Cactus in Distress Chapter 2

Chapter 2

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Zhou Shuixin casually inquired about Sun Yutan’s relationship with Chen Rui. With a hint of hesitation, she replied, “Schoolmates? Distant relatives? Speaking of which, I should address him as ‘Uncle’ if we go by seniority.”

“Then why haven’t I heard you address him as such?” Zhou Shuixin teased, a mischievous glint in his eye. “How impolite of you not to use the proper honorific when you see him.”

But Sun Yutan brushed off his comment with a wave of her hand. “It’s been a while since we last saw each other,” she said thoughtfully. “But it’s strange, because we never used to have private meals together.”

Zhou Shuixin chuckled, a knowing smile on his lips. “I can tell. This meal is likely to be a one-off event.”

Shifting gears, he turned serious. “When are you heading back to Malaysia?”

“In a couple of days,” Sun Yutan replied, her expression solemn.

“Good,” Zhou Shuixin said, nodding. “I will send Yizong’s information to you through email. It’s not extensive, so take your time reading it. You don’t have to visit often, just let them know there’s someone available to ask questions.”

Sun Yutan nodded in agreement.

That evening, Sun Yutan set up her phone next to her computer screen and initiated a video call with her mother, Su Nan. As she sifted through her files, she brought up Chen Rui.

“Mom, I think Chen Rui’s personality has improved quite a bit,” she remarked, her voice laced with surprise. “He’s easier to get along with now.”

But Su Nan’s response was unexpected. “Chen Rui has always been a well-mannered child,” she said, her voice gentle but firm. “It’s just that he was a little difficult to approach at the start”

Sun Yutan looked at her mother with suspicion. “Are we talking about the same person? Mom, are you sure you didn’t mix him up with someone else?”

“Of course, I’m sure,” Su Nan replied patiently. “How could I mix him up? We lived in Haicheng together, and sometimes he would even open the door for me and fetch things. It’s not as exaggerated as you say.”

A tinge of bitterness crept into Sun Yutan’s voice. “Maybe it’s just me whom he couldn’t tolerate.”

Her mother, however, was quick to dismiss her doubts. “You might be remembering things incorrectly. After all, he did invite you to dinner today, didn’t he?”

After a few more words, her mother started to nag her to go to bed.

“I took a nap this afternoon, I’ll stay up a bit longer before going to bed,” she reasoned.

“Even if you’ve already slept, you still need to go to bed early,” her mother chided. “Staring at the computer for too long is not good for your eyes. Go to bed early.”

When she woke up early the next morning from a serialized documentary-like dream all night, Sun Yutan found herself buried in her pillow, lost in the memories of her first meeting with Chen Rui. Though she rarely thought about it now, the dream made her realize that she had subconsciously remembered every detail of that encounter, no matter how small.

When Sun Yutan was fifteen, her family packed their bags and left their hometown to settle in Haicheng. It wasn’t a decision they made lightly, but one that was driven by a longstanding connection between the Sun and Chen families. Specifically, it was due to the relationship between her grandfather and Chen Kaisheng, the father of the boy who would later capture her attention.

Chen Kaisheng’s story was a tragic one. Several decades ago, he lost his father in a terrible accident. In the aftermath of the tragedy, his mother abandoned him, leaving him to fend for himself at the tender age of just ten. She remarried and started a new life in another village, never once looking back to see what had become of her son.

Left with nothing but a bed and a roof over his head, Chen Kaisheng spent his days wandering from door to door, hoping that someone would take pity on him and offer him a bowl of rice. Often, he would have to make do with eating only half a meal, just enough to keep himself alive for another day. His life was one of constant struggle and hardship, with no end in sight.

At that time, Sun Yutan’s father was still just an infant. Her Grandpa, being the head of the family, was kind-hearted and sympathetic to Chen Kaisheng’s plight. Despite their own limited resources, they always managed to spare some food for him.

As winter approached, Chen Kaisheng found it difficult to endure the harsh weather in his poorly insulated adobe house. He would often drag himself to Sun’s doorstep, where he knew he would be welcomed and given a warm meal.

After a few years of living like this, Chen Kaisheng had gained enough strength to earn his own living. He followed the young people in the village and went south to work in a factory in Haicheng. 

