In the picture, Qin Zhuopu and Lu Ying were standing side by side with their hands on Lu Zaizai’s shoulders, a family of three, the happiest of families.
Elder Qin was breathing heavily, his old palm caressing the screen as if tracing someone’s face. He had seen Zaizai with his own eyes and his first impression was that the boy was chubby, big and strong. The second impression was that he was a good eater, with a good appetite and a lot of energy. He was fat, but his features resembled those of his father, Lu Ying, not to mention that the father and son had the same good appetite.
The old man never doubted that there was a blood relation between Lu Zaizai and Lu Ying. However, at this moment, looking at the image on the screen, he could not help but feel his heart beating wildly, his blood pressure soaring uncontrollably. Elder Qin’s body swayed, and the housekeeper jumped in shock, “Old Master! Someone, come quickly!”
Elder Qin propped up his body and shook his head with difficulty, desperately trying to stay calm. Most of all, he didn’t want to collapse at this time. He was full of confusion and doubts that had not been confirmed. How could he collapse now! Even if he died, he couldn’t rest in peace.
He was carried into the bedroom in a daze by the housekeeper and servants, and the family doctor quickly gave him pills and an infusion. Glancing at the semi-conscious old man clutching his tablet in a death grip, the doctor couldn’t help but scold the housekeeper, “Quickly take away the old man’s tablet. I told you not to let him bury his head in electronic products all the time, he is prone to vertigo when his cervical spine is compressed.”
The housekeeper was scared to death and smiled bitterly at the doctor’s words, “I know, but the Old Master, he…” The old man himself wanted to learn about the world of young people, especially to be able to get the photos and messages sent by Mr. Qin; the old man wouldn’t miss them for anything.
The old man had never played with electronic products before, nor did he have WeChat and Weibo, but a while ago he suddenly changed and specially asked the housekeeper to get a tablet to register a WeChat, and then added Mr. Qin. Since then, whenever Mr. Qin posted on Moments, the housekeeper had to tell the Old Master in time, and then Elder Qin himself would take a good look at it, like it, or comment on it. Usually, if Mr. Qin reposted certain articles, the old man would at most click on ‘like’. If Mr. Qin posted something about his personal life, especially something related to the child, the Old Master would definitely comment on it.
Occasionally, he chatted online with Mr. Qin, had video chats twice, and specially sent red envelopes of 66, 88 and 99 yuan to Mr. Qin. In short, the old man had a lot of fun.
Today, Mr. Qin sent a family portrait. The housekeeper didn’t dare to delay for a second, so he quickly showed it to the old man. As a result…
It took a lot of effort for the housekeeper to take away the tablet that the old man was clutching, and he didn’t forget to reassure the old man: “Don’t worry, Old Master, that photo will always be there, it definitely won’t be lost. You can look at it again when you are ready.” When he said that, the old man really relaxed his grip, but his dazed eyes were still very reluctant, staring straight at the doctor as he said with difficulty, “I can’t go down…”
The doctor said helplessly, “Don’t be afraid, Elder Qin, you are still in good health, you won’t go down so easily. You should rest well, I’ll give you medicine and injections to lower your blood pressure, and you’ll be fine after a while.”
Only then did Elder Qin fall asleep with peace of mind.
In the capital, the Song family mansion.
Lu Ying and Lu Zaizai had already eaten several rounds of food, and Lu Zaizai was completely relaxed. After eating and drinking, he went off to play with other children. Whether they knew each other or not, they were just little friends anyway. Grandma’s gaze was following the child, and the people around her noticed that she was absent-minded when chatting with them.
Qin Zhuopu pulled Lu Ying and his cousins to sit and chat. They were of a similar age and had grown up together, so their relationship was naturally good.
“Let me tell you, of all my siblings, Zhuopu was the most stubborn as a child! I remember one summer, we did maths together. When he encountered a difficult problem he couldn’t solve, he kept working on it desperately. When I saw that I didn’t know how to solve it either, I asked the teacher for the answer and the solution. I was so excited and ready to show him, and guess what he did?” The third young master of the Song family, who was the same age as Qin Zhuopu, shook his head helplessly and said, “He didn’t want the answer, he didn’t listen to my hints, and he threw me out and told me not to disturb his thinking.”
