Cactus in Distress Chapter 35

Chapter 35

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On the evening of the 29th, Sun Yutan was picked up by Sun Ping from the airport. Exhausted from the long flight, she collapsed onto the plush sofa in the living room.

Su Nan was busy in the kitchen while Sun Ping brought a plate of fruit to his daughter and engaged her in lively conversation as they snacked.

Suddenly, the doorbell rang.

Sun Ping rose to answer it, surprised to find a handsome young man standing on the threshold, impeccably dressed in a dark coat.

For a moment, Sun Ping was taken aback, not immediately recognizing the visitor.

“Hello, Uncle. I’m Chen Rui.”

“Oh!” Sun Ping was a little flustered. “Xiao Rui, why did you come? Are you alone? Where’s Uncle Kai?”

“My dad and the others didn’t come.” Chen Rui smiled. “Uncle, I came back to celebrate the New Year with Xiao Tan.”

“Ah?” Sun Ping didn’t understand what he was talking about.

It was at this moment that Sun Yutan emerged from the hallway, just in time to hear Chen Rui’s last words. She was frozen in place, unable to move or speak.

Chen Rui looked at Sun Yutan and smiled as he explained further, “Uncle, Xiao Tan and I are in a relationship. My parents are not in China, so I had to come to Shaocheng to celebrate the New Year with her. My flight was delayed, so I just arrived. Did Xiao Tan not have a chance to tell you?”

As Sun Ping turned to look at his daughter, he saw the sheer panic etched on her face. Meanwhile, his wife Su Nan stood motionless, her grip on a ladle in her hand tightening with each passing moment. The four of them stood in a straight line, each of them processing the revelation in their own way. Only Chen Rui appeared calm and collected, his expression unwavering. “Hello, Auntie.”

Su Nan took a deep breath, feeling like she was about to pass out. She tried to remain calm and said, “Come in first, we’ll talk inside.”

Chen Rui carefully placed the gifts he had brought in a corner of the room, then took a seat on the sofa as Sun Ping invited him to sit. He then looked at Sun Yutan, and watched her head into the kitchen.

Sun Ping was still struggling to come to terms with the bombshell that had been dropped on him. He couldn’t believe that Chen Rui and Tantan were in a relationship. When had this happened? How long had they been together? He racked his brain, trying to recall any signs of their relationship but couldn’t think of anything. He remembered his wife expressing doubts about the two children’s ability to get along, let alone form a relationship. Yet here they were, together.

He scrutinized the young man in front of him. Chen Rui sat upright, with dignity and poise. He looked good both inside and out, like a man who could shoulder responsibilities. Sun Ping was satisfied with what he saw. But does Uncle Kai know about the two children? He thought further and felt that Tantan and Chen Rui might not be so compatible after all.

In the kitchen, Su Nan spoke her mind while pouring beans from a bamboo tube.

“Did you invite him to our house?”

“Yes.” Sun Yutan had to go along with what Chen Rui said at this point.

“At least give me a heads up in advance, let me and your dad be mentally prepared. I was almost scared to death just now,” Su Nan complained.

“I was scared too,” Sun Yutan thought. She patted her mother’s back and comforted her, “Take a deep breath and calm down.”

“Let’s eat first. We can talk about other things later tonight. You can help your mom with the dishes,” Sun Ping suggested.

At the dinner table, each of the four sat in their own place. Su Nan said, “Xiao Rui, Tantan is not sensible, she didn’t tell Auntie in advance. Auntie didn’t know you were coming and didn’t prepare anything. I’m sorry.”

“How could that be?” Chen Rui smiled, “Auntie is too kind. Xiao Tan told me early on that Auntie is especially good at cooking.”

Sun Ping laughed and said, “Okay, okay, let’s eat the dishes first, and we can talk later.”

As usual, there must be a lot of things for Sun Yutan to share with her parents after not seeing them for so long, but tonight she just ate her food with her head down.

The other three also ate very attentively, and the occasional conversation was nothing more than asking whether the food was to their liking. Everyone was very uncomfortable and couldn’t find a comfortable way to get along.

