After leaving the Li family’s house, Shen Xi realized that he was not as happy as he had expected.
Whether it was about Chu Qianqian setting up Shen Dehan or him bursting Shen Ji’s illusion about Shen Dehan, after the initial great pleasure, more sadness welled up in his heart instead. These two people, one his father and the other his elder brother, should have been his closest relatives, but the reality was that they hated him for being born, while he was calculating step by step trying to make them suffer for the rest of their lives.
Shen Xi stepped on the gas pedal hard. The car was speeding to the limit and the cold wind poured in from the open car window but Shen Xi didn’t seem to feel cold. At the next intersection, he turned abruptly in the direction of the cemetery.
The cemetery closed early on winter nights, and the caretakers had gone home early to rest, leaving only rows of dull yellow streetlights to accompany the countless cold tombstones. The whistling night wind weaved in and out of the empty cemetery, its sound faintly reminding a sobbing mournful complaint. Shen Xi skillfully climbed over the wall and soon reached the place where his mother was sleeping.
In the dim light, his mother was still smiling brightly. Shen Xi gazed at his mother’s smiling face and did not move for a long time.
Shen Bixue and Shen Ji’s conversation repeated itself in his mind. Shen Xi slowly reached out to cover his mother’s face, feeling the cold stone under his palm. It made Shen Xi wake up somewhat. He had never known his mother had to do such a crazy thing for him to be born. His father’s cold treatment and Shen Ji’s indifference all seemed to have a reason, but his heart only ached for his mother.
What kind of despair could have driven his mother to such a state? To make his mother feel that he could only be born if Shen Ji and Shen Cheng disappeared?
All these years, father had the right to loathe his mother, and even him by extension, and Shen Ji had the right to resent Han Rou, and even him by extension. But his mother was already lying here quietly, all her love and hate and all her emotions disappearing with that one jump back then, having nothing to do with this world anymore.
No one cared about her situation during those years, no one cared about what she had suffered. Because she was sleeping here, all the blame could be put on her and no one was willing to ask why she had done what she had done back then. His mother was his father’s legal wife, so how could he deny her the right to have children? Fang Yun could have children, Zhou Mingmei could have a child, why couldn’t his mother?
Shen Ji was his father’s child, Shen Cheng was his father’s child, but wasn’t he? Was he not even qualified to be born?
Shen Xi sat down against his mother’s tombstone, the resentment in his heart clamouring desperately. He wanted to ask his father, why on earth did he treat his mother like this, treat him like this? Was it just because of the ridiculous true love that his father talked about?
A jumble of thoughts flashed through his mind in confusion when the sound of footsteps came from afar.
A familiar voice sounded in his ears, and Shen Xi slowly lifted his head. Under the dim light, Li Mingxuan ran over panting, his face full of urgency.
Shen Xi looked at Li Mingxuan in a daze, not expecting him to find his way here.
“Xiao Xi.” Li Mingxuan’s voice trembled as he stood in front of Shen Xi.
Shen Xi looked at Li Mingxuan silently for a while before lowering his head and moving his eyes away. He didn’t want to talk now, he just wanted to be quiet and stay with his mother. No matter what Li Mingxuan wanted to say to him, he had no intention of listening. Shen Xi’s resistance was so obvious that Li Mingxuan’s heart soured and he didn’t speak again, just sat quietly by his side.
The next moment, the still warm coat covered Shen Xi’s body. Shen Xi wanted to refuse, but Li Mingxuan’s actions were unquestionable. Shen Xi accepted Li Mingxuan’s coat in silence, lowered his head and buried his face between his knees. Li Mingxuan stretched out his hand and gently stroked Shen Xi’s back. Neither of them said anything, and the cemetery fell into silence once again.
Shen Xi and Li Mingxuan left the Li family’s house one after another, and Shen Ji followed closely. Hearing the news that Li Mingxuan had gone after Shen Xi, Shen Ji struggled to squeeze out a reassuring smile towards Shen Bixue, ignoring her worried gaze, and left the Li family in a daze.
Shen Xi’s words kept echoing in his mind, and the word “self-deception” was stuck in his head.
As he drove down the street, Shen Ji realised that he had nowhere to go. Subconsciously turning in the direction of the Shen family’s house, Shen Ji parked the car at the roadside and looked at the house in the night in silence.
This was the place where he had lived for nearly thirty years, where he had been born and where he had said the word “Father” for the first time. It was here that he was held in his father’s arms and here that he was reprimanded by his father for being naughty. It was here that he saw his mother grow weak little by little as she became seriously ill, and where he saw his father heartbroken because of his mother’s departure. He would always remember his father saying before his mother died that he would have only his mother as his wife for the rest of his life and that the only lady of the Shen family would always be his mother.
The scene of his mother dying with a smile on her lips and his father holding her in his arms in desperate agony was still vivid in his mind, but in the blink of an eye, a new Mrs. Shen was to be welcomed into the Shen family.
