Cactus in Distress Chapter 3

Chapter 3

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Chen Kaisheng delivered a short speech. He spoke with humility and sincerity, thanking everyone who had supported him in the past and those who had come to share in the joyous occasion. He wished for everyone to enjoy the food and drinks and have a good time. His daughter was even more concise, simply saying, “Thank you everyone.”

The screen flickered to black, leaving Sun Yutan momentarily captivated by the striking beauty of Chen family. Chen Kaisheng’s wife, in particular, had an otherworldly allure that left a lasting impression on Sun Yutan. As she deftly peeled a small orange, Sun Yutan couldn’t help but ponder the dichotomy of people in the same profession with vastly different outcomes.

To her surprise, Chen Kaisheng and his family began to make their way towards their table, each bearing a wine glass. Sun Yutan scanned the room nervously, suspecting that they had overheard the malicious comment earlier and were coming to seek retribution. She tugged at her father’s sleeve, and then at her grandfather’s, hoping to alert them to the approaching guests. Her father stood as soon as he saw them, and she followed suit. Her grandfather had just set down his chopsticks when Chen Kaisheng extended his hand in greeting, a jovial smile spreading across his face as he exclaimed, “Brother Sun!”

Zeng Xinyun echoed the greeting with a warm smile, while Chen Ting addressed Sun Yutan’s grandfather as “Uncle Sun.” Upon closer observation, Sun Yutan noticed that Chen Ting bore a striking resemblance to her father, particularly in the deeply creased eyes they both shared. However, her demeanor was more similar to that of her mother – distant and apathetic.

After exchanging pleasantries, Sun Yutan’s father finally called out “Uncle Kai” to Chen Kaisheng. With a gentle smile, Chen Kaisheng turned towards him and exclaimed, “Zaozao, you’ve grown up so much!”

Sun Yutan was taken aback. “Zaozao” was a childhood nickname that his father had long since discarded, and was only ever mentioned when his mother was teasing him. Additionally, it was inappropriate to describe a middle-aged man as having “grown up so much.” Sun Yutan’s father likely shared the same sentiment, as he patted her shoulder and said, “That’s right, our daughter has grown up so much. Tantan, greet your Grandpa Chen.”

Sun Yutan greeted the Chen family politely, addressing the patriarch as “Grandpa Chen.” As for the matriarch and the aunt, she simply smiled and nodded at them, unable to bring herself to address them as Grandma and Auntie.

“Wait for me at the entrance later,” Chen Kaisheng said. “I’ll drive you home.”

“No need, no need,” Sun Ping waved his hand repeatedly. “We came here by car.”

“Then wait for me and let’s drive home together. There’s something I want to talk with you,” Chen Kaisheng insisted.

Sun Ping hesitated for a moment, but eventually agreed.

The Chen family briskly walked away through another passage. They did not once glance back to see if they were being pursued, nor did they offer any form of greeting to those they passed by.

Sun Yutan didn’t know what they talked about specifically. She didn’t follow them back to Grandpa’s house, but instead waited at the door for a while before going to the movies with her friends who came to find her.

Together, they watched a film and roamed the streets, admiring the glittering window displays and savoring the flavors of a hearty dinner. As the night wore on, Sun Yutan bid her friends farewell and hailed a taxi to take her back to her family’s humble abode.

Nestled in a small community not far from the moat, the house boasted an attic, which had captivated Sun Yutan since she was a little girl. In her second grade, when presented with a variety of apartments, she had unequivocally chosen this one for its attic.

Once the family had settled into their new home, the attic quickly became Sun Yutan’s personal sanctuary. Her father had even gone out of his way to install a charming row of wooden fences, encircling all of her cherished possessions. Over time, however, as she grew older, the attic began to lose its allure. Sun Yutan found herself visiting less and less, neglecting the locks on the fences and outgrowing the space that had once brought her so much joy.

