Its mediocracy, bulkiness, and inability to stand out, pales in comparison to its true magnificence that lies beneath.
Yang Chen noticed that Lin Ruoxi was spacing out while staring at the watch. “Still miss the diamond ring?”
Lin Ruoxi turned towards him pouting. “Stop teasing me like that. I’m not familiar with watches. The Patek Philippe carvings are so tiny, there’s no way you can see them if you don’t pay attention.
“If I knew how valuable it was, I wouldn't have just tossed it into my bag. You didn’t even tell me beforehand. I actually thought you randomly got me something as compensation.”
Yang Chen replied, “The other day I tried to explain it to you but you didn't want to listen. You slammed the door shut and told me you wouldn’t listen to any dumb explanations, what other choice did I have?”
Lin Ruoxi realized it was her fault, but nonetheless pouted coyly as she taunted, “I don’t care, it’s all your fault. You should’ve just told me you had something for me first. If you did, I would’ve listened to what you have to say. I was so mad at you that day.”
Yang Chen was speechless as he replied with a chain of ‘ok’s, eventually cracking a smile on Lin Ruoxi’s face.
He then looked at Lin Ruoxi cautiously wrapping the watch with sheets of tissues, which prompted Yang Chen to add, “You really don’t have to overthink its value. I’ve given it to you, now it’s yours. Just leave it in your bag. Anytime you feel like checking the time or the date just give it a look, you don’t have to intentionally store it.”
“What… I can’t do that! This is expensive. If I break it the avid watch collectors would hate me!” Lin Ruoxi said with a frown.
Yang Chen shook his head. “Why should they care? It’s yours. Just use it like any other watch. It’s not an antique and it’s not meant to be kept as such, it has a life of its own.”
Lin Ruoxi immediately recalled something and questioned, “Oh yeah, the present you told me about before, did you mean… this watch?”
Yang Chen quickly denied. “What, of course not. If it was this watch why would I get all mysterious about it? The gift is still underway. You’ll get it this year I promise, and I never break my promises.”
Lin Ruoxi’s heartbeat accelerated. What could it possibly be that requires such a long preparation? she thought.
“Aren’t you curious as to why I gave you this watch?” Yang Chen asked out of nowhere.
Lin Ruoxi shook her head in confusion. “Is it because it’s expensive?”
“Money has never been part of the equation. We’re not poor.”
Yang Chen, with a smirk, stretched out his right arm and held Lin Ruoxi’s left hand handwhile the watch was still in her grasp.
Lin Ruoxi’s petite figure instinctively shrunk, unsure of what he had in mind.
“Although this watch is not the prettiest, clumsy even, but its core, from the moment it was crafted, has been beating uninterruptedly for almost a century. While its exterior is no longer the spectacle that it once was, the core is still full of vigor.
“Even after the next century, and the one after, through thick and thin and countless reincarnations, its precious core will stay the same. It will tick the same from the moment it was created to the moment it dies. Just like my heart for you.”
The vows that her husband made, left passion and ceaseless love through deep silence.
In Lin Ruoxi’s eardrums, the ticking of the watch was like gongs going off in her head.
TICK TOCK TICK TOCK TICK TOCK…
Before she knew what was going on, her pupils felt chilly and damp. It was the refreshing air of the air conditioning on her formulating tears, reactively accumulating against her will.
“You’re touched by my words, aren’t you? What if I’m just saying a bunch of nonsense to woo you?” Yang Chen playfully taunted.
Lin Ruoxi pouted. “You know I’m still very new with this emotional stuff. Stop telling me stuff that will make me tear up. What if I can’t sleep tonight?”
Through her words, it was visible that she had disarmed her ice-cold exterior and subconsciously allowed her bubbly side to take over.
Yang Chen couldn’t help but laugh. “Crying helps unclog your tear glands. It can also remove the dirt in your eyes.”
“What? Are you saying I’m dirty?” Lin Ruoxi quickly retorted.
Yang Chen faked a cough or two before he carefully replied, “Erm… what I mean is, crying helps other women clean their pupils, but for my baby Ruoxi her eyes would be speckless nonetheless. Take a look at yourself in the mirror. Your eyes could reflect the mirror better than it does on you.”
Lin Ruoxi focused on Yang Chen’s ridiculous explanation and broke into a forlorned laughter, one that was long in the making.
“You wanna know my story with him?” Lin Ruoxi affectionately gazed at him.
Yang Chen was confused. “Who?”
Yang Chen contemplated before he added, “If you tell the story, will you still be sad about it?”
“Nope, because only you’ll know about it.” Lin Ruoxi was uncharacteristically gentle as she spoke.
“Only if you’re ready.” Yang Chen nodded.
