Kong Shenfeng, with tired eyes, arrived in Tokyo.
After he got home last night, Kong Shenfeng looked up an old friend and asked for help to quickly check on the situation of Ning Yiwei and her parents.
Early this morning, his old friend called him and said there was a record at the civil affairs department about Ning Qiang and Lu Jiaqin, who had adopted Ning Yiwei. Ning Yiwei was abandoned when he was just a few days old and left at the doorstep of a local hospital. He was taken to a welfare institution soon after and then adopted.
After the call ended, Kang Yixin entered the room and, while applying a face mask, gave him instructions on daily life matters. She also hinted that Kong Shenfeng should deal firmly with Ning Yiwei, who dared to hit Kong Zong without considering the consequences.
Kong Shenfeng hesitated for a few seconds, didn’t say much to Kang Yixin, and before leaving, took advantage of Kong Zong watching TV downstairs to go to Kong Zong’s room and collected a few strands of hair, putting them in an envelope.
It wasn’t that he wanted to hide it from his wife, but this matter was too bizarre, involving two families. He couldn’t act recklessly. Moreover, Kang Yixin had an almost pathological desire to protect Kong Zong. He had to thoroughly investigate all the clues and confirm them before making the next move.
Just as he reached the baggage claim area and was searching for his luggage, Kong Shenfeng received a call from Liang Chong’d secretary.
Yesterday morning, he and the secretary had set up a meeting with Liang Chong. The secretary mentioned that Mr. Liang would come to Tokyo for two days next week and asked if Kong Shenfeng was available to meet and discuss matters concerning Kong Zong and Ning Yiwei. After considering it, Kong Shenfeng thought it was necessary to have a discussion and agreed to the meeting.
Little did he know that she would call now and say that Mr. Liang’s schedule had changed, and the appointment was canceled.
Kong Shenfeng said “Understood” and hung up the phone. With a glance, he found his luggage on the carousel, walked over, and took it down, moving slowly through the crowd.
People in the airport rushed around, but Kong Shenfeng walked the slowest. He had a vague sense of unease in his heart, but he couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was.
Thinking of the envelope containing Kong Zong’s hair in his luggage, Kong Shenfeng felt an increasing heaviness in his steps. He picked up his phone and contacted a medical center in Tokyo that could perform DNA testing.
If Kong Zong didn’t match, he didn’t know how to obtain a sample from Ning Yiwei.
Liang Chong and Kang Minmin boarded the plane at the fastest speed and headed to the southern hemisphere. The flight would take ten hours. Liang Chong was accompanied by his assistant and two subordinates.
Kang Minmin sat pale-faced in a single seat, watching Liang Chong calmly communicate with his subordinates about work. She dared not think too much about Liang Qichao’s current situation. The hospital had no recent updates, which was the best news she could hope for.
Time passed second by second. Kang Minmin drifted in and out of sleep in the comfortable chair, having several short dreams. When she opened her eyes, Liang Chong was still talking on the phone. Based on Kang Minmin’s understanding of her son, Liang Chong wasn’t too busy to stop. He didn’t want to stop.
Perhaps it was his father’s critical illness that made him anxious, or maybe there were other troubles that Kang Minmin was unaware of.
Kang Minmin noticed that Liang Chong had tiny cuts on his lips. She didn’t dare to speculate casually about the cause of Liang Chong’s injuries.
She didn’t know when it started, but Liang Chong had stopped sharing any topics related to his personal emotional life with her.
Compared to Kang Minmin and Liang Qichao’s son, Liang Chong seemed more like a reliable perpetual motion machine. Day and night, he tirelessly supported the complex conglomerate left by his parents, even better than she and Liang Qichao did.
However, she had no way of knowing Liang Chong’s emotions and thoughts.
Thinking of Ning Yiwei’s behavior at Lu Jiaqin’s house that morning, Kang Minmin’s suspicions resurfaced.
She didn’t want to interfere with Liang Chong’s work, so she hesitated for nearly five hours before finally speaking up as Liang Chong set down his phone and closed his computer, preparing to rest for a while. She asked, “Liang Chong, do you have something on your mind?”
Subordinates and the secretary stood up one after another, moving to seats at the back to give their boss and mother some space to talk.
Kang Minmin also got up and sat across from Liang Chong.
“No, I have to finish explaining things before leaving.” Liang Chong shook his head and looked up at Kang Minmin. He asked, “Did I disturb you?”
