It was not very late in the evening, and the atmosphere of the roads was still lively with the sounds of square-dance music reverberating through the air. The variety of lights lining up streets below shone brightly, passing through the glass window, reflecting in the room.
He Jing had drunk a little too much and fell asleep on her side on the sofa. Mu Hanxia covered her with a blanket, however, she had also drunk too much today, so her head was very heavy as well. Not only that, her chest also felt uncomfortable and her mind foggy.
However, despite it all, she still remembered the one thing she had to always do.
So, she went to the back room with soft steps… lest He Jing hears her. She then dialed Lu Zhang’s number.
At this very moment, beside the reservoir located in the suburbs of Beijing, a cold wind was blowing. Although it was chilling, the beautiful scenery of glittering starlight and the warm bonfire crackling merrily banished the chill away.
Lu Zhang and several of his rogue friends were leaning against the tent beside the bonfire. A few of them had also brought girls with them, cheering and laughing around the bonfire while roasting the food.
There were several others who were playing cards. However, today, Lu Zhang did not choose to join. Putting his arms behind his head, he gazed at the starry sky, lost in thought.
At that time, a girl with a bunch of food in her arms came over and gave him a nudge. “Hey, Xiao Lu, why don’t you go to eat some food?”
“Not hungry,” he said lightly.
Undeterred, the girl smiled and squatted down beside him. “Last time, didn’t you say that you were going to teach me how to fish? How about we go fishing at night? I’m still a bit scared, though.”
Lu Zhang glanced at her and said, “I don’t want to go today. You can find someone else to teach you.”
At once, the girl looked stupefied. Then, getting the message, she got up and left.
Seeing this, a brother next to him spoke in a joking tone, “Aiyou, Xiao Lu, didn’t you say that this girl was very cute last time? Today, we have specifically brought her here for you, why are you giving her a cold face now?”
Lu Chang sneered and said, “She buzzes around and follows you like a mosquito. Not interested.”
That brother burst out into hearty laughter and said, “That’s because you are indeed a piece of delicious and fragrant meat in the eyes of girls!”
Just then, Lu Zhang’s handphone in his pocket rang. He fished it out. Looking at the screen, he laughed and lazily picked it up:
“Hello? Miss me?”
Sitting in the dark back room, Mu Hanxia massaged the space between her eyebrows and said: “No. I never even thought about you. Why should I? To abuse myself? – Anyway, Lu Zhang, I have a favor to ask you.”
At this moment, Lu Zhang felt that the way she spoke today was a little different. How to say it… It was somewhat more concise than usual, but with a hint of coquettishness in the tone. Anyway, he didn’t think too deeply about the reason, since he enjoyed this feeling. So, he smiled and simply asked, “What’s the matter? Tell me.”
Mu Hanxia: “I want to arrange a person to be my assistant. She is my friend, and her circumstances right now are not very good, so I want to give her a hand. Is that alright?”
Not finding the matter difficult, Lu Zhang simply answered nonchalantly, “ Ok. Whatever you want. It’s a trivial matter.”
Nevertheless, Mu Hanxia’s heart that was on pine and needles relaxed, and she smiled as she said, “Lu Zhang. Thank you.”
Lu Zhang silently smiled. He was about to say a few more words, but before he could- “Du du——” – the sound of the call being disconnected came. She had hung up.
He looked at the mobile phone before he put it aside. And when he thought about the last smiling tone he could hear from the phone, he couldn’t help but smile again.
Beside him, a brother caught that smile and asked, “Who’s on the phone, ah?”
Lu Zhang answered: “Who else? My father found me a teacher. Since then, practically every single day, she calls me to give pointers. Heh…”
“The old woman you mentioned before?”
That brother reached over and patted him on the shoulder. “Xiao Lu, how to say this, but why do I feel like, off late, you’ve been fascinated by that old woman? Think about it again.”
Lu Zhang, who could still laugh at first, turned silent.
On the sofa, He Jing groaned. “Water—”
Mu Hanxia, despite being dizzy herself, still poured a glass of water and helped her drink it. The two women then collapsed back onto the sofa. He Jing was not completely drunk. Therefore, she was able to sober up a little after she had some water. However, when she opened her eyes, she only looked at the ceiling with hazy eyes.
“Ah Jing, come with me to Beijing,” Mu Hanxia abruptly said.
He Jing was stunned.
Mu Hanxia shook her hands and said, “I just spoke to the small boss of the company, and he agreed. You just follow me. The company is pretty good, the boss is also good, and they treat us well. Just look at the two-bedroom apartment they gave me. We can live there together like before.”
He Jing: “No, but—”
“No? Why not?” Mu Hanxia beat her to the punch. “Didn’t you say that you also want to try taking a different path? Just like how someone once changed my life – from the life of a saleswoman to a completely different world that is better and more fulfilling – I now have the ability to do the same for you. Although I can’t change the fate of many people, I can take you to a new life. I can help you start afresh. So tomorrow can be your new beginning, where you can make your comeback and start your life anew! Trust me, Ah Jing. Trust that we can both do it, okay?”