He was upset, he threw a tantrum, he didn’t want a new mother, but for the first time his grandfather, who had always doted on him, turned against him. He wanted to go to his father and question him about why he couldn’t do what he had promised his mother, but instead he saw his father drunk in front of the wall full of pictures of his mother, calling her name again and again.
How could his father wrong his mother when he was in so much pain? It was all that woman’s fault.
Shen Ji was repulsed by Han Rou’s presence, and this repulsion was further deepened when he heard the servants whispering behind his back.
“The two young masters are so pitiful.”
“Yes, their mother is dead and they have no strong uncle’s family. If Miss Han gives birth to a child, with the background of the Han family, the two young masters probably won’t have a place in this family.”
“I heard that Miss Han has a bad temper and seems to be very arrogant?”
“If that’s true, the two young masters are going to be so unlucky. Who would like the children born to the one before them? Nothing can be guaranteed.”
The servants’ words were fulfilled afterwards.
Han Rou didn’t like them, and after he refused to call her “Mother”, after Ah Cheng’s crying all night long attracted his father’s attention, he noticed Han Rou’s growing impatience with them.
When Ah Cheng fell ill again and Han Rou insisted on returning to the Han family, his father argued with her for the first time. He heard Han Rou’s complaint clearly, “He’s not my son, what do you think I can do? Do I have to pretend to be sad?”
Han Rou’s words left a deep imprint in Shen Ji’s heart.
After that, there were more and more arguments between his father and Han Rou, and his father spent less and less time home. Every time Shen Ji saw Han Rou, he would think that it was because Han Rou made his father angry that his father did not want to come back. He only remembered that one day when his father came home to visit him and Ah Cheng, Han Rou appeared happily in front of them. Then he heard Han Rou say, “Xiao Ji, do you want to have another brother?”
Shen Ji replied dryly, “No.” He always remembered the words Han Rou had said when Ah Cheng was sick. He didn’t like Han Rou, so how could he like the child Han Rou would give birth to.
He couldn’t remember what kind of expression Han Rou had at the time, only the pitying looks the servants gave him when they heard Han Rou was pregnant. The relationship between his father and Han Rou grew colder and colder, and Han Rou’s temper became more and more eccentric until that incident happened.
Shen Ji covered his face and let out a low laugh.
After that incident, Ah Cheng was greatly simulated and spent a month in the hospital. Han Ruo, on the other hand, was not punished for it, simply because she had given birth to Shen Xi early while his father was in a fit of rage.
After all these years, it was not that Shen Ji didn’t know that his father raised Zhou Mingmei while Han Rou was pregnant, and that Han Rou’s weird temper at the time was more because of Zhou Mingmei, but so what? It was a fact that Han Rou didn’t like them, it was a fact that Han Rou had tried to harm Ah Cheng, and it was even a fact that Han Rou insisted on marrying his father.
Because of that incident, his father became more attentive to him and Ah Cheng, personally taking care of their clothing, food, housing and travel. Even though he and Ah Cheng spent most of their time at his aunt’s house, his father took time to visit them every day, read to them and play games with them. In his eyes, his father loved his mother, loved him and Ah Cheng, and his father was the best father in the world.
With the death of Han Rou, they moved back to the Shen’s house, and only then did Shen Ji learn of Zhou Mingmei’s existence, but after seeing the way his father reminisced in front of his mother’s pictures, watching the way Shen Dehan treated them gently, the way he patiently played games with Ah Cheng, how could Shen Ji blame his father?
Shen Ji laughed out loud. Shen Xi was right. He was a fool who deceived himself, he did not want to face the fact that his father had betrayed his mother time and again, he was afraid that the image of his father in his heart would collapse. He was deceiving himself as much as his father was.
That night, Shen Ji sat in front of the Shen family’s house for the whole night. He did not know what he was thinking; he seemed to have thought a lot, but he seemed to have thought of nothing at all. As the sky grew lighter, Shen Ji pushed open the car door and walked over, knocking on the door of the Shen’s house.
That same night, Li Mingxuan sat with Shen Xi at the cemetery for the whole night.
As the day dawned, Shen Xi moved his frozen stiff body and hesitantly looked at Li Mingxuan beside him. Li Mingxuan’s coat was draped over his shoulders and Li Mingxuan only had a thin jacket on top. Shen Xi was so immersed in his emotions last night that he hardly noticed Li Mingxuan had spent the whole night with him.
Seeing Shen Xi turn his head, his mood seeming to return to normal, Li Mingxuan smiled, stretched out his hand stiffly to rub his hair, and said softly, “Let’s go home?”
Li Mingxuan’s hand brushed over his forehead, feeling ice cold. Shen Xi’s heart softened and he nodded, standing up in silence.
Before leaving, Shen Xi took a deep look at his mother’s smiling face. Whatever his mother had once done wrong, she had already paid for it with her life.
What was left was what his father owed his mother and what he owed him, and he would get it back in full.