wears an antique silver bracelet all year round, but she doesn’t expect it to belong to Lin Luoran!


Being able to play up to Elly, Li Anping is certainly considerate. If he does keep the bracelet today, there’s no doubt that Elly will pick a fight with him. He could never do such things like suffering a big loss for a little gain…