It was a windy day, but the sun was also shining brightly. Kang Yixin didn’t go to the office. Instead, she sat in the warm sunroom in the yard, enjoying the sun. The nanny made her a pot of tea and placed it on the glass shelf beside her.
Uncertain if she would receive a response, she still waited for Ning Yiwei to reply to her text message.
At the end of Kong Zong’s summer vacation before starting high school, they moved into this villa.
That summer, she had just finished her three-year assignment abroad and returned to the company’s headquarters. Kong Zong smoothly moved up to the high school section of D University Affiliated Middle School, and Kong Shengfeng, with his team, achieved the biggest award in his academic career.
The house had been undergoing renovations for almost half a year, with only a few decorative paintings left to hang. The designer provided Kang Yixin with some color schemes and recommended several galleries and artworks, but she didn’t purchase any of them.
Because Kong Zong’s favorite comic artist was going to hold a summer auction in mid-August in Hokkaido, Kang Yixin had promised him earlier to take him there. Kong Shengfeng initially didn’t want to go but was forced by Kang Yixin to take two days off. The whole family went on a trip to Hokkaido and stayed in a hotel where the summer auction was held. In the evening, after the auction ended, they happily obtained three original manuscripts.
Kong Zong’s long-awaited wish was fulfilled, and he was extremely happy. He kept sticking to Kang Yixin, saying, “Mom, you’re really great!” Kong Shengfeng, on the other hand, was shocked by the price of the comic manuscripts. When they returned to the room, he kept complaining to Kang Yixin in a somewhat disgruntled manner, muttering about why they had to buy such expensive things for a child. He also murmured about the amount of money spent on setting up the XUV light combing device in his laboratory, and how other professors at the department dinner said he should be awarded the best savings award by the end of the year. He never expected to buy an expensive painting for his son. He felt unworthy of receiving an award.
Kang Yixin still remembered telling Kong Shengfeng to keep quiet if he liked their son and specifically instructed him not to mention it in front of Kong Zong.
Kong Shengfeng felt very aggrieved and dissatisfied. His face clearly showed “not good,” but he could only reluctantly say, “Well, let’s not mention it.”
Even now, Kang Yixin remembered Kong Shengfeng’s expression and wanted to laugh, but as she kept smiling, she couldn’t find it funny anymore. There was nothing funny about it.
Last night, after meeting with Ning Yiwei, Kang Yixin couldn’t sleep. She searched through Ning Yiwei’s junior high school’s official website and watched all the campus news videos during his time there. She actually found one with Ning Yiwei in it.
After Ning Yiwei received an award for his research paper, several junior schoolmates went to interview him for the campus news. From the tenth minute to the fifteenth minute of the news video.
At that time, Ning Yiwei was really small and thin, even smaller than the junior schoolmates who were interviewing him. He didn’t resemble Kang Yixin as much as he does now. He looked like a combination of Kong Shengfeng and Kang Yixin. He was wearing a plain T-shirt with a school uniform jacket on top. His voice hadn’t changed yet, and his hair softly hung on his face, looking very well-behaved.
A younger schoolmate read from the script and asked him about his recent hobbies and interests. Ning Yiwei replied that he was saving money to buy a cheap, old computer to simplify the cash register program at his dad’s supermarket.
Ning Yiwei said he worked as a cashier at his dad’s supermarket, going there right after school and working until the supermarket closed.
“You guys don’t know,” Ning Yiwei said with a cheerful smile, “it’s especially hard to find evening cashiers. My dad can’t hire anyone, and the supermarket has so many things. Even though I memorized them right away, others can’t remember.”
Then Ning Yiwei demonstrated the method of fast cashiering to his junior schoolmates. They used pens, books, and other items as pricing references. Ning Yiwei swiftly took the products and put them in bags as if flowing with ease. Then he immediately stated a price, while the junior schoolmate used a calculator to confirm if Ning Yiwei was correct.
It felt like playing a very fun game. The junior schoolmate was frantically pressing buttons on the calculator and making mistakes, and everyone laughed happily together.
Hatred seeped from Kang Yixin’s bones, tormenting her relentlessly.
She couldn’t help but wonder why Ning Yiwei would do such things. He was such a young child, standing and working as a cashier for a whole night. But how much profit could there be? Would the supermarket’s annual profit be enough to buy half of Kong Zong’s comic original manuscripts?
It wouldn’t be enough.
When Kong Zong was young, he had poor health and often fell ill. Kang Yixin changed eleven nannies in four years, becoming infamous in the nanny circle. No matter how much money she offered, no one was willing to come. Even her mother thought she was exaggerating, asking if it was necessary. After all, it was just taking care of a child. But Kang Yixin truly believed that these nannies couldn’t be so careless in taking care of her precious baby, to the extent of making him sick.
One time, Kong Shengfeng took Kong Zong to the park for a walk, and Kong Zong tripped and scraped his knee. Kang Yixin was so heartbroken that she locked herself inside and had a big fight with Kong Shengfeng, wishing that he would be the one to fall instead. Since then, she never let Kong Shengfeng take Kong Zong out alone.
She loved Kong Zong deeply, with such profound anxiety. She had loved him for twenty years, and there wasn’t a single second that passed by without feeling at ease. But what about Ning Yiwei?
Ning Yiwei had nothing. His early years were spent in a school for children of migrant workers, a place where a food poisoning incident occurred. Ning Yiwei studied there and could only eat whatever food was available each day.
He followed his foster parents back to their hometown. The airport in their hometown was only built last year. Before that, they had to take a fifteen-hour ride on a green train. It was like the Spring Festival travel rush, and if they could only get standing tickets, Ning Yiwei had to stand.
