"Don't you think she wears clothes that are too revealing at home?" Chen Xiaoqian asked her mother.
"What are you trying to say?" This was the first time Jia Xiufang heard her daughter talking about this topic. She was not quite sure what to make of it.
"I went downstairs to wash my hands yesterday. She was wearing hot pants and strolled around the house." Chen Xiaoqian made it up, but it was to lead her mother to what she was trying to say.
Qu Xue lived in the shop. After the shop was closed, she pulled out a single bed and slept there. Chen Xiaoqian's family stayed on the second floor. They had to go downstairs if they needed to use the toilet in the evening or midnight.
"What nonsense are you talking about? You're overthinking this. The weather is hot, so it's normal to wear something lighter and shorter…" Jia Xiufang's voice became softer and softer—she remembered something.
Her son was then a teenager. Teenagers might notice things like that and Jia Xiufang should probably pay more attention to that.
Chen Xiaoqian knew that she heard her, and she added, "I saw my father going to the toilet when I went downstairs."
Jia Xiufang was stunned.
"Stop talking nonsense, your father is old… Why am I talking to you about this? Let me see your leg."
Qu Xue was in her twenties and her father was almost 50 years old—it was impossible! However, Chen Xiaoqian's word made an impact on Jia Xiufang's mind.
As Chen Xiaoqian extended her leg, Jia Xiufang got mad when she saw a large bruise.
"Ni Jianren left us there to fend for ourselves, he won't be good to you in the future. What do you like about him, anyway? I didn't like him from the start, he's a kept man. He has no good intentions and he's shifty-eyed. You can just tell that he's crafty."
"When a person faces great disappointment in life, it's only logical to look for a refuge. He or she would have lost their logical reasoning and believe that they would find happiness elsewhere. And it's often too late when they finally realize that bad decisions were made. Many unhappy marriages are made this way."
'Flunking' the college entrance exam made her extremely sad, so when her father said that he would arrange a marriage for her, she agreed mindlessly and wed him. By the time she tried to escape from the mess, she fell into an ever deeper mess.
With a heavy heart, Jia Xiufang stood up and put her hand on Chen Xiaoqian's forehead.
"Are you sick today? Why do you talk so strangely today?"
"I'm alright." Chen Xiaoqian knew she could not tell her mother that she did not want to marry the b*stard now—her mother would be furious.
As it was a shameful thing to withdraw from an arranged marriage. Although Ni Jianren acted terribly, it was not bad enough to withdraw the arrangement. Based on her personality, she would probably have missed the point.
"I'll get your father to ask for a higher sum of betrothal gift. Then you wouldn't be bullied, since you have that money!"
Chen Xiaoqian rolled her eyes and in her mind, she thought, 'Look at her, what's she talking about?!' Her mother frequently missed the point and constantly believed that she had many great ideas!
"I'll get you some medicine to rub on the bruise. If not, it'll be swollen tomorrow."
"It's fine." She did not like other people touching her.
After her divorce, she thought everyone was filthy. Yu Minglang did not know about this and he was the only person that she did not label as filthy. She even had a daughter with him. But the moment another man came any closer, she would feel disgusted.
Chen Xiaoqian only started to mumble to herself after Jia Xiufang left the room.
"Ni Jianren is a piece of sh*t. Even if you make him into the shape of a steak, I wouldn't be able to convince myself that it's a piece of steak and eat it. He's a piece of sh*t."
However, she would leave the piece of sh*t be for the time being, she had some use for Ni Jianren down the road.
Her leg hurt very much. Chen Xiaoqian took the medicinal patch from her pocket and thought about Yu Minglang.
She never imagined that face to look so handsome when he was young...
She peeled off the medicinal patch and was about to stick it on when she thought of something.
'He seemed to be very skilled at shoving the medicinal patch into people's hands. I wonder if he does that a lot. I wonder if he gives the medicinal patches to other pretty girls?'
Then she threw the patch into the trash can and hobbled to find medicine to apply. She had to keep a fair distance from that man. In her previous life, he looked for her high and low for years. She believed he would be difficult to deal with him if he got too close.
As they say, 'don't work with people who do not share the same value as you'. Now that she was given a second chance, she wanted to be the most bad*ss lady boss there ever was. People as positive and proactive as Yu Minglang should be allowed to shine over other women. She preferred a darker corner where the poisonous mushrooms grew.
The smell of the medicinal patch filled the small attic. No matter what Chen Xiaoqian did, Yu Minglang popped up in her mind.
The way he saved her in her previous life and the way he saved her earlier overlapped with each other.
"What an annoying bugger." Chen Xiaoqian was so annoyed with herself that she had the urge to wash her hands again.
After she washed her hands, she pulled her chair and sat in front of her desk. She switched on the light, took a pen and paper, and was prepared to make a plan.
The lighting in the attic was bad. She needed to switch on the lights even in the afternoon. Chen Xiaoqian sat in front of the desk and looked at the books in front of her. Every book was well used and the sight of everything reminded her how hardworking she used to be.
She was naive to think that her parents would love her more and treat her better if she worked harder. She helped out with the family business after school, she washed clothes with cold water during the winter, and she burnt the midnight oil.
She chose to believe in her family when she fell into her hopeless pit but they betrayed her. Her last drop of tears and blood were lessons that taught her how it was safer to be independent and not rely on others.
Chen Xiaoqian refocused and wrote down every character and their relationships with each other—just like what therapists do when they see clients.
Father: Values brother more than me. Wants the betrothal gift. Having an affair.
Mother: Does not treat me as good as she treats little brother. Indecisive. Loves to make a scene. Does not know about father's affair.
When she was writing 'Does not treat me as good as little brother', Chen Xiaoqian thought of how Jia Xiufang was being protective of her earlier in the day. Thus, she drew a line above it and followed with a question mark.
She only believed what she could see. She would continue to observe her mother about this matter.
Qu Xue: Father's mistress. She would become his wife in the future.
B*stard: Homos*xual. Marital fraud. Despicable… Had to stop here as there were too many flaws. It won't fit this sheet of paper.
She stopped after writing two characters, then she crossed it—must keep a distance from him.
'Don't ever let him see me.'
After she listed down all the important people, she then wrote down things to do.
1. Search for the admission notice.
2. Tuition fee.
3. Make the b*stard end the arranged marriage.
Since her mother was nice to her that day, Chen Xiaoqian wrote another one.
4. Destroy the mistress: Qu Xue.
"As a reward for being nice to me, but it doesn't mean I have any expectation of a mother's love from you." She needed to remain serious, as she set herself as the antagonistic lady boss. She could not let it fail.
Chen Xiaoqian mumbled to herself and drew an equal sign between tuition fees and making the b*stard end the arranged marriage.
She could achieve those two at the same time. After all, everything in life was but a series of complements.