“No,” Kang Minmin denied, evasively saying, “I was at Jiaqin’s house this morning.”
“Hmm.” Liang Chong leaned against the back of the chair, tilting his head wearily. He gestured for the flight attendant to bring him a cup of coffee and then said to Kang Minmin, “Ning Yiwei told me.”
Kang Minmin hesitated again when he brought up Ning Yiwei himself before finally saying, “Did Weiwei come to find you after running out of the house?”
Liang Chong responded with another “Hmm” and then fell silent. Kang Minmin couldn’t tell if Liang Chong was interested in this topic or not, so she didn’t immediately continue speaking. Liang Chong interlaced his fingers, placing his hands on his lap. He lifted his head slightly and looked at her with eyes that were polite yet distant, as if waiting for her to continue.
Kang Minmin suddenly realized that she didn’t understand Liang Chong as well as she had imagined.
After watching Liang Chong for a few seconds, she eventually spoke up, “I remember you used to bully Weiwei when you were younger.”
Liang Chong smiled faintly, neither confirming nor denying as he followed up with a question, “Did I?”
“Have you forgotten? When you were in college, Weiwei borrowed books using your library card, you even made him write a letter of guarantee,” Kang Minmin said.
“Oh,” Liang Chong took the coffee handed to him by the flight attendant, took a sip, and relaxed a bit. “That time, Weiwei secretly borrowed all the books from my card without telling me. Wasn’t it right for me to ask for a letter of guarantee?”
“How could I remember all of that?” Kang Minmin said, “I only remember that you were very harsh towards Weiwei.”
Liang Chong shrugged. “Ning Yiwei didn’t have any objections.”
He picked up a magazine from the table and casually flipped through its pages.
Kang Minmin looked at Liang Chong and spoke the truth, “You were so harsh. How could he dare to have an opinion?”
When mentioning Ning Yiwei, Liang Chong suddenly appeared at ease, causing Kang Minmin to involuntarily recall the time she unexpectedly encountered Ning Yiwei in Liang Chong’s house. In the years before and after that incident, Kang Minmin had never seen Liang Chong raise his voice like that.
After Liang Chong went to college, he moved to a house closer to the company and school. Liang Chong was just eighteen or nineteen at the time, living alone and unwilling to let others get close. Kang Minmin wasn’t particularly reassured, so sometimes when passing by, she would go to Liang Chong’s place to sit and see if there was anything he needed.
That day, as soon as Kang Minmin entered the house, she saw that the TV in Liang Chong’s living room was on, playing a popular science documentary. There were also bare feet stretched out on the couch. She was first surprised, thinking that Liang Chong was surprisingly casual at home. As she approached for a closer look, she realized that Ning Yiwei was asleep, lying on the living room couch with a book dropped on the carpet.
Kang Minmin knew that Ning Yiwei had a good relationship with Liang Chong, but she didn’t know that Ning Yiwei could freely enter and exit Liang Chong’s home. Although slightly puzzled by Ning Yiwei’s scanty clothing, she still went to get a blanket and covered Ning Yiwei. She then turned off the TV.
Ning Yiwei was sound asleep, with long and thick eyelashes resting on his face. One hand was pressed beneath his body, and the other was placed on the couch, fingers fair and nails rounded, radiating a healthy pink hue.
Kang Minmin watched for a while, and when Ning Yiwei moved, the blanket slipped off. She picked it up and covered Ning Yiwei again.
The first time she saw Ning Yiwei, Kang Minmin felt that she looked very familiar. This was one of the reasons she believed she had a connection with Lu Jiaqin. It also made her take extra care of Ning Yiwei.
Kang Minmin tucked the corners of the blanket for Ning Yiwei and picked up the book, placing it aside. She noticed several books on the coffee table and decided to leave only the one Ning Yiwei was reading while taking the rest upstairs to put away. As she was heading downstairs, she heard the sound indicating the elevator doors opening.
Liang Chong suddenly returned, walking and calling Ning Yiwei’s name in an annoyed tone, “Ning Yiwei!”
Kang Minmin was startled and quickly went downstairs to the living room. She saw Liang Chong leaning over, pinching Ning Yiwei’s face to wake him up.
Ning Yiwei sat up, still half-asleep and looking dazed. Confused, he asked Liang Chong, “What happened? Is there an earthquake?”