“In the end, he spent the whole day over the question, from the morning until after nine o’clock at night, without touching anything like lunch, dinner, tea or fruit, and without even taking a sip of water! He didn’t stand up until he solved the problem himself.”
“Tsk tsk, can you imagine such a person? And he was only ten years old, I think, in third or fourth grade. My aunt and uncle were shocked. They wanted to ask him to give up and come out for dinner, but they were afraid to disturb him. Since then, my uncle kept a very close eye on him, giving him psychological counselling classes and often taking him out to relax. Hey, we are all middle-aged now. I thought he would be a single dog for the rest of his life with this temper.”
Qin Zhuopu laughed bitterly, “I only had one episode, there’s no need to label me.”
Third Young Master Song snorted silently. One episode? Who would believe it? Zhuopu was stubbornly in love for a long time, too. Fortunately, he was able to see the light at the end of the tunnel and got the beauty back.
Lu Ying, who was drinking juice, listened to the story and looked at Qin Zhuopu: “It turns out that you like to solve problems so much, no wonder your maths scores are so good.”
Qin Zhuopu was touched. It seemed that Lu Ying was the only one who thought that he simply liked to solve problems. That time he had gotten too carried away with it and forgotten the measure, causing his family to worry about him. Since then, he kept it well under control.
“Hey, if only Zaizai was like you. He doesn’t want to do maths when he encounters a problem he can’t do.” Lu Ying sighed. Zaizai was obviously Qin Zhuopu’s own son, how come he hadn’t inherited this advantage from him?
Qin Zhuopu suddenly felt a headache but didn’t forget to comfort Lu Ying: “He is still young, he is only in the first grade and doesn’t understand the fun of mathematics. I will keep an eye on him in the future, don’t worry.”
“Oh, mom, is maths still fun?” Third Young Master Song suddenly shook his head wildly: “If it weren’t for the compulsory exam in school, I wouldn’t touch it for the rest of my life. Only a maths madman like you will find it fun.”
The crowd was still chatting away when Lu Ying got up to go to the bathroom, and when he came out of the cubicle, he found Qin Zhuopu washing his hands there.
“Why are you here too?”
“Came over to keep you company.” Qin Zhuopu smiled.
Lu Ying was speechless, “You’re afraid I’ll get lost after such a short walk?”
Qin Zhuopu hugged his shoulders, “I said I’d stay with you today.”
“I’m not a child.” Lu Ying shook his head in amusement, “Did you watch where Zaizai was playing?”
“No, he won’t get far anyway.” Qin Zhuopu was very relaxed.
The two of them walked slowly outside and just as they turned the corner, they met a middle-aged man with a young girl, who approached them enthusiastically. The man extended his right hand and his voice was loud and passionate: “Mr. Qin! I haven’t seen you for a long time! Last week I wanted to visit you in Guanlan City, but I was too busy and missed the opportunity. Today, at the Song family’s old lady’s birthday banquet, I figured you would definitely be there, and sure enough, you are!”
“Mr. Chen, it’s been a long time…” Qin Zhuopu said; it was an acquaintance from his circle, and he couldn’t help but exchange pleasantries.
“Mr. Qin is getting younger and younger, I envy you, how do you take care of yourself? Who can imagine, I’m only seven or eight years older than you, but I can’t compare. No wonder all those young people on the internet like you, haha, and are clamouring for you to be their husband.”
Qin Zhuopu’s face didn’t change: “It’s just a daily fitness routine. Never mind casual remarks on the internet. I wonder what Mr. Chen wants to see me about?”
Mr. Chen suddenly remembered and pointed to the young girl beside him, introducing her, “This is my niece, Lu Ying, who has just graduated from the film and television academy and is working in the entertainment industry.” (Same character for “Lu”, different for “Ying”.)
“Hello, Mr. Qin, nice to meet you.” Lu Ying smiled and extended her hand. Her bright eyes blinked; she was indeed quite spirited and looked good enough to be an actress.
Qin Zhuopu paused; this name was really…
Even Lu Ying looked up at the girl a few more times and muttered in his heart: Is her name Lu Ying (his “Ying”)? Or is it Lu Ying (her “Ying”)? I don’t know which character it is.
