“Are you tipsy?” Chang Shi Gui noticed the flush on Ning Xi’s face and felt somewhat worried.
“Hmm?” Ning Xi alighted from the car, and tucked her hair behind her ear. She replied, “No, I’m just … in a very good mood.” The night breeze lifted her obsidian black hair across her face, making a fine contrast against her snowy pale skin.
Chang Shi Gui was in a daze when he felt a pair of warm and soft hands encircle his neck. Immediately, he was stunned, as though he was struck by a bolt of electricity.
When the bodyguards who were escorting them back saw the scene unfold before them, all of them immediately looked down, and did not dare to look at the couple who were locked in an embrace.
Perhaps the night view was stunning, or simply because Chang Shi Gui under the night light had touched her heart, Ning Xi felt her entire body relax. At least, at this moment, she had forgotten about the pain that was buried deep within her heart. She felt relaxed and comfortable.
Chang Shi Gui put his hands around her waist and said, “The night view is beautiful. Accompany me for a walk.”
Ning Xi looked up at the sky. The crescent moon hung up high, looking like the corners of a smile. “Sure.”
Chang Shi Gui’s palm was wide and warm, and he could wrap Ning Xi’s hand into his. The couple walked down a small garden trail in the estate. Ning Xi let out a huge sigh. “I’ve stayed here for some time now, but it’s the first time that I’m exploring the place.”
There was lush greenery around the estate. In order to attract the high rollers, they even planted numerous expensive plants, creating a beautiful, green environment.
“Back then, there was also a large forest area surrounding my house.” The corners of Ning Xi’s lips curved up into a smile. “Since it was an apartment that my parents’ workplace had raised funds to construct, hence we were very familiar with our neighbours. From the aunts from the eastern side of the estate to the uncles from the west, all of them would give me small gifts whenever they met me.”
Chang Shi Gui listened on silently, as Ning Xi continued on about the past that he wasn’t a part of.
“On the day my mother fell off from the building, I had just gone to purchase groceries. I had just reached the stairs …” Ning Xi’s lashes trembled slightly, and she took a while before she recovered. With a smile, she said, “When I went out in the morning, my mother had still told me that she would bring me to pay respects to my father. Because it was the first month anniversary of my dad’s passing, she had dreamt of my father telling her that he didn’t have enough money to spend.”
Chang Shi Gui held her hand tightly. In the moment, he realised that any words of comfort were useless.
“Shi Gui.” Ning Xi suddenly stopped in her tracks and turned around to look at him. Behind her, a couple of bugs flew around weakly. It was close to the end of autumn, so these bugs would be welcoming death very soon. “I …”
A bespectacled middle-aged man walked over to them with a cheerful look, then eyed Ning Xi with an equivocal gaze. “Taking a stroll?”
Chang Shi Gui nodded lightly.
Noting Chang Shi Gui’s somewhat cold demeanour, the bespectacled man was put into an awkward position. He felt that he might have imposed on Chang Shi Gui and his girlfriend’s date, hence he was being slighted. He could only give a weak smile and say, “I’m sorry to bother the both of you. I’ll take my leave.”
After the middle-aged man left, Chang Shi Gui turned to Ning Xi, “What were you going to say just now?”
Ning Xi looked at the hurried figure of the leaving man and suddenly burst out laughing, as though she had figured out the solution to a difficult problem, and the hesitation under her eyes disappeared without a trace.
“It’s nothing.” She shook her head and giggled, then locked her gaze with Chang Shi Gui’s. “I just feel … so fortunate to have met you.”
Chang Shi Gui’s heart trembled slightly. He lowered his head and gave her a gentle but firm kiss.
There was a small breeze, and the scent of flowers emanated around the area.
The couple didn’t continue their walk for long. After they returned home, Ning Xi went for a shower, then wrapped herself in a loose-fitting bathrobe. When Chang Shi Gui knocked on the door, she opened it without a thought.
“Xixi …” The moment Chang Shi Gui’s gaze fell on Ning Xi, his voice turned hoarse. “The weather forecast has predicted that there’ll be rain in the middle of the night. Be careful not to catch a cold.”
He shifted his gaze unnaturally, and unconsciously tightened his legs together.
“Alright. Goodnight.” Ning Xi looked down after she closed the door and noticed that her bathrobe was loosened, and a large part of her chest had been exposed.
No wonder … Chang Shi Gui had such an awkward expression on his face. As she recalled how he tried to quietly hold himself back, Ning Xi stifled a laugh.
She then put on a moisturising mask and fell into a deep sleep.
It was late into the night when the winds outside started howling, and the thunder was booming loudly. When Ning Xi awoke, it was pouring heavily outside. Suddenly, a stroke of lightning flashed across and lit the surroundings up.
Boom! Thunder sounded; it was so loud that it was as though the rooftop had exploded. Ning Xi sat up in bed and grabbed her blanket, looking at the brightness outside the window in a daze.
After a long pause, she reached out to turn on the bedside lamp, but she couldn’t turn it on. There was probably a blackout.
Lightning continued to flash outside. The shadows from the trees fell upon the window, as if they were claws of monstrous creatures, creating an eerie and frightening atmosphere. However, Ning Xi continued to stare at the shadows outside without moving, but she didn’t look as though she was afraid.
Bang bang bang!
There were knocks on the door. Ning Xi had originally thought that it was the rustling from the trees when she heard Chang Shi Gui’s voice from outside.
“Xixi, are you awake?”
It was only then that Ning Xi came back to her senses and left the bed. She walked barefooted on the soft carpet, and without looking for her slippers in the dark, she walked towards the door and opened it.
