As the cool breeze of the ocean whipped around them, Yang Chen’s words were like a warm breeze, wrapping Zhenxiu in a blanket of warmth and security.

After a period of silence, Yang Chen released Zhenxiu who was in his embrace, and reached out and ran one of his hands through her soft curls.

The orange rays from the streetlamps on the bridge bled all around them and illuminated their faces. Zhenxiu’s angelic features carried a tinge of childishness when she pouted her lips.

“First you made me feel absolutely miserable. Now you’re doing the opposite. Brother Yang, are you deliberately showing off in order to impress me?” she asked in a joking manner.

Yang Chen’s lips twitched. “Do you even have anything positive to say to me in that big head of yours? For example, a brother should do his best to correct his little sister’s attitude towards life.”

Zhenxiu chewed on her bottom lip, mulling something over in her mind. Then, without any warning whatsoever, she stood on her tiptoes and gave Yang Chen a peck on the lips!

Her actions caught Yang Chen off guard. And it left as soon as it came, leaving him feeling cold. All he felt were soft, petal-like lips applying pressure on his. Yang Chen was shocked to his core rendering him useless.

Zhenxiu blushed uncontrollably. Her cheeks were unnaturally warm despite the cool breeze around her. In all the years of her life, this was her first time doing something as brazen as taking the initiative to kiss a man.

“Don’t misinterpret that kiss!” squawked Zhenxiu.

In an attempt to cover up her awkwardness and embarrassment, Zhenxiu raised her head to speak but was betrayed by her reddened cheeks.

“That was merely a platonic kiss from a sister to her brother. Nothing else to it!” said Zhenxiu indignantly.

Yang Chen sighed inwardly. Zhenxiu’s feelings were as clear as day despite her efforts to conceal them. Every word she spoke only further confirmed her feelings for him.

Yang Chen’s personal life was already a tangled mess. Furthermore, he had always viewed Zhenxiu as a sister figure in his life and treated her like family. So how could he then develop any romantic feelings for her?

When Zhenxiu was first welcomed into the family, Lin Ruoxi already had her apprehensions about it. If he really went and did something absurd like form a romantic relationship with Zhenxiu, what would Lin Ruoxi think? Would she view him as nothing less than a predator that would never let go of anything in its grasp?

Not to mention if he acknowledged Zhenxiu’s feelings, Wang Ma and Guo Xuehua’s opinions of him would only be further cemented.

Zhenxiu was a sensible girl. She knew the predicament that Yang Chen was in, but sometimes the human emotion gets in the way of logic and rational thinking.

As these thoughts raced across his mind, Yang Chen settled on the most neutral course of action by laughing lightly and letting the conversation pass.

“We should get a move on and go back home for dinner. I’m getting hungry. If we don’t rush home, we’ll be left with nothing but scraps,” he forced out. Yang Chen decided to pretend as if nothing had happened.

Zhenxiu was flooded with a sense of relief at Yang Chen’s words but deep inside her, there lingered a sense of disappointment. However, this was neither the time nor place to talk about it so she hummed in acknowledgement and followed him.

After a twenty-minute long ride in awkward silence, they finally reached home.

Just as they were walking to the front door, Yang Chen halted in his steps. He proceeded to smack his forehead, and exclaim loudly, “Damn it!”

This sudden outburst from Yang Chen scared Zhenxiu out of her skin. Curious, she asked, “Brother Yang, are you okay? Did something happen?”

Yang Chen smiled bitterly. When he picked up Zhenxiu, he gave Guo Xuehua a call and had asked Rose to check on Jiao Yanyan’s background. But how in the world did he forget to send Lin Ruoxi the text she asked for?!

Yang Chen was doomed this time. Lin Ruoxi would definitely jump to the conclusion that he had done it on purpose to drive her insane.

Everyone makes mistakes. But this slip-up was an especially costly one which filled him with dread and anxiety.

Sighing, he shook his head at Zhenxiu to indicate that everything was fine. He then opened the door and entered.

Inside, Guo Xuehua and Wang Ma were seated on the sofa. The television was off, so it was clear that they had been waiting for Yang Chen and Zhenxiu’s arrival.

Seeing Zhenxiu enter helped the two women visibly relax. It was as if a great burden had been lifted off their shoulders. Guo Xuehua and Wang Ma quickly prepared their dinner. At the sight of the still piping hot meal, Yang Chen allowed himself to relax.

During dinner, Zhenxiu was bombarded with a barrage of questions from the concerned Guo Xuehua as to why her normally bright and twinkling eyes were tinted in red.