Qin Zhuopu shook her hand politely.
Mr. Chen smiled and said, “Lu Ying was the female lead in that movie ‘Youth Show’ that was so popular a while ago. I heard that Mr. Qin and Mr. Gao have jointly invested in a big production movie, ‘The Emperor’s Tomb’, and Lu Ying liked that original novel very much and studied it dozens of times. I wonder if there’s any chance that she can give it a try?”
Qin Zhuopu frowned and shook his head, “I only invested a portion of the money in that project, which actually counts as a loan to Mr. Gao. I’m not involved in any aspect of the details of the project. It’s purely a friendly help to Mr. Gao. You’d better go to him for this, he’s an investor and a professional producer.”
Mr. Chen sighed: “Of course I know he’s the boss, but I haven’t met him much. I already had to be thick-skinned enough to come to you.”
Qin Zhuopu handed him a business card, “Mr. Chen, just ask him directly, I can’t guarantee anything else, but I’m sure it’s fine to ask for a chance to audition. Now I have something to do, I’ll leave first.”
“…okay, thank you, Mr. Qin.”
Seeing Qin Zhuopu leave, Mr. Chen hung his head, “Half a day of talk, but he didn’t loosen up. In the end you still have to go through the trouble to audition. Anyway, to win an important role, you should give a lot of face. If you can’t do the first female lead, there is the second female lead too. Ye Suqin didn’t help you to ease the way?”
Lu Ying pouted unhappily, “She didn’t even want to introduce me. She wanted me to audition for the role, and it was the fourth female lead.”
“It’s easy for you to play the first female lead, I can invest in a movie for you, why do you have to be in ‘The Emperor’s Tomb’?”
“No way! I want to make this blockbuster, it’s no fun to be in a small movie. This is a rare big production! It’s full of big names.”
“Then I’ll think of another way.” Mr Chen felt helpless.
“En en.” Lu Ying stared at Qin Zhuopu’s distant back and bit her lip as she asked, “What’s the relationship between Mr. Qin and the man next to him?” The two were dressed like a couple, and the man really surprised her. In the entertainment industry, which was full of beautiful men, she hadn’t seen anyone as good-looking as this one. Because they stood so close, she could immediately tell that it was a purely natural beauty, without any make-up. His features and skin texture were a blessing from gods, making people sour with envy.
Mr. Chen came late today and didn’t know too much about the man. He said disapprovingly: “Of course it’s not a simple relationship. Most likely he’s someone Mr. Qin supports. Look at it like that and you’ll know what’s going on.”
“… Mr. Qin likes men?” Lu Ying was surprised.
Mr. Chen shook his head: “I don’t know, no matter what he likes, it’s just playing.”
Lu Ying and Zaizai stayed at the Song family’s house until the evening. All the guests had dispersed and they were the only ones left. In the Song family’s dining room, the family sat around a table, and Grandma, who was in her eighties, even cooked a ‘vegetarian chicken’ herself and placed it in front of Lu Ying and Lu Zaizai for them to taste: “Grandma hasn’t cooked in years, so I had to show my skills on the rare occasion you came over. This ‘vegetarian chicken’ is my best dish, eat it quickly, no one is allowed to steal it.”
“Thank you, Grandma, you’re too kind, sit down and rest.” Lu Ying was flattered. The rickety old lady was personally cooking for him, he really didn’t expect it.
“It’s delicious! Grandma is amazing!” Lu Zaizai praised.
“Oh, it’s good if you like it.”
“Grandma is really biassed today, we all feel like foster kids.” Qin Zhuopu joked with a smile.
Grandma laughed, “It doesn’t matter if we’re blood related or not, the point is, I’ve lived for over eighty years and this is the first time I’ve seen a little boy fairy! I’ve met such a good-looking guy, of course I have to treat him well.”
“Hahaha… Great-grandmother is a proper face-con!” The young girls of the Song family were straight up happy.
Qin Zhuopu frowned at Lu Ying. Was his Lu Ying a little boy fairy? Oh no, he was a little demon boy! A little demon boy who could steal people’s hearts, suck their blood and drain their bodies.
