By the time they finished eating, and walked out of the restaurant it was two in the afternoon with the blazing sun beating down their heads. Zhou Xiang narrowed his eyes as he raised his head to look up. Across the street was a gigantic LED advertisement screen in the commercial square up ahead. The screen was displaying a business commercial. Due to the light shining behind the large building, for a few seconds it was almost impossible to clearly make out what was on the screen. By chance, a black cloud floated over, blocking the sun. The giant screen switched to a luxury expensive watch brand commercial, and a man wandered out from a pure black background.
Zhou Xiang’s complexion suddenly changed.
It was a man in his early twenties. His tall, slender and perfect figure was wrapped by a pure white suit, creating a stark contrast with the background. He lifted his head slightly, revealing a peerlessly handsome face. That face was completely expressionless, his eyes were ice-cold, and the line of his tightly pursed lips conveyed an inapproachable hard and cold air. He buckled a diamond watch onto his wrist. It was just a very, very simple action, yet when it was performed by him, it noble, graceful, thrilling and breath-taking. Many people walking on the street turned their heads or halted their steps, all in order to rest their eyes upon that man.
A sharp pain cut through Zhou Xiang’s heart. With a pallid complexion, he took a deep breath.
Yang Mingxiu? Why was he... Why would he go and shoot a commercial? With his family background, why would he need to go on screen to sell smiles?
Behind him, Cai Wei snorted coldly, his tone permeated with hatred.
Zhou Xiang instantly snapped out of his reverie and adjusted his facial expression, afraid that Cai Wei would make out something.
Cai Wei knew about what happened between him and Yan Mingxiu. As a result, Cai Wei was full of loathing towards Yan Mingxiu, and that hadn’t changed in these two years.
From the looks of it, the influence a person has on another person really isn’t something that can easily fade.
To Cai Wei, two years had already passed. However to Zhou Xiang, everything that happened between him and Yan Mingxiu was just something that occurred a week ago. He could even still vividly remember the last phone call he had with Yan Mingxiu. He could still clearly remember Yan Mingxiu’s scent, his overbearing, wilful and various demands, his personality which persisted on doing things his own way, not caring in the least when he hurt others, and even his smile, his rage, and his unquestionable love for Wang Yudong were all still crystal clear in Zhou Xiang’s mind. Everything that he wanted to forget as quickly as possible, to him, was something that only happened a few days ago. They say that time is the best medicine; for him the time passed was still too short. He originally thought that he would start afresh, without having to see him, without thinking about him, and one day he would be able to wipe that failed relationship completely from his mind. He never expected that he would be forced to see Yan Mingxiu again on the very day that he left the hospital, and that in the foreseeable future he will continue to see him.
Seeing that Zhou Xiang and Cai Wei were both staring at the commercial in front, Chen Ying looked as well and then gasped in admiration, “How can a boy look be so nice-looking, he’s too good-looking.”
Cai Wei said in disdain, “What’s the shit use of being good-looking when you’re a bastard.”
Chen Ying said with surprise, “Xiao Cai, you know him?”
Cai Wei replied sullenly, “Mhm, I know him”
“What’s wrong with him? He’s not a good person?”
Cai Wei said with a forced smile, “Aunty Chen, the entertainment world is a very messy place, there aren’t many good people there.”
Zhou Xiang suppressed the urge to ask Cai Wei about Yan Mingxiu. The less he knew, the better it was for him. It was best if he could let Yan Mingxiu completely disappear from his life.
After the watch commercial disappeared, Zhou Xiang secretly let out a breath of relief. However, the trembling in his heart didn’t disappear. It was all truly beyond his control. He offended Wang Yudong, fell out with Yan Mingxiu, took the wrong step and fell down a cliff; all these kept him wide awake at the night. To him, these were all things that happened a short while ago. He needed time. What he needed now, was time.
After Cai Wei sent them back home, Chen Ying minced her words for quite a while before she said sheepishly, “Xiao Cai, normally, Aunty Chen should really invite you in to sit, but this place is a rental, it’s too simple and crude, I’ll also feel guilty making you come in. Thank you for today.”
Cai Wei knitted his brows and looked at their old housing district. The location was remote, the surrounding environment was poor; it was indeed not a good place. He inwardly sighed. In order to treat Zhou Xiang, Chen Ying exhausted all of her savings, and also borrowed a large sum of money. Zhou Xiang was awake now, but their hard life was only just beginning.
After Cai Wei left, Chen Ying took Zhou Xiang upstairs. This seven storey building had at least twenty years of history. The corridors were dusky, the staircase was narrow, and the walls were so filthy it was impossible to make out its original colour.
Chen Ying was renting a small forty square meter apartment with only one bedroom. She had cleaned up the place as much as she could, but still couldn’t hide the fact that the dweller of this apartment was in dire financial straits.
Chen Ying said with a laugh, “I’ve tidied up the bedroom, and also bought a new bed. I’ll sleep in the living room from now on.”
Zhou Xiang hastily said, “Mum, I’ll sleep in the living room.”