Lin Ruoxi slightly reminiscented as she explained, “Maybe you couldn’t tell, but back in my university years, Shen Yaxin was a close friend of mine.
“Maybe not as close as Qianni and Yanyan, but she was one of the few classmates I had whom I was genuine with. We went to classes together, ate lunch together, and took all our classes together.
“About that time, Li Jianhe was already a remarkable figure on campus. He transferred from Cambridge in the UK to study marketing finances from Chris, which brought him to Zhonghai University.
“The girls in our campus adored him. He was gentle and distinguished. His family had a phenomenal background. Most importantly, he was extremely talented, which was what caught Chris’ attention in the first place. Eventually, he was appointed as the lecturer's assistant to support our learning.
“From that point onwards, he had spent a lot of time together with me and Yaxin. We started with discussions of research, but eventually we went for shopping dates and afternoon tea.”
Yang Chen chuckled. “Well, it seems like you had more time for yourself back on campus, at least far more than nowadays.”
Lin Ruoxi contemplated for a bit before she continued with a nod, “Afterwards there was this huge rumor circulating the campus that Li Jianhe liked me, which was why he was always with us in the first place.
“But unsurprisingly, I found him to be an excellent person, which brought me to adore him too. Nobody knew about that, besides Shen Yaxin who was my best friend.”
Yang Chen at this point was not too enthusiastic at where it was going as he mumbled, “Crush huh…”
“Yeah,” Lin Ruoxi honestly replied. She continued, “I had a crush on him. I cherished every opportunity I had with him but was too shy to admit it.
“I was worried that he was just interested in discussing research topics with me, or that he was actually interested in Shen Yaxin instead of me.
“Because of how insecure I was, I even went as far as to ask Yaxin, about whom Li Jianhe was in love with. She told me it was me. She told me not to give up and encouraged me to one day confess my feelings.
“Until one fateful day, he abruptly mentioned that he was about to return to the UK and asked that I accompany him back. But it was then that my grandma fell really ill. How could I leave her in a time like this?
“Nonetheless, my core was shaken. I knew that was the best chance I had to tell him how I felt...
“If I were to leave, who’s going to take care of Grandma? Grandma was paralyzed and she insisted on passing Yu Lei International to me. I couldn’t bring myself to disobey her.”
“So you rejected him?”
“Yes.” Lin Ruoxi forced a smile. “I secretly broke down crying because of that. If it wasn’t for Grandma’s recurring chronic illness, I might have left with him to the UK.
“But I was still hopeful, that maybe we could still stay good friends at least until he left. We could keep in contact with one another, and there would still be a chance for us.
“However… I soon found out that I wasn't the only one he proposed the idea to.”
The ambience in the car at that moment was silent as a grave. Besides Lin Ruoxi’s modest voice, it was the invigorating sounds of the engine.
Till that point of the narration, that was all Yang Chen needed to know.
Well, it was without question that Li Jianhe back in the day decided to toss the bait to both of them and let fate decide.
From Lin Ruoxi’s perspective, Li Jianhe’s actions were despicable exploitations of her innocent love towards him. It left her on the ground, picking up the dreadful scraps of her broken heart.
As for Shen Yaxin, she had wordlessly abandoned her best friend.
Despite being the only one who knew about Lin Ruoxi’s feelings, the only one who knew of the actual reason behind Lin Ruoxi’s denial, she did not bat an eye when she said yes and left.
The double whammy undoubtedly left a brutal scar on Lin Ruoxi’s heart, one that was still haunting her till this very day.
Yang Chen took a deep breath, feeling the atmosphere suffocating both of them.
But he was quick to respond as he smirked, “Pfft, that’s it? I was expecting something more exciting. I even got worried that my wife was emotionally entangled with another man, I guess I was overthinking again.”
Lin Ruoxi cautiously said, “Don’t get mad at me, I’ve already left all that behind me…”
Yang Chen smiled bitterly. “What right do I have to get mad at you? Besides, who doesn’t have a complicated past? Everybody was young and reckless once. I even found out that you had a crush on your math teacher! Well, I mean, girls they do get mature earlier don’t they…”
“You…” Lin Ruoxi blushed as she furiously replied, “I warned you not to bring up my childhood, didn’t I?”
Yang Chen burst into laughter and kept laughing for a while. He took a long relieving sigh before he turned towards Lin Ruoxi and winked.
“Lin Ruoxi, I don’t know whom you have a past with for the last two decades of your life. I don’t care about that. I wasn’t a part of your past and I couldn’t be there for you. But that’s okay, because I know, from the moment I met you that your past is not nearly as important as our future. We will go through this life together step by step, side by side.”