When Mr. and Mrs. Gu combine forces, they are definitely a force to be reckoned with. 😀 Catch the little details about Gu Pingsheng?
Chapter 17.2 – When You Listen to Me Speak (2)
After that short, little vacation, Gu Pingsheng’s work started to become busier. Although the majority of his work was done by a paralegal and he did not need to go in to the office everyday, when there was an important meeting, he still could not avoid it. In particular, when he was working for clients in markets that had a time zone difference, it was even more difficult for him to control the timing of things.
On Christmas Eve, she walked for a long time through the shopping centre near his office building to idle away the time.
However, he eventually still sent her a text message, telling her to go to his office to wait for him. While Tong Yan would often come and wait for him to get off work, she generally avoided going up to his company’s office, so when she saw the message, she was somewhat surprised.
At the company reception desk, she stated Gu Pingsheng’s name.
The young girl at reception did not at all try to conceal her curiosity as she assessed Tong Yan over. “Mrs. Gu?”
Tong Yan answered with an “mm” and asked, “He’s still in his meeting?”
“Still is. His assistant came out just now and told me that if a woman came to find him, that person for sure would be Mrs. Gu.” The receptionist smiled very amicably. “I’ll take you to his office first.” After saying this, she finally turned to look at a man beside Tong Yan. “May I ask for your name, please?”
The man had been eyeing Tong Yan as if appraising her, and when the young girl asked him this, he finally snapped his attention back and smiled, “Luo. Luo Zihao. I am a friend of TK’s.”
“Mr. Luo?” The receptionist flipped through the notebook in front of her. “You don’t have an appointment? I’ll take you to the waiting room first, then, and when TK finishes his meeting …”
With a frustrated, yet amused look, Luo Zihao interrupted, “May I go with Mrs. Gu into his office to wait for him?”
The receptionist hesitated at this. Luo Zihao turned his eyes to Tong Yan.
Quickly, she came to Luo Zihao’s rescue. After the receptionist led them both into Gu Pingsheng’s office, they finally looked at each other again and could not help chuckling.
“I am TK’s classmate from many years back, starting from when we were in Catholic school together.” Luo Zihao gave a short and concise self-introduction. “Later, I went to Yale and he went to Penn, and we thought we had finally escaped each other. Who would have thought? After I withdrew myself from Yale, I somehow got accepted into his university and even ended up staying on and working there.”
“You’re a university professor, too?” Tong Yan eyed him up and down with a show of seriousness.
“Authenticity guaranteed.” Luo Zihao took out a cigarette, but after thinking about it, he did not light it, only playing around with it in his fingers. “Too bad he later withdrew from Penn. Otherwise, he would have had to call me ‘Teacher.’”
Tong Yan could not hold back a laugh. “Is it a fad for you guys to drop out from your school? His cousin did the same.”
“Gu Pingfan?” Luo Zihao made a very strange expression with his face. “She is a pure idealist, doing it so that her studies would be put to true usefulness. I dropped out back then merely because my patriotism was overflowing. A student at Yale who was a Chinese national was being discharged from the school, and the reason was that her English wasn’t as good as an American’s. At the time, all the international students in the entire school participated in the protests and demonstrations, including me.”
“And then what happened?”
“And then the university made concessions and that student changed majors. But my patriotism was overflowing and I just did not want to continue studying in that school anymore, so I went to Penn.”
Luo Zihao talked about things of the past, and he would occasionally intersperse some stories of Gu Pingsheng’s history in between. Many were ones she had never heard before, and Tong Yan listened to them with enthusiastic attention, frequently asking further about little details.
When Gu Pingsheng pushed open the door and stepped in, Luo Zihao was recounting one of Gu Pingsheng’s previous wilderness survival experiences with a pretense of solemnity. He was unable to see what Luo Zihao was saying and could only see that Tong Yan was listening with great delight. Unconsciously, a smile appeared on his face as well.
Hearing the noise, Luo Zihao turned around to look at him. “TK, I must say, you made the first move and beat me to the punch. I’ve said before that the type of woman I like the most has eyes where the separation between the whites and her black irises is not overly distinct. Right here”—he used his unlit cigarette to point at the inner corner of his own eye—“needs to curve deeply inwards. When she smiles, her entire eye will curve into a crescent shape. Absolutely wonderful.”
Gu Pingsheng walked over to Tong Yan’s side and sat down. “I know. Since our student days, you have liked to mimic my tastes.”
Luo Zihao cast a sidelong glance at him before speaking to Tong Yan in jest, “Tong Yan, let me tell you a secret. TK once asked me whether I would ever fall for my own student. This sort of guy looks so gentlemanly and respectable on the outside, but he is actually just a beast dressed up nicely. He could very well one day end up having ‘something’ with his own student.”
