Mo Qianni wasn’t expecting such an expression from Lin Ruoxi. “Alright, I’ll stop talking. I know you have other thoughts but let’s go down and grab a cup of coffee and sweet treats. I know you probably aren’t looking forward to dinner like I do.”
The women had zero resistance when it came to desserts. Lin Ruoxi might have a personal favourite in glutinous rice balls, but she still preferred cakes and other delights over rice. She was usually too shy to go alone but now that Mo Qianni was here to keep her company, it was a rare opportunity she had to take.
Lin Ruoxi took a quick look at the time, confirming that her afternoon meeting doesn’t start for two hours. “Alright, give me a minute. Let me pack up and I’ll go with you.”
Ever since Yang Chen was stuck in between, their relationship had been awkward at best. But it might just be because Yang Chen was always out and about recently that their relationship seemed to have taken a rebound.
Meanwhile, over at the backyard in their Western district mansion home.
Guo Xuehua flipped through the calendar, locking onto the fact that it was indeed Chongyang Festival tomorrow. If she was back in Beijing, she would spend her morning paying her respects at the Yang clan ancestral hall. But in anticipation of Yang Chen’s return, she would be preparing the traditional festival cuisine for ancestral prayers.
Even though the youth were starting to lose touch with these traditional rituals, Guo Xuehua still held much faith in the importance of filial piety, alongside her belief that family traditions should be upheld.
Notably, with Lanlan now in their household, she had high hopes that he grandchild could receive nurture from the best.
It occurred to her that Lin Ruoxi’s grandmother and mother were both laid to rest in Zhonghai, but not once did she manage to pay her respects. She took this opportunity to invite Lin Ruoxi along as an opportunity to strengthen their bond.
Guo Xuehua made up her mind, as she turned towards Wang Ma who was having a chat with Minjuan. “Oh Yulan, I’m thinking of arranging a time with Lin Ruoxi to pay respect as her mother’s grave. I’ll stop by the market to get our groceries for tomorrow’s Chongyang Festival too. Even if Yang Chen isn’t coming home tonight, he should be back by tomorrow. We got to make sure we are well prepared!”
Wang Ma took notice of Guo Xuehua’s deep appreciation for small details, notably by taking the initiative to pay a visit to the burial grounds on the Chongyang Festiva.
“Why don’t we give Miss a call, make sure we got her dates down.” Wang Ma offered a reminder.
Guo Xuehua rejected her with a smile. “She might be busy right now. Let’s not bother her.”
“Wow you really are thoughtfu,l aren’t you.” Wang Ma chuckled as she nodded in agreement.
Yu Lei International tower had a cafe located on the ground floor, usually catered by a western cuisine provider to offer a cozy gathering spot for the employees during the day.
Over by the windowpane was a quiet spot for two. Lin Ruoxi and Mo Qianni each picked an exquisite cheesecake, paired with a cup of freshly brewed coffee, and enjoyed what little time they had in between their packed schedules.
Not long after, Mo Qianni was already closing in on her last few bites, but Lin Ruoxi was still barely halfway through a single slice of cake.
Watching Lin Ruoxi eloquently nibbling, Mo Qianni couldn’t help but laugh. “I mean the Queen herself sure are leagues apart from us concubines right, even from trivial things like eating cake.”
Lin Ruoxi held her fingers over her mouth in shock, taken aback by her remark. She finished up with whatever food was left in her mouth before she spoke up. “Qianni, don’t you think saying things like that...is a little inappropriate?”
“Inappropriate, why?” Mo Qianni politely asked.
Lin Ruoxi turned her gaze towards the hustling city across the windowpane, into the crowded pedestrian walkway.
“You know, I’ve always been curious. For a girl like Rose with her perception of life and her upbringing, I could still find comprehensible for her to follow a man without any actual titles or official recognition.
But women like you, Yanyan, or the others? You could have chosen better lives, so why would you settle for a relationship as cumbrous as this?
“I know it sounds like a cruel world but I’ve got to be honest. I really don’t assume you guys could get much out of this. So honestly, make it clear to me, how could you just casually laugh at something like this…” Lin Ruoxi halfheartedly remarked.
Mo Qianni’s smile faded as Lin Ruoxi was making her point. She then took a sip of coffee and steadily placed it back down on the table.
“Are you sympathizing with me, pitying me, or really just looking down on me?”
