Chapter 23 Predestined Fate
The pen in Liu Zhongming’s hand had remained suspended for a long time, and he didn’t realize that he hadn’t been writing for a while.
From where he sat down, one could see the person sitting down on the corridor with his head slightly tilted. He reminded himself over and over in his heart—— the person in the dream was not him. Do not be confused. But, he couldn’t help giving that person a few extra looks.
After waking up from the nightmare last night, a sense of emptiness from the feeling of being lonely, overlapped with the silent room in the dark, and he actually felt fear faintly.
This’s like a big joke! Liu Zhongming was actually afraid of sleeping alone at night?
But the night was long and the fear and sense of loss lingered. Suddenly, the idea of wanting someone to accompany him arose.
Since the death of his brother, he has been used to walking alone for a long time, but occasionally…he would want someone to accompany him for a while.
But he didn’t expect this person to be shameless, and shameless enough to seduce him! If he hadn’t restrained himself, he would really have wanted to swallow the scourge in one bite.
He laid inside, listening to the slight ringing of the chain outside with his ears open. He thought that the man would say something to him, or he would climb onto his bed cheekily, but the dark night remained silent.
The person never came and he somehow went to sleep like that without knowing it. He slept until the sun was up and even forgot his morning service.
This was still not his most sorry state yet. Bai Shiyan somehow heard something from that glib tongue of Fang Wuyang and took the time to run here to watch the excitement. And thus, when he opened the door of the bedroom, he saw Qu Chenzhou sleeping in the sarong covering at a glance.
Before he had the time to jump out and explain a few words, Bai Shiyan had pretended to cover his eyes and ran away. Fang Wuyang’s complacent voice could be heard on the roof——you see, what did I say?
This time, Liu Zhongming really jumped into the Yellow River and couldn’t clean himself no matter what.
When he chased after him, his two worthless friends had already settled their opinions on his love life, and disappeared.
He was so angry that his chest was rising and falling violently. When he turned his head, he saw Qu Chenzhou sitting up sleepily, with loose clothes hidden under his long hair. He glared at him and tried to hold back from exploding.
The Prince’s face looked very bad since he got up in the morning, and no one dared to ask anything more, so they could only follow the instructions and lock Qu Chenzhou outside the study door, and retreat wisely.
He was aware of the servants’ suspicions and curiosity, and he badly wanted to write an argumentative essay on the spot to prove his innocence, but this approach seemed stupid just thinking about it.
Fortunately, the people in his yard were all selected and trained by him. They weren’t talkative people, and they wouldn’t be able to churn up anything. He was just afraid that the other two would not stop.
It’s not because of the dream, Liu Zhongming comforted himself. He just wanted to observe this little monster carefully to see where he was fishy.
Then, he saw the thin figure bending down, as if to pick up something from under the steps.
He gently put down the pen and stood by the window for a moment. When he went out, the person outside was already asleep sitting on the steps. His hands and arms were stained in mud, and they held a flower, trembling slightly in the wind.
This quiet and peaceful face seemed to carry an unspeakable spell, which made Liu Zhongming stare at it for a long time, and the string that had been tight for a long time loosened a little bit.
It was like going back to the time when his eldest brother was still there and he could still be willful.
The yard was very quiet, and people in the house knew when they were allowed to come disturb him. For now, there was only the sound of wind passing by in the air, and the one or two buzzing sounds of insects made the surroundings even more silent.
He too sat down on the steps, picked up the sycamore flower that was rolling around on the ground, and turned it around in his hand.
How long has it been…since he had some time to relax.
Regardless of whether it was witchcraft, or he was a person from the palace, he didn’t want to think about anything now. He was simply greedy for this moment of ease.
It really was quiet.
When the sun began swaying westward, Liu Zhongming was awakened by someone. What he saw at a glance was the pair of demon pupils. In shock, he turned his hands into claws without thinking and pinched the slender neck.
Qu Chenzhou saw him open his eyes, and before he could withdraw his hands, he was pushed down the steps.
Liu Zhongming had never been like this, falling asleep in front of people of unknown origin, let alone allowing unsuspecting people to approach him this close.
He panted in horror and sternly asked: “What are you doing?”
“Prince” Qu Chenzhou tried to raise his head, and let out a low voice overcoming the restraint of his neck: “The sun is going down soon. If you continue to sleep, you will catch a cold.”
The strong hold around his throat gradually diminished. He watched the fierceness in Liu Zhongming’s eyes gradually recede as he became sober, and before he had time to say anything, he hurried away in embarrassment.
It’s one thing to fall asleep here, but he knew that there was a more important task for Zhongming to do today.
Although he moved to live in the side courtyard, Zhongming was not married, and cannot yet be separated from the Marquis Mansion. Thus every month, there would be a few days where he would return to the Marquis Mansion to have dinner with his family.
The home was something that Zhongming once hated, and it was only when it was completely lost did Zhongming realize how important his family was to him.
It’s better for him to cherish it while they are all alive.
As for Qu Chenzhou, being able to eat with his family was a luxury that he could never afford.
He looked at Liu Zhongming’s back as he left in a hurry, then looked down at the withered sycamore flower in his hand, sighing softly.
It seems he can’t completely get rid of the shadows from his previous life. He couldn’t be indifferent to Liu Zhongming’s affairs, and he couldn’t remain a passerby to Liu Zhongming.
Liu Zhongming, maybe he was his calamity.
When Liu Zhongming hurried back to the reception pavillion of the Marquis Mansion, the dinner had already been laid, and three people were waiting for him.