Going along with the playful mocking tone Gu Pingsheng had used, Tong Yan calmly responded, “I know. I was once his student.”
That person, who previously had been incessantly talking with vigour, was now, by the combined forces of Gu Pingsheng and Tong Yan, left dumbstruck.
Since the meeting had ended too late, most of the eateries were already closed, so Tong Yan ended up suggesting that they might as well go home for dinner. Luo Zihao was very happy to agree with this and really did follow the two back to their home to freeload an ordinary, home-cooked meal.
He was someone who had a way with words, and even Grandmother liked him very much. When he left, he did not forget to urge Tong Yan to make sure she left some free time in her schedule to allow him to treat her to a meal in return.
“He said the girls in your school before were very open and liberal, and they would, in the window, show only their thigh or …” Tong Yan was sprawled on his desk, and unable to think of any appropriate wording to use, she decided to simply point at that voluptuous part of her body. “They would have the boys guess the name of who it was based on the part that was showing?”
Gu Pingsheng broke into laughter. He really did not know what else Luo Zihao would have said to cause Tong Yan to be so curious and constantly seeking confirmation to her various questions. “Every place will have girls who are more liberal. Of course, there will be more conservative ones, too.”
“The key question is, did you ever see any?”
“I think I did.”
“You think you did?”
Gu Pingsheng finally gave a laughing sigh. “Mrs. Gu, I studied medicine, so in my eyes, those were no different from medical specimens.”
Tong Yan thought about this and agreed that what he said was true, but then she thought about it some more and found that there was a big problem with what he said. “So when you look at me, I’m also like a specimen?” When the meaning of this sort of term was extended to include her, an inexplicable chill was sent down her back …
“What do you think?”
She shook her head. “I don’t know. That’s why I asked you.”
Leaning back against the head of the bed, Gu Pingsheng pinched the bridge of his nose to ease some of the fatigue he was feeling. “Mrs. Gu, your question can very easily cause me to interpret it as, you are not happy with a certain aspect of your married life.”
He completely quashed her with those words, and no more sound came from her.
Actually, she still had many questions that she had not asked him.
In terms of his physical condition, Luo Zihao’s descriptions had come from a different perpective, and naturally, he had mentioned some things she had not known about, for example, how Gu Pingsheng had received speech training after he lost his hearing. According to Luo Zihao’s depiction, he actually had not needed to do this as he could have simply accepted the use of a hearing aid, and with the device’s help, he could have been no different from a normal person.
With regard to whether he could use a hearing aid, she had once plainly asked him about it. At the time, Gu Pingsheng had answered that he did not want to for the time being. But Luo Zihao’s explanation was much more in depth than what he had told her.
“He normally does not wear a hearing aid, and I really think there is nothing the matter with that. Honestly, nothing at all. He has taken speech training and has said himself that he will make sure to regularly attend therapy for speech error correction. However, the reason behind this is not a good one. You must know about what happened with his mother. I’ve always felt that he has not been able to get past that psychological barrier.”
She carefully recalled in detail all the little things he had once said as well as the gossip she had heard before in the hospital.
His mother’s death had been by suicide. And he himself had once said that on the day of the mishap, he actually could have discovered even earlier that something was wrong. He had said that if he had been just a bit more aware, a bit more attentive, that if he had truly listened carefully to the sounds coming from her room, perhaps his mother might not have left the world so early …
Now that she thought about it, his words then had still been very vague and had omitted too many details.
Her thoughts were somewhat in disarray.
However, she very much understood matters such as these. There were some words that, unless it was the appropriate time, speaking them aloud would be even more severely consequential to you than killing you. For instance, years ago, during their first encounter, for what reason had she refused to sign the papers for her mother to have surgery? Or later, why had she needed to borrow money from him? Or why, after she had sold the home, had she insisted that all the money remaining after the medical expenses had been paid be kept with him?
Those were all hidden scars in the heart, hidden scars that were too difficult to speak of.
She tossed and turned in bed, unable to fall asleep. Beside her, Gu Pingsheng, who was leaning back in bed and reading, detected this and lowered his head to ask her, “What’s wrong?”
She hesistated for half a second, then turned her face up to look at him. “Nothing.”
Once she finished saying this, she moved herself snug up against him and wrapped her arms tight around his waist.
She buried her head against him for several seconds and then finally began using both her hands and feet to crawl up until she was lying on top of Gu Pingsheng. Pulling his book from his hands, she tossed it onto the bedside table. “Do you still remember what we were doing last year at this time?”
“Watching a movie.” He broke out in amused chuckles and asked her in return, “So, this year at this time, what would you like to do?”
The words had only just left his lips before he was lowering his head. Meticulously, he began grazing kisses around the outline of her lips as he reached behind and turned off the bedside lamp.
1 of 1 Prologue
51 of 66 Main story segments
0 of 3 Epilogue segments