As she looked back on those years, she found it amusing to think about the time when the fences had seemed like such an important defense against an unseen foe. In reality, the barriers were too small to offer any real protection. She wondered who she had thought she was guarding herself against in the first place.

One day, Sun Yutan had promised to help her friend find an old-fashioned comic book, which led her back to her beloved attic. She sat cross-legged on the floor, lost in the world of the comic book until she eventually drifted off to sleep without realizing it.

She was suddenly jolted awake by the sound of her parents arguing. The dimly lit room offered little comfort as she looked up and saw the night sky through the small triangular window. It took a few moments for her to recall how she had ended up sleeping on the floor in the attic.

Sun Yutan struggled to comprehend the content of their discussion. It wasn’t until some time later that she pieced together the details of their dispute. It seemed that Chen Kaisheng had secured exclusive agency rights for a particular product in Haicheng and had approached Sun Yutan’s father to become the store manager. At first, her father had refused, but Chen Kaisheng’s sincerity had eventually worn him down. The terms on offer were too enticing to refuse.

However, Sun Yutan’s mother, Su Nan, vehemently opposed the proposition. She argued that they had no need to chase after money, and that they were content with their current situation. She also highlighted the importance of Sun Yutan’s education, having just been admitted to No. 1 High School. Moving to Haicheng, a place she was unfamiliar with, would be detrimental to her studies and overall well-being.

Sun Yutan’s father let out a deep sigh as he weighed his options. “If it weren’t for Tantan, would I even be considering this? Uncle Chen claims that it’s easier to get into a good school in Haicheng than it is in Shaocheng. Tantan has good grades, but she’ll have to work harder to get into a top university here. In Haicheng, she could maintain her grades and still go to a good school.”

Sun Yutan’s mother remained silent for a moment before finally speaking up, her tone stubborn. “I know our daughter better than anyone. Tantan doesn’t have an overly competitive spirit. As long as she can attend a good university, there’s no need for her to be in the limelight.”

Her father pushed back, “Just because Tantan isn’t highly competitive, should we miss out on such a significant opportunity? As parents, I feel like we should be paving more roads for her so that she can walk more steadily.”

“I’m walking very steadily.” Sun Yutan poked her head out and smiled at her parents.

Startled, her parents turned to look at her. Su Nan scolded, “You didn’t make a sound. I thought you weren’t home. Have you eaten?”

Sun Yutan clicked her tongue. “Dad’s job offer is incredible, but isn’t Haicheng a big city with more talented students? How could it be easier to get into a top university there compared to Shaocheng? We’re comfortable here, so why should we care about what others think? Right, Mom?”

But her mother’s response was unexpected. “No, we’re going,” Su Nan declared firmly, her gaze fixed on her daughter. “Come down from there. We need to talk.”

Su Nan briefly mentioned how her grandfather helped Chen Kaisheng when he was down and out in the past. It was the first time that Sun Yutan had heard of it. After thinking for a while, she asked, “When Grandpa Chen went back to visit Grandpa today, did his wife and daughter go with him?”

Sun Ping replied, “They had something to do and went back to Haicheng first.”

Sun Yutan shrugged and said, “Isn’t it obvious? Let the past be the past. Grandpa helped him back then, but we shouldn’t go asking for favors now. It wouldn’t look good.”

Mom looked approvingly, but Dad became anxious and defended himself, “It’s not about asking for favors. Uncle Chen said not to think about it that way, and not to refuse just because of this. He absolutely believes in our character. It’s just that the business I’m doing is a perfect fit. Anyway,” he continued, “I’ve already signed the contract.”

Su Nan: “…”

Sun Yutan: “…”

“At that time, Mom, Dad, and Sun An were all persuading me. Uncle Chen had already prepared everything, and he had to catch the evening flight. I had no choice. By the way, Uncle Chen also left his car for me to drive there.” He took out a Porsche key from his pocket. The mother and daughter were left speechless again.

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