The day was a happy one, and when they left Grandma’s house, Lu Ying was a bit reluctant to leave, mainly because of the way the old lady couldn’t let go of Zaizai and her eyes were red. It was really…
“Grandma, you are getting older, so you have to go to bed and rest quickly. I will definitely bring Lu Ying and Zaizai to visit you next time I have the opportunity.” Qin Zhuopu helplessly coaxed the old lady. He actually was puzzled. It was not surprising that the old lady liked Lu Ying and Zaizai, but she cared a little more than expected?
“That’s right, you can come back next time you have a chance. Mom, don’t be like this.” Mrs. Qin hugged the old lady’s shoulders to comfort her, even more confused than Qin Zhuopu. Why did her mother like Lu Ying and Zaizai so much?
The old lady lowered her head, let go sadly and sighed for a long time, “Go. I’ll wait for you to come to play next time.”
“Okay, goodbye, Grandma.”
Back home, lying comfortably in bed, Lu Ying was still talking, “Your grandma is really nice.”
“En, she calls it ‘family love’.” Qin Zhuopu dried his hair and came to the bed in a robe. Remembering how Grandma had acted today, he felt it was a little abnormal.
“Isn’t it because I’m a ‘little boy fairy’?” Lu Ying said, patting his handsome face.
“Ha, a little demon boy is more like it.”
“You’re not as sweet-mouthed as Grandma, huh.” Lu Ying kicked him.
“So Mr. Little Boy Fairy, do you need me to ‘offer myself’ tonight?” Qin Zhuopu cupped Lu Ying’s chin and rubbed it delicately, a scorching fire leaping in his smiling eyes.
“Pfft… what do you think?” Lu Ying pouted.
Qin Zhuopu leaned in for a kiss, “I’m happy to give myself to you.”
The night before parting would always feel too short, and no amount of hugs would be enough to fill the discomfort of separating. The next morning, Qin Zhuopu had to send the father and son home. Lu Ying had to go to work and Zaizai had to go to school, and Qin Zhuopu was busy, too. He also received a call from his grandfather’s housekeeper in the morning that the old man’s high blood pressure and cervical pain had returned. He had to go back to check on him.
In Guanlan City, Qin Zhuopu returned to the old house in a hurry.
The old man was already much better and was half resting on his bed. When he saw Qin Zhuopu coming in, he immediately struggled to sit up, “You’re back.”
“Grandpa, are you feeling better?” Qin Zhuopu stepped forward in worry. After only a few days of not seeing him, he felt that his grandfather got older, and the years were not kind to him.
The old man shook his head and suddenly reached under his pillow, took out the photo and handed it to Qin Zhuopu.
It was the big photo of the family of three at Grandma’s birthday banquet that he personally sent to Grandpa to see. Grandpa printed out the photo.
“This is…” Qin Zhuopu held the photo, but stared at his grandfather.
The old man snorted coldly: “Since you have the guts to send it to me, you won’t be afraid that I will see it.”
Qin Zhuopu smiled: “What do you see? It’s not the first time Grandpa has seen them both.”
“Still arguing!” The old man looked agitated and pointed at the photo of Lu Zaizai, “This face, this look, how dare you say he’s not yours? If this is not your own son, I will write the word “Qin” on my old bones upside down!”
“…Grandpa, take it easy, beware of high blood pressure.” Qin Zhuopu patted the old man’s back.
The old man gasped a few times and took a deep breath: “Don’t try to fool me, tell me the truth. I don’t believe you don’t know anything about it yourself, you’re addicted to being an uncle. If you don’t tell me, that’s fine, huh, I have ways to confirm and find out. Don’t worry, I won’t harass them, I promise no one will notice anything.”
Qin Zhuopu was helpless; as soon as his grandfather became suspicious, he could no longer hide it from him. He didn’t want to hide it from the old man forever anyway.
Nodding, Qin Zhuopu told him clearly, word for word, “Yes, Zaizai is my biological son, and the paternity test has confirmed it. So, he looks like me, right?”
“!!!” When he heard the definitive answer, the old man almost fainted with excitement. Fortunately, Qin Zhuopu was prepared, nimbly patted the old man’s back and familiarly gave him a pill: “Grandpa, calm down! Don’t be too happy, don’t be too sad, Zaizai will need your support when he comes home. He is Grandpa’s only great-grandson.”
