Chapter 15: Provocation
Then, she turned to look out the window with a complicated expression on her face. It was a while before she finally responded, "What does it matter if I love him or not? Things happened. There's no taking them back, and there's no changing how things turned out."
Zhu Lingling heard a heavy melancholy in Huo Mian's voice. She felt a genuine pang of heartache for her friend.
"Mian, when we were in high school, the fact that you and Qin Chu got together was what made me believe that fairy tales can be real. You were both such outstanding people ... how did it ever get to where it is today? It's such a pity. I'm going to say something, but you can't get mad. I've always felt like Ning Zhiyuan wasn't good enough for you. I mean, back in school, you were…"
Huo Mian cut Zhu Lingling short before she could finish.
"Lingling, stop. It's all in the past. No matter how I feel about Qin Chu, there's no way we can ever be together again. You know what happened, that incident seven years ago, and what it did to me. I've already lost my family. What could be worse than that? I really wish that I was the one who died back then."
At this point, Huo Mian's voice caught in her throat.
Zhu Lingling was aware of what happened. It was that incident which made Huo Mian hide away her radiant aura, resigning to become a hobbling member of the common masses.
Zhu Lingling placed a hand on Huo Mian's shoulder and comforted, "Mian, listen to me. It's been so long so stop blaming yourself. Haven't you been trying to make up for it all these years? I don't think you can place all the blame on Qin Chu either. You know very well that he had been out of the country for years. Considering how he felt about you, I don't think there's any way he could have known about what happened."
"So what? He's still a member of the Qin Family, isn't he? Can he really shake off all the blame for what his family did?" Huo Mian's eyes were red as she demanded.
"Mian..." Zhu Lingling seemed to want to say more.
However, she was cut short when she saw Huo Mian raise a hand. "Lingling, you don't have to say anything else. You're my best friend, and I know that you're just telling me what you think is best for me, but… you can't possibly understand the things I've experienced. Let me make up my own mind about this, okay?"
"Alright, I just hope that, whatever you decide, you don't wrong yourself. I've seen how hard the past few years have been for you. I really wish that you could return to being the high-and-mighty Huo Mian from before, the one who wouldn't let anyone else influence her."
Huo Mian smiled bitterly but didn't reply.
All she wanted was to have a good time eating pork trotters. However, with the heavy subject of Qin Chu hanging in the air, she no longer had an appetite.
She barely touched the food before quickly leaving her friend's place.
On her way back, she wondered if she should call Ning Zhiyuan again. After all, she was in the wrong first.
Just as she pulled out her phone and was about to dial, it rang.
The caller ID displayed her little brother's number.
She picked up immediately, "Zhixin."
"Sis, hurry. You need to come to the hospital. Mom collapsed." On the other end, Jing Zhixin's voice was wrought with anxiety.
"What? Mom collapsed? How? Which hospital? I'll head over right now."
"We're at the Fourth People's Hospital, the one near home. Come to the seventh floor, room 709."
"Okay, I'll be right there."
Hanging up, Huo Mian's expression was distressed. "Sir, please turn around and go to the Fourth People's Hospital!"
Twenty minutes later-
Huo Mian rushed up the stairs and barged through the doors of a hospital room.
Her mother was lying on a bed, still unconscious. Her face was pale, and she was wearing an oxygen mask.
Beside her was a boy in his late teens wearing a black Nike tracksuit. His hair was a bit long and his facial features were rather delicate.
He was Huo Mian's half-brother, Jing Zhixin, and they were related on their mother's side.
"Sis, you're here."
"Zhixin, what happened to mom? Weren't you at school? Why are you at the hospital?"