Yang Chen refrained from telling the true events that had transpired between them earlier in the evening in order to avoid shocking the two elderly women. So he decided to spin a fabricated tale to them instead. Whether the two women believed his story was another matter altogether.

After Zhenxiu excused herself to her room, Guo Xuehua rushed to Yang Chen’s side and whispered to him, “Son, did you bully Zhenxiu?”

Yang Chen was snapped out of his thoughts and said, “Why would I bully her?” As soon as the words left his mouth, guilt seeped into his heart. I was doing her good by throwing her to the sea, wasn't I? he thought.

Guo Xuehua glared at him for a moment and said solemnly, “The Starmoon Group in Korea desperately want Zhenxiu to return to their clan. Even though Zhenxiu doesn’t want to return for now, there is no guarantee that she will stay with us forever given that her real family is there. You should take advantage of the time that she has with our family while you still can and treat her well. Watch yourself, boy. If find out that you are mistreating Zhenxiu in any way, I will not hesitate to side with Lin Ruoxi against you!”

The hair on Yang Chen’s neck stood on end when he heard the threats coming out from his mother’s mouth. Was this any way to treat your son? He smiled flatly and said, “Alright, alright, I get it. But I honestly didn’t bully Zhenxiu. I have much better things to do.”

Guo Xuehua nodded. It was clear that she knew something, but refrained from asking any further questions.

Yang Chen dragged his lifeless body back to his room. He proceeded to enter the bathroom and took a shower. After a fresh change of clothes, he was ready to hit the hay when a knock sounded at his door.

Judging from the rhythm of the knocking, Yang Chen could tell that Lin Ruoxi had returned home. After all, only this woman could knock on doors with such levity.

He was helpless. Yang Chen knew that he’d have to deal with this matter one way or another. He made his way to the door and opened it. “My dear wife, you’ve come back home! Work must’ve been tough. Is there something you’d like to discuss with me?” he asked.

Lin Ruoxi dragged her fingers through her long and silky hair. She was dressed in Western styled clothing. Her weary face carried an indifferent expression but her eyes that were like a pair of black obsidian were firmly fixed on Yang Chen.

“Do you realise how childish you’re acting?” Those were the first words that came out of her mouth.

Yang Chen’s face was flushed with humiliation but he couldn’t do anything about it. “Look… just… Please just listen to what I have to say. Today has been a very long day for me. I couldn’t help it but it slipped my mind—”

“It slipped your mind? Oh, so it’s been a long day for you? And yet you still had the time to call home but couldn’t even squeeze out a few minutes in your busy schedule to send me a text. I’m not asking for much here. Just a simple ‘she’s safe’ would have sufficed? You’re seriously trying to tell me that you couldn’t even find enough time to do that?” Lin Ruoxiao fired back coolly.

Yang Chen had no words for that. He had dug his own grave by calling back home to ask for Zhenxiu but neglected telling his family about Zhenxiu’s condition.

Yang Chen had nothing else to say. He was indeed at fault. He made a call to her to ask about Zhenxiu, but had forgotten to give her the update that she asked for.

“Do you even know how anxious I felt throughout my meeting? I kept waiting for your text to the point where I even left my phone on the conference table and kept checking it every other minute,” said Lin Ruoxi. “You couldn’t even be bothered to send me a short text just to let me know that everything was going alright.”

He ducked his head down, too afraid to meet her gaze. Yang Chen laughed sheepishly, saying, “Well… if you were as concerned as you say you were, you could’ve just called me. I genuinely forgot to send you a text—that’s it.”

Lin Ruoxi laughed and said, “Call you? How was I supposed to know if you were ignoring me on purpose?”

“You’re wrong.” Yang Chen insisted and tried to explain himself. “I did not mean for this to offend you. Ruoxi, you have to believe me. I really forgot.”

She stared intently at his face for a while, then turned her back on him and made her way back to her own room. “Forget it. If that’s what you think, then it has nothing to do with me. I’m tired. I’m going back to get some rest.”

Yang Chen furrowed his eyebrows in frustration. This incident was definitely going to strain their already-rocky relationship.

Lin Ruoxi halted in her footsteps. Softly, she said, “I forgot to mention this, but because of your ineptitude, Qianni is in quite the terrible situation. If you can’t give your women the good lives they deserve, then you should start pulling yourself together.”

“What happened to Qianni?” Yang Chen asked hurriedly.

“What happened?” she asked incredulously. She turned her head back and said, “Do you really think that you’re a god just because others refer to you as one? Do you think that everyone else thinks the way you do? I don’t even know where to begin with you. First, you let Mom and Aunt Ma meet each other, without informing Aunt Ma about our marriage beforehand. You even dragged Mom into this by hiding it from me…”

“Yo-—you knew all along?” Yang Chen asked, taken aback from her words.