“How many books did you borrow using my card? Why couldn’t I borrow any?” Liang Chong stared at Ning Yiwei, questioning him.
Ning Yiwei paused for a moment, hunching his shoulders. He roughly counted the number of books he borrowed and mumbled, “I don’t know… Maybe five… At most, five… I’ll return them tomorrow.”
His voice became increasingly soft. Kang Minmin couldn’t bear to watch. She walked over, intending to say a few words for Ning Yiwei.
When Liang Chong saw Kang Minmin approaching, he paused and called out, “Mom.”
“Auntie,” Ning Yiwei called her pitifully.
“It’s just five books,” Kang Minmin said to Liang Chong. “Is it necessary to react this way?”
Liang Chong sneered, coldly glancing at Ning Yiwei, and said, “My card can only borrow five books in total. I told you not to borrow them all.”
“You never go to the library,” Ning Yiwei argued softly, feeling wronged. “It’s not wasting much. I’m exercising your student rights for you. You should thank me. Plus, for every book I read for you, there’s a possibility of saving 1/10 of a poplar tree from dying in vain.”
“You dare to talk back?” Liang Chong angrily tapped Ning Yiwei’s head. “Should I also praise you for being environmentally friendly?”
“You just need to know.” Ning Yiwei tried to escape by jumping onto the carpet with bare feet, but Liang Chong grabbed him and handed him pen and paper, forcing him to write a guarantee in the study.
Liang Chong coldly made Ning Yiwei write that he would never borrow the card to the maximum again. He even made Ning Yiwei press his handprint as a seal, displaying an almost dictatorial style.
Kang Minmin still vividly remembered that day because Liang Chong seemed so different, hardly resembling the Liang Chong she knew.
Liang Chong was furious and unreasonable. From then on, Kang Minmin never saw that version of Liang Chong again. After Liang Qichao fell ill, Liang Chong became even more composed and introverted, as if the Liang Chong who experienced joys and sorrows had never existed.
Kang Minmin belatedly reflected on herself, realizing that she might have burdened Liang Chong too much.
Liang Chong had always been the most outstanding among the crowd since childhood. She was used to his excellence and dedication, naturally placing the weight on his shoulders. She and Liang Qichao only had Liang Chong as their son, so everything Liang Chong did was expected.
She even, out of fear that Liang Chong would be lonely, desperately tried to bring him together with a girl from a well-connected family. She purchased two baby cribs for their house in Australia without even asking Liang Chong if he liked the girl.
Now, upon reflection, she understood that it wasn’t that Liang Chong had lost his vitality, but rather he believed that he didn’t need to show her his relaxed and carefree moments.
In a blink of an eye, she also suddenly noticed the differences in Ning Yiwei, understanding the significance behind the donations Liang Chong made to the physics lab, the reconstructed attic for stargazing, the custom-made low bookcase, and the traces of Ning Yiwei scattered throughout the house and car. Liang Chong’s guarded heart kept everyone out but allowed Ning Yiwei to come and go freely, preparing a comfortable bed for him, adjusting the temperature just right, all to make sure Ning Yiwei wouldn’t leave.
Liang Chong looked at Kang Minmin, silent for a moment, perhaps guessing what she wanted to ask but not willing to be the first to speak.
“Liang Chong,” Kang Minmin glanced at Liang Chong’s accompanying subordinate sitting at the back of the cabin, unsure if she should offer advice or how much advice to give. “Ning Yiwei…”
“You don’t need to worry.” Liang Chong reached out and twirled his coffee cup, the bottom of the cup making a faint scraping sound against the saucer. “It’s highly unlikely that Ning Yiwei and I will end up together.”
Kang Minmin carefully chose her words, waited a few seconds, and asked, “Why? Doesn’t he like you?”
“There’s no ‘why,'” Liang Chong closed his eyes expressionlessly, choosing not to respond to Kang Minmin’s second question. He simply said, “I have no intention of getting married.”
“But what if he decides to get married?” Kang Minmin impulsively asked, “He won’t look for you anymore and take all his things from your house. Can you go your whole life without finding someone else?”
Liang Chong wasn’t provoked by Kang Minmin’s question. He calmly faced her and said, “He can get married, but he should never think about taking things from my house.”
Kang Minmin paused, realizing that Liang Chong’s response came too quickly, as if he had already thought about it countless times.
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