Lin Ruoxi shook her head in response. “I never once pitied you or sneered at your decision. I’m not trying to pick a fight as well. I just thought...we’ve known each other for so long and this was a question I always had in mind, that’s all.”
“Deep down, you resent us and you loathe Yang Chen, don’t you?”
“Then what about you? Wouldn’t you think that? I really hate saying this but, you love the same man I do yet these thoughts never once occurred to you?”
Mo Qianni blinked. “I think I figured out why you were so distracted from work these past two days. You’re worried about Xue Zhiqing. You are worried that Yang Chen might bring a new lover back every time he’s out and about.”
“No, I’m not.” Lin Ruoxi turned away. “He can do whatever he likes. I can’t make him do anything anyways.”
“You’re lying, you are obviously annoyed.” Mo Qianni pressed on.
Lin Ruoxi snapped. Clearing her throat, she justified. “So what if I am? Or are you not worried about how many lovers he has with him, because you aren’t married to him? You really think this is love?”
The women met eye to eye, but Mo Qianni’s gaze gradually invited a tinge of pity.
“Lin Ruoxi, you’ve changed. I never thought you'd be so pathetic.” Mo Qianni sighed.
Lin Ruoxi, visibly intimidated by her unpolished remark, fought an uphill battle to calm herself down. “I’d expect you to give me an adequate explanation for that remark…”
Mo Qianni took a long breath, her eyes red from tears as she forced a smile. “I used to envy you. You’re prettier than me, had better grades, was born from a rich family. You’re intelligent, capable, and also a great leader. But most of all, you were always a rock amongst a storm. Unwavering.
Even when the world was against you, it did not affect your duties. You were unbreakable. Even when your own husband had countless lovers outside, you never once lost your composure, because you were absolutely sure everything was in your grasp.
And you know what? That Lin Ruoxi was like a bright ray of light to me. I mean, just the thought of her made me loathe my life. I knew I would always place second and it wasn’t just me, whether it was Rose or Anxin, we all knew we couldn’t stand where you stood.
Did you think I became your right-hand woman for this company because I felt like I owed the old CEO? To repay her kindness for the rest of my life? No, I know what I’m worth. I could’ve gone to other companies, or even started my own.
I stayed in Yu Lei because of you. Not anyone else. You made me absolutely sure that this was where I wanted to be. Even if it gets awkward when Yang Chen stops by, I knew I wanted to be here with you.”
Mo Qianni did not raise her voice, but every word struck like a needle.
Lin Ruoxi pupils dilated on the verge of tears.
Mo Qianni's exquisite face started trembling from a surge of emotions. Her face blushed as she had to take a long pause to gather her thoughts. She then continued. “The Lin Ruoxi I’m looking at right now feels pretty foreign to me. The intimidating, strong-willed, determined Lin Ruoxi doesn’t seem to be here. What I see is just a paranoid, self-loathing young wife.”
After her words dropped, she stood up, reached out for the white autumn coat, and flung it over herself.
“Lin Ruoxi, I just realized how silly of a person you are. You have no clue where you’re heading and you don’t seem to have a grasp of the meaning of life. You didn’t really live or appreciated the joys of life because you didn’t understand the meaning of life.
Please stop framing your dissatisfaction, your insecurities to anyone because the culprit for all of this isn’t us. It’s not Yang Chen either. It’s you.
Relationships aren’t like textbooks. You can’t just figure it out on your own. You have to feel it with your heart.
In my opinion, to have a man that loves me, that’d meet me often enough, that’d put his life at risk to gather medicinal herbs to refine pills to make sure I stay young forever is everything I could ever ask for.
My only repayment for him is to offer him my trust. I want to let him know that when he’s with me, I am happy and that’s all I ever need.
Lin Ruoxi, listen to me closely. At certain points in my life, I actually cared about the title of husband and wife. But now, it doesn’t matter. I know what makes me happy and I am satisfied.
If you need someone to constantly fill your insecurities, to replenish your pride, then all I can say to you is this. Sooner or later, Yang Chen might realize that you being his only wife was a mistake.“
With the end of her words, Mo Qianni grabbed her bag and went straight towards the door and out of the cafe.
Lin Ruoxi stared blankly as she gradually left her vision.
Eventually, her eyes soullessly focused upon the tray with her strawberry cheesecake, but at that moment Lin Ruoxi couldn’t even bear the strength to lift her spoon. Her appetite corroded away and replacing it was indescribable fear and insecurity.
Right at that moment, a dark silhouette emerged at the edge of her vision, idly by the dinner table.