“Ahem…” The old man coughed and sighed in relief. His whole body was comfortable, and his face was flushed. He chuckled a few times, holding the photo and staring at it with rapt attention: “Sure enough, sure enough! This child is really the blood of our Qin family, hahaha… God is kind to me!”
The old man burst into tears, laughing at the same time, and Qin Zhuopu was overwhelmed with emotion. After the death of his father and grandmother, his grandfather’s mentality changed. In fact, he became pessimistic. He was so devastated in his twilight years that he always said that it was fate. In the old days, he was the last person to believe in fate, believing only in the beginning and the end, in perseverance and in man’s determination.
“No wonder I liked him when I saw him. Not to mention how affectionate and caring he is, it’s a bond of blood.” The old man couldn’t stop talking. His mood couldn’t be calmed down for a long time, and his eyes couldn’t move away from the photo.
“It’s a great, great blessing!”
Qin Zhuopu smiled, “The Qin family has always insisted on doing charity, and good deeds have a good reward.”
“Right, to be a man you have to accumulate virtue.” Elder Qin let out a long breath, “You still haven’t told me what’s going on with Zaizai? He and Lu Ying… are also very similar.” But Lu Ying was a man; the old man couldn’t figure it out.
Qin Zhuopu paused and said, “Zaizai is the son Lu Ying gave birth to for me, and the two of us are the child’s two parents.”
“This, this… how is it possible?” The old man’s eyes widened, and then it dawned on him, “Oh oh, that child Lu Ying is actually a girl? A girl disguised as a boy?”
“…Grandpa!” Qin Zhuopu helplessly held his forehead, “What are you saying? You’ve watched too many TV series. Lu Ying is a real man, it’s just that… ahem, his physique is rather special.” He certainly wouldn’t tell his grandfather the truth. It wasn’t that he was afraid that his grandfather would have difficulty accepting Lu Ying, it was that he was afraid that his grandfather’s body wouldn’t be able to handle the stimulation.
When the old man heard this, he was not much surprised, but sighed: “So… this kid is really not simple.” The world was a big place; the special physique was easier to accept.
“So if you count the time… when he left alone, he already had Zaizai?” The old man asked in distress.
Qin Zhuopu nodded sullenly and said in a slightly distorted voice, “En, he only found out when he returned to the mountains… and then Zaizai was born, and he raised him all by himself. No family to help, no money, no house. He rented a dark room less than fifteen square metres with the child… He had no education to find a good job and worked three odd jobs for the child to study… He worked as a porter, waiter, courier, delivered takeaway… When I found him, he still went out to sweep the streets at three or four o’clock in the morning every day… At that time, I didn’t know that Zaizai was my own son.”
The old man quietly listened to the end; he couldn’t control his red eyes for a long time, his hands clenched in fists couldn’t help but tremble. For a while, he couldn’t say a word. He just felt pouring acid clogging his throat, extremely uncomfortable.
“Grandpa!” Noticing that something was wrong, Qin Zhuopu immediately patted the old man’s chest and rang the bell to call the doctor.
The family doctor was on standby and rushed in to help Elder Qin quickly.
Qin Zhuopu was anxious but there was nothing he could do, so he could only wait aside. He kind of regretted telling his grandfather too much, but he couldn’t help but want him to know that Lu Ying and Zaizai had been wronged all these years.
This time, Elder Qin was really sick and after staying at home for a day was sent to a big hospital for inpatient treatment.
It was impossible for Qin Zhuopu to keep an eye on him every step of the way, so Mrs. Qin rushed back as soon as she got the news.
When the old man woke up, he was in a very bad mood. Just thinking about what Lu Ying and the child had suffered all those years, he could not feel better. What kind of life did the bloodline of his Qin family lead? His daughter-in-law donated large sums of money every year to unfamiliar children around the world to help those poor children through their difficulties. This was a good deed and he had always supported it.
However, she left out her own grandson!
She personally pushed the child out of the protection circle of the Qin family. A good baby, born in the mountains, could only afford milk powder and diapers because Lu Ying was moving bricks! He wore old clothes given by others and played with inferior toys for a few yuan! A cherry had to be divided between the two of them!
Elder Qin had to vomit blood when he thought about it! The anger in his heart could not be extinguished.
