As unwilling as he may be, Cheng Zheng has to return to Beijing. Would he depart without a fight?
In the subsequent days, Cheng Zheng always insisted that Yun Jin be his tour guide on account of their old ties. Yun Jin could not turn him down but after the temple episode, refrained from spending time alone with him. Each time they went touring, she would drag Shen Ju An along. She was polite towards Cheng Zheng. Even when his words held a deeper meaning, she would remain poker faced.
Shen Ju An appeared not to notice the strange atmosphere between the two; everytime Yun Jin invited him along, he would agree readily. Thanks to his wisdom and good upbringing, their outings as a trio were never awkward.
In those few days, Cheng Zheng felt increasingly hopeless; his heart was slowly crumbling into dust. On the fifth day, he finally announced he was returning to Beijing the following day. Yun Jin breathed a sigh of relief inwardly but out of courtesy, decided to cohost a farewell dinner with Shen Ju An.
Cheng Zheng was unusually withdrawn the entire night. Even downing bear dully with Shen Ju An failed to erase the pallor in his face. Seeing him in this state, Yun Jin felt a tad unbearable but she was in no position to comment so she only wished him bon voyage. Not giving him any hope was best for him. She believed that after some time, he would gain clarity and would look back on this as a huge joke.
The meal was eaten in silence. On seeing that it was nearing an end, Cheng Zheng offered a toast in an unusually courteous tone “Thank you for your company these few days. If I have caused you any inconvenience, I’d like to repay you with this toast. Let’s cast aside all else and I hope you guys will drink this with me.”
Shen Ju An raised his glass “You’re too polite. You’re Yun Jin’s old classmate, of course we should play host.” He looked over at Yun Jin who wore an uneasy expression as she looked at her glass.
“I don’t have good alcohol tolerance; can I be spared from drinking?” Yun Jin raised her glass awkwardly.
Cheng Zheng stared at her unwaveringly “This is my first toast to you. Will you refuse this too?”
The moment he said this, Yun Jin was caught between a rock and a hard place; she couldn’t drink yet she couldn’t not drink.
By this time, Shen Ju An had finished his mug of beer. He took Yun Jin’s glass from her grasp and said calmly “If you don’t mind, I’ll finish this on Yun Jin’s behalf.”
Cheng Zheng smirked as he said coldly “I’m afraid some things you can never execute on her behalf.”
The friendly albeit superficial atmosphere instantly collapsed under the weight of Cheng Zheng’s words. Yun Jin grabbed her cup back wordlessly and downed it in one continuous gulp. She never touched alcohol ordinarily and so unsurprisingly, she started feeling extremely nauseous by the halfway mark. Even Shen Ju An felt uneasy for her but she drank on stoically. She choked on the final mouthful and coughed uncontrollably, causing her face to turn a dark red and tears to well up in her eyes. Shen Ju An rushed to hand her some napkins as she slammed the emptied mug on the table and eked out “Are you satisfied now?”
Cheng Zheng stared coldly at the scene unfolding before him. When she finally regained her composure, he acted as if nothing had happened and smiled at Shen Ju An “She’s always been this stubborn and can’t withstand a little provocation.”
Shen Ju An clapped Yun Jin’s back. When she finally recovered, he replied with composure “I actually like this personality of hers.”
Cheng Zheng replied “But this attitude of hers is certainly hateful.”
“Not really. Yun Jin appears meek on the exterior but she’s tough on the inside. If one treats her with enough respect, actually she’s very easy to hang out with.”
Yun Jin saw them so immersed in rebutting each other that they had forgotten her presence and felt very uncomfortable but she could not find it in herself to interrupt them.
“You’ve not known her for long right? Yet you seem to know her very well.”
“Sometimes, time is not the only factor when it comes to understanding a person.”
Cheng Zheng laughed again “Since you know her so well, could you answer something on her behalf? This query has troubled me for a long time.”
Hearing this, Yun Jin had a rough idea what he was about to launch into but Cheng Zheng ignored her warning gaze and continued “I could never fathom why she would kiss me on the streets in front of so many onlookers, then abandon me on the spot.”
“Cheng Zheng, you …” Yun Jin sputtered in rage before coughing violently again.
Shen Ju An stared at Cheng Zheng in silence and neither reacted nor sought clarification. He grabbed Yun Jin’s hand that was on the table and said “If Yun Jin doesn’t want to answer this question, I think it must be because you’re mistaken about the whole incident. There may be many reasons behind a kiss. Even when she kisses me, I’ve never had to ask why.”
Cheng Zheng’s smile froze. On this warm, humid night in May, he felt a sudden chill. He thought to himself, perhaps he had really lost; even if he didn’t want to admit it, on hearing this, he was simply no match for his opponent.
Perhaps, the one who cared the most would always become the loser.
After a period, he finally spoke again, the rasp in his voice was even foreign to his own ears “Su Yun Jin, you may be stupid but you definitely have good taste when it comes to choosing a boyfriend.”
Su Yun Jin looked at him wordlessly and blushed, not because she was embarrassed or annoyed but because that single cup of alcohol had caused her surroundings to become hazy.
Cheng Zheng drummed his fingers on the table lightly as though he didn’t take the matter to heart. “Your boyfriend is so outstanding that it’s no wonder he was readily hired by Yong Kai.”
“Yong Kai? How did you know?” Yun Jin shook her head. Even though her senses were blurred, she knew that she had never once mentioned this to Cheng Zheng.
“It’s actually quite a coincidence. Didn’t I tell you at the start I came here to visit relatives? I wasn’t lying. Zhang Ying Kai is my maternal grandfather and Yong Kai Enterprise was named after him. When he passed away, he left everything to his son and daughter. The current CEO of Yong Kai is Zhang Jin Meng and his only sister Zhang Jin Yin is my mother. Because of my dad, my mom lives outside this city and I was born there too and that’s how our paths crossed Su Yun Jin. Oh right. Shen Ju An, don’t you want to know who mentioned you?”
His hands kept at the rhythmic drumming and the steady beat troubled Yun Jin. She couldn’t seem to grasp what Cheng Zheng was saying and her vision was fuzzy. She only knew that the hand in hers suddenly tightened its grip. In her clouded consciousness, she felt a bad premonition; was something going to happen in the near future?
Cheng Zheng saw the shock flash across Shen Ju An’s eyes and knew his words had affected him. Although he wasn’t able to derive pleasure from this, but this was his final comeback. He knew even if he could undermine his enemy, his fate was unchangeable. He didn’t need Yun Jin to despise him because even he felt disgusted at his underhanded tactics. But he couldn’t care too much because rationality didn’t make him happier; he couldn’t stand seeing them so close and he being abandoned by the wayside tending to his own wounds.
Shen Ju An recovered quickly and rested the sleepy Yun Jin on his shoulder before saying “I see. You’re undeniably blood relatives. Once again, you’ve shown me the confidence of the Zhang family. I’m very sorry but your words can’t change anything. The only way I would give up on Yun Jin would be for her to choose so. Please excuse us. Yun Jin is drunk and I should send her back to her dormitory.”
Cheng Zheng stared at the peaceful girl slumped on Shen Ju An’s body and knew her choice would never be him. Just as Shen Ju An had said, that night’s kiss was all a terrible misunderstanding on his part. He watched dejectedly as Shen Ju An called for the bill before supporting Yun Jin and taking their leave.
When Yun Jin was supported to her feet, her balance shifted in Shen Ju An’s embrace and she subconsciously muttered two words.
Her voice was not loud but it was enough to make the two man freeze.
“Cheng Zheng …”