Marquis of An Ding, Liu Weizheng, was sitting on the top seat. Although he was quite old, he did not look so because of his perennial self-cultivation and gentleness.
Sitting on his left hand side was his wife. There was only one mistress in the mansion and no concubines, but the two were always indifferent, seeming neither close, nor distant.
When Madam Liu greeted her son, asked him to sit down and then enquired the recent situation, the Marquis of An Ding stopped talking.
Once he greeted his parents, he received a greeting from his third brother Liu Qingchi before he took his seat in sequence.
The Marquis touched his chopsticks first, only then did the other three people move.
There was nothing to say after the routine greeting. After exchaning greetings, Liu Qingchi kept his head bowed and ate silently, as if it made no difference whether he was there or not.
This made him unable to not think about the time when his elder brother was still there. It wasn’t until he didn’t have his eldest brother sheltering him from all the unpleasant things outside, did he discover that his family was so fragmented, that everyone seemed to have only themselves in their eyes.
Even his younger brother who used to play with him and his eldest brother, was no longer close to him.
The dinner table was as cold and cheerless as usual, and his father occasionally asked him about his homework, which made Liu Zhongming feel ashamed.
His father trusted him, so he allowed him to move to another residence, and every few days he would send his homework back to his father for review. Although his father didn’t know that he had missed his morning class time and even went to bed in the afternoon, it was unavoidable for him to feel guilty.
Madam Liu couldn’t join in their conversation. Being long winded a few times, she attempted to prevent Liu Weizheng from bringing up old-fashioned questions. Liu Weizheng rebuked it a few times, but failed to stop Madam Liu from interrupting, so he went silent.
Liu Qingchi finished the meal quickly, dropped a word coldly, then left the table: “Mother, is second brother’s schoolwork more important than his food and clothing?Haven’t you figured it out yet?”
Madam Liu dropped her chopsticks: “Is this why I asked you to read some books?Just so you that you can talk back to me like this? Did your teacher not teach you the poem about filial piety?What part of this do you think is showing filial piety?”
Liu Qingchi had walked out of sight long ago.
Liu Zhongming silently looked at the empty spot, then sped up eating his meal.
This has always been the case. A father who becomes silent amidst his mother’s domineering rants, a younger brother who is increasingly acrimonious, and a strong mother who never knew what her sons wanted.
He was fortunate that he still had a place to escape, and he had realized why his father was willing to let him move to another residence.
“Zhongming, you only come back once in a few days, so eat more,” Madam Liu gave him a bowl of vegetables and watched him eat it with a smile: “It’d be better for you to move back and live here.That way your mother can take good care of you.”
“No, no. It’s fine over there.” He responded lightly.
Madam Liu also knew that she couldn’t move him, so she had no choice but to give up: “Well, after dinner, have some posset.Mother made it especially for you today.”
It was Liu Zhongming’s favorite dessert. He nodded, and then for some reason, he shook his head.
“Pack it up, I’ll take it home to eat. I want two bowls.”
When he returned from the Marquis Mansion, it was already Xu Shi (7-9pm). The lantern was raised high in the inner courtyard, and the road from the courtyard to the bedroom was illuminated.
Before reaching the door of the bedroom, he saw the housekeeper of the inner courtyard standing under the eaves, holding a chain in his hand, and a thin figure kneeling beside the housekeeper.
“Sir,” the steward saw him coming back, and hurriedly bowed and asked, “where should he go?”
Liu Zhongming had rushed out in a hurry, so he hadn’t instructed where Qu Chenzhou was to stay. The steward couldn’t make up his mind, so he could only wait here.
“Doesn’t he have a room?”
Liu Zhongming’s mood was usually quite bad every time he came out of the depressing Marquis Mansion.
The butler did not dare to ask anything more, and hurriedly responded: “Yes, I will send him back.”
“Wait a minute”. His foot had already crossed the threshold when Liu Zhongming remembered the food box in his hand.He turned back and said: “You go back first. I’m taking him inside.”
Qu Chenzhou’s gaze moved from the shadow on the ground to the brightness of the door, and he stood up with difficulty on the ground with his hands. Although this kind of thing was commonplace for him, he still had knelt down for a long time and his legs were still numb.
Liu Zhongming stood at the door watching him staggering on his feet.He got down the steps and stretched out his hand to him: “From now on, you don’t have to kneel in this residence.”
This familiar hand in his memory appeared in front of him unexpectedly, and Qu Chenzhou seemed to be hit severely by something. His body shook. Before he fell down, a pair of hands quickly supported him.
The warmth of the hands clasping him flooded in unscrupulously, and he lowered his head, not daring to let the person see the flushing corners of his eyes.
“Thank you for waking me up this afternoon.”
Liu Zhongming pointed to a spot and asked Qu Chenzhou to sit down, before putting the food box on the table.
He knew that this afternoon he was making a fuss over nothing when he first woke up. On the way to the Marquis Mansion, he couldn’t help but recall the gaze he saw when he opened his eyes the first time.
Gentle, affectionate, sad and painful…
Many unnamed complex entanglements were revealed in that glimpse, but the moment they looked at each other, all the surging emotions seemed to be locked by a door that was slammed shut.
Qu Chenzhou, who was pushed to the ground by him, returned to that indifferent and calm manner, and didn’t even bother to ask for an explanation.
But the look in his eyes couldn’t deceive people. He felt that if he wasn’t mistaken, the other party must know him.