“How can I let you do that, you’re just come out of hospital, and still need to recuperate your health. I’m already used to sleeping on the hospital’s plank beds, sleeping in the living room is nothing.”
Zhou Xiang responded, “Mum, that’s nonsense, I can’t let you sleep in the living room while I sleep in a bedroom.”
The two wrangled for a brief while. Chen Ying couldn’t make him change his mind, and was forced to agree.
Chen Ying made a pot of tea, and also brought out a big bundle of photo albums. Sitting on the living room sofa, Chen Ying slowly told him about Zhou Xiang’s past.
Zhou Xiang was a normal kid that grew up in the capital. His dad was a civil servant, and his mum was an accountant. Originally their lifestyle was pretty good, but his father passed away when he was going to university, and he got into an accident at twenty four. One could well imagine how much pain and misery had engulfed Chen Ying’s life.
He didn’t have much interest in Zhou Xiang’s past. However, the more he found out the more he sympathized with this woman.
Chen Ying spoke and spoke, and eventually burst into tears. “I don’t have a good life, I almost couldn’t hold on any longer. Son, thank goodness you woke up, or else mum truly wouldn’t have been able to hold on any longer.”A period of two years, without knowing when a miracle would occur, she held on continuously for two years. This thin, weak and small woman was countless times stronger than how she looked.
Zhou Xiang wrapped his arms around her shoulders, letting her cry to her heart’s content in the arms of her most beloved son.
After Chen Ying finished venting, she was very embarrassed. Seeing Zhou Xiang sitting in front of her healthy and sound, she couldn’t help but break out into a smile.
Zhou Xiang asked, “Mum, while I was hospitalised, you borrowed a lot of money right? Take the account book out, and we’ll compare.”
As soon as he brought that up, Chen Ying’s face dimmed again. After a moment of hesitation, she stood up and took out an account book from the TV cabinet. All of the loan slips were carefully and neatly sandwiched inside the account book using paper clips. Proving herself as a former accountant, everything was clear and orderly.
She let out a heavy sigh. “In the beginning, we still had some savings, but your hospital expenses were too high. I sold our two apartments. At that time, the property market wasn’t good, if I had sold it during these past two years, I would have been able to get almost one million, but I urgently needed the money at that time...”
Zhou Xiang flipped through the thick pile of IOUs. He asked in a heavy voice, “Mum, how much do we owe altogether?”
Chen Ying sniffed. “The retirement money I get is only a little over two thousand a month. Afterwards, I went around everywhere to borrow money, relatives, friends, colleagues, I borrowed from everyone, when they see my number now, they don’t even pick up anymore...” Chen Ying said hoarsely, “Right now, we still owe three hundred and seventy thousand yuan altogether.”
Three hundred and seventy thousand...
Zhou Xiang calculated his own savings from before. Without counting his apartment and car, he had around two hundred thousand in the bank. His apartment was an old apartment which his father’s workplace had allocated to his father, but the location was very good. Two years ago it was worth one million and three hundred thousand yuan. His car was second-hand. If he sold it, he’d be able to get twenty to thirty thousand. He couldn’t sell the house as he and Chen Ying still needed to live there. The rest he could gather elsewhere, repaying the full three hundred and seventy thousand wouldn’t be hard... Just as Zhou Xiang was calculating in his head, his eyes unconsciously landed on a photo in one of the albums. He was abruptly brought back to reality. He was already no longer that Zhou Xiang, that Zhou Xiang was already “dead”! He had absolutely no idea, in the end, how those savings in the bank and his property were dealt with and who helped him take care of it. How could he possibly use a stranger’s identity to get back his assets?
Zhou Xiang was bathed in cold sweat from head to toe. That would mean, not only had he had become a pauper, he was also a pauper with a debt of three hundred and seventy thousand yuan.
Chen Ying saw his pallid complexion; her own face was also wore a very worried look. Her son had woken up, but their difficult life was far from over.
Zhou Xiang looked at her. Although this woman was not his mother, he felt that it was his duty to look after her the rest of her life. Because he had taken possession of her son’s body, she had actually lost her son forever, while he had obtained a precious completely new life. He couldn’t only pick up the good things; he should also shoulder the responsibilities he needed to bear in this life and duties he ought to fulfil.
Zhou Xiang sorted out his frame of mind and closed the account book. “Mum, don’t worry too much. Both of us are healthy and alive, money can be earnt, we will pay off the entire debt one day.”
Chen Ying forced out a smile, “You’re right, we must be positive and optimistic. You woke up, mum can now see hope. Go to work with Xiao Cai tomorrow, I’ll go and find a job too.”
Zhou Xiang grasped Chen Ying’s hand, “Okay.”
Zhou Xiang didn’t sleep well the entire night. He tossed and turned trying to think of a way to get money. In the end, he decided that he would find out how his assets had been taken care of as soon as possible, and then work out what to do next. He drifted to sleep in the early hours in the morning. After he got up from his short sleep, he realised that he hadn’t thought about Yan Mingxiu at all last night. This was a really promising development.
He washed his face, changed his clothes and went to report at Cai Wei’s company.