Despite the uncomfortable atmosphere, Chen Rui maintained his charming and polite demeanor, even offering to help clean up after dinner. But how could Sun Nan let him do that. She told Sun Ping to pull him away.

After sitting for a while longer and seeing that it was getting late, Su Nan asked, “Xiao Rui, where are you staying tonight?”

Chen Rui replied, “I booked a hotel room.”

“Oh,” Sun Nan breathed a sigh of relief, “Tantan, why don’t you escort Xiao Rui?”

It wasn’t until they left the community that Sun Yutan suddenly stopped in her tracks.

“Was it fun?” She was filled with anger, turning around to stare at him. “Chen Rui, how do you expect me to wrap things up now?”

“What needs to be wrapped up? I don’t see anything that needs to be wrapped up.”

“You can’t sense the atmosphere in my house? You felt comfortable for the past few hours?”

Chen Rui said, “The beginning is always the hardest part.”

Sun Yutan felt helpless. “I’m begging you, Chen Rui, just sleep here tonight and go back tomorrow.”

“I said I would spend New Year’s Eve at your house, and I will. How can I break my promise?”

“We’re going to Grandma’s house for dinner this year, in a small village. Chen Rui, you might not be comfortable with that.”

“Will you dare to take me?”

“Don’t provoke me!”

“What are you afraid of?”

“What do you think I’m afraid of? Don’t you know?”

“I don’t know.”

“Don’t you know how famous your dad is? How do I introduce you? How will others think of me? Why are you pretending to be ignorant, Chen Rui?”

“Can you control what others think about us?”

“Others? Chen Rui, you think like this about my family yourself, don’t you?”

“I have never felt that way.” Chen Rui interrupted her. “Why should we care about what unrelated people think?”

“Yes, if you don’t care, then why did you come here? If you really don’t care about what others say, you don’t need to come to my house to seek attention. You don’t need my family to know or admit anything.”

“Sun Yutan, can’t you be reasonable? Can parents be the same?”

“Don’t you see that my parents never ask anything about you? Don’t you understand? They won’t approve of you. They won’t want me to have this kind of relationship with you.”

Chen Rui remained expressionless, “What kind of relationship?”

“Do you want me to spell it out for you? Chen Rui, my grandfather, my parents still have to live here. I don’t want my family to become a topic of gossip, and I don’t want them to bear such a heavy burden. Now we’re good, of course, but if one day we’re not, we’ll be the ones who face criticism, not you. You can’t be so selfish.”

“I want to be open and honest with you, and that’s selfish? You only care about your family’s future, and because of baseless speculation that will never happen, you want to sentence me to death, is that noble?”

“You don’t need to exaggerate. I just said not to let our parents know, so as not to make things difficult for them. How does that have anything to do with a death sentence?”

“You’re just a procrastinator, dragging things on with no end in sight.” Chen Rui’s voice turned cold. “Sun Yutan, I even suspect that you’re just using your family as a cover, and you never actually intended to have a real future with me.”

“Ha! Fine, now that you know, what does it matter? What do you want as a result?”

Chen Rui gritted his teeth. “Do you want me to propose to you here? Do you want me to kneel down?”

Sun Yutan turned around and walked away.

“Do you really love me?”

Sun Yutan stopped.

Chen Rui said from behind her, “I want you. I only want you. But what about you, Sun Yutan? For so many years, I may not have done well, but have you ever taken a step closer to me? You don’t want to face any obstacles for me, and you retreat before the storm even comes.

“Your ‘not telling your family’, turns out to be never telling them. Your ‘liking me’, can be given up easily. Regardless of the past or present, you consider me disposable, and assume that we will eventually part ways. Sun Yutan, you have never taken me seriously.”

Chen Rui’s words sounded especially cold in the cold night, leaving Sun Yutan speechless for a moment.

She thought a lot in an instant, feeling frustrated and unable to hold back her retort: “Yes. You’re right. In the end, I just don’t like you that much.”

Chen Rui had already walked up to her and looked at her coldly. “Go on,” he said.

But Sun Yutan remained silent, losing her ground and unable to continue speaking.

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