When Mrs. Qin hurried to the hospital, she was confronted by the ugly face of Elder Qin who was barely holding back.
“Dad… what’s wrong with you?”
Elder Qin closed his eyes, not wanting to speak.
Mrs. Qin didn’t understand, “What’s wrong with you, Dad? Do you feel uncomfortable?”
The old man turned his back on his daughter-in-law and grunted bitterly, “I want to see my great-grandson, I want to see my grandson’s wife… I can’t see them, I have a headache, chest pains, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, heart pains, I won’t live for a few days…”
Mrs. Qin was dumbfounded and at her wits’ end.
Was this to force her to invite Lu Ying and the child back?
But… Lu Ying had already told her earlier to go their separate ways and leave each other in peace…
“Dad… I’ve been there before, Lu Ying doesn’t want to come over, he thinks Caifeng City is good.”
The old man rolled over and angrily scolded, “You treat people that way, of course he thinks Caifeng City is good! I’m just asking you, did you say sorry to him? Did you say sorry properly, huh?”
“……” Mrs. Qin was silent.
The old man sighed in disappointment, “The in-law defends Lu Ying at every turn, why don’t you understand? She can gladly accept Lu Ying and his son for the sake of her grandson. As Zhuopu’s mother, have you ever thought about his lifelong happiness from his point of view? Lu Ying is Zhuopu’s wife, have you ever respected him?”
“He’s the one who doesn’t want to come to the Qin family…”
“Forget it, I can’t care about you anymore, do whatever you want… heh.” Elder Qin didn’t want to fight with his daughter-in-law but he really felt tired. He could have relied on his status of the elder to bully his daughter-in-law into apologising to Lu Ying, but that would only create an enmity. He finally understood why his grandson had trouble communicating with his mother. Zhuopu knew that the crux of the problem lay with his own mother, but Zhuopu never told her what to do and how to treat Lu Ying. Because he knew very well that the more he said, the more wrong it would be.
Mrs. Qin looked at the sleeping old man, unable to sit still. Suddenly, she caught a glimpse of a corner of something under the old man’s pillow and pulled it out to see that it was a family portrait of her son, Lu Ying and Zaizai…
Mrs. Qin’s mood was extremely complicated. The old man had to take the picture to bed with him even when he was sick and hospitalised. It was clear that he really wanted to see Lu Ying and the child.
Her father-in-law liked Lu Ying and the people in her mother’s family also liked Lu Ying, the whole extended family liked him, only she had become a snag. Because of this snag, Lu Ying would rather live far away than come to the Qin family’s house.
In the bakery in the middle of the afternoon, Lu Ying arranged his work in an orderly manner, checking the schedule from time to time. His son was out of school at 3:50 and should be almost here by now. Jin Dachu went to pick him up, and Lu Ying was very relaxed.
Not long afterwards, Jin Dachu did indeed bring Lu Zaizai into the shop.
But today, Lu Zaizai’s eyes were red and his school uniform was dirty and messy. His little nose was twitching as he looked at his father, aggrieved and stubborn.
“What’s wrong?” Lu Ying asked hurriedly.
Jin Dachu sighed, “He had a conflict with someone at school, you’ll have to ask him about that. I can’t go inside the school. I didn’t expect the primary school to be so chaotic.”
When Lu Zaizai saw his father, he couldn’t bear it anymore and sobbed: “I obediently went out of the classroom to line up as soon as school was over today. And then, some big brothers from the sixth grade suddenly came to me and asked me to lend them money. I said I had no money. They didn’t believe me. They checked my pockets and took away my twenty yuan of pocket money. They also said that they would ask me to hand in the pocket money every day in the future. I was so angry that I smashed them with my schoolbag. They fought back, and then we started fighting… After the headmaster came, we didn’t fight anymore.”
“Sixth grade little f… know how to rob kids?” When Lu Ying heard it, he exploded with anger: “What the hell these students are! What did the headmaster say? Those punks dare to rob you and put their hands on you, I’ll go to school tomorrow to settle the score with them!”
Lu Zaizai whispered, “I beat them all to tears and the headmaster sent them to the hospital.”
Lu Ying held back for a long time, but couldn’t help laughing secretly behind the child’s back. It was something!