Without a warning, He Jing’s tears suddenly trickled down, and her heart was even more forlorn. Throwing herself onto Mu Hanxia, she hugged her and sobbed. “I’m sorry, Ah Xia!”
Mu Hanxia simply laughed. “What are you sorry for?”
“No… I’m giving you a hard time. I know this kind of thing is a burden—”
“What do you mean? How heavy do you think you are? You can barely move a finger of mine with your weak body, okay?”
At the bold claim, He Jing could only laugh as she cried.
The two sat quietly on the sofa, no longer drinking their life away, simply sipping their glass of water slowly in a daze. Suddenly, Mu Hanxia opened her mouth and said, “I saw Meng Gang today.”
“Meng Gang?” He Jing said, “I haven’t seen him for a long time since I resigned from Le Ya. That bastard… How is he?”
Mu Hanxia was silent for a moment, just gazing at the murky light in the room, before she replied, “Neither good nor bad. Has he suffered any setbacks in the past few years?”
He Jing raised her hand, covered her aching forehead, and rubbed it tenderly as she said, “En… from what I’ve heard from my friend, who is still in Le Ya, it seems he f*cked up a few years ago. If I don’t recall it wrongly, he seemed to have offended the big developers from Beijing. However, they are all rumors. All I know for sure is that he didn’t become the general manager of the store afterwards.”
Mu Hanxia felt her temple throb. She recalled that time when Meng Gang had acted slightly amorous and aggressive towards her. And there was also that night, that dashing menswear, riding in a quiet car down the winding road into the residential area that resurfaced like vague flashes of light across her mind.
“Developers from Beijing?” she asked.
He Jing let out a ‘Well’ and then added, “I am not exactly clear about the situation myself. But it seems that Meng Gang knelt before many people. And that’s why the word spread so widely. Serves him right!”
Mu Hanxia lifted her head and looked out at the dim light on the windowpane, falling silent for a long time before she opened her mouth again and asked, “It’s getting late. Would you like to go to bed?”
He Jing shook her head and stood up, bracing herself against the wall. “I’ve been busy in the store for most of the day. I stink. I’ll take a shower before going to sleep. You go to bed first.”
Seeing that she was fine, Mu Hanxia didn’t try to help and merely watched her until she got into the bathroom. Then, she got up and went into her own room. After she undressed, she laid down under the covers.
From the start, her drinking capacity had not been as good as He Jing’s. As such, when the alcohol began to kick in at this moment, her consciousness rapidly muddled. Alas, a certain part of her brain seemed to be very stubborn in keeping her awake.
Perhaps, due to the effect of the alcohol, Li Mochen’s figure kept drifting in her mind. Thinking back to what He Jing had just informed her of – the fact Meng Gang was forced to kneel down before that person before he was spared – made her feel very uncomfortable as if there was a stone in the pit of her stomach.
She wiped away her tears. She thought that all she felt was as what she had told Zhang Zi a few days ago. She thought that there was only pain without any sweetness.
But now… What was this feeling of pain with traces of sweetness in her heart?
So, she took out her mobile phone and tried to find his number. However, she was drunk and couldn’t find it. In a trance, she seemed to hear the sound of a mobile phone ringing somewhere. Pressing the answer button out of habit, she put the phone to her ear.
A deep, familiar voice came through the phone, Mu Hanxia’s tears burst forth unbidden. But soon, she smiled again. “Lin Mochen—”
On the other end of the phone, Lin Mochen fell silent for a second.
“Are you crying?” he asked.
“Of course not,” she replied, “I’m smiling.”
His voice became deeper as he asked, “Have you been drinking?”
“En.” Her voice suddenly quieted down. “Lin Mochen, let me ask you something.”
She didn’t know whether it was her delusion or not, but his voice seemed to be very gentle
“Meng Gang’s matter… Was it your doing?”
He fell silent for a moment and said, “He was unlucky and got into trouble with me.”
His tone was very normal, but Mu Hanxia only felt the aching and sour feelings in the bottom of her heart swell and rise again, almost sinking her.
“Thank you,” she said, “Good night, Lin Mochen. See you tomorrow. Remember to keep jogging.”
“Ok.” Lin Mochen replied, and asked, “So, where are you now?”
“I’m at He Jing’s house in Jiangcheng.”
The moon was already hanging high in the sky. Putting down his mobile phone, Lin Mochen momentarily fell silent before he picked up his coat and walked out of the room.
When he went downstairs, he met with Sun Zhi in the elevator who was on the way home.
The other looked at him cautiously and asked, “Director Lin, where are you going?”
Sun Zhi looked down at his watch and was taken aback. “So late? I don’t think you’ll be able to catch the last flight.”
“What’s the matter?” Sun Zhi asked with concern.
Lin Mochen fell silent for a moment, and then suddenly chuckled. “It’s big news. Let’s go jogging.”