“There’s a blackout outside.” Chang Shi Gui held a small torchlight in his hands. “The thunder was so loud, were you scared?”
Ning Xi wanted to say that she wasn’t afraid of thunder and lightning, but when she saw him standing barefooted on the cold floor, his pajamas in a messy state, and his handsome face looking all worried and anxious, she dashed forward and hugged him.
“Don’t be afraid.” Chang Shi Gui patted her back lightly. When he realised that she wasn’t wearing any footwear, he carried her up, brought her to bed and tucked her in. “It’s fine, I’ll be here with you.”
Aside from her head, the rest of Ning Xi’s body was wrapped up in the huge quilt. She raised her head and looked at Chang Shi Gui, who was sitting by the bedside. She then raised her hand and pulled his right hand’s index finger.
His finger was slightly cold, but Ning Xi’s heart felt warm.
Chang Shi Gui tucked her hand back in. “Be good. Sleep.”
She didn’t know how alluring she looked. He was worried that he would lose his self-control and embrace her.
Boom! Another bout of thunder sounded. Ning Xi grabbed his finger again. This time, Chang Shi Gui didn’t put her hand back. He said hoarsely, “Xixi, do you know how much self-control I need in order to face you in this state?”
Ning Xi smiled sweetly at him without a word.
Pak! The torch fell to the floor and rolled on the carpet. After flickering for a few moments, the light was out.
As the stormy weather continued outside, a warm atmosphere lingered within the room.
Ning Xi woke up very late the next morning. She laid lazily in bed, refusing to get up. It was still raining outside, though it wasn’t as heavy as the night before.
“You’re awake?” Chang Shi Gui brought a piping warm bowl of porridge. Ning Xi laid prone on the bed and groaned, “I don’t feel like eating.”
“Just a few mouthfuls? I’ll feed you?” Chang Shi Gui took a spoonful up and blew at it, then tipped it to the side of Ning Xi’s mouth, “Ahhh~.”
Ning Xi stared at the spoon for two seconds, then took a bite. “Red bean porridge?”
Chang Shi Gui smiled and nodded, then placed another spoonful by her mouth.
“I haven’t brushed my teeth.” Ning Xi glared at him helplessly. When she got out of bed, she couldn’t help but massage her waist and her legs.
Without looking at Chang Shi Gui, whose face had a warm smile plastered on him, Ning Xi went to wash up. When she returned, she saw Chang Shi Gui still sitting in his original position. With a soft “tsk”, she then took the spoon and bowl in his hands, and started eating on her own.
Just as she finished her food, Zhang Qingyun called.
“Ning Xi, someone posted the photos from the carpark last night online.” Zhang Qingyun’s tone was solemn. “Furthermore, the pictures that were posted were only the ones where Jiang Yun hugged Mr. Chang when he was caught unawares. Now, news that Mr. Chang had been two-timing with a socialite is spreading online, and it’s not easy for us to single-handedly clarify this. We’ll need Mr. Chang to step out too.”
There was no wonder why the netizens would believe the news. The person who posted the images had captured them at such a good angle that if they hadn’t been there in person, they would also have misunderstood that Chang Shi Gui was cheating.
“Alright.” Ning Xi turned and shot a glance at Chang Shi Gui, who was still massaging her waist, and said, “I’ll speak to him about it.”
“What happened?” Chang Shi Gui noticed the change in Ning Xi’s expression.
“Someone posted this photo of Jiang Yun and you online.” After Ning Xi ended the call, she searched Weibo for the picture. At this point, there were already more than fifty thousand comments to the post.
Some called Chang Shi Gui a scoundrel, while others scolded Jiang Yun for being a third party. There were also some who mocked the end of Ning Xi’s dream to marry into a rich family, as well as some who ridiculed Ning Xi for being given a resounding slap in the face just after she flaunted her relationship the day before, and chiding her for being an embarrassment.
Chang Shi Gui had also seen the comments. He turned on his own Weibo, and found countless comments insulting him as a bastard. However, instead of being angry, he laughed. “Your fans are very protective of you.”
Ning Xi smiled, “That’s right. They’re all my cute little angels.”
Chang Shi Gui couldn’t help but laugh, then said, “I’ll clear this matter up properly. I won’t let you suffer.”
“If this matter is cleared up, someone else will have to suffer.” The corner of Ning Xi’s brows arched up, and her tone was somewhat sarcastic. She wasn’t a fool. How could there be such a coincidence, where the informant only managed to take a shot of Jiang Yun hugging Chang Shi Gui, and nothing else?
There could only be one answer to that - Jiang Yun had intentionally arranged for this piece of news to be exposed. Was she trying to embarrass Ning Xi?
Unfortunately, for now, it couldn’t be certain who would eventually be the one embarrassed.
Ning Xi immediately reposted the post with an unfriendly and cynical comment.
Ning Xi: There were so many people who had been present yesterday, why didn’t the poster release all the photos? As someone who had also witnessed everything yesterday, I couldn’t even understand as clearly as the poster what happened. What a shame.
Netizens were always there to watch the fun, and would never mind if these matters escalated. Seeing as Ning Xi, who was also one of the protagonists, stepped out to comment, they were both excited and surprised. This was because according to regular PR methods, it was really stupid for the protagonist to step out. This was also a deviation from Ning Xi's usual methods for handing such matters.
However, with Ning Xi’s comment, many could tell that there was something wrong with the original post. If Ning Xi was present at the scene as she said, then what transpired could be different from what the poster said. However, the picture of the socialite hugging Chang Shi Gui was also real. What was the truth behind all these?
Just when the netizens started getting curious about the truth, the Jiang family called Chang Shi Gui.