“How could I not know? Did you really think that you could sweep this under the rug? I even know that Aunt Ma works at a restaurant, and she gave you a heavy scolding the other day. Qianni was so worried that she was distracted at work.”

Lin Ruoxi continued, “To be honest, whether or not you hide things from me doesn’t make a difference to me. However, I highly suggest that you quit the path you’re on because Aunt Ma will never approve of you. After all the pain and hardships you’ve put Qianni through, you’re both better off apart.”

Yang Chen frowned, and could only come up with a question. “How did you manage to find out about the day I brought my mother to meet them both? Did Mom tell you that?”

Lin Ruoxi snorted coldly. “As if! Your loving mother dotes on her darling son so much. She would never tell me such things.”

“Was it Qianni who told you about this?” he said abruptly, but cut himself off. “No way, Qianni would never mention this to anyone.”

Lin Ruoxi seemed to realise something and said, “Does it really matter who told me about this? Yang Chen, what is going on in that thick head of yours?!”

Yang Chen drew in a sharp breath and said solemnly, “Only Qianni and I, plus Mother and Aunt knew about this. There was no way any of us would have told you. Surely you understand the point that I’m trying to make.”

Lin Ruoxi’s face paled with anger, to the point where she shivered. “Are you trying to imply tha—that I’ve been watching you?”

Yang Chen shook his head. “I would have sensed it if there was any surveillance on me. But monitoring Qianni is quite a bit easier. When Qianni and I went to the Li clan in Hong Kong for a business negotiation, wasn’t it all part of your plan? I know that it definitely wasn’t difficult for you to pull off something like that. Had you not watched Qianni secretly, why would you be informed about what had happened on that day?”

“Do you really think that I would do that?” Lin Ruoxi widened her red eyes in disbelief.

“Ruoxi, I don’t fault you for your actions. I just wish that you would stop treating Qianni as the enemy. Mingyu, An Xin and the others are not your enemy as well. Stop treating this like some sort of business rivalry. If Qianni found out about your actions, how do you think she would feel?”

“How would she feel? Sure, she would feel so manipulated. Wouldn’t you feel the same? After finding out that I’m so manipulative and malicious, a two-faced woman, don’t you feel the same?”

Yang Chen shook his head. “I don’t know. Everything’s such a mess right now.”

She chewed on her bottom lip, turned her head back and subconsciously wiped the tears from her eyes before heading straight back to her room.

After Lin Ruoxi shut the door, Yang Chen raised his head and exhaled through his mouth.

The thought of Qianni’s sorrowful expression at work made it difficult for Yang Chen to calm down. After everything that has happened, he still have yet to come up with a solution.

Lin Ruoxi’s tone made him feel more helpless than he already was. He had no clue how he could fix all the misunderstanding’s between them.

With his mind now flooded with thoughts, Yang Chen lost his mood to sleep. He went downstairs as he decided to grab a bottle of red wine, and drink some before heading back to his bed.

When he got to the kitchen, Wang Ma was just cleaning up and preparing some food for tomorrow’s breakfast. At the sight of Yang Chen, she seemed to be reminded of something. She said hesitatingly, “Young Master, can I ask you a question?”

Yang Chen nodded, asking, “What is it, Wang Ma?”

Wang Ma smiled and said, “Young Master, I’ve been really curious about this for a while now. I would like to know if you have some sort of relationship with Miss Mo?”

Yang Chen was a little stunned. ‘Miss Mo’ was referring Mo Qianni. How does Wang Ma know? he thought.

“Why would you ask, Wang Ma?” asked Yang Chen, frowning.

“Sigh… I didn’t know this in the beginning. But this morning, Miss Mo’s mother called our house to ask look for Miss Ruoxi. Miss was at work, so I asked if she wanted Miss’ personal contact instead…

“I was curious as to why she would call out of the blue given that we’ve lost touch over the years. Who knew that Sister Ma said stuff like she was ‘feel sorry to Boss Lin’ and ‘guilty to Old CEO’, so I drew up some conclusions on my own…”

Yang Chen was astonished while his body was riddled with anxiety. “Wang Ma, ar—are you saying that Aunt Ma… called Ruoxi?”

Wang Ma nodded. “I bet she did since she asked me for her number. What’s the matter?” she asked worriedly.

Yang Chen tipped his head upwards and let a out a heavy sigh. He finally understood why Lin Ruoxi knew everything that had happened on that fateful day and why Lin Ruoxi wore that cold face of fury when he suggested that she was monitoring Mo Qianni.

Yang Chen smiled bitterly, unable to speak a single word.