From childhood to adulthood, Kong Zong never once traveled in economy class or sat in a second-class seat. He wouldn’t even stay in an ordinary five-star hotel.
During the Spring Festival, Kang Yixin took Kong Zong on a vacation. While she was applying sunscreen for Kong Zong on a tropical beach, Ning Yiwei was probably standing in a train compartment heading to an inland mountainous area.
Kang Yixin’s phone made a “ding” sound. She picked it up, glanced at it, and put it back.
It wasn’t a message from Ning Yiwei. It was a credit card spending reminder from Kong Zong’s supplementary card.
Kong Zong’s plan to attend A University was set. After the end of the first semester of his freshman year, his academic records had to be transferred. A University was in the capital of the neighboring province, a three-and-a-half-hour ride on the high-speed train. It wasn’t as prestigious as D University in terms of school ranking, but it was still good. In any case, if Kong Zong had to compete with others in the college entrance examination, he would definitely not get in.
After hearing that there was no more room for transferring schools, Kong Zong was so angry that he refused to speak to Kang Yixin. He didn’t come home for several days and stayed in a hotel to show his resentment. His card was frequently used, and she would receive spending reminders from time to time. In the past, she would have had a big fight with Kong Shengfeng and rushed to find Kong Zong. But this time, she didn’t.
Maybe she was afraid that seeing each other would make Kong Zong see through her feelings. Maybe she was afraid of doing something wrong that would hurt Kong Zong. Maybe she was simply avoiding it, afraid that if they met, she wouldn’t be able to hold back her resentment.
Every day, there were a few minutes when Kang Yixin would feel that things were just like that. But a few minutes later, new feelings of unwillingness and continuous pain would emerge from her heart, as if the wound, though small on the surface, was completely rotten inside, with blood continuously oozing out.
She couldn’t love Kong Zong so purely and wholeheartedly anymore. Ning Yiwei already had another family, other parents. So the wound couldn’t scab over, couldn’t heal. It would forever, forever remain rotten.
Kang Yixin was in a daze when she suddenly received a call from Kong Shengfeng. She answered and heard Kong Shengfeng anxiously asking, “Wife, didn’t you say you didn’t mention anything yesterday? Why did Liang Chong tell me that Ning Yiwei already knows?”
“She was sitting on the couch in the research center, and she stood up to call me when she saw me passing by,” Ning Yiwei spoke with a nasal tone. His eyes were red, but he seemed to be in good spirits.
After feeling upset, he felt much better, especially after realizing that he wasn’t abandoned by his parents. He spoke with confidence and started telling Liang Chong about what happened when he encountered Kang Yixin yesterday. “She had a cup in front of her, a special white ceramic cup from the school office. It had two blue rings on the bottom and the school emblem on the top. Brother Zheye went back several times and even gave Zirui one.”
“Hmm,” Liang Chong responded.
“It means that someone from the research center staff poured water for her. If she wanted to find the professor’s mailbox, why didn’t she approach the person who poured her water? It’s obvious she was waiting for me,” Ning Yiwei continued to explain his reasoning.
Liang Chong remained silent, so Ning Yiwei asked, “Doesn’t it sound a bit foolish?”
“It’s alright,” Liang Chong replied.
“Besides, there are five doubts. Let me explain them one by one.” Ning Yiwei earnestly extended his hand, opened his five fingers, indicating the number five. He was about to continue when it seemed like Liang Chong couldn’t hold back and burst into laughter for a moment, immediately lowering his head, trying to hide the fact that he had laughed.
“Liang Chong, what are you laughing at?” Ning Yiwei asked him with suspicion.
In the end, Liang Chong couldn’t hold it in and imitated Ning Yiwei, showing five fingers. “Five doubts.” Then he hugged Ning Yiwei, resting his head on Ning Yiwei’s shoulder, laughing.
Ning Yiwei was held tightly by him, unable to push him away. He felt very embarrassed and angry as he scolded Liang Chong, “What’s so funny! I won’t tell you anymore.”
“Don’t, please,” Liang Chong lifted his head and gave a kiss on Ning Yiwei’s cheek, coaxing him like comforting a child. “Five doubts, haven’t you finished telling me yet?”
Ning Yiwei refused to say anything further, muttering to himself, saying things like, “Zirui wouldn’t laugh at me” and “I won’t play the fool anymore.”
He let Liang Chong hold him for a while until he calmed down. Then he reached out to embrace Liang Chong’s waist, burying his face into Liang Chong’s chest, and murmured, “What will they do from now on?”
“Of course, they would want to be together with you,” Liang Chong held Ning Yiwei’s back and asked him, “But what do you want?”
“I don’t know,” Ning Yiwei said. “My parents might not be able to accept it.”
He was referring to Lu Jiaqin and Ning Qiang. Originally, their family of three was doing well, but suddenly, everything changed.
“And they also have Kong Zong,” Ning Yiwei said, “Kong Zong and I can’t stand each other. It’s very likely that we would fight if we meet!”
“You don’t have to meet him,” Liang Chong’s expression turned cold, and he reassured Ning Yiwei, “Take it slow, it’s your decision, and nobody will force you.”
Ning Yiwei nodded. “Speaking of that, I remember a news article I read before. The title left a strong impression on me. It was about a cat living in two different homes for nine years, and neither owner knew.”
“Do you think humans could do that?” Ning Yiwei pondered.
“Liang Chong! Don’t think I don’t know what you’re trying to—”
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