The tale of Chen Kaisheng was one that resonated with many. It was a story of humble beginnings, of a boy born into poverty who dared to dream of a better life. With an unrelenting thirst for knowledge and an unwavering determination to succeed, Chen Kaisheng had risen from the ranks of a lowly screw on the assembly line to become a formidable force in the business world.

Despite the odds stacked against him, Chen Kaisheng’s innate intelligence and unbridled ambition had caught the attention of his superiors, and he had swiftly risen through the ranks with remarkable speed. His ascent to success had been nothing short of meteoric, and it wasn’t long before he caught the eye of the daughter of a high-ranking official in Haicheng. With their engagement, Chen Kaisheng found himself thrust into the circles of the rich and influential.

With his newfound resources, Chen Kaisheng had set out to make his mark on the business world. He had worked tirelessly for years, pouring all his blood, sweat, and tears into building his empire. And finally, he had emerged victorious, the wealthy and powerful President Chen, with a fortune beyond measure.

But amidst all his success and triumph, there was a dark chapter in Chen Kaisheng’s past that he had long buried. It was the memory of his hometown, Shaocheng, where he had experienced humiliation and embarrassment. And he had never looked back, choosing to leave it all behind.

It wasn’t until his beloved daughter, Chen Ting, was admitted to the top university in China that Chen Kaisheng resurfaced.

He spared no expense, renting out the most luxurious restaurant in the city and inviting thousands of people from his old village to join in the celebration. Young and old alike were welcome, and he made it clear that he wouldn’t accept any gifts in return. He simply wanted to treat everyone to a feast they would never forget.

Sun Yutan was enjoying the languid days of her summer vacation after completing junior high school. Her father, Sun Ping, owned a modest hardware store in the small town of Shaocheng, and had just mentioned something to her mother, Su Nan, about an invitation that had been extended to the entire village, including Sun Yutan’s grandfather.

But the young girl’s attention was elsewhere. She was engrossed in a dramatic scene on the television where the female protagonist was teetering on the edge of a cliff. It took her a moment to realize the significance of her father’s words.

“Why?” Her eyes widened. “Wait, who’s so rich?”

“An uncle, no, you should call him Grandpa,” her mother replied with a smile. “He’s celebrating his daughter’s acceptance into Beicheng University. He’s a wealthy man, very, very rich.”

“I have a grandpa like this?” Sun Yutan joked, not taking it to heart. But when the day of the feast finally arrived, Sun Yutan’s excitement could hardly be contained. She was a small-town girl who had never ventured beyond the boundaries of her familiar surroundings, and the prospect of attending such a lavish event was both thrilling and intimidating.

Sun Yutan wondered what the wealthy man and his family looked like. They were all seated on the second floor, and she strained her eyes to catch a glimpse of them, but to no avail.

As the dishes continued to arrive in a dazzling array, Sun Yutan found herself captivated by the lavish feast. With each bite, she discovered new flavors and textures that tantalized her taste buds. The overwhelming variety of dishes left her feeling both delighted and overwhelmed.

Lost in her culinary exploration, Sun Yutan suddenly became aware of a large screen in the center of the hall that flickered to life. Three figures appeared on the screen, each displaying only half of their bodies. Sun Yutan’s seat was close enough to get a good look.

As she gazed at the screen, she realized that the figures belonged to a prominent family. The man stood on the left, adjusting the microphone with his head down. In the middle was a girl wearing a sleeveless dress, who was turned to the side, talking to the woman. The woman was tall and slender, with shoulder-length curly hair that had a slight curve. After saying something to the girl, the two looked at the camera with similar smiles on their exquisite faces.

“Hello, everyone!” Chen Kaisheng’s voice boomed through the speakers, quickly hushing the chatter in the room. Sun Yutan looked towards the screen, where she could see Chen Kaisheng and his family.

“Being the big boss is really different,” a middle-aged man behind Sun Yutan whispered to his companion. “Look at how arrogant President Chen is. If I say that he used to come to my house to beg for a meal before, no one will probably believe it.”

His companion laughed a few times, but no one else responded to him. “In the end, it’s all about relying on women,” the man continued bitterly, “His wife is the real big shot. Look at how high she holds her chin, like she’s too good for anyone. How did she end up with Chen Kaisheng?”

“If she doesn’t like Chen Kaisheng, she wouldn’t like you either. Stop being bitter,” someone next to him retorted.

“It’s funny how two people in the same profession can live such different lives,” the man sighed, but the sound of clinking cutlery soon drowned out his words.

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