Chapter 168: Is This Love?
Cheng Xi’s voice was infused with a few motes of bitter cold, and Lin Fan felt like they were like silken threads sinking into his heart, as if she had stabbed him countless times with a fine knife.
“Emotional abuse is also a form of abuse, and a prison woven from consideration and attentiveness is still a prison. Unintentional harm is fixable, but if it’s premeditated…… Lin Fan, I feel like I don’t know you anymore.”
After Cheng Xi let all her words out, she raised her umbrella and rushed into the pouring rain. It was falling so heavily that she became wet all over almost immediately.
Cheng Xi wasn’t able to call a cab because the streets were thoroughly waterlogged, almost to the point of flooding. She wanted to wade past this stretch of road, but when she looked all around, all she could see was a vast expanse of water. There were a few cars lying by the roadside, and as their powerless owners stepped into the water, they looked just like fallen leaves floating along the currents.
She was reminded of Meng Qingyang’s words again. “Do you know how I was finally able to see you? I had to tell him that if he didn’t let me see you, then I would starve myself to death. The same thing happened right before we got married, though what I said then was that if he didn’t marry me, then I would go look for you every day.”
So it turned out that all that bluster about how the person he had loved was a memory was just a lie. The real reason why he had given up on their relationship that quickly wasn’t that he’d fallen in love with somebody else. Rather, he just didn’t want her to be hurt.
Meng Qingyang had also said, “In order to protect you, he was willing to do anything. Why can’t he love just me a little bit more? I’ve found a reason to live, but why can’t he love me even a little? Everyone around me thinks that he loves me a lot, but is that truly love? He accedes to every whim of mine. He lets me hit him, lets me scold him, and even arranges everything for me. However, he doesn’t ever speak to me of his own volition, he won’t say sweet nothings or even argue or talk badly about me! All he does is stay silent. He’s so silent that I feel like I’m infinitely far away from him but can’t say anything, because the whole world knows that he treats me well! But is being patient and accommodating truly love? Can this be love? Dr. Cheng, can it?”
Meng Qingyang had spent a long time asking her whether Lin Fan’s actions were love. It was as if she were a little lost child wondering if she was crazy for thinking that Lin Fan was callous and heartless.
Cheng Xi had simply replied, “No.”
That wasn’t love, and the one who was ill wasn’t Meng Qingyang.
At her response, Meng Qingyang finally smiled happily and said, “I knew that you would understand me. When I first saw you, I knew that you were a good person.”
Meng Qingyang had conveniently and completely forgotten that she had been as cold and grim as Lin Fan at that time.
And now, the good person, Cheng Xi, was trapped in the torrential downpour, making her doubt whether she would make it home safely. Luckily, after she forded the mostly flooded street, she finally managed to hail a cab.
The cab driver was a young male and very talkative. Even when he saw that Cheng Xi was completely drenched, he didn’t seem to mind at all; merely handing her a towel and considerately saying, “It’s clean. I’ve never used it.”
Cheng Xi thanked him with a smile and took the towel. It was very warm to the touch: in her current state, even the smallest show of kindness from a stranger was enough to make her feel warm inside. On the other hand, a long-lasting attentiveness from someone close to you could make you turn cold.
The driver asked for her address and then started chatting. “So what dragged you out at this hour? The streets are flooded everywhere, and you’re lucky that my car’s chassis is pretty high up. Otherwise, I wouldn’t even be out here in this rain.”
Cheng Xi softly responded, “I don’t have a choice. It’s for my job.”
The driver nodded, and as he started speaking at length about how hard life was, he drove her home. Along the way, his tone remained amiable, but when it came time for her to pay the fare, he didn’t charge her a cent less: additionally, because the roads were flooded, the fee was doubled.
Cheng Xi paid him in full with a smile, feeling like this wasn’t too bad; he had driven her a certain distance, and she had paid him an equivalent amount of money. A straightforward give-and-take relationship.
She suddenly understood why Lu Chenzhou had such a simple and rough mentality.
Given his illness, if he were any more meticulous in how he interacted with other people, he’d probably drive himself crazy, right?
She pondered over these wandering thoughts during the rest of her walk back. When she finally opened the door, she found that Lu Chenzhou hadn’t returned yet. Since it had been raining for a few days now, the water level of the Mei river had risen a huge amount, and Donglai Hotel was also right on the shores of the Mei river; thus, it was reasonable that it’d been a few days since he last returned. Cheng Xi changed her wet clothes as she called him. “It’s pouring. Are you alright over there?”
“I’m alright.” He was as curt as always.
“Is there any chance of danger?”
Cheng Xi smiled. “That’s good.” Then, not even really sure why she was saying it, she continued, “I just got back home. I’m drenched all over.
Lu Chenzhou coolly replied, “Oh,” before seriously instructing, “Remember to shower.”
Cheng Xi couldn’t stop herself from bursting out into laughter. That was truly a classic Lu Chenzhou response. When he heard her say that she had come home drenched, instead of commiserating or asking how she was doing, he had instead instructed her to take a shower.
She nodded and replied before hanging up and showering. Perhaps it was because of the soft drumming of the rain, but she felt a bit dizzy. As she settled into the sofa for her nightly reading, she unknowingly fell asleep there and then.
When she woke up, she was in Lu Chenzhou’s lap. He was hugging her, but hadn’t fallen asleep yet. The soft lambent lamplight lit up his handsome face, and he seemed so handsome that he couldn’t possibly be real. She pinched his cheeks, still a little muddleheaded with sleep. “You’re back?”
Lu Chenzhou nodded.
“Didn’t you say that you were afraid that something might happen to Donglai Corporation because of the heavy rain? Why’re you back?”
He ignored her questions.
Cheng Xi laughed sillily. “You didn’t come back because you heard that I came home dripping wet and became worried, did you?”
“No.” He leaned over and kissed her garrulous mouth passionately before saying, “I missed you.”
His hands dexterously slid into her clothes as they had so many times before, physically telling her with his body what he missed.
After an entire night of howling winds and torrential rain, the following day was surprisingly bright and sunny. Everyone relaxed, except for Cheng Xi, who had gotten the cold and, along with it, a stuffed nose.
At least this meant that she didn’t have to work and could stay home and rest. Lu Chenzhou didn’t say anything as he left for work, and Cheng Xi slept in for half of the morning. However, she did take some of the medicine that Lu Chenzhou had had someone drop off along with a sumptuous lunch.
It had been personally brought over by Lu Chenzhou’s assistant. That person had a silver tongue, and even said, “A warehouse flooded by Donglai Pharmaceuticals, so Director Lu had to go there and oversee it personally. Since he can’t accompany you while you’re ill, he asked me to bring you some items and tell you to rest and take care of your body.”
He had overspoken. Cheng Xi smiled and replied, “Actually, all Director Lu said was to bring some medicine over, right?”
The assistant laughed wryly. “It’s just that Director Lu’s not very good at expressing his thoughts.”
Cheng Xi nodded, agreeing, thanked the assistant, and then received the package. Now that she knew that Lu Chenzhou was busy right around now, she didn’t call him, just sending him a text message.
But when she hadn’t even typed half of the message, she received a phone call.
It was from Lin Fan.
She didn’t actually want to see him, but he was unexpectedly persistent. When Cheng Xi didn’t pick up, he texted her instead. “I’m sorry, but if you’re free to meet, I’m downstairs.”
In the future, Cheng Xi would often wonder about how everything might have been better if she hadn’t gone down to meet him. However, she couldn’t change what she had done. After clutching her phone and thinking it over a little, she